17th April, 2006

The Euston Manifesto revisited

by Sunny at 5:26 am    

I was reading the NYRB’s review of ‘Crashing the Gate’ by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of Daily Kos the other night when I had a series of epiphanies in quick succession. Whoa. My brain did not stop that night.

I’m not going to talk about the main stream of thought yet. On a related note, I was trying to make sense of Gene’s limp comeback to Mike Marqusee’s critique of the Euston Manifesto and reading a few other blog posts on the document yesterday. So I’m mixing everything up together.

John Lloyd says the pro-war needs to go its own way, while Jeff Jarvis talks of a schism in the left. Huh? Am I missing something here?

While it is tempting to say the left should stop bickering and get on with the issues in hand, and I will come back to that, it could be an illustration of the dominance of centre-left thinking that such debates are actually had. It is not necessarily a bad thing. But I feel that any attempts to draw a line in the sand between “us and them” is either lazy or lame attempt at power-grabbing.

The pro-war and anti-war left could spend the rest of eternity slinging mud at each other to win the argument but I think there are bigger battles. I quote from the above review:

Their point is that the Republicans have prospered by ignoring ideological consistency. They’ve held together a disparate coalition that ranges from right-wing evangelists and other promoters of conservative moral values to big businesses dependent on federal subsidies and tax cuts, each of whom realize they will get more of what they want by cooperating in joint efforts.

I think this is an important point. I frequently agree on issues with David T on Harry’s Place but there are reasons why I don’t want to sign the document. So what camp do I go in? The anti-war left, true. But do I align myself with religious fanatics? Erm, no. Do I have an irrational hatred of America? I don’t know, but given I recently enjoyed spending a month partying in LA and Las Vegas, I doubt it. Anti-semitic? I certainly hope others don’t think that.

Surely a ‘schism’ would be more valid if we were part of the same organisation? As it happens we all refer to ourselves as liberal or lefties. Where is the pro-war left going to go? To the conservative right? Or declare the rest are no longer liberals?

The points made in the EM aren’t earth-shattering, they merely codify what HP, Nick Cohen, Norman Geras et al have been saying anyway. The wrangling will always be around and I see it as healthy as long as it isn’t all people do.

My suggestion: let’s not assume all the pro-war types want to drag us into the neo-con agenda, while also agreeing not all of those on the other side of the fence have en-masse befriended Hizb ut-Tahrir types.

16th April, 2006

It’s not just Christians celebrating this weekend

by SajiniW at 3:44 pm    

Sri Lankans of all races have been partying too. Not due to the first cross-ethnic phenomenon, mind (cricket), but the second! The thirteenth and fourteenth of April saw the Sinhala-Hindu New Year descend upon us.

Celebrated in the month of Bak according to the lunar calendar, the Sri Lankan New Year pays homage to the coming of spring. Co-incidentally, the name ‘Bak’ derives from the Sanskrit word ‘bhagya’ meaning ‘fortunate’. Useful when this time of year sees the ripened rice paddy harvest being gathered in, giving a sense of plenty to rural Sri Lanka.

Strong similarities can be drawn with the Jewish observance of Pesach, earlier this week – it is a time for families to celebrate, exchange gifts, observe cultural rituals (such as eating the famous ‘kiribath’ milk rice) and wish for a prosperous new year. Further information can be found here.

15th April, 2006

The world is a funny place

by Sunny at 6:47 pm    

To generalise about people and races is a bad idea most of the time, even in tightly described circumstances. Here are four such examples:

The normally docile South Indians, specially in the ‘silicon valley of India’ city of Bangalore, have been rioting so much on Thursday that eight people have died including one policeman. Why? Err, because the film start/ local demi-god Rajkumar died. Of natural causes. Software companies and UK based call centres estimate damages of $40 million. File under: wtf??.

In Iran, from where all we hear nuclear technology, mystic Sufism is on the rise. Given traditional hostility to this branch of Islam, the country seems to be more religious tolerant than China.

Eerie, from Aqoul, recently wrote an enlightening article on Brazilian waxing and Feminism. I quote:

The reason I chose to discuss bikini waxing is that it turns the traditional “conservative Muslim vs. liberal Westerner” paradigm on its head. Muslim women have no hangups about full pubic waxing, but the practice was positively scandalous for North American women up until a few years ago…

And finally to Canada where racial stereotypes of crime were completely flipped in a recent poll [via SM].

Of those in the poll who held ethnic groups most responsible, 56 per cent specifically identified “Indian/East Indian” and 45 per cent listed “Asian/Oriental,” the newspaper reported March 16.

By comparison, five per cent of the same group singled out “Caucasian/white” and only one per cent were worried about “Afro-American/Black,” “Middle Eastern/Arabs/Muslims” and “Italians.” [IndoLink]

14th April, 2006

Easter weekend open thread

by Sunny at 10:25 pm    

I was hoping to write some stuff today but I’ve been totally busy trying to learn more about WordPress and how to extend it. Anyway, happy easter and what not.

I’ve put in a preview function on comments (below the input box). Now if anyone knows a good tutorial in running multiple users off the same WP installation…

Filed under: Uncategorized
13th April, 2006

It’s raining manifestos

by Sunny at 3:12 pm    

Manifestos are all the rage these days. First came the Manifesto Club earlier this week, and now the pro-war left have launched their own Euston Manifesto. On top of that, I’m working on my own one.

I have a few comments. While I largely agree with the thrust of their proposal (except I always have been staunchly anti-Iraq-war), I cannot help but smell a faint whiff of hypocrisy. Complaints that the MSM does not adequately represent them can be easily dismissed and are as familiar as American neo-cons constantly complaining their media is too liberal.

More importantly if they care about civil liberties so much, why do they studiously maintain a silence when draconian powers are used against anti-war protestors or during the ‘gloryfying terrorism’ legislation? I thought freedom of speech had no caveats? Will they be saying anything about Milan Rai’s court case for example?

The Afghanis are coming

by Sunny at 2:47 pm    

nagar kirtanOn April 9th Southall hosted the annual Sikh nagar kirtan (street procession) to celebrate Vaisakhi. I was talking to a cousin afterwards who said it had one of the largest turnouts ever. Why do you think that is, I asked. “I don’t know, but if you looked on one side it was full of freshies, and on the other side it was full of Kabulis (Afghani Sikhs) with their push chairs. There was no place to move!”

She didn’t say it maliciously, so I laughed. But it’s true – Southall has changed. Afghani Sikhs and new immigrants from Panjab are everywhere. This doesn’t bother me as I’ve always been pro-immigration but it will have interesting consequences for the Sikh community I believe.

1) A faster decline of the Khalistan movement.

2) Even more Gurudwaras since the Jatts who control the big ones now will not want to give them up.

3) Sikh ‘community leaders’ will have an even smaller mandate because the new arrivals are nowhere as politicised as the older generation.

4) Southall will decline further. Why? Because older Sikh families will move out as the area becomes over-crowded. But the new arrivals mostly work (hard) in the black market, meaning they won’t be paying taxes. Hence less investment into local services.

Any thoughts? Kesara has the pictures. My brother is in the last one.

Filed under: Culture,Religion

Shias want to build Sikh shrine in Iraq

by Sunny at 1:22 am    

Fired by their zeal to repay a debt to the Sikhs, India’s Shia community has embarked upon a mission to construct a Sikh shrine at Basra in Iraq in the honour of Sikhism founder and first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak.

Maulana Kalbe Jawad, India’s spiritual head of the Shia community, has decided to lead a delegation of prominent Shia leaders to Iraq to persuade Ayatollah Ali Shistani, the supreme authority of the Shia community the world over, to allow construction of the Sikh shrine at Basra near Baghdad. [Zee News]

A nice touch in a mad world. Hat tip: Jay Singh.

Filed under: Religion
12th April, 2006

Still failing the Tebbit Test

by Sunny at 4:14 pm    

On Thursday last week, when India beat England to win the one-day international series 4-0, I could not help but let out a small cheer. What would Norman Tebbit think now, I asked myself immediately after, as I do almost every year.

On a regular basis, this turns up as a light-hearted debate on the BBC Asian Network, onto which I was recently invited as a panelist, along with Nasser Hussain’s dad….

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Filed under: Culture,Humour,Sports

In the nuclear club

by Sunny at 2:53 pm    

Iran’s announcement yesterday that it has joined the nuclear club is not coincidental, coming only days after a leak by Seymour Hersh that George Bush had put a nuclear strike on the table. Two madmen comparing penis sizes? Yes, I think so.

Their scientists may be clever but I doubt Iran has actually achieved the breakthrough it claims. This is based on no personally-sourced intelligence whatsoever but that makes it nearly as credible as British intelligence, no? Ahmadinejad is just ‘stepping up’ to Bush on the playground. But there is another view:

Some diplomats and analysts in Tehran speculated that the fanfare surrounding the announcement may be a prelude to the regime saying it was ready to bow to UN demands that it suspend enrichment activities and re-enter negotiations. “Their goal is to claim a very big victory and achievement and say, ‘Now that we have reached our goal and public opinion has been satisfied we will go for compromise with the UN security council and US,’” said Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst.

Where do we go from here? No one knows. I sometimes feel this is just a silly dream. How do such intensely stupid people get into positions of power?

Outsourcing the oldies back home

by Sunny at 1:25 am    

It’s a rare occasion, I know, but Eastern Eye has an interesting editorial this week. A company is building a special ‘township’ in India catering for British Asians who would want to send their oldies there to live there until, erm, the end. Housekeeping and six different types of meals will be included, apparently.

“It is a very realistic idea because we already have a lot of young people based in Britain who have explored the possibility of finding a home for their parents here. “It is quite feasible as care services in India are very well developed now.”

The work is actually being done by an NGO, but I think there is serious money to be made here (and if you make millions from this, I want a percentage dammit.)

Dignity Lifestyle, as the new township is known, is a first-of-its-kind concept in India. The foundation is emphatic about the fact that it is not an old-age home. It is about “productive ageing”, where the elderly are able to enjoy facilities like libraries, film shows and talks.

Interesting…. but here it the money quote:

“Our healthcare is sourced from the developing countries – how about turning the tables and outsourcing the elderly?”

How about we outsource our ‘community leaders’ so they can hatch controversies in their local village?

Joking aside, I think there is a potential timebomb that British Asians are sitting on. Most have totally different lifestyles and aspirations to their parents. Now imagine living with your parents for the rest of their lives. A lot of them don’t, which has led to an increasing number of Asian parents being ‘abandoned’, whiling their time away at the local gurudwara/mandir/mosque.

11th April, 2006

A Guide to Being a First Lady..

by SajiniW at 5:12 pm    

With the Italian and French elections capturing the glare of the media lens, the time is ripe for learning a few lessons from Dubya’s secret weapon.

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London bombings and Iraq War

by Sunny at 2:59 pm    

Moving on to a different genre, Milan Rai has also just published a book titled ’7/7: The London Bombings and the Iraq War’, out now on Pluto Press.

Milan Rai founded the British branch of Voices in the Wilderness and co-founded the anti-war group ARROW, a London-based direct action and anti-war information group, and its successor organisation, Justice Not Vengeance. His two previous books are War Plan Iraq: 10 Reasons Against War with Iraq, Regime Unchanged and Chomsky’s Politics. In 1993 he was awarded the Frank Cousins Peace Award for Research by the Transport and General Workers’ Union.

I admit, I’d never heard of Milan Rai before, but Rachel recommends it. And as yet he hasn’t been slagged off by another upcoming writer in a cheap bid for publicity.
Also on Amazon.

10th April, 2006

Tories in race row (again)

by Sunny at 6:06 pm    

You could not make it up. After David Cameron called UKIP “closet racists”, one member of his own party declared she would not want an ethnic minority colleague standing for parliament in her constituency. Cameron moved quickly to say she was in the “wrong party“. Ms Joan Howarth refuses to back down has now apologised. Cue UKIP calling the Tories fruitcakes and closet racists.
Update: BBC and Telegraph follow up.

Update 2: Matt Murrell asks an interesting question:

How far can a party push a progressive agenda if the public don’t accept it? While tradition has left the main parties largely the preserve of the upper-middle-class white male, the fact that the general public in a country as small-c conservative as the UK might be less willing to trust female and ethnic MPs. In which case, the desire to combat bigotry and discrimination comes into conflict with the guiding principle of political parties – to win seats.

My feeling is – it depends on the candidate. Someone like Piara Khabra, who can barely walk let alone speak English properly, would not work. On the other hand people like Shailesh Vara have done well in pre-dominantly white areas.

Given that women are grossly under-represented in politics, and there is no reason why people should trust them less, political parties have so far rewarded members on contacts than merit, rewarding discrimination in favour of seats. Thus, they may be patronising their constituents in assuming working class people cannot see past a candidate’s sex or colour and keeping politics the preserve of white males. Others may disagree…

Who wants a sham marriage?

by Al-Hack at 5:23 pm    

In the Guardian: Government rules to prevent sham marriages by immigrants are unfair as they discriminate against those who are not Anglicans, the high court ruled today.

On BBC Online: The judge said that he found the regime to be incompatible with human rights law because people who wanted to marry within the Church of England were not subject to the same scrutiny as those choosing another type of wedding.

People seeking to marry within other faiths, principally other branches of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam or Sikhism, were not given a similar benefit of the doubt where ministers of religion were content the proposed wedding was genuine.

Filed under: Race politics,Religion

Black female role models and stupidity culture

by SajiniW at 4:20 pm    

Amina Taylor celebrates the creation of a non-stereotyped black female character in forthcoming Britflick ‘Rollin’ With the Nines’.

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Tourism in Londonstan

by Kismet hardy at 12:48 am    

Today the Evening Standard carries a piece on Gautam Malkani’s much-hyped British Asian novel Londonstani, reviewed by Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal, author of the, um, much-hyped British Asian novel Tourism.

A few questions arise. Why does the intensely irritating Nirpal Singh Dhariwal hate it?

And should it matter to other Asian writers or just anyone in general?

I think it does…

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9th April, 2006

The people vs government of India

by Sunny at 6:39 pm    

After years of agitation, the controversy over the Narmada Dam Project is back in the news in India. This is an issue not only central to India’s development, but also a fight for hundreds of thousands of affected people. I have provided a brief background to the story and explain why you should take notice.

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8th April, 2006

Weekend open thread

by Sunny at 6:47 pm    

Say whatever you want, link whatever articles you want… or just waste some time. This is that kind of thread.

Filed under: Uncategorized
7th April, 2006

Why I love “fake sheikh” Mazher Mahmood

by Sunny at 4:11 pm    

They may not like the “fake sheikh” Mazhoor Mahmood, who got uncovered yesterday, but I think he’s a swell chap. And he is the unlikely Asian journalist hero too…

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Filed under: Humour,Media

The kids aren’t alright…

by Kulvinder at 4:00 am    

The popularity of the Internet and its emergence from backwater medium to ‘mainstream’ society has been met with the usual fear and trepidation by the media over the ogres in society that wait to prowl on unsuspecting teenagers. The predatory paedophile is that most unifying of spectres someone whose presence will disgust everyone regardless of their ethnic background, a symbol of hate everyone can focus on. I don’t seek to defend the misery that child abuse causes but i am more than a little surprised by the attitude and reasoning society takes.

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Filed under: Current affairs

Bush lied ‘for political gain’ shocker!

by Sunny at 3:02 am    

The funny thing about the Bush administration is when their people get caught, they start singing like canaries. Scooter Libby, a former aide to vice president Dick Cheney, is doing just that. He previously pointed out that his boss had “authorised” leaks to defend the war in Iraq. Now he’s fingering the big man himself. Ahem. No crass remarks please, we are a serious political blog. This is being reported today:

From Reuters: A former top White House aide testified that President George W. Bush authorised leaking classified intelligence in 2003 in the face of criticism of his Iraq policy from a former ambassador, according to court papers made public on Thursday.
….
The Washington Post: Legal experts say that President Bush had the unquestionable authority to approve the disclosure of secret CIA information to reporters, but they add that the leak was highly unusual and amounted to using sensitive intelligence data for political gain.
….
Los Angeles Times: President Bush personally authorized leaking long-classified information to a reporter in the summer of 2003 to buttress administration claims, now discredited, that Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction for Iraq

Using intelligence for political gain for claims that turned out to be lies. Who would have thought eh? Now excuse me while I sit and figure this out because I feel like I’m having deja vu….

6th April, 2006

‘Political correctness gone mad’

by Al-Hack at 7:37 pm    

Legal proceedings against a 10-year-old boy over alleged racist name calling have been labelled political correctness gone mad, by a judge.

Judge Jonathan Finestein told Salford Youth Court the boys would have been given “a good clouting” in his day.

“Have we really got to the stage where we are prosecuting 10-year-old boys because of political correctness? “I was repeatedly called fat at school. Does this amount to a criminal offence? [BBC Online]

It occurs to me, does the Crown Prosecution have too much time on its hands?

Filed under: Race politics

Muslim community representatives

by Sunny at 2:49 pm    

I find Osama Saeed from the Muslim Association of Britain has a bone to pick with me, via David T. He asks me to prove some of what I said in my article yesterday.

So here it is.

Continue Reading...

When media organisations wake up

by Sunny at 4:42 am    

Both are current issues.

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Filed under: Environmentalism,Media

Caught listening to ‘wrong’ sort of music

by Sunny at 3:16 am    

An Asian salesman was hauled off a plane as a suspected terrorist because he was listening to The Clash song London Calling. Harraj Mann, 24, was quizzed for three hours by Special Branch after his taxi driver overheard the lyrics, which include the lines “war is declared and battle come down”.

“[The Taxidriver] didn’t like Led Zeppelin or The Clash but I don’t think there was any need to tell the police.” [Daily Mirror, via BSSC]

I’m not sure whether to laugh or despair.

Filed under: Civil liberties,Humour
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