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Writing for the Telegraph, journalist and author James Bartholomew says that the West needs a new way of measuring poverty.

It’s hard to disagree, especially when we consider living conditions even a century ago.

Supposedly, many of our fellow Westerners are living below the poverty line. Yet, they are not only clothed and have roofs over their head but also have a lot of things the rest of us go without.

Bartholomew explains how the definition of poverty changed in the 1960s (emphases mine):

It dates back to 1962 and the annual conference of the British Sociological Association. Two Left-wing academics, Peter Townsend and Brian Abel-Smith, developed a new way of defining “poverty” based on the income level at which people were entitled to a payment called “supplementary benefit”. One person at the conference reported “a mood of conspiratorial excitement” about the idea of redefining poverty. These are her words, not mine, and they do seem revealing. It is as if some people on the Left were longing to find a way in which poverty had not been “conquered” as Barbara Castle had said. They had found a way in which it would always be possible to use the huge emotional power of the word.

The flurry of excitement about redefining poverty concluded with it being defined as 60 per cent of median incomes with adjustment for family size. This definition was eventually accepted by the British government and the European Union. That is the definition which those who talk about poverty in the media are using.

Some might be too young to remember even Americans saying that the war on poverty had been won. This would have been in the 1980s. In Britain, as long ago as 1959, the Labour MP, the late Barbara Castle said:

the poverty and unemployment which we came into existence to fight have been largely conquered.

In recent decades, things have changed. The war on poverty cannot be won, ever, because it would get rid of sociologists, community organisers, charity workers and politicians who make a living from it. Poverty has become an industry.

Bartholomew points out that the median British income has doubled since 1977. Furthermore, he adds that many professionals and tradesmen are living on much less than £23,000 a year. They are paying tax, however, which finances the subsistence of the ‘poor’. Remember, saying that ‘the Government’ will pay for welfare means, in reality, that it is the taxpayer who pays.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, children went without shoes and coats, slept in the same bed and had to start working as soon as they were able. Bartholomew cites Flora (Lark Rise to Candleford) Thompson’s memories of growing up in Oxfordshire, the daughter of a labourer:

There was no running water and, of course, no electricity. The only lavatory for each household was “either in a little beehive-shaped building at the bottom of the garden or in a corner of the wood and toolshed known as ‘the hovel’ ”. It was “a deep pit with a seat set over it”. Once every six months the pit would be emptied creating such a stench that it “caused every door and window in the vicinity to be sealed”. As for food, “fresh meat was a luxury only seen in a few of the cottages on a Sunday”. People mostly depended on bread and lard. “Fresh butter was too costly for general use” and “milk was a rare luxury”. 

Since the rise of the welfare state, the disadvantaged are able to live in council flats and houses which have separate bedrooms and the features everyone else’s home has. That’s great news, certainly, as is a financial safety net, provided it does not become a multi-generational way of life.

A commenter on said of his 1950s childhood in Lincolnshire:

I’m old enough to remember when we moved into a council house from our old condemned cottage in the middle of nowhere (My dad had to punt with his bike across the drain to get onto the road to Boston where [h]e worked as a labourer in the fertilizer factory).

My mother was overwhelmed with the fact that the windows could be closed and we had an inside toilet. And three bedrooms for what ended up as two parents and six kids. We didn’t consider ourselves poor in the fifties.

Luxury! …

Few people classified as poor go without these days:

How many households cannot afford a television? Fewer than 1 per cent. How many people aged 16-24 do not have access to a mobile phone? 1 per cent. Who has access to computers and the internet? Among those aged 25-44, 85 per cent use a computer daily. Added to those who use computers less frequently, that means well over nine in 10 young adults have access to a computer.

Overall, the typical person in modern poverty has access to a mobile phone and lives in a household with a television, an inside lavatory, electricity and probably access to the internet. By all means, observers can call this poverty. But it would have been unrecognisable to Flora Thompson. It is riches beyond their dreams for those I have met in a Masai Mara village in Kenya who live in mud huts with not a single one of the above.

Generally speaking, things are becoming more equal, especially with the increasing precariousness the middle class find themselves in.

So let’s exercise caution when we hear the latest poverty statistics. Poverty is relative and needs, as Bartholomew says, a reclassification.

In February 2015, I wrote about how the attire of Muslim women from the Middle East to Afghanistan changed dramatically from Western to mediaeval in 40 years.

For those who missed it the first time, I highly recommend it for the links to photos from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Le Monde has a blog post on a new socio-religious campaign in Algeria, ‘Be a Man’, which advocates that good Muslims cover every woman in their purview — wives, daughters, mothers, sisters:

Don’t let your women leave the house in daring attire.

The post has a campaign photo of a young father in normal street clothes sitting with his four young daughters, two of them toddlers, all wearing veils and leg-covering garments. The Koran does not suggest veils until puberty.

Le Monde explains:

According to CNN Arabic, numerous sheiks have given their support. Such as Monhim Abdel Samad Qoweider, imam of a mosque in Borj el Bahri, a suburb of Algiers, who believes that clothes indicate proof of a person’s morality …

Although there is a backlash on social media, it is unclear how effective it will be. We can but hope it is. Film director Sofia Djama, writing for France 24, lamented the state of women in Algeria:

Today, verbal violence is (a) daily (occurrence) and normalised. It’s super violent walking in the capital, Algiers, in a skirt or trousers.

Inevitably, some will say, ‘So what? That’s in Algeria’.

The issue is that this attitude is already prevalent in parts of Europe, particularly France. A few months ago, French media was full of news and comment on harassment of women in larger cities and on public transport: insults, propositions and groping by non-European men.

Of course, those familiar with poor French suburbs will know that this has been going on for at least 15 years. Gang rape is a real risk for young Muslim women who dare to walk around unveiled or in a modest skirt.

Now this harassment is going mainstream.

It is deplorable. But, who will stop it — and how? Without a constant reminder in the media, with the frequency of anti-‘racism’ rhetoric which now seems to encompass all conditions, this degrading trend seems set to continue.

In March 2015, the French newsweekly Marianne* featured an excerpt from a new book, L’alimentation prise en otage (‘food taken hostage’) by farmer-MEP-activist José Bové and co-author Gilles Luneau.

No escaping multinationals

The excerpt begins with an explanation of the control a few multinationals have over the world’s food. Even when we think we are buying a specialised brand name, more often than not it is owned by one of these giants (p. 56). Although many of the brands named below are European, others are not:

– In the realm of hot drinks, Kraft owns Jacques Vabre, Carte Noire, Maxwell and Lipton.

Kraft also own biscuit brands Belin, LU and Tuc — as well as sweets brands Toblerone, Côte d’Or, Suchard, Cadbury, Carambar, Lajaunie and Vichy pastilles.

– Among many other food and water brands, Nestlé own Perrier, Buitoni, Bolino, Herta, Flanby and Mövenpick.

Nestlé also own pet food brands, among them Gourmet and Friskies.

We discover that Nestlé, founded in 1866 in Switzerland is comprised of more than 2,000 brands and 10,000 products requiring 333,000 employees and 447 factories in 86 countries.

I won’t go into the Kraft-Mondelez set-up, because it is equally as huge and more complex.

Of course, there are other big players in the world marketplace. Unilever own food as well as household product brands. Among them are Cif, Dove, Sun, Skip, Alsa, Amora, Maille, Knorr, Ben & Jerry’s, Carte d’Or, Miko and Cornetto.

Even when we think we are buying small or traditional niche brands, we’re actually buying from multinationals.

International lobbying

Not surprisingly, several of the world’s largest corporations banded together years ago to form an influential lobbying group, ILSI — International Life Sciences Institute.

ILSI was founded in 1978. Billed as a non-profit, its objective is

to provide science that improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment by creating a platform for coordination, cooperation, and collaboration among experts from industry, government, and academia and other civil society organizations. We actively design our programs to foster multi-sector collaboration conducting, gathering, summarizing, and disseminating science related to the world’s most pressing health issues.

Better decisions affecting public and environmental health and safety are made when they are based on good science. ILSI believes its science – as part of the larger body of scientific information – helps industries make safer, healthier products and helps governments, civil society organizations, and individual health professionals provide effective and practical guidance to promote safety, health, and well-being.

It has representatives from multinationals as well as universities.

Bové and Luneau posit that, whilst all this sounds highly worthy (p. 59):

Behind it, there is the interest to create, capture or protect a market.

So, we have lobbying for and research into GMO, processed foods and fast foods. One example involves eggs, which are now ‘ovoproducts’ (p. 59). Currently, 42% of eggs in the United States and 30% of those in France are broken and separated for processes needed to make fast and mass-produced food. Whites and yolks are separated, liquidised, solidified in bars or powdered to make industrial cakes, pastries, sweets and lunchmeats.

Milk separation shock

The worst example of adulterated and diminished food involves milk (p. 64-65).

If you have ever wondered if today’s commercial milk has the same characteristics as that of your grandparents, you’re right to be sceptical.

Today, companies can make more from separating nutrients and enzymes than by selling milk in its entirety. The public then need to buy various milk elements separately in order to arrive at the entire nutritional profile.

Bové and Luneau tell us that:

– Researchers now understand the relationship between dairy proteins and amino acids which aid muscle formation. Isolating them from milk becomes big business. Sports medicine is the main target market of the resulting products.

– Dairy cows, depending on the breed and conditions, produce milk containing between 3.5% and 4.6% fat. The dairy industry — mass quantity milk producers, not the farmers — decided that whole milk should contain only 3.6% fat. The rest of the fat can be added to other products or processes, all of which make more money.

– Raw milk is either banned or difficult to buy because multinationals can remove its most important nutrients to make other products. This means that one has to spend a fortune on buying complementary dairy or dairy-derivative products: probiotics, supplements or other foodstuffs. These are then marketed separately for the athlete, expectant mother, children and students. Ker-ching!

The authors ask (emphases mine):

… while all these different molecular elements are in complex interactions in raw milk, this intelligent equilibrium explodes under all the physical or biological treatments (rechilling, heating, drying, acidification, etc.). Who is evaluating what and how those affect the properties of each fractured element? Not many people … the question merits asking with regard to the increase of certain pathologies linked to food, particularly allergies.

Food allergies only came widespread in the 1970s or 1980s. What causes them and why? It will probably take years before we get the whole story.

This also makes me wonder about the dramatic increase in Alzheimer’s and personality disorders. Our nerves, specifically the myelin sheath, need fat in order to remain healthy. (Reducing carbohydrate and added sugar to <20g a day largely eliminates the possibility of weight gain.)

Clearly, we are not getting the full package of nutrients from milk — or, for that matter, many other foods.


* Marianne, 6-12 March 2015, pp. 56-65

shaking  hands ryan2point0wordpresscomWe think of the word Establishment to mean those running the country who govern our lives.

However, in the May 2015 issue of Tatler, Matthew Bell tells us (p. 104):

In 1955, Henry Fairlie, political commentator of The Spectator, coined the term ‘Establishment’ … As Fairlie said: ‘The exercise of power in Britain (more specifically, in England) cannot be understood unless it is recognised that it is exercised socially.’

The article goes on to look at what Tatler call A-Grade Entertainers who bring together the notional great and the good. They throw grand parties, host weekends away and introduce other influential people to each other.

Of course, this has been going on forever not only in England but all over the world. Matthew Bell did fine work looking at hosts from a century ago as well as those today. Some are household names, others less so. He also explored what a top host needs to succeed. Besides the obvious connections, money and large house, one also needs bags of charm, endless patience, interest in others and a good sense of humour.

My point is that conspiracy theorists would do better to study these political-artistic social connections rather than focus on Bilderberg and the Masons.

A-listers enjoying champagne and canapés at someone’s home are likely a more representative nexus of power.

Holy Spirit as dove stained glassSunday, May 24, 2015, is Pentecost Sunday, traditionally called Whit Sunday.

In the UK, the last Monday in May is Whitsun Bank Holiday. This year is one of those infrequent times when the Church feast coincides with that very weekend.

Pentecost is considered as being the Church’s birthday. The original group of Apostles and disciples were equipped with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, enabling them to preach, teach and heal in the name of Christ. The Church was able to expand during this Apostolic Age, embracing not only Jews but also Gentiles. Although the Apostolic Age ended when the original group left this mortal coil, we, too, receive the same gifts from the Holy Spirit which continue to operate in a quieter though still powerful way. My post from 2010 explains more.

Students of the New Testament know that the Holy Spirit did not come by accident. At the Last Supper, our Lord promised His followers a Helper to enable them to continue His work. My 2012 post has a Lutheran perspective on Pentecost from Martin Luther as well as Pastors Larry Peters and Johnold Strey.

My 2013 post features a Reformed explanation of Pentecost, highlighting a sermon by the Revd P G Mathew, formerly of India. Dr Mathew worked as a scientist before ordination. He is a Reformed (Calvinist) clergyman with three graduate degrees in theology and serves as pastor of Grace Valley Christian Center in Davis, California.

Mathew has another sermon which is apposite for Pentecost, ‘Christ’s Great Commission’. It is particularly apposite for those who feel that our Lord is distant. In the following excerpts, Mathew explains why this is far from the truth (emphases mine):

In John 14:18 Jesus promised his disciples: “I will not leave you as orphans”–meaning as those who are homeless, defenseless, fatherless, and motherless. This is true. He will be with us by his Holy Spirit, and he will be with us always. He will be with us every moment of every day all our days until the end of the age. This means that when we are young he is with us; when we are old he is with us; when we are weak he is with us; when we are strong he is with us; when we are sick he is with us; when we are healthy he is with us; when we are poor he is with us; when we are rich he is with us; when we are attacked he is with us; when we are hated he is with us; when we are beaten he is with us; when we are stoned, as Stephen was, he is with us; when we are martyred he will be with us. He gives grace, doesn’t he? Though we go through the flood and the fire, God will be with us, all the days of our lives …

In Hebrews 13:5 God says “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Then the writer to the Hebrews says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (v. 8). To St. Paul this Christ said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect through weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). And Paul drew this tremendous conclusion: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10). In Philippians 4:13 he declared , “I can do everything through who give me the strength.”

God has given us peace in Christ. He said, “I am with you always”–to bless us, to keep us and to give us peace. And in Luke 24:52 it says the disciples who were timid, fearful, and hiding now returned to Jerusalem with great joy as a result of this blessing. They hid no longer. They went into the temple to praise and worship God. The Lord blessed them and gave them peace. He gave them courage and boldness. Soon afterwards they received the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the great commission beginning in Jerusalem and going to the ends of the earth. [Evangelist] William Carey was right–the Lord expects the commission to continue until he comes again.

Let us, therefore, use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to further the Gospel, through words when we can and through impeccable example when we cannot.

June 18, 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

File:Napoleon-Bonaparte-4085.jpgLittle did Napoleon Bonaparte realise that he would end up exiled on one of the most remote islands in the world — even today. (Photo credit:

The Duke of Wellington, who commanded a coalition army of British, German and Dutch forces, emerged victorious.  (Photo credit:

The Battle of Waterloo was important not only because Napoleon lost but also (emphases mine):

It definitively ended the series of wars that had convulsed Europe—and involved many other regions of the world—since the French Revolution of the early 1790s. It also ended the First French Empire and the political and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the greatest commanders and statesmen in history.[ab] Finally, it ushered in almost half a century of international peace in Europe; no further major conflict occurred until the Crimean War.

After his decisive defeat, Napoleon:

attempted to flee to the United States, but the British blocked his escape route. He surrendered to British custody and spent the last six years of his life in confinement on the remote island of Saint Helena. His death in 1821, at the age of 51, was received by shock and grief throughout Europe and the New World. In 1840, roughly one million people lined the streets of Paris to witness his remains returning to France, where they still reside at Les Invalides.[8]

It is for these reasons that we still speak of a Waterloo moment two centuries later.

Other men have also had Waterloo moments, although not of this scale. The Red Bulletin, Red Bull’s freebie magazine which appears in various countries around the world, includes some of their stories in its June 2015 issue.

As for Napoleon, the magazine says that his true Waterloo moment was not so much defeat in battle but the subsequent exile to St Helena (p. 22)!

Summarised below are a few of the magazine’s lesser, but still significant, Waterloo moments in history.

Inventors and designers

These unsung heroes are news to me and may be to you, too. From ‘Forgotten Heroes’ on page 24 of the magazine:

Coffee: Did you know that the 21st century coffee capsule was actually invented in 1970? Eric Favre presented his invention to Nestlé at that time but the multinational rejected it in favour of … instant coffee. So last century!

Logo: Nike lucked out with their swoosh logo, which Carolyn Davidson designed when she was a student. Nike paid her $35 for the ubiquitous design. Fortunately, the company later gave her shares in their stock as further recognition.

Photography: Who knew that photography was invented in Brazil in 1833? Hercules Florence, a painter, was the man, but he kept his invention private. Europeans, developing techniques separately, got the credit.

Physics: In 1956, physicist Hugh Everett published his work positing the existence of a parallel universe. His peers denounced him as being mad. Consequently, Everett retired from his scientific work. Nearly 60 years later, the basic tenets of his theories have been widely acknowledged — and accepted.

Never say never

These men were sure of their convictions — and badly mistaken. From ‘The Faulty Forecasts’ on page 26:

Trains: In 1838, Prussia’s Frederick William III said railways would never take off:

What would the advantage be of arriving somewhere a couple of hours earlier?

Planes: An unnamed Boeing engineer said in 1933 that the twin-engine Boeing 247, capable of carrying 10 people, represented the apogee of aircraft technology:

There will never be a bigger plane built.

Music: In 1962, talent scout Dick Rowe refused to sign the Beatles to Decca Records:

Guitar groups are on their way out.


For some it’s a Waterloo moment, for others, it’s eating humble pie.

When we are too confident of our abilities or predictions, it might be advisable to stay silent and see how things develop!

Sometimes I feel younger than I actually am. Could I be thinking like the Millennial generation?


– Working for enjoyment not necessarily advancement or a big salary.

– Preferring a slower pace of life to loads of activity.

– Enjoying the quiet moments in life.

– Dreading when the phone rings and preferring email instead.

– Taking time to smell the roses.

– Enjoying board games.

The London Evening Standard‘s ES Magazine had a feature in their May 15, 2015, issue: ‘How slow can you go?’ by Richard Godwin (pp. 17-18).

Godwin tells us that Londoners are the fourth fastest walkers in the world but that some Millennials are opting out and rebelling by taking life easier.

There is now a board game café in London where the younger generation gathers to have a friendly beer and play draughts (checkers, for my American readers).

These men and women have grown up with various incarnations of video games and, quite frankly, have tired of them.

Similarly, they are spending fewer hours online. The Internet detracts from their leisure time.

Slow-drip coffee is replacing espresso in establishments which Millennials frequent.

The BBC caught up with the slow trend to bring us Slow TV earlier this year:

A two-hour canal trip down one of Britain’s historic waterways, an hour of uninterrupted birdsong and a close-up, real-time examination of the making of a glass jug are among the “deliberately unhurried” programmes beginning on BBC4 on Sunday.

The season of programmes is intended as an antidote to the digital age, reflecting a recent Scandinavian TV phenomenon that can be traced back to the earliest days of film.

Cassian Harrison, the editor of BBC4, said: “We are so used to the conventional grammar of television in which everything gets faster and faster, we thought it would be interesting to make something that wasn’t continually shouting at you and coming up with the next climactic moment.”

It was highly popular and it seems the broadcaster is planning another series.

Of course, there is also Slow Food, although that movement started with an earlier generation back in 1989. Italian Carlo Petrini and his friends — old enough to have Millennial children — have seen Slow Food expand worldwide.

When it comes to work, Millennials are looking for careers rather than jobs. They will accept lower pay if they are doing something they enjoy. They are also looking for flexibility in employment — unconventional hours and overseas postings.

It seems to be a Western thing, however. PwC Global conducted a survey of their own younger employees on the topic of work-life balance:

PwC’s NextGen study also uncovered similarities and differences among Millennial employees around the world. For example, Millennial workers in each participating PwC office aspire to have greater work/life balance, but the issue appears to be less of a priority among workers in the East region (Pacific nations) than in other parts of the world.

Older generations criticise Millennials for being lazy. However, the glut of university degrees actually devalues further education, making it difficult to get on the career ladder. Without a decent-paying job, it then becomes hard to move out of the family home into one’s own abode. Having enough money to marry and raise children responsibly in these circumstances is also an issue.

So, it is no wonder that Millennials are living life in the slow lane — whilst playing the waiting game.

That said, in response to a contentious article in Elite Daily and the ensuing explosive comments, reader Brad Cahill said that every generation goes through the same thing in terms of time:

It ticks at the same speed for everybody… and you’ll get your turn too. The notion that any particular generation is in any way better than another is absurd. All meet with their own challenges indigenous to their lifespans. Neither good nor bad… it all simply is. Relax and do your best… that’s it.

Sound advice. Unfortunately, he was told that he was too old to know what he was talking about!

Bible ancient-futurenetMy thanks to cyberfriend Lleweton for this news item.

On May 14, 2015, the Daily Express reported that Aberystwyth University will no longer place Gideon Bibles in student accommodation because they are

inappropriate in a multicultural university …

Those words did not come from a university spokesperson, however, but from Aberystwyth student John David Morgan.

He and another student, Daniel Brothers, are behind the move.

The Students’ Union conducted a poll to gauge support for the Bible restriction. Aberystwyth University has 10,000 students, but only five per cent of them turned up to participate. Although 63 per cent approved of the restriction, that was only 300 students.

The article refers to a ban, but it is a call for the routine placement of Bibles in every room to be stopped.

An earlier vote took place on campus last year, garnering a similar small participation with a huge negative result:

A survey of students at Pentre Jane Morgan halls of residence, conducted by Aberystwyth Students’ Union in 2014, found almost half felt the compulsory inclusion of the holy book placed in rooms by Christian evangelists Gideon International was “uncomfortable” or “unacceptable”.

It also reportedly found only four per cent stated their inclusion in rooms were a “good idea”.

But the Students’ Union has been blasted for passing a motion that gathered so few votes in its favour.

On its website, the Students’ Union said the 475 votes cast was “almost double the minimum requirement” as set out in their “democratic structure”.

A spokesperson added: “475 students voting is a higher number than any attendance at a democratic meeting and so we are delighted that we have managed to open up democratically to this extent.”

According to John David Morgan, students will still be able to request a Bible.

How long, though, before being seen reading one will be taboo?

As for Aberystwyth’s administration, the Huffington Post says:

The university said it would review the situation, pending on the SU vote.

Let’s hope they overturn the proposal, approved by such a small number of students.

On Sunday, May 17, 2015, the 1 p.m. BBC1 news broadcast had a segment about the likely possibility that Islamic State (IS) militants are on board migrant boats to Europe.

A summary of the story is on the BBC website.

Abdul Basit Haroun, an adviser to the Libyan government, is saying what Egyptian and Italian officials surmised months ago.

Haroun says he has had conversations with smugglers in parts of North Africa controlled by militants.

According to him, IS allows the boats to continue operating as long as they receive half the income. As Libya has had such a weak central government, it is easy for IS to take control of the situation. Local militias also are thought to be partners with the smugglers.

The televised news story explained that, in some cases, IS arranges with the boat owner to take a certain number of militants. Once on board, these militants are segregated from the migrants. The men in charge of the boat are told in advance that the boats must not capsize and must complete the journey. It is thought that these journeys have been successful thus far.

Once the migrants land in Europe, the IS militants blend in with everyone else and could be travelling anywhere. Authorities would have a difficult time detecting them and, for this reason, have little evidence this is happening.

However, that does not mean it is not happening.

Meanwhile, Europe has thousands of home-grown radicals going to Syria with others returning from the country.

The centrist London Evening Standard has the best coverage of the situation in the UK.

Last week, the paper told us that a 17-year old Londoner who intended to fight with ISIS then returned once he arrived in Turkey will face no prosecution, even though he refused to participate in a government counter-radicalisation programme:

… the prosecution had to be abandoned after the  Attorney General, the Government’s top law officer, refused to authorise the charge. He ruled that taking the boy to court would not be in the public interest because of his age and immaturity and the fact that he came home before entering Syria to fight.

The decision is the only occasion on which the prosecution of a Syria-related offence has been vetoed on the grounds of public interest despite the existence of enough evidence to justify charges.

Anything could happen now.

In April, the father of a 15-year old girl who ran away from her East London home in December 2014 to become an IS bride in Syria, admitted that he took her on

a flag-burning rally led by hate preacher Anjem Choudary outside the US Embassy in 2012 …

Images of Mr Hussen, 47, at the US Embassy protest emerged after his 15-year-old daughter Amira and two teenage friends went missing from their family homes in east London, prompting an international police hunt.

He has expressed his regret at taking part in the rally and has apologised. Also:

Mr Hussen said he was “disappointed and upset” at his daughter for apparently joining IS. She has reportedly not had contact with her family since she left the UK in December.

This just shows how strongly young people can be influenced.

Additional Evening Standard articles on young British radicals can be found within the two aforementioned links.

Nazir Afzal, the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service in north-west England, told The Guardian in April 2015 that another 7/7 attack could happen.

He says that, for some young people, IS terrorists have the appeal of popstars. So far, adult appeals against radicalism, even those which are neighbourhood-based, have been unsuccessful. Afzal thinks the approach must change:

The reality is that they’re no more than narcissistic, murderous cowboys. We need to stand up and say that very, very clearly, rather than allow kids to be drawn to them like the equivalent of pop idols.

True, but this is a form of youthful rebellion — in all its meanings — and it is unlikely that grown-ups will be listened to.

One wonders what the turning point will be and when it will come.

CB064044Disturbing news comes via the Episcopal/Anglican site Stand Firm, which recently explored the discrimination against Christians in the Middle East, specifically, their exclusion from refugee programmes.

A S Haley, who wrote the Stand Firm article, refers us to Philo’s Project which documents the State Department’s refusal to help Christians (emphases mine):

According to a March 26, 2015 article in Newsweek, as many as 1.4 million Christians lived in their ancestral home of Iraq prior to 2003. Now the number of Christians is estimated at anywhere from 260,000 to 350,000, with near half of that number displaced within the country. Newsweek explained that Iraq’s remaining Christians have mostly fled north to safer areas under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. “But now ISIS is threatening them there, too.”

[The Rt. Rev. Julian M. Dobbs, bishop of the Diocese of CANA East (Convocation of Anglicans in North America)], accompanied to the State Department by humanitarian Sir Charles Hoare, 9th Baronet Hoare of Annabella, County Cork, informed State Department officials of a plan by one well-known Christian international aid agency to provide safer housing for Iraqi Christians. Christians are trying to survive in unfinished concrete buildings – such as shopping malls – in the Christian enclave of Ankawa rather than in the UNHCR camp with the other refugees, because they are even threatened by some of the Muslim refugees.

The organization purchased used military tents from British troops in Afghanistan to set up on land that had been provided by the local authorities.

These military tents have sanitary facilities. They are cool in summer and warm in winter. However, there is the problem of transporting them from Afghanistan to Iraq. Neither the British nor the US government intends on doing that, even though it involves only one military aircraft to transport the tents:

So instead, the group is working to raise some $778,000 to transport the tents to Iraq by land. Dobbs revealed that the State Department advised him against setting up emergency housing for Christians in the region, saying it was “totally inappropriate.”

Even worse:

Also inappropriate, it seems, is the resettling of the most vulnerable Assyrian Christians in the United States. Donors in the private sector have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of these Iraqi Christians that are sleeping in public buildings, on school floors, or worse. But the State Department – while admitting 4,425 Somalis to the United States in just the first six months of FY2015, and possibly even accepting members of ISIS through the Syrian and Iraqi refugee program, all paid for by tax dollars, told Dobbs that they “would not support a special category to bring Assyrian Christians into the United States.”

The United States government has made it clear that there is no way that Christians will be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is exactly that – their religious affiliation – that makes them candidates for asylum based on a credible fear of persecution from ISIS. The State Department, the wider administration, some in Congress and much of the media and other liberal elites insist that Christians cannot be given preferential treatment. Even within the churches, some Christians are so afraid of appearing to give preferential treatment to their fellow Christians that they are reluctant to plead the case of their Iraqi and Syrian brothers and sisters.

Meanwhile, Americans are paying for some very interesting things where refugees are concerned (H/T: Stand Firm):

17.   Welfare use is staggering among refugees. Welfare usage is never counted by officials as part of the cost of the program. Yet, when it is included, the total cost of the refugee program soars to at least 10-20 billion a year.

As some Americans are pushed off of time-limited welfare programs many refugees are going on to life-time cash assistance programs. For instance, 12.7% of refugees are on SSI – a lifetime entitlement to a monthly check / Medicaid for elderly or disabled. This rate of usage is at least 4 times higher than the rate of usage for SSI among the native-born population and is reportedly rising from these already very high levels.

Permanent and intergenerational welfare dependence has been allowed to take hold to a significant degree in some refugee groups.

Find latest welfare usage among refugees here (latest data available is from 2009):

Find table TABLE II-14: Public Assistance Utilization Among refugees who arrived during the 5 years previous to the survey 57.7% are on government medical assistance such as Medicaid, about 25% have no health insurance at all, 70.2% are receiving food stamps, 31.6% are in public housing (an additional percentage is on a public housing waiting list), and 38.3 % are getting cash assistance such as TANF or SSI.

The figure of 57.7% dependent upon government medical assistance is actually an undercount since it excludes children under 16.

18.   Medium size towns, such as Bowling Green, KY, Nashville, TN, Ft. Wayne, IN, Boise, ID and Manchester, NH, are serving as the main reception centers for the refugee program.

19. Refugees are not tested for many diseases, such as HIV.  Refugees are a major contributing factor to TB rates among the foreign-born. TB among the foreign-born now accounts for about half of the TB in America.

20. The money the U.S. spends bringing one refugee to the U.S. could have helped 500 individuals overseas in countries where they currently reside.

21. It has never been reported in the U.S. that 47% of loans made to refugees for transportation to the U.S. are unpaid leaving an unpaid balance of $450 million. This amount – slightly out of date, does not include interest or an unknown amount that has been written off. We will announce the new balance as soon as it is available.

Surely, all this could be better organised and managed? I imagine something similar is going on in the UK.

To cap it all off, Stand Firm‘s A S Haley tells us that church agencies are making money by working with the US government in receiving refugees:

Refugees designated to migrate to the United States are advanced travel money by an arm of the U.S. State Department. They land here, and are placed in the hands of (among other agencies) Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), which helps them relocate into specific communities, find jobs, and settle in. Then EMM sees that they repay their travel advances to the Government, and pockets one-quarter of its debt collection proceeds for its trouble.

It’s a nifty racket, and ensures that annually over $300,000 comes into the Episcopal Church’s coffers, to help with its bottom line.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Government reimburses EMM for all of its other refugee relocation expenses, to the tune of some $14 million annually

It turns out that a good portion of the refugees EMM is assisting are not just any refugees, but are Muslims from some of the countries to which America has sent troops, bombs or both: Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and (soon) Syria.

… EMM is one of nine major Government contractors engaged in making money to bring in refugees from these war-torn countries, in which the United States has militarily intervened. Five others, along with EMM, operate under the aegis of major American religious denominations: the Church World Service (an umbrella organization), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the evangelically connected World Relief Corporation.

This is much worse than I could have ever imagined. Meanwhile, our Christian brothers and sisters are left to languish under the very real pain of death.

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