Weekendish: Surrogacy confusion and tailgating
- 22 August 2014
A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.
It's not easy to navigate the UK's legal minefield on surrogacy. So here's a quick round-up. Surrogacy itself is legal. But advertising for a surrogate or to offer your services, is not. It's illegal to pay a fee to a surrogate. But expenses of up to £15,000 for medical bills, clothes and time lost are allowed to be paid. Still with us? Spare a thought for those going through the complicated process, some of whom spoke to Catrin Nye and Smita Patel. And the complexities aren't over yet. If the surrogate mother is married, the birth is automatically registered with both her and her husband's name - even if the husband has no biological link to the baby. Once a child is born the surrogate has no obligation to give it up. But a change of mind can happen on both sides. Trust is therefore vital to the system - and don't expect the Department of Health to change the system any time soon. Perhaps that's why Machajo @machajo tweeted: "I am very glad that Germany does not allow surrogacy."
Rising anti-Semitism in the West?
Following the latest conflict in Israel and Gaza, newspapers have reported a "dramatic rise in global anti-Semitism". But are the claims backed up by evidence, asks the BBC's James Fletcher. Synagogues and Jewish community centres have been bombed in France and Germany. A rabbi was attacked in Britain. The UK Association of Chief Police Officers, which has released statistics on hate crime since 2009, spoke of a "significant rise" in anti-Semitism since the latest fighting began in Gaza in early July. It echoes similar rises during previous conflicts, such as the Israeli offensive in Gaza in 2008-2009. But longer term studies show "a decline in prejudice towards minorities, and especially towards Jews," says Prof Nonna Mayer of Sciences Po University in Paris. "Actually Jews are the best accepted minority in France." Meanwhile the Pew Foundation's 2014 Global Attitudes survey suggests unfavourable attitudes towards Roma and Muslims are more prevalent in Europe than those toward Jews.
Twickenham tailgate parties
Many outside the US have never heard of a tailgate party. It's when a group of sports fans congregate in stadium car parks to drink beer and have barbecues. But while they may be a fact of life in American sport, why haven't they become a sporting staple among their British counterparts, asks Tammy Thueringer. The UK's weather and smaller car parks are just two possibilities. Perhaps the best reason is the unlikelihood of Liverpool and Man Utd fans chewing the fat of a good pre-match burger and a meaty discussion - rather than each other. But rugby may have come closest, with Twickenham the scene of so-called "Range Rover picnics". Phil Clarke @triflemonster thinks we're looking in the wrong place: "Missed Ascot; where fans (racegoers) tailgate (picnic) in jerseys (top hats) round SUVs (Bentleys) in the carpark (carpark)." Meanwhile Joy Bennett @joycbennett was unimpressed with the picnic description: "As for 'range rover', have you ever been to a rugby tailgate party & seen how many everyday folk enjoy them?" But Brett Robertson posted the photo below on Facebook, captioned: "BMW x5, champagne, free umbrellas, caviar and coffee! You should get down to Twickenham ASAP!"
Why men pay for sex
There's a stereotypical image of the kind of men who go to prostitutes. But how do the men themselves explain paying for sex? Charlotte McDonald and Jo Fidgen spoke to four men to probe some of their diverse reasons. One of them saw it as the vital step to salvage his marriage. "I ended up a highly sexed man married to a woman who really didn't enjoy sex - [or even] hugging, kissing and so on," he explained. "She's an excellent, excellent partner. In every other way we got on like a house on fire, but just not in bed. I wanted to hang on to my marriage," he added, "I wanted to do right as much as I could by my wife, so the obvious thing was to pay for it." Numerous Twitter-length theories did the rounds. Medway @medwaygooner suggested: "They like having sex with different people." Steve Skeats @KingTyDu tweeted: "cos they can't get what they want for free? #nobrainer." Mike Grace @ZeRootOfAllEvil was more blunt: "1) To have sex. 2) See 1)."
The BBC's Hugh Schofield tried to get to the bottom of the Auld Alliance - France and Scotland's ancient special relationship. For 400 years a tiny town in central France belonged to a branch of the Stuarts. Every year on Bastille Day it holds a Scottish festival with pipers, haggis and whisky. "The French have always loved the Scots, and the Scots have always loved the French," says Remi Beguin, a cultural expert in Aubigny. "We are like a couple." So much so that independence is being hotly debated in the town's bars and boulangeries. Most people are for independence on an emotional level, says Francois Gresset, the town's deputy mayor. But the political establishment in Paris are less enthusiastic - although they are making no public statements on the matter. "For France the argument against Scottish independence is our dream of a strong United Kingdom, fully engaged in Europe," a political scientist explains. Haggis et whisky bon, independence mal, Monsieur le President? Peut-etre.
Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:
Herve This: The world's weirdest chef - Prospect
Why the World Smells Different After It Rains - The Atlantic
Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.