British heritage under threat from thieves and vandals

British heritage, milepostA recently released study has shown that last year there were more than 75,000 crimes against British heritage sites. That shocking statistic includes damage to more than 30,000 historic buildings in 2011.

One rising trend is in metal theft. With hard economic times, thieves have discovered that selling scrap metal can turn a quick profit. Lead roofs are being ripped off old churches, Victorian ironwork is being dismantled and even entire statues are being carted away.

Deliberate vandalism and graffiti are also major problems. We reported earlier on one of the more disgusting heritage crimes where drunks are peeing on 700-year-old buildings in Cheshire. Even more ominous, at least 750 historic sites were attacked by arsonists last year.

The more serious damage to older heritage sites can’t be fixed and the whole nation is faced with the dire prospect of losing traces of its communal past because of the selfishness and idiocy of its underclass.

One example from an earlier year is shown here in this photo courtesy P.L. Chadwick. This historic Thames & Severn Canal milepost originally had a metal plate affixed to it, which gave distances. This has disappeared and cannot be replaced.

Michigan hotel manager will face judge today in Days Inn assault case

The manager of a Days Inn in Albion, Michigan is facing charges of sexual assault this morning. Rajeshkuma Tiwari, 38, will face a judge today, local affiliate WMMT is reporting.

A young female employee went straight to the police after she claims she was assaulted in Tiwari’s office on her first day of work as a housekeeper. Since then, three other employees and an additional woman have come forward with similar claims.

WMMT states that “sheriff’s deputies confiscated surveillance equipment from the hotel. The Days Inn Hotel Coordinator tells News Channel 3 the camera in Tiwari’s office was not working the day the 19-year-old claims she was assaulted.”


Opinion: Dutch khat ban smacks of racism

khat, qat
The Dutch government recently announced that it will ban the use of khat, a narcotic leaf widely chewed in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

I’ve written about khat before. I’ve spent four months in Ethiopia, especially Harar, a city in the eastern part of the country where chewing khat (pronounced “chat” in the local languages) is part of many people’s daily lives. It’s a mild drug that makes most people more relaxed, mildly euphoric, and talkative. It also helps concentration and is popular among university students.

Of course there are side effects. Short-term effects include sleeplessness, constipation, and for some people a listlessness that keeps them from achieving their potential. Long-term use can lead to mental instability and heart trouble. I met one western researcher in Harar who had been there two years. He’d stopped using khat after the first few months because he was afraid of the long-term effects. If I lived in Harar that long I’d stop chewing khat for that very reason.

So the Dutch government seems to have a good reason to ban khat. Or does it? This is a country where marijuana, hash, herbal ecstasy, and psychedelic truffles are all legal. And if we’re talking about long-term health effects, we need to throw in alcohol and tobacco too.

So what’s different about khat? It’s almost exclusively used by the Dutch Somali community, numbering about 25,000 people. According to the BBC, “a Dutch government report cited noise, litter and the perceived public threat posed by men who chew khat as some of the reasons for outlawing the drug.”

Drunks aren’t noisy? Cigarette smokers never litter? The last reason is the most telling: “the perceived public threat posed by men who chew khat.” In other words, black men. In Europe, khat is a black drug, little understood and rarely used by the white population. This ignorance and the fear it generates are the real reasons khat is being banned.

While there are some valid health and social reasons for banning this narcotic plant, they also apply to the narcotic plants white people like to use. But we can’t expect white people in The Netherlands to give up those, can we?

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Zimbabwe safari parks, resorts seized by land invaders

Zimbabwe, zimbabwe, safari, safarisTourist sites are the latest targets for land seizures in Zimbabwe, reports SW Radio Africa.

A mob of about 150 people took over Lake Chivero Recreational Park, the Kumba Shiri resort, and several other sites around the lake, forbidding guests and employees from leaving.

This is one of a string of land grabs across the country committed by semi-legal mobs taking advantage of the Indigenisation Act, a law passed by President Robert Mugabe in which 51 percent of any foreign holding transfers into Zimbabwean hands. SW Radio Africa wryly noted that the mob promised several resorts to “ministers and other top officials”.

Things seem to have calmed down now. The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, a group set up by the new coalition government to stop this sort of thing, intervened and got the mob to leave. Mugabe was forced to make a coalition government after gross mismanagement of the country. The Indigenisation Act was widely seen as a populist move to divert attention from the economy by targeting foreigners and white Zimbabweans.

Ironically, the Zimbabwe’s tourism minister is currently in Madrid attending the travel expo Fitur, where he’s pushing the country as a tourist destination. Zimbabwe has a lot to offer the adventure traveler: safaris, wildlife, traditional societies, ancient monuments, and beautiful countryside. If the government could offer some stability the tourist industry could blossom.

[Photo of Lake Chivero courtesy user Gyron via Wikimedia Commons]

Why your state sucks: the depressing but true map of America

map, maps
The folks over at Pleated Jeans have come up with a funny yet painful new map of America. It doesn’t show our cities or rivers or mountains, it shows our flaws. As you can see, each state is singled out for what they’re worst at. Maps reveal a lot about the territory they cover, and this one shows more than some people may want to see.

I’ve lived in three different states and I have to say that I wasn’t too surprised by the results. New York has the longest daily commute? My job there certainly had the longest commute I’ve ever had to do. Arizona has the highest rate of alcoholism? There was a bar near my house that served $1 pitchers of beer. Missouri being ranked highest in bankruptcy didn’t come as much of a shock either, although I would have guessed somewhere in the Deep South.

I also wasn’t surprised at Utah having the highest rate of online porn subscriptions. Harvard economics professor Benjamin Edelman, whose study came to this conclusion, noted, “Subscriptions are slightly more prevalent in states that have enacted conservative legislation on sexuality.” Ah, the good old religious double standard!

In Washington state, they don’t need online porn because they’re humping animals at a higher rate than anyone. The source for this has a very small sample size, so maybe Alaskans are better at keeping their huskies quiet and Texans take their steers far out on the range.

Do you agree with the assessment of your own state? Tell us what you think in the comments section!