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Badger and the censor THERE are times, readers, when

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THERE are times, readers, when Badger despairs at humankind’s ability to be cruel to each other. There are times when, with a badgerly shrug, he simply wishes he could walk away and find somewhere cool and dimly lit to lie down with an un-improving volume of light verse. Readers will know that Badger has detected a certain sourness and cynicism in public discourse over recent years. As you will also know by now, readers, Badger is bang onside with sourness and cynicism, if it has a point: but what we are now experiencing is the nihilism of halfwitty and half-witted remarks, such as “Don’t vote, it only encourages them.”

A sentiment often advanced by those who do not vote and then complain at a result they forfeited all right to complain about. Consumerism has fractured society into chunks, some of which overlap and some of which stand in glorious isolation. In a world more interconnected than ever before, there seems to be more genuine loneliness – or, perhaps, wilful isolation of the self – than at any time Badger can remember.

As we have become increasingly identifiable by third parties through our actions and our responses to stimuli (for example, shopper loyalty cards; banking information; online gaming; online advertising) and accordingly placed into groups for targeted marketing, so the glue that holds us together as families and communities has weakened. Badger sees the way people, write and behave on social media and some of the vile and offensive things that appear on it. And Badger wonders whether the term “society” has somehow passed its sell by date.

The expression of extremes seems to have become the norm, particularly from the wilder shores of the fascist right. Those who express those racist, repugnant and intolerant views claim protection derived from a freedom of speech they want to deny others. That they are able to express their views at arms’ length or from the safety of a keyboard before a glowing monitor, seems to suggest that some line has been crossed.

As we look at online avatars and profiles, we become less human, less humane and more inclined to casual cruelties. The problematic result of all of this can be summarized as follows: social networks are addicting and provide the illusion of real relationship. Over time, we begin to falsely equate genuine, humanto- human relationship with the shallow connection and gratification offered by social networks.

We increasingly define ourselves in terms of our digital presence and feel the need to “share” constantly to feel heard and less alone. It is that need to be heard which causes people to ‘shout’ online. Scarcely a report of a court story can appear online without someone, usually someone with only a nodding acquaintance with spelling and grammar, hopping out from under their bridge to offer an opinion.

Over Christmas, Badger was looking at some exchanges on The Herald’s own Facebook feed. There was a report of a case. The report set out the charges the accused faced, the course of the trial, the guilty verdict and the sentence passed by the Court. Judging from the reactions, you would have thought that newspapers and their web feeds should only carry news that relates news that trolls find agreeable – for example “Billy Goats Gruff Eaten” or “Judge praises axe murderer for being nice to his mum”. It was “wrong” what was written. The story was not “true”. It was all “unfair”. It was “sad” to send the guilty to prison. Gloves off: what was written was objectively right.

There was no lie. The facts spoke for themselves. It was not unfair. The accused had their chance to defend their actions. They could not do so. The word “guilty” means guilt was established according to the law and beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not the law as trolls wish it, but the law as it is. Badger was horrified by one person, who from the content of his remarks was lucky not to be lifted by the rozzers himself. Badger pondered before deciding that a line had been crossed. He deleted comments that were argumentative, intimidatory, and hectoring in tone.

Enough was enough: freedom of speech does not include the right to bully others by being a keyboard warrior. If the person whose long and aggressive rants was to be believed, people who had committed a crime had gone unpunished. The fact he was prepared to stand idly by and do nothing about that state of affairs, speaks volumes for the very special trollish logic he applied to his statements. Badger censored a debate. Now, readers Badger is in favour of open, friendly, non-judgemental and balanced argument.

At the same time, he knows he is personally seldom all four of the foregoing at one time – and occasionally their diametric opposite in each and every respect – but Badger makes a genuine effort to approach those terms both singly and collectively. Badger was reluctant to reach for the metaphorical blue pencil, but for better or ill he did. Make no mistake, the remarks Badger deleted were not the ‘casual cruelties’ he referred to earlier. These were not spiteful, petty remarks of the type made by insecure juveniles.

The remarks he censored were appalling, crass and menacing. In the great scheme of things, however, they were far less offensive than some of the toxic rants Badger has seen peddled as fact by bigots online; but they were far over the bounds of what a reasonable person would tolerate. They were certainly beyond what an occasionally unreasonable Badger could tolerate. What makes humans human is their interactions with each other. Every human is different and each of us has rights and obligations that come from being part of the whole. Badger wouldn’t have it any other way. Our society is more important than “comments”, “likes” and “shares” on social media. Badger fears, however, that which connects us in so many ways, makes inhumanity to others far easier than it was previously.

letter to badger

‘Humane and committed’ -do you know best this time?

DEAR BADGER, Since you started to climb out of your badger sett each week and write articles for the Pembrokeshire Herald you appeared to want to help local humans, but last week you seemed to have lost concern for yourself and your wildlife friends.

In your last article you stated that Simon Hart, MP is “humane and committed”. Simon Hart before he became our MP was the Master of the South Pembrokeshire Hunt, Director of the Campaign for Hunting and Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance which was and still is deeply “committed” to the return of hunting with dogs. So surely, Mr Badger, you have to ask the question “what is he committed to and is it humane?”.

Simon Hart MP has strongly supported the campaign to repeal the Hunting Act 2004. The Act not only made it illegal to hunt wildlife with dogs for sport, but also made it illegal for hunts to block your sett entrances whilst hunting. So that law, besides protecting you, protected young badger cubs when they were born underground. Furthermore, Mr Badger, Simon Hart MP was against vaccinating your relatives in Wales, instead of culling, so you don’t catch Bovine TB from cattle.

Culling badgers is a disaster when carried out in England and was said to be “ inefficient and inhumane” after the badgers were shot and took a considerable time to die. Surely Mr Badger you must reassess your opinion of what being “humane ” means, or one day in the future, you may be culled or get blocked in your badger sett and unable to get out, so that will be the end of your excellent articles.

Michael Sharratt

Cwm Coile

Whitland

Carmarthenshire

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Buckingham palace announces Prince Philip’s funeral arrangements

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PRINCE PHILIP’S royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The 99-year-old duke, who died Friday, also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.

“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family. His wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with the British government’s COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.

The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor, and for those who wished to pay their respects to Philips to stay at home instead.

“While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects,″ the palace spokesman said. “The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”

The announcement comes after military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Philip, honouring the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II whom they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch, were also invited to honour Philip. The Australian Defence Force began its salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising military career. In 1941, he was honoured for his service during the battle of Cape Mattapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip’s naval career came to an abrupt end when King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.

At the queen’s coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple had four children — Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people.

Members of the public continued to honour Philip’s life of service on Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering.

“I think everyone would like to pay their respects,” Maureen Field, 67, said outside Windsor Castle. “Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay away. He didn’t want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his family to say their goodbyes. So, we’ve all got to respect that.”

Mike Williams, 50, travelled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to Buckingham Palace to honour the prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

(Associated Press, London – by James Brooks and Tom Rayner)

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident

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POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Health

Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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