Tuesday, January 23, 2007

trafficking convention

Some of you who were paying attention may remember me sending a letter while ago to the government regarding the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

Well, I was very pleased to read an Ekklesia report today that the UK government is about to do just that. A 10 Downing Street press release appears to finally put this issue to bed.

Hurrah. Only about a year too late, but never mind.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Supporting the Enough campaign.

Monday, January 15, 2007

the fabled Palestinian strawberry

Last night I couldn't sleep. I'm planning a multi-country foreign trip and I guess my brain was in overdrive, one way and another.

For some reason I was thinking about the dangers of being mugged and/or having your wallet and travel documents stolen. I was wondering whether anyone produces 'dummy' creditcards - bits of plastic you could put into your wallet with a small amount of cash and give to a mugger, who would then think it was legitimate.

Subsequent research indicates that prepaid 'pay-as-you-go' payment cards exist, such as this one from the post office, but bizarrely, whilst it should not be possible to pay out more than is on the card, the small print indicates that in a small number of un-named circumstances you might be liable for payments over the limit. Surely it would be better to have a card that cannot be used by anyone for anything. Apparently other people just use out-of-date cards (which I methodically tear up into tiny pieces) or ones that are sent to them by direct mailings (which I've stopped). Clearly there is a gap in the market.

Meanwhile, I nearly fell through the floor at my local greengrocer when I saw 'Palestinian' strawberries for sale. They were marketted under the Carmel label by an Israeli company called Agrexco. Unbeknown to me, it appears that there is quite a campaign of action against this company in progress.

Lesson being: a) it is not impossible to export from Gaza unless b) you are Palestinian and therefore as a grower c) you are taken for a ride by whichever Israeli company owns the monopoly on distribution.

And another thing I've just noticed - about the only place I cannot use my chip-and-pin card to prove my identity is the bank. How does that work then?

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

here we go again

Will Christians ever learn?

After all the high blown nonsense surrounding 'The Passion of the Christ', now this. I hope this might make people slower to jump on the next 'christian' bandwaggon that emerges from Hollywood, but I doubt it.

Disclaimer: I have not seen either film and have no intention of doing so.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Church and AA

On Sunday, we had a guest preacher at church.

It was a guy called Mike from a local alcoholism recovery centre in Coventry called Open Hands. Mike told us about the shambles his life had become due to alcohol, then in time his path towards recovery via the Alcoholics Anonymous. Eventually, via this 'unchristian' organisation, Mike was led to a Christian faith. He is now one of the Trustees of this tiny charity which is running a small residential 'dry' house for local alcoholics that the rest of society had decided were hopeless cases.

Mike came to believe that he was unable to function without relying on God on a daily basis - one day at a time.

Not for the first time I marvelled at the power of the 12-steps and the other mantras of AA. Not for the first time I wondered how it was that this organisation that functions at the very bottom of the social pile had managed to get so much about life right when those further up had it so wrong. Not for the first time I saw God moving outwith of the confines of church as we know it.

There are essentially three reasons why AA is often better at being church than church is. First, there is no position of glory in AA. All are alcoholics and none are allowed to forget. Second there is an attitude of complete surrender - nobody arrives at AA unless they have already worn through all the alternatives. Third there is a culture of mutual service.

Thank the good Lord in heaven for AA. If only we were more like them.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Alan Davies, the shadow home secretary is reported to have said that the government should sign the European Convention on Trafficking.

Hurray and hurrah. It is welcome indeed that someone of Mr Davies stature is finally talking about the issue - and particularly is bigging up the Poppy Project.

Once is forced to wonder what took Mr Davies so long, however. About a year ago, I wrote to my MP about the issue as part of a Protest4 campaign I am involved in. Not only that, but Protest4 received initial funding from The Centre for Social Justice for its The Truth Isn't Sexy beermat campaign. This is an organisation set up by Iain Duncan Smith MP - still a fairly senior politician in the Conservative Party.

Please God let this be the tipping point where the politicians take the issue of human trafficking seriously.

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New Year

Happy New Year to anyone who reads this - I hope you managed to have a good holiday.

I read a few interesting library books this holiday. These were Past Caring by Robert Goddard The First Casualty by Ben Elton and King Rat by James Clavell.

[you'll notice I have de-amazoned my links, Karin ;) ]

Past Caring is a fairly non-descript historical novel, set around the rather crudely hidden Castle Drogo - near where we used to live on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. 5/10

Ben Elton is an idiot and a poor excuse for a novellist. However if you can suspend disbelief for some pages, I think Elton has managed to some extent to bring home the horrors of the First World War. Quite why he thought it necessary to pad the story with innumerable unlikely events and pap is anyones' guess. 4/10

King Rat is, I am told, a classic. Which shows my ignorance, as I had never heard of the book nor the author before randomly picking the book up at the library. Set in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp at the end of the second world war, the story revolves around a black-marketeer who seems to magically be able to keep his life together whilst everyone else at the camp is falling apart. 7/10

Over New Year we saw the very sweet Mongolian film Cave of the Yellow Dog which is strong on massive landscapes and beautiful faces.