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  • 14th March, 2010

    Disability hate crime

    by Rumbold at 9:01 pm    

    Tom Shakespeare in the Guardian highlights the disgraceful abuse of the disabled in today’s society:

    Later, I asked several colleagues who work as advocates and supporters of people with intellectual disability about what they knew. They confirmed immediately that harassment was a constant feature of the lives of every person they worked with. They told me about conferences and gatherings where people had shared horrific experiences, which to them were commonplace. People being sellotaped to trees while people laughed, people being urinated on, people who had dog faeces put through their letter boxes, people who were beaten up. Faced with this constant exposure to the risk of abuse and violence, people with intellectual disability remained stoical and uncomplaining. Sometimes they were unable to make a complaint. Often, they were disbelieved, or were not taken seriously as witnesses. In most cases, the police were unwilling or unable to take effective action.

    Is this a new phenomenon? Sadly not. For some, people with disabilities, whether mental ones, physical ones or a combination of both, have long been an easy target. That is not to say that everyone with disabilities is weak and incapable of defending themselves (by tests forge richards). That would be a gross generalisation and patronising. Millions of Britons have some sort of disability, ranging from mild to severe ones.

    But some of those with very visible and/or severe disabilities, particularly learning ones, are at great risk. Bullies like to target those they believe are the weakest, and they know the victim could be less likely to come forward for support, whether because they lack a support network or don’t know how to access it.

    (Hat-tip: KJB)

    Filed under: Disability

    I’m chillin’ in Vietnam

    by Sunny at 9:56 am    

    Hi all,
    just a quick message from the wonderful city of Ho Chi Minh, aka Saigon, where I’ve temporarily stopped by an internet cafe. As you can see, I’m not making a habit of it. HCM City is, to my mind, amazing for its sheer craziness and vitality. I hired out a scooter and have been driving it around everywhere. The thing about the roads here is that there are no rules at all - people regularly ignore traffic lights, cross roads whereever they want, and een drive straight into incoming traffic while expecting others to give way (and people generally do). It’s reckless and crazy but very exhilirating. I’ve not driven into incoming traffic yet but may do so in Hanoi - where I’m headed tonight.

    From there it’s a bus to Laos, and then somehow into Burma. After that it’s back to Thailand. Today I spent so long driving in the hot baking sun that I may actually have a tan and look brown. I can’t wait to see Hanoi. Right, I’m off to eat my mango.

    Filed under: Blog
    13th March, 2010

    More BNP interviews

    by Jai at 9:59 am    

    [Background here]

    A potential BNP applicant has a screening interview with a BNP spokesman over some ironically non-indigenous tea and samosas.

    Applicant: “So, how long have you guys been here ?”

    BNP spokesman: “‘Guys’ is a foreign American term representing an alien culture and we’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t pollute Britain’s traditional culture and values by using such genocidal words. But to answer your question, we’ve been here since the end of the last Ice Age.”

    Applicant: “When was that ?”

    BNP: “17,000 years ago.”

    Applicant: “The Ice Age actually ended 12-13,000 years ago.”

    BNP: “That’s what I said.”

    Applicant: “No you didn’t.”

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Humour,The BNP
    12th March, 2010

    BNP still too racist

    by Rumbold at 9:31 pm    

    In an amusing judgement today, a court ruled that the BNP was still discriminating against ethnic minorities who wish to join the BNP after their new rules were rejected:

    [The BNP] said members had to sign up to maintaining the “integrity of the indigenous British” and be interviewed for up to two hours by BNP officials.

    So to join the BNP you have to agree to have two party members (perhaps Lee John Barnes and a mystery guest) come round and grill you. I can imagine it now:

    White bigot 1: “Are you a racist?”

    Non-white bigot: “Yes I’m a racist.”

    White bigot 2: “Are you sure you are a racist?”

    Non-white bigot: “Bugger off whitey.”

    White bigot 2 (turns to white bigot 1) “Does that mean we can let him join?”

    And so on.

    Filed under: Humour,The BNP
    11th March, 2010

    Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah

    by Rumbold at 9:47 am    

    On Tuesday evening I attended the UK book launch of Jaswant Singh’s biography of Jinnah, founder of Pakistan. The buzz around the book had been created by the reaction to it in India. One state banned it (no prizes for guessing who runs that state) and Jaswant Singh was expelled from the BJP as a result of writing it, despite being a former defence minister and a current MP.

    Mr. Singh’s crime? To have absolved Jinnah from some of the blame for partition and instead criticised Nehru and Vallabhai Patel. Not that this was a one-sided book, as the British, Jinnah, and Congress rightly all come in for plenty of criticism. Mr Singh bemoans the failure of all sides to step back from the detail and take in the bigger picture, which is fair to a certain extent, but fails to take into account that at this point the devil really was in the detail.

    The book was well sourced and contained some material I hadn’t come across before. It calls for both India and Pakistan to have a greater understanding of one another’s ‘growing pains’ in the immediate aftermath of partition. It is written in a nice style, but I was disappointed with his reluctance to only briefly touch on the impact Jinnah has had on India’s psyche today. As we have seen with the treatment of minorities in India (such as the Sikh massacres of 1984), India in some senses still hasn’t come to terms with minorities who are aggressively or confidently pushing for reform or more autonomy. Somewhat of a generalisation perhaps, but with ongoing conflict in areas like Kashmir and the Naxalite heartlands, it is still an important topic.

    Continue Reading...
    10th March, 2010

    ‘Excellent journalism’ from the Daily Mail

    by Kulvinder at 9:58 pm    

    In the midst of the current hysteria surrounding the internet and children, and given the tragic murder of Ashleigh Hall; the Mail obviously thought it would be a good time to tap into the fear of thousands of ‘predators’ posing online. Facebook in particular has come under attack as unfortunately it was the site where Ashleigh Hall first met her killer.

    Continue Reading...

    Slaughter in Nigeria

    by Rumbold at 8:51 pm    

    There has been a mass slaughter of a tribe in Nigeria, with hundreds dead. The killers were from a rival tribe, with the two tribes also being separated by religion. As the two groups had both tribal and religious differences, a single, clear motive has yet to emerge. The authorities are suspected of complicity:

    Funerals began taking place for victims of the three-hour orgy of violence on Sunday in three Christian villages close to the northern city of Jos, blamed on members of the mainly Muslim Fulani ethnic group. While troops were deployed to the villages to prevent new attacks, security forces detained 95 suspects but faced bitter criticism over how the killers were able to go on the rampage at a time when a curfew was meant to be in force.

    Newspapers reported that Muslim residents of the villages in Plateau state had been warned by phone text message, two days prior to the attack, so they could make good their escape before the exit points were sealed off. Survivors said the attackers were able to separate the Fulanis from members of the rival Berom group by chanting “nagge”, the Fulani word for cattle. Those who failed to respond in the same language were hacked to death.

    (Hat-Tip: Chairwoman)

    Filed under: Current affairs
    9th March, 2010

    Gendercide dissected

    by Rumbold at 8:22 pm    

    The Economist this week carries an excellent and in-depth look at gendercide, the term coined to describe the impact that the deliberate attempt to favour male babies over female ones has had on the male-female sex ratio throughout the world. It looks at the statistics, and what has caused such a skewing to occur, and what its impacts are and may be.

    There is a natural imbalance between boys and girls, with nature ensuring roughly 5% more boys are born than girls in order to compensate for boys being more susceptible to diseases as infants. Yet in many parts of the developing world, there is too much of a numerical gap between the sexes for it to be a natural phenomenon.

    The increasingly availability of ultrasound and abortion has played a big part in the skewing of the sex ratio, as it is easier to abort a female foetus then to kill a female baby, especially if you know the sex of the foetus. Indian doctors once advertised the ‘benefits’ of ultrasound technology with the slogan:

    “Pay 5,000 rupees today and save 50,000 rupees tomorrow” (the saving was on the cost of a daughter’s dowry).”

    Continue Reading...

    A quick hello / Asian Network

    by Sunny at 6:10 pm    

    Hello! I’m writing from somewhere deep in the middle of Cambodia! It’s not entirely jungle territory as I’m in a small town which has a fair bit of tourism, but it was a bit of a hair-raising ride here. Tomorrow off to the capital of Cambodia - Phnom Penh - and then to Vietnam in a few days (which I can’t wait to see).

    Oh, also did anyone see my letter in the Guardian to save the Asian Network? Yes, well, they didn’t credit me but I drafted that thing and set up the publication before I left. I love creating trouble while on holiday. Well done to Ammo Talwar from Punch records for getting most of the signatures sorted.

    See you folks in a few weeks time. I’m only online here because the internet is free and it’s hot as hell.

    Filed under: Blog

    Terrorist confesses

    by Rumbold at 8:04 am    

    A terrorist today pleaded guilty to plotting acts of terrorism and manufacturing weapons to carry out his aims:

    Ian Davison’s home in Myrtle Grove, Burnopfield, County Durham, was raided by anti-terror officers who found the killer substance in a jam jar in his kitchen. At Newcastle Crown Court he admitted producing a chemical weapon - ricin - and preparing for acts of terrorism.

    He also admitted three charges of possessing a record containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing acts of terrorism.

    (Via Brett at Harry’s Place)

    7th March, 2010

    Gita Sahgal and Amnesty: time to move on

    by Rumbold at 9:38 pm    

    Dr Aisha Gill in the comments highlights a 2007 speech by Gita Sahgal entitled: Negotiating Scylla and Charybdis – Human rights and terrorism. It is a good, no nonsense summary of the impact of both terrorism and counter-terrorism on human rights:

    Yet states counter-terrorism measures do little to defend and protect people’s customary pleasures or their fundamental right to freedom of expression. Instead, they negotiate away the rights of women and ignore the threat to religious minorities. Many governments in pursuing both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ counter-terrorism, play off one form of religion to control another that they deem to be more dangerous to their current interests. It is a cynical game and it is ultimately self-defeating. Governments, including Western governments have done much to promote organisations as their allies against terrorism against whom there are serious allegations of human rights abuses, which could amount to crimes against humanity. These they have termed ‘moderate Muslim’ groups.

    It’s another reminder of why we need organisations like Amnesty and people like Gita Sahgal. The world isn’t overburdened with people and groups who are willing to stand up and document human-rights abuses. Gita Sahgal had some legitimate criticisms to make of Amnesty, but it doesn’t mean that Amnesty is somehow morally bankrupt either. Too many of us felt it necessary to pick sides, including me, which then caused collateral damage to the very causes that both Amnesty and Gita fight for (by shifting attention away from them). Fortunately I was disabused of that need to pick sides by a very wise woman. Amnesty should reinstate Gita, and both should be left to get on with what they do best: championing the rights of the weakest in the world.

    Filed under: Civil liberties

    Guilty of offending sensibilities

    by Rumbold at 10:37 am    

    The recent guilty verdict for the so-called ‘militant atheist’ Harry Taylor is deeply troubling. Mr Taylor was convicted of the offence of ‘Religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress’, which carries up to a seven year jail term. His crime was to leave cartoons mocking religions and religious people in the airport’s multifaith room. The cartoons included:

    One of a priest with a young girl kneeling in front of him and the words: “No, no my child, blow is just a figure of speech”. Another picture depicted the Pope with a condom on his finger, while a further page showed A Dangerous Book For Boys with reference to the Qur’an.

    The cartoons included one taken from Danish images of a suicide bomber and another showed a pig excreting sausages labelled “Qur’an”.

    All pretty unpleasant. But the most that should have happened was a fine for littering and a ‘don’t come back here again’. To make it an offence is not only wrong, but, unsurprisingly, sets a precedent for future cases. Religion is a personal thing. I don’t go out of my way to mock people’s religious beliefs, but believe that people should be free to do so. People mock my beliefs about, say, the EU, which is fine. It is a point of view, not a child: it doesn’t need protecting. Religion and faith is no different.

    6th March, 2010

    My Name is Khan: a review

    by guest at 11:30 am    

    This is a guest post by Parvinder Singh

    I’ve just got back from pleasantly warm Amritsar to wet and cold London. Yet the sights and sounds linger on in my mind, the early morning prayers from the temples coupled with the noise of stray dogs barking. And the visit at night to the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple), making an unforgettable impression that no words can describe. I witnessed first hand how efficiently it manages to feed as many as 40,000 meals a day to people of all faiths.

    I sensed a degree of nervousness in the country though. There had already been an attack on a German Bakery in Pune, killing 10 people and then the devastating news of two Sikhs in Pakistan, who had been taken hostage by the Pakistan Taliban, were beheaded. Others including Hindus, remain at the mercy of their captors. Rumours were afloat in Amritsar that the two Sikhs refused to convert to Islam, and that after they were executed in true 18th Century style, their severed heads were thrown into a Peshwara Gurdwara. Whether it’s religious based bigotry or plain thuggery, as in the case of the recent abduction of five year old Sahil Saeed, one can’t help feeling that the Pakistan is spiralling out of control.

    In a newly built Shopping Mall in Amritsar, Shahrukh Khan’s new movie, My Name is Khan arrived. It had earlier opened in Mumbai amid protests by the hard right Shiv Sena, who opposed Khan’s remarks that he regretted that no Pakistani cricketers had been picked for the upcoming Indian Premier League. Hardly controversial but to Hindu bigots, any sympathy for Pakistanis is deemed unpatriotic.

    Continue Reading...
    5th March, 2010

    Are British Muslims in peril?

    by guest at 11:47 am    

    This is a guest post by Shaaz Mahboob of British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD)

    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia appears to be at a crossroads today. For decades the alliance between its powerful clergy and the royal family has proved to be one of the most stable and blissful. However, King Abdullah’s recent flirtation with modernity appears to have backfired. Cracks are now visible in this alliance that has up until now successfully acted as a vanguard against attempts to democratise the oil-rich state or to bring any progressive reforms to its society.

    The ‘King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’ (KAUST) is indeed a welcome step by the King, who has experimented with putting men and women together in a learning environment, never seen or heard before in a country governed under strict ultra-orthodox Wahabi variant of Islam. Not only has this initiative been well received by the Saudi public, the King has to be credited for his boldness in crushing any dissent by the clergy who are disdainful of this attempt to change the fundamental structure of Saudi society. They are not only taken aback by this blatant liberalism allowing gender-mixing, but also by the scientific elements that are being taught at the university, such as evolution and other aspects of modern technology. It is indeed ironic that such clerics in Saudi Arabia and across the world shun topics like the theory of evolution as “blasphemous” yet are equally comfortable using the wonders of science such as mobile telephones, internet and the good old television to spread sectarianism, inequality of men and women as well as hatred for all those who do not adhere to their version of Wahabi Islam.

    Continue Reading...
    4th March, 2010

    Same sex partnerships in temples

    by Rumbold at 6:59 pm    

    This seems to be an eminently sensible amendment, which lifts the ban on religious premises holding same-sex civil partnerships:

    The amendment to the Equality Bill, which was tabled as a free vote by gay Muslim peer Waheed Alli, received overwhelming backing in the Lords, including from a number of prominent Anglican bishops.

    Under current UK law religious venues are forbidden from holding civil partnerships, although some liberal denominations within Christianity and Judaism have been willing to bless gay unions once a partnership ceremony has taken place elsewhere.

    There shouldn’t have been a ban in the first place. it should be up to the individual religious houses what they want to do, free of legal pressure. If people wish to be bigoted, let them be. As long as the rest of us aren’t paying for it. I also agree with this:

    The liberal Christian think-tank Ekklesia yesterday called on the government to entirely overhaul Britain’s marriage laws and separate the legal process of registration from religious ceremonies. Many believe such a step would allow both objectors to gay marriage and supporters to find a way of expressing their beliefs freely and openly within British law.

    Filed under: Culture,Religion

    The BNP and the Hijacking of Christianity

    by Jai at 9:30 am    

    The BNP’s regressive racist ideology is already well-known; however, they also claim an explicitly religious justification for their beliefs and actions. In fact, during a European Parliament debate in January 2010 about the Haiti earthquake, Nick Griffin himself actually started quoting from the Bible in order to justify his argument that absolutely no humanitarian aid should be given to the victims of the disaster because it had occurred in “somebody else’s backyard”.

    Irrespective of their claims to speak for “Christian Britain”, the BNP has been heavily condemned and explicitly rejected by both the Church of England and the Methodist Church. The BNP’s racism and divisive tactics have also recently been jointly condemned by Christian, Sikh, Muslim and Jewish faith leaders in Stoke-on-Trent, one of the BNP’s major target areas, and the individuals concerned have signed a formal pledge of unity.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Religion,The BNP
    3rd March, 2010

    Going away for a month

    by Sunny at 4:59 pm    

    Hello all!
    I’m heading to South East Asia tonight, with a plan to backpack around Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma. No blogging or checking email for me in the meantime - Rumbold will be taking care of PP while I’m away.
    I’ll be back at the end of March.

    Filed under: Blog

    Oh no, Amnesty working with someone else we don’t like!

    by Sunny at 9:49 am    

    Here we go again. Harry’s Place has a blog post that berates Amnesty UK for ‘promoting’ the journalist Ben White. This is becoming all too typical of this row and goes to the heart of the problem. And that is - many of the people attacking Amnesty here are doing so simply because it works with people who’s politics they don’t like. And so the smearing takes place.

    In this case Weissman is appalled that White wrote something he didn’t like. And so, “Amnesty UK have a right to voice their opinion on East Jerusalem, but hiring Ben White to speak for them makes no sense.” — yeah I’m sure. What he means is: I can’t believe Amnesty is working with someone I don’t like, it just goes to show how much they love Islamists blah blah froth froth.

    Perhaps he could form a committee so that they could approve in advance who Amnesty should be allowed to work with. Oh wait, their mate is already trying that.

    It’s not only an attempt to shut down voices he doesn’t like - but is also very hypocritical. The same Joseph Weissman (under his pseudonym Seisemic Shock, I’m assuming) earlier wrote on Harry’s Place an article promoting Patrick Sookhdeo. The very same who contributed to a book titled ‘The Myth of Islamic Tolerance’, which was put together by Robert Spencer of the notoriously bigoted Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch blogs. And yet he’s now offering advice on human rights and dodgy connections.

    This ‘smear by twisted quotes’ is unfortunately becoming a trend on HP. Another common target is Mehdi Hasan - subject of a disgusting smear attempt last year. A few weeks ago ‘Lucy Lips’ wrote:

    Instead of Bright, we get Mehdi Hasan: a man who believes that non-Muslims are “kafirs” and like “cattle”, and who both praises and takes a face value the Supreme Leader of Iran’s ersatz anti-nuclear rhetoric.

    The first part of that smear has become predictable. The second part - criticising him for “praising” the Supreme leader of Iran - is even more idiotic. All Mehdi did was point to a fatwa by the Iranian leader against nuclear weapons. And even if he did “praise him” for being anti-nuclear, what the hell is wrong with that? I’d praise any nutjob who was against nukes.

    And these people set themselves up as defender of human rights. The mind boggles. All they see are Islamists under every bed and won’t stop criticising Amnesty unless it stops working with any whose views they find politically inconvenient.

    Filed under: Islamists,Media
    2nd March, 2010

    Knife crime stop-and-search doesn’t work; media doesn’t care

    by Sunny at 12:15 pm    

    A couple of weeks ago the Observer reported:

    There is little connection between the use of stop and search powers by the Metropolitan police and reductions in knife crime, according to new figures analysed by a leading criminologist.

    Professor Marian Fitzgerald says that in the case of one London borough – Southwark – a huge expansion in the use of “section 60″ stop and search powers has actually been accompanied by an increase in knife crime. The section 60 powers under the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act allow the police to search anyone without needing to have grounds for suspicion in a designated area at a specific time where they believe there is threat of serious violence.

    In other words the correlation between stop-and-search and reducing knife crime wasn’t clear at all. And this was only reported in the Guardian and the BBC.

    Continue Reading...

    MPs table Early Day Motion to save Asian Network and BBC 6Music

    by Sunny at 8:49 am    

    I spoke to Virendra Sharma MP last night and he said he was fully behind the campaign to save Asian Network. Today, an Early Day Motion is being tabled (technically, the earlier one is being revised) by the excellent Tom Watson MP and will be supported by Sharma and others, to save both radio stations.

    The text:

    That this House notes with deep concern recent newspaper speculation that the BBC is considering closing its 6 Music and Asian Network radio stations; believes that both radio stations offer outlets for independent and non-mainstream music; further notes that both 6 Music and Asian Network reach out to audiences not otherwise well served by the BBC; congratulates 6 Music and Asian Network for acting as a source of talent for the BBC and other media; recognises that the BBC has a duty to represent and give a platform to minority interests that need a mainstream platform to develop and grow; and calls on the Government to encourage the BBC to continue its support for 6 Music and Asian Network for many years to come.

    There are also stories flying about with me named in them about Asian Network. I’m also working on a letter to be sent to BBC Trustees. Hopefully, will get tons of people to sign that.

    38 Degrees have launched a petition against it too. IDeally, they need to get people to write to their MPs to support EDM 963.

    Filed under: Media

    A Christian country

    by Rumbold at 8:38 am    

    Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has attacked what he perceives to be the failure of people to stand up for Christian culture in Britain:

    ‘I cannot imagine any politician expressing concern that Britain should remain a Christian country. That reticence is a scandal and a disgrace to our history.’

    Britain has been a Christian country for much of the past two thousand years. Our laws and culture have been shaped in part by Judeo-Christian ideas. Anyone who disputes that is in error.

    However, it doesn’t follow that is an inherently good thing that Britain remains a Christian country (if indeed it is one now). That is not a plea for moral relativism, but rather a recognition that the foundations of a civilised society do not depend on religion, or on one particular religion. Religiously-inspired laws and actions can be good or bad. So can ones without the impact of religion.

    What does is matter what a person believes about deities and the afterlife? A more atheist, or agnostic, or Sikh, or Jedi-worshipping country wouldn’t by definition be a worse place to live in (or a better one for that matter). People of all faiths and none live in Britain, and no one faith should retain a monopoly on Britain.

    Filed under: Culture,History,Religion
    1st March, 2010

    Five reasons not to axe the BBC Asian Network

    by Sunny at 6:56 pm    

    The BBC Asian Network’s biggest problem has always been its management. That is evident now more than ever since they failed to make the case internally to keep the station.

    But BBC Asian Network’s survival is important, and there are several reasons why. Here are some…

    1) It would reduce competition
    With the buyout of Club Asia radio by Sunrise Radio late last year, closing Asian Network would leave no other real alternative to Sunrise. This is especially the case in London, where 40% of British Asians reside.

    All the main radio stations in London (niche offerings such as Panjab Radio aside) are owned by the Sunrise Group: Sunrise, Kismat and BuzzAsia (the re-branded Club Asia). This would also apply to other parts of the country that were only served by local Asian stations or a feed of Sunrise radio from London.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Media

    Tories playing the race card and agreeing with Nick Griffin

    by Sunny at 9:12 am    

    I’ve decided it’s no longer possible to have a sensible and / or intelligent discussion about immigration. This is especially true when you’ve got most right-wingers still pretending there was some vast Labour plot to deliberately foist these Labour-voting immigrants on them. The idea just beggars belief and yet they all believe it.

    Oh and then there’s black candidate Loanna Morrison, who declares on ConservativeHome that Nick Griffin “is right” on immigration. Where do you even start? Is it not possible for these fucking, thick people to say anything sensible on the issue without agreeing with fascists or believing in conspiracies?

    Morrison is black - which incidentally does not make any charge of racist stupidity any less relevant.

    Continue Reading...
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