Tag Archives: Great Britain

British Foreign Minister-We Won In Iraq Or Did We?

David Miliband, Great Britain’s foreign minister said creation of a peaceful and stable Iraqdid not follow the path desired by those initiating the conflict. He claimed “the war itself wasd a remarkable victory. It went beter thn most people expected, but the truth is that buiilding the peace after the war has been much more dififcult than people expected.” However, he feels encouraged by developments in Iraq over the past year. His optimism was seconded by General Barney White-Spunnder who believes the situation in Basra is “getting better all the time.” However, Lord Boyce, Britain’s senior military officeer at the time the war began expressed “dismay” at what subsequently happened and blamed it on the inept American “de-Ba’athification” program which disbanded the Iraq army.

Jonathan Powell, chief of staff for Tony Blair, was told by General Richard Dannatt in October, 2006, he questioned the usefulness of Britain’s continuing military presence in Iraq. He said Britain should withdraw “soon” and noted planning for the postwar phase was “poor.”

It is strange for a foreign minister to claim the war was a remarkable victory but the postwar phase just didn’t add up right. The purpose of the war in Iraq, according to President Bush, was to create a stable, democratic nation. If the goal was not accomplished then the war was not remarkable at all, but a failure.

Free The Childen From Boredom!

The head of the body responsible for monitoring teaching standards in Great Britain will make an impassioned plea today for relesing children in schools from the stranglehold of the national curriculum and give teachers the freedom to decide what should be taught. Keith Bartley, chief executive of the General Teaching Council, (GTC) will warn that the current primary school timetable presents pupils with lessons that are “too formal, too early.” He will urge a relaxation of the strict regime based on tests, targets and league tables may be the best way to motivate and inspire children. Mr. Bartley believes education is “at a crossroads” after decades of an education system which has been “prescriptive of the curriculum, assessment and testng and latterly of teachng methods.”

As one who has taught for 51 years, I can only cheer the statements of Bartley. His comments came just before a debate at the Teachers and Lecturers conference where a royal commission is investigating why so many children dislike school. Parents told the inquiry “teachers should be allowed flexibility to decide how and what they teach, to inspire themselves and the children.”

Teachers come in all shapes and abilities as do people in every occupation. One doubts if business leaders like Billy Gates chart out in detail what their creative researchers should say and do. Instead, they trust the ability of individuals who have been trained to use their creative thinking talents to uncover new ways of developing industry. The same freedom is required for teachers. If there are incompetent teachers, one has hired princpals and department chairpeople to focus on assisting them while allowing competent and brilliant educators to use their talents in order to energize students.

Top Blair Aide Urges Negotiation With Al Qaida

Jonathan Powell, who served as chief of staff for former Prime Ministr Tony Blair, now argues, “There’s nothing to say to al-Qaida and they’ve got nothing to say to us at the moment, but at some stage you’re going to have to come to a political solution as well as a security solution. And that means you need the ability to talk.” He admitted at this point it is unclear who exactly might be the person or group within al-Qaida that might even enter into discussions, but at some point, talks must begin.

In a wide ranging review of the Blair administration, Powell expressed the view Labor did not govern boldly enough because it feared losing power. However, the British government did initiate secret tlks with IRA leaders in Ireland that set the stage for the final peace agreements. Powell raises a central issue about the process of eventually ending the current state of unrest in the Middle East. Perhaps, one might begin by dealing with the Iranian government which provides extensive aid to militant groups.

Great Britain– What Has Happened To Your Values?

A day after British newspapers reported the story of a young Iranian gay man who was denied asylum because he faced certain death upon return to Iran, the Home Office denied asylum to an Iranian lesbian. Pegah Emambakhsh fled to England after her lover was arrested by Tehran police and reports indicate her partner faces the possibility of being stoned to death. Under the Iranian Punishment Act, lesbians found guilty of sexual relations can be sentenced to 100 lashes. But, for a third offence, the punishment is execution.

In turning down the request of Ms. Emambakhsh, the Home Office said that provided Iranians are discreet about their homosexuality, they will not be persecuted! The Netherlands and Germany have announced a moratorium on all deportations involving gay and lesbian Iranians. Omar Kuddus, of Gay Asylum UK asked: “How many more young Iranians have to die before the British govrnment takes action?”

What has happened to the generous spirit of Great Britain to those who are persecuted in other lands? How can a government agency utter the completely ridiculous statement that if one is “discreet” then death will not be forthcoming? The Labor Government of Great Britain was founded by men and women who were dedicated to the concept of freedom for all people not just in their own land, but all over the world. Something has happened to the Labor government and its spiritual values.

British Children’s “Home” Scene Of Abuse!

Police in Jersey are examining the cellars and secret rooms of a children’s home where scores of people were allegedly abused. Last Saturday, a child’s skull was discovered as police continued their investigation into secret rooms where children were mistreated. Former case worker Christian Bowker described children frightened and if she showed them any sign of affection, the guards would glare causing the children to return into their shells. Former residents of the home, which allegedly cared for orphans and youngsters with behavioral problems, claim they were kept in solitary confinement, raped and beaten in rooms. They allege not only did staff abuse children, but other residents also raped and beat the children.

Police have 40 suspects and have spoken with 200 alleged victims of the brutality. WE live in the 21st century, but the world of Charles Dickens still remains alive in many parts of th is planet.

Shakespeare In Protest By British Jewish Students

A group of British teenagers at a Jewish comprehensive school refused to sit at a Shakespeare test because they believe the Bard was an anti-semitic writer. As a result they were stripped of their marks for the English national curriculum test for 14 yer-olds. The girls were supported by their parents and refused to answer questions about Shakespeare or write their names on the top of the paper, even though the play being studied was The Tempest, not The Merchant of Venice. Rabbi Abraham Pinter, the school’s principal commented: “I think Shakespeare was reflecting the ethos of the time in his portrayal of Shylock. If he was alive today, he would be probably going on anti-war marches.”

As a Jewish chlld who read Shakespeare and even studied The Merchant of Venice in school, I find the actions of the students misguided. Perhaps, someone might inform these young people that in the 20th century when Yiddish theater was alive and vibrant in America, Shakespeare was performed by Jewish actors, and The Merchant of Venice was a well noted successful offering. I assume Shakespeare is performed in Israel. Somehow, their teachers and parents have neglected the education of these children. No other 16th or 17tth century writer delved into the mind of a Jew in the manner of Shakespeare. Yes, he was anti-semitic, but as the school principal notes, he reflected the bigotry of his era. I wonder how those students feel about reading the works of Muslim authors.

Peace In Kenya– Or Else, Warn Powers

The British government has warned any individuals who stand in the way of the Dr. Kofi Anan-led mediation talks that any obstruction would “face the consequences.” The Swiss government also supported the tough stand of Great Britain by saying it would cancel visas for obstructionists. The mediation effort has reached a critical point and there is need for all parties to work with Annan on completing the task of reconciliation and peace. England’s Foreign Minister David Miliband is encouraged that Annan has been able to usehis panel of Eminent Persons to make the process of peace work.

The concerns expressed by Great Britain and Switzerland revolve around Annan’s proposal that, after a two year period of coalition government, there would be a new general election for president. This has upset the Kibaki government which does not wish to relinquish power before its completion of office. Reality is there must be an election in the near future if peace is finally to arrive in Kenya.

Muslim Arranged Marriage Questioned In UK

A few days after the Archbishop of Canterbury urged the people of Great Britain to allow sharia law to serve as a legal process for Muslims in the nation, the nation was shocked by revelation of a sharia decision that validated a forced marriage. Three senior judges will be asked to support or reject a lower court decision which invalidated a sharia marriage. A 26 year-old man with learning disabilities was married to a woman in Bangladesh over the telephone. His family asked the Appeals Court to set aside a lower court decision which demed the marriage illegal since it is ‘so offensive to the conscience of the English” legal system.

Perhaps, the Archlbishop of Canterbury might dismiss this example of a forced marriage as the exception to the rule, but this is a blatant example of two people being forced into a marriage against their will. The Archbishop forgets that sharia law was made by men to support the rights of men, not women. In too many cases decided by sharia courts, the male gets custody of children and women must go meekly into the night.

British Archbishop Expects Sharia Law!

The Archbishop of Canterbury created a firestorm of controversy when he said the introduction of sharia law for Bitish Muslims was “unavoidable.” he told a BBC audience Muslims should be able to choose whether to have matters such as marital disputes dealt with under sharia law or the British legal system. A spokesperson for Gordon Brown said concessions to sharia law could be made on a case-by-case basis.” But, Brown made clear “British law should apply in this country based on British values.” The Archbishop argued giving sharia official status would help maintain social cohesion because some Muslims do not relate to the Brtish legal system. “It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact, certain conditions of sharia are already recognized in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system.”

The Archbishop undoubtedly means well and is reaching out to establish friendly relations with other religions. Inherent in his ideas is the belief one can pick and choose which of the sharia laws would be OK and which would violate British law. In theory, this may appear feasible, but, in reality, it will only result in constant litigation and increase separation between groups. The Archbishop is opening the proverbial Pandora’s box. An assumption of his comments is that “British Muslims” are a group with shared views. Does such an entity exist? For example, Turkey, a basically Muslim nation, is being torn to pieces because a portion of the Muslim community is against allowing women to wear the headscarf in a university but the majority supports it.

No one can “speak for Muslims” anymore than in America one can “speak for Jews.” In a modern society groups differ within themselves and there is no mechanism to identify a single leadership who represents the entire group. Amercan Catholics are divided over issues of birth control, would a “Catholic perspective” allow the Catholic Church to decide what is policy in certain religious issues such as abortion?

If one decides to live in Great Britain then the individual has decided to abide by laws of the nation. Sorry, there is no other alternative unless one seeks to foster turbulence, confusion and violence.

Musharraf “Foreign Hand” Ploy

An editorial in the Lahore Daily Times criticised the Musharraf government for explaining away problems by casting blame on a “foreign hand” as being behind those forces causing problems. It quoted federal interior secretary, Syed Kamal Shah, as asserting the government had “cedible evidence” that “hostile foreign intelligence agencies” were fanning terrorism in Pakistan. Although no names were mentioned, it is assumed the foreign sources are from India. “We can recall the number of times the government and its senior bureuacrats have relied on it to explain acts of terrorism in the past.”

Musharraf is continually blaming America or Great Britain or India for his own failures. The Taliban was created by Pakistan’s ISI and tribal unrest in northwest regions is the result of local groups expressing anger toward the government. Musharraf, not foreign hands, instituted a state of emergency, it was Musharraf, not outsiders, who sacked members of the Supreme Court who opposed his dictatorial rule. During his current trip to Great Britain, the president has boasted that he cracks down on terrorism while all the British do is talk, but never take action. Perhaps, Musharraf has not lately gazed on the situation in the northwest where there is open rebellion. Its not me, its them is his ongoing explanation.