POLITICIANS AND columnists have been queuing up to condemn the glorification of guns among young people, launching particularly bitter attacks on hip-hop and rap music.
Culture secretary Kim Howells said, 'We must challenge the idea that it is in some way cool, necessary, or fashionable to carry a gun.' He ranted, 'Idiots like the So Solid Crew are glorifying gun culture and violence.'
What would these people make of a father who gave his 20 year old son a powerful gun worth thousands of pounds and encouraged him to use it? Prince Charles's Christmas present to his son William was a specially commissioned .243 rifle with Turkish walnut and gold inlay, which cost a mere £20,000.
The gun even had the monogram 'W' engraved on it. Charles, William and Camilla Parker Bowles tested the gun out by deerhunting at their Scottish retreat, Birkhall.
Now Sir Killalot
THIS YEAR'S New Year Honours List was hailed as a celebration of the efforts of ordinary people. But gongs were awarded for 'services to the defence industries'. Honours went to:
Sir John Rose, £948,000 a year chief executive of Rolls-Royce.
Roger James, OBE, regional head of combat helicopter manufacturer Westland.
David Morgan, OBE, expert in 'novel weapons' for MBDA Missiles, the world's biggest missile maker.
Mike Salmons, OBE, director at BAE Systems Marine.
A professor famous for attacking fears about global warming has been exposed as a fraud. Bjorn Lomborg became a champion for the right wing with his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist.
A year-long investigation by a Danish committee on scientific honesty has found him guilty of fabricating data, ignoring unwanted results, using misleading methods and misrepresenting others' results.
ARE YOU feeling sad and blue? It may be more than just the post-holiday hangover. Sitting in front of a computer for more than five hours a day can make you feel depressed, new research has revealed. It's not just headaches, eye strain and backache. They can also damage mental health.
Some 25,000 workers took part in the survey. Many complained of feeling depressed and anxious, reluctant to get up in the morning, having broken sleep and problems getting along with other workers.
BIG companies are furious that the BBC is planning to put much of the National Curriculum on the internet for free. The ITV company Granada, Channel 4 and Pearson, which owns Penguin Books, expressed their 'profound disappointment' at the plans to allow children free access to the information.
They claim they will be deprived of £400 million in revenues. They have even set up a lobby group to argue their case for profit before free education.
GEORGE BUSH'S Republicans are so worried about hostility against them in Latin America that they have had to demote an old favourite. Otto Reich has helped to make the US a safe haven for right wing Cuban terrorists.
He was found guilty of 'prohibited covert propaganda' on behalf of the Contras, who were trying to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
George Bush appointed Reich to the State Department to a post with 'special responsibilities' for US policy in Latin America. Now Bush daren't put Reich's name forward for a second year in the post for fear of an embarrassing rejection.
Commentators are saying it's because Otto Reich backed the failed coup in Venezuela last year against the country's democratically elected president, Hugo Chavez.
Reich's 'consolation prize' is to try to get other Latin American countries to come up with some compromise solution to the crisis in Venezuela.
WE are always being told that women can make it to the top if they are ambitious enough. But that's not how the bosses see it. Employers like their women humble and self critical, and their men macho and confident.
A study by researchers at Goldsmiths' College in London showed that employers holding interviews had 'deeply ingrained' sexist stereotypes. 'We found over and over again that women were rated higher the more they conformed with modest, compliant, deferential behaviour,' a researcher said.
Wages in vouchers
HIGH STREET giant W H Smith brags that its employees are 'driven to achieve and excel in everything they do. Our people believe in themselves, and are committed to working together to build the future of W H Smith. They are the sort of people who love to generate a 'you can't possibly do it like that' reaction. And then do it like that.'
That is also the reaction many people had on hearing about W H Smith bosses' treatment of a worker with learning difficulties. Karen Godfrey worked part time in their Monmouth store in South Wales for six years.
She was paid in gift vouchers worth £5 for four hours work a week. Just before Christmas Karen was given the boot. This bosses claimed was because she wasn't covered by the staff insurance scheme. After an outcry Karen was offered a permanent job with full benefits.
PC GARY Bretherick fell a bit short of the police force's 'high standards' recently. The 37 year old, 14-stone copper sent an 18 year old to take a fitness test on his behalf so he could continue being a linesman at local football matches. The test was organised by the Football Association, and an FA official who knew PC Bretherick spotted that something funny was going on. Lancashire police have fired the officer.
Things they say
'YOU KNOW I had a drinking problem. Right now I should be in a bar in Texas, not the Oval Office. There is only one reason that I am in the Oval Office and not in a bar. I found God. I am here because of the power of prayer.'
GEORGE W BUSH asking a meeting of religious leaders at the Oval Office to pray for him
'HE'S THE second most.'
Defence secretary GEOFF HOON when asked if the Italian government had the most pro-US defence minister in Europe
'THE PROBLEM we have faced time and time again is the slavish devotion to targets, many of which have not been set very intelligently. It's a sure-fire way of not getting improvements in public services.'
JAMES STRACHAN, chair of the Audit Commission
'THEIR AIM was to make war with Iraq look absurd, and their success was total. The programme took to pieces the case for war.'
Daily Telegraph TV reviewer STEPHEN PILE on Bremner, Bird and Fortune's programme on the war
'I HAVE never seen a more divided group in my 30 years of involvement in foreign policy.'
WHITE HOUSE INSIDER on US government splits over North Korea
'I remain unconvinced that an attack on Iraq is necessary. Over the past 30 years America has a long record of attacking small countries. All these operations leave pockets of hatred for America around the world. This hatred breeds terrorism.'
FIELD MARSHAL SIR JOHN STANIER