UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

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.

This tranquil scene is shattered in an instant when armed men descend on the house, gang-rape her sister on the kitchen table and then murder her parents. It ends five minutes later with the girl running for her life.

“We placed it in a sort of cliché idyllic countryside, and tracing it back to mobile phones would make it relevant to people on the street,” Marc Hawker of production company DarkFibre told AlertNet.

from FaithWorld:

Pope, ending his British trip, recalls Nazi terror in WW2

london in blitzPope Benedict on Sunday expressed "shame and horror" over the wartime suffering caused by his German homeland and said he was moved to mark the 70th anniversary of a key air victory with Britons. (Photo: London during the Blitz/U.S. National Archives)

On the last day of a four-day visit to Britain that drew the biggest protest march of any of his foreign trips, the pope also beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of the most prominent English converts from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism.

from Photographers' Blog:

A day at the front line in Sri Lanka

Access for foreign journalists to Asia's longest running civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and government troops, is very tightly controlled by the Sri Lankan government. Getting near the front line area known as the 'No Fire Zone' is only possible with an officially sanctioned trip organized by the Ministry of Defence. Last Friday, April 24, I went on one.

The trip started at 3.30am, when I arrived at the military air base in Colombo. We went through 3 security checks, before boarding our plane at 6.30am. We flew north for about 30 minutes to a small airstrip at a place called Mankulam. From here, we boarded two Mi-8 helicopters. To avoid any ground fire, the choppers fly at maximum speed just above the height of the tallest trees, and when I say just, I mean scraping the leaves. This fast and furious ride lasted just 30 minutes to the town of Kilinochchi.

Is the government being unfair to Gurkhas?

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Nepalese Gurkhas have a long and justifiably proud history of serving alongside Britain – Gurkha units fought with the East India Company in India as early as 1817. Over the years, the Gurkhas have developed a reputation for tenacity, bravery and dogged loyalty to their adopted army.

But when it comes to giving something back once they have finished their military service, Britain has something of a mixed track-record on the Gurkhas and has even been accused of disloyalty.

Iraq cabinet minutes remain secret

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So we’re not going to know the full details of what the cabinet thought about going to war in Iraq.

Justice Minister Jack Straw has blocked the release of cabinet minutes on the subject on the grounds that to open them up would undermine democratic decision-making. If ministers thought everything they said in cabinet was going to be made public, his argument ran, they might be reluctant to express their full and frank views and therefore the principle of collective cabinet responsibility would be undermined.

Women on the frontline

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bag01dcrop.jpgShould women be allowed to fight on the frontline? Is it time for complete equality in the armed forces? Is society ready for the idea of female soldiers routinely fighting and dying in combat?

The death of Sergeant Sarah Bryant, the first female British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, has reignited the long-running debate over women’s role in modern warfare.

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