16th April, 2010

Times to be reported to PCC over shoe-throwing story

by guest at 11:30 am    

contribution by Ben White

I recently wrote of the front-page story appeared in The Sunday Times, reporting that apparently the Metropolitan Police had “bowed to Islamic sensitivities and accepted that Muslims are entitled to throw shoes in ritual protest”.

To elaborate further, the Times article omits to mention in its article that the CPS could not, “… be certain on viewing the CCTV footage whether the item thrown was a shoe or not.”

The CPS prosecutor refers to the shoe-throwing purely in the context of the act being “a political statement”. Nothing about ‘Muslims’ or ‘Islamic sensitivities’.

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Not a race you would want to win

by Rumbold at 7:47 am    

A white supremacist group has boasted about being the most extreme of its kind in Britain:

Members of the Aryan Strike Force believed groups like the notorious far-right Combat 18 and Blood and Honour did “f*** all” and were more interested in raising money than fighting “scum”.

Several of the group had been caught and one has already been convicted:

The shocking revelation emerged during the trial of ex-milkman’s assistant Nicky Davison, 19, who is charged with possessing terrorism manuals.

Newcastle Crown Court has already heard that the teenager was one of the founders of the Aryan Strike Force, an online far-right group set up by his father, Ian.

Ian Davison, 41, a former pub DJ, has already admitted six charges related to this case, including producing ricin, one of the world’s deadliest substances.

And what were they fighting against?

The aim of the group was to carry out “ops” and overthrow the Government, which it believed had been taken over by the ZOG – the Zionist Occupied Government.

That’s right, ZOG.

Filed under: EDL,Race politics
15th April, 2010

The fall of the Libertarian party leader

by Sunny at 3:46 pm    

Call it Schadenfreude if you must. Hell, it most definitely is, given that Chris Mounsey has tried to smear me several times in the past. I’m no fan of climate-change-denier Andrew Neil but this video is definitely one of the best pieces of political theatre in ages.

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Filed under: Humour

A plan to save BBC Asian Network, pt 1

by Sunny at 9:08 am    

After that letter in the Guardian last month, it’s time to step up the campaign to save BBC Asian Network a gear or two.

The first part of the plan involves getting lots of paper petitions signed. Many of you have complained via the BBC Trust website but we also want to deliver petitions with names on them ourselves. Besides, not everyone has access to the internet.

You can download the petition as a PDF file from this page. Print off as many copies as you can fill up. We’ll need them back from you around mid-May.

You can also help us gather more signatures! Over the next few weeks several outdoor events will take place across the UK. We are organising teams of people to attend those events and get as many petitions signed as possible!

25 April – Vasakhi Mela – Birmingham
25 April – Vasakhi Mela – London, Hounslow
2 May – Vasakhi Mela - Trafalgar Sq, London

Please print off copies of the petitions and try and get people at those events to sign them. You may also bump into people there doing the same! Hold on to those petitions once you have them we’ll need them from you.

Filed under: Media
14th April, 2010

Did the Met really allow Muslims to throw shoes?

by guest at 12:37 pm    

contribution by Ben White

On Sunday, an article appeared in The Sunday Times, under the headline, “Met allows Islamic protesters to throw shoes”.

Granted a spot on the front page, the piece opened with the apparent news that “Scotland Yard has bowed to Islamic sensitivities and accepted that Muslims are entitled to throw shoes in ritual protest”.

This seemed quite an extraordinary claim – so extraordinary, in fact, that on closer examination, some cracks started to appear.

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Filed under: Islamists,Media

Whatever happened to Anwar al-Awlaki’s human rights?

by Sunny at 8:59 am    

Let me start with some cliches first. Any society should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable and its most hated. And According to Wikipedia: “Habeas corpus has historically been an important legal instrument safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary state action.” — in other words we are supposed to value ‘innocent before being proven guilty’. Or at least the right to a trial. Errr, not exactly.

Last week President Obama authorised the CIA to “kill al-Alwaki no matter where he is found, no matter his distance from a battlefield“. Al-Awlaki is also a US citizen.

No due process is accorded. No charges or trials are necessary. No evidence is offered, nor any opportunity for him to deny these accusations (which he has done vehemently through his family). None of that.

Glenn Greenwald further notes that coverage of this has been very little in the US, apart from a brave stand taken by Keith Olbermann.

Now. I wasn’t going to write about this because, although it disgusted me, I’ll admit that I’m usually unwilling to criticise Obama. But what irks me is that the same people who keep going on about how important human rights for all are, have said nothing about this incident at all over here. In fact, over at Harry’s Place blog they’re crowing about it. Nick Cohen is still pretending he cares about women’s rights while saying nothing about this either.

You’d think that someone being assassinated by their government without trial would be regarded as a pretty big violation of basic human rights. Apparently it’s just not important enough. Far more important to pimp your book and tell everyone how lefties are in bed with Islamists. Hell, even Amnesty Int have said nothing about this decision. If they did, no doubt people would claim they were being leant on by Moazzam Begg et all. But that’s still pretty shabby.

Disgusting as his views are, al-Awlaki has basically been stripped off his human rights without due process. Even Bush didn’t go that far; he merely wanted to listen into the conversations of US citizens. The lesson here is simple: if you’re Muslim then the state can take away your rights and self-appointed champions of human rights won’t say anything at all. That’s how committed they are.

13th April, 2010

Disabled Women And Domestic Violence

by guest at 9:00 pm    

This is a crosspost by Sarah of Same Difference

I recently read something in the latest (April 2010) issue of Disability Now magazine that, being a disabled woman myself, and having a general interest in issues related to women’s rights, particularly domestic violence, I strongly feel is worth looking into, since I don’t think it usually gets enough attention.

Disability Now reporter Cathy Reay has written an article in which she highlights the cases of four disabled women, who have all experienced domestic violence. The article mentions a research report, published by Women’s Aid in late 2008, which examined the issue of disabled women and domestic violence. The study reported now seems slightly old, but I’m going to cover some of its main findings here.

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Happy Vaisakhi

by Jai at 4:11 pm    

“When I have taught the sparrow to fight the hawk, when a single individual can challenge 125,000, only then will I deserve the name Gobind Singh.”

The Sikh festival of Vaisakhi commemorates the creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, symbolising a range of humanitarian ideals and values, including the necessity to fearlessly stand up for universal human rights focusing on the inherent unity, equality and dignity of mankind irrespective of “race”, religious affiliation, or gender.

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Filed under: History,Religion,Sikh

Avigdor Lieberman and Israel’s defenders

by Sunny at 3:54 pm    

Just a quick trip down memory lane. Avigdor Lieberman is currently the foreign minister of Israel.
Here are some of his views:

Lieberman advocates “reducing the number of Arabs who are Israeli citizens” through giving the Palestinian Authority Arab-Israeli towns near the West Bank and having Arabs who remain Israeli citizens take loyalty tests and recognize Israel as a Jewish State. Those who refuse would be stripped of their citizenship, but could remain in Israel as permanent residents.

He was called by the US conservative commentator a “fascist”. The anti-terrorism thinktank Quilliam Foundation issued this statement when Lieberman was welcomed into the UK:

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is today hosting Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister who is also the founder and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu, a hardline nationalist and extreme Zionist political party in Israel. In view of Lieberman’s previous openly racist and violence-inciting statements, as well as his alleged involvement in a terrorist group banned in the US and Israel, this decision to host Lieberman is inconsistent with recent Home Office decisions to exclude other individuals on the specific grounds that they “promote hatred, terrorist activities and serious violence” and “advocate hatred and violence in support of their religious beliefs”.

It looks like Israel is already moving towards policies espoused by Lieberman, given this recent move to force all people within Palestinian territories to carry “valid permits” that are intentionally kept vague by Israel itself. Where was the outrage over this here? Did Nick Cohen stand up for human rights then? How about Hitchens? Doesn’t look it.

Now let’s compare this situation to the Amnesty Int / Gita Sahgal controversy. In this controversy it is regularly alleged by critics of Amnesty that by virtue of working with Moazzam Begg, Amnesty is endorsing the views of Cage Prisoners and its people. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any problem right?

Defenders of Amnesty Int who say it doesn’t follow that the organisation has adopted CP’s agenda or been influenced by Moazzam Begg are called ‘naive’. The organisation is damned by association apparently, without any investigation into whether its agenda has actually been influenced by Moazzam Begg or CagePrisoners (the latter of whom it has no relationship with).

Given the two examples, is it then ok to assume that anyone who defends the Israeli government as “a supporter of fascists”. Right?

12th April, 2010

Amnesty publish election manifesto for women’s rights

by Sunny at 9:07 pm    

Amnesty UK have published a general-elction manifesto that encompasses several areas of human rights including:

- The rights of women in the UK and overseas
- Security and human rights
- The human rights framework in the UK
- Human rights and poverty
- A just and fair asylum system

The briefing for women’s rights says:

All too often women are ignored in the post conflict reconstruction period, with little or no representation on tribunals trying war crimes or working for reconciliation, and neither they nor their issues represented in new constitutions.

The cases of Iraq and Afghanistan are instructive and particular. The UK was a vocal proponent of women’s rights prior to and during the conflict in Afghanistan, yet no women were invited to a conference in London on 28 January 2010 to discuss the future of the nation. If women’s organizations and activists had not forced their way onto the agenda, they would not have been present at all. This is despite UN resolution 1325 which requires parties to a conflict to ensure that in the post conflict regeneration process women are equally involved in decision making and policy implementation.

What we are asking the UK Government to do:
- Improve women’s full participation in processes relating to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace-building by the full implementation of UN Security Resolution 1325.
- Create a UK National Action Plan that includes objectives and priority actions, timelines, a dedicated budget, indicators, benchmarks, targets and clear lines of responsibility at high political levels

What kind of an agenda is this? Listening to the recent rhetoric of wingnuts I was under the impression that Amnesty had signed up with Al-Qaeda and whole-heartedly joined the jihadi struggle against the west. This is soooo disappointing. And to think my expectations were raised that they’d be endorsing the Hamas covenant! What the hell are they doing actually being concerned about women’s health and human rights? I thought that was the job of Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie?

Joking aside, you can download their General Election manifesto from here.

Filed under: Humour

Raising awareness about forced marriage

by Rumbold at 11:21 am    

Women and men who have been forced into marriage (or came close to being so) are to tour schools and police stations in order to raise awareness about the issue:

Those working to stop the practice say the period just before the summer holiday is always their busiest time of the year. They hope that prompting survivors to tell their own stories will encourage children at risk to come forward and local authorities to take those fears seriously when they do.

This seems an excellent idea to me. One of the biggest problems amongst both forced marriage victims and the state (e.g. police and schools) is the lack of awareness out there, in terms of how it happens and what support is out there for victims.

Why ‘fairness’ is important, but so is listening to the poor

by Sunny at 11:00 am    

The RSA chief Matthew Taylor says on his blog:

The public is not particularly interested in equality as a policy goal but is much more exercised by what philosophers call ‘procedural justice’ – this is the idea of fairness in relation to the application of rules.

So, if people are asked what is most unfair in society they are less likely to say poverty and exclusion and more to talk about illegal immigration and benefit cheating.

I think that the concept of ‘fairness’ when approaching voter concerns is important. People seem generally more worried about what is ‘fair’ than what ‘is right’ in a way. I say this repeatedly on the issue of inequality – people are less worried about unequal distribution of wealth and more concerned by the thought that wealthy people may have acquired that wealth ‘unfairly’.

In policy terms for the Left, that means if you want a more equal society then stop talking about ‘equality’ and start talking about ‘fairness’ in how people are rewarded for their work.

But there’s a point I think Matthew Taylor misses out. It’s not that poverty and exclusion does not bother them. In fact, poor and excluded people are massively bothered by those issues. It’s just that the media pays little attention to them. So we think its not an important issue for many people.

Take the Daily Mail’s coverage of immigration for example. The Mail constantly argues that poor people are hurt by immigration because it makes them poorer and decreases their quality of life. The evidence is patchy but let’s assume that is true.

But will poor people benefit if immigration is banned entirely? They won’t because globalisation and poor workers’ rights is still a problem. People will still lose their job to Chinese workers across the world. They will still find their standard of living falling because there isn’t enough investment into public services. But the Daily Mail doesn’t call for more investment into services or the end of globalisation. That’s because it doesn’t care about poor people it simply wants to tell them that their problems are down to immigration.

Afghanistan, Israel and Nuclear weapons

by Sunny at 8:51 am    

This is just a round-up of some news stories, not a blog post as such.

Glenn Greenwald: How Americans are propagandized about Afghanistan
“Although numerous witnesses on the scene as well as local investigators vehemently disputed the Pentagon’s version, and insisted that all of the dead (including the women) were civilians and were killed by U.S. forces, the American media largely adopted the Pentagon’s version, often without any questions.”

Guardian: Israeli groups fight orders allowing army to jail West Bank residents
“Israel’s leading human rights groups are trying to stop two new Israeli military orders which will make any resident of the occupied West Bank who does not have an Israeli-issued permit liable for deportation or jail. The new Order Regarding Prevention of Infiltration and Order Regarding Security Provisions, which comes into force on Tuesday have “severe ramifications,” the rights groups say. Palestinians, and any foreigners living in the West Bank, could be labelled infiltrators and deported within 72 hours or jailed for seven years if they are found without the correct permit. It does not define what Israel considers a valid permit.”

US summit expected to back Barack Obama’s plan to prevent nuclear theft

and finally…
Raj Patel: We don’t need a messiah (and anyway, it isn’t me) — this is a hilarious story.

Filed under: Current affairs
11th April, 2010

Starkey and female historians (part 3)

by Rumbold at 2:10 pm    

This time last year TV historian David Starkey attacked female historians for ‘feminising’ history and supposedly dumbing down the subject. His criticism focused on the idea that female historians were concentrating too much on things like relationships and women, which gave a false picture of the past. This was an incorrect assertion, as there are plenty of female historians writing on topics that don’t revolve around relationships and women. Dr. Starkey’s criticisms, I felt, could be explained in part by his position as a TV historian, rather than as an academic one.

Now he is at it again. In an interview, the TV historian claims that female historians tend to be quite pretty and like to show off their looks, with the implication being that they are academic lightweights who can only compete with ‘intellectual titans’ like him if they flaunt themselves:

Now the historian David Starkey has poured vitriol on his female competitors, likening their books to “historical Mills & Boon”.

The broadcaster and writer, whose speciality is Tudor history, says patronisingly that women who write history books are “usually quite pretty” — and eager to show off their looks on their book covers.

Once again, Dr. Starkey has attacked female historians without any foundation: it is not clear whether he is just trying to generate publicity for a new project or whether is it evidence of something more deep-seated (such as a dislike of women or envy at colleagues who have stayed within the academic sphere so are more respected).

Hundreds of books and articles are published by female historians each year. Few of them ever have a small picture of the author on the front, and most of them are on serious and well-researched topics (just like most articles and books by male historians). I wouldn’t be able to recognise most female historians I have read by sight, and know that their books speak for themselves. A quick survey of my collection reveals precisely zero books where the historian’s (male or female) picture is visible on either the front or back cover, but then I don’t own anything by David Starkey.

Filed under: History,Sex equality
10th April, 2010

A wrongful conviction and statistics

by Rumbold at 9:55 pm    

The excellent Ben Goldcare, a science blogger, writes about a nurse in Holland who is appealing her conviction for killing six patients. There isn’t much to say about the article, and it doesn’t just highlight what seems to be a miscarriage of justice but also examines how statistics can be misused in circumstances like this:

The case against Lucia was built on a suspicious pattern: there were nine incidents on a ward where she worked and Lucia was present during all of them. This could be suspicious but it could be a random cluster, best illustrated by the “Texas sharpshooter” phenomenon: imagine I am firing a thousand machinegun bullets into the side of a barn. I remove my blindfold, find three bullets very close together and paint a target around them. Then I announce that I am an Olympic standard rifleman.

This is plainly foolish. All across the world, nurses are working on wards where patients die, and it is inevitable that on one ward, in one hospital, in one town, in one country, somewhere in the world, you will find one nurse who seems to be on a lot when patients die. It’s very unlikely that one particular prespecified person will win the lottery but inevitable someone will win: we don’t suspect the winner of rigging the balls.

And did the idea that there was a killer on the loose make any sense, statistically, for the hospital as a whole? There were six deaths over three years on one ward where Lucia supposedly did her murdering. In the three preceding years, before she arrived, there were seven deaths. So the death rate on this ward went down at the precise moment that a serial killer moved in.

Filed under: Current affairs
9th April, 2010

The BNP and the Killer Question

by Jai at 12:47 pm    

During Nick Griffin’s appearance on the BBC’s “Question Time” in October 2009, he directly confirmed that one of the BNP’s main goals upon achieving power is still to reduce Britain’s non-white population from 10% to 1%. This is despite the fact that, a few months earlier, he had stated that he was abandoning the proposed repatriation policy because “nobody wants it or wants to pay for it”.

Griffin recently reiterated the BNP’s “voluntary repatriation” plans (apparently now expanded to include people originally from mainland Europe) in a lengthy interview with Iain Dale published online by Total Politics, as follows:

In your 2005 manifesto you said: “We will end immigration to the UK and reduce our land’s population burden by creating firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home.” What does “firm” mean and what does “home” mean, because they are quite difficult to define?

Firm would mean that certainly in the case of serious criminals and illegals and people whose right to work was removed. For instance, when we left the European Union, there wouldn’t be a choice about it. They would have to go.

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Filed under: Race politics,The BNP
8th April, 2010

Kamal Nath ambushed

by Rumbold at 8:48 pm    

Indian minister and suspect in the Sikh massacres of 1984 Kamal Nath was served with papers when he visited America:

A journalist from a local daily handed Nath a photocopy of the summons moments before a process server knocked on the doors of the New York consulate with the legal documents. Nath has been issued a court summons in a civil suit filed against him by Jasbir Singh and Mahinder Singh on behalf of the New York-based Sikhs for Justice. Nath said he was “appalled” by the allegations and denied any wrongdoing.

Although Mr. Nath has not been convicted of anything, and is unlikely to face trial in America, it should provide a (temporary) shock to those in power who are still shielded from prosecution.

(Hat-tip: Dalbir)

Filed under: Sikh

Virus problems

by Sunny at 2:57 pm    

Hi all,
Several of you pointed out a virus problem on here. Having done some investigation into this, I’ve found that the ‘Trojan.Script.Iframer’ virus had infected the blog. It’s a trojan that set up an iframe (now removed) and leads people’s computers to other places.

It looks like my computer is affected (it secretly uploads to the server using my settings and then changes a file to insert some code). I’ve removed the malicious code – do let me know here if you see it again. I’m now off to nuke my own computer :(

It shouldn’t affect your computer – but as a precaution you should run a virus scan anyway. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Filed under: Blog

Why can’t racist idiots at least learn English?

by Sunny at 9:28 am    

On the BNP Twitter page, they can’t even spell the name of the country they’re trying to defend.

Filed under: Humour
7th April, 2010

David T and Socialist Unity libel action: unacceptable behaviour

by Sunny at 1:09 am    

Rumbold recently wrote of an attempt by George Galloway to sue David T of Harry’s Place over some comments he made. At the time, I said I supported David T, having also been the subject of several libel letters. Libel law is unfairly stacked against people being sued and I sympathised with his predicament.

But I find this unacceptable and frankly rather grotesque. Andy Newman is right: the precedent set could be horrendous for other bloggers:

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Filed under: Blog,Civil liberties

Does blogging help the democratic process? (this Friday)

by Sunny at 12:02 am    

On Friday I’ll be speaking at this event at the Frontline Club as part of World Press Freedom Day:
‘Unregulated political comment online helps the democratic process’ – Motion for and against.

Naturally I’ll be for the the motion.

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Events,Media
6th April, 2010

(Event) Five years on: From Behzti to Behud (this weekend)

by Sunny at 3:25 pm    

Five years ago I was one of the biggest voices in the media supporting writer Gurpreet Bhatti when Sikh fundamentalists were trying to stop her play Behzti, from being shown in Birmingham.

Now her new play is going on tour and, as part of a pre-show discussion in Coventry this Saturday, I’ve been asked to join a debate panel asking how things have changed. I’ll also be writing about this for Guardian CIF in coming days.

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What motivates suicide bombers? A study shows…

by Sunny at 10:30 am    

From someone who has actually done some research and doesn’t just spout off on the internet based on hunches:

Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, argued in his 2005 book Dying to Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism that suicide bombers are motivated not so much by Islamist (or any other kind of religious) fervor but, rather, by anger at foreign troops occupying their land.

Since then, as founding director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, Pape has collected and analyzed a database of 2,668 suicide bombings carried out between 1980 and 2009—which has confirmed, even strengthened, his initial theory.

It turns out, Pape told me in a phone conversation today, that 96 percent of those suicide bombers were engaging in what they saw as acts of nationalist resistance to foreign military occupation; most of them were living within a few miles of where the bombing took place.

I’ll come back to the idea of nationalist resistance very soon. But the point here is that research shows that foreign policy and regional / local instability has a huge impact on the likelihood of terrorism. The Moscow terrorist bombers were Chechen, and furthermore one of the women had her husband killed by Russian forces earlier.

The question then is: what kind of nationalist resistance is acceptable and what isn’t. Anyone who says any kind of resistance is unacceptable when your country is being occupied is either a fool or highly naive.

5th April, 2010

Internal debates BNP-style

by Rumbold at 8:21 pm    

The BNP have sacked their head of publicity, Mark Collett, after he alleged made death threats against Nick Griffin. There have been rumours about a possible coup within the BNP for some time now, and it is thought that Mr. Collett was amongst those who was unhappy with the current leadership, and his support for the Nazis had been damaging the BNP’s attempts to rebrand themselves. He has also been arrested:

Humberside Police said a man had been arrested “on suspicion of making threats to kill” and later bailed. In a statement, police said: “A 29-year-old man was arrested on Thursday 1 April on suspicion of making threats to kill.

“He was interviewed by Humberside Police detectives and has been released on police bail pending further inquiries. This investigation was initiated as a result of a complaint by a member of the British National Party and inquiries are ongoing.”

Filed under: The BNP
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