31st January, 2006
Players from South Africa and Sri Lanka have both complained their players are being subjected to racist taunts. The world cricketing body ICC is going to investigate. SA cricketing officials say its not just a one-off either:
“It is not right when a country has a history like ours,” he said in The Sunday Mail. “The sad thing is it has continued around Australia. It hasn’t just been limited to one state or city.”
Nor is this the first time, it has been continuing throughout the tour and was reported before. The Aussies have, to their credit, called for lifetime bans, but one must ask why this keeps on happening. When India toured Australia (last year I think), you could see Australian fans blatantly being racist. In fact I believe even the team was behaving somewhat arrogantly.
Not that I would even dare to suggest there could be increased racism in Australia given their government’s appalling attitude towards Aboriginies, immigrants and asylum seekers. John Howard is a nice man, honest.
Channel 4′s Curse of a Mermaid – Peru’s little miracle
Agnostic single-mother wins at polls; long-awaited democratic election hails Michelle Bachelet a winner.
30th January, 2006
Who knew sporting a beard could become such a political statement? On the right is Rajesh Thind (a friend), sporting a full beard and looking a bit suspicious with that rucksack because we know only terrorists want to carry them (specially brown ones). And all in the name of good television.
On Thursday you can catch ‘Travels With My Beard‘ on BBC Three, with Rajesh showing how things changed after he grew a stubble post-7/7. In an interview he said: “There were quite a few worried faces at White City for a lot of the time when we were making the film, especially just before going to Beirut to confront Omar Bakri Mohammed with a mannequin.” It should be worth watching for that alone.
Sir Ian Blair, whatever you may think of him, has started an interesting debate over racism in the media, and one that unsurprisingly elicited a lot of response from the press. But how far is he right on the issue?
I don’t buy his argument at face value that everything is so clear cut, because there are many factors that have an impact. But, despite all that, there are real worries about how the media deals with racist murders.
29th January, 2006
You may be familiar with how much the richest man in Britain spent on his house, or his daughter’s wedding, or cosying up to Tony Blair. But will he be able to buy his biggest rival?
Mittal does not “share our values”, say Arcelor’s directors. “Racist shits or what?” says Tim Worstall. That’s only going to make him a bit more determined unfortunately. Lakshmi Mittal is launching a “diplomatic offensive” this week, touring France, Luxembourg and maybe even Spain to meet government ministers who want to know what’s going down. Will Mittal be able to sweet talk them with some extra cash? Who knows. I just want that house dammit.
Should Indian (i.e. Bangladeshi) restaurants be employing Eastern Europeans to fulfil labour shortages? Too much cultural difference or are they just being racist?. Either way, restaurants are increasingly facing big labour shortages. [via Frank Jordans]
This week’s New Statesman has a cover story on India with accompany articles, so make sure you check it out. Commentary by William Dalrymple, Pankaj Mishra, Edward Luce, Ziauddin Sardar, Basharat Peer, Amit Chaudhuri and others [via Jay Singh].
Prospect magazine last week also featured a cover piece on India, focusing instead on why western philosophy remains so sealed off from eastern thinking and philosophy. A bit of intellectual snobbery perhaps?
Taking recent examples such as Kate Moss’ cocaine addiction and more recently attacks by the Murdoch press on Lib Dems, blogger Curious Hamster writes a brilliant piece on how the media has recently dealt with issues and agendas very selectively.
National Nitwit has written a satirical piece on Hamas naming a Minister for Car Bombs.
Baraka writes on delicious desi aunties (it’s a clean piece dammit), and laments the move towards a westernised ideal of skinny women.
Simon Barrow is keeping readers updated on developments and vigils for the four Christian peacemakers abducted in Iraq.
Bloggers in the middle east meanwhile are keenly watching an Israeli-Iranian summit. Hoder, an Iranian blogger based in Canada, has just landed in Israel to meet Lisa.
That’s it this week, Tim Worstall has his weekly britblog roundup, and keep sending in those links!
27th January, 2006
London Mayor Ken Livingstone is hosting a conference titled ‘Making Sikhs Visible to Decision Makers’ at City Hall organised by the Sikh Federation (UK) on Wednesday 1st February. Themes are: (a) Celebrating the contribution of Sikhs; (b) Key issues facing Sikhs today; (c) Challenges to the right to diversity and religious freedom. Don’t ask me what that entails.
Speakers: Livingstone; Rob Marris MP, Chair All-Party Parliamentary Group for UK Sikhs; Dominic Grieve MP, Shadow Attorney General; Stephen Grosz, human rights lawyer; Dr Harkirtan-Singh Raud OBE; Dabinderjit Singh OBE; and Ravinder Kaur, Co-ordinator Young Sikhs (UK).
It looks like a sad attempt by the SF to try and drum up political support when it has no real direction on anything, or any capability to lead anyone. Lord help us if more people paid attention to these people. Journalist Amardeep Bassey did a nice expose last year for Radio 4 on the people behind Sikh Federation.
26th January, 2006
Every year the same charade takes place over the Holocaust Memorial day, commemorated today for the victims of the Nazi exterminations camps.
A big fuss is made over the Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB) plans to boycott the event, and endless debate over whether they should or not, until the day passes. Nearer to the anniversary in the following year, the same process starts all over again.
We know their claims to care for everyone is hypocritical, as I show in this article. But my point is, the only way to really deal with the MCB on this is to entirely ignore them. They want to boycott the HMD? Fine, why the big deal? We end up helping them by making such a big fuss.
While there is constant rhetoric over what to do about the “Iranian problem”, behind the scenes intense negotiations are taking place.
Russia and China (more so) are the main obstacles to America’s hopes of referring Iran to the UN Security Council and getting it to withdraw from its nuclear energy programme. While Russia has signalled a movement towards the US point of view, China has dithered.
Today it openly stated its opposition to sanctions, putting a spanner in the works for the US. Behind the scenes China and Iran are frantically talking, with the latter now signalling it may end up enriching its uranium in Russia.
That means the security threat is slightly less as Russia will continue to hold the technology in enriching uranium, making it all the more difficult for Iran to develop nukes, if it desired, without outside knowledge.
India is very much part of the equation since it needs energy from Iran (as with China) and has fairly good relations with it. The US recently agreed to share nuclear technology with India on the implicit assumption it could buy support on the Iran issue, and stated as much yesterday.
What they did not count on was Indian pride. Today, the US ambassador was summoned to Delhi and told that his comments were “inappropriate and not conducive” to US-India relations. Hah! Meanwhile, what is Iran saying? Errr… it just wants direct flights to the US for its citizens. Look, I see a pig flying!
First off, Happy Republic Day to the Indians among us.
The Behzti controversy was a hot topic within and outside the British Asian community in late 2004. Now one of the actors has penned his thoughts in Catalyst Magazine about what being in the play was like and how the protests affected him (thanks, Raz).
Samina and the children fled Pakistan after domestic abuse by her husband. All 3 suffer from severe rickets and, for the first time, are receiving proper medical support in this country. But the Home Office want to deport them.
Itâ€™s a tough life for us all. Low wages, low benefits, bad jobs or no jobs. However this does not mean we should turn our frustration on asylum seekers â€“ or indeed on anyone who wants to stay here. Refugees also have a tough life. It is not easy fleeing persecution -then on arriving in the UK receiving treatment even worse than the rest of us.
David T has more on a campaign this Sunday in Manchester to lobby the Home Office and not deport Samina and her kids back to Pakistan where she may face more domestic abuse.
St Sebastians is on Norfolk St, off Gerald Road, off Cromwell Rd. Post code M6 6ET – buses from M/C Exchange are 27 or 93 and from Salford 51 or 52 to Cromwell Rd roundabout.
Support the campaign! Get the word out!
25th January, 2006
Although this is a political blog, Nosemonkey has tagged me (grrrr…) and therefore I must oblige with this useless list of things.
Seven Things To Do Before I Die
1. Own a house with a jacuzzi
2. Take over the world
3. Learn to drive
4. Start doing meditation
5. Have a threesome
6. Buy a tropical island.
7. Take over the world
Many blog-inches have been spent commenting on the Liberal Democrats lately, not least because two bloggers have tried to stake some claim to Mark Oaten’s scalp, much to the annoyance of many of their comrades.
Personally I couldn’t care less. I continue to judge political parties on their policies than what their MPs do in private, especially when it’s not illegal. So I will continue to support them while Labour and Tories have little to offer.
Instead, I want bring your attention to a new initiative called Reflecting Britain that some Lib Dem MPs launched on Tuesday to increase representation of women and ethnic minority MPs within their ranks. Currently all 62 Lib Dem MPs are white and predominantly male.
In the current climate of intense turmoil, it would be great if they reinvented themselves by doing more than other parties in being sexually representative since they’re barely par with the Tories in % terms.
I’m not as bothered about more ethnic minority MPs to be honest, as that is about merit, but more concerned why the most liberal of parties does not have more women MPs. They are, after all, a vote grabber. So c’mon Lib Dems, get your fingers out!
Oh and the website is in the form of a blog, so even better!
24th January, 2006
It promises Indian men “100 things you never knew about women”, and its sold 80,000 copies in ten days. I never knew Priyanka Chopra was that hot there. Anyway, the lads magazines have started arriving in India and no doubt a silly conversation will ensue about the growing degradation of culture.
“Where are the VHP protesters burning copies in the streets?” asks Maxim editor Sunil Mehra of the BBC. That’s a point. Where is the bloody moral police? Or maybe they’ll come when Playboy does.
I would have preferred Mallika Sherawat to be honest.
OK, this is an half-excuse to ask if anyone saw ‘Gay Muslims‘ last night? The latest in the superb ‘Can You Believe It‘ category. My Mum watched and she found it pretty surprising and quite sad. Sad because several of the people featured had had really awful experiences from Muslim friends and relatives telling them they will burn in hell etc. Surprising because some of them said that their religion was the most important thing to them.
In a rather gay coincidence, it was also the day SIR (who knighted him again?) Iqbal Sacranie learnt that he won’t face charges for branding homosexuality as “harmful” and “unnatural”. In a statement, the MCB said:
“To be honest, we thought it somewhat surprised when we heard that Sir Iqbal was being investigated by the police for merely articulating the mainstream Islamic viewpoint about homosexuality.”
In about 50 minutes, inspirational iconoclast, courageous heroine and let’s face it, Islamophobia’s pin-up girl, Ayaan Hirsi Ali will be interviewed on Radio 4. I heard most this morning and it makes for some pretty interesting listening. Especially where she explains how she wanted Salman Rushdie dead when The Satanic Verses first came out. She has led a unique life, that’s for sure. The bits about how her life has changed since the death of Theo van Gogh are shocking. More power to her.
Listen again here.
Thursday on Channel 4 is the real life Munich, Mossad’s Revenge.
And January 29th is Chinese New Year! (save the gong hais for the weekend, ok?)
Garry Smith (aka Curious Hamster), who has a fantastic eye for these things and the studious dedication of a man on a mission, asks politely if the Guardian is losing its balls. Tony Blair made the startling admission yesterday that he hadn’t actually asked the Americans whether people had been illegally transported through the UK from A to B.
In the ongoing “extraordinary rendition” controversy, it seems rather bizarre the PM would not ask its best ally whether people had been illegally transported through its airspace. Or maybe he doesn’t want to know? So you would think a paper dedicated to the ideals of freedom of civil liberties would press home the point? Unfortunately, no such joy.
Last week the Independent on Sunday also revealed that “Lord Triesman, the Foreign Office minister, misled peers when he told the House of Lords that no such meeting had ever occurred” between the UN and UK civil servants about the secret CIA torture flights. In frustration, Garry puts some very pertinent questions to Blair:
Does he, I wonder, understand that he’s radicalising people with his obsession with control and the stifling of dissent? Does he understand the frustration felt by people living under a government displaying such contemptable levels of duplicity? Does he realise that he shows a complete lack of respect for rational debate and the democratic process? Does he see that behaving as he does undermines the very institutions he puports to hold dear?
23rd January, 2006
Robert Sharp makes an important point with relevance to the upcoming Palestinian elections.
One group of people who get very little attention in the Middle-East are the Arab citizens of Israel. One in five Israelis are Arabs, but as either Muslims or Christians they are effectively second-class citizens in what is, after all, a Jewish State. Even if a utopian reconciliation between the Israelis and the Palestinians were to take place, a two-state solution would still leave discrimmination of Arab Israelis unaddressed.
They say a democracy is judged by how it treats its most vunerable minorities. What does this say about Israel’s continuing claim to be a strong democracy when it continues to harass journalists and arbitarily hands out injunctions?
David T points to a more encouraging article in Ha’aretz today which asks the British left to be more nuanced in its approach to Middle Eastern politics.
We need a movement in the U.K. for a just peace, one that campaigns in solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli peace camps. Such a movement has to be conscious of where the boundaries lie between reasonable criticism of Israeli and Palestinian actions on the one hand, and the demonization of Israel, Jews, Palestinians and Muslims on the other. We need to resist those who try to force us to choose between one camp and the other. We need to work for the politics of peace and reconciliation within both Israel and Palestine.
While I agree that the British left has been reactionary, it isn’t as bad as the defensiveness and completely lack of empathy shown by British Muslims and Jews to the other side. Many on the left are caught in the middle between wanting justice for Palestinians yet sympathise with the Israelis when Muslim suicide terrorists kill innocents or when the President of Iran opens his mouth. Rock and a hard place, anyone?
…according to this feature in the Washinton Post. “You are a Muslim. You should not be working for the police,” one tells the brown man in the uniform. “You are a Muslim,” he replies, “You shouldn’t be committing a crime.”
Heh. That told him. [via HP] Better to change the system from the inside than bitch about it from the outside – no?
22nd January, 2006
Is Al-Jazeera’s popularity waning in favour of the Saudi backed station Al-Arabiya? Ahmad Humeid notes an interesting trend that may not bode well for the station best known for making Bin Laden a media whore.
From my talks to friends, people also seem to be frustrated by Al Jazeeraâ€™s portrayal of the Arab situation. My personal interpretation of this is that Al Jazeeraâ€™s â€˜brandâ€™ is, at least partially starting to stands for â€˜bad newsâ€™, anger, overt controversy and/or sensationalism.
Personally, I got really sick with Al Jazeera a few years ago, when they aired â€˜Minbar Al Jazeeraâ€™ (Al Jazeera Forum), which is a viewer call-in program. People that go by names like â€˜Abu Akram from Swedenâ€™ call in with opinions that are just so extreme and mindless, like one guy suggesting a plan to destroy Israel by hiring Sri Lankan mercenaries (!) that would pump diesel into lake Tiberias and start a thousand fires across Israeli cities!
Heh, you gotta love the crazed imagination of some people eh? But Ahmad’s musings are backed by stats taken from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
In a monthly charting of audience ratings prepared exclusively for Worldcasting by the premier independent Middle East television survey organization IPSOS-STAT, the Saudi government-financed Al-Arabiya surpassed Al Jazeera in audience viewer rankings for the first time in the history of the two channels.
Is that good or bad? Maybe Arab TV is ripe for dumbing down. Enter the BBC…
Several people emailed in last night and today with a link to the Observer newspaper today, which has a full page piece on British Asians going to India for abortions and sex selection. This somewhat follows on from the Lancet study written about by Rohin. More sickening stuff. [hat tip Jay Singh]
Barbie has apparently caught on in the Middle East, but not as we know her. Whether this is good or bad news, I’m not sure. [cheers El Cid]
The British Chinese Community is also profiled in the Sunday Times today, worth reading, courtesy of Jay Singh.
News that Pakistan is still not letting Mukhtar Mai speak freely caught Sepia Mutiny’s attention.
The Apollo Project ranked us among top liberal blog pieces in 2005.
Through Reformist Muslim, we find that one Sheesha is probably equivalent to smoking 18 cigarettes. Yikes!
Sorry for the brief roundup. I’ve just managed to catch up on email and start reading the blogosphere again – my net connection is all over the place. Tim Worstall has his weekly Britblog roundup though.
As ever, use the comments section to link to any interesting articles and please keep sending in your links.
Just a brief summary of the events that have brought Nepal back into the world headlines, much to the embarrassment of many Nepalis.
Almost a year ago, King Gyanendra seized absolute power in Nepal, suspending civil liberties and sacking the government. You may recall that Gyanendra only came to power when the King and Queen were slain along with several others, by their own son. Since last February, the country has been steadily degenerating, but Maoist rebels have been growing in power for several years now. An estimated 12,000 have died in the last decade – a result of the Maoists campaign for a communist state. The rebels abandoned a four month unilateral truce earlier this year. Civil war.
21st January, 2006
Rohin 25:17 –
“And lo the gentle visitor came from far above us and he tried to unite us. But how he suffered, and died for our sins”
The British charity Interpal is looking into legal action against blogger Stephen Pollard, the Jerusalem Post and the Daily Telegraph after insinuating it may be a terrorist organisation. A statement by BOND, UK’s broadest network of voluntary organisations, explains:
Interpal is a registered British charity providing aid in Palestine and the Occupied Territories and has been described by the Charity Commission as a “well run and committed organisation”. Following Interpal’s designation as a SDGT [Specially Designated Global Terrorist, by the US govt], the Charity Commission froze their bank accounts and carried out a thorough investigation of the organisation, concluding that there was no credible evidence to support the allegation of terrorist connections.
Despite this, Interpal remains on the US list, and has subsequently been listed by other countries, including Australia and Canada, apparently as a direct result of the US designation. Not only does there seem to be no evidence to support these governments’ decisions, but the process by which organisations end up on such lists and how they can be taken off them again remains unclear.
How can a Palestinian charity not be a terrorist front eh? Blogger Osama Saeed has more on the smear campaign and why there may be legal action. [Via Indigo Jo]
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We knew it was coming but it still caught the eye when the news landed last month. Due to a statistical revision of 2004 GDP data China is now officially the world’s sixth-biggest economy.
Since China is the fastest-growing major economy and the closely controlled yuan currency was recently revalued, it is a virtual certainty that the country will leap-frog France and Britain into fourth place once the 2005 numbers are formally released this year.
On balance, the rise of China is surely good news for the human race because it suggests that the lives of a quarter or so of our kith and kin are catching up and improving economically….