31st January, 2009

I see black people… everywhere

by Sunny at 4:51 am    

… and it’s great! The Republican party has elected its first black person as chairman. WTF? The party that played race-bait politics for decades has elected a black person to…. erm… do their admin for them. The party chair role isn’t that significant as in the UK but it’s still a big thing.
Am I suddenly turning Black Power? Of course not. It’s good to see the Republican party finally seeing past people’s colour (or at least trying to). Secondly: More Racial Diversity Is A Good Thing.

30th January, 2009

Still angry over Gaza

by Sunny at 4:29 pm    

There’s no doubt Middle East politics have inflamed passions on this blog and more generally elsewhere. And as a result we generally steered clear of the topic to concentrate on other issues. Furthermore, I was generally more predisposed to Israel’s position than that of Hamas and the other organisations in the area.

But something has clicked in my head since the invasion of Gaza started. It wasn’t just the sheer amount of lies and obfuscation coming out of the Israeli government. It wasn’t just the amount of rubbish in support of Israel’s position that was being written on other blogs that also annoyed me. It was also the realisation that the story being told about this issue itself is so far out of touch with reality that it requires participation on some scale. That discussion should be for the well-being of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. But it should also point out that most of those who claim they want peace are lying to others as well as themselves. They’re not. They’re just batting for their own side while sitting around with the smug feeling that they’re doing it for peace and human rights. Rubbish.

So yes, there will be lots more coverage of Gaza on here, along with other issues, because I think the space in British politics to talk about the issue is too damn narrow, and too dominated by highly emotional people on both sides who think the next (Muslim or Jewish) holocaust is just around the corner.

Protest against Foreign Workers

by Shariq at 4:19 pm    

I’m disappointed though not surprised about the strike action being carried out to protest against the use of Portugese and Italian subcontractors.

Its what happens when the government repeatedly fails to make the case for trade and especially for the European Union. Even smart euroskeptics argue against European regulation, rather than against European free trade and mobility of labour which is what this case seems to be about.

Remember that closing economies off to outside links is one of the main reasons for the rise of fascism in the early 20th century, as well as exacerbating the great depression.

Funding u-turn will help women groups

by Sunny at 12:10 pm    

Remember the controversy over Southall Black Sisters being threatened with a huge cut in funding last year by Ealing Council? That was because Ealing Council said groups like SBS were not inclusive enough and thus not spreading community cohesion. Thankfully:

The Government has quietly shelved plans to encourage local councils to avoid funding “single-identity” groups after realising it could severely hamper charities working within some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities.

Single-identity groups are those charities that work exclusively within one cultural, religious or geographical community. That means charities combating honour violence, for instance, or working with the children of asylum seekers, or even rape crisis centres that only deal with female victims.

As pointed out in that article, this will be hugely welcomed mostly by small groups who help among the most vulnerable in our society, especially women. Last year I went to a meeting organised by Asian women groups, attended by John McDonnell MP of Hayes and Harlington (Labour), where many groups voiced their worry that the government’s new “community cohesion agenda” could shut them out.

The point of the agenda was to say that funding targeting just one ethnic or religious group was harmful for communities because it fostered tension. There is some truth in that, though it’s futile to force through a blanket solution without judging this on a case-by-case basis. Fortunately, the big outcry in support of Southall Black Sisters killed off Ealing Council’s plans and now this blunt instrument.

Convention on Modern Liberty – please come!

by Sunny at 5:32 am    

Friends, readers, citizens and small furried animals. I’m going to this (and will be chairing an event). I hope you will come to, because it’s a bloody important event, especially with all the growth in terrorism related legislation.

——————–
The Convention on Modern Liberty (28th Feb) will bring together well over a thousand people, nearly fifty organisations, and is a call to all concerned with the threats to our fundamental rights and freedoms – from our own State, from terrorism and the responses to terrorism and from the gathering financial crisis.

From being imprisoned without charge, to bailiffs entering our homes without a warrant, to unlicensed surveillance and officials taking your information from anywhere and passing it anywhere they like – our liberties are being violated. The Convention organisers will publish audits of these violations, show how they are connected, ask why they are taking place and how they might be reversed.

The Convention’s co-directors, Anthony Barnett and Henry Porter, said “We want three things. First, we want the public to ask why these violations are happening and see that they are not isolated events. Second, we want the violations to be stopped in a way that ensures they do not happen again.”

“Third, by asserting the right to manage our identities and to share between its agencies deep dossiers of information about us the government trespasses on the first claim of democracy: that the State is the servant of the people. We want to ensure that the tradition of public freedom in our country is renewed not suffocated, that our fundamental rights are secured, and that the agents of the state understand their powers exist to serve not control the citizens of Britain.”

Amen to that. Full list of speakers below the fold…

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Civil liberties,Events
29th January, 2009

Banging heads together

by Rumbold at 10:02 pm    

Look at the man below:

His name is Nick Griffin. He is head of the BNP. He doesn’t like you. He doesn’t like me. He doesn’t like any of us on Pickled Politics, because we are either minorities or we freely associate with minorities, and stick up for the rights of refugees and immigrants. He doesn’t care whether you are Jewish or Muslim. He doesn’t like you. The BNP has been awfully quiet over the whole Gaza conflict. Why? Ostensibly it is because it is happening elsewhere, but in reality it is because they are enjoying watch both sides suffer, the surge in anti-Semitism in this country, and the widening rift between Jews and many others. Take a step back, and remember who really despises you, just because you are different.

Untangling Cameron’s ‘Progressive Conservatism’

by Shariq at 8:00 pm    

I’ll admit that I’ve always sort of liked David Cameron. I’m a realist about politics and hope that when my side eventually loses, the other side has some decent people governing. Canada’s a great example of this – despite Liberal party rule for a long time suggesting that Canada is a fundamentally centre-left nation, a funding scandal saw the Liberals booted out and Stephen Harper, a talented politician but unreconstructed righty take power.

The problem has always been that Cameron’s Tories have been woefully thin on policy, causing people to be suspicious. Also, understandably the whole Eton/Bullingdon thing doesn’t go down well with a lot of people.

So I was interested to see that Cameron has given a speech on ‘Progressive Conservatism’. What does it mean though? Is it just semantic nonsense, influenced by the venue of his speech, or is there some real cause for hope? Lets try and figure it out.

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The BBC won’t broadcast Gaza appeal…but…erm..

by Sunny at 5:56 pm    

[via Stephen]

It is of course arguable that by not broadcasting the Gaza appeal, the BBC has made it into a bigger story than it would have been. It was a stupid decision no doubt… but I do find it amusing that it still ends up doing stuff like this. WTF? It’s like, they know they’ve done wrong so they’re trying to make up for it by half broadcasting the appeal anyway.

Filed under: Media,Middle East

Gurkhas win victory!

by Sunny at 3:06 am    

Finally! The home office has made a u-turn for fairness. I doubt the bigots from MigrationWatch would be happy.

Thousands more Gurkha soldiers and their families will be given the right to settle in Britain under a new policy to be announced by the Home Office.

New settlement rights due to be announced could open the door to 36,000 Gurkhas who served in the British Army before 1997. Nepal is understood to be concerned that the loss of so many citizens and their army pensions could leave a huge hole in its economy.

Virendra Sharma MP rises in estimation

by Sunny at 3:02 am    

My opinion of Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma has risen after finding he’s resigned from the government after opposing a vote on the Third Runway. He said yesterday:

I profoundly regret the need to resign, but I had no option. The Government’s decision to expand Heathrow will seriously affect many of my constituents, and my first priority is to represent them.

Good man. At least he stuck by his principles, unlike Keith Vaz – who opposed the government on 42 days until changing his mind at the last minute.

28th January, 2009

PCC investigating ‘Jewish hit list’ story

by Sunny at 8:39 pm    

The Media Guardian today reports that the (toothless) Press Complaints Commission is now investigating the Sun’s worthless front page story that Muslims were drawing up a ‘hit-list’ of prominent Jews. Both Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads and the people at Ummah.com say the evidence points to the “anti-terror expert” Glen Jenvey himself pretending to be a nutjob.

Meanwhile, we’ve also had an upsurge of nutjobs posting anti-semitic or anti-Muslim comments – which could very well come from people trying to rubbish this blog by filling it with filth. As I’ve said before, any form of bigotry will be deleted, no explanations. We’re also recording your IP addresses. Remember that.
In entirely unrelated news, public trust in the UK press has fallen to 19%.

Filed under: Blog,Media

They really care for human rights, at Harry’s Place

by Sunny at 11:29 am    

One of the ideological pillars of the pro-(Iraq) war left that the anti-war left had stopped caring about global human rights. If we cared so much for Britons dying across the world, why didn’t we pay more attention to the innocent brown people being killed by Saddam Hussain? Were their lives not important?

But Israel’s brutal attack on Gaza has brought that facade crashing down. It has deeply exposed the glaring point that human rights go out of the window when they’re cheerleading for a particular cause. I refer here of course to Harry’s Place, which has championed the Israeli cause since Christmas with an enthusiasm only matched by Guido Fawkes’ insistence that people send pizza to the IDF (presumably so they can be spurred on to kill more Palestinians).

Let’s start going through the record shall we. Over the last few weeks we’ve heard about:

- the impact of an 18 month blockade on Gaza
- two UN schools being bombed
- usage of chemical weapons (white phosphorous) in Gaza
- accusations the IDF blocked ambulances getting to wounded people
- a death toll exceededing 1,300 people, nearly a third of them children
- a humanitarian disaster in the area thanks to the continuing blockade and largescale destruction of its infrastructure
- evidence of children being shot by the IDF while running away.

Continue Reading...

New report damns Indian ‘counter-insurgency’ in Punjab

by Sunny at 2:52 am    

A new report reveals the human cost of suspending constitutional rights in Punjab, India from 1984 – 1995.

Ensaaf and the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) released a report this week presenting verifiable quantitative findings on mass disappearances and extrajudicial executions in the Indian state of Punjab, contradicting the Indian government’s portrayal of the Punjab counterinsurgency as a successful and “humane” campaign.

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Alternative Films to Watch this Oscar Season – Pt 1

by Shariq at 12:43 am    

First of all, I’ll recommend the 2005 movie ‘Live and Become’ (Va, vis et deviens). As almost all of the Gaza threads have demonstrated, it seems people are still feeling extremely polarised.

‘Live and Become’ is a beautiful film which I think should and will be appreciated by people despite their political viewpoints. Its the story of a young boy whose mother manages to get him refuge in Israel, when Israel acknowledges a tribe of Ethiopian Jews and gives them citizenship.

Shlomo as he comes to be known, is adopted by a tolerant and liberal family. The film is about his coming of age, and while this would be captivating on its own, the movie also examines a number of issues about Israeli society in an honest and moving manner.

Continue Reading...
27th January, 2009

Proof of Thailand’s inhumane treatment of refugees

by Rumbold at 3:39 pm    

The Thai government has consistently denied rounding up Burmese refugees and dragging them out to sea in ramshackle boats, effectively leaving them to drown, in an attempt to stop them settling in Thailand. Now, new photographic evidence seems to confirm these stories:

“Human rights groups believe that up to 600 members of the ethnic Rohingya minority drowned after being caught by the Thai military while fleeing persecution in their native Burma. Nearly 1,000 migrants are known to have set off from the Burmese coast in two groups last month but there are fears that many more are missing.

Several hundred survivors have been rescued off the Indian Andaman Islands and the coast of Indonesia after drifting for days without food, water or engines.”

‘We care for human rights’, just not Palestinians

by Sunny at 12:36 pm    

According to a blogger on Harry’s Place, the mainstream left is: “meant to be progressive, stand for universal principles of human and civil rights, and be democrats.”

Now, I know it’s funny when someone at HP claims to be part of the mainstream left, but put that aside for a moment. It’s more amusing that for a blog so concerned with human rights and all that jazz, they’ve published two separate editorials supporting the BBC boycott of the DEC Gaza appeal. Now that’s what you call a committment to universal values of human rights!

In other scraping the barrel news, Osama Saeed is an observant Muslim shock! Clearly a menace to society!

Update: A follow-up is here.

Jewish ‘hit-list’ story vanishes into thin air

by Sunny at 3:53 am    

These examples of rubbish journalism are becoming too common to list daily. Thanks to the stellar work by the people at The Sun – Tabloid Lies: the Sun, Daily Mail and a whole host of other newspapers have withdrawn their story that Muslims on an online forum were drawing up a ‘hit-list’ of prominent Jews to target in the fallout of Gaza.

It’s not just staggering that organisations are using fake identities to implicate Muslims and then sell them as front-page stories, but that other newspapers are copying them wholesale without even basic standards. But hey, demonising Muslims has become to ingrained now that no-one even questions this drivel anymore.

26th January, 2009

Sikh ‘holocaust’ museum

by Sunny at 11:32 pm    

Slightly old news, but a reader sent in this info about……:

The first museum in the UK to be dedicated to Sikh history has opened in Derby. Hundreds of people gathered yesterday for the official opening of the National Sikh Heritage Centre and Holocaust Museum in Pear Tree. The £25,000-plus project is the first in the world to showcase Sikh history from the perspective of British Sikhs. It also looks at the Sikh holocaust, in which more than a million people lost their lives because of their faith.

Everybody wants to use the word holocaust these days eh? A good idea to have a Sikh museum though, I guess, as long as its not overrun by the Khalistanis.

Filed under: Culture,Religion,Sikh

What does ‘the Obama effect’ mean for black kids?

by Sunny at 3:00 am    

Although I’ve been among the people annoyed at the media’s obsession with Barack Obama’s black heritage, there’s no denying that symbolism matters. But could that go far as student performance? The New York Times reports:

Now researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama’s nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election. The inspiring role model that Mr. Obama projected helped blacks overcome anxieties about racial stereotypes that had been shown, in earlier research, to lower the test-taking proficiency of African-Americans, the researchers conclude in a report summarizing their results.

Whoa. Now there’s two, possibly contradictory, reasons that occur to me. Firstly, that (racial) symbolism matters and those who argue for better representation of ethnic minorities in public offices have a point in that it might help people of those minorities feel like they have more of a stake in the country.

Secondly, it also suggests racial differences in education achievement are less because of a kid’s race or even ‘institutional racism’, but more down to how they see themselves doing. In other words, if they’re self-motivated then they do better than kids of other races who think they won’t achieve anything in life. Which may all suggest that if you want to achieve educational achievement among poor black, white and Bangladeshi kids – then money might be better spent motivating them rather than other things.

25th January, 2009

BBC’s disgusting decision over Gaza

by Sunny at 5:48 pm    

I’m thoroughly annoyed with the BBC’s decision not to broadcast the DEC’s Gaza appeal. I’ve made this complaint via their website:

I’m thoroughly disgusted at the BBC decision not to broadcast the DEC appeal for Gaza. I have long supported the BBC as a necessary independent news organisation, but it seems the BBC has no conviction in its own journalism. It is trying to placate malicious people who keep accusing it of anti-Israeli bias, when the evidence has long been the other way. And now, to placate those critics it is refusing to air the Gaza appeal.

Why weren’t the same considerations in place during Vietnam? What about during the tsunami appeal when Tamil terrorists also benefited? It just highlights the BBC’s double standards on the issue and frankly I’m appalled it doesn’t consider Palestinians as humans who deserve external aid. From now on, I will be recommending everyone to stop defending the BBC as an independent broadcaster – the corporation has failed in its basic endeavour.

Please take two minutes to make the complaint too! We need a high number of complaints to pour in.
As the BBC itself reports:

So far, more than 50 MPs have backed a Parliamentary motion, to be tabled on Monday, urging the BBC to screen the appeal. Meanwhile, the BBC has received about 1,000 complaints by telephone and a further 10,000 by e-mail. The Church of England has also waded into the row, with the Archbishop of York appealing for the BBC to consider humanity, not impartiality, and show the film.

BBC’s baffling decision over appeal

by Rumbold at 5:36 pm    

The BBC is continuing to refuse to show a humanitarian appeal for Gaza, arguing that to do so would dent its reputation for impartiality. This strikes me as a very strange decision, as one of the few areas that the BBC isn’t at risk of partiality is when it broadcasts humanitarian appeals. A starving child is a starving child, regardless of the causes. It doesn’t matter who or what led to the lack of food, the idea should be to give the child enough to eat. The best thing the BBC can do now is to show the appeal as quickly as possible, unless it can explain who benefits from the decision not to show the appeal: the Israelis certainly don’t, nor Jews in this country.

Filed under: Media,Middle East
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