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Question your answers, truth has no anger — Collective Soul

Posts Tagged ‘uk’

Royal wedding

So Wills and Kate are getting hitched next April at Westminster Abbey, where Princess Diana’s funeral was held and where a number of royal weddings have taken place in recent years:

Several members of his family have wed there, including the Queen’s sister. Princess Margaret in 1960, William’s aunt Princess Anne in 1973 and his uncle Prince Andrew in 1986. All three marriages ended in divorce.

Hmmm. I wonder if the happy couple believes in omens.

That sounds like a threat to me

Islamist group Islam4UK, expressing outrage over their recent ban by the British government:

Bakri said that the ban was ”the gravest mistake,” describing his group was peaceful think-tank whose younger members would be pushed toward violence if it were driven underground.

[ . . . ]

”We (were) never involved with any violence, yet,” he said.

Yet, eh? Sounds awfully close to a threat, there.

Now, normally I would be inclined to agree that banning any group for holding views, however offensive or despicable, is a violation of freedom of speech as long as no other laws are being transgressed. But in this case, we’re not just talking about pissing people off by marching:

Bakri’s group argues that, as Muslims, they’re not bound by British law and has expressed support for bin Laden and al-Qaida. In its previous incarnation as al-Muhajiroun, the group was linked to several terror suspects and was accused of recruiting British Muslims to fight in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Bakri has acknowledged that some of al-Muhajiroun members have engaged in militant attacks but says the group can’t be held responsible for their actions.

Bakri, who was deported from Britain in 2005, added that, whatever happened, his followers could regroup under a different name.

”Tomorrow we can call ourselves whatever we think is suitable for us,” he said.

He’s right, of course. Banning the groups won’t erase the sentiment. But allowing them to openly collect funds and organise isn’t the answer either. The British government might have reacted to the wrong thing – moral outrage at the group’s planned (and cancelled) protest march through Wootton Bassett – when they implemented the ban. But it’s clear that we’re not just talking about distasteful speech here, but illegal actions. And that’s where the line gets drawn.

And they can always ban whatever the group decides to call itself tomorrow, too.

UK to eliminate cheques

Cheque’s in the mail? Not after 2018 in the UK, it seems:

Cheques will disappear within eight years after the Payments Council decided today to abolish the 350-year-old payment method by October 2018.

[. . . ]

The decision will save banks hundreds of millions of pounds a year, as each cheque costs banks about £1 to process – that is four times more expensive than electronic payments.

So far, no sign that Canada plans to follow suit. But it wouldn’t surprise me too much. Just to give you an idea of how often I actually write cheques, mine are so old that they still have my previous address… from two moves ago.

Flying with British Airways for the holidays?

Maybe not. If you’ve got an airline ticket with British Airways this Christmas season, you may be SOL, as BA employees are threatening to strike:

“We are absolutely determined to do whatever we can to protect our customers from this appalling, unjustified decision from Unite,” BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said in a statement. “We do not want to see a million Christmases ruined.”

The planned strike, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, follows a dispute with cabin crew over job losses and changes in work practices. BA plans to cut 1,700 jobs, freeze pay for current staff and offer lower wages for new employees.

The airline is appealing to the courts for an injunction to stop the strike, on the grounds that there were “voting irregularities” in the balloting. But if you’re one of the millions of people with a BA airline ticket for Christmas break, you’ll probably want to watch this one carefully.

One of these days, labour and management will figure out how to have it out without getting millions of bystanders trapped in the crossfire.

Update 9/17: A court injunction has been awarded to British Airways to block the strike.

London in the snow

This is what happens when it snows in England.

Hockey in London?

With soccer on the rise in North America, I guess the NHL feels that it may be time for another sporting cultural exchange attempt with Europe, and has announced that the Ducks and Kings will open next season with two games in London. That’s London England, not London Ontario. (I had to read it twice, too.)

The O2 Arena, Europe’s most state-of-the-art entertainment venue, will stage the historic games on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30.

“Our commitment to grow the game globally has never been stronger,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “The NHL is extremely proud to be represented in London by two great hockey organizations in the Ducks and Kings as well as to be recording NHL history at such a fantastic facility in the O2.”

Something tells me that the Brits won’t suddenly fall for hockey en masse. Though the sport is not all that different from their beloved football, it suffers from a few massive drawbacks in translation; namely, the hiding of players’ hairdos under helmets, the low tolerance for diving, the game’s general absence of irony in favour of straightforward vulgarity, the utter and complete lack of any good hockey songs (Stompin’ Tom Connors doesn’t count), and the fact that – especially with the new format – more than one goal tends to be scored in a game. Not to mention the whole pesky played-on-ice thing.

On the other hand, there are probably enough expat Canadians living in London to fill the arena. Which begs the question of why they’d send two California teams instead of two Canadian ones. Retribution for David Beckham, perhaps?

British claim to have foiled bomb plot

British authorities claim that they have foiled a terrorist plot to blow up major transatlantic airlines:

The threat level to the UK has been raised by MI5 to critical after the arrests in London, High Wycombe and Birmingham.

Critical threat level – the highest – means “an attack is expected imminently and indicates an extremely high level of threat to the UK”.

Three US airlines are believed to have been targeted.

Mr Reid said had the attack gone ahead it would have caused a loss of life of “unprecedented scale”.

Scary stuff.

We’re going to be hearing a lot of skepticism and moonbat conspiracy theories in the next few days. But I’d much prefer to deal with those than with the innocent loss of life that could have resulted here. In six months, probably nobody will remember this – but better that than a repeat of 9/11.

Leadership battle in Britain

Pieter at Peaktalk links to the latest news from the UK, where Tony Blair is fending off the leadership challenge from Gordon Brown as long as he can manage it.

Pieter’s not impressed and, as he rightly points out, the situation mirrors that of the Canadian Liberals a little too closely:

Many have pointed to the analogy with Canada where a defiant and successful ten-year stint in office was not sufficient for Jean Chrétien to ward off the coup by his former finance minister, Paul Martin. What is telling is that Martin’s successful attempt to dislodge Chrétien – who like Blair had long outlived his popularity – was not based on any justifiable policy difference or other quantifiable ideological rift, but on the simple logic that it was Martin’s turn. Not the greatest rationale for seeking the highest office in the land, and we have all witnessed the incredible mess that ensued as it became painfully clear that the absence of any sound content turned Martin’s tenure at Sussex Drive into an utterly forgettable one. It was a power grab for power’s sake, nothing more and nothing less.

It is too early to tell whether Brown’s move into Downing Street will yield the same sorry spectacle, but given the relatively late stage of Labour’s tenure and the strength of a resurgent conservative opposition, it may not be a very pretty one.

What is it with these finance ministers and their sense of entitlement, anyway?

Since I’ve never missed an opportunity to quote the West Wing, why start now? Here’s a quote from season four, shortly after Bartlet is re-elected for his second term, when Josh finds out that Vice-President Hoynes is already lining up precinct captains for the next election:

Josh: We got [Hoynes] on the ticket by convincing him it’s not his turn. We kept him out of the center ring ’cause it wasn’t his turn, and now…

Toby: There aren’t any turns.

When did Canada, the US or the UK turn into Cuba or North Korea? We’ve got politicians getting elected because of who their fathers were (*ahem* Dubya), politicians assuming it’s their “turn”, and power being handed over as though it was someone’s to hand.

Memo to the British Labour Party: Pieter’s right. The Canadian Liberals haven’t recovered from the Chrétien-Martin fiasco, and surely there’s a warning in there somewhere for you as well.

Senseless

July 7, 2005, this was the scene in London. Less than 24 hours after the city jubilantly celebrated being awarded the 2012 Olympics, terror struck on the London public transport network, claiming 57 lives and shaking the city, country and world to the core.

There was little evidence of the scene a year ago as I rode the Underground around London last week. There are posters up everywhere urging vigilance about things like unattended baggage or suspicious characters, much like those in the New York City subway, but for the most part it seemed to be business as usual (complete with typical line delays and suspensions wreaking commuter havoc).

One year ago, people were reacting in shock and horror. But today, even as memorial services are held, what has changed? Can we really say that things have improved, any more than we were able to say so a year, or two, or three, or four after the 9/11 attacks rocked New York? Whether people are fearful of threatened “anniversary attacks”, still mourning personal losses, or trying to come to grips with “what it all means”, it’s hard to find any lessons to learn here. Maybe that is the lesson after all; terrorism is senseless and teaches us nothing beyond what we already knew, that it is terrible and must be wiped out. Maybe to reach for any other lessons is to attribute too useful a purpose to such a senseless act. I don’t know, and I don’t pretend to have the answers.

Today, London and the whole world remembers. Another senseless anniversary, another senseless tragedy.

Galloway’s idea of a “good cause”

British MP and general wackjob George Galloway has come under fire from Israel for promising to donate any money he wins from his participation on the reality show “Big Brother” to a terrorist front organization:

The Israeli embassy last night became the latest critic of George Galloway after it denounced him for choosing Interpal as his nominated Big Brother charity, claiming it is a front for Palestinian terrorists. The organisation vehemently denies the charge.

[ . . . ]

However, UK ministers are coming under increased pressure to ban Interpal. In August 2003, the US administration claimed it was “a principal charity utilised to hide the flow of money to Hamas”, branded it a “specially designated terrorist” organisation and froze its assets in America.

Interpal was also banned by Israel in 1997.

Surprised? Nah, not really. Galloway’s true colours have been clear for a long time, and this is far from the most shocking thing he has done. Then again, raising money for terrorists who blow up innocent Israelis is probably considered a good thing in Galloway’s twisted mind.

(Hat tip: Tom).

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