London Olympics a £440m ‘drain on culture’

According to a report on the BBC

The 2012 Olympic Games will drain away up to £440m from London’s sport and arts groups, a report shows.
“Both the Cultural Olympiad – a four-year programme of events aimed at increasing participation in cultural activity – and the Government’s Olympic sports participation target – to increase the number of people who are physically active by two million by 2012 – were identified as being heavily dependent on smaller grassroots organisations.
But the report, by the assembly’s economic development, culture, sport and tourism committee, said it was these very organisations that would be hardest hit by the funding diversion”
“…our investigation shows that the on-the-ground opportunities Londoners were promised are at risk because the funding diversion effectively ham-strings the organisations needed to deliver them.”

I’d love to say “London Olympics in ‘bad for arts’ shocker” but of course no-one with any sense is surprised.

Geoffrey Robertson in his own words

The historic apology offered by prime minister Kevin Rudd to the “stolen generations” was a crucial step for Australia, as Richard Flanagan wrote on these pages this week. But it does not make amends for the role played by the British in the destruction and degradation of the Aboriginal race. Initially soldiers, convicts and settlers killed Aborigines as if they were animals threatening the crops. Later, in the 20th century, Fabian socialists provided the intellectual justification for the eugenics policy that led to the stolen generations scandal.
The British exterminated the entire tribe of Tasmanian aborigines, leaving only 40 survivors who were herded off their land and placed on an offshore island gulag. The governor’s wife led the hunt for their skulls to decorate London mantelpieces. At least there was a parliamentary inquiry, which reported in 1836 that “not a single native now remains upon Van Dieman’s land … the adoption of any conduct, having for its avowed or secret object the extermination of the native race, could not fail to leave an indelible stain upon the British government”. That “indelible stain” was, a century later, termed “genocide”.

Go read the rest in the Guardian.

Is Britain being a tad hypocritical?

Brits refuse to say sorry

Britain has been urged by prominent human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson to endorse an apology delivered by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd because English intellectuals had inspired the policy of seizing the children.
But the British Government is refusing to follow Mr Rudd’s lead in saying sorry to the stolen generations.
“The apology offered in the Australian Parliament is a matter for the Australian people and addresses laws and policies of successive Australian parliaments and governments,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
Mr Robertson has argued Britain bore a “heavy historic responsibility” for the stolen generations and should apologise.

Where do they think white Australia came from? Who were they before they were ‘Australians’, and under which government did it all begin?

Random thoughts about increased UK immigration fees

I missed this at the time, but this IHT article, For non-Britons living in U.K., price of residency gets heavier, suggests the massive increase in immigration fees forces legal immigrants to pay for efforts to police illegal immigrants.
I know I’m an unusual case because I work for a charity and earn a lot less than a normal IT person, but Britain has benefited economically a lot more from my being here than I have. I had to save throughout the year to pay the fee and I’m still not sure it’s worth it.

Officials say the proceeds will help pay for a big new push to enforce immigration laws and crack down on illegal arrivals. The Home Office, the government department in charge of domestic security, said it wanted to hire more enforcement agents, build detention centers and increase its ability to process migrants efficiently without spending tax money.
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said it was fair to require those who benefit economically from living in Britain to pay for the changes. The Home Office emphasized that the biggest increases were directed at foreigners who live and work in the country, not at students or visitors, and said it was fair to raise charges now because they had not gone up since April 2005.
But immigrants say they are being unfairly burdened with the cost of an effort that was previously shared by all British taxpayers, not just the foreign-born ones.

For the future…

From the Age: Hands across the nation, ‘The apology to indigenous Australians is not about dwelling on the past, it’s about building a future.’:

I know of no indigenous person who told their story to the inquiry who wanted non-indigenous Australians to feel guilty — they just wanted people to know the truth. They wanted to tell the stories of their lives, to have the truth of their experiences acknowledged. Many people who gave evidence to the inquiry said that the telling was itself healing — knowing that at last they were being officially heard.
Governments inherit the laws and practices of previous governments, and so, too, do they inherit responsibility for past actions. We as Australians need to acknowledge the effects that past policies had on indigenous people, the hurt that has been caused to a group of Australians on the basis of their race, and we should rejoice, and take great pride, in today’s apology in our Federal Parliament.
Ultimately, we have chosen not to turn away from what was done to those children. We have chosen to face it for what it was, and I know that Australians will feel great relief having done so.
This is not about taking a “black armband” view of history. It is not about dwelling on the past for its own sake. This history is not someone else’s history. Today’s apology is about healing and reconciliation for the benefit of us all.

Woman and men can have equal spatial abilities

Lots of possible questions about the study itself, but the introduction to the article is interesting:
Action Games Improve Women’s Spatial Abilities, Says New Study

While research has consistently shown that the male brain has advantages in spatial skills like geometry, interpreting technical drawings and reading maps, a new study says that playing action-oriented video games can equalize the sexes in that regard.

Wusses! Stoke Newington != Hackney

BBC says, MPs test out Hackney after dark
This shop counter looks remarkably familiar:

I can’t believe a bunch of posey politicians can go to the solidly middle class enclave that is Stoke Newington Church St and pretend they’ve braved the wilds of Hackney! The worst that could happen is that their latte accidentally has non-organic milk or they are hit in the ankles by a £1000 pram.
They should have some guts and walk down ‘Murder Mile’ on their own – nothing will happen, but at least they will have really proved the point.