Americans believe only in America

Intelligent comment from Giles Fraser in The Guardian on American Christianity.  In conclusion – American doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ, it believes in America.  Worth a read.

Donald TrumpI particularly like this quote, “On the whole, I defer to people’s self-description when it comes to religious belief. If people say they are Christian then that’s good enough for me – unless we are talking about school places or running for office. Then it’s worth a little more scepticism.”

A couple of questions to Americans who love Jesus:  Does this resonate?  Is the commentary fair?



Stunted Legacy of Rosa Parks

57 years ago yesterday Rosa Parks defiantly refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  She has been named ‘the mother of the freedom movement’ by U.S. Congress.

I am sure that the vast majority of Americans welcome the changes that the Civil Rights Movement brought about and the crucial and timely role that Rosa Parks played.  It is ironic then that ‘the land of the free’ puts its political weight and fat dollars behind a nation that is attempting to implement their own racial bus segregation.

In the West Bank plans are afoot to implement separate bus services for Israelis and Palestinians after the Jewish settlers have complained about having to share public transport with their half-brothers.

If Rosa Parks was still alive today, and if she were granted a voice to the American policy makers I wonder what she would say?  If America genuinely believes that it flies the flag for liberty, freedom and forward thinking then they have to stop bank rolling a government that is quite comfortable to segregate human beings based on their ethnic origin.


Western Justice

In 2002 a 15 year old boy was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing a soldier of an occupying army.

Today Omar Khadr has been repatriated to his native Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence which as been reduced to 8 years because of his guilty plea.  Since 2002 he has been locked away in Guantanamo for killing a US soldier in Afghanistan.  I think Guantanamo is evil at the best of times, but to inflict it on a 15 year old boy blows my mind.

In Britain this week we have been in uproar about a 30 year old teacher who eloped with a 15 year old pupil.  She has been manipulated to elope by an older man who took advantage.  Omar Khadr was manipulated to kill by a repressive regime who took advantage.  Did his age count for nothing in American justice?

I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with what the West stands for once you dismantle the outer layers presented by governments and the media.  It just seems like there is a web of corruption and greed out there glossed over with fake fights for justice and democracy.

This summer Great Britain proved it was great at putting on an Olympics, great at performing in sport at the highest level and great at pulling together to have a good time.  These things are important but we should be wary of believing we’re better than everybody else and that our view of the world is purer than those from other nations.  I appreciate that Britain didn’t sentence a 15 year old boy to 40 years in prison but we are complicit in America’s ‘war on terror’ and therefore need to be aware what actions we are allied with.

Be proud of the good things in our nation, but don’t for a moment think we’re better than everyone else.

True Medal Count?

A few times during the Olympics our ever enthusiastic BBC TV and radio presenters commented that we were on top of the medals table when you consider the number of medals we won in proportion to the size of the country.  I noticed Hungary were doing well, and that New Zealand had a handful of medals, and I knew that their populations were significantly smaller than that from which Team GB sourced its talent from.  I couldn’t help myself, the statistics obsessed nerd within got the better of me and I did some number crunching and worked out how many golds and how many medals overall other countries would have won proportionally if they had the same population as the UK.

Number of Golds Won

1.   USA  –  46
2.   China  –  38
3.   GB  –  29
4.   Russia  –  24

Number of Golds Won Proportionally

1.   Grenada  –  593
2.   Bahamas  –  176
3.   Jamaica  –  92
11. GB  –  29
25. Russia  –  10
28. USA  –  9
48. China  –  2

Total Medals Won

1.   USA  –  104
2.   China  –  87
3.   Russia  –  84
4.   GB  –  65

Total Medals Won Proportionally 

1.   Grenada  –  593
2.   Jamaica  –  276
3.   Trinidad & Tobago  –  189
10. Montenegro  –  100
23. GB  –  65
33. Russia  –  37
49. USA  –  21
74. China  –  4

So, a lot of countries in reality did even better than the wonderful Team GB.  That’s not a bad thing, just nice to know that there must be a lot of very satisfied sports fans out there from other nations!  If you want to know how other countries fared let me know and I’ll happily divulge more numbers.

However, there were six countries with bigger populations than the UK who didn’t manage a single medal between them. They are Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam and Congo and together they have double the population of the United States.  I think this is sobering and should remind us that for a vast percentage of the world’s population there are not the resources to put into enjoying the Olympics.  As the celebrations die down we need to remember that there are things in this world that should take a higher priority than sport.

The injustice of bin Laden’s death

So Osama bin Laden is (allegedly*) dead.   ‘Justice has been done’ claim many.  I think the killing of any man is a warped view of justice.  It is not justice – it is revenge.  And in this case may well lead to reciprocal killings from extremists.

My opinion is that true justice is about reconciliation.  I doubt very much that the killing of Osama bin Laden will make the world a safer place – it will just deepen the rift between the West with our superiority complex and Islamic extremists.  I wouldn’t want to claim for a second that resolution is simple, or even possible, but I strongly believe that it is wrong to celebrate the death of anyone.

* Sorry how ridiculous that his body was buried at sea because USA is so respectful of his belief he should be buried within 24 hours….very, very convenient.

South Africa 2010 Draw?

The following is what are likely to be the seedings for the draw for the World Cup on 4th December:

Pot 1:    South Africa, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, England, France, Argentina

Pot 2:   Portugal, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia, Greece, Denmark, Serbia, Slovakia

Pot 3:   Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Algeria

Pot 4:    South Korea, Japan, Australia, North Korea, Mexico, USA, Honduras, New Zealand

What do you reckon would be good, and bad for England?  Can you spot any potentially juicy ties?  What about Spain v Portugal?

I think a fascinating, and historical, group for England would draw us with Portugal, Cameroon and Australia.  What are your thoughts?

The Libya-Lockerbie thing: Part 2

Yesterday I discussed the words of the Scottish Minister as he freed Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi from Greenock Prison and allowed him to return home to Libya.

Today I want to look at the reaction to his realese.  Both Britain and America asked that Abdelbaset should not be received as a hero in Libya.  How can they reasonably ask that?  Libya believes the man is innocent.  They see him as an innocent victim setup with flawed evidence and imprisoned on political grounds.  Of course they are going to treat him as a hero.

If things were slightly different, an innocent Scottish man imprisoned in Tripoli on dodgy evidence, then I am sure he would be received very favourably once he made it back home.

I have been a bit shocked how severely America have reacted.  It seems all American spokespeople are incapable of understanding anything about compassion.  I am sure it is all with political intent and there must be more than a hint of envy towards Britain now.  Libya is a resource rich country who now look with gratitude on the UK and will continue to hold sour relations with the US.