Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pimp My Media!

When exactly did the word "pimp" cross over into being an acceptable mainstream term for "spruces up, with particular reference to motor vehicles"? The Independent is now using it! Am I the only one who still thinks it means "one who makes a living hiring out women for sex"?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

You Know You Spend Too Much Time On The Internet When ... (Part 1)

...you find yourself on the RADAR site trying to guess which of the women pictured are Fox Business News anchors and which are porn "stars"*.

The point they are trying to make is that the hiring standards for female newscasters seem to be based less on a resume bursting with relevant experience and more on looks. And since we're talking Fox News you can be sure a complete lack of understanding of business news is key to the role. You might also argue that if some of the porn "stars" aren't so wildly attractive maybe that backs up points we've all been making for years about porn being about power more than attraction.

But of course what it does highlight is that if you're a woman in the public eye, it doesn't matter if you talk about business or suck men off, you will be judged first and foremost on your appearance.

*Porn "stars"? I don't really like that term since we know that a great many such women work under duress in fear so porn "victims" seems like a more fitting term.

Johann On Tolerance

Or the lack there of. This is such a bang-on article. Please give it a read. I have one of my own coming out on Islam and Women, watch this space. And while you are on the case you could also take a look at his piece on Al Gore and the "Nine Factual Errors" which Mr Cru and I have been de-bunking at length.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Boys will be Boys and Girls will be ... Murdered!

Shocking documentary which you can watch on the BBC website about female infanticide in India. I'm in favour of having abortion available on demand worldwide but frightening to see abortion being used to basically get rid of female fetuses because parents prefer to have boys. At one point they explain, it's partly due to boys keeping the family name (another reason not to change your name girls) and partly because women are still expected to pay dowry when they're married (another reason to end that practice) but at some level it's just a case of open misogyny. When a boy is born there is ten days of celebration, when a girl is born - nothing.

What isn't covered but would be interesting is what happens in India and China in another generation's time - when there is a massive shortage of women and men are finding it impossible to marry. People have talked a lot about how it might lead to increased criminality among young males without the calming influence of a wife. But another aspect is that with fewer women to go round the women might suddenly have the power to be a little more demanding in their relationships. Women might have the freedom to insist they only want to marry guys who don't expect dowry, are happy for them to maintain a career or use contraception, have less children or make other demands that suit them. Of course that doesn't stop the current situation being totally tragic but it offers a little hope for the future, if we can teach these women to value themselves and their own opinions - not easy in a culture that would rather kill them than raise them.

Funny Ha Ha

Great article in the LA Times about roles for women in comedy films.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Save Us All...

The BBC have an article up today asking whether it's acceptable for disabled people to visit brothels. And when it says disabled people, let me be very clear: it means disabled MEN. They are honestly proposing that while able bodied men shouldn't be allowed to support a corrupt industry and fund human trafficking, sexual slavery, institutionalised rape and brutality, we should make an exception for men with a serious disability.

Now I'm a bit confused, I mean how disabled would a guy have to be to qualify for the proposed scheme? Would there be a government register of who is and isn't allowed to pay for sex? Maybe a points system? Lost one leg? Sorry you can still get the other one over. Lost both legs? OK but hand-jobs only. And if you've lost both legs and are deaf and blind? Presumably Gordon Brown will come round himself and personally suck you off.

Personally I don't believe anybody has a RIGHT to get laid. If anything, you have the right to go out and TRY to get laid. But I also think that the article isn't really about a right to get laid, it's about a right for a man to get laid with a gorgeous young fit woman. And they definitely don't have that. One thing they don't address is whether there might be women out there who - for whatever reason - are just as lonely, who might be interested in these guys - if of course they didn't sound like such unpleasant individuals.

And this leads to the bigger issue: what about the disabled WOMEN? Have they not sexual desires too? And if all the disabled guys are off visiting brothels there'll be fewer guys to go round...

Anyway if you'd like to hear a lot more about disabilities and sex I can only recommend you come along and see the fabulous Liz Carr (pictured) performing with me at Soho Comedy Club on Monday (8pm Roundtable Pub, St Martin's Court, nr Leicester Square, London, £5)

Friday, October 19, 2007

School Film Club Revisited

Since the courts have started ruling on what can and can't be shown in schools* - should someone start a case about this one? There's a lot more questionable science in it than Al Gore has ever come up with, in fact there's pretty much exclusively questionable science in it.

*Brag points for the Cru-blog: some super right-wing idiot site reacted to my post linked above with a feature on me entitled "Portrait of a Complete Moron". They think I have been "brainwashed by Al Gore". Guess the Nobel Prize committee were too then? They must all be "complete morons" too. Mmmm.

Real People, Real Lives

What this article doesn't say is that the A-one cause of obstetric fistula is ... FGM. What it does say is really horrific and deserves to be read.

If Men Got Pregnant...

...this wouldn't happen. Or this. Seems like we are all sat around watching the flow of horror stories from the US health care system - particularly thanks to Michael Moore's film Sicko - but we're letting our own heath care system go the same way. A friend of mine who is a lawyer recently had a baby and spent nearly £10,000 on private health care for the delivery (elective Caesarian because it's her right have her baby her way) because she said she's "seen too many malpractice suits and knows what can go wrong". And even then the food was pretty awful and had to be paid for separately and there were some holes in the care provided. If we believe in a free heath service for everyone, we need to be spending money making sure it does what it says on the tin. And how ironic that you can in some areas get IVF on the NHS. We'll pay to get you pregnant but then we'll leave you in agony to give birth on your own. It's what's called a trick, girls, don't let them catch you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Match Made in Hell

I have just read this story about a guy who's been serially drugging and raping women he met on match.com. It comes with all the usual women-not-being-believed crap and it's taken forever to get a conviction but it comes hot on the heel of a friend of mine telling me a real horror story about a guy she met on an online dating site. I don't want to get into detail because of course she told me what had happened to her in confidence but trust me it was awful.

Years ago before I met Mr Cru I went on a few of these sites and dated a few guys. I think my batting record was:

1 I didn't fancy and didn't meet up with again.
1 I slept with and dated again but it petered out shortly.
3 I didn't fancy but became friends with (and still am).

So there's certainly a positive side to these sites, I met some cool people (then I went out and picked Mr Cru up in a late night bar. Ha!), but there are risks too. Now of course I'm not trying to write some patronising "women warned about dangers on online dating " piece. I neither think women should stay home nor that the Internet has mystical powers to corrupt your soul (from the woman who blogs ten times a day!). My point is that there are different ways to meet guys and the risks are different:

Through trusted friends is always the safest - because at very least they know it's going to get back to them if they don't respect you.
While out with friends is safer - because your friends are there to make sure you're ok.
On a late night two-person date after randomly meeting on a dating website is riskier, where possible better to meet in the daytime, or meet with a few others. Also better to meet for a meal/cinema/theatre trip rather than straight on to the alcoholic drinks.

Also safer to meet in a country where the police take rape victims seriously and attempt to prosecute cases wherever possible, and where public attitudes towards rape have left the middle ages, i.e. not here.

Maybe match.com and co. could introduce a "see other users ratings" section to their site so you could give jerks no stars!

Spot the Difference

The police are doing everything in their power to get the public to side with them over the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes.

1) The police officer in charge of the operation cried in court. Which proves very little, except perhaps that he doesn't want to get in trouble for following orders from irresponsible seniors who are smart enough to cover the own backs and finger him when the shit hits the proverbial fan.

2) The same report tried to claim Menezes had taken cocaine, which caused him to act suspiciously. Take a look at these pictures and tell me who you think is acting oddly...

3) There have been claims that he was past end of his visa. Not, as far as I know, a crime punishable with seven bullets to the head. But again the claim is that this caused him to run away from police. The photos clearly show however (a) the police behaving weirdly - leaping barriers and running about with guns and (b) everybody else on the underground running away too.

4) Most ridiculous of all we're told that De Menezes looks similar to Hussein Osman - a 21st July suspect. Photos above (from The Age) for comparison and I can just about tell the difference. Anyone else? One of those guys is black! Considering how racist the police are reputed to be you'd think they would notice.

Thing is what are they going to do if they do find the police are totally in the wrong? Fine them money which only comes out of the national budget in the first place? Sack a few people and replace them with the sycophants next down the line?

What is needed of course is the whole "terrorist search" called off. They basically haven't found any, every time they claim to have "foiled another plot" it emerges three weeks later that actually the people involved were totally innocent and they're released without charge. And in the process they've caused untold anguish for individuals and incited rage from Muslim groups who feel they are being, well, shot at for no reason.

Doing Everything "Right"

This is just horrific reading, from Feministing. That women often do not report immediately is often held up as one of the many excuses for the pathetic rape prosecution and conviction rates. It reduces the chances of getting DNA evidence as well as blood samples if a date-rape drug is suspected to be involved and among ill-informed rape deniers, reduces the credibility of the victim. So when a woman goes straight to hospital and reports the case to the police too, to ensure DNA evidence is taken - what do they do? Refuse to help her. Three times.

Does Anybody Really Care?

What with all the fuss being made about the less than 200 a year late term abortions in the UK and about those awful 185 women (minus the ones with cancer or other fertility-threatening conditions) who have had a few eggs frozen you'd be forgiven for thinking there was a huge body of people out there who really cared deeply for the well-being of new-born babies and their mothers. If so why don't they go and do something about the 2.3million babies and 188,000 mothers a year dying as a result of poor obstetric care in South Asia?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Yet More Patronising "Advice for Women"

Do women need any more advice on having babies? Apparently so, the American Society For Reproductive Medicine has teamed up with Comment On Reproductive Ethics and the BBC to patronise us all a bit more.

They want to let us know that having your eggs frozen doesn't "guarantee" that women will be able to conceive with those eggs. Which is probably why only 185 women in the UK have had eggs frozen - many of them cancer patients eager to avoid the mess Natalie Evans got into by being unfortunate enough to be dating a complete wanker at the time she contracted cancer. Out of a UK female population of child-bearing age (15 to 44, I'm counting, assuming that a cancer-suffering 15-year-old might consider egg freezing and that by the age of 45 you're not likely to be freezing new eggs) of around 12million, that's tiny. So I can't help thinking it would be easier to ring the 185 personally than to insist on publishing your story in a national news source. I'm sure the 185 all know this and have had the risks explained to them.

So what is the story really about? Women's "lifestyles". Or in other words how us silly girlies have got it all wrong and should be sat home embroidering doilies and pinging out sprogs as soon as we're old enough to menstruate.

Firstly the BBC says quite matter-of-factly, this is not a quote from anybody, "An increasing number of women are choosing to freeze their eggs for social reasons in the hope they will be able to have a child when they are older." So by "an increasing number" the BBC means less than two thousandths of a percent? For any individual woman, a 0.000015 probability. And that's only if we are allowed to include being diagnosed with cancer as a social reason. When you take those women off the list, the number will be even lower, not to say negligible.

Secondly - still the BBC's words "Critics argue they are delaying motherhood for the wrong motives, such as climbing the career ladder or until they have more money." Sorry - who decides what the right and wrong motives for delaying motherhood are? If a woman decides she doesn't want to have children until she can afford to send them to a good school and raise them in a comfortable home who is the BBC to describe those as the "wrong motives"? And is it even true? A small survey on the Mothers 35-plus website gives the number one reason for delaying motherhood as "Lack of suitable partner".

In fact the evidence doesn't even suggest that women are delaying motherhood really. This chart of data from Scotland shows that older mothers are having slightly fewer children than they did in the 1950s and 60s. The difference is that younger mothers are having significantly less children.

And now some patronising advice from Comment On Reproductive Ethics: "The best solution to lifestyle problems is to change one's lifestyle. Have babies naturally at the time nature intended..." Got that ladies? Magically make the right bloke/financial security/feeling of broodiness come along at your fertility peak.

Now the second worst thing about the article is that it totally focuses on WHEN in their lives women SHOULD have babies. It doesn't say anything about the option of NOT HAVING BABIES! Globally we really don't need extra babies. And a very real alternative for older women who regret not starting a family earlier is adopting an older child in need, there are plenty out there desperate for help. And besides, if you don't want kids at 25, maybe you won't want kids at 35 either, as the chart shows the main trend is that women are really choosing to have less children, not the same number later in life.

But the very worst thing about the article is that it addresses itself 100% to women. What about men? Should we be warning men that if they want kids they should settle down with their woman before she hits 32? I have several women friends who are keen to start a family but are waiting until their partner feels ready too. It takes two to make babies.

And if there's any truth in the idea that women delay motherhood because they feel they can't have a career and a family while they're young then we should be warning employers that they're breaking the law by discriminating against pregnant women and working mothers and failing to offer flexible working hours to those with young children!

Funny of the Day

From Shakesville.

Abandoned To Fanatics

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been let down on the promises of protection offered to her by the Dutch government. Sam Harris (author of Letter To A Christian Nation) and Salman Rushdie (who has much experience of being in hiding from Islamic fanatics) have written this deeply moving and very frightening article.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

As If By Magic

Someone else has noticed the contradiction in the Unilever Dove campaign and the other campaigns it runs. Step forward Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. And in general, what a great concept. I have mentioned it before back in the very VERY early days of Cru-blog. I believe some Scandinavian countries have laws that forbid advertising aimed at the under-12s. It's a great idea, makes complete sense, don't bombard kids with media messages when they're too young to know what's going on. Anyway if you're of a mind to, you can mail the company via the CCFC website and air your views on their marketing strategies.

Good news for Mr Cru

Feminists do it better. Yes, scientists have proved feminists have better relationships. A discussion of the report in Science Daily says "They found that having a feminist partner was linked to healthier heterosexual relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported both more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction." And the whole thing about us being unattractive and unshaggable is crap too, in fact "feminist women were more likely to be in a heterosexual romantic relationship than non-feminist women."

That is not Mr Cru pictured by the way. You can go congratulate him on the good news here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Does This Seem To Happen Every Month?

We are apparently caught in the middle of yet another move to change the UK abortion law (i.e. so that less women have access to abortion). Another BBC article with everything wrong with it. Firstly "see how a baby develops to full term over 40 weeks". Not a baby, an embryo, then a foetus. Secondly they speak to several MPs and people from anti-abortion groups. They don't however discuss what the public thinks, relevant information one would imagine, given that we are supposed to live in a democracy. 77% of the British public believe a woman should have the right to an abortion on demand.

They also obtain views from three men and one woman, which gives me a chilling feeling. Why are men involved in the decision over what happens to women's bodies?

Meanwhile for a reminder of the "big success" that anti-abortion activists are aiming for - look at Nicaragua - where abortion is now illegal even if for instance, like Raquel in this article, you've been raped by your own uncle at the age of eleven...

The thing is if you really believe abortion is a sin or whatever, the way to cut the number of abortions is to back efforts to provide contraception to women, support benefits and assistance to single mothers and campaign against the lax prosecution of rape cases. But no-ones doing THAT of course.

Which Planet Is This?

I don't understand. It's not April 1st is it? Well if you've got some money that's just getting in the way and it just seems like such hard work to flush it down the loo - here's a handy alternative.

Let me add the following: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Oh and this: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

What exactly are they proposing Bush would win it for? Services to reduce global warming by killing off hundreds of thousands of CO2-producing poor people in the Middle East? Services to global peace from using up all the dangerous weapons before anybody else can get their hands on them? Services to citizens of aggressive dictatorships for showing them that the promise of modern democracy isn't really worth fighting for?

That said of course Kissinger won it once so I guess they do issue it ironically from time to time...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Still The Truth, However Inconvenient

As expected the UK court case against An Inconvenient Truth is now being discussed on Fox News as if it totally discredited the film. Meanwhile, according to some unresearched right wing blog I have been "brainwashed by Al Gore". They've really taken the time to understand the issues and have hit hard with an insightful piece calling me a moron. Thanks guys, next time just send flowers. Anyway they claim that I need to go through the points raised by the court case and address them. I would do but as it happens Mr Cru has just done the job for me. Good job.

But here's the real rub. The Fox News people, the right wing bloggers, the Exxon-sponsored think tanks, Stewart Dimmock, all the other global warming nay-sayers have one thing in common:

None of them actually think global warming isn't happening.

Some think it's happening slower than it is. Some think it's happening but that it's not yet 100% clear that it's our fault. The court case argued that some of the evident effects of global warming might also be explainable by other means.

It's like being in a car speeding towards a cliff and going "I think the cliff's only 100 foot high, not 300 foot...", "well I think some of our speed might be down to the angle of the road, not our acceleration". You're still going off the cliff, the rest doesn't matter and the time spent arguing is wasted time that puts people's lives at risk. Time that needs to be spent stopping the car or turning it round.

No-one thinks global warming isn't going to destroy the planet eventually. The focus therefore needs to be on what we can do to cut emissions and recapture carbon. And the focus needs to be on doing those things NOW!

Friday, October 12, 2007

He Won It

The Nobel Peace Prize. Al Gore. Now is he going to run for president?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dove Hurts

Dove Update Alert: Dove "real beauty" manufacturers Unilever have been spreading this advert for their Sunsilk shampoo. Forget the campaign for real beauty, where is the campaign for more women being tortured in advertising?

By The Way...

...if you're a fan of Cru-blog (and if not you'll be needing your back button shortly!) you can vote for me in the blogger's choice awards. The categories I'm in are: Best Blog of All Time, Best Blog About Stuff, Best Political Blog and Best Religion Blog - which is cool, since the secular voice does seem to be missing from these lists sometimes.

Should we ignore 32,000 abused children?

According to this report from the Guardian, the FGM "at-risk" population in the UK is now 21,000. And there are a likely 11,000 existing victims. Is the government's policy of funding more faith schools including Muslim ones going to help? I don't see why we don't just provide annual health screenings to all children which include checking for evidence of FGM as standard. But if protecting the health of our children is too much to ask, why not just screen those from at-risk communities. It's a shame to have to single people out, but not as much of a shame as going away on holiday only to discover Granny's going to have your clitoris removed.

This Would Be Funny If...

...it wasn't so frightening. Some idiot called Stewart Dimmock has decided schools can't show An Inconvenient Truth to kids because it doesn't present "both sides of the argument". What argument? Anybody with half a brain can see human activity is heating the planet up. The humour though is in this BBC story on the subject, titled "Gore Climate Film's 'Nine Errors'". Scroll down to the bottom and there's a link to another story "Flood Legacy: the devastating effects of this summer's flooding"

The Guerrilla News Network has done the leg-work on this one. What I can't seem to find out though are which of the mega-polluters are paying for his campaign. Anyone got any idea? Both funding groups - Scientific Alliance and Straight Teaching say they accept corporate donations but they don't list major donors. I'd like to know who exactly is paying to set the agenda our kids are taught, and I bet we'd be horrified if we knew.

Speaking of Al Gore though I really hope he gets the Nobel Prize and then decides he will run for US president after all. I suspect the world may genuinely end quite soon if he doesn't...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

It Must Be Dove, Dove, Dove...

I'm sure the marketing team at Dove think they're on the brink of saving the world. They're not. The latest advert shows a (very pretty) young girl with wide "innocent" eyes, then a stream of "negative" media images and messages - thin models, dodgy diet pills, cosmetic surgery - then has the slogan "Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does". And then the link to the Dove "campaign for real beauty" website.

Now I suppose you could argue we should be grateful that they haven't just gone for Lily Cole lying in a puddle with an axe in her head, which as we all know is what really sells moisturiser. "Treat your corpse to softer, suppler, younger-looking skin ... before rigor mortis sets in." Media recruitment agencies need not call.

But I just refuse to participate in the "campaign for real beauty". I'm rather preoccupied with the campaign-for-women-not-to-be
-judged-on-their-appearances-in-the-first-place. The campaign
-for-the-public-unimportance-of-unattractiveness-in-women. The campaign-for -appreciation-of -women's-intellect,-strength

Secondly the whole "talk to your daughter" - and tell her what? "Listen sweetie, there is a massive multi-billion pound global industry out there trying to tell you that you're unattractive and trying to sell you products on that basis, but you don't need to buy face cream cos Mummy loves you anyway..." That'll make all the difference. Wouldn't we be better off if Mummy didn't have to tell her kids that, if instead the beauty industry just backed off a bit, now it's impact is starting to be so frighteningly obvious? And how is a quick chat with (uncool) Mum going to balance against the hundreds of negative images kids see every day?

Anyhow their images of "real" beauty might include a nominal amount of slightly larger, slightly older and (shock-horror) non-caucasian women but actually they show mostly really very attractive women. OK, they're not models but they're not over 300lbs, there's no-one with a disfiguring disability, and I don't see anyone who looks over about 60. They're a lot better looking than if you went out in the street and just stopped the first women you saw.

The website itself doesn't seem to be much help. On the kids (girls, of course) page it suggests inviting your friends round and holding a fashion show - because only your best friends will tell you those white boots might be "mod" but they're just not "you". Yes have your friends come round and criticise your dress sense! Then you get to print out the self-esteem certificate... Seriously!

A beauty product company - and one which in the past has offered such "confidence boosting" products as “Intensive Firming Gel-Cream: for specific problem areas like thighs" - simply isn't the one to be telling us all how to manage our self-esteem issues. If they believe a word of what they say they would close down and re-open as a women-only go-karting and dry-slope skiing centre. In any case Dove is simply one of hundreds of products made by Unilever. How many of the following Unilever-owned brands have signed up for the "campaign for real beauty":

Slim Fast (yes, the fast-diet milkshake crap)
Lynx (spray more, get more nubile semi-naked bikini-clad models chasing after you)
Sunsilk (website quote: Want hair like Paris Hilton, Nicole Kidman or Posh Spice? )
Pond's (website quote: If you're worried that your face isn't as firm as it used to be, then you don't have to just grin and bear it)
Timotei (advertised by gorgeous super-thin young-looking models in white dresses wandering about a meadow)
Sure (advertised by super-athletic muscular semi-naked models)
Lux (website quote: We all like to look gorgeous and enjoy that confidence which makes us feel like anything’s possible)
Axe (Men's body spray, website boast: Our award-winning ads and marketing are equally adventurous. In Colombia, for instance, a female Axe Patrol visits bars and clubs, frisking guys and applying body spray ... How good will I feel about my "real beauty" while my boyfriend is being frisked by glamorous models in a Columbian nightclub?)

And Unilever are so keen for you to celebrate your naturally beautiful body that here's what they want you to rub on it (this is the Extra-Sensitive Cream Bar):

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Aqua (that's water btw), Coconut Acid, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Zinc Oxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, CI 77891.

Mmmm, mmmm, just reading that's making me feel beautiful already huh? Some of those are just posh words for products derived from palm oil and coconut, others are a little more sinister like: Tetrasodium EDTA - Synthetic preservative - can be irritating to the eyes/mucous membranes. And Cocamidopropyl Betaine which has been claimed to cause allergic reactions in some users.

The truth is advertisers don't give a stuff about little girl's self-esteem or older women's real beauty. They care about getting products off the shelf. Here's what Unilever's website says about Dove:

Paragraph one: "
Dove is committed to widening the definition of beauty for women because we believe real beauty comes in all ages, shapes and sizes. To help you enjoy your own brand of beauty, Dove provides an extensive range of cleansing and personal care products that make a genuine difference to the condition and feel of your skin and hair."

Paragraph two: "Dove is now the UK’s top cleansing brand with an amazing 35% of the population having bought a Dove product in 2004. And it doesn’t end there: 7.2 million women use Dove every week in the UK."

Are we all really THAT stupid?

(The image up top by the way is not the Dove advert - it's a copy-cat by Bigmoves - a larger dance troupe appearing near you - if that's New York, Boston, Montreal or San Francisco - soon...)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why Are We Sending the VICTIMS of Crime to Prison?

Another horror story about the UK immigration system's treatment of trafficked women. The story itself is disgusting:

"She tells of a time early on in her abuse when she was with one customer who had asked for two girls.

The other girl was showing her what to do but Anna started to cry when she saw the customer lying on the bed - it was the first time she had seen a naked man."

So a man went in to visit a brothel and one of the girls started crying, and yet evidently he didn't go to the police or report the incident, or if he did the police did nothing. Is that the kind of society we live in now? Of course the treatment from the pimps themselves is the most horrific:

"she was forced to have sex and faced ice-cold baths, starvation and beatings if she did not do as she was told"

So when at long long last she was rescued from this horrific life, from a life of being raped by different men up 15 to 20 times a day (oh and up to 30 around Christmas - cos all those devoutly religious people know the best way to celebrate the birth of the Lord is with a trip to a cheap brothel...), and frequent violent abuse too, how does Britain respond? We lock her up in Yarl's Wood detention centre.

She was 12 when she was trafficked out of Albania. She's 20 years old now. She fears she'll be forced back in to prostitution if she goes back to Albania. So we're deporting her straight back there.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Moo To Virgin Trains

I had a great night in Manchester last night performing at the Laughing Cows Comedy night. So hello to everyone from there.

Trying to arrange travel and accommodation was a little less fun. I may well post later on the horrors of National Express and Hotels.com, I'll wait until they reply (if they do) to my complaints. In the meantime I discovered yet another reason why privatising the rail service was an unforgivable error.

The two most popular flight destinations from London are Manchester and Paris. It should be easy to cut CO2 emissions by converting those flights into train journeys. With airports being out of town and the time required to check in, it is easier to do either of those journeys city centre to city centre by rail in 2hrs (Manchester) and 3hrs (Paris).

Except on a Sunday when the Virgin-run trains to Manchester don't take two hours - they take 4 hours. That's because they send all the trains via Birmingham, not direct, to pick up extra passengers and make them more profitable. Really. So people who want to save the planet have to waste an extra two hours of their lives. And of course the tickets aren't any cheaper for the extra two hours of inconvenience. Isn't it obvious we should tax airline fuel and make it a condition of the rail contract that full-speed trains run every day?