Saturday, October 21, 2006

BBC News Search Results

Your 8 search results for "Lent"

Your 164 search results for "Ramadan"

Reality Gives Satire Another Good Shoeing

Police in Manchester have been told not to arrest Muslims wanted on warrants at prayer times during Ramadan.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed it had asked detectives not to make planned arrests during those periods for reasons of religious sensitivity.

The advice was emailed out to officers working in Moss Side, Hulme, Whalley Range, Rusholme, Fallowfield, Ardwick, Longsight, Gorton and Levenshulme.

Police said it was not a blanket ban, just a "request for sensitivity".

The email stressed the order did not apply to on-the-spot arrests, only the execution of arrest warrants.

"The primary objective of Greater Manchester Police is to fight crime and protect people"
GMP statement

The holy month of Ramadan began on 22 September and is due to end with the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr next week.

The internal email was sent to staff listing the prayer times, but confusion arose and a second memo was sent clarifying it was not a total ban on arresting Muslims at these times.

UPDATE - This chap seems to have the right idea :

Mr Shafiq said: "Greater Manchester Police have a history of policing the Muslim community with great sensitivity and understanding. That this idea was even thought of is shocking.

"I don't know where they get these ideas from and I'm glad an officer was clearly angry enough to leak the memo.

"Police shouldn't hesitate to arrest any Muslims they had planned to during Ramadan. We must all be equal under the law.

"If people think Muslims are immune from the law, it will only stir up tensions within the community."

Enoch's Ghost ....

David Conway at the Civitas blog notes a court appearance in Aberporth :

A protest in London against the publication of a cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed as a terrorist incensed an Aberporth man, who painted an anti-Muslim slogan on a white sheet and draped it over his garden fence.

The words in bold red paint stated: "Kill all Muslims who threaten us and our way of life. Enoch Powell was right."

Father of two Gary John Mathewson, who was arrested for displaying the banner, told a court: "This won't stop until there is a Muslim president in the White House."

And referring to MP Jack Straw questioning whether Muslim women should wear face veils he asked: "Are you going to arrest him?"

When prosecutor Maggie Hughes pointed out that the banner did not mention extremists Mathewson said: "That's what I meant by those who threaten us and our way of life.'"

Adding that during the protest in London a Muslim was dressed as a suicide bomber he asked: "Why was he not arrested?" (He was, later - LT)

One of his neighbours, a retired Army officer with 23 years service, told the court he reported the matter to the police because he feared a visit from Muslim extremists.

Mathewson, aged 35, of 79 Brynglas, Aberporth, who was represented by Colin Taylor, pleaded not guilty to a charge of religiously aggravated disorderly conduct in February this year.

Complainant Ian Pennington said the banner was pointed out to him by his coalman, and he later went for a closer look and wrote down the words.

Replying to Miss Hughes he said: "I thought it was stupid and a rather silly and ridiculous thing to do.

"This could have come to the attention of Islamic extremists, and we could have had a visitation," he said.

Pointing to the Twin Towers incident in New York Mr Taylor told the witness: "When three and a half thousand people are killed in Manhattan and elsewhere is it not acceptable for a reasonable man to protest.

"I put it to you that you were not particularly perturbed. If you were you would have ripped the banner off the fence," he said.

Finding Mathewson guilty presiding magistrate Anne Rees said she and her colleagues felt the words on the banner were likely to cause someone distress, and they did not find it as reasonable.

The defendant was given a conditional discharge for two years and ordered to pay £150 costs.

Before leaving the court the defendant and Mr Pennington shook hands.

Hmm. I remember when retired Army officers were more choleric and less easily intimidated, but let it pass. Mr Conway also mentions the arrest by police of a man collecting signatures for an anti-veil petition - because he was wearing a balaclava.

By Aidan McGurran

A MAN collecting signatures backing Jack Straw's criticism of Muslim veils was arrested - because he was wearing a balaclava.

James Scott, 40, wore the black headpiece to demonstrate veils were a barrier to communication.

But he refused to remove it when asked by two women police officers.

The landscape gardener claimed he had 200 signatures backing the ex-Foreign Secretary's request for Muslims to remove veils when talking to him.

Mr Scott said: "I was angry at people criticising Jack Straw. I think he's right. It is nothing to do with race or religion."

The dad-of-one started his protest in an Ipswich shopping centre and continued on the street after being asked to leave.

He said: "Some people said they wouldn't talk to me dressed like that, which was my point."

Suffolk Police said the balaclava had upset members of the public.

Mr Scott, from Lowestoft, was freed after being questioned.

Hmm - again. You can just imagine someone being arrested for wearing a veil, if it "upset members of the public", can't you. The 'upset' people would probably be the ones who were arrested. Mr Scott should have claimed to be wearing the traditional religious garb of Catholics from Crossmaglen.

Mr Conway then quotes some remarkable statements made by Enoch Powell in 1976. He seems to have been bang on the money. I'll let the quote speak for itself.
‘The nation has been, and is still being, eroded and hollowed out from within by the implantation of large unassimilated and unassimilable populations … in the heartland of the state. … The disruption of the homogeneous “we”, which forms the basis of parliamentary democracy and therefore of our liberties, is now approaching the point at which the political mechanics of a “divided community” take charge and begin to operate… The two active ingredients are grievance and violence.

‘There is one factor which not yet been injected. That factor is firearms and explosives… with the escalating and self-augmenting consequences which we know perfectly well from experience in … other parts of the world. I do not know whether it will be tomorrow, or next year, or in five years: but it will come.

‘At first there will be horrified astonishment, and inquiry as to what we have done wrong that such things should be happening. Then there will be feverish endeavour to find methods to allay the supposed grievances which lie behind the violence. Then follows exploitation by those who use violence of the ascendancy they have thus gained over the majority and over authority. The things goes forward, acting and reacting, until a position is reached in which … compared with those areas, Belfast today will seem an enviable place’.

It's that time of year once more ...

and it promises to be a vintage year for French car-burning.

Spot The Difference

"But this demonisation of Islam has been integral to George Bush and Tony Blair’s war drive at every turn over the last five years." - Socialist Worker.

"The Labour establishment aided and abetted by a compliant media with its still powerful Zionist lobby is in part stirring up war propaganda as a prelude to an inevitable attack on Iran." - BNP.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I Killed Men, Women And Children Because Of Their Race

So I deserve asylum in the UK.

A fellow Arab drove him to Mellit, and from there he was smuggled by car to the Libyan border for 500,000 Sudanese pounds. He was determined to reach Britain because, he was told, “it’s different from other European countries. They look after refugees”.

Teaching In Bristol - Can You Handle It ?

Two stories from today's BBC news.

A female teacher suffered a broken jaw and a male teacher was attacked with a 950,000-volt stun gun, in an assault outside a Bristol school.

The woman was punched in the face when she went to help the male teacher as he was attacked with the stun gun and punched to the ground.

The attack took place outside Ashton Park school, Bower Ashton, as the teachers left during the lunch break.

A primary school pupil in Bristol has been suspended after threatening his headteacher with a knife. The headteacher was not injured in the incident, which happened at the Two Mile Junior School in the Kingswood area of the city on Thursday.

The nine year old is understood to have brandished the blade during a lesson.

Vanishing White Christians

Here's one for David Orbach.

The figures on church attendance are interesting.

Whereas the average drop across the board was 15 per cent in the seven years since the last survey, in 1998, the Church of England declined by only 11 per cent. The fastest rates of decline were among Roman Catholics and Methodists; whereas the Pentecostal Churches showed significant growth over the period.

As a result, Methodism has dropped to fourth place behind Pentecostalism. If these rates continue, the C of E will overtake the RC Church within the next four years.

I hadn't realised quite what a disastrous hit the CoE had taken in the 1970s and 80s - that it had half a million less attendees than the left-footers in 1989. There must surely be more Muslim worshippers than CoE or Catholic ones.

But Catholic attendance is falling faster than the CoE's. Is it the lack of gay role-models among the clergy, the shortage of women bishops, or the evil influence of the 1960s liberal reforms ('Vatican II'), as the old guard of priests and laity age and die, replaced by post-Vatican II Catholics ?

Two notable factors stand out from the results. One is the significance of ethnicity. The black-led Churches, especially the ones that attract immigrants, have grown during the past seven years. Ten per cent of all churchgoers responding to the survey were non-white.

All traditions experienced decline, but Evangelicals less so: nine per cent against 18 per cent. But this figure rises to 17 per cent if one subtracts non-white Evangelicals.

The second factor is related to this: the growth of the Church in London, where 44 per cent of churchgoers are non-white. London has 11 per cent of all churches in England, and 20 per cent of all churchgoers. It has 53 per cent of all English Pentecostalists, and 27 per cent of all Charismatic Evangelicals. Also, it caters for 57 per cent of all worshippers in their 20s. “I couldn’t believe that figure myself, and had to check it again,” said Peter Brierley, the director of Christian Research.

You'd Have To Have A Heart Of Stone Not To Laugh

As church attendances continue to fall, a commenter at Thinking Anglicans has the answer :

I know that there are many factors governing the decline of church attendance. But how can it help to to continue to alienate those who are gay or lesbian? If we take the conservative estimate of 5% of the population as being gay, we, in the UK, are speaking millions of people who are denigrated and vilified by the church, and feel there is no place for them within its doors.

It's a pity I'm banned from the comments at their site (after all, diversity and inclusion is so important, isn't it ?) - otherwise I'd be replying to the effect that :

How can it help to continue to insist upon the Ten Commandments, thus alienating those people who are adulterers, murderers etc ? If we take the figure of 30% of the UK male population as having a criminal record, there will be millions of ordinary thieves and idolaters who feel that there is no place for them ...

Perhaps the 5% are converting to Islam.

The Old Liberals

Ever since I was a child I've loved this time of year. Particularly in childhood and adolescence, grey, windy skies, rain and the clouds racing over, bare trees - seemed more appealing than spring flowers and showers.

Long before Goth was thought of, fourteen-year olds were sat in their suburban front rooms, watching the clouds, reading Aleister Crowley and Lovecraft, listening to Donovan Leitch's 'Season of the Witch'. I got over it.

Hence the odd link like October Song.

Here's another autumn poem - Betjeman's The Old Liberals. I'm not mad about the first verse - or the third for that matter. The second verse is perfect, but doesn't work without the first. 'Sad as an English autumn, heavy and still. Sad as a country silence, tractor-drowned'.

Betjeman is writing IMHO both about a semi-mythical ('the rose of a world that was not') Merrie England, and about our cultured, musical daughter and dad, increasingly out of place in a new post-war world. A little ode to the first few leaves to fall from the tree, foretelling the death of Christian, civilised, orderly England.

The Yattendon Hymnal was put together by the poet Robert Bridges in 1899. William de Morgan was an arty, lefty mate of William Morris - you can still buy his tiles at this posh shop. The hautbois is an early wind instrument (somewhere between clarinet and oboe ?) still played in English churches in Victorian times.

The Old Liberals

Pale green of the English Hymnal! Yattendon hymns
Played on the hautbois by a lady dress'd in blue
Her white-hair'd father accompanying her thereto
On tenor or bass-recorder. Daylight swims
On sectional bookcase, delicate cup and plate
And William de Morgan tiles around the grate
And many the silver birches the pearly light shines through.

I think such a running together of woodwind sound,
Such painstaking piping high on a Berkshire hill,
Is sad as an English autumn heavy and still,
Sad as a country silence, tractor-drowned;
For deep in the hearts of the man and the woman playing
The rose of a world that was not has withered away.
Where are the wains with garlanded swathes a-swaying?
Where are the swains to wend through the lanes a-maying?
Where are the blithe and jocund to ted the hay?
Where are the free folk of England? Where are they?

Ask of the Abingdon bus with full load creeping
Down into denser suburbs. The birch lets go
But one brown leaf upon browner bracken below.
Ask of the cinema manager. Night airs die
To still, ripe scent of the fungus and wet woods weeping.
Ask at the fish and chips in the Market Square.
Here amid firs and a final sunset flare
Recorder and hautbois only moan at a mouldering sky.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Breeding for God

This long essay by Eric Kaufmann is the cover story on the latest issue of Prospect. Here are some highlights. When it disappears I'll post the whole thing.

In Europe, the fertility advantage of the religious over non-believers has historically been counterbalanced by the march of secularisation. Not any more. Secularisation in Europe is now in decline, and Islam continues to grow. Europe will start to adopt a more American model of modernity.

Eric Kaufmann is a senior lecturer in politics at Birkbeck and the author of "The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America"

Religion and fertility - the Godly have more offspring

In his remarkable book The Rise of Christianity, the American sociologist of religion Rodney Stark explains how an obscure sect with just 40 converts in the year 30AD became the official religion of the Roman empire by 300. The standard answer to this question is that the emperor Constantine had a vision which led to his conversion and an embrace of Christianity. Stark demonstrates the flaws in this "great man" portrait of history. Christianity, he says, expanded at the dramatic rate of 40 per cent a decade for over two centuries, and this upsurge was only partly the result of its appeal to the wider population of Hellenistic pagans. Christian demography was just as important. Unlike the pagans, Christians cared for their sick during plagues rather than abandoning them, which sharply lowered mortality. In contrast to the "macho" ethos of pagans, Christians emphasised male fidelity and marriage, which attracted a higher percentage of female converts, who in turn raised more Christian children. Moreover, adds Stark, Christians had a higher fertility rate than pagans, yielding even greater demographic advantage.

Some of the sources which Stark draws upon are open to question. What is not contestable is that many latter-day religious groups have thrived thanks to high fertility. The Mormons, for example, like Stark's early Christians, have maintained a 40 per cent per decade population growth rate for 100 years. They remain 70 per cent of Utah's population in the teeth of substantial non-Mormon immigration, and have even expanded into neighbouring states. In the 1980s, the Mormon fertility rate was around three times that of American Jews. Today the Mormons, once a fringe sect, outnumber Jews among Americans under the age of 45.

Demography is also critical to explaining the rise of the religious right in America. An important recent article in the American Journal of Sociology by Michael Hout, Andrew Greeley and Melissa Wilde examines trends in American religious denominational growth in the 20th century. The authors find that conservative Protestant denominations increased their share of all white Protestants from one third among those born in 1900 to two thirds for those born in 1975. Three quarters of the growth of white conservative Protestant denominations is demographic, since they have maintained a fertility advantage over more liberal denominations for many decades. As with the rise of Christianity itself, slow-moving sociological pressures created the conditions for a political "tipping point" to occur. This time, Republican strategists played the role of Constantine's advisers, who saw which way the wind was blowing and moved to exploit the new social trends.

Outside the US, there is further evidence for this thesis. In Israel, the growth of the ultra-Orthodox proportion of the Jewish population is all but assured because of their threefold fertility advantage over secular Jews. Elsewhere in the middle east, the relative decline of Arab Christians—especially in their Lebanese heartland—has nothing to do with conversion and everything to do with demography.

The share of the world's population that is religious is growing, after nearly a century of modest decline. This effect has been produced by the younger generations in the developing world rejecting secularisation, combined with higher religious fertility levels. Throughout the world, the religious tend to have more children, irrespective of age, education or wealth. "Secular" Europe is no exception. In an analysis of European data from ten west European countries in the period 1981-2004 I found that next to age and marital status, a woman's religiosity was the strongest predictor of her number of offspring. Many other studies have found a similar relationship, and a whole school of thought in demography—"second demographic transition theory"—suggests that fertility differences in developed countries are underpinned by value differences, with secular men and women unwilling to sacrifice career and lifestyle aspirations to have children and have them early.

But the whole of the West, or 'Christendom', was once Godly. Their children - my generation - stopped following. Why shouldn't that continue ?

The value changes of 1960s America proved a high-water mark of cultural mobility that has been replaced by a cold war of value stasis. The pool of unselfconscious or moderately religious people is on the wane as the "extremes" of fundamental religiosity and secularism grow. When battle lines become firmly drawn, potential converts, like floating voters, dry up. A similar process seems to be occurring in Europe—as the religious become increasingly self-conscious of their unusual identity in a secular society, they become more resistant to secularisation.

Europe—especially western Europe—is seen as the world leader in secular modernisation, and is used as the model by Norris and Inglehart for their theory of secularisation ... it seems as though western Europe, with the possible exception of Italy, will converge towards a church attendance rate of little more than 5 per cent. However this will mask a much larger proportion—around half—who continue to describe themselves as religious and affiliate with a religious denomination.

These people, described by Grace Davie as "believing without belonging," are seen by some as carriers of a flimsy faith which will soon disappear, and which doesn't affect behaviour or attitudes. But if this is the case, how do we explain the fact that the fertility of these non-attending believers is much closer to church attenders than to non-believers? The non-attending religious are also significantly more likely than non-believers to identify themselves as ideologically conservative, even when controlling for education, wealth, age and generation. And the religious population has two demographic advantages over its non-believing counterpart. First, it maintains a 15-20 per cent fertility lead over the non-religious. Second, religious people in the childbearing 18-45 age range are disproportionately female. Offset against this is the much younger age structure of secularists.

The pivotal question is where the balance lies between religious fertility and religious abandonment ...

He predicts a more religioous Europe at the end of the centiry than at its beginning. It could certainly hardly be less religious.

This slow shift against secularisation would have only a gradual impact on the spirit of European society were it not for immigration. Immigration from Latin America has enabled American Catholics to grow despite losing far more believers to other denominations than they get in return. In Europe, immigration will similarly drive the rise of the religious population, especially its Islamic part.

In the US, we know that the population will be less than 50 per cent non-Hispanic white by 2050, but it is difficult to predict what proportion of Europe's population will be of non-European descent in the future because few European countries collect census data on ethnicity and religion. The occasionally cited figure of 30 per cent ethnic minorities in western Europe by 2050 is little more than an educated guess. One of the few countries to collect ethnoreligious census information is Austria, where a recent projection—based on a conservative estimate of 20,000 immigrants a year and various assumptions about religious abandonment and fertility—predicted that Muslims would make up between 14 and 26 per cent of the population in 2050, up from 4 per cent today.

Muslim secularisation would certainly alter this picture and forms a cornerstone of the Norris-Inglehart thesis. But a glance at the surveys of ethnic minorities in Europe reveals little evidence of this. In Britain, second-generation Afro-Caribbeans and eastern European Christians tend to be less religious than their parents but more so than the wider population. Yet there is virtually no change at all in the religiosity of Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslims between the first and second generations. A recent study of Dutch ethnic minorities paints a similar picture of religious retention among Muslim groups.

Well, there is the small matter that the mandated punishment for apostasy is death for Muslims. For Christians, the Inquisition and the British martyrs are a part of history.

The future response of Europe's lapsed Christian population to the growth of European Islam is difficult to gauge. Muslim growth may prompt a more strident secular nationalist response, as it seems to have done in France and Holland, or it may lead to a renewed emphasis on Christian identity (see the recent speeches of Pope Benedict). David Voas and Steve Bruce have found evidence for the latter in the 2001 British census, where the proportion of white British respondents describing themselves as Christian (rather than "no religion") was higher in districts with large Muslim populations. Christian identity does not equate to growing religious belief, but it eventually might. In ethnically divided Northern Ireland, sectarian conflict fuels far higher religiosity than in other parts of Britain. In either case, the combination of a fast-growing Muslim community and a stable or slowly growing Christian population will squeeze the non-religious, causing a major reversal of the secularising trends of the past 50 to 100 years.

So - a more religious Europe. Probably.

Much will depend on whether conservative political parties opt for a multi-ethnic religious platform or instead mobilise a white nationalist majority across the secular/religious divide. The religious path is currently viewed as the more acceptable one. For the past 20 years, the Republicans have tried to unite whites and non-whites under the banner of religious conservatism and traditional values. Notwithstanding the current illegal immigration furore in the US, the party elite will almost certainly continue with this agenda. Many European conservatives will advocate a similar strategy as the only acceptable face of cultural conservatism in an increasingly multicultural society.

Demographic currents are carrying Europe towards a more American model of modernity.

He ends with a half-comment, half-warning. If rational individualism is so damn wonderful, why aren't rational individualists having children ?

Taking a step back from the figures reveals how the revival of religiosity in the west in the 21st century may reconfigure the Enlightenment belief in rational individualism. Thus far, liberal optimism has soundly defeated the naysayers. Marx's warning of cataclysmic economic contradictions between capital and labour proved as wide of the mark as Daniel Bell's fears a century later of the cultural contradiction between workplace discipline and consumer hedonism. Even rising crime rates and the breakdown of the traditional family do not threaten the liberal order. Francis Fukuyama's "end of history," in which liberal democracy and capitalism prevail, is premised on the superiority of western military technology, which enables individualistic societies to inoculate themselves against the challenge from more cohesive "barbarian" ones. Fukuyama is right. We may suffer terrorism, but terrorists cannot destroy our complex societies. Yet all this assumes the demographic sustainability of liberal capitalism. If Fukuyama's "last men" cannot replace themselves, they will be succeeded by those with a more traditional outlook.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Baggies Boss

Scribbles seems to have the player psychology sorted.

'There's enough material here for a whole conference'

Let's start with our wonderful criminal justice system.

A chap beats his lover to death when she decides not to leave her husband for him.

Manslaughter, obviously. No reasonable person could have supposed that smacking a woman round the head with a wooden mallet was likely to kill her, could they now ?

2001. A mighty seven years for this 26 year old. Let all evil-doers tremble.

"He was released on licence from his seven-year sentence in October 2004."

Let's move on to a the Carter family - the British one. Mum has a daughter of 16 - or maybe 15. I'm not sure I'd want my young daughter to be 'seeing' someone of 31 - let alone a guy with a track record like that.

Ah well. Pity about the kids. The little girl's freckled nose and clear gaze remind me of my darling. Poor child. How could anyone ?

On the evening of March 9 he allegedly rode his motorbike from his mother's bedsit in Leek where he was staying to nearby Cheddleton with a holdall containing at least one can of petrol, a tealight and a cigarette lighter.

The trial at Stafford Crown Court was told that Goldstraw probably let himself in at about 11.30pm, spread petrol around the hallway and set the fire.

The resulting petrol vapour explosion woke the neighbours, one of whom heard Marcus's chilling screams through their shared wall, and some rushed outside to see his sister Patricia trapped in the front bedroom.

But the intensity of the blaze that followed meant no-one could be saved - fire officers said it was the worst they had ever seen.

Meanwhile Goldstraw is alleged to have run from the scene to the pub where he had concealed his motorbike, ridden back to the home of his mother, Lucia, and taken a shower.

He was arrested the following morning but refused to comment on his whereabouts the previous evening.

Police found his fleece, jeans and trainers in a wheelie-bin outside his mother's home, Mr Hotten said. They smelt strongly of petrol and bore scorch marks.

A teddy bear, necklace, pair of earrings and watch identified by Mrs Carter as belonging to Samantha were found in his leather jacket, he added.

And a holdall found discarded close to the scene of the fire contained petrol residues and fibres matching Goldstraw's fleece.

In addition, the jury were told that a witness who saw a man running from the blaze had identified him as Goldstraw.

Mr Hotten said Goldstraw had been convicted of manslaughter in 2001 for battering his lover Deborah Wheatley to death with a mallet after she said she would not leave her husband for him.

He was released on licence from his seven-year sentence in October 2004.

While this might be "an unfortunate coincidence", he said, it could explain "why this man, of all men, would react with murderous violence when others would not have done".

Goldstraw is charged with four counts of murder, all of which he denies. He later claimed he was riding his bike around Leek at the time of the fire.

More Smoking Lunacy

Eight months ago smoking is banned in the workplace :

But as it turns out, the emotional cries of 'what about the workers ?' from Labour MPs contain 50% crocodile tears by volume. Some workers are more important than others. Nurses and care home staff can breathe smoke for all they care - because for the purposes of the bill care homes are 'private residences'. So can prison officers and staff - because the government are scared of violent reactions from people supposedly in the power of the State if 'snout' is taken away. Tells you everything about our rulers. Besides, what would they mix their dope with ?

You can add teachers to the nurses, care home staff and prison officers whose health isn't that important .

A city learning centre has taken a "special approach to a very serious problem" by allowing pupils to smoke between lessons, it has emerged.

Students at Tinshill Learning Centre in Leeds can smoke in an outdoor facility during breaks, as long as they have parental permission.

Education Leeds said the new policy aimed to help pupils stop smoking and reduce confrontations with teachers.

"Reduce confrontations with teachers". Otherwise known as "the laws don't apply if you're violent enough".

Help Mirza Tahir Hussain

Due to be executed in Pakistan Nov 1, cleared by the secular courts, retried and convicted of murder by a sharia court.

It's rarely I link to those snivelling lefties at Amnesty International, who didn't lift a finger to help Harry Hammond, but I'll make an exception here. Not often I'm on the same side as George Galloway, either.

The guy was 18, on his first visit to Pakistan, getting a taxi from the airport to his ancestral village. Is it likely he'd decide to rob and kill his taxi-driver en route ?

You can email Tony Blair here.

(Note that the website of the socially inclusive, on-the-side-of-the-little-guy Prime Minister doesn't work with Firefox. It's the same incompetence that leads Government departments to reply to information requests with data in the latest format of Excel or Word . You mean some people haven't got Office 2003 ?)

Anti-Christian Police Advert - ASA adjudication

Remember the anti-Christian Gay Police advert ?

It stated: "In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator."

At the time I noted that the GPA website didn't seem to have the detailed figures. Surprise surprise, they couldn't provide any to the ASA either. I thought the police weren't supposed to make things up - isn't that a criminal offence ?

The GPA ad was deemed to have breached the code in terms of decency, truthfulness and substantiation.

The Gay Police Association (GPA) said the ad was devised to coincide with the 2006 Euro-Pride event and was intended to highlight the reporting of homophobic hate crime, in particular, incidents where religion was given as justification for an offence. They said their helpline had received almost 250 calls related to homophobic incidents between April 2005 and March 2006, a 74% increase on the previous year. These included general enquiries, requests for assistance and allegations of discrimination in the workplace.

They said the ad was designed to be thought-provoking and challenging. They accepted that the imagery and headline used were primarily Christian, but argued that accompanying text made clear the issues referred to were not exclusive to Christianity. They said it was never their intention to castigate and describe all followers of religion as homophobic. They pointed out, however, that most of the incidents they recorded were weighted against Christianity, while approximately one-quarter referred to Islam and the Muslim faith.

Think I'll leave it at that.

Phwwwooaarr !

It's Velasquez time at the National Gallery.

As a child I'd spend hours reading a Reprint Society volume of my mother's called "Paintings of the World's Great Galleries" - you can still find it on ebay. We had to make our own amusement then.

Even before I'd reached the age of discretion (and appreciation of the female posterior) I thought the Rokeby Venus was wonderful.

(For some reason I was also taken with Yves Tanguy. 'Multiplication des Arcs' looked like an organic, futuristic cityscape. And 'From Green to White' is reminiscent of HP Lovecraft's nightmare Antarctic city in 'At The Mountains of Madness'.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Illegal Immigration in South Africa

I'm sorry I missed this C4 programme.

The team then travel to the suburb of Diepsloot where the local South African business community has written an extraordinary letter to Somalian shopkeepers asking them to leave. The shopkeepers - who say they’re asylum seekers rather than illegal immigrants - fear they will suffer similar violent attacks to those suffered by other immigrant communities.

A group of protestors gathers, demanding that South Africa should be for South Africans only. One woman tells Unreported World that black South Africans fought long and hard to gain their freedom (and) that these benefits are now being stolen by illegal immigrants.

Hat-tip - Mitch.

Orange Juice Crisis

Forget the veil, Blunkett's machine guns and out-of-control orders - this is really important.

Having a large family, I buy own-brand orange juice in large quantities from whoever sells it cheapest - usually Lidl, Aldi or Tesco. 35p/litre would be a typical price.

Last week Aldi & Lidl hiked their prices to 48p - by strange chance the same as Tesco had raised theirs to.This week they're 58/59p ! Same at Morrisons. Sainsburys never was cheap.

The price of bog-standard juice from concentrate has increased by 70% in about a month.

What's going on ? Is this a Gloucestershire cartel thing or is it happening everywhere ?

A quick Google tells me that Hurricane Wilma and a few of her little friends have done bad things to Florida over the past few years.

The initial U.S. all-orange forecast ("the all-orange forecast" - I like it. Is that like the All-Shares Index ? - LT) for the 2006-07 season is 7.89 million tons, down 11% from last season's final output of 8.9 million, according to a report from the U.S. Agriculture Department released Thursday.

Florida's all-orange forecast of 135 million boxes was down 9% from last year's "hurricane-reduced crop," the USDA said.

That would be the lowest Florida orange crop since 1990, according to the Associated Press.

That latest prediction was also 44% lower than the final utilization for the 2003-04 season, which was the state's last nonhurricane-reduced crop, the USDA said.

"It's becoming harder to grow oranges in Florida," said Todd Hultman, president of

As of Aug 31, there were 888 million pounds of frozen orange juice in cold storage in the United States, he said. That's down 36% from a year ago.

The strange thing is that freshly squeezed own-brand Florida is still £1.39/l or £2/2l in Morrisons - no change at all. Why isn't the price of fresh affected ? And why does a 17% wholesale rise translate into a 70% retail one ?

According to this September BBC article, the evil Americans are erecting trade barriers to Brazilian juice to protect the Florida growers, so the juice floods into the EU but trickles into the US. It's certainly not flooding into these parts.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Eureka !

I couldn't understand it. Jack Straw's remarks about the veil. Why did he make them ?

Alright, they were pretty unexceptional - couched as a polite request. But he must have known that it doesn't take much to offend the ummah - or their self-appointed spokespersons, anyway. And he'd spent the previous few years bowing and scraping in best dhimmi fashion - preferring to look the other way when Muslims avoided Holocaust Memorial Day, for example.

Some said he was trying to look tougher than John Reid or jockeying for the Deputy Leadership. Didn't feel right. Was he genuinely worried for social cohesion ? Could he possibly be sincere ? I asked the sainted Mick Hartley and he thought this was probable.

The other Ministers waded in. Phil Woolas - like Jack Straw, representing a community with a strong BNP vote. Then Gordon Brown. Harriet Harman (and Trevor Phillips, who I've noted before seems to have opened his eyes a little). Ruth Kelly. The mighty Prescott. Those Labour MPs who demur, like John Denham, are not in the inner circle. Of the Cabinet, only Peter Hain has to my knowledge expressed misgivings.

Still didn't make sense. Why now ? Traditionally the Government's response to radical Islam has been :

3,000 dead in New York - extra police patrols to protect mosques. Fund reports on Islamophobia. Orgy of breast-beating and apology. Throw taxpayer money at Muslim pressure groups and "community projects".

56 dead in London - extra police patrols to protect mosques. Blanket condemnation of Islamophobia. More money thrown.

London bombers turn out to be British-born. Set up working parties on exclusion and Islamophobia. More funding. Working parties blame terrorism on British foreign policy, racism and Islamophobia.

Cartoon brouhaha. Congratulate the British press on its wise restraint.

Demonstrators call for the murder of those who insult Islam. Police arrest angry passers-by while ignoring the placards.

The past is not necessarily a guide to the future. The trees do not grow up to the sky. Yet there's nothing in the Government's past record to lead one to expect such a volte-face. What happened ?

You've just got to conclude that Mohammed Abdul Bari's September 10th Sunday Telegraph interview was the camel that broke the Straw's back.

" ... some police officers and sections of the media are demonising Muslims, treating them as if they're all terrorists — and that encourages other people to do the same. If that demonisation continues, then Britain will have to deal with two million Muslim terrorists — 700,000 of them in London"

This interview, so noted by rightish bloggers, somehow failed to be reported by the BBC or Guardian. The MCB have complained that Bari was misquoted, to which the journalist replied "I have consulted my notes, and stand by the story as written."

To this Muslim blogger, Bari's remarks were "an error on a grand scale". It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder, eh ? But I'd have to agree. It was the latest in a series of incidents in which a few individual Muslims seem to have set out to prove that Islamophobic stereotyping is actually a pretty good predictor of reality.

The BNP leader Nick Griffin was charged with using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred after a 2004 speech in which he claimed that there would be bomb attacks by "asylum seekers or second generation Pakistanis living in Bradford". A year later there were bomb attacks by second generation Pakistanis from Leeds and Dewsbury, and the arrest of refugees after a failed bombing attempt.

In 2004, Home Office Minister Paul Goggins illustrated the kind of evil that a Religious Hatred law could prevent :

you might get a poster "showing women wearing burkas, saying that such women are not to be trusted, er, could be suicide bombers, er, who knows what they are hiding under their coats, a poster of that kind ..."
Then the Times reported :

A MALE suspect in a major anti-terrorist investigation in Britain escaped capture by allegedly disguising himself as a Muslim woman dressed in a burka, The Times can reveal.

Now Mr Bari has, with one interview, made it nigh-on impossible to prosecute anyone who suggests or implies that any Muslim is a potential terrorist. After all, hasn't the MCB secretary said so himself ? Nobody can demonise the Muslim community more impressively than that, can they ?

So I imagine the Government are doubly cheesed off.

Firstly, the responses to their various consultation exercises post 7/7 have been, let's say, not exactly encouraging. Their attempts to 'engage' have been met with a chorus of complaint and accusation coupled with requests for more funding - a tactic which up to now has been pretty successful. But it seems there's a limit even for this government.

The Government withdrew its support from Britain’s largest Muslim organisation yesterday after accusing it of failing to lead the fight against religious extremism.

Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, attacked the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) for boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day, criticising police anti-terrorist operations and “sitting on the sidelines” in the campaign against extremists.

Secondly, I've got no idea what the polls are saying, but I can't believe that the (pre-veil) events of the last year - the foreign prisoner scandal, the huge influx of economic migrants, the cartoon row - have had no impact on public opinion. At the end of the month the BNP leader's retrial begins (the jury failed to reach a verdict last time out). It certainly won't hurt the Government to be seen to be "tough on extremism" at such a time.

You never know - they may even be worried about the votes of the despised white working class.

UPDATE - I'd better point out that no matter what noises Straw and Kelly make, there's not a cat in hell's chance that they'll actually do anything about the long-term demographic challenge.

Ah, wad some power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us !

Indian journalist Gitanjali Prasad on the British family and the media and intellectual classes, in summary and detail.