Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

Canon Andrew White at Alton Maltings

June 20, 2014
Andrew White Alton book signing

Andrew White Alton book signing

I never knew Alton had a Maltings. Signposting needed from the town centre.

An excellent job done on the interior of the building. Strangely, you enter at rafter level. A large meeting hall (ideal for concerts) and a cafe. I did not explore the lower levels, but was told contained meeting rooms.

Tea was served in paper cups. Not good for the environment. The coffee I was told was single sourced.

Following a blessing in Aramaic, Canon Andrew White started by giving the background of how he came to be in Iraq.

At age ten, he was asked by his teacher, what would he like to be.

An anaesthetist and a priest.

You cannot be both, and you are a Pentecostalist, and they do not have priests.

Andrew was an anaesthetist at St Thomas in London, where he headed the cardiac arrest unit, then gave it up to be a priest.

Christian theology he did not find very interesting,and changed to oriental studies, part of which included studying in Israel at an Ultra-Orthodox University.

He became a curate, then a priest, and was then sent to Coventry, to be part of the peace and reconciliation unit. It had until then focussed on Europe. With his background in the Middle East, it changed focus to Middle East.

He was sent to Iraq, to St George’s Church, an Anglican Church that was derelict.

At first he was not wanted, you are bombing us. No, it is not I who is bombing you.

He had a minder. One day, the minder told him he was invited to dinner. He was to be guest of the two sons of Saddam Hussein. He at first decided to decline the invitation, but his minder pleaded with him to say yes, else he and his family would be executed.

Originally, St George served the diplomats, the military, but when it proved too dangerous, the Iraqis.

First week one hundred, second week two hundred, third week, three hundred, fourth week four hundred. Not bad growth rate, one hundred a week. Eventually six and a half thousand.

More than just a church. A food distribution centre, a school, a clinic.

Several types of service: wacky for the children, Anglican for the Embassy, very formal Catholic for the Iraqis.

The service at St George’s is in Aramaic

Iraq had a very good education system, Iraqis were well educated. It has now collapsed, those with education and the means, have fled the country, leaving behind the poor and uneducated.

More than looking after the church, also involved in peace and reconciliation.

Prior to 2003, there was not a problem of sectarian violence. One was an Iraqi. Now one is a Sunni or a Shia. Under Saddam Hussein, Sunni minority ran the country, now it is a Shia majority.

ISIS aka ISIL is an insurgency and a terrorist organisation. It is well funded, paymasters are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

The country has de-facto broken into three.

In the last year, over 1200 of the congregation of St George has been killed. In the last two weeks, 1000 have been killed.

People fled Baghdad as deemed not safe, back to their homeland, back to Mosul. Minerva is a Christian area. It is this area that has been overrun by ISIS.

Churches need to take much more account of what is happening in the Middle East.

Next week, Andrew returns to Iraq, to begin reconciliation talks with Sunni leaders.

Running the church, its various programmes, reconciliation, all costs money. It is only made possible by the generosity of people in the UK. If every church, held but one collection for the work that is being done, it would make a huge difference.

Sales of books went very well.

The meeting had been publicised in other churches. Farnham Parish Church had a poster in the porch. More though needs to be done communicating with the wider community. The press invited.

The dire situation in Iraq will only improve if the government changes, and is inclusive of all Iraqis, including the Christians, who are the minority of the minority.

The talk was filmed, and it is hoped once edited, to have uploaded to the net possibly as early as Sunday. It will be added here once available.

Andrew White is author of several books, including Vicar of Baghdad and Faith under Fire.

Andrew White is recipient of the Wilberforce Award.

Tiananmen Square 25th Anniversary

June 4, 2014
Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Less we never forget, Tiananmen Square massacre took place 25 years ago, when the Red Army of the People’s Republic of China brutally massacred its own people.

Following the massacre, it was not mentioned, this terrible massacre was expunged from the collective memory.

A few years ago, I met one of the survivors, an eye witness account to what took place.

He said, if you raise it in China, no one knows what you are talking about, if you show pictures, they are in a state of denial, it could not have happened, it must be American propaganda.

A young reporter once wrote about Tiananmen Square. Because no one knows about it the reporter was not aware it was not something that could not be written about.

Such is the state of censorship, not only may Tiananmen Square not be mentioned, but neither the date 4 of June.

A couple of years ago I was with two delightful Chinese girls. I was very surprised they were aware of Tiananmen Square. They said there are ways of getting around the censors.

Corporate death sentence

May 29, 2014
killer corporations

killer corporations

Corporations have rights as pseudo-human beings, for example as pseudo-human beings, the right to free speech, the right to be a litigant in court. But with one important difference, corporations are like zombies, they live forever.

If corporations are like human beings, should they not face the death sentence for their corporate crimes?

A hit list is being drawn up, who should we eliminate. You vote, you can even add to the list, with your own suggestion of a corporation worthy of inclusion on the hit list, McDonald’s, for example, or Royal Bank of Scotland or Nestlé.

  • Exxon – crimes against humanity
  • BP – ecocide
  • Monsanto – pure evil
  • Walmart – abuse of workers, destruction of small towns
  • General Motors – criminal neglect
  • Pfizer – abuse of public trust
  • Philip Morris – getting away with murder
  • JP Morgan Chase – fraud
  • GoldmanSachs – bloodsucking vampire

Once chosen as No 1 on the hit list, there will be a global attempt to hand down the corporate death sentence, to destroy the corporation.

If we can take out one, we can take out them all.

Majorité Opprimée

April 16, 2014

A rather depressing French film.

A commentary on society.

Bible bashing

March 31, 2014
Bible bashing

Bible bashing

If you’re using the Bible to hurt other people, you’re using it wrong.

Love does no harm to its neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. — Romans 13:10

The Bishop of Guildford’s Lent Call

March 28, 2014
Lent Call

Lent Call

Make Lent count in a different way this year, with the Count Your Blessings calendar available to all our parishes. Throughout Lent, the short reflections and actions detailed are intended to inspire us all to give thanks for the blessings in life and enable us to help change the lives of those less fortunate – both at home and abroad. – Bishop Ian

Count Your Blessings is a reminder to us to reflect on our blessings from God. Living as we do in relative wealth, it asks us to make a generous response that will bring hope and a blessing to communities living in poverty. So let’s go for it! Let’s count our blessings and be prepared to share them. — The Right Reverend Ian Brackley, Bishop of Dorking

I was on my way to lunch at Guildford Institute, but diverted to a bowl of soup and a piece of bread at St Nicolas Church.

On the tables were leaflets, Make Lent Count, with thought provoking messages for each day of Lent, with possible responses. These were grouped into themes for week days and weekends.

Our climate is changing, with more extreme weather hitting the poorest hardest, at home and abroad.

The planet burns whilst our politicians fiddle. Extreme weather events are becoming the norm. No action is being taken to curb global warming, the floods that hit Surrey and other parts of England this winter were preventable had money been spent on soft defences, rewilding, and there been implementation of better farming practices.

Despite us having the technology and the knowledge that we need, a staggering 783 million people still do not have access to clean drinking water.

Give 20p for every drink of water you have today.

It is a scandal the chairman of Nestlé sees water as a commodity not a basic human right.

There are now over 30 food banks and breakfast clubs in Surrey and north-east Hampshire.

UK is a wealthy country, and yet food banks are the fastest growing sector. When this was debated in Parliament, the chamber was almost empty, and yet it was full to overflowing when MPs salaries was debated.

Nearly half the population of Africa live on less than $1.25 a day. Most of us have spent that by the time we’ve had breakfast.

Consider taking the Christian Aid Live Below the Line challenge and get an idea of what it’s like to live in hunger.

Living on less than a dollar a day in a Money Economy, is to live in dire poverty. In a self-sufficient or Gift Economy, the figure becomes meaningless as living outside the Money Economy.

Tax dodging by some unscrupulous multinational companies costs poor countries and their communities an estimated $160bn every year – far more than the global aid budget.

Support UK Uncut in taking direct action against tax dodgers.

How to Punish Putin

March 23, 2014

MOSCOW — AS I write this, I am under house arrest. I was detained at a rally in support of anti-Putin protesters who were jailed last month.

In September, I ran for mayor of Moscow as a pro-reform, pro-democracy opposition candidate and received almost a third of the vote despite having no access to state media. Today, my blog, which was until recently visited by over two million readers per month, has been blocked as “extremist” after I called for friendly ties with Ukraine and compliance with international law.

For years, I have been telling journalists that President Vladimir V. Putin’s approval rating would soon peak and then tumble. Russia’s economy is stagnant, I said, and the Russian people would soon weary of the president’s empty promises. Even a rally-round-the-flag military adventure — a “little war,” as it’s known in Russia — would be impossible, I believed. Russia no longer had enemies.

Then, on Feb. 28, Russia sent troops to Ukraine in precisely such a “little war.” I admit that I underestimated Mr. Putin’s talent for finding enemies, as well as his dedication to ruling as “president for life,” with powers on par with the czars’.

As a citizen and patriot, I cannot support actions against Russia that would worsen conditions for our people. Still, I recommend two options that, if successfully implemented, I believe would be welcomed by most Russians.

First, although Mr. Putin’s invasion has already prompted the European Union to impose sanctions on 21 officials, and the United States on seven, most of these government figures cannot be considered influential. They do not have major assets outside Russia and are irrelevant to Mr. Putin; sanctioning them will not change Russia’s policy. After all the tough talk from Western politicians, this action is mocked in Russia and even seen as a tacit encouragement to Mr. Putin and his entourage, who seem to possess some magical immunity.

Instead, Western nations could deliver a serious blow to the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the Kremlin’s cronies who shuttle between Russia and the West. This means freezing the oligarchs’ financial assets and seizing their property.

Such sanctions should primarily target Mr. Putin’s inner circle, the Kremlin mafia who pillage the nation’s wealth, including Gennady N. Timchenko, head of the Volga Group; Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, influential businessmen and former judo sparring partners of Mr. Putin; Yuri V. Kovalchuk, a financier believed to be Mr. Putin’s banker; Vladimir I. Yakunin, president of Russian Railways; the oligarchs Roman A. Abramovich and Alisher B. Usmanov; and Igor I. Sechin and Aleksei B. Miller, the heads of Rosneft and Gazprom, respectively.

The sanctions must also hit the oligarchs whose media outlets parrot the regime lines, and target Mr. Putin’s entire “war cabinet”: the TV spin doctors, compliant Duma members and apparatchiks of Mr. Putin’s United Russia Party.

The invasion of Ukraine has polarized members of Russia’s elite, many of whom view it as reckless. Real sanctions, such as blocking access to their plush London apartments, will show that Mr. Putin’s folly comes with serious costs.

Second, Western authorities must investigate ill-gotten gains from Russia within their jurisdictions. The Anti-Corruption Foundation, which I established in 2011, has revealed dozens of major cases of graft. In 90 percent of those cases, Russian money was laundered in the West. Sadly, American, European Union and British law enforcement agencies have stymied our efforts to investigate such criminal plunder.

“Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,” Mr. Putin claimed this week. But even among the most nationalist and pro-Soviet of our people, a longing to restore Crimea to Russian rule faded years ago.

Yet Mr. Putin has cynically raised nationalist fervor to a fever pitch; imperialist annexation is a strategic choice to bolster his regime’s survival. Mobilizing the masses by distracting them from real problems like corruption and economic stagnation can take place only beneath the banner of fighting external enemies.

What is truly alarming in Mr. Putin’s rash behavior is that he is motivated by the desire for revenge against the Ukrainian people for revolting against a Kremlin-friendly government. A rational actor would know that the precedent of holding a local referendum to determine sovereignty is risky for Russia — a federation of more than 80 disparate regions, including more than 160 ethnic groups and at least 100 languages.

It is true that the consensus in both Russia and Crimea is that the peninsula has historically been closer to Moscow than to Kiev. But the notion that this reunification should be achieved at the end of the barrel of a gun is supported only by Mr. Putin’s hard-core base. The opposition has spoken clearly. The antiwar protest held in Moscow over the weekend was the largest in two years, and it exceeded any counterdemonstration mustered by pro-Kremlin movements.

There is a common delusion among the international community that although Mr. Putin is corrupt, his leadership is necessary because his regime subdues the dark, nationalist forces that otherwise would seize power in Russia. The West should admit that it, too, has underestimated Mr. Putin’s malign intent. It is time to end the dangerous delusion that enables him.

– Alexey A Navalny

Alexey A Navalny is a Russian lawyer, anti-corruption activist and opposition politician. He is currently under house arrest, his popular blog shut down.

Originally published by the New York Times.

A sign of the times

March 12, 2014
admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap

admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap

Admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap, not a symbol that those who enter are unclean, but as a contribution to a local food bank.

Food banks are the fastest growing sector of the economy in the UK, a clear sign of the failure of the evil ConDem government. Hit the poor and elderly, the vulnerable and disabled, help the rich get richer and take a softy softly approach to tax dodgers.

snouts in the trough

snouts in the trough

When Members of Parliament debated poverty and food banks, the chamber of the House of Commons was almost empty, when it came to discussing their own salaries, it was full to overflowing. Business as usual, pigs with their snouts in the trough.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven.

    Matthew 19:23-25: And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”

    Mark 10:24-26: The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?”

Top Story in War On The Working Poor (Thursday 13 March 2013).

Edward Snowden talks to German TV

January 29, 2014

Edward Snowden talking to Germany’s NDR who he chose to make his first television interview since he blew the whistle on NSA’s global dragnet and illegal surveillance. The 30-minute interview was made in strict secrecy in an unspecified location in Russia, where Snowden is currently living under temporary asylum.

At the beginning of the interview, Edward Snowden talks of seeking Russian police protection, because of threats to kill him by the military-security-industrial complex in the US.

If we contract security and intelligence out to private companies, we run two risks: the first is they inflate the value of the intelligence for their own profit, the second is that they use the intelligence for their own commercial gain.

Expansion of Israeli Embassy in South Kensington

January 3, 2014

Local shopkeepers are told they are to be demolished to make way for expansion of Israeli Embassy.

Planning permission?

No, this land is ours, we were given it by God.

A letter?

We generally send the bulldozers in first, be we do try to give at least a couple of hours notice, if you are lucky.

Before it was your land it was our land, so we’re really going to take what’s rightfully ours…

We’ve got a very very old planning book, it’s about 2000 years old…

This is our land as given to us by the almighty…

Without putting too fine a point on it, mate, they’re going to bulldoze your land.…

Can I have a letter?

We generally go with bulldozers first, and letters later…

And you see all those olives you’ve got in the deli display there, they’re ours too…

I’m finding that smile a bit anti-Semitic, mate, so you should really wise up with your face….

You’re being a bit anti-Semitic. It’s only a conservatory.


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