Iran has held a woman in prison for THREE MONTHS for … watching a volleyball match!

Da due mesi in carcere, il web si mobilita per la 25enne che voleva vedere Iran-Italia di volley

Bring my sister home; #FreeGhonchehGhavami خواهرم را به خانه برگردانید

#FreeGhonchehGhavami خواهرم را به خانه برگردانید

Thrown in prison for going to a volleyball match

If anyone in the western world ever imagined that Islam is a tolerant religion, then the plight of a young British woman in Iran serves as a wakeup call to that utopian myth. She has spent three months in prison in Iran after trying to watch a men’s volleyball match, thereby challenging a ban on women attending all-male sports events.

Ghoncheh Ghavami has been locked up for more than six weeks of her custody in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison, the equivalent of a Category A prison in the UK. It is also where the Iranian government holds political dissidents and anecdotal evidence points to some torture at the facility. The prison is situated in north-west Tehran and is locally known as ‘Evin University’, because of the number of academics, intellectuals and journalists that have passed through its doors.

The twenty-five year old lives in London but went home to visit her parents. She had recently been thinking about returning permanently, now that the government is lead by the moderate President Hassan Rouhani. She was detained at the stadium where the peaceful protest took place and was briefly released from custody, but when she went to collect her belongings a few days afterwards she was again arrested and returned to jail.

“The authorities kept promising she would be released at the end of this week, every week: It never happened and the family has lost patience,” said her brother, Iman Ghavami “My parents are working tirelessly to get Ghoncheh out. They are desperate now. We cannot understand why they would treat her like this for something so innocuous.”

Amnesty International has been told that she is likely to be charged with “spreading propaganda against the state”.

“We are extremely worried about Ghoncheh’s predicament. Her lawyer has had no access to her or any documents about why she’s being held,” said an Amnesty spokesperson.

Sign the petition demanding her release at


Sillars undermines the Scottish ‘Yes’ campaign again …

Jim Sillars with Alex Salmond on the campaign trail. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Alex Salmond (L) campaigning with Jim Sillars

Yeah, but No, but Yeah – oh I so can’t believe he just said that!


Jim Sillars has no doubt initiated a probable exodus of big businesses from Scotland if the ‘Yes’ campaign wins the referendum by asserting that the newly independent Scotland would punish large commercial entities such as Standard Life and Royal Bank of Scotland by increasing the notice period for redundancy to two years. ‘The Scotsman’ reports that the former SNP deputy leader has threatened a day of reckoning” for major Scottish employers such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life after a Yes vote”. He continued “This referendum is about power, and when we get a Yes majority, we will use that power for a day of reckoning with BP and the banks”.

It seems that shooting themselves in the foot is becoming a habit, with the ‘Yes’ campaign presenting themselves in the media as plainly naive. Sillars vowed that “oil giant BP would be nationalised in an independent Scotland”. This threat alone will scare potential investors in Scotland, who won’t feel particularly comfortable with their assets being prised off them at below market value.

The simple fact is that the ‘Yes’ Campaign need to try and understand the harsh realities of world economics. It does not serve their interests to threaten and intimidate the very commercial organisations that may well bring them prosperity with their nation’s independence.

It doesn’t take much rational thought to work out that the vast majority of RBS customers are south of the border. The ‘vast majority’ by the way, means something like 95% of personal and mortgage accounts held with RBS were taken out in England and Wales. Why wouldn’t they move south?

The above threats by Sillars – and no doubt many other Scots nationalists, will come back to haunt them in future years. Sillars continually refers to oil but the fact is that it really won’t last forever. A well-established, diversified economy is essential in the modern world to avoid the fate of states that have a dominant, mainly one-dimensional economy and then hit trouble when the going gets tough. Sure 40 years is a long time to diversify, but it won’t help if international companies and investors are wary of your methods towards companies that are seeking to protect their own interests. I think Sillars needs to abandon his ‘trades union soap-box’ mentality and try to think like a successful politician.

Ask yourself this question: How many divorced couples retain a joint bank account? The answer to this is really, why do the SNP really feel that they can continue with the pound? Do they not understand that HM Treasury (UK) underwrites the Bank of England, who in turn safeguard many investments by guarantee. Why would the UK government – less an independent Scotland – continue to provide protection to customers with personal accounts with banks if those customers were in a foreign country? Why would the Bank of England continue to support private commercial banks based in Scotland?

Back to the divorced couples: Legal separation means just that, in every respect, when it comes to the breakdown of marriage. So it is when states cease to be in the same united framework.

Fund raises almost £1.4m in donations but will the dogs’ home arsonist be hounded?

Manchester dogs blaze arson 60 dead over £1 million justgiving

The sum raised so far, with tax repayable on donations, is £1,707,414!

MDH logo

Rescue centre fire kills 60 dogs, but will the arsonist be safe?

The fund to help the fire-ravaged Manchester Dogs Home has now reached almost £1.5m – well over two million US dollars – a formidable sum when you consider that it happened less than 72 hours previously. With government gift aid, the repayment of tax on the donation, the sum is now over £1.7m – almost USD$2.8m

The fire is nothing short of a ghastly tragedy in a country where dog ownership in the population is extremely high and, not to put too fine a point on it, many animal lovers prefer their pet to humankind. I am sure that the seemingly unstoppable fund will help the animal rescue centre to rebuild the home and go from strength to strength, an admirably fitting memorial to the dogs that died, but what will happen to the person or persons responsible for this callous, inhumane behaviour?

A Manchester police spokesman confirmed yesterday evening that a 15-year-old boy had been detained on suspicion of arson following the fire. Whatever your opinion of the arsonist, and I’m sure the vast majority of people will have strong opinions about this, the likelihood is that the fire was set by a child. Hopefully, when due process is complete, we will have a guilty verdict on the person or persons responsible, but how will they be protected from the backlash from animal lovers who are already expressing outrage at this act?

Manchester Police need to think this one through: the person or persons responsible for the needless and wanton slaughter of so many dogs may need police protection when the dust settles. The resulting anger is completely understandable, but two wrongs don’t make a right and I could well imagine that this person’s life is at risk if he is identified and his whereabouts publicly known.

Manchester Dogs’ Home blaze kills dozens of animals