Rome-ward bound

June 26, 2007 at 7:49 am (UK NEWS)

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Tony Blair went to see the Pope last week. He wants to convert to Catholicism. No wonder the pontiff looks worried — can the Church bear the strain? (“Forgive me father, for I have sinned. Now where shall I begin?”) The Vatican will have to build a special confession booth for Blair — a line of priests will form outside, taking turns to absolve him.

STOP PRESS: News arrives that Blair is to become Bush’s peace envoy in the Middle East. Oh, but he’s a warmonger you say. True, but the thing is the president can’t spell — what he’s actually becoming is a piece envoy, securing a piece of the pie for us in the region. The sad fact is that there are enough religious lunatics bent on killing people there without him moving in.

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Three awards and one man of distinction

June 22, 2007 at 12:36 pm (UK NEWS)

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Last October former Iranian president Mohammed Khatami – a man who has yet to be investigated in connection with human rights abuses and murders that occurred under his watch both as president of Iran and during his tenure as head of the country’s ministry of culture and Islamic guidance – travelled to the University of St Andrews in Scotland to accept an honorary degree for his efforts in promoting “dialogue between faiths”.

(Surely an insult to the women stoned by his government and the writers and political dissidents it has killed.)

The National Union of Students said that it was “appalled” and issued a demand for Khatami to use his influence to secure the release of Ahmad Batebi, the pro-democracy demonstrator imprisoned for his role in the student protests of 1999, before any honour was bestowed.

The NUS, like many, regarded St Andrews’ move as an endorsement of Iran’s criminal theocracy by a UK institution. So perhaps we can forgive the poor old mullahs for being slightly baffled now that another British institution – the monarchy, no less – has given Salman Rushdie a knighthood. (He’s been made a ‘Sir’ as Iranians say.)

Quite what the UK government is playing at is unclear, but so curious is the tango between these two nations that we shouldn’t be surprised if in the next few months President Ahmadinejad himself flies to Scotland to pick up a tartan turban and a bottle of scotch for the Supreme Leader – with some deep-fried Mars bars and a kilt thrown (and if we’re lucky, a headbutt).

Or perhaps the University of St Andrews will come to its senses and follow the example of Edinburgh University, which decided last week to strip Robert Mugabe of the honorary degree it awarded him in 1984. (Hopefully, 23 years hence Khatami will not be the leader of Zimbabwe.)

As for Sir Salman, if only he had the gumption and wisdom to follow the example of the fashion entrepreneur Joseph Corre (pictured) – and son of designer Vivienne Westwood – who turned down his MBE, rubber-stamped as it was by Downing Street.

He wrote in The Independent yesterday: “I couldn’t accept an honour from a dishonest man. And Tony Blair is a dishonest man… Mr Blair has caused many miserable deaths and tortures.”

Too bad that – unlike this honourable businessman – the world’s Bush-friendly Sir Salmans are not willing to swim upstream.

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The best prime minister America ever had

May 10, 2007 at 6:54 pm (UK NEWS)

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So, farewell then, Tony Blair.
“I always did what I thought was right for the country,”
you said.
Such as lie to it, take its soldiers to war against the will of the people,
and reduce the prime minister’s office to the status of America’s poodle. With Iraq, you taught us if Britannia can’t rule the waves, it can waive the rules alright. Oh, and you did away with student grants and paved the way for a National Health Disservice.
Think back to 1997, you said. Really think back, you said. What was Britain like then?
Well, look, y’know, the Conservatives were a spent force. Now they are fighting fit and ready to take office. We thought you were good, Tony, not a bloody miracle-worker.

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The sailor dispute

March 30, 2007 at 10:45 am (blog, UK NEWS)

Iran seizes 15 UK sailors from what it claims were its waters. Britain responds by saying they were plucked from Iraqi waters. (So that’s alright, then.) The real loser in all this is Iraq. The poor country – to the occupying power its waters regarded as sovereign as those of the Thames Estuary. We are truly back in colonial times.

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Nutters

March 28, 2007 at 2:27 pm (Espresso, UK NEWS)

The Iranian government is clearly itching to get bombed. Taking British soldiers hostage is very cheeky. They should be released immediately. But just as parents often deny teenagers’ demands we should refuse military intervention. President Ahmadinejad will then have to dye his hair purple, lock himself in his bedroom and listen to Coldplay.

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Jack Straw tells truth shock

October 6, 2006 at 7:48 pm (UK NEWS)

The former British foreign secretary and leader of the house Jack Straw has surprised all by talking sense. Mr “resolution 1441” might have lied about weapons of mass destruction, but he is right to ask Muslim women who cover their faces to take off their veils when consulting him in his surgery. How else can he be sure he’s not addressing a female constituent’s husband? Alternatively, he could take to wearing one himself to see how they like it.

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Failed by the police

July 27, 2006 at 2:31 pm (UK NEWS)

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Last night a BBC documentary accused a former UK police officer of taking bribes from the father of a suspect in the racist murder of the 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence (pictured) in 1993. None of the five suspects in the case, which led to the police being recognised as “institutionally racist” by the Macpherson Inquiry, has been convicted. The programme traced alleged bent cop John Davidson to the south of Spain where he runs a bar. Soul Bean is no expert on police matters, but is it not possible that around the corner from Davidson’s bar might be a strip club or casino belonging to the officers involved in killing suspected suicide bomber Jean Charles Menezes in south London last year?

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