Tag Archives | Britain

Get A Master’s Degree In Vampire Literature?

TrueBloodLucy Tobin writes in the Guardian:

Robert Pattinson has a lot to answer for. Ever since his lanky frame immortalised Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight character Edward Cullen with an American twang, all the vampires of the world seem to have lost their British passports. Those populating Bon Temps, the fictional town in Louisiana that is the setting for TV drama True Blood, have a southern American drawl. Meanwhile Mystic Falls, Virginia, where The Vampire Diaries is set, is a long way from the London and Whitby homes of the most famous vampire of all: Count Dracula.

But watch out, bloodsuckers: the Brits want to bring you home. Academics at the University of Hertfordshire are organising a conference that will serve ketchup-smothered food (it’s tastier than blood) from coffins, all in the name of putting British vampire fiction back on the map. It’s the brainchild of Dr Sam George, a lecturer in English literature at Hertfordshire who is fascinated by vampires and keen to use them to make literature exciting.

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The BBC’s April Fool’s Day Spaghetti Tree Hoax (Video)

Spaghetti HarvestGood to discover that the BBC has a much better sense of humor than American news networks, even in 1957. Via Wikipedia:
The spaghetti tree hoax is a famous 3-minute hoax report broadcast on April Fools' Day 1957 by the BBC current affairs program Panorama. It told a tale of a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the fictitious spaghetti tree, broadcast at a time when this Italian dish was not widely eaten in the UK and some Britons were unaware spaghetti is a pasta made from wheat flour and water. Hundreds of viewers phoned into the BBC, either to say the story was not true, or wondering about it, with some even asking how to grow their own spaghetti trees. Decades later CNN called this broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled."
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Star Trek-Style Force-Field Armor Being Developed by British Military

Deflector ShieldsRichard Gray writes in the Telegraph:

The new type of armour will use pulses of electrical energy to repel rockets, shrapnel and other ammunition that might damage a vehicle.

Researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which is the research and development arm of the Ministry of Defence, claim it is possible to incorporate material known as supercapacitors into armour of a vehicle to turn it into a kind of giant battery.

When a threat from incoming fire is detected by the vehicle, the energy stored in the supercapacitor can be rapidly dumped onto the metal plating on the outside of the vehicle, producing a strong electromagnetic field.

Scientists behind the project claim this would produce a momentary “force field” capable of repelling the incoming rounds and projectiles.

Although it would last for only a fraction of a second, if timed correctly it could prevent rocket propelled grenades, which detonate on impact, from reaching their target.

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Britain Uses Classical Music For Social Control

Authorities across Britain are introducing classical music in public places -- not for citizens' enjoyment, but as a social control device. The concept harkens back to scenes in A Clockwork Orange. From Reason:
In recent years Britain has become the Willy Wonka of social control, churning out increasingly creepy, bizarre, and fantastic methods for policing the populace. Across the UK, local councils and other public institutions now play recorded classical music through speakers at bus-stops, in parking lots, outside department stores, and elsewhere...as a deterrent against bad behavior. Tyne and Wear in the north of England was one of the first parts of the UK to weaponize classical music. In the early 2000s, the local railway company decided to do something about the “problem” of “youths hanging around” its train stations.
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Iraq To Sue U.S., Britain Over Depleted Uranium Bombs

The 105mm M900 APFSDS-T (Depleted Uranium Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot - Tracer)

Via the Tehran Times:

Iraq’s Ministry for Human Rights will file a lawsuit against Britain and the U.S. over their use of depleted uranium bombs in Iraq, an Iraqi minister says.

Iraq’s Minister of Human Rights, Wijdan Mikhail Salim, told Assabah newspaper that the lawsuit will be launched based on reports from the Iraqi ministries of science and the environment.

According to the reports, during the first year of the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq, both countries had repeatedly used bombs containing depleted uranium.

According to Iraqi military experts, the U.S. and Britain bombed the country with nearly 2,000 tons of depleted uranium bombs during the early years of the Iraq war.

Atomic radiation has increased the number of babies born with defects in the southern provinces of Iraq.

Iraqi doctors say they’ have been struggling to cope with the rise in the number of cancer cases — especially in cities subjected to heavy U.S.

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Israeli Officers Cancel UK Trip For Fear Of Arrest For War Crimes

MARK LAVIE writes on Huffington Post:

An Israeli military delegation has canceled an official visit to Britain, officials said Tuesday, the latest in a string of politicians and army officials to put off travel to the U.K. because of fears of war crimes prosecution.

Israel complained that the practice, spearheaded by pro-Palestinian activists, is harming relations, and Britain’s visiting attorney general said an urgent solution must be found.

The Israelis called off their trip because their British army hosts could not guarantee they would not be arrested, the Israeli officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Neither the Israeli military nor the British government would comment.

The incident underlined the effectiveness of a pro-Palestinian legal campaign to harass Israeli officials in the wake of war crimes allegations after Israel’s devastating invasion of Gaza a year ago to stop rocket attacks.

Israelis brand the tactic “lawfare,” which they denounce as warfare through distortion of laws and conventions.

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Winter Solstice: Standing With Stones

Callanish6PCRupert Soskin is the writer and presenter of the documentary travelogue Standing With Stones: A Journey Through Megalithic Britain. He lectures and leads groups to ancient sites and natural wonders in Britain and abroad. He is also a much-published nature and travel photographer.

Once again the winter solstice has come around. That magical time when the sun begins to rise again, giving us longer days and taking us into warmer days of plenty. People flock to sites such as Stonehenge and Newgrange to witness the rising or the setting of the sun. Modern-day druids hold ceremonies at these and other ancient monuments, continuing ancient traditions which began so long ago in human history for their origins to be lost in the mists of time.

For many thousands of years man has celebrated this celestial cycle of ebb and flow, seeking to live in harmony with the constant effects of the heavens upon the earth.… Read the rest

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Notes From The Drug Wars: UK

Mark Pothier for the Boston Globe:

In the long and tortured debate over drug policy, one of the strangest episodes has been playing out this fall in the United Kingdom, where the country’s top drug adviser was recently fired for publicly criticizing his own government’s drug laws.

The adviser, Dr. David Nutt, said in a lecture that alcohol is more hazardous than many outlawed substances, and that the United Kingdom might be making a mistake in throwing marijuana smokers in jail. His comments were published in a press release in October, and the next day he was dismissed. The buzz over his sacking has yet to subside: Nutt has become the talk of pubs and Parliament, as well as the subject of tabloid headlines like: “Drug advisor on wacky baccy?”

But behind Nutt’s words lay something perhaps more surprising, and harder to grapple with. His comments weren’t the idle musings of a reality-insulated professor in a policy job.

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Most Britons Reject Swine Flu Vaccine

Do the British know something Americans don’t? From Reuters:

More than half of Britons being offered vaccination against pandemic H1N1 flu are turning it down because they fear side-effects or think the virus is too mild to bother, a survey of doctors showed on Wednesday.

Many of the 107 family doctors polled by Britain’s Pulse magazine said there was widespread resistance from patients and on average only 46 percent of those offered the vaccination agree to have it.

Doctors reported particular difficulties in persuading pregnant women to be vaccinated against the virus, according to Pulse, a trade newspaper for doctors.

“In all the pregnant women we’ve offered it to, I think only about one in 20 has agreed,” Dr Chris Udenze, a family doctor based in Nottingham, central England, said in the survey.

Skepticism has been growing in Britain and other European countries about health authorities’ handling of the H1N1 pandemic because the number of people infected has been lower than originally feared…

[more from Reuters]

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Britons Start To Fight Back Against the Surveillance State

Having grown up in Britain, pre-surveillance state, it’s amazing to me that during the last twenty years the British have just meekly accepted the ever-increasing and encroaching surveillance powers used by all levels of government in the U.K. But at long last there’s some resistance, at least at the local level, as reported by the New York Times:

Poole, England — It has become commonplace to call Britain a “surveillance society,” a place where security cameras lurk at every corner, giant databases keep track of intimate personal details and the government has extraordinary powers to intrude into citizens’ lives.

A report in 2007 by the lobbying group Privacy International placed Britain in the bottom five countries for its record on privacy and surveillance, on a par with Singapore.

But the intrusions visited on Jenny Paton, a 40-year-old mother of three, were startling just the same. Suspecting Ms. Paton of falsifying her address to get her daughter into the neighborhood school, local officials here began a covert surveillance operation.

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