30th June, 2006
Good afternoon, Dr
Rohin Rohan here, PORN FIEND. Well clearly that’s what the BBC Asian Network thought. For yesterday I got a ring ‘pon me celly from them telling me that they were planning a show about pornography. I asked “so you called me?”
They wanted someone to stand up for porn, so – let’s not beat around the bush – I said yeah what the hell and rose to the occasion. This is what it has cum to. Apparently Sunny was at the bottom of this. I didn’t want to sound too in-your-face; I was worried my argument might suck, or that the show might blow…
29th June, 2006
In Parliament yesterday Tory MP Michael Gove asked:
… [Muslim Council of Britain's] new chairman, Dr. Muhammed Abdul Bari, recently invited to Britain a Saudi cleric who called Jews “pigs and monkeys”, and who also said that Hindus were idol worshippers to whom it would be wrong to talk sweetly. Dr. Bari was also involved in inviting a Bangladeshi cleric who has called for American troops to return from Iraq in coffins if they do not convert to Islam. May we have an opportunity to examine where Ministers have gone wrong in tackling extremism?
A sensible question you may think, given this is the organisation supposedly tackling extremism and easing inter-religious tensions. But unsurprisingly Labour’s Jack Straw defended them: “It is a sensible organisation that faces its own difficulties in trying to hold together a very diverse community that is itself under pressure.”
Once again, it’s soft racism of low expectations isn’t it? Jack Straw is implicitly thinking and saying: “These Muslims are a bit mad right, and they feel they’re under attack. So what if they invite a few crackpots over? What else do you expect? Sensible mullahs? Let it go man, let’s talk about something else.”
They’re propping each other up like drunks. The MCB’s love-in with Labour means the former does not get criticised and continues to receive funding, while the latter can expect political support (and votes from Muslims) and in return give the impression they care for what the ‘Muslim community’ thinks.
Update: Wrote a related article for comment is free.
Israeli troops have detained eight Palestinian ministers and dozens of officials from the ruling Hamas group in raids across the West Bank.
Sixty-four MPs and officials were seized, amid Israeli efforts to secure freedom for a captured soldier in Gaza.
The Israeli army dropped leaflets in northern Gaza urging residents to avoid moving in the area because of impending military activity
What’s to say apart from that Israel has thrown its brains out of the window? Hamas was being undermined by in-fighting and turf wars with Fatah. The Palestinian Authority was playing the right game in getting it to recognise Israel eventually. But that’s all gone now. This is a license to start a full scale war all over again, which is exactly what Hamas and Israel want. How stupider can Israeli leadership get?
28th June, 2006
A public inquiry today castigated the prison service for “a bewildering catalogue” of failings that led to the murder of Asian prisoner Zahid Mubarek by his white racist cellmate.
High court judge Mr Justice Keith, the inquiry chairman, outlined 186 individual and “systemic” failures that gave racist psychopath Robert Stewart the opportunity to bludgeon his teenage cellmate to death in March 2000 at Feltham young offenders’ institution.
The report detailed how a letter from Stewart which referred to “niggers” and “Pakis” was discovered by staff but insufficient action was taken because of the “unacceptably relaxed view taken of racist language which the culture at Feltham had bred”.
His record of violence included his involvement in the killing of 18-year-old Alan Averill at another prison. [the Guardian]
Official website of the enquiry. On the killer Robert Stewart: some background, and interview with family.
Priyamvada Gopal, who is a professor at Cambridge university, has written a brilliant article in today’s Guardian, taking the British media to task over giving the British Raj a friendly tinge.
Good governance? More famines were recorded in the first century of the British Raj than in the previous 2,000 years, including 17-20 million deaths from 1896 to 1900 alone. While a million Indians a year died from avoidable famines, taxation subsidising colonial wars, and relief often deliberately denied as surplus grain was shipped to England.
Tolerance? The British empire reinforced strict ethnic/religious identities and governed through these divisions. As with the partition of India when 10 million were displaced, arbitrarily drawn boundaries between “tribes” in Africa resulted in massive displacement and bloodshed. Freedom and fair play? In Kenya, a handful of white settlers appropriated 12,000 square miles and pushed 1.25 million native Kikuyus to 2,000 restricted square miles. Resistance was brutally crushed through internment in detention camps, torture and massacres. Some 50,000 Kikuyus were massacred and 300,000 interned to put down the Mau Mau rebellion by peasants who wanted to farm their own land. A thousand peaceful protesters were killed in the Amritsar massacre of 1919.
Her article comes out of a discussion hosted by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on the British Empire a few weeks back. I heard it and thought it was a pile of shit, with both Marr and historian Niall Ferguson desperately trying to paint history with a more acceptable version of events. Can you imagine the British being uncivilised and bloody thirsty? Surely not! I mean haven’t they had thousands of years of great enlightened culture?
Update Also see this article in the New Statesman on the abuse Johann Hari got for his mentioning the atrocities of the empire [via Indigo Jo]
27th June, 2006
An Army sent with insufficient numbers on, wrong information, a mission to root out terrorists from a lawless part of the world and as part of the War on Terror. Iraq? Nope! Welcome to Waziristan in Pakistanâ€™s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Here, the Taliban is coming back, and soon we will all hear about it.
You have to laugh at the rubbish the Bush administrations comes out with, don’t you. What else can you do really. On Sunday the New York Times reported that:
Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.
Are we surprised the Bush administration is trying to enroach the privacy of people across the world in its “war on terror”? Not really. But it gets funnier.
The same day Republican Peter King urged the Bush administration to prosecute the paper, saying: “We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous.” He added it was “more concerned about a left-wing elitist agenda than it is about the security of the American people.” Unsurprisingly Dick ‘shoot your face off’ Cheney weighed in. The NYT’s executive editor has defended himself in a letter in the paper.
It’s hilarious isn’t it. They want freedom of the press and self-criticism in other countries but the Bush administration does not want it in their own back yard. Anything that goes against their agenda can be declared treasonous.
The Guardian reports:
â€œBoundary changes will make it much more difficult for Labour to win an overall majority in the next general election, it was reported today. But the Conservatives will still need a swing of 9%-10% to win power outright, making a hung parliament more likely than it has been for many years.
Of 13 new seats created by the Boundary Commission, 10 would have been won by the Conservatives in 2005, compared with two for the Liberal Democrats and just one for Labour, according to research quoted in The Times.”
A hung parliament, as we all know, means a coalition government and only one party is poised to be kingmaker in this situation; the Liberal Democrats. They must be rubbing their hands with glee at prospect of finally being back in power, if only as a deputy to one of the bigger parties!
Why is this critical? Well, the LibDems have a long time aim of introducing Proportional Representation. Any party that wants the LibDems as a junior partner will probably have to swallow that bitter pill. PR of course means coalition government will become the mainstay in UK politics but also diminish the power of the party system.
No party will be able to have a huge majority; none will be able to rush through dodgy legislation or marginalise its own dissident MPs by sheer weight of numbers. In theory this is a real boon for democracy (something we could do with more of in this country but that’s a whole other piece in itself).
What does this mean for us, the ordinary voter? Well, hopefully more power! More influence in the way weâ€™re governed, more accurate representation of our views in Parliament and perhaps more avenues for civic engagement.
There is a lot more to it than that of course (the LibDems might be gutless enough to drop PR as a pathway to power) but we can but hope that new boundaries will mean a more accurate democratic make up in the next Parliament.
26th June, 2006
Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, will be stepping down at the end of this year. Speculation has begun as to who will be filling his eloquent, but ultimately somewhat ineffectual shoes.
Most commentators predict an Asian successor. It has been 34 years since an Asian sat at the helm of the UN, the Burma’s U Thant. Now, as more Western headlines concern the meteoric rise of India and China, Asia’s stature is growing apace. Russia and China, two of the veto-holding permanent members have announced that they will support an Asian candidate.
Kofi Annan himself has stated he would be in favour of a female successor, but he has little sway in the matter. The UN has never been headed up by a woman before, despite being in existence for some 60 years.
So far all the candidates in the running are Asian – and are men.
Hello everyone, I’m back from my trip to Strasbourg. It was my second time to France and reinforced my growing affection for the French, primarily because they cheerfully put up with my total lack of knowledge about their language, and despite their terrible food (I’m vegetarian, see).
I come back intellectually energised, with lots of ideas and thoughts and plans (as ever). In particular there is a lot to be said about identity (I’m currently reading Amartya Sen’s latest book Identity and Violence) and usage of language, and how they relate to recent events. More on that later this week as I get settled back in and catch up with my work.
In the meantime here is something interesting…
24th June, 2006
This story has popped up in a few places, but on Friday, the now 10-year-old Slate ran a piece about a new World Bank/New York/Chicago paper examining corruption and driving in India.
The researchers stated that equivalents of the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) in different countries exist to ensure that all drivers are safe. The hypothesis studied was that corruption in this system will produce bad drivers. Guess what? It does!
Seeing as it’s the weekend, I figured you might enjoy a light-hearted post. Yesterday I was forwarded the email below, from a friend who works at an investment bank in London. The email is written by a colleague, about her recent trip to India, and is sent to a male friend thinking of taking a trip there. The author is American.
22nd June, 2006
So what are you good people doing inside on the internet?! The weathers lovely, there’s no working (uni or otherwise) and a ton football to watch in bars, parks etc! Me, I’m going to relax and go see a few friends, what are you peeps up to?
21st June, 2006
Simon Woolleyâ€™s article over at Comment Is Free has provoked some typical responses. Perhaps the failing of the article lays in the lack of context for some people? The word Diaspora is one that should be applied here, the article (whether you agree with the sentiment regarding black footballers) explores one facet of a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) persons identity; their origins outside Britain.
â€œAs much of the world rightly enjoys the drama of the beautiful game, for me and many others around the globe a parallel story is unfolding: one that has its roots in slavery, colonialism, imperialism and survival. A story like no other, which unites millions of descendents of Africa in one supreme global moment: the World Cup.
The tournament began with 32 countries from six continents. Astonishingly, 22 of those countries, including Japan, Iran and Switzerland, have players of African descent. The raw data, however, cannot begin to tell the socio-political and human journey of so many of Africa’s peoples.â€ [The Guardian]
Of course not everyone views football within the context of an African Diaspora but virtually all football supporters exhibit some form of tribalism. Why is ok for British ex-pats to continue to support various British teams while living in Spain or Australia but not a black man to feel a connection with those he shares his ancestry?
To be honest, for me, the concept of Diaspora is rather complex one. Iâ€™m mixed race so my â€œloyaltiesâ€ lay more with the people I know and the country I grew up in (I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose which cultures I draw inspiration from). I consider myself a global citizen as much as I consider myself a Londoner or Brit! But I recognise someoneâ€™s identity can be formed differently from me without it being a threat.
What is your identity made up of and which parts do you emphasise and why? Do you feel a connection to one Diaspora or another or are you content with simply being British?
Hi everybody! Long time no see. I trust you have all been enjoying PP over the last few weeks. Sadly that’s all going to stop, as I’m back. And I have news (at the bottom)
I’ve recently read a fair amount of a book entitled ‘What Happened to the Hippy Man?‘ which is the story of Mike Thexton, a hostage aboard the tragic PA 073, hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in Karachi, twenty years ago. Thexton was in Pakistan mourning his brother, a doctor and mountaineer, who had died there a few years before. Aboard his Pan Am plane bound for home, four Abu Nidal Palestinian gunmen stormed in. The pilots managed to escape and the plane was stranded on the ground.
Mash is, as usual, on the money:
But, the political debate in Washington ignores the reality in Iraq. The reality in Iraq is that the Bush Administration has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in installing an Islamist regime in Iraq. The Islamists in Iraq have played the Bush Administration masterfully. They have used the American occupation as cover to do a little bit of house cleaning (ethnic cleansing) and have consolidated power within the military and the police forces. Having consolidated power, now it is time to give the Americans the boot.
In a particularly well-timed op-ed in the Washington Post, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraqâ€™s National Security Advisor, shows the United States the door
Although it may come as a surprise to the still significant number of Americans who believe we are bringing “freedom” to the Iraqi people. It should also not have been a surprise when the Iraqi government declared last week that they would grant amnesty to insurgents who had killed American troops. Even though the Iraqis backtracked from that declaration, it was nonetheless symptomatic of the environment in Iraq where Americans have long been viewed as occupiers.
I have long argued that the United States does more harm to Iraq and its own credibility by staying in Iraq. Our credibility is already damaged in Iraq. Withdrawing from Iraq under our own terms would not have damaged our credibility that much more. However, being told to leave by the Iraqi government will round out the humiliation. That is exactly what is now happening.
20th June, 2006
Scrap marriages and replace them with a variety of civil partnerships, the think-tank Ekklesia said this week.
…the abolition of legal marriage would allow couples to specify the type of legal commitment they wished to make to one another. Under their proposals, couples would still be allowed to marry if they wished but the legal aspect would be removed from the ceremony and they would then have to register their partnership under law in a separate process.
Under existing law, if a couple marries in a Church of England ceremony they are simultaneously legally and religiously married because of its status as the Established Church. But if a couple marries in another denomination or faith a separate act of state is required to legally register the union.
Just think for a second, though Ekklesia is not promoting this, a world without marriage. For a start Asian parents would be a lot more relaxed. So would Asian kids infact. Can you imagine your parents not nagging you about marriage (or maybe for our older readers that is a distant memory)?
I jest of course. Marriage is useful to provide stability to offspring, but more than that I’m not sure about its usefulness. What Ekklesia proposes, to legitimise a variety of unions, seems more useful in today’s society to provide a stable household. What say you folk?
Simon Barrow is part of the think-tank and welcomes the news that the Episcopal Church of USA has elected a woman as its next presiding bishop. Ahhh.. I love liberal religion.
As a side note, I’m off to Europe for a conference rest of this week so the other Picklers will be runnin tings.
In the first part of her weekly series of articles, Aparita discusses the recent arrest of 17 men in Toronto, all charged with an alleged conspiracy to bomb sites in the city.
The incident had made many Canadian re-think their attitudes towards multi-culturalism. Has the experiment failed?
19th June, 2006
Hello Picklers, the revolution gets bigger and more international. We have another addition to our team from today. Aparita is a Toronto based freelance journalist and is an old friend of mine. She will be writing on whatever she fits, though initially it will focus on Canada. Her debut post is coming up next.
I was supposed to post this yesterday but an extended BBQ delayed it. So while the weekly round-up should be on the weekend, better later than never eh.
This round-up includes I have written and the introduction of Nomad Fatwas, a new ‘free-thinking’ blog carnival.
17th June, 2006
In a guest post for Pickled Politics, El Cid is relieved by Powergen’s decision to stop outsourcing its call centres to India. A better decision over the long term or maybe they didn’t think it through properly?
A while back Sunny posted on the treatment Joseph Harker recieved on his concern over St George’s flags in London. Interestingly there’s a somewhat similar post at The New Republic’s World Cup Blog by Jesse Zwick, an American Jew, over his initial response to landing in Germany in the midst of a nationalistic fervour not seen since the Nazi’s.
16th June, 2006
And we’re back on this lovely, sunny weekend. To add to the celebration, the whales have been saved, and there is some Sri Lankan festival going on in central London today and tomorrow but I can’t find any website.
Whatever it is, get it off your chest.
Begum is an Indian rape survivor who does not wish her full identity to be revealed for fear that her abusive ex husband will find her and kill her if she is forcibly returned to India.
Begum was ‘captured’ on Wednesday when she reported to her local immigration centre in Kent and taken to Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre. Her supporters who accompany her to her monthly signing last glimpsed her banging on the windows of the van that was transporting her to detention
Begum faces deportation to India on Saturday June 17th on flight AI 102 at 9.45am from Heathrow Airport.
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Peace may come to Nepal sooner rather than later, after talks between Nepal’s Prime Minister and the Maoist rebels. BBC News has just sent out an alert saying the latter has decided to join the government. Hooray!?
Meanwhile, an Iraqi suicide bomber with explosives in his shoes blew himself up inside a mosque killing ten and injuring 20 people.