Saturday, January 21, 2012

Headlines

It's been 15 months since I moved to London and the time has flown by. Many of the differences between American and English culture have faded into a haze, they just aren't nearly as pronounced to me as they once were. That is until I pick up the newspaper. I still find some of the headlines completely outrageous.

Irresponsible for selling cheap Chocolates

This past Thursday, the evening paper ran one about a large supermarket chain, Tesco: "Tesco 'fuels obesity' as it cuts chocolate bars to 20p" 20p = 20 cents for my American friends. The article then goes on to say that Tesco was branded 'totally irresponsible' for making the chocolates available so cheaply at a time when obesity is such a problem. Are you kidding me? Even if they were giving them away for free, or paying people to take them off the shelves, nobody is force feeding chocolate down anyone's throats. Not that I've seen anyway.

Squatters have Rights

In September, this ran: "Neighbours' fury as second gang of squatters take over £4m house". The topic of squatters has bewildered me since I moved. You hear about it all the time in London. Just last year, Guy Ritchie's London mansion, which he was having renovated, was taken over by squatters. In most western countries, setting up a makeshift home in someone's property is illegal. Not in England. Squatters actually have rights! As long as they enter the property without breaking in, they haven't committed a crime. Often, they change the locks and the owner (and mortgage payer) can't get in. In the case of Guy Ritchie's house, and in so many other cases, the police are called and they usually show up, but they can't do a thing. The only legal action the owner can do is to take them to court to prove trespassing.....but that could take months. And this isn't a little problem. It's estimated that there are 20,000 squatters in the UK.

Apparently the laws are changing here soon, but can you imagine coming home from a weekend away and finding that someone has taken over your house?! I think I'd hire the two biggest guys I could find to quickly fix that situation. I know what I wouldn't do....I wouldn't wait around patiently for months all the while paying the mortgage.

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