On the day before he was killed by the police – acting in the mistaken belief that he was a terrorist – Brazilian-born electrician Jean Charles de Menezes had worked the night shift at a hotel in London, filling in for a friend.
Gail Gelt and Damien Dosh, two economists, were eating their lunch in the canteen of a London university yesterday afternoon, watching the television coverage of the life and death of Mr Menezes.
Gelt: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Dosh: I bet I am. It’s a sad story. This poor geezer would have made a good case study for the paper we are doing. He’s just another foreign worker in a city that has come to depend on them. Don’t you think?
Gelt: Right. He did odd jobs. He worked late hours. He was going back to Brazil eventually, so Britain wouldn’t have had to take care of him when he got old. He was here filling in the gaps. He didn’t even complain.
Dosh: Where would London be without these people?
Gelt: Back in the Seventies.
Dosh: It’s just a shame that he felt so frightened.
Gelt: But Jack Straw says he was here legally. He had a student visa or something like that.
Dosh: That’s not the point. He very well could have been here legally. But I think someone like this is always going to be worried, at least a little. Maybe he was doing work that wasn’t allowed under his visa. Maybe he wasn’t sure about what he was allowed to do under his visa. It could have been that he just panicked when he saw police in plain clothes heading in his direction. That can be a rough area, around Stockwell tube. He might have run away out of instinct.
Gelt: I hate to say this, but it probably didn’t help having the Tories and the tabloids running around all year getting everyone so worked up about immigrants. They made them out to be such a menace.
Dosh: They should have been worrying about the kind of people who put bombs in the Underground and on buses – not the kind of people who were coming here to earn money.
Gelt: You are right – literally. It doesn’t make sense, if you’re a proper conservative, to be hostile to these workers. Without all these immigrants doing a little of this and a little of that for who knows what kind of money, wage rates would be higher and the unions could get back into the game. There would be more Scargills. It would make more sense, if you think about it, for the left to oppose them than for the Conservatives to have done it.
Dosh: What do you think the Tories were thinking?
Gelt: I don’t know. Do you think they were really thinking?
Despite what you might have read, the UK has yet to become a nanny state. Actually, it is more of a two-nannies-in-a-hot-tub state.
The latest evidence comes from the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK. It has rejected public complaints about the outdoor posters for the Living TV show, The L Word, which portrays the lives and loves of a group of glamorous lesbians living in Los Angeles.
The outdoor posters showed photographs of women’s bodies from the lower chest to the thigh – in some cases intertwined – wearing only knickers and smeared with body oil.
The knickers in question were scanty, but nonetheless possessed sufficient material to be used as a medium for come-hither messages in The L Word style – such as “hello girls” and “girls allowed”.
The Advertising Standards Authority said the posters drew 650 complaints – more than any other outdoor ad this year – alleging that they were offensive, degrading to women and unsuitable for children.
But the ASA, a self-regulatory body whose authority is recognised by the government, ruled that the posters were “not sexually explicit” and were “unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence”.
In other words, it takes more than a few well-oiled lesbians in knickers to get a UK regulator excited.
Who did you say is real?
If you are wondering what kind of person wants to hear Jennifer Lopez sing on the radio, keep wondering.
Eliot Spitzer, the crusading New York attorney-general, had entered into a settlement with Sony BMG Music in which the record company acknowledged it offered improper inducements to get radio stations to play discs such as “I’m Real” by Ms Lopez and “Goodbyes” by Celine Dion.
As he announced the settlement, Mr Spitzer pronounced himself a fan of Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead, but said he did not intend to deliver any particular aesthetic judgment. However, whether he meant to or not, Mr Spitzer has struck a blow for good taste in music.
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