UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from John Lloyd:

Yes, thank you, we’re more courteous than ever

“Rudeness is just as bad as racism”: thus David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, when he was leader of the opposition in April 2007. It was a remark he should know better to make now: not because it is politically incorrect (usually a bad reason for doing, or not doing, anything) but because it’s crass.

Rudeness is being uncivil. Racism can be murderous.

But there is some excuse for the future Prime Minister’s confusion. The two are linked: the common denominator is respect. Racism is a radical lack of respect for an ethnicity which you have convinced yourself, or brought up, to despise. Rudeness is a milder lack of respect for others you meet in your journey through the day – or through life. Further link: one of the reasons why there’s less rudeness is that, in the past couple of decades, casual racism has largely disappeared from public discourse in most advanced societies -- though some of that is because it has gone underground.

Less rudeness? Who says less? Don’t we all know that what’s the matter with kids today – and quite often, with their parents – is that they have no manners?

It doesn’t seem that clear cut. In the UK, where unmannerly behavior – the blast of stereos, the jostling of the elderly on public transport, the drunkenness and worse of young women in city centers on a Friday night – is a daily moan, a new report says it’s improving. It seems as counter intuitive as that other recent claim, by Steven Pinker of Harvard (in the 700-page The Better Angels of our Nature) that violence within and between societies has been falling for more than two millennia – and that we live in unprecedentedly peaceful times. Can we be living in unprecedentedly nice times?

from Left field:

Murray makes good on rankings goal with Asian hat-trick

The end of season for the top players can be a tough time because of fatigue; all their work is based around peaking for the slams. With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both out of action (neither have played since the last Davis cup tie) the top two seeds were Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray for the Shanghai Masters Series.

Murray has been playing really well having won in Thailand and Tokyo leading into the Shanghai event. Murray has made a concerted effort to play more aggressively, also the courts are faster and so it actually forces him to play more aggressively which is a good thing.

from FaithWorld:

EU court bars stem cell patents when embryos destroyed, Christians hail ruling

(A microscopic view shows a colony of human embryonic stem cells (light blue) growing on fibroblasts (dark blue) in this handout photo released to Reuters by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, March 9, 2009/Alan Trounson/California Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

Europe's top court has banned patenting any stem-cell process that involves destroying a human embryo, dealing what some scientists said was a "devastating" blow to an emerging field of medical research. Researchers fear the ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will hobble development in an area of science that could provide a range 21st-century medicines for diseases from Parkinson's to blindness.

from FaithWorld:

Church of England edges nearer to allowing women bishops

(Canterbury Cathedral, September 2005/Hans Musil)

The Church of England cleared another legislative hurdle to appointing women bishops, but traditionalist opponents warned on Monday the move was not a foregone conclusion. Some Anglican provinces already have women bishops, including Australia, the United States and Canada, but the ordination of women and homosexuals as bishops as well as same-sex marriages remain the most divisive issues facing the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.

The Church of England has voted in principle for women to be consecrated, and draft legislation is currently being looked at by its 44 dioceses, or groups of parishes, as part of its long legislative process. At the weekend, the diocese vote passed the 50 percent backing needed for it to go back to the Church's parliament, or general synod, for a final vote next year.

from Left field:

Both teams got the Euro 2012 playoff draw they wanted

By Philip O’Connor in Stockholm

It wasn’t just Irish eyes that were smiling when the Euro 2012 playoff draw was made in Polish city of Krakow - some of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) delegation appeared to be laughing out loud when they were drawn to face Estonia, with the winner heading to next year’s finals.

But despite the protestations of coach Tarmo Ruutli, Ireland probably represents the best possible draw for the Estonians, given that the other alternatives were Portugal, Croatia or the Czech Republic.

from Left field:

The future of British tennis

The Great Britain Junior Davis Cup team were trying to win the Junior Davis Cup for the first time in UK history. We have a great team and were seeded number 1 because we won the European team championships for the first time this summer.

The team consisted of Kyle Edmund at number 1, who at 16 had made the semi-finals of the junior U.S. Open, Luke Bambridge at number 2, and Evan Hoyt at number 3. We prepared very well by getting to Mexico 6 days early to acclimatise to the altitude, time zone, and heat. We were determined to win. The reason we arrived 6 days early is that it takes a day for every hour to adjust to the time zone. The ball flies quicker and further through the air because of the altitude. Also in altitude it is harder to breath because of the air.
As the number 1 seeds we drew Thailand, Germany and Canada in our group to qualify for the semi-finals. We had to beat all the teams to be certain of qualifying, which we did. We won all our matches but it wasn’t quite as straight forward as that. Evan Hoyt our third ranked boy was struck down with food poisoning an hour before his opening match against Thailand and our number 1 Kyle Edmund was on antibiotics for the whole event because of a fever and couldn't play singles on the opening day against Thailand. These kinds of situations are always a balancing act, but the depth of the team is so good that we could play any one of the three boys.

from Africa News blog:

Must we see rape in Britain to understand rape in Congo?

I was left somewhat traumatised after going to see a screening of a controversial new Hollywood-backed short released this week, aimed at highlighting the link between minerals mined for British mobile phones and the use of rape and murder as weapons of war in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The highly graphic campaign video - appropriately called Unwatchable - starts with a little English girl picking flowers in the garden of her family’s multi-million pound mansion in a picturesque Cotswolds village.

from Breakingviews:

BBC ersatz trader has serious markets message

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
YouTube Preview Image
Wall Street now has its equivalent of a reality TV star. A clip from the BBC of a self-described trader admitting to dreaming of financial doom as a money spinner has spread like wildfire. The Gordon Gekko wannabe doesn't work for a Wall Street firm but his vulgar amorality offers a description of trading that has struck a chord with a public still smoldering over bank bailouts.

Ersatz trader Alessio Rastani wasn't a big name in finance. He was nobody until this week. Still, he has some claim to represent the primitive Id of traders everywhere. His obvious indifference to the human suffering caused by financial collapses and economic downturns -- in this case the crisis facing European nations -- seemingly shocked the public, not to mention BBC presenters who let him rant ad nauseam.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

United get rude awakening

The plain sailing Manchester United would have expected in the group stage of their Champions League campaign has turned into a rough ride after Tuesday’s 3-3 home draw with Swiss side Basel, who were unlucky not to have come away from Old Trafford with the three points.

Two draws in their last two games, away to Stoke City in the Premier League and the late escape against Basel, will have rooted out any complacency that might have crept into Alex Ferguson’s men after their flying start to the season which included an 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal.

from Reuters Investigates:

Behind the scenes at UBS

Emma Thomasson and Edward Taylor tell the inside story of UBS's turbulent week in today's second special report "How a rogue trader crashed UBS."

UBS chief Oswald Gruebel’s decision to resign after the bank said a rogue trader lost as much as $2.3 billion was not just a response to the immediate crisis. It was also an admission that the bank’s latest scandal has effectively undone all his efforts over the past two years to lobby against tougher bank regulations.

  •