Sunday, 31 January 2016

EU Referendum

A post to hold stuff relevant to the forthcoming EU Referendum.


An article in the Independent describes how EU regulations (some of which have been driven by the UK) have been responsible for improving water quality at beaches; conserving fish stocks; improving air quality; reducing energy useage (e.g. via efficient home lighting); and reducing the effects of climate change via targets to reduce CO2 emissions.

Monday, 25 January 2016

NHS funding

Interesting article by The Kings Fund comparing Health Service Funding over time and across countries. BFTF has charted the data of some of the countries alongside the data for the UK:

Source : OECD 

John Pilger

All of John Pilgers films are available here:

That is all.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Mosques, kittens, indifference and stairs

Read two stories recently, having a bit of trouble reconciling them....

Story 1 : Kittens at a Mosque
Imam Mustafa Efe recently started welcoming local stray cats into the Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi mosque in Istanbul, a story which has been covered widely across the world (for example, see here)

Imam and kitten

Story 2 : Treatment of infirm women at a Mosque
Rabia Chaudry describes how, when visiting the Sultan Ayyoub Ansari mosque and shrine in Istambul, she was shooed away from the small womens section in the main prayer hall and told to go upstairs to the balcony section, overlooking the main prayer hall. The stairs were narrow, cramped steep and circular - in short, difficult to climb. Whilst on the balcony section Rabia happened to look back as the stairs. This is what she saw :

"..I looked over and saw a woman emerge out of the stairway door. Except she wasn't standing up. She was crawling. She was the first of a number of very elderly women who crawled up those awful stairs on their hands and knees. One of them dragged her cane with her. They would get to the top, then have to be helped to stand up and wobble over to a place on the carpet to pray. That pretty much broke me. I can't remember the last time I wept, really wept. I had already been shooed away from a number of mosque doors that were the domain of men only, but this really broke me. What has happened to our men? Where is the mercy and compassion of our Prophet (saw)? How many would send their own elderly mothers up such stairs to sit away from...from what? From prayer?..."

Rabia goes on to comment that:

"....I watched my daughter play with one of the elderly women, who gave her candies. Another, seeing me cry for quite a bit, came and gave me sweets and a gift of prayer beads. I felt better knowing that the unkindness of the men didn't strip the kindness from the hearts of the women...."

This woman must have been at least 70 years old,
came up on her hands with her face literally on the steps

Sent an email to the The Presidency of Religious Affairs at but zero expectation of it actually being read by anyone. Email says:

"The way elderly and infirm women are forced to climb the steep stairs at the Eyüp Sultan Mosque is heartless. They should be welcomed on the ground floor."

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Interview : Louise Cooke from the Sharewear Clothing Scheme

BFTF has been a fan of the Sharewear Clothing Scheme in Nottingham for some time, so was keen to take advantage of a recent opportunity to interview Louise Cooke, who kickstarted the project a few years ago. Sharewear provides emergency clothing, shoes and bedding to people in Nottingham who are currently in crisis. The organisation operates a strict referral system and is self funded.

A summary of the interview can be found below ! :

History of the scheme
Louise described how, in November 2012, Louise had visited the City of Sao Paulo in Brazil as part of the CAFOD "Connect2 programme" which aims to build links between cities in the developed and developing worlds. During the visit Louise was able to see the work CAFOD partners were doing in the favelas of the city...

"I came back all fired up by the community organising that I'd seen in Brazil and realised that in Nottingham there is great need and deprivation and I wanted to set something up in Nottingham that would tap into that need and help support people through it."

Louise went to recount how, soon after, she had been diagnosed with breastcancer and so had to put these plans on hold whilst undergoing treatment.

Whilst undergoing treatment, Louise's son, Matthew had been volunteering at Bullwell and Bestwood foodbank and mentioned to Louise that families were coming to the Foodbank asking for clothes and that there was nowhere in Nottingham the people in dire economic circumstances could go for free, as-new, good quality clothing and that "you should set it up Mum".

When Louise's treatment was completed and she had fully recovered, Louise approached Joe Tucker and other members of a local "Faith in Action" group at the Our Lady church in Bulwell to help get the scheme off the ground. Father Gerry Murphy at the Infant of Prague Church [backstory to that name here] kindly allowed some space at the front of the church to be used. Louise comments that "and two years on, things have gone crazy!"

Some of Sharewear's stock (by kind permission)

Why are people having to use the Sharewear clothing programme?

Louise described how the number of referral agencies has increased from about a dozen to around seventy and adds that:

"Initially most of our users were people who'd had benefits sanctioned and were trying desperately to get into work and were in a vicious cycle of not being able to do that because they didn't have decent clothes but because they had been sanctioned they couldn't afford to buy decent clothes...

...over the last 8-12 months, we now see a lot of victims of crime; a lot of recovering addicts of every kind; ex-offenders trying to rebuild their lives; and increasingly, recently, working families where both partners are working on zero hours contracts, low income contracts, and simply have to choose between sending their children to school in proper clothes or feeding them or paying bills or whatever it may be..."

..also, right from the outset, we have also helped refugees and asylum seekers, we have been supplying the Women's Culture Exchange at the Refugee Forum with clothing for nearly two years now- and also working with HOST, Arimathea Trust and the Refugee Forum themselves. And recently we have got involved with the co-ordinated response to the Syrian refugees who that are being placed in Nottingham by working with Gedling Borough Council and Nottingham City Council support workers...

A pre-sorted Sharewear pack of essentials,
ready to be provided to someone in need

The Special Question
Everyone who kindly agrees to an interview from BFTF is asked, at the end, a simple question that aims to recognise some of the blessings we have in this country. The question is "What do you think is the best thing about living in the UK?":

"Based on my trip to Sao Paolo in 2012 to the favelas and based on some of my experiences now as someone who works for the charity CAFOD part time, I would say one of the best things about living in the UK is that no matter how poor we are; no matter how austerity kicks in there are always support networks around to help us and also, most importantly, we've always got access to clean safe water and sanitation."

You can find out more about CAFOD here.

Beautiful art at the Infant of Prague Church

Related Content
Post about Arimathea Trust
The True Cost of Austerity
The Himmah Foodbank

Monday, 11 January 2016

Assalamu alaikum (Peace be upon you)

Assalamu alaikum (Peace be upon you) is a very common Islamic greeting. Across the UK it is said millions of times a day, children returning home from school; by husbands and wives coming home from work; by people meeting friends and acquaintances in the street.

It is ubiquitous.

But you will very rarely here it on TV drama containing Muslim characters, except in one specific set of circumstances - we'll come back to that in a moment.

So, anyway, BFTF was sitting idly at home next to Mrs BFTF, who was watching Silent Witness on BBC iPlayer ("Flight", Pt1, first aired 9pm 11 Jan 2016).

BFTF wasn't really paying attention until he heard the phrase "Assalamu alaikum" being spoken by one of the Muslim characters in a scene where someone had died.

"Assalamu alaikum"

BFTF: "How did that guy die?"

Mrs BFTF : "Stabbed"

BFTF : "Anything to do with terrorism?

Mrs BFTF :"No"

BFTF : "That's unusual"

BFTF then went back to scanning through Facebook on his phone until, literally WITHIN SIX MINUTES, he heard the gravelly voice of Detective Chief Inspector Michael Waite from the Counter Terrorism Unit appear on the detective show.
Det. Chief Insp. Waite arrives

Det Insp Waite was was soon launching into a monologue with all the usual catchphrases.

radicalised, Raqqa, Al-Britani, Jihadist, Falluja, Social media, recruiting sargent......

One rarely, if ever, hears "Assalamu alaikum" on Eastenders or other soaps - no matter how many times the Muslim characters meet each other - why does BFTF only hear it on dramas involvingterrorism, gang violence or wife beating?

The BBC is actively associating a phrase meaning "Peace be upon you" with terror and violence. They should be ashamed of themselves.

And it is BFTF's children who will pay the price by an increased liklihood of facing discrimination when trying to get a job.

How could BFTF had been so STUPID as to think that a programme would break these rules.


I guess nothing has changed since 2003 and 2004 and 2008

Complained to the BBC with these comments:

"This is a complaint regarding the fact Islamic phrases are only used by Muslim characters in negative contexts (terrorism, gang violence or wife beating). I was initially shocked to hear a Muslim character say "Assaalmu alaikum" at around 30mins into the programme without it being in the context of terrorism. I need not have worried, 6 minutes later Det Chief Insp Waite arrived to give the full spectrum of catchphrases "radicalised", "Raqqa", "Al-Britani", "Jihadist", "Falluja", "Social media", "recruiting sargent". Why don't I hear "Assalamu alaikum" on Eastenders or other soaps - why do I only hear it on crime dramas? Your behaviour is actively associating a phrase meaning "Peace be upon you" with terror and violence. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Climate Change Science - A Very Short History (moved)

Scientists have been known that CO2 emissions were significant for over a hundred years. Here is a short history of what the science says.

1896 : Arvid Hogborn
Swedish Scientist Arvid Hogborn noticed that, even in 1896, the amount of CO2 being produced by the burning of coal was the same as that from natural processes such as volcanoes.

1908 : Svante Arrhenius
The American Institute of Physics describes how the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927) built on earlier work and realised that CO2 acted mainly as a throttle to raise or lower the really important greenhouse gas - water vapour. This is because water cycles in and out of the air, oceans etc continuously and the levels are very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. By contrast CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for centuries. So the gas acts as a "control knob" that sets the level of water vapor.

In his book "Worlds in the Making" (1908) Arrhenius commented that :

"If the quantity of carbonic acid [CO2] in the air should sink to one-half its present percentage, the temperature would fall by about 4°; a diminution to one-quarter would reduce the temperature by 8°. On the other hand, any doubling of the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air would raise the temperature of the earth's surface by 4°; and if the carbon dioxide were increased fourfold, the temperature would rise by 8°."

"Although the sea, by absorbing carbonic acid, acts as a regulator of huge capacity, which takes up about five-sixths of the produced carbonic acid, we yet recognize that the slight percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere may by the advances of industry be changed to a noticeable degree in the course of a few centuries."

"Since, now, warm ages have alternated with glacial periods, even after man appeared on the earth, we have to ask ourselves: Is it probable that we shall in the coming geological ages be visited by a new ice period that will drive us from our temperate countries into the hotter climates of Africa? There does not appear to be much ground for such an apprehension. The enormous combustion of coal by our industrial establishments suffices to increase the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air to a perceptible degree."

Svante Arrhenius (link)

....Read the rest of this post here :