Saturday, February 28, 2009

Now I too am washing in the street

On Thursday, while I was sitting with our bags in the canteen of the Sisters of Mercy Dellow Centre (Declan was off getting his breakfast), I was informed by a member of staff that we could no longer drop our bags and then get a breakfast – now it is the other way around. So yesterday I had to manoeuvre my three bags, a multi-pocket file folder, and a tray containing a cup of coffee, two weetabix and a cheese sandwich “for later” – Declan’s bags are heavier.

I can’t leave my bags by my seat either to go to the women’s washroom for five minutes to wash. So rather than again having to manoeuvre my bags in the washroom, I am actually finding it easier to wash in the street. Of course, Declan has been doing just that since 10 April of last year as a result of harassment and intimidation by other homeless (see blog of 8 February “Letter to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor”).

It is a wise decision, I think, considering the way things turned out this morning in the Catholic Manna Centre (I go there with Declan on Saturdays and Sundays, normally from 8.30am to 11.50am; Declan makes the two-hour round trip walk there virtually every weekday): while I am gone for a few minutes, a homeless tried to throw one of my bags across the floor and it must have infuriated him that Declan grabbed a hold of it first because then this guy started menacingly ranting at him in Polish, joined in foreign chorus by two of his mates at our table. Declan put in a complaint with staff, but we still left without a lunch.

Gordon Brown with Pope Benedict XVI last week.
Gordon Brown with Pope Benedict XVI last week.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, is on course to become the first Roman Catholic bishop to sit in the House of Lords since the Reformation, said The Times yesterday. He looks almost certain to be offered a peerage after his retirement, which is expected within weeks. According to The Times, the move would strengthen the Catholic Church’s increasingly significant role in political debate on issues such as euthanasia, gay adoption, church schools and abortion.

The prospect of offering Murphy-O’Connor a life peerage is understood to have been discussed during Brown’s meeting with the Pope at the Holy See on 19 February – that same day, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, carried a front page article by Brown, the first serving Prime Minister to be given this honour.

In December, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, voted the UK’s most influential commentator, wrote:

True, it is embarrassing to be the only western democracy that has theocracy built into its legislature. The 26 bishops in the Lords interfere regularly: they are a threat on abortion, and their campaign sank the Joffe bill, giving the terminally ill the right to die in dignity. Of course they should not be there, when only 16% of people will grace the pews on Christmas Day, and Christian Research forecasts church attendance falling by 90%. But a dying faith clings hard to its inexplicable influence on public life.

I also keep thinking about a paragraph from Prof James Fetzer’s latest book Render Unto Darwin: Philosophical Aspects of the Christian Right’s Crusade Against Science. Commenting on a 2002 thirty-three page document entitled “The National Security Strategy of the United States”, Fetzer writes: “These new Bush policies are blatant examples of the corrupt moral posture known as ‘limited utilitarianism,’ according to which an action is right for a group when it brings about the greatest benefits for that group, regardless of its consequences for everyone else. As we have discovered, this is the most pernicious of all moral theories”.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Declan assaulted in the Dellow Centre

This morning at 9.10am we stood outside Brick Lane police station waiting for it to open so Declan could get advice from a police officer after being threatened by a homeless man in the canteen of the Dellow Centre of the Sisters of Mercy Providence Row Charity, where we go every weekday morning to get a bite to eat. Declan was also manhandled by this guy as he was loudly informed he was going to be sorted outside – actually, the nun in the kitchen had to tell the guy to quiet down.

Declan has already two crime reference numbers on this guy: the first, on 16 May, for racially aggravated harassment in the Dellow Centre’s men’s toilets (crime reference no. 4212667/08); and the second, on 19 June, for assault while queuing for food in the Catholic Manna Centre (crime reference no. 3021917/08). In fact, Declan doesn’t even venture into the toilets in the Dellow and continues to wash in the street, which he has been doing since 10 April of last year (see blog of 8 February “Letter to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor”).

On a more optimistic note, we are awaiting six reviews of Prof James Fetzer’s latest book Render Unto Darwin: Philosophical Aspects of the Christian Right’s Crusade Against Science for posting on the NAC website - we announce on the homepage that Open Court Publishing is inviting associates and members of NAC to review the book. Theos, a UK public theology think tank launched in November 2006 with the support of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England, believes that society “is embarking on a process of de-secularisation”. Well, I hope not!

UPDATE (3.15pm)

Declan now has a third crime reference number on this guy - 4204029/09 (for common assault).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Letter of complaint to the chair of The Big Issue Foundation

The previous blog contains Declan’s letter to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, in his capacity as Archbishop of the Diocese of Westminster, to which the Dellow Centre of the Sisters of Mercy Providence Row Charity belongs. This morning when he went to collect our new Big Issue badges - The Big Issue is a magazine sold by homeless people on registered pitches throughout the UK; we have been selling it since December 2006 - he was informed that my name was not on the Big Issue “List of vendors” and that I could not be rebadged. Below is Declan’s email letter of complaint to the Chair of the Big Issue Foundation, Steven Round.

Issue Foundation is the registered charity arm of The Big Issue organisation. According to the Foundation website, The Big Issue Company Ltd publishes the weekly magazine and sells it to Big Issue vendors (wholesale) “for the purpose of giving them the opportunity to earn a legitimate income, rather than having to resort to criminal activity such as begging and theft”. This is an extremely serious situation for me in particular, in that I am facing possible prosecution for begging.



In an unusual gesture L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, carried a front-page article by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on 19 February. John Hooper, who reports for the Guardian from Rome and has spent more than two decades abroad as a foreign correspondent, writes: “The fact that a son of the manse [a minister’s son] should have been allowed to write where no statesman has written before says much about the unexpectedly close links between Brown and the Holy See. What has brought them together is a common concern for the developing world and what sources close to the prime minister say is his keen appreciation of the Vatican’s global influence.” Also in the Guardian, Michael White, a former political editor, comments in a piece entitled “PM is in the hands of the pope, even in relatively godless country”.

For the record, this is the email that Declan sent this afternoon to Round (it was written very much with my defense in mind should I ever be prosecuted for begging; even on appeal, if necessary):

Subject: The Big Issue

Dear Mr. Round,

I am writing further to the email I received from you on 4 November 2008 in your capacity as chair of The Big Issue Foundation regarding my complaint that if my wife and I have not purchased a minimum of 40 magazines each week for the four weeks commenced 6 October, from 10 November we would no longer be able to have a registered pitch - we would be allowed to carry on selling as long as we move on without complaint when the vendor who has registered the pitch arrives.

In the absence of a reply to the aforementioned complaint from the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Big Issue, Mr. John Bird MBE, you wrote: "I am currently out of the country but have copied the chief executive of the Foundation". Nonetheless, and despite my reasons as to why my wife and I had been buying small amounts of magazines and our concerns about this matter, our pitches were made available to other vendors to register as from 18 November. On 10 September 2007, Mr. Bird wrote to me as follows:


I have employed many people over the years to do jobs related to the running of The Big Issue. I have never employed them to do my job; likewise I do not do their job. Please bear this in mind when you are composing your letters. You do not need to address your letters to me, as it is not my job. I would only get involved if you were utterly and totally let down by those whose job it is in The Big Issue. I hope this assists in your deliberations in pursuit of your claims.


I wish to bring to your attention that this morning, following my own rebadging to the end of August 2009, I was informed that my wife's name was not on the Big Issue "List of vendors" and that she could not be rebadged. I have brought this matter to the attention of the Big Issue Company by email, and await clarification.

I should again point out that I wrote to the Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights on 21 August further to my second application for priority under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, as follows:


As explained in previous applications, my wife and I survive on the streets of London by selling The Big Issue, a magazine sold by homeless people on registered street pitches, and I have lodged numerous written complaints with The Big Issue Head Office in respect of my wife and myself being walked off our respective pitch by other street traders, including, inter alia, Big Issue vendors. You will note from my email and attachments to the Court of 16 August that not only may my wife be forced into begging (a criminal offence in England), but faces debadging by The Big Issue for so doing.


Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely
Declan Heavey
Badge no. 1163

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Letter to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

As I said in Thursday’s blog, the new NAC website that I am building in support of embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning has been re-launched at http://religionandmorality.net (see Monday’s blog “New NAC website is gone”). Distinguished McKnight University Professor Emeritus James Fetzer, of the University of Minnesota Duluth (and one of NAC’s Honorary Associates), has generously purchased two domains for us at http://www.religionandmorality.net and http://www.religionandmorality.org, which are covered for two years - religionandmorality.com was snapped by someone else the very same day. Prof Fetzer has also given us professional web hosting with SiteGround of New York, the best web hosting company for 2007 and 2008.

I am still not able to login to my account - which I have to do through the web hosting website - due to my username and password not being recognised, and this despite that I have no such difficulty when I upload with a program. It means that I can’t upload directly or manage my hosting account, and have to walk to the internet cafĂ© to install a program to upload - for some time now our local council’s Idea Store Whitechapel library doesn’t allow the installation of any software; we frequently run into trouble in this library, especially with internet access and computer bookings (see, for example, blog of 23 January “Letter to the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council”).

Still, I am doing my best even if with one arm behind my back. An incomplete menu for our section “Examine religion and morality” was uploaded yesterday, and I have found a New York Times article published on 4 March 2007 entitled “Darwin’s God” which I am using as a reference piece for the homepage of the subsection “Origin of religious belief”. The article features Scott Atran - presidential scholar in sociology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York (CUNY), visiting Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan, and Research Director in Anthropology at the National Center for Scientific Research in France (and another honorary associate of NAC). Our new website already features an article Prof Atran wrote for The Huffington Post on 13 September, entitled “Religion in America: Why Many Democrats and Europeans Don't Get It”.

For the record, this is the email letter that Declan sent this afternoon to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, in his capacity as Archbishop of the Diocese of Westminster, to which the Dellow Centre of the Sisters of Mercy Providence Row Charity belongs - Declan has in fact written on several occasions to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor (see blog of 4 July “Second Request for Priority to the European Court”; Declan’s application to the European Court of Human Rights was rendered inadmissible on 21 October last).


Subject: Providence Row Charity

His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster.

Your Eminence,

I refer further to the email of acknowledgement of 25 June 2008 that I received from your Personal Secretary, Sister Damian McGrath, stating: "I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your email concerning Providence Row Charity. The Cardinal is out of the country at the present time but he will see your email on his return next week."

I wish to bring to your attention that I continue to wash in the street as a result of harassment and intimidation by homeless people in the Dellow Centre of the Sisters of Mercy Providence Row Charity and the Manna Centre (whose building is provided rent-free by the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark), which I have been doing every weekday morning since 10 April last year. In order to avoid being barred through no fault of my own, I no longer venture into the toilets in the Dellow Centre and for the last four Saturday's in row have thought it best to leave the Manna Centre without so much as a bite to eat – the breakfast provided by the Dellow Centre is the only food available to my wife for the entire day Monday - Friday; I walk a two-hour round trip virtually every weekday to the Manna Centre to avail of the free lunch provided to homeless people.

I reconfirm the following since my initial email letter to you of 21 April 2008: (1) on 28 April, I submitted a written complaint to the Chief Executive of the Providence Row Charity, Ms Jo Ansell, against a homeless man for verbal abuse in the canteen of the Dellow Centre; (2) on 16 May, I reported a homeless man to the Metropolitan Police for racially aggravated harassment in the Dellow Centre's men's toilets (crime reference no. 4212667/08); (3) on 18 June, I was robbed in the canteen of the Dellow Centre of all my and my wife's money and documents (crime reference no. 4215697/08); (4) on 24 June, I was informed at Bow Street police station that the case with respect to the robbery of all our money and documents had been struck out due to the police being unable to obtain any CCTV footage whatsoever from the Providence Row Charity; (5) on 30 June and 6 November, I submitted written complaints to Ms Ansell against the same homeless woman for verbal abuse in the canteen and from the reception desk of the Dellow Centre, respectively. The day after the robbery of all our money and documents in the Dellow Centre, I reported, on 19 June, the same homeless man referred to in (2) above to the Metropolitan Police for assault while queuing for food in the Manna Centre (crime reference no. 3021917/08).

I should again point out that my wife and I were barred from the Methodist Church Whitechapel Mission on 18 June 2007 by the minister's wife due to concerns about our safety following an unprovoked assault on my wife by a homeless woman in the canteen of the premises (crime reference no. 4217341/07). Despite that the Whitechapel Mission's website states that homeless people are not barred or excluded and that I wrote by registered post to the minister himself and to the head of the Methodist Church in the UK, Rev Graham Carter, neither my wife nor I were ever readmitted.

Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely,
Declan Heavey

Thursday, February 05, 2009

New NAC website re-launched in paid space

The new NAC website that I am building in support of embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning was re-launched last night at http://religionandmorality.net (see previous blog “New NAC website is gone”). Distinguished McKnight University Professor Emeritus James Fetzer, of the University of Minnesota Duluth (and one of NAC’s Honorary Associates), has generously purchased two domains for us at http://www.religionandmorality.net and http://www.religionandmorality.org, which are covered for two years - religionandmorality.com was snapped by someone else the very same day. Prof Fetzer has also given us professional web hosting with SiteGround of New York, the best web hosting company for 2007 and 2008. At the moment I can’t login to my SiteGround account - last night I uploaded with a program and the same username and password - but I am hoping this will be resolved quickly.

This is how I see NAC work. We will bring the scientific perspective – through the work of experts – to the general public to help advocates who campaign to shape public policies based on scientifically supported evidence against religious-ideological agendas; it is very much realism over religious dogma. On 25 January, President Barack Obama lifted the ban on US funding for international groups that offer advice about, or perform, abortions as he expands his project of rolling back George Bush’s ideological agenda. The chief executive of Marie Stopes International, Diana Hovig, said: “This marks the beginning of a new era of realism over dogma in serving the public health needs of women. President Obama is off to a flying start.”

Monday, February 02, 2009

New NAC website is gone

We haven’t heard from the web host obxhost.net, but the new NAC website that I have been building in support of embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning at http://network.obxhost.net/index.html is very much gone – since yesterday evening. When I try to access the home page, I am directed to a site that says:

ERROR 404 - PAGE NOT FOUND
Oops! Looks like the page you're looking for was moved or never existed.
Make sure you typed the correct URL or followed a valid link.

Later yesterday evening we were also informed by email from the US that the same applied there. I had a new graphic on spinal cord injuries added to the home page to upload (see below), and also a section titled “Spinal cord injuries” under treatments and cures in applications of embryonic stem cell research on foot of the US Food and Drug Administration’s landmark decision on 23 January to approve the first clinical trials using the products of human embryonic stem cells. (“This is a great time for stem cell science,” said David Scadden, co-chair of the ISSCR Clinical Translation Committee, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine, and co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. “The FDA has signaled that the safeguards are now in place to begin testing embryonic stem cell therapies. If the White House follows through with lifting restrictions on federal funding, we could see a great flowering of new research and an opportunity to see if these cells can deliver for patients.”) But I haven’t been able to upload anything: my username, password and email are no longer recognised by the host.

This is what the homepage of the website looks like now:



The new (black) banner in the left-hand column reads: “Spinal cord injuries: Green light for US human ES cell work. The patients who stand to benefit.”