Jan 25

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/25/americans-claim-asylum-britain

They hail from the land of the free, the home of the brave, a place where it is said anyone can prosper regardless of colour, creed or religion. But dozens of Americans have tried in recent years to gain asylum in the UK by claiming they were persecuted in their homeland, according to figures released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

Home Office statistics show that between 2004 and 2008, 45 Americans submitted asylum applications to the UK Border Agency claiming they had fled the US and were unable to go back because they had a well-founded fear of persecution. Fifteen Canadians also applied. All 60 were turned down.

A US government source said the American applications were most likely submitted by self-declared “political refugees” claiming they faced discrimination under the last administration. The applications from the US peaked in 2008, the final year of George Bush’s presidency, when 15 Americans submitted asylum claims.

Between 2004 and 2008 there were 132,640 asylum claims made in the UK, according to government statistics.

The Home Office refused to reveal the rationale behind the claims or why they were refused, saying a manual search of the records would be required, exceeding the time limit for Freedom of Information requests.

But on various online forums, people claiming to be American refugees have outlined their cases. One Texan hoping to be allowed sanctuary in Scotland claimed he had been “persecuted as a political dissident against US government war-mongering”.

Liza Schuster, an asylum expert from the department of sociology at City University, said: “I don’t know the details of those cases, but assume the US citizens are deserting before being sent to somewhere like Afghanistan. With the Canadians I’m really not sure. It is, as is clear from the numbers, pretty unusual – if only because it is relatively easy for those people to leave their countries and settle elsewhere. Why not just apply for a work visa and renew and then apply for leave to remain?

“As someone who would not find admission to European countries too difficult, it would only make sense to claim asylum if you feared extradition back to Canada or the US, or if there was some reason you might be refused entry. It is interesting – I’d be curious to know more – not least because in spite of what the law books say, granting asylum is a criticism of the originating state.”

According to the Home Office figures, most of the US and Canadian applicants were aged between 18 and 59, though a small number of American asylum seekers were over 60.

The Refugee Council, the largest organisation in the UK working with asylum seekers and refugees, said it had helped 18 American and two Canadian asylum seekers between 2004 and 2008. The adults ranged in age from 29 to 59 with a mean age of 44. The Americans had nine dependent children aged under 16.

“In this time this group of clients attended 40 advice sessions and mainly came to see us regarding their entitlement to UKBA asylum support, and issues associated with destitution,” said a spokeswoman.

Donna Covey, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “No country is safe for every person all of the time. Those with a genuine need for protection, whatever country they are from, should have the right to claim asylum in a place of safety.”

A small number of Americans have successfully claimed asylum abroad over the past few decades. In 1997 the Netherlands granted asylum to Holly Ann Collins, together with her three children, when they claimed to be fleeing domestic abuse. The family had spent three years living in four different Dutch refugee camps before their application was approved.

In June 2008 Texan mother Chere Tomayko and her two daughters were granted asylum in Costa Rica, also on the grounds of abuse.

After America went to war in Iraq in 2003 a number of US soldiers deserted and crossed the border to Canada, where they tried to claim asylum.

For a number of years Private Bethany Smith has been fighting to stay in Canada, claiming she was persecuted in the army because she is a lesbian.

Smith, who now goes by the name Skylar James, told Canadian authorities she was repeatedly harassed and threatened with death, then denied an honourable discharge because her superiors wanted to send her to Afghanistan. In November a senior judge ordered Canada’s immigration and refugee board to look again at her case.

In November 2004 I was at in an British Airways lounge at JFK airport and while waiting to board a flight to Manchester, UK I was watching John Kerry give his concession speech. Disappointed with the outcome, I called my partner in the UK and jokingly said ‘ Can I apply for political asylum while I’m there?’
Apparently I wasn’t the only person with the same idea.

According to Freedom of Information Act, 45 Americans (and 15 Canadians) applied between 2004 and 2008. I find that so interesting. Were things THAT bad back home for people? You think, like the UK, America is a place to find safety, not run from it.  I know the whole lefty versus righty thing can get heated, but to the point to move to country? Why not apply for asylum in Canada?

It seems, strange. They author cited one case of a person from Texas and his outline of WHY he should be granted Asylum seekers status. I guess there are places in Texas that can be overwhelming and not willing to at least listen to another beliefs, but  you can move to other places inside of the United States thats more in line with your own views. Thats what so great about America. No need to change countries, just change states or even counties.

The only bit about the article that bothered me was this statement:

Liza Schuster, an asylum expert from the department of sociology at City University, said: “I don’t know the details of those cases, but assume the US citizens are deserting before being sent to somewhere like Afghanistan. With the Canadians I’m really not sure. It is, as is clear from the numbers, pretty unusual – if only because it is relatively easy for those people to leave their countries and settle elsewhere. Why not just apply for a work visa and renew and then apply for leave to remain?

Does she not know how HARD it is to apply and receive a work visa in the UK? Even during the good times, it is incredibly difficult for an American (or non-eu citizen) to be receive a UK work permit.  Now a days with the Governments further restrictions on foreign workers, with the point system and EU residents having priority over jobs, its impossible.  Well it is, UNLESS you’re  someone of an extremely skilled nature and unique in your field, you will be guaranteed that Tier 2 visa.

I think what makes Ms Schusters statement so hard to handle, as she is a ‘expert’   she should have knowledge of that fact and how difficult it is to gain entry into the UK with valid right to remain. I bet there are loads of asylum seekers who have tried to apply for a Tier 2 visa and didn’t qualify. The only way to get their families to safety was to go down the Asylum route.

I think that statement, for me, is what makes this whole article so shocking and not so, ‘Oh I wasn’t the only one with the sorta-clever idea’

Dec 25

One of my all time faves. Enjoy :)

Dec 22

Great little article for Ex-pats on the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/blog/2009/dec/21/shoppers-christmas-wish-list-consumer-goods

A shopper’s Christmas wish list

Enjoyed a product abroad but can’t buy it in the UK for love nor money? Join the debate and let’s see if we can persuade manufacturers to ship them in

If only British men could get hold of Gold Toe socks. Photograph: Creasource/Corbis

Why is it that when socks are supposed to be the staple of every man’s Christmas present list, they are denied the ultimate performer in hosiery? I recently saw three journalists, two of whom had witnessed the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia while the other had been the Guardian’s man in New York for many years, having an incredibly heated conversation. They weren’t discussing the plans for withdrawal from Afghanistan, or the potential outcome of the climate change talks in Copenhagen. Oh no – their passion was all targeted at the merits of the Gold Toe sock.

Gold Toe came to prominence during the depression of 1929, when people wanted socks that would last. The manufacturer, Great American, introduced a sock with a gold (coloured) reinforcing yarn sewn into the toe. Shoppers were impressed and today the Gold Toe brands account for more than half of men’s sock sales in US department stores.

According to my friends they not only wear and wash well, but they also stay up rather than slouching down inside your shoe. You’d think such a king among socks would be prized as the ultimate Christmas present for the men in any British family. But they don’t have the option – I couldn’t find any retailer in Britain that stocks the Gold Toe sock, and the company does not ship outside the US.

I find it hard to get so heated about socks, but I have an equally sad Christmas wish – for Heinz No Salt Added ketchup. Not to be confused with the no-added-salt version available in the UK, the US No Salt version uses potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. After writing countless stories about the evils of salt I have become rather fanatical about excluding it from the family diet wherever possible, and make our own salt-free bread. So why can’t I get hold of No Salt ketchup? Are we such a salt dedicated nation that Heinz doesn’t think we deserve it?

One American purchaser, posting on Amazon (yes, you can even buy it on Amazon in the US), says: “This can be fine for many people (used in moderation) but it is a strict no-no for people taking certain blood pressure medications, such as myself (I think many medications in the ACE-inhibitor family especially).”

But another says: “I have CHF with cardiomyopathy. I have to limit my sodium to under 2,000 mg per day. Because of great products like this ketchup – I can do that pretty easily most days! My CardioElectroPhysicist had never heard of no-salt ketchup, he thinks it’s great!”

A spokesman for Heinz says the company is committed to making reductions in salt consumption, and the best way to do that is to reduce salt content in its standard products. “In the UK we recently changed our standard ketchup, which now meets the FSA revised targets for 2010,” he says. In other words, there’s no option other than making your own if you want a completely salt-free ketchup for the foreseeable future.

Are there any great products you have come across elsewhere in the world that are not sold in the UK (but should be)? Post your wish list below, and we will contact the manufacturers to see if there are any plans to introduce them in 2010.

I tried to post a comment about Twizzlers, Wendys and Hanes but i received the 404 of death :( Thought Id share before the Guardian deleted it from their main page.

Dec 20

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Ours is the one with the lights on.

Very Christmassy. Was supposed to head into town to get some grit from B&Q but felt it was too dangerous to venture into town by bus and hope to find a cab home. Walked up to our council grit bin and grabbed enough to tide us over the next few days

Now just nervous if it will still be shit and if I can get into work tomorrow. :(

Nov 8

So I went home for a week to see fam and do some shopping (which has made us too poor to even eat pasta)  While there grabbed some things I left behind when I moved over 4 years ago. Namely my CDs. Just brought all 300 or so down to my desk to start ripping a lot of them to my drive, and while browsing came across this little gem:

I cant stop giggling at it. Memories of a 14 yr old me.

Unfortunately I ran out of time and couldnt go through my NKs things (also it didnt help that theyre buried underneath all my dads gfs crap)

Sep 17

So when cleaning out my Granddads place the other week found some rare pics of me during my blockhead phase of being a teenager (which morphed into angry rocker/goth/industrial girl)

Black tshirt, finger in my mouth

Black tshirt, finger in my mouth waiting in line for Jones Beach 1990

Me at Christmas getting my Joe doll.

Me at Christmas getting my Joe doll.

Also for a full discussion on what the hell is going on in the top pic:

That pic is such a hot mess. lol (link if you cant read it all)

Jun 6

im trying this out YET again. maybe i can make this work. maybe.

http://alternageek.tumblr.com/

have the blog, youtube and vimeo all loaded into it. i might remove vimeo as its more for personal sharing than nkotb related stuff. who knows. lets see if it works. mikes away so im going to try to be playing around with the blog maybe generating a wee bit more traffic.

Apr 20

My sister sent me this from the local paper in Seattle. How AWESOME is she!?!?

This totally made my evening!!!

Apr 14

The ORIGINAL Janes Addiction Line Up

Okay I know I went nuts over the NK reunion (fair enough.. my first love. my first band, my first introduction to *any* kind of music. hell thanks to the Right Stuff video I got into Bauhaus because Jordan happened to be wearing one of their shirts…) but Janes..

Janes Addiction. Now theres pure, raw musical talent right there. By the time I could give them a serious listen they had broken up. Perry was busy doing his thing in Porno for Pyros (along with drummer Stephen Perkins) and creating Lollapolooza every year. Dave Navarro had that brief stunt in RHCP (shame well never hear anything from One Hot Minute live..) so I couldnt see them. Sure there was that brief reunion with Flea from RHCP on bass in 1996 (and on their live release ‘Kettle Whistle’) but that wasnt JANES you know? Anyways I was about 18 when I first really discovered them and they had broken up about 5 years previous to that…

nine inch nails current line up

nine inch nails current line up

But now.. on the 14th of July I will be seeing them and NIN play the Manchester News Arena (only 6 months after the guys did!) and yes I will be alllll the way at the back, but I dont care. I will be seeing JANES ADDICTION. plus Mikes never gotten around to seeing either one, so it will be a first for him over all. I so cant wait!! VERY VERY excited!!!

oh yeah, mad props to Trent Reznor for selling tickets for 2 people (including fees) for only £78!! so cant believe how cheap that is (though when I saw nin in 1995 it cost me $22 with fees to see them plan Nassau Vets….) compared to other acts out there.. wish more bands thought the same way you do… but most bands are giant sheep who go baaaaa.

now to find the cash for Depeche Mode in Decemeber….

Apr 13

ugh. why does it have to be so damned hard to find something decent and cheap for under £500 w/ airfare? *cries*

ive seriously spent the last 4or 5 days sorting something out. first it was Berlin & Munich over 7 days. then Brussels for 5 days. When that got too costly we decided the money would be better spent on a beach holiday and since its too cold to go to Majorca, we’re looking at Tenerife again since it doesnt ever dip below like 80 there. I think I might have found something on the Co-Ops web site. though Im a bit weary as every time weve booked through them before and either had shit flights or just stuck in a hotel filled with chavs who didnt know how to behave when abroad. (or maybe im just old and expect a little peace and quiet when i go away??)

anyways im thinking we’re going for the deal we found. right on the beach, within our time constraints and seemed to get pretty decent reviews on tripadvisor. its also near the restaurants and bars.. so it just be nice to kill some time and get a tan

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