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  • 19th March, 2008

    Pakistan’s parliament elects first woman speaker

    by Sunny at 6:34 pm    

    This is interesting:

    As expected, Pakistan’s parliament has selected its first female speaker.

    “Dr. Fehmida Mirza has received 249 votes,” incumbent Chaudhry Amir Hussain, a supporter of President Pervez Musharraf, announced the vote total in the 342-seat National Assembly.

    Parliament members then pounded their open hands on their desks for 30 seconds to applaud Fehmida Mirza of the Pakistan Peoples Party. The 51-year-old medical doctor and mother of four children is a third-generation Pakistani politician. Her father twice served in the cabinet; her husband was a member of parliament; and her father-in-law was a Supreme Court justice.

    I wonder if she could take over Bhutto’s party and eventually become the next PM?

    18th March, 2008

    Obama Speech: ‘A More Perfect Union’

    by Leon at 9:59 pm    

    It’s a long speech but well worth watching. Obama shows why he’s the superior candidate to Clinton; he understands nuance and is brave enough to express it. Even in a dirty campaign like this one.

    Update: Apparently, Clinton never saw it or read the transcript. Yeah right.

    Iraq, five years on

    by Sunny at 4:10 pm    

    Brett over at Harry’s Place has written a rant about the Iraq War, which is typical in its attempt to muddle up various issues and then pretend the pro-war crew didn’t make miscalculations about the war on a massive scale.
    He says:

    The bottom line is this: Islamists have taken advantage of the instability and uncertainty following the fall of Saddam and turned Iraq into a battleground between Political Islam and The West, and of course between this Fundamentalist Islam against ordinary Muslims. Of course, I’ll get yelled at for saying this, but it must be pretty obvious by now that this is the case, even if many won’t yet admit it.

    But he misses a segment before this. The instability and uncertainty were created because the idiots who took us to war had no real intention of bringing about peace and stability to the region or gave it much thought. They planned for it so badly that anyone under the delusion that Iraqis would greet them as ‘liberators’, hail the occupation and then immediately start running the country like Britain needs to be taken to a mental asylum. Or join a think-tank set up by Oliver Kamm.

    I really don’t want to go over old territory like the SWP and the Stop the War Coalition and their own in-fighting. Their organisers are a bunch of opportunistic and naive fools who can’t stop fighting amongst each other. But the SWP and the StWC do not represent the anti-war movement and neither do they absolve, five years after we made this monumental mistake, Tony Blair and George Bush and their cronies of this monumentally bad decision..

    Even after all the worst fears of people like myself have been realised there, we have to put up with all this self-denial bullshit on the pro-war left and the SWP.

    Sure, the armed forces aren’t killing the majority of people there, though they’ve killed enough people on their own too. Remember “shock and awe”? Remember the “flattening” of Fallujah? The White Phosphorous? The “mistaken” bombing of Al-Jazeera?

    The question is: who is responsible for creating such monumental instability that the al-Qaeda and Iranians were so easily able to fill the vaccuum? We know the answer to that. But it looks some people would rather not ask such questions. Thankfully though, we have Channel 4. Did anyone watch their series on Iraq last night? What did you think?

    Changing parties requires a fresh mandate

    by Rumbold at 11:22 am    

    Iain Dale reports that a South Lakeland councillor has defected from the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives. This, I believe, is wrong. If elected officials are disgusted with their party, then they should leave, and then resign and fight the seat in a by-election under their new party’s banner (or as an independent). The reason for my view is that people are mainly voting for the politician’s party, not the politician.

    Being a member of a party plays a big role in getting elected. How many MPs are there who do not belong to one of the three main parties, or one of the regional parties? Less than 1%. As the candidate of your party, you are helped not only by a higher media profile, but also with funding and with the help of volunteers, as well as the voters who tick your name because of your party, even if they know nothing about you. How else can one explain Patricia Hewitt getting re-elected? MPs and other elected officials tend to win or lose their seats on the basis of how the electorate views the parties’ performances as a whole.

    If politicians believe that that people vote for them, not the party, then they should have no problem standing in a by-election. If they do not believe this, and refuse, then they have betrayed those who elected them. Switching parties without a mandate is an abuse of representative democracy.

    Barack Obama’s crunch time

    by Sunny at 8:28 am    

    Last week on Friday I was positively praying for the US bank Bear Stearns to collapse spectacularly. Not because I hate the bank or wanted the death of capitalism or wanted to bring on recession to all of us, mind you. No. It was because I was uneasy about the revelations that emerged about Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright.

    To recap: Revd Wright was caught on tape giving sermons calling America the ‘US of KKK-A’ and all sorts. Obama is close to him and the implication was he supported those comments. Can’t imagine that going down too well with a campaign designed to unite people. Anyway, Bear Stearns collapsed and all weekend the talk has been of recession and Iraq. But Wright’s words are Obama’s Achilles Heel and they have the potential to derail his campaign badly, even at this late stage. And if you don’t believe, see these polls.

    Of course, his opponents don’t care that Obama’s speeches have always sharply been at odds with his pastor’s views. They have repeatedly tried to fling mud at him, claiming he (and his wife) weren’t patriotic enough etc. Rather than run away from the criticism, it looks like Obama is taking a gamble by making a big speech later today specifically addressing race politics. I hope it works. He has the damn thing in the bag almost.

    So I agree with Jerome Armstrong of MyDD when he says:

    Let me put it this way, Obama’s not going to change minds about what they see in Wright. The dismissal and repudiation of Wright must be addressed, and in a way so complete that there is no doubt that 20 years of a close relationship does not mean a thing. If Obama wants to keep Wright as part of his life, and try and convince that its a net positive, he’s going to pay a deep price.

    Obama supporters, its time to pray.

    17th March, 2008

    Basil Bush the racist

    by Rumbold at 7:34 pm    

    The BBC, not content with giving Nick Griffin an easy ride on Newsnight, have now failed to censure notorious racist Basil Brush:

    “An episode of TV programme The Basil Brush Show is being investigated after police received a complaint of racism. A member of the public reported a scene which showed a Gypsy woman trying to sell Basil Brush heather and pegs.

    The episode of the children’s puppet programme was a repeat and was broadcast on digital channel CBBC. Northamptonshire police confirmed they had received a complaint about a TV show featuring Basil Brush from a member of the public in February. “The complaint was logged as an incident of a racist nature and our Hate Crimes Unit is investigating,” a Northamptonshire Police spokesman said.”

    Northampton police sources revealed that they would have pursued Brush sooner had it not been for his powerful friends in the Labour party. Brush is believed to have been one of the key figures behind the Hunting Act, and as such has widespread support amongst the governing party. Police also want to hold the TV fox for twenty eight days, on the grounds that his catchphrase “boom boom!” is incitement to terrorism.

    Filed under: Humour

    More LOL-Blairs

    by Sunny at 5:32 pm    

    The LOL-blair competition continues! Keep sending me your entries through the comments.

    From Flying Rodent

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Current affairs,Humour

    Embarrassed of mixed relationships?

    by Sunny at 11:16 am    

    Samira Ahmed of Channel 4 News fame sent me an email asking this question:

    I’m fascinated by one of the issues raised in Sathnam Sanghera’s autobio “If you don’t know me by now”. Not the taboo about mental illness or anything, but why so many educated smart second generation Asians — men and women lie to their parents about dating white people.

    I’ve met women journalists in their 30s who’ve been to warzones, and run incredible personal risks, but they’re still seeing boyfriends in secret. Sanghera was on Midweek a couple of days ago talking about how he never held hands with a succession of gori girlfriends in public for fear of being “spotted.” This man was a successful journalist at the FT! Could it be that deep inside, some people secretly agree with their parents that white people are not “good enough”?

    I bet your readers would have interesting thoughts on the issue.

    Do you, people?

    Filed under: Race politics

    Brown to hold Iraq inquiry

    by Sunny at 3:37 am    

    The front page of the Independent today says that Gordon Brown has formally committed himself to an inquiry on the Iraq war. About bloody time, though no date has actually been set. It is a big coup for Sunder Katwala though, who wrote to the PM pressing him to hold one.

    This is what the PM said:

    Continue Reading...
    15th March, 2008

    Chuka Umunna wins Streatham selection

    by Leon at 8:31 pm    

    Chuka Umunna has become the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Streatham constituency beating his nearest rival Steve Reed by a mere 13 votes. Given the current vote in the seat he’s got a good shot at becoming an MP at the next election.

    Result in full. First ballot:
    Cathy Ashley 60
    Dora Dixon-Fyle 7
    Steve Reed 143
    Naz Sarkar 3
    Chuka Umunna 125

    Transfers from Cathy, Dora and Naz went 19 to Steve and 50 to Chuka.
    Final result
    Steve Reed 162
    Chuka Umunna 175
    Keith Hill described Chuka as a charismatic 21st century candidate. [Via LabourHome]

    an interesting exchange on Luke’s Blog about the selection.

    Filed under: Party politics

    Child sex slaves from Bangladesh

    by Rumbold at 5:43 pm    

    Johann Hari has just published a long (c.5000 words) piece on sex trafficking between Bangladesh and India. In it he speaks to a number of prostitutes, Bangladeshi children who don’t want to be prostitutes are at risk from pimps, and an organisation dedicated to helping the children stay one step ahead of the traffickers. It really is worth reading the whole way through, but if you don’t have the time, here are a few choice extracts:

    “This is the story of the twenty-first century’s trade in slave-children. My journey into their underworld took place where its alleys and brothels are most dense – Asia, where the United Nations calculates one million children are being traded every day. It took me to places I did not think existed, today, now. To a dungeon in the lawless Bangladeshi borderlands where children are padlocked and prison-barred in transit to Indian brothels. To an iron whore-house where grown women have spent their entire lives being raped. To a clinic that treat syphilitic eleven year-olds.”

    Continue Reading...
    14th March, 2008

    Letter against 42 days - updated

    by Sunny at 6:36 pm    

    Right folks. As part of my campaign to try and get the govt to back down over its plan to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days, I hit upon the idea of writing a letter to be signed by the great and the good, and publish it somewhere important. So it will be in tomorrow’s Guardian.

    A lot of the important signatories came through with help from Anthony Barnett of Our Kingdom, so I’d like to thank him.

    The article about the letter is here. The full letter and signatories will be published in the Saturday Guardian letters page and on CIF.
    Update: Sunder Katwala writes more on World After Bush blog.

    Filed under: Current affairs

    Bloody Indians students

    by Sunny at 6:25 pm    

    It’s Friday afternoon political joke time people! Thanks to Sarah for sending me this.

    It was the first day of a school in USA and a new Indian student named Chandrasekhar Subramanian entered the fourth grade. The teacher said, ‘Let’s begin by reviewing some American History. Who said ‘Give me Liberty, or give me Death’?

    She saw a sea of blank faces, except for Chandrasekhar, who had his hand up: ‘Patrick Henry, 1775′ he said.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Humour

    More on Obama and race politics

    by Sunny at 4:29 pm    

    I wrote an article for CIF yesterday arguing why its perfectly logical for African American voters to support him in huge droves. Unsurprisingly, some people started calling me racist, hilariously, but most had the intelligence to understand what I was getting at.

    Anyway, is Matt Bai of the New York Times also reading this blog? This from his latest article:

    Continue Reading...

    LOL-BLAIR competition - updated

    by Sunny at 11:39 am    

    LOLcat, if you don’t know, has become a popular internet phenomena where pictures of cats are given speech bubbles with funny messages in pidgin English. Sometimes, pictures of cats are super-imposed on random pictures too. See: Icanhascheezburger

    I have a new suggestion. LOL-blair. In this game we find pictures of Tony Blair from his latest new and exciting plan to change the world, write funny captions, and then speculate on what he’s going on move on to next.

    Here’s the latest in this saga. First he wanted to bring peace to the Middle East. We’re all aware what a great success that has been. Then he wanted to become president of the European Union, until Angela Merkel shot down that plan.

    Update, via OurKingdom, here are other things Blair has been up to recently:
    - signing a million dollar contract at JP Morgan;
    - accepting a role as a Rwandan advisor,
    - accepting a position on the Africa Progress Panel;
    - accepting an advisory position at Swiss insurer Zurich,
    - taking up an interfaith teaching position at Yale (linked to the upcoming Tony Blair Faith Foundation).

    Then he was seen cavorting with the ethnics, possibly to bring racial harmony to Britain.

    Now, it looks like he is going to sort out our global warming problem. This surely is evidence that we are all doomed and the environment is going to degrade faster than relations between Israel and Hamas.

    Once again - best caption, preferably in pidgin English - wins a prize. This time I’ll actually mail you a book.

    Continue Reading...

    Media coverage of SBS campaign

    by Sunny at 6:20 am    

    Just a quick update, the Southall Black Sisters campaign has received more coverage in the New Statesman and Guardian too. Good on them. I’m racking my brain to think of ways to affect this campaign further too. Any ideas?
    The women running the Facebook group for this are doing a stellar job.

    Filed under: Current affairs

    Tibetan protests grow in size

    by Sunny at 6:14 am    

    It may be that Tibetan Buddhist monks are following the lead of their Burmese counterparts. The Guardian and other news orgs are reporting that protests are spreading all over the place. And, surprise surprise, shame on the bloody Indian government (again!) for arresting these Tibetan monks. It has no shame.

    There’s a Facebook group to support this uprising. If it grows, then maybe someone like Amnesty International should organise a London protest? I’d go to that. I’ll update this thread more as news reports of protests come in.

    13th March, 2008

    Battle of the bloggers: Dale vs Hilton

    by Leon at 8:29 pm    

    Paul Linford notes:

    Tonight’s Question Time Extra on News 24 will see Tory blogfather Iain Dale going head to head with Labour Home’s Alex Hilton, the man who once claimed that the raison d’etre of the Conservative Party was “lining up the entire British working class and buggering them one by one.”

    Should be compulsive viewing.

    Compulsive viewing indeed. Hopefully we’ll get a good Question Time tonight as the Extra show tends to be a bit flat unless the main show is good viewing.

    Tonight’s panel includes Alex Salmond, Conservative shadow chancellor George Osborne, Innovation, Universities and Skills secretary John Denham, and former leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy.

    Mehdi Kazemi gets stay of execution

    by Rumbold at 7:52 pm    

    The Home Secretary has decided to suspend the deportation of Medhi Kazemi until his case has been reviewed again. This is happening only becase of all the press coverage, so let us hope that he is not quietly deported months down the line when the press are looking elsewhere. Whatever the reason though, it is still good news:

    “Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said in a statement that “in the light of new circumstances” 19-year-old Mehdi Kazemi’s appeal for asylum should be reconsidered … Members of the Lords urged Smith earlier on Thursday to show mercy and grant Kazemi asylum in Britain, where his uncle has lived for 30 years.”We are deeply concerned at the possible execution of Mehdi Kazemi if he is refused asylum in the UK and is deported to Iran,” read a letter to Smith signed by 63 members of the Lords.”

    (via Brett at Harry’s Place)

    Filed under: Current affairs

    MoD lose 11,000 ID cards

    by Rumbold at 6:09 pm    

    Who are the most effective campaigners against ID cards? The government of course:

    “According to MoD figures released in a Commons written answer, 4,433 ID cards disappeared in 2006 and a further 6,812 went missing last year. Tory defence spokesman Gerald Howarth said: “This is another example of the Government’s scandalous disregard for the security of our citizens and yet another reason why the public has no confidence in the Government’s ID card plans for the rest of the population.”

    Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said the figures were “just extraordinary” and made a mockery of the security procedures at military facilities. “This shows the inherent frailty of ID card schemes and is yet another proof that schemes, such as the ID card database, simply won’t improve our security against terrorism,” he said.”

    Filed under: Current affairs


    by Sunny at 11:27 am    

    All I can say is, I’m glad these women are fighting back. This is absolutely disgusting:

    Campaigners here say that up to 15,000 women have been “conned” in similar ways by men from Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States. The men get married to vulnerable and unsuspecting Indian women - but shortly after the formalities have been completed, they return to the countries where they hold citizenship, often never to return.

    Needless to say, they take huge dowries with them - often up to $60,000 - and renege on promises to begin the immigration process that would enable their wives to join them.

    12th March, 2008

    I agree with Billy Bragg

    by Sunny at 5:26 pm    

    But then I’ve been saying this for a long time: we need a British constitution if we are to build this sense of ‘togetherness’. Labour’s efforts to impose top-down Britishness will be a failure if they: (a) only apply to new citizens; (b) don’t give citizens themselves a feeling of ownership of something.

    From Our Kingdom:

    The fact is, feeling proud to be British is not something to be imposed from above. You have to make people believe that it’s in their best interest to belong. The July 7 bombers didn’t feel they were part of our society. And telling them they were British and should feel proud of it wouldn’t have changed their minds. Instead, we should teach children about the rights we’ve held dear for centuries, that we’ve fought world wars for - notions of tolerance and fairness.

    A Bill of Rights expressing those ideas could then be the centre of the coming of age ceremony, marking the moment you become a citizen by pledging to uphold and defend those rights.

    The point is this: we absorb our values and ways of living from people around us. How can the government expect new citizens/immigrants to be patriotic and proud if the natives themselves don’t believe in it?

    And that is not to say the natives (of which I include people like myself whether certain readers like it or not) cannot be persuaded to like their country - you have to give them a reason for it. Affinity with political and national institutions and citizen rights is the best way forward in my view. Damn Labour is trying everything else but that.

    Filed under: British Identity

    Why did whites abandon Obama in Mississipi?

    by Sunny at 9:30 am    

    Barack Obama won the state of Mississipi last night as expected, though by a big margin: 61% to 37%. As many news organisations including the New York Times point out: “The polls found that roughly 90 percent of black voters supported Mr. Obama, but only a third of white voters did.”

    The implication may be that Obama can’t win white votes. But clearly that’s not true since he won states like Iowa, Kansas and Vermont that have a negligible black population. It seems more the case that in racially diverse states Obama splits the vote, whereas in largely homogenous states white voters have no problem supporting him. Why might this be the case?

    Is it like white flight in a residential area where one or two black/brown neighbours are ok, but as soon as the percentage gets high enough, white people start moving out in droves? Or is it the case that in racially mixed states, whites know that blacks will support him so they take HRC’s side? Or is it that in racially diverse states, whites have a less benign view of blacks generally and that affects their voting behaviour? Not much research seems to have been done into this.

    11th March, 2008

    Stuff worth reading today

    by Sunny at 6:42 pm    

    - Sayeeda Warsi urges more action on forced marriages
    - Hundreds of Tibetan monks protest in Tibet
    - ‘They didn’t take my forced marriage seriously’
    - India PM wanrs of Sikh militancy from the UK

    Filed under: Current affairs

    More rubbish on the BBC

    by Sunny at 6:39 pm    

    Martin O’Neill has written this scathing piece in the New Statesman on Enoch Powell:

    But the BBC’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ was not that careful or balanced examination of Powell. Instead, it was a disgracefully misleading, cowardly, manipulative and politically irresponsible programme, which brings great discredit to Denys Blakeway for directing it, and to the BBC for showing it.

    I’ll begin with the ways in which Blakeway’s documentary is misleading. Despite trumpeting itself as an effort to get at the truth about “the most misquoted speech of the twentieth century”, the film was selective in its attention and extremely telling in what it left out.

    Read the whole article. This seems to be a broader trend whenever the BBC gets all “provocative” these days about its programming around immigration, Muslims or the white working classes. They are after all zoo monkeys that should be seen through special seasons and not regular programming, right?

    This afternoon I was invited to take part in a Radio 4 programme on this season again (feeling guilty BBC producers?) and I made this point: the problem here is of class not race. After all, brown working class people also suffer from political apathy, low achievement and poverty. The presenter was almost surprised that I said that in certain cases class trumped race and brown working class people may be equally angry about immigration affecting their local area. Lo and behold, his co-presenter made some idiotic remark that because white working classes were more secular, and Asian working classes more religious, it meant the two cases were very different. Where do they hire these people from? Even if religion plays a part, and I’m not sure how it does, how would this apply to black working class families? Before I could adequately respond, they had moved on to another caller.

    Looks like BBC producers have become so scared of being called ‘politically correct’ that it seems they go out of their way to prove the opposite. Its just embarassingly bad journalism. No doubt its producers think that all this criticism is further evidence of how “fearlessly provocative” they are. Sheesh.

    Filed under: Current affairs
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