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British Expat Newsletter: May 2011

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have just signed up.

In this issue

This month

Unlike last month, when we were pleased to tell you we’d published lots of content from four continents, this month content on BE has been a little bit more sparse. It’s not because we’re lazy or don’t have content; it’s more the case of us being on the road again for most of the month. Most recently we were invited to Bangkok for a big retirement party of a friend we’ve known for many years. (It was a fantastic party, by the way!)

As I write, our suitcases are packed for another trip. This time to Cambodia. So, as you can imagine, we’re so busy travelling around we’re not always on the computer writing articles for BE. Also, our new website CanDoCanGo, which promotes accessible travel for everyone, takes a lot of our time.

Is that enough excuses for now? Well, we did at least publish an article about British pensions in New Zealand and QROPS by Andy Crossen.

Perhaps next month we’ll have more articles for you. Meanwhile the BE fora are good places to find information and make friends, and there’s plenty happening on them, so despite the lack of articles this month there’s still plenty going on at the website. Join in and make the most of it!

Editorial: Wildlife encounters

Two instances of human cruelty to animals have been raised on the BE forum recently – one of them a single incident, the other an ongoing practice.

The first was the case of a dog in Malta that was found buried alive and struggling to breathe, having first been shot in the head with a shotgun (more than 40 pellets were found in the wound) and had all its legs tied up.

The second is the practice of “bile farming” in Chinese traditional medicine – the keeping of moon bears in cages, where their bile is extracted through catheters and used in medicines to cure various illnesses. The cages are often little bigger than the bear itself, allowing the animal no space to move. And the bile itself isn’t even necessary to produce the medicines; herbal and synthetic alternatives are just as effective, and are cheaper to produce.

I’m sure the vast majority of our readers, if not all of them, find cases such as these very shocking. But concern for animal welfare is a relatively new phenomenon in many cultures, certainly in the West.

The typical Christian attitude for many centuries was that God had put animals on earth for the benefit of humans and that therefore humans could do whatever they liked to them – all the more so because animals had no souls. Although attitudes are usually more enlightened these days, the idea that animals are somehow worth less than humans still persists in many European cultures.

The major Eastern religions – Hinduism and Buddhism – believe in reincarnation and might therefore be expected to take a kindlier attitude towards animal welfare. After all, the creature you’re killing might be the reincarnation of a deceased friend or relative. But it’s not as simple as that. Most Hindus and Buddhists believe that non-human animals are inferior to humans, because they have accrued bad karma and can’t do anything much to dispel it – and some people use that argument as justification for exploiting animals.

Oddly, considering the widespread revulsion towards Jews’ and Muslims’ ritual slaughter of animals, Judaism and Islam arguably take the most compassionate view of animals of any of the major religions.

Judaism sees the relationship of humans to animals as that of stewards over a dominion – animals are there to serve humanity, but humans have a corresponding responsibility and even duty to look after animals. Hunting for sport is banned, and even those hunting for the pot are required to spread the blood of the animal taken over the ground and cover it with earth – to hide the fact that they have killed.

Islam goes even further. Animals are considered to be Muslims – obeying Allah’s will and praising him even if not in human language – and are therefore to be treated with kindness and compassion.

So how does this square with the ritual slaughter of animals for food? Well, the blades used for the purpose are required to be very sharp and clean indeed, free of nicks, and wielded in such a way and such an environment that the distress to the animal is minimised. It’s claimed that the sudden loss of blood pressure to the brain means that the animal loses consciousness virtually immediately and thus feels no pain. (Some Jewish and Muslim experts argue that the animals actually suffer less than they do under usual British slaughterhouse practices.)

Ultimately, though, no society seems to be uniformly humane or uniformly cruel towards animals – and instances of perceived cruelty in any given country normally cause outrage in that country as well as among observers abroad.

In the case of the Maltese dog, it was depressing to see that once the Daily Mail picked up on the story, several of the comments under their report called for a boycott of Malta as a holiday destination – as if every Maltese were in some way responsible for the cruel act. Of course, they weren’t, and the initial report of the story in The Times of Malta had already provoked dozens of comments condemning the cruelty.

I wonder what the attitude of these ignorant Mail readers would have been if, say, Germans called for a boycott of UK holidays over an instance of badger-baiting – or the annual deaths of horses in the Grand National?

What sort of deal do animals get in the country where you live? We’d love to hear from you, so please post on our forum discussion.

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Write for British Expat

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We’ve started doing some quick trivia quizzes – five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping – from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

Bizarre searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • dublins oldest tree
  • search
  • piano forum
  • strong painkillers
  • best private scholl in malta
  • thai food describe
  • foreigners
  • teen slang
  • shipping london to malta
  • expat firearms

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat – the definitive home for British expats

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