British Expat Newsletter:
27 July 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Shoot to kill
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

Last week I wrote about Harry Potter, magic, and religious (in)tolerance. It certainly hit a nerve with some of you as we had more feedback about that newsletter than we’ve had for ages. The overwhelming response from you was that you were totally against those foisting their beliefs on others. I couldn’t agree more.

The big issue here in the UK this week is the “shoot to kill” policy brought in to deal with suicide bombers. The policy was brought in for practical reasons, based largely on the experience of Israel’s security forces in dealing with suicide bombers. On the face of it, it makes sense. A bullet to the torso (the usual target for police marksmen) would risk setting off any explosive charge strapped to the bomber’s body. Even if it didn’t, a wounded bomber might still be able to set off the device he or she was carrying.

Unfortunately the first time this measure was used the police killed an innocent man. Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician, was tailed by plain-clothes police from his home in a building in Tulse Hill, South London, which was under surveillance following the failed 21 July attacks. He travelled by bus to Stockwell Underground station, where he fled from police when challenged. He was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder. It soon became clear that he had no connection with the terrorists.

Argument is raging about whether the new policy is justified. Most people seem to support the “shoot to kill” policy and justify it by saying that the man who was shot should not have run away from the police. The decision of whether to fire or not is necessarily a split-second one – leave it any longer, and the bomber may have time to set off the bomb. The police must be able to protect the public. There is also the concern that maybe police will refuse to carry firearms if making a mistake leaves them open to a murder charge. SO19, the Metropolitan Police’s firearms unit, staged an unofficial strike in November 2004 after two of their officers were suspended following an inquiry in another case.

On the other hand, some are totally opposed to the policy. The police weren’t in uniform and the man had no way of knowing that they were police. He panicked – possibly because his visa had expired, although the Home Office has still to confirm whether that was the case – and ran. There’s also the worry that armed police may use the terrorist threat as an excuse to escape accountability for the killing of innocent people.

On the surface there’s quite a show of Londoners stoically going about their business – for instance, the “We are not afraid” campaign. Underlying this, though, there does seem to be an environment of suspicion and fear. Times have changed. In one recent radio interview, a man who described himself as being of Asian appearance spoke of the difficulties now in using public transport to get to his work at St Thomas’s Hospital. He is afraid to put his books and papers in a backpack as he did previously and now carries everything in see-through plastic bags. Others of Caucasian appearance also said that they’d felt under suspicion on the Tube and buses. The thought that you might get a bullet in your brain as a result of suspicion isn’t exactly reassuring.

Mr de Menezes’s immigration status gives the whole case a further twist. Even if he does prove to be an illegal immigrant, that naturally doesn’t give the police the right to shoot him. But now his family are considering suing the Met over his death. Hmmm. Well, perhaps it is possible in Britain but I doubt if there are many countries in the world where a government body can be sued for something they did to someone who was somewhere they had no right to be in the first place.

Any thoughts on this? Why not let us have your views on the forum?

Virtual Snacks

[Obsolete content and links deleted]

Bizarre Searches

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

  • illegal drugs shaped like a blue diamond with just for you
  • british conned by monarchy
  • 2005 email addresses of big tailors in china that don t have agent in africa
  • movies in the future can overtake titanic
  • define neep
  • film spoof of 2003
  • i want to see the picture of sorbonne university
  • longest penis in history
  • evergreen creditors
  • the tax tail should not wag the commercial dog
  • fattest bird
  • horror of macdonald s junk food

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”

Eric Hoffer, sociologist and author (1902-1983)


(We usually have a joke relating to the main content of the newsletter but for obvious reasons it was inappropriate this week. Here’s another joke instead.)

A little old lady was in the kitchen one day, washing the dishes when suddenly a little genie appeared beside her.

“You’ve led a long and good life,” the genie said. “I have come to reward you by granting you three wishes. Ask for anything you want and I will make it happen.”

The old lady was surprised but cynical. Not really believing that anything would happen she decided to play along for a minute. “OK,” she said, “turn all those dirty dishes into money.”

With that there was a big Poof! and the dishes had turned into a big pile of cash.

“Goodness!” said the old lady, staggered that it had actually worked. “Perhaps you could make me look young and beautiful again?” There was another big Poof! and the woman now looked lots younger and was very good-looking.

Excitedly she carried on, “Can you turn my dear old cat into a handsome young man?”

Once more there was a big Poof, and the cat was replaced by a handsome young man.

Smiling devilishly, the woman turned to the young man and said “At last! Now I want to make love with you for the rest of the day and all night too!”

The young man just looked at her for moment then replied in a high-pitched voice, “Well you should have thought about that before you took me to the vet’s, shouldn’t you?”