Saturday, December 24, 2005

Life's Little Ironies

Normblog profile of Antonia Bance.

What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Be prepared for what happens when you blog about Israel, Fathers4Justice or abortion: Holocaust deniers, wife beaters and religious nuts come out of the woodwork.

What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Empathy.

The Christmas Story

It's that time of year once more, when we retell the wonderful ancient story - of Jesus the asylum-seeker and refugee.

As is well known, Jesus and his parents had to flee to Egypt, the nearest safe country, to escape Herod's policy of 'post-natal termination' for all first born.

The Flight Into Egypt by Anibale Carracci.

But many people believe that the Holy Family then moved on across several continents, passing through many safe countries, before claiming asylum in the country of their choice - the country with the largest number of support groups, free housing and healthcare, and welcoming elites.

May I present -

Bishop Of Norwich -

"Herod kills all the young children in his attempt to destroy this newborn king. So Mary and Joseph escape to Egypt rather than returning to their home town and Jesus immediately becomes a refugee.
That's one of the things about the Christmas story that makes it contemporary. In Norfolk we count refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers among our neighbours."

The Guardian's Karen Armstrong -

"There is no room for the holy family in the inn; in Matthew's gospel, Jesus becomes a refugee"

Ekklesia (Guardian Readers at prayer) -

"Jesus too was an asylum seeker"

The Age, Australia

So Jesus, the prophesied saviour, spent the first years of his life as a refugee, knowing fear and depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers (also "Joseph and Mary were members of a small nation conquered by a global superpower.").

Bishop of Lichfield -

A Church of England bishop has attacked "sentimental" Christmas card portrayals of the Nativity, saying that Jesus's family were asylum seekers and the three Wise Men were part of an assassination plot.

Department Of Education -

UK Government "stimulus and activity sheet exploring the theme of Jesus as an asylum seeker" for use in UK schools.

Revd Jonathan Clark, Independent

"I think we forget that Jesus was an asylum seeker himself"

And a big shout for the Bishop of Worcester (twinned with Sodom)

"When Christmas happened, the violence of the Roman super-power gave way to the reign of the Prince of Peace and the force of a violent occupation had to yield to the weakness of a baby."

What could he be talking about ?

UPDATE - a commenter wants to know why I'm only picking on the CofE. I just went for the first stories I found on Google - life's too short to number all the people who say 'Hey ! Jesus was an asylum-seeker, too !' with the air of someone saying something 'new', 'radical', even 'transgressive'. Such people are numberless as the stars in the sky, or sand on the seashore.

But here goes ...

Catholic Weekly, Australia -

"Jesus was an asylum seeker, too"

Australian Catholic Migrant And Refugee Office -

"The Gospel presentation of the Holy Family as a refugee family and of Jesus Christ as a refugee before He was two years old is before us, so clearly, as we tonight participate in our Refugee Sunday service."

Let me check - Refugee Sunday - isn't that the third Sunday after Easter ? A historic Feast of the Church. "Shrive me now, Lord Bishop, I must away to Mass. Wit ye not 'tis Refugee Sunday ?"

Pope Benedict Blog

"Jesus himself will be remembered as an asylum seeker and immigrant."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Dalrymple Interview From Colombia

He does seem to get about, that chap.

What is the problem? What do think is causing this violence?

The people are completely dependent, there is no economic activity in these towns apart from drug trafficking, really, and other forms of trafficking.There’s not much hope that things are going to change for them. Up to 40% of people under the age of 25 are unemployed, most of them are probably never going toget employed, if they do get employed they’ll be employed not earning very much more than they get for doing nothing, so they feel very aggrieved, and I think that’s a large part of the problem.

I see. It must be difficult in a country like Colombia, where drugs are so important to the economy.

Just a minute. He's talking about Paris !

Colombia News is an interesting new blog - I'd have thought that journalist was a pretty high risk occupation there.

Stuff on 'sixteen ways to smuggle cocaine' and a piece on the prostitutes of Medellin ('She asked if I wanted to go to a strip club with her. I made my excuses and left'. What he doesn't say is where he went and who he took with him !)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Police and Thieves

Imagine a white criminal, whose gang seek revenge after another gang member is murdered. The gang break into the house of an 18 year old Asian man, and take it in turns to torture him with knives and a hammer while his girlfriend cowers in the next room with her baby.

Then they shoot him in the head.

The criminal rings his girlfriend, a (white) serving police officer, within minutes of the killing. She helps him to flee the country.

I can't help thinking we'd have heard about a case like this on BBC News by now. After all, they're big on stories about torture, or possible police racism.

But nothing like this has actually happened.

A Policewoman helped two men flee the country after they allegedly tortured a teenager before shooting him in the head, a jury heard this week.

Prosecuting lawyers claim PC Rupinder Gill, 27, was in a relationship with Mohammed Akbar when 18-year-old Daniel Higgins was killed.

Her boyfriend was one member of an armed gang which broke into a flat and took it in turn to torture Mr Higgins with knives and a hammer, Reading Crown Court was told.

Mr Higgins was then shot as girl-friend Natalie Muncey cowered with her ten-month-old baby in the next room of the flat in Thirlmere Avenue, Burnham.

Akbar, 28, of Eastbridge Road, Slough, and friend Zahir Hussain allegedly used a Eurostar train to get from London to Paris after the attack in November 2003.

Gill is accused of travelling with them and returning to England a few days later.

Her mobile phone records allegedly show that she had been talking to Akbar within minutes of the savage killing.

And police searching her computer found she had looked up flights and Eurostar times on the internet, the jury heard.

Charles Miskin QC, prosecuting, said the gang murdered Mr Higgins to avenge the killing of Mohammed Choudry in February 2003.

He added: "Mohammed Akbar was amongst these masked men. He does not deny that.

"At the time of the offence, Rupinder Gill was his girlfriend and two days after the murder he and another man called Zahir Hussain fled the jurisdiction.

"They fled by Eurostar to Paris, from where they moved to Malaga. Mohammed Akbar's girlfriend assisted him in his flight."

The pair were arrested and extradited from Spain earlier this year.

Detectives investigating Gill, who trained at Hendon Police College, found St Valentine's Day cards sent after Akbar had fled the UK. The trainee officer was arrested in May 2004.

Hussain has since admitted assisting an offender and Akbar, although admitting to being in the flat, denies murder.

Home Office pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan Earl told the jury that Mr Higgins' killers used a machete to cut into his head. They also stabbed him all over his body and hit him with a blunt weapon.

Gang member Majad Khan, 29, of Wexham Road, Slough, was jailed for 20 years at Reading Crown Court in November last year for his part in the teenager's murder.

Gill, from Hounslow, denies assisting an offender.

The trial continues.

The trial has now finished. Note the total absence of Gill's occupation from the BBC report.

UPDATE - the BBC report never actually made it to the 'England' news section, which is reserved for more important stories - like 'Boy's idea protects red squirrels' and 'Kitten released from car engine'.

Snouts In The Trough

Peers who say their main residence is outside London can claim an overnight allowance of £154.50 (per day - the basic state pension is £82 a week) for staying in the capital on parliamentary business.

So the thing to do is claim that your holiday retreat is your main residence and your main residence is a weekend pad.

New Labour unplugged reports on four porcine "Socialist" peers.

Naught For Your Comfort

Ler's increase the penalties for smoking.

And reduce them for murder. Note the BBC's 'US-style' spin. We'll get US style categories - and British style sentences.

Education's just fine as it is.

The NHS - Pride of Britain. If you get maggots on your face in 'intensive' care, what's bog-standard care like ?

And drink-related deaths in Scotland rise 350% in 20 years. Didn't the Scots introduce 24-hour drinking a while back ? Say about 20 years ago ?

And remember last year's population figures, showing 19% of English births and 47% of London births were to mothers from outside the UK ?

This year's figures are 20% and 49%.

Oh, and there's no pensions crisis.

The move is likely to be watched closely by other firms.
Companies have previously tried to control costs by closing final salary pension schemes to new employees, but no large company had "dared take this step", one pensions expert told the Financial Times.
The National Association of Pension Funds said that other company pension schemes would increasingly have to follow Rentokil's approach.

There's not one here either.

Friends Provident is investigating the whereabouts of staff pension contributions at Unwins, the off-licence chain, as the troubled high street retailer was forced into administration last night threatening the future of about 2,000 jobs.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Rumour Mill

I keep getting Google hits from people looking for "Fi Glover fired". Nothing else tells me that - but when I got a load of hits for "Rod Liddle assault" it turned out to be true.

I have nowt against Fi - just another middle of the road Radio Five liberal who's moved to Radio Four as part of the long-term dumbing down strategy. She's nowhere near as PC as the horrendous Victoria Derbyshire.

VD - " ... and today on the phone-in we ask the question - is worrying about Islam a sensible response to the July 7th attacks or an excuse for racism and xenophobia ? The lines are busy - we've got Dave in Dagenham, Henry in Hertford, Bill from Blythe Bridge, Rory from Romford and Asif in Acocks Green - Asif !"

Asif - "... er, well as I see it racism in Britih society is something that's been there for a long time - look at the history of slavery and exploitation in the British Empire - racism seems to be in the genes of all British people"

VD - "Asif, thank you - that's very interesting ... "

(I also keep getting hits for "Eddie Mair gay" - he's another Radio Five person on Radio Four - a less offensive Nicky Campbell. About which I care not a hoot - Nigel Wrench is one of the best reporters on Radio Four and he's HIV+. Still a good reporter though.)

Also in the rumour mill, a Bradford correspondent reports that the word on the street post-shooting is

a) that the two police women arrived at the scene after two male officers had been originally sent and hadn't found the place (it's about 200 yds from Bradford police HQ but you never know)
b) that the policewoman was killed at point blank range in execution style

Lighter than Light Blogging

So ... I'm not sure what the Lib Dems have against Kennedy. He's got them in a better position than they've been in since the 1920s. And if it's policy that's the problem, think again. The LDs success is a result of their being able to be all things to all men.

Cameron ... looks like the Tories are going for my Option b).

And talking of reflecting modern Britain - some places aren't like modern Britain and don't want to be. But as the good people of the Western Isles are finding out, cultural diversity ain't for the likes of them.

"Ministers are prepared to fly mainland registrars to the Western Isles to beat the ban on gay marriages imposed by officials and councillors in the islands, it emerged last night.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive made it clear that ministers wanted civil partnerships to be available right across Scotland and they would use all the powers open to them to make sure this happened.

One way they could do this would be for the Registrar General to fly in outside registrars to the Western Isles - a move which would have the Executive's full support."

You can have any culture you want - as long as it's ours.