Archive for Falklands
Last week a Newport taxi driver was jailed for 12 years after preying on two vulnerable female passengers.
NATALIE CROCKETT, MICHAEL YONG and AILSA CHALK talked to Gwent taxi firms and police about how to stay safe when using taxis alone.
Iqbal, 42, of Alice Street, wept in the dock as he was jailed for 12 years at Cardiff Crown Court by Judge David Wynn Morgan.
Judge Morgan said Iqbal, a licensed taxi driver in the city, abused the trust women place in taxi drivers “for the satisfaction of your sexual gratification”.
Following the sentencing, both of Iqbal’s victims said they were glad the case was over, but wanted to issue a warning to other women not to get into cabs on their own.
Newport Council’s outgoing community safety cabinet member William Routley said the council did background checks on all potential taxi drivers before issuing them licences.
He said: “We have a very good organisation in Newport taxi association and many good independent taxi operators. Look for the signs outside the cab for a licence. Use a regulated taxi firm, and use a licensed hackney cab.
Only use cabs which you can see clearly the Newport city logo on them, which they can understand and recognise.
“There are many ways to stay safe. If you can, travel in pairs.
Newport is not an unsafe place to be and taxis are still the safest way to travel here.
Andrew Barley, operations manager at Dragon Taxis in Newport, said the trade was united in its disbelief and anger at Iqbal’s actions, which had tainted a service the public rely on 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
He said the firm had been inundated with calls from regular customers who travel alone at night, worried that drivers were free to do as they please when they pick them up. Mr Barley said: “I would say that the vast majority of taxi drivers are good, honest people who want nothing more than to earn a living.
“The people of Newport and Gwent should not be afraid to get a taxi, but should choose one of the reputable companies and prebook to guarantee that they are getting a service they can rely on and trust.”
Lionel Morris, chairman of Newport Taxi Drivers Association, said the case had damaged the reputation of taxi drivers. He said: “This should not stop people taking taxis. It might plant in their minds the possibility of this happening again, and they have a right to think that way. Newport, in general, is very safe. It has been years since something like this happened. I certainly cannot remember this in my time here.”
Malik Haseeb Ahsan, association secretary of Newport Taxi Drivers Association, said: “I am so ashamed of his (Iqbal’s) actions. As a taxi driver you don’t feel comfortable about it. It could happen anywhere to anyone, and it has damaged our industry.
People still need to use taxis though, but it will affect our business.”
Darren Anderson, manager of ABC taxis, said: “We have two female drivers in fleet. We normally get about five to six requests a month for them, if they personally request for them.
We’ve had no trouble from our drivers. If we have any suspicions with them, they will not be here, they would be out the door. We’re also licensed by the council.”
Alan Lakey, 58, owner of Dial-acar taxis, said: “Every taxi driver is police checked, and if they are doing schools, they have to do an enhanced police check. I think they should all be enhanced checked.
“Usually the drivers we employ are people who we know or somebody else knows. The police are very thorough with their background checks.”
Rachel Kent, 42, proprietor of City Lion taxis, said: “Quite a few women are more cautious now to make sure they are with somebody or get a taxi from a proper operator.
“We do background checks on our drivers, and most of our drivers have been with the company for quite a few years.”
RAF Typhoon jets have arrived at an air base in London in preparation for the Olympic Games as military chiefs said they were ready to react to a “9/11-type attack”.
The four high-speed jets landed at RAF Northolt in west London ahead of a major military exercise to test security for London 2012. It is the first time fighter aircraft have been stationed at the base since the Second World War.
The Typhoons will take part in Exercise Olympic Guardian, a nine-day training operation over the skies of the capital and the home counties that runs from until May 10.
Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, air component commander for Olympics air security, said: “What we will have is a plan that has many levels to it which will allow us to deal at one end – which is that 9/11-type attack – perhaps down to the lower and the slower type of threat that we may face.
“There is no specific threat and all we are doing is having in place what we would describe as prudent and appropriate measures in place, in order that we could react if required in a timely and appropriate fashion.”
Air Vice-Marshal Atha said he hoped the exercise would have “an effect on the mind” of any potential attackers, and added: “I would hope when they see how we are preparing they might be deterred from making any threats to the Games.”
The RAF warned that people in south-east England will notice an increase in air activity at certain times, in particular this weekend.
Other aircraft involved in the exercise include Royal Navy Sea King helicopters temporarily based at RAF Northolt, RAF Puma helicopters based at a Territorial Army centre in Ilford, east London, and Army and Royal Navy Lynx helicopters on HMS Ocean in the Thames.
Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond said: “Whilst there is no specific threat to the Games, we have to be ready to assist in delivering a safe and secure Olympics for all to enjoy.
“The fact that our state-of-the-art Typhoons will be stationed at RAF Northolt underlines the commitment of the Ministry of Defence and our armed forces to keeping the public safe at a time when the world will be watching us.”
Be prepared… If you know an area is ripe for a riot but you can’t avoid traveling there, take some simple precautions to help protect yourself. First, be prepared for the worst; the unexpected can happen at any moment. Crowds are dangerous when they’re in an ugly mood and normally placid people can turn frenzied just by being in the presence of other frenzied people.
Wear dark clothes that minimize the amount of exposed skin (long pants and long-sleeved shirts) when going out. Do not wear clothing that could be interpreted as military or police wear in any way; avoid wearing anything that looks like a uniform.
Carry toothpaste with you. Smear it under your eyes if tear gas is released and you have nothing else available to protect you.
Take a motorcycle helmet with you. If bricks or other large items are being thrown about, at least you protect your vulnerable head.
Think about your possible escape routes and safe havens before anything actually happens. Crossroads are the best because you’ve got at least one road to race off down if rioters go crazy or the police start charging.
Carry small amounts of cash with you in case you need to quickly arrange transportation, pay off looters, or bribe police at a checkpoint.
If you’re traveling abroad, register with your country’s consulate and carry your passport and/or visa with you at all times. Even domestically, have ID and emergency contact information on you in case you are arrested or become unconscious.
Take your telephone, two if possible (one in your pocket and one in a bag). If one is lost or taken, you still have another one.
Look for homes that can serve as “safe houses”. If you can, talk to the owners first.
If you’re a woman and on your period, opt to use pads instead of tampons and make sure you have extras on you. If you get arrested, you don’t want to risk toxic shock syndrome in jail. You might also consider a menstrual cup.
Remain calm…. Riots bring intense emotions boiling to the surface, but if you want to survive one you’d be better off keeping your own emotions in check. Your adrenaline and survival instincts will kick in, but strive to think rationally and pursue safety methodically.
Have sugar candies on hand. Adrenalin will drain you of energy quickly and a sugar hit will help you move out faster.
Avoid confrontation by keeping your head down.
Walk at all times. If you run or move too quickly, you might attract unwanted attention.
Get inside and stay inside… Typically riots occur in the streets or elsewhere outside. Being inside, especially in a large, sturdy structure, can be your best protection to weather the storm such as a basement, sub-basement or sub-sub-basement or an interior doorway to hide from the mob.
Keep doors and windows locked, avoid watching the riot from windows or balconies, and try to move to inside rooms, where the danger of being hit by stones or bullets is minimized.
Try to find at least two possible exits in case you need to evacuate the building in a hurry.
Try to contact police or your country’s consulate to let them know where you are, and be on the lookout for signs of fire. If the building is set on fire get out quickly.
If rioters are targeting the building and gain entry, try to sneak out or hide.
Stay on the sidelines… If you’re caught up in a riot, don’t take sides. Try to look as inconspicuous as possible, and slowly and carefully move to the outside of the mob. Stay close to walls or other protective barriers if possible but try to avoid bottlenecks. These are areas where the crowd can be squashed into a tight place, such as tunnels, pillars, high fences and walls that go on for a long way.
If you’re caught up in a car… stay calm. Remain inside the car unless your car becomes a focus for the riot, in which case it risks being torched, smashed or rolled over. Calmly and swiftly leave it behind and get to safety if that happens.
If you have no alternative but to drive, keep to streets away from the rioting. Avoid all main routes and keep alert for news of where people are.
Don’t stop your car. If you’re lucky enough to have a car that you can drive away from the riot, drive quickly and try not to stop for anything until you’ve reached someplace you know is safe. If people seem to block your escape route; honk your horn, and carefully drive through or around them at a moderate speed, and they should get out of the way.
Driving towards police lines can be interpreted by the police as a preparation to use the car as a weapon against them. Police are trained and prepared to protect themselves against deadly threats meaning that you may be shot at if they think you are going to run them down with a car.
Activists’ fear of cars can be a reality as there have been numerous cases of irate non-participants running down protesters. Any pushing though the crowd should be done with the demeanor of patience, aggression may lead to an attempt to disable your car before it is used as a weapon.
Use the social media to alert you as to where to stay away from. Just as the rioters have started using social media and texting to alert one another where to go, you can flip this on its head and ask people to help you know where to stay away from. Messages informing you of which streets and areas are currently being targeted provide you with instantaneous warnings of where to avoid.
Avoid being hit by riot control chemicals or weapons. Police may deploy riot control agents (tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, for example) to disperse a crowd. These weapons and chemicals can cause severe pain, respiratory distress, and blindness. Try to stay away from the front lines of a riot, and learn to recognize the signs that a riot control agent has been used and how to handle exposure.
Avoid wearing oil based moisturizer or sunscreen as chemicals cling to these on your skin. Remove with detergent-free soap before going near the riot.
Wear glasses rather than contact lenses; tear gas behind contact lenses is unimaginable pain. Swimming goggles can protect eyes, or a gas mask.
Put wet bandannas in a plastic bag and carry these for your mouth. Wrap them around your mouth if tear gas is released. They need constant replacement as they will keep soaking up the gas.
Wear vinyl or latex gloves to protect your hands from pepper spray; the nerve endings will make them feel like agony if sprayed.
Carry spare clothes to change if you’re hit by chemicals or a water cannon. Put them in a plastic bag for protection.
Avoid rubbing your hands or fingers into eyes, nose, mouth etc. after a chemical attack. Stay calm.
Never hang around when bullets, gas and cannons are being deployed. These riot control agents can kill if they hit you in the wrong way and even if they don’t, they can maim and hurt you horrendously. If you’re so hurt that you fall down and cannot get up again, you also risk being trampled by the fleeing and terrified crowd.
Move away from the riot. The more time you spend in the midst of a riot, the greater your chance of being injured or killed. That said, in most circumstances it’s better to move out of a riot slowly.
If you run, you will draw attention to yourself, so it’s usually best to walk.
It can also be dangerous to move against a crowd, so go with the flow until you are able to escape into a doorway or up a side street or alley.
It may also be advantageous to stay with the crowd until you are certain you can safely escape because it will help you remain inconspicuous and improve your odds of survival if shots are fired.
Think of crowd movement like currents in the ocean. In a large riot, the crowd in the middle will be moving faster than the people on the perimeters. As such, if you find yourself in the middle, you should not try to move in a different direction, but follow the flow and slowly make your way to the outside. This requires patience in order to work properly.
Avoid major roads. Major roads, squares, and other high traffic areas are likely to be crowded with rioters. If possible, stick to less-traveled side streets to avoid the mobs.
Avoid public transportation. Buses, subways, and trains will likely be out of service, and stations and depots will probably be packed with people. Even if you succeed in getting on a train or bus, rioters may stop it or be taking rides on it themselves. Subway stations are particularly bad places to be, both because they are generally difficult to escape and because riot control agents are generally heavier than air and may drift down into subway stations and accumulate there.
Get to a safe place, and stay put. Choose a safe haven carefully. Sometimes it can be as close as your hotel room, but other times you’ll need to get out of the country entirely. If you’re abroad, you will generally want to head to your country’s embassy or the airport. Try to contact the embassy before going there, however, to let them know you’re coming and to find out if it is safe to go there. If a mob is gathered outside, embassy staff may be able to direct you to a safer place. In any case, just try to put as much distance as possible between yourself and the riot.
Homemade decontamination spray
If you know you have to go out into the rioting crowd, try to make this spray before leaving. This recipe is taken from Rosie Garthwaite’s book How to avoid being killed in a war zone. However, this spray does only work when being confronted with agents such as CS and CN. The decontamination spray does NOT work when you have been exposed to OC, also known as “Pepper Spray”.
Find some antacid. Tums, Pepto-Bismol, Gaviscon, Eno, Milk of Magnesia, Alka-Seltzer are all suitable or use bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).
Dilute with water.
Add to a spray bottle that you can easily carry.
Spray on eyes, nose and skin if you are attacked by chemicals. The spray will help to neutralize the attack.
If you have been exposed to OC (“Pepper Spray”) rinse your eyes with as much fresh water as possible. Also wash your mouth, nose and any other part of your body that had contact to OC. However, do not drink the water after flushing your mouth!
A woodcutter had three sons. One could chop down an oak tree in a day. One could plank the timber in a week. The third was so small that he just gathered acorns. “And what is the use of that?” demanded his father. “You never know when you might need a forest,” said the boy.
It takes an oak tree 40 or 50 years to let fall its first acorns. The acorns fall before the leaves and the later falling leaves protect the germinating acorns through the winter. An oak can live a thousand years or more – there is one in Sherwood Forest said to have hidden Robin Hood. An oak is more than its timber; an oak is time. Our ancient woodlands connect us to the past. They are living history. Sherwood, Wychwood, Epping, Wyre, Whittlewood, the New Forest … The names are as romantic as the shipping forecast.
Rip Van Winkle falling asleep under a tree and waking up a hundred years later is emblematic of how time stretches in the wood. These are places to dream.
In the woods you are no longer surfing time; you are deep inside time. This is a vital antidote to our crazy upgrade culture, spinning dizzily round the new thing and the next thing. Walk in the woods, and the longevity of the trees and the purposeful rhythm of the forest offer something different. The calm of the woods is not passive. Here is continuity, energy, beauty, stillness – and enviable efficiency. Woods waste nothing. The forest is a natural economy that supports its life and ours. Woods are not a luxury. If we want to restabilise our climate and our planet, the rewilding we will need begins with native woodland.
Since 1930, half of Britain’s native woodlands have been felled …
Yet many of us are becoming both more aware and more protective of our woods. The government’s ugly proposal to sell off much of our remaining forest to commercial interests aroused unusual passion. It wasn’t only our walks and weekends that were at stake – it was our imagination. There is a wooded place in our heads.
No fairy story can happen without a wood. The ancient forests of northern Europe were where folk tales began: there’s the hunter, there’s the witch, the talking bird, the giant’s lair, the gingerbread house, the tree where the firebird lives, the poor woodcutter, the wolf, the hostage princess. The Chapel of the Grail is in the centre of the wood.
When we were children we lived in Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh and Tigger, or the Wild Wood of The Wind in the Willows. Tolkein’s Mirkwood full of giant spiders seeded itself into Harry Potter’s Forbidden Forest. The trope of the wood as magical, strange, sacred, scary, alive, unknown, crosses cultural time from Dante to Avatar.
Those invented forests are sometimes lost and lonely, scattered with ruins – the kind of fugitive forest favoured by German Romanticism and the English enthusiasm for the gothic. Mostly though, the forest, whether invented or actual, stands in relation to the town or the city or the village and, as such, has a particular imaginative resonance. The edge of the forest is a liminal place – a hesitation between civilisation and humanity, and the unknown and untamed woodland world. We are drawn to, and drawn into the forest. But what will we find there?
The forest is not just the scene for so many stories; it is central to what happens next. The wood is a living world with rules of its own and a way of intervening into the drama of those travelling through it.
Shakespeare’s woods are without exception sites of transformation. As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Prospero’s wooded isle in the Tempest. No Shakespearean character exits a wood as the person they were when they entered it. The forest is a metaphor for exile, for sanctuary, for change, for miracles. For our ancestors it was an everyday metaphor – the reality of the nearby forest was the reality of the stories and myth-making that grew up around it.
I think it is fair to say that preindustrial life did not experience a separation between the actual and the imagined in the way that we do now.
When Dante said, so famously, at the beginning of the Divine Comedy, “Midway through this life of ours/I found myself alone in a dark wood”, every one of his readers would have had the practical experience of being lost in a wood – even though it was and remains a brilliant and beautiful metaphor for the confusion of middle age, before the soul recognises what part of the journey remains.
Our love of the forest is, I think, a profound love that is not nostalgia but a living memory of preindustrial life. The Industrial Revolution and our mass migration into the cities began little more than 200 years ago – not much time at all in the life of a great oak.
Go into the forest and lean on an ancient tree and the past is at your back. The forest holds the memory of other lives and other ways of life. Its therapeutic value is not only the quality of light (thinner and cleaner), or the colour of light in its translucent green and brown, or the air serrated with smells of bark and fresh leaves, or the pleasure of shadows and sudden movements through the shadows, or the canopy of branches swished by wind. The wood is one vast memory system that binds with our own.
In the wood I belong to more than myself and my brief moment in time. Here I belong to the dense forests that baffled the Romans as they anchored on the Thames, to the woods that hid Boudicca, to the Greenwood of Robin Hood, the hunting parties of Elizabeth I, tracking boar and wolves, the wild ridings of Bowland and Pendle, riddled with witches, the sacred groves of the druids.
Here I am what we all are: a traveller in the forest hoping to find my way home before nightfall.