Tag Archives: UK

Current Event Cat of the Day: Scottish Independence Referendum

Scotland Referendum Scottish

The Scots hit the polls today to vote on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent Scottish nation. 

Voters will answer a straightforward “Yes” or “No” to the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Putting American voter turnout to shame, 4,285,323 people – 97% of the electorate – are registered to vote in what is expected to be the busiest day in Scottish electoral history.

A vote for independence would mean Scotland, with its population of about 5.3 million, splits from the rest of the United Kingdom, made up of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But a vote against independence doesn’t necessarily mean the status quo will continue. Promises of further devolution to the Scottish parliament have made by all the main parties.

The Yes campaign argues that the Scottish people should be able to decide how their money (and future untapped oil resources) is spent. They’d rather sustain welfare spending than waste money on England’s nuclear weapon program and getting involved in wars. Also, since Scotland consistently votes to the left of the rest of the UK, they would never have to deal with another Conservative government telling them to cut this and privatize that.

The No campaign is more about the fear of the unknown, highlighting the risks of independence to the Scottish economy. These include the uncertainties over what currency the country would use in the event of a yes vote, doubts over the reliability of oil reserves, how the country will pay for its public services, uncertainties around Scotland’s continued membership of Europe, and the threat to jobs if businesses pull out of Scotland. Plus, the shared history of the union and the institutions that bind it together, blah, blah, blah.

As for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who foolishly agreed to the referendum back when support for Scottish independence was much lower, he’s reportedly had enough.

“I have to say that after the events I’ve been facing over the past few days, assassination would be a welcome release,” Cameron said.

The vote will be seen as a huge failure for Cameron if the Scots choose to go independent. But one good thing has come out of the referendum debacle for Cameron – a budding new friendship with former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“We’re actually good friends,” Cameron said of his former rival, who has since become his ally in the political battle to keep Scotland from seceding.

The Prime Minister said he and his predecessor also have regular phone chats, having put aside their political differences in recent months. Well, that’s sweet.

The Prime Minister also reiterated that he will not resign in the event of a Yes victory.

“My name is not on the ballot paper,” Cameron said. “What’s on the ballot paper is ‘does Scotland want to stay in the United Kingdom, or does Scotland want to separate itself from the United Kingdom?

“That’s the only question that will be decided on Thursday night. The question about my future will be decided at the British general election coming soon.”

Unless, of course, he’s assassinated first….

Update: Scotland voted No (55%), so no need to assassinate David Cameron just yet.

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Gay Weddings in the U.K.

Current Event Cat - Gay Weddings UK

At the stroke of midnight on Saturday, the United Kingdom welcomed its first gay weddings after same-sex marriage was legalized in England and Wales – but it was an American who stole the show.

The first couple married in England was Sinclair Treadway, a 20-year-old from Los Angeles, California, and his London based partner Sean Adl-Tabatabai. Treadway’s parents traveled from the U.S., and leaders of all of Britain’s major political parties wished them congratulations. Leave it to an American to steal Britain’s gay marriage thunder.

But despite the American hijacking, the midnight marriages went off without a hitch, and dozens of same sex couples were successfully hitched.

“When we were born, it was illegal to be gay, let alone get married,” one soon-to-be newlywed said during last-minute preparations ahead of the wedding. “I didn’t think about the possibility for most of my life. It is only really recently that suddenly the option seemed to be on its way.”

Up until Saturday, gay couples in Britain were allowed to enter in civil partnerships – established by law in 2005 – which made many feel like second-class citizens.

The same-sex marriage bill was passed in January last year but is just now coming into effect. While Prime Minister David Cameron faced some vocal opposition, for the most part politicians from the main parties have supported the change in the law.

“This weekend is an important moment for our country,” the Prime Minister wrote in an article for the Pink News website.

“It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth,” he continued, adding that he hoped the legalization would give young gay Britons the courage to come out.

Even Elton John is hopping on the gay weddings bus. His partner of 20 years, David Furnish, recently announced the duo will marry in May.

“We don’t feel the need to take an extra step legally,” Furnish said. “But since we’re committed for life, we feel it’s really important to take that step, and take advantage of that amazing change in legislation. We all live by example.”

Scotland has passed a similar law, and is expected to see its first weddings in October.

Northern Ireland has no plans to follow suit…

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British Politician David Silvester Blames Floods on Gay Marriage, Gets Fired

David Silvester Blames the Floods on the Gays

Sometimes it’s weirdly satisfying to see non-American politicians make completely ridiculous comments. Well, David Silvester, a local councillor for the anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) gave us just that when he blamed the recent storms and floods across Britain on the government’s decision to legalize gay marriage.

David Silvester, a longtime homophobe who defected from David Cameron’s Conservative Party last year in protest of the PM’s same-sex marriage policies, took to his local newspaper to make his point.

“I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill,” David Silvester wrote.

“It is his (Cameron’s) fault that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods,” the Henley-on-Thames councillor added.

“He has arrogantly acted against the Gospel that once made Britain ‘great’ and the lesson surely to be learned is that no man or men, however powerful, can mess with Almighty God with impunity and get away with it, for everything a nation does is weighed on the scale of divine approval or disapproval.”

At first the UK Independence Party seemed totally fine with Silvester’s letter, saying the councillor’s views were “not the party’s belief” but that he was entitled to state his opinions.

Then he took it too far. Ignoring his party’s request to quit the homophobic interviews, Silvester went on BBC Radio proclaiming that being gay was a “spiritual disease” that can be healed and likened abortion laws to the Holocaust.

Apparently that crossed the line and UKIP used its emergency powers to suspend Silvester before he embarrassed the party any more. And this is a party that has seen it’s fair share of embarrassment. In September, MEP Godfrey Bloom was forced to quit UKIP after he joked that a group of UKIP women who did not clean behind their fridges were “sluts” and refered to countries receiving government aid as “Bongo Bongo Land”.

Piece of advice to the UKIP party: vet your candidates better and maybe you’ll finally win a seat.

Via: The Telegraph

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Police Rescue Three Women Held Captive By The British Version of Ariel Castro

Three Women Held Captive

Turns out the U.S and Austria aren’t the only countries where you can hold women captive for decades without detection.

Three women have been freed after being held captive for nearly 30 years in a south London home – including one woman who is thought to have spent her entire life held captive.

The women freed include a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman. The women are said to be “highly traumatized” but are now in a safe location. Investigators say there was no evidence of sexual abuse but the women had controlled lives and spent most of their time indoors.

As for the Ariel Castro-like captor, details are scarce but British police have arrested a man and a woman, both 67. While the women were freed several weeks ago, the two suspects were only arrested on Thursday.

“The women were released as soon as possible,” Det Insp Kevin Hyland, from the Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking Unit, said.

“There was a delay in the arrest. This was down to the fact that we had to work very carefully with these people who were highly traumatised and it was very difficult to establish the facts.

“The last thing we wanted to do was increase that trauma.”

And how did the police manage to track down and suspects and their prisoners? With the help of television! One of the captive women saw a television documentary on forced marriages and called Freedom Charity, a group that raises awareness about child abuse, forced marriages and honour killings. After telling the organization that she had been held against her will at a London address for more than 30 years, they contacted the police and the rest is history! Moral of the story: TV saves lives.

Via: BBC News

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Royal Baby

Current Event Cat - Royal Baby

Royal Baby Update: The heir is here!

Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge welcomed a son into the world on Monday at 4:24 p.m. BST. The new parents are “doing well” and are preparing to leave St. Mary’s Hospital in London and present the royal baby — third in line to the British throne — to the world.

Meanwhile, Britain is going crazy. Gun salutes in Green Park and the Tower of London and the ringing of bells at Westminster Abbey started off the celebration. At Buckingham Palace, royal watchers, tourists, and everyone else in London are lining up in the rain to catch a fleeting glimpse of the bulletin announcing the arrival of the royal baby, which is being displayed on an easel. Even more are waiting outside the hospital hoping to see Wills, Kate and the royal baby as they leave. Speculation on the name of the royal baby is also in full force. Will it be George???? I bet it’ll be George.

And it’s not just Britain that is going nuts – it’s the Twittersphere. According to Twitter, the royal baby had more than two million mentions on Monday. The peak came at 8:37 p.m., when Buckingham Palace announced the boy’s birth, with 25,300 tweets per minute. Twitter doesn’t lie – you love the royal baby.

But enough about the royal baby – what about the coverage leading up to the birth of the royal baby? There were a lot of gems out there but here are a few faves:

1. CNN’s royal contributor Victoria Arbiter:

“This is how brilliant a royal Kate is,” Victoria Arbiter told CNN. “There are women throughout British royal family history that have panicked over not being able to deliver a boy, and here we are, Kate did it first time.”

Congrats on the 50/50 odds! Now here’s John Oliver mocking her endlessly:

2. BBC reporter Simon McCoy

Simon and his viewers are pretty much over the waiting game and have nothing left to report.

”Plenty more to come from here of course, none of it news, because that will come from Buckingham Palace. But that won’t stop us, we’ll see you later.”

“We’ll just wait and see, it could be tomorrow morning if all goes well today. Until then, we’re going to be speculating about this royal birth with no facts to hand at the moment.”

3. The Globe and Mail

The Globe asks: will the royal baby be a confident Leo or sensitive Cancer? Probably neither because astrological signs are bullshit.

4. And lastly, AccuWeather because not even the weather channel could pass up an opportunity to get in on the royal baby action.

AccuWeather begs the question: could a full moon or pressure changes have induced Middleton’s labor? In short: no – but thanks for reading.

Via: BBC News & Current Event Cats

Ecuador Claims Their UK Embassy / Julian Assange Hide-out was Bugged

Ecuador Embassy Bug Julian Assange

Ecuador’s ambassador to the United Kingdom said on Wednesday that a hidden microphone was found in its embassy, where WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has been holed up for more than a year.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino (pictured looking angry above) has said the microphone was found in the office of Ambassador Ana Alban at the time of his visit to the embassy on June 16 to meet with Julian Assange.

“We have reason to believe that the bugging was carried out by The Surveillance Group Limited, one of the largest private investigation and covert surveillance companies in the United Kingdom,” Patino said.

But the British private surveillance company denied that it had bugged the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was granted asylum by Ecuador last year, lives and works in a different, non-bugged room within the embassy. He has been camped out there for over a year to avoid extradition to Sweden. Sounds like a similar case to one with that guy living in the transit area of a Moscow airport… Except the United States doesn’t want to question Edward Snowden over allegations of rape and sexual assault – just the leaking part.

The UK and Ecuador still haven’t figured out what to do with Julian Assange. Ecuador wants to guarantee him a safe passage to their country but Assange faces arrest if he steps out of the Ecuadorean embassy. The UK says it has a legal obligation to send him back to Sweden if they catch him. Assange is scared to go back to Sweden, because in addition to the rape charges, he fears Sweden would extradite him again – but this time to the United States to face potential charges over the release of thousands of confidential U.S. documents on WikiLeaks.

102966298PM001_JULIAN_ASSANIf Julian Assange really wanted to stay hidden, he should just move to the Arctic – he’d blend right in.

Via: The Guardian

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Protests Planned for Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral

MT Funeral

Looks like the UK has their own version of the Westboro Baptist Church. Hundreds of Brits plan to protest Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

A group of more than 800 people have pledged to attend an event called “Maggie’s good riddance party” outside St. Paul’s Cathedral where Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will be held on Wednesday. The group has promised a ‘right jolly knees-up’, whatever that means.

Party attendees have vowed to pelt her coffin with eggs, coal, or milk if they can get close enough. Why these seemingly random objects? Well, coal because it’s a reminder of the bitter 1984-1985 miners’ strike, which Thatcher crushed. And milk because of Thatcher’s days as education minister when her decision to stop free milk for older school pupils earned her the nickname “Thatcher the milk snatcher”. And eggs? Well, that’s just what people throw at things they hate.

In addition to the “good riddance par-tay”, hundreds more have pledged to turn their backs on the former prime minister as her coffin travels through Central London. Scotland Yard appears to be ok with that, as it is not against the law and will not provoke arrests. However, it will cause some embarrassment to her grieving family and be seen my millions worldwide.

As evidenced by newspaper headlines following her death, Margaret Thatcher continues to deeply divide Britain along ideological lines: Is she the woman who saved Britain or the woman who tore Britain apart?

Mixed Thatcher Reactions

Protesters are angry over the expensive state-funded funeral for a woman they claim destroyed Britain by implementing large welfare cuts and “radical free-market reforms” throughout her rein.

As one protester explained, “I sat there last week getting crosser and crosser at the attempt to rewrite history. David Cameron said Mrs Thatcher had saved the country. I think she actually destroyed this country. I wanted to do something that was dignified and peaceful. I spoke to a number of officers and I’ve received assurances that this protest will not be problem as long as it remains peaceful.”

However, protesters have been receiving backlash from many who call the protests disrespectful and an insult to a dead stateswoman’s memory. Prime Minister David Cameron called the “celebrations” of Thatcher’s death “disgraceful”.

One thing’s for sure: Reagan would NOT be pleased.

Via: Daily Mail

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Margaret Thatcher Dies, Cher Does Not… And Other News

Thatcher and Reagan

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan’s political soul mate, has died at the age of 87.

Her spokesman confirmed that the Iron Lady passed away after suffering a stroke Monday morning. Thatcher became Britain’s first female prime minister in 1979 and held on for 11 years, making her the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century. Thatcher set out to eliminate the cradle-to-grave welfare state, liberating Britain from their “culture of dependency”. And she became besties with Reagan along the way! Nancy Reagan had this to say: “It is well known that my husband and Lady Thatcher enjoyed a very special relationship as leaders of their respective countries during one of the most difficult and pivotal periods in modern history. Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end Communism.”

Note: Cher is still alive, despite #nowthatcherisdead confusion. Washington Post

Nutella ThiefFirst maple syrup, now Nutella? Turns out Canadians aren’t the only ones who steal sugary foods: German bandits reportedly stole 5 tons of Nutella from a parked trailer in the central German town of Bad Hersfeld over the weekend. The stolen Nutella is worth about $20,700. The town is a transport hub where truck drivers tend to park and has already had its fair share of thefts. Last month five tons of coffee was stolen and before that, someone took 34,000 cans of energy drinks. Meanwhile, police have asked residents to look out for anyone that brings Nutella sandwiches to work everyday for the next 15 years. New York Times

Ferret DogWTFerret!?!?  Some guy in Argentina is pumping ferrets full of steroids and passing them off as toy poodle dogs. An Argentinian man paid $150 for two toy poodles at an outdoor market in Buenos Aires only to have his vet tell him his “dogs” were acutally ferrets in disguise. Apparently the ferrets were given steroids at birth to make them bigger and they were then groomed to give them a fluffy appearance. Another woman reported buying what she thought was a  Chihuahua but actually ended up being….wait for it… a FERRET! Turns out Brazilians aren’t the brightest… The Daily Mail

British Grandmother BaliBrokedown palace: the golden years. A British grandmother is set to be executed by firing squad for smuggling cocaine into Bali, Indonesia. An Indonesian court upheld the death sentence against Lindsay June Sandiford, 56, who was convicted in January of smuggling $2.5 million worth of cocaine. Sandiford was caught at the airport last May with 3.8 kg of cocaine stuffed inside the lining of her luggage. She claimed she was forced to carry the drugs by a gang that threatened her family. National Post

Hamas Hates HairHamas hates hair. Hamas security forces in Gaza are going around forcing men to shave their heads on the grounds of inappropriate hairstyles. A human rights group has reported that some youths have even been beaten for wearing their hair too long or with too much hair gel. The Palestnian Centre for Human Rights also contends that Hamas is against wearing low hanging pants and are forcing youths to sign an agreement that they won’t wear them. One thing’s for sure: Justin Beiber would never survive in Gaza. BBC News

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Bieber Causes British Outrage


Canada’s secret shame and diaper pants enthusiast, Justin Bieber, disappointed UK fans last night by showing up two hours late on the first night of his UK tour.

Bieber angered young fans (and their parents) by making his first appearance at 10:35pm, well past the average bedtime of his fan base. Parents with young kids left the show before it started and took to Twitter to express their bieber anger (bieber anger new cure for bieber fever?).

The Biebs in turn also took to Twitter to apologize, because apparently Biebers and Bielebers can only communicate through this medium.

“Last night I was scheduled after 3 opening acts to go on stage at 935 not 830 but because of some technical issues I got on at 10:10. There is no excuse and I apologise for anyone we upset. However it was great show and I’m proud of that.”

Ok Biebs. I suppose the British are used to waiting for shows (see below) but there’s a different between waiting for Guns’n’Roses or the Rolling Stones and waiting for Justin Bieber.

Bieber Graphic

Maybe he was still upset about the circus-themed 19th birthday party he through himself which got ruined when members of his entourage got into a fight with club security.

Poor Little Bieber

Awww. Poor little millionaire bieby.

Via: The Daily Beast

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