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8th July, 2006

More government censorship

by Sunny at 7:11 pm    

Craig Murray has published documents supporting his book, a damning indictment of how Labour tried to shut him up about about human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, on his website.

The Foreign Office initially tried to censor the book. Failing that they now want him to withdraw the documents, obtained through FOIAs. Naturally, bloggers are having none of it. We’ve mirrored the documents too. [via Garry Smith and Lenin]

Meanwhile: “We’ve got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad. That’s a problem.”

Update: Justin, Unity, Robert, Dawg and LFCM friends have also mirrored.

Filed under: Civil liberties

It’s the weekend open thread!

by Katy at 12:48 pm    

Ah, the weekend open thread. Exactly the sort of place to kick your shoes off, flop back in your chair and relax after a hard week of passionate debate on the political issues of the day. Very much the blogging equivalent of a trendy-but-not-too-trendy bar with gentle lighting, big squashy sofas, soft music and tall, cool, delicious waiters cocktails.

Actually the weekend open thread is considerably better than a trendy-but-not-too-trendy bar because here there are more than enough big squashy sofas to go round, whereas unless you get to the trendy-but-not-too-trendy bar at about 4pm you have no chance of bagging a sofa, so you end up spending the entire evening standing very close to the squashy sofa area, glowering at the people who have been lying all over them snogging ostentatiously but ineptly since you arrived and showing no signs of leaving whatsoever, and going, “Huh? Oh, yeah” every time one of your friends says something to you because you are too consumed with fury at your sofalessness to even pretend that you are interested in what they are talking about.

And then there is that thing where you have, say, three sofas arranged in an open square round a table, and although there are a couple of bags and coats on them there are only two people, huddled in the far corner of one of them. So you snap out of your apathy and shout to your friends, “Look! Look! There’s a sofa free!” and you hurl yourself wildly through the bar flinging people out of your way willy-nilly. But when you try to sit down, the aforementioned two people give you one of those little half-smiles with no teeth and say, “Sorry, these are taken”. And then you have to spend the entire night staring fixedly at that group of sofas, which remain tantalisingly unoccupied until the end of the night when six people suddenly appear and start putting their coats on, and your friends have to firmly remove you because they can see that you are about to grab them by the throat and scream “THERE IS A CLOAKROOM YOU KNOW” very loudly indeed.

And the drinks are free on the weekend open thread.

Perhaps the weekend open thread really isn’t very much like a trendy-but-not-too-trendy bar after all.

Anyway, what’s everyone up to this weekend? Anyone want to talk about something non-political? Who’s got a really stinking hangover? I am all ears*.

*not literally

Filed under: Uncategorized
7th July, 2006

7/7 a year on - why I’m optimistic

by Sunny at 6:58 pm    

Though people have a natural habit of being fixated with the negative, a year after the July 7th bombings I think there are plenty of causes for optimism…

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Current affairs

Isn’t it time for a siesta already?

by Sunny at 4:25 pm    

During the sweltering weather last week, I was finding it really difficult to work. I’m sure I was not the only one. Does heat make you lazy? Extend that over the entire country and you could ask - does having continually hot weather make the entire country less capable of economic success? This is the question Chris Dillow asks:

The fact is that almost all cool countries are rich. And most poor countries are hot. This alone suggests a link between climate and wealth.

For sure, there are exceptions - most obviously, some east Asian countries are hot and rich. But their economic development came after the introduction of air conditioning - which can’t be a coincidence.
What’s more, even within countries there’s a link between climate and prosperity. In Italy and the US, the hotter south is generally poorer than the cooler north.

Maybe, then, a hot climate contributes to poverty by reducing incentives to work. This is not the only way in which it can retard growth. Hot climates also cause machinery to break down, which deters investment. And disease thrives in hot climates, which deters investment in human capital (pdf).

Now, the conventional view in economics downplays this. It prefers to emphasize institutions as the cause of wealth - things like good government and property rights.
But are these really truly exogenous? Is it really a coincidence that hotter climates tend to have less secure property rights?

There is another point too. Warm countries have more potential for surviving on agriculture because of favourable weather conditions. That could mean a slower transition to industrialisation and thus remaining poorer for longer. I’m sure there are exceptions but it’s worth thinking about. No?

Filed under: Economics

The American right has become insane

by Sunny at 3:34 am    

This weekend, prominent neoconservative David Horowitz proclaimed that the United States is fighting a war and “the aggressors in this war are Democrats, liberals and leftists.” In particular, he cited the now infamous NYT Travel section article on Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld’s vacation homes as evidence that the employees of the NYT are among the enemies in this war, and he then linked to and recommended as a “proposal for action” this post from his associate, Front Page contributor Rocco DiPippo. The post which Horowitz recommended was entitled “Where Does Punch Sulzberger Live?” and this is what it said:

I issue a call to the blogosphere to begin finding and publicly listing the addresses of all New York Times reporters and editors. Posting pictures of their residences, along with details of any security measures in place to protect the properties and their owners (such as location of security cameras and on-site security details) should also be published.

American blogger Glenn Greenwald shows how the American right is employing thug tactics to get their way. It’s comedy isn’t it? That a standard New York Times article on Dick Cheney’s pad is seen as helping Al-Qaeda shows the insanity of modern political conversation.

6th July, 2006

Shehzad Tanweer on TV

by Sunny at 4:13 pm    

A video showing London tube bomber Shehzad Tanweer has been aired on al-Jazeera television. Tanweer, from Leeds, killed seven people on a train at Aldgate during the attacks on 7 July 2005.

He says on the video: “What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger.” [BBC News, hat tip: Cisoux]

This is what will happen now. The likes of the MCB and MPAC will claim this is another example of government foreign policy driving young men into the open arms of suicide bombers. Pro-war types will say this shows govt. foreign policy has no impact and they are just cold blooded killers. Islamophobes will say this is another example to show Muslims can never be part of British society. Male rabbits will say they continue to run out of female rabbits to hump. Dr Naseem Mohammed from Birmingham Mosque will say the video is fake because even cows can be made to dance. Cows will continue to complain silently about being used as political footballs when all they yearn to do is wander around a field and chew on some grass. Mooo! It is all a pre-prepared script.

Filed under: Media

Channel 4’s limp discussions

by Sunny at 11:03 am    

The BBC’s cluelessness when dealing with Muslim organisations is well known. Diversity of opinion? Perish the thought. Usually they get away with simply calling up the MCB, MAB or MPAC since, apparently, no one else exists to “represent the Muslim community”. As I’ve said before, in the world of the BBC if you’re not a suicide bomber then you’re a “moderate Muslim”. And if you’re constantly angry, even better.

They cannot possibly fathom that there is a huge diversity of opinion within the “non-suicide bomber” category too. Sometimes they get caught with their pants down, but that is unfortunately rare. Now it seems Channel 4 has caught that bug too. It’s called “We-want-a-debate-but-don’t-know-who-to-call”. Having learnt nothing from the BBC debacle earlier, they call Azzam Tamimi, Asghar Bukhari (both of whom are near mirror images of each other), Khalid Mahmoud MP (who is vociferously hated by the earlier two) and Charles Moore from the Daily Telegraph.

Watch the apparently “extreme” debate in action here (via DSTPFW)

The most instructive line comes near the end when Charles Moore says the government should stop listening to people who justify suicide bombers and don’t even represent a community that overwhelmingly rejects that ideology. “Your own programme too puts too many of these people on,” he adds before Krishnan Guru-Murthy cuts him off. Will Channel 4 learn from the BBC’s mistakes? Don’t bet on it.

[cross-posted on CiF]

“We don’t like these brown people…”

by Sunny at 1:54 am    

An economically booming city; lots of immigrants workers who do the crap jobs and get paid a pittance; the residents don’t really want to hang around them and start re-locating to the suburbs. Sound familiar? We’ve been here before of course. But this is not a western city - this is Dubai:

Suhail al-Awadhi, 37, a senior municipal official, says he “was living three years ago in Hamria, but it was invaded by Indians, Pakistanis and bachelors, so I moved out”.

Dubai, the commercial centre and fastest growing member of the seven-member United Arab Emirates (UAE), has a population of 1.4 million with locals accounting for only about 10%, according to semi-official estimates.

The entire UAE has a population of more than four million, with locals making up less than 20%, according to the last official estimate in 2004. Indians and Pakistanis account for nearly half of the population.

Al-Awadhi, who is married with four children, said he felt more comfortable and secure living among Emiratis. “I like the fact that my children play with other Emirati children,” he said.

In his new book My Vision, Sheikh Mohammed explains his aim to develop Dubai as a fusion of Middle Eastern and Western values and a melting pot of creeds and nationalities, comparing the city to Cordoba, the seat of the Islamic caliphate in Spain in the 10th century. But areas like Mizher are proof the fusion is not there yet. Plus, some Emiratis do not share the vision.

Other ways in which the government preserves national identity include a marriage fund with an annual budget of almost $70 million that offers UAE men financial incentives to wed local women.

Arab racism against South Asians. Where have we heard that before? [via PasstheRoti]

5th July, 2006

What do you think?

by Sunny at 2:02 pm    

Muslim soldier

Filed under: Current affairs
4th July, 2006

Who was al-Zarqawi?

by Leon at 5:42 pm    

Two news items have caught my eye today about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, former Al Qaeda ‘leader’ in Iraq.

In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC on US Independence Day, Mr Khalilzad said the death of Zarqawi - the then leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq - had encouraged “other insurgent groups to reach out, because some were intimidated by Zarqawi. We want to know the [insurgent] groups that are reaching out - who they are, what capabilities they have, what areas they control.

But on the other hand, in terms of the level of violence, it has not had any impact at this point. As you know, the level of violence is still quite high,” he said. [BBC News]

So, the killing of al-Zarqawi has made little difference on ground in Iraq. Big surprise. But his life and death get more mysterious when you add the following to the puzzle:

Al-Qaida leaders sold out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the United States in exchange for a promise to let up in the search for Osama bin Laden, the slain militant’s wife claimed in an interview with an Italian newspaper.

The woman, identified by La Repubblica as al-Zarqawi’s first wife, said al-Qaida’s top leadership reached a deal with U.S. intelligence because al-Zarqawi had become too powerful. She claimed Sunni tribes and Jordanian secret services mediated the deal.

“My husband has been sold to the Americans,” the woman said in an interview published Sunday. “He had become too powerful, too troublesome.” [Yahoo News]

Further down the pieces comes another twist to the tale:

On Monday, an Iraqi legislator said authorities found telephone numbers of senior officials in al-Zarqawi’s cell phone after his death. Waiel Abdul-Latif, a member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s party, did not give names of the officials. But he said they included ministry employees and members of parliament.

Just who was al-Zarqawi? Who was he really working for? And why was he really killed? Inquiring minds want to know…

Murdered by the Indian army?

by Sunny at 3:14 pm    

In March 2000 just before Bill Clinton was due to visit India, 38 Sikhs were massacred in the Indian part of Kashmir. The government blamed Muslim militants but it seems Clinton knew what really happened. had a different account in his book until recently…

Continue Reading...
Filed under: South Asia

My wife the fanatic

by Aparita at 2:50 am    

The aims and plans of the alleged 17 Canadian bombers who wanted to bomb Toronto has been splashed all over the international press. Less has been said about the wives of some of the men involved, particularly how their views co-incided with that of their husbands.

Second in the series of articles.

Continue Reading...
3rd July, 2006

Absurd headline of the week

by Sunny at 2:45 pm    

It’s only the beginning of the week but the competition is unlikely to match the Daily Telegraph’s opinion that ‘To hate America is to hate mankind‘ for absurd headline of the week. Not only do they do a good job of mangling the difference between the US administration and its people, it ignores the huge diversity of opinion within the population on what is right and wrong and how the government should behave.

The article is a poor attempt to counter the results of an opinon poll that only 12% of Britons trust the US government to act wisely on the global stage. Who said Britons can’t see through Bush’s incompetence?

Most Britons see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite.

More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination. And 81 per cent of those who took a view said President George W Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests.

Yup. That about sums it up.

Filed under: United States

Scotland first Asian MSP?

by Sunny at 1:04 am    

This is a brilliant story:

The Scottish National Party says it is on course to have Scotland’s first Asian MSP sitting at Holyrood. Glasgow councillor Bashir Ahmad is among the candidates the party has listed as those it most wants elected to the Scottish Parliament next year.

Mr Ahmad, who came to Scotland from Pakistan at the age of 21, has been president of the Pakistan Welfare Association five times. In 1995 he founded Scots Asians for Independence, which has aimed to build support for the SNP among the Scottish Asian community.

Mr Ahmad said party members had “righted the wrong” of Asians having no voice in the parliament. He said: “The lack of any Asian or ethnic minority voice in the Scottish Parliament has been felt deeply in my community.”

Courtesy of Ministry of Truth, who says: “That’s what being British is all about - not one single homogeneous identity but multiple identities existing without coming into conflict, all of which add up to an individual person.“. I completely agree.

Filed under: Party politics
2nd July, 2006

The Empire strikes back

by Rohin at 2:19 am    

We’re out. Little in life seems to change. But for now I present to you a different angle to the World Cup, which I originally decided not to post, until today. (The picture above is explained below.)

This post was prompted by two things. Discussion about the World Cup with our Indian American contemporaries at Sepia Mutiny confused me somewhat. Most did not support America and many seemed rather anti-English. I thought better of posting anything then, but I received a text this evening, just as Rio Ferdinand wept.

My girlfriend is in Chennai, India, for a friend’s wedding. She told me that people were delighted and jumping for joy that England had crashed out and that no one in India supports England.

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Culture, Sports, India
1st July, 2006

Someone do an open thread!

by Sunny at 9:50 am    

C’mon…. anyone? Oh. Wait. I think this is it. Ermm… *whistles nonchalantly*
Whatever it is, get it off you chest. As long as it’s not about religion. Or politics. But football is ok. Unless England lose. In which case this will be the mourning thread. Lord help us.

Filed under: Uncategorized
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