Sunny Hundal website



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  • 10th June, 2010

    New Amnesty reports highlights abuses by Taliban

    by Sunny at 1:15 pm    

    Millions of Pakistanis in the north-west tribal areas live in a human rights-free zone where they have no legal protection from the government and are subject to abuses by the Taleban, Amnesty International said today (10 June) as it published a major report on the region.

    The 130-page report, ‘As if Hell Fell on Me’: The Human Rights Crisis in Northwest Pakistan, is based on nearly 300 interviews with residents of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and adjacent areas of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). The report gives voice to those whose experiences are rarely reported and reveals the abuses faced by the region’s residents.

    Amnesty is urging both the Pakistani government and the Taleban to comply with international humanitarian law by taking all measures to prevent loss of civilian life and buildings including hospitals and schools and allowing unfettered NGO access to provide food, shelter and medical supplies to the injured and displaced.

    Amnesty’s review of available information also suggests that at least 1,300 civilians were killed in the fighting in north-west Pakistan in 2009, from a total of more than 8,500 casualties (including combatants).

    ‘As if Hell Fell on Me’ documents systematic abuses carried out by the Taleban as they have established their rule - killing those (such as tribal elders and government officials) who challenge their authority. Amnesty says they have imposed their rule through torture and other ill-treatment, targeting teachers, aid workers and political activists. The Taleban have also attacked women, and schools and health clinics catering to their needs.

    ——-
    Wait! I thought they were in league?? I’m getting all confused here, because according to certain defenders of human rights Amnesty was acting LIKE the Taliban. All very confusing isn’t it…. or not.

    John McDonnell vs Diane Abbott

    by Sunny at 1:26 am    

    Understandably, a lot of socialists are angry that John dropped out and gave way to Diane today. To be honest, I think it’s a testament to his intelligence and pluralism that he acted in the best interests of the party, a point missed by some who are just ranting away at Diane now.

    After talking to a few people today, my overwhelming feeling is that if John had stayed in the race he would not have made the cut. Firstly because there is the precedent and this time around there are less socialist MPs, and secondly because Diane Abbott had Harriet Harman, David Lammy and others ringing around for her to get to the 33. It went to the wire and she managed to get some extra names just past 12:30 because some “literally had to be dragged out of their chambers to nominate her” (according to one source). Also, David Miliband arm-twisted his supporters last minute to nominate her instead.

    Now, I’m a big fan of John McDonnell. But as I said earlier that I wanted to see at least one left-candidate on the list and I’m glad one did at least. The New Statesman hustings last night were a testament to that.

    Filed under: Party politics
    9th June, 2010

    A response to Claude and others on immigration

    by Sunny at 10:28 am    

    Hah! I can’t stop talking about. Claude Carpentieri has written this blog post criticising my defence of Ed Balls on immigration. He says:

    In a nutshell, his point was: we were wrong to allow so many Eastern Europeans into Britain; we should revise the free movement of labour and keep it one way only (1m Brits can live and work in Europe, but not the reverse); his government, Labour, was wrong in a) both not placing restrictions on new EU states and b) not implementing the agency workers directive.

    No, I think his point was that allowing so many EEs into the UK so quickly was a mistake because it destabilised communities economically. I also don’t think he’s arguing to stop Europeans from coming here while allowing Britons to go outside easily. Practically, other European countries won’t allow it. So, in many ways, Ed Balls is bluffing on what he’ll actually do to restrict immigration from Eastern Europe. So little heed should be paid to that bit. The final point I’ll agree with: Labour should have developed ‘managed migration’ and it should have done more to protect rights of poorest workers.

    Others have noted how unfeasible it all looks that Balls is suddenly laying into entire chunks of 13 years in power while he seemed to be happily going along with it all until May 7

    Look, you either applaud someone for taking Labour into a new direction or you have a go at him for sticking with the old ways.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Media,Race politics
    8th June, 2010

    A symposium on the future of public broadcasting in the UK

    by Sunny at 4:49 pm    

    A symposium has been organised by openDemocracy and hosted by City University’s Department of Journalism this week on Thursday.

    …chaired by Steve Hewlett, presenter of Radio 4’s The Media Show, and hosted by City University’s Department of Journalism. The symposium embraces the current consultation on the BBC’s Strategy Review in asking a broader question: what is the future for pluralism in the supply of public service content in the UK?

    The symposium is the physical culmination of the online Public Service Broadcasting Forum, an editorial series and online discussion board. Launched on 29 March by Frank Field MP on the openDemocracy website, the Forum aims to debate the status, health and future of public service broadcasting in parallel with the public consultation period of Putting Quality First, the BBC’s formal Strategy Review

    I’ll be speaking at the event later in the day. More info here.
    (Readers can get in for £15 if they want to attend)

    How do you think public service content should be funded in the future?

    Filed under: Media

    Misogyny turned good: #DannyDyerDonate

    by guest at 1:43 pm    

    guest post from Liam Barrington-Bush

    A quick timeline:
    7/6/10, 4:00pm – I’m ‘on Twitter’; I notice a Tweet from @VictoriaPeckham, that said a remarkably low 24 people went to see Danny Dyer’s new film, Pimp, during its entire opening weekend; £205 was grossed. The blog points out that Dyer was last in the news when his advice column in Zoo lads’ mag had caused fury, after he recommended a reader cut an ex-girlfriend’s face, so ‘no one would want her’.

    7/6/10, 4:10pm – I noticed that @andyvglnt had also picked-up the story, Tweeting “Danny Dyer’s new flick take £205 in 1st weekend? @Diazzzz and I took more than that for band t-shirts and cupcakes yesterday!” Banter ensues… we decide that more people would choose to support the women Dyer ‘jokes’ about cutting, than would want to see his film.  I suggest finding a suitable charity and sending a link to their donate page, @andyvglnt suggests a page on JustGiving.com, so we could see “how much more generous people are than Dyer is successful.”

     7/6/10, 4:20pm – In about 10 minutes, I’d set-up a JustGiving page for #DannyDyerDonate, giving money to Solace Women’s Aid. I sent the following Tweet: “Danny Dyer’s ‘PIMP’ film made £205; can we raise more for the women he ‘jokes’ of abusing? http://bit.ly/aK91xw #DannyDyerDonate”

    7/6/10, 6:30 – £210 had been made, surpassing the goal and outdoing ‘Pimp’s opening weekend take.

    8/6/10, 9:25am – £420 had been raised for Solace Women’s Aid, via 47 separate donors, pitching in between £2 and £100 each.

    Continue Reading...

    Why I support the right of racists to demonstrate in East London

    by Sunny at 10:30 am    

    Regular readers will know I’m not a fan of the English Defence League. Last week PP reader Halima sent me this email:

    The English Defence League is a violent, bigoted organisation and an embarrassment to our country. They should be condemned everywhere, but will be particularly unwelcome if they come to Tower Hamlets (as reported in the Guardian 29/5).

    Most people in the East End live in peace and mutual respect for our neighbours, regardless of their faith or skin colour. We will not tolerate attempts to divide us or stir up hatred. The real enemies of Tower Hamlets are poverty and inequality, not Islam. At Cable Street in 1936 the people of the East End united to block the way to Mosely’s fascist blackshirts. We stand ready to do the same to the EDL.

    I don’t agree. I think the EDL should be allowed to have their demo and if people want to oppose them then they should also be allowed to have their counter-demo. I may have been a bit ambiguous on this issue in the past but I want to clarify my stance: I think there are far too many (growing) restrictions on the right to protest in this country.

    Usually, the police use excuses such as: (1) it will cause public disorder or (2) it will cost too much to police - to stop protests from taking place. I think this is wrong. We need to defend the right to protest and that includes the racists and bigots. That includes defending the right of the BNP to stage their annual festival of racists.

    Lefties need to stop this fetish of trying to ban protests or demos they don’t like because it will always end up affecting them later. And anyway - the principle of the right to demonstrate is not only important but should be protected by law.

    Filed under: Civil liberties

    Could this mean a change in Pakistani attitude towards Ahmadis?

    by Sunny at 9:02 am    

    Express India reports (via @afpakchannel):

    Former Pakistan Prime Minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has created ripples in Pakistan’s political and religious circles by saying that the members of the minority Ahmedi sect are his brothers and sisters and that militants should be flushed out wherever they are active.

    Speaking a week after 95 Ahmedis were killed during terrorist attacks on two mosques of the sect that has been declared “non-Muslim” under Pakistani laws, Sharif said the Ahmedis too are citizens of the country.

    Excellent and brave stance, in a country where militants have always been allowed to get away with massacring Ahmadis for decades without any blowback. Some extremists have inevitably attacked him, but I wonder if this marks a turning point in the debate. I can’t see this being an electoral stunt given it’s more likely to lose him votes than gain any. Although the extremists are suggesting Obama put pressure on him to say that… Say what, Pakistan watchers?

    Filed under: Pakistan,South Asia
    7th June, 2010

    A more enlightened Indian policy on Kashmir?

    by Rumbold at 10:00 pm    

    Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, has been visiting Kashmir, and promised to ensure that human rights are protected:

    “I am aware of some complaints related to human rights. On this issue, the government policy is to protect the human rights of the people even when dealing with terrorism.

    The security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been strictly instructed to respect the rights of the civilians. We will act to remove any deficiency in the implementation of these instructions,” he said in his convocation address at the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.”

    Dr. Singh is undoubtedly sincere. But the problem lies with the powerful security apparatus in Indian-administered Kashmir, which operates without much scrutiny. Civilians are frequently killed, tortured or falsely imprisoned. There have been numerous reports of rape too. A majority of Kashmiris in both the Indian and Pakistani-controlled areas of Kashmir want independence. Since this is unlikely to happen, the least India (and Pakistan) can do is to treat the Kashmiris like everyone else.

    Israelis making fun of the Gaza dead

    by Sunny at 10:12 am    

    I accept that there isn’t much sympathy in Israel for the 9 Flotilla deaths, but this is is actually shocking and deeply callous:

    The Israeli government has been forced to apologise for circulating a spoof video mocking activists aboard the Gaza flotilla, nine of who were shot dead by Israeli forces last week. The YouTube clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: “We con the world, we con the people. We’ll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper.”

    Here’s the video

    It features a group led by the Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor Caroline Glick (so much for journalistic balance there) and includes the lyrics: “There’s no people dying, so the best that we can do is create the biggest bluff of all” - wow. Just, wow. There’s also: “We must go on, pretending day by day, that there is in Gaza, crisis hunger and plague“. That’s a real show of humanity right there.

    Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev tells the Guardian: “I called my kids in to watch it because I thought it was funny.” - I’m sure those imaginary dead people from the Flotilla appreciate the humour.

    Perhaps the IDF is frustrated after it’s terrible attempts at PR keep backfiring:

    Last week, the Israel Defence Force had to issue a retraction over an audio clip it had claimed was a conversation between Israeli naval officials and people on the Mavi Marmara, in which an activist told soldiers to “go back to Auschwitz”. The clip was carried by Israeli and international press, but today the army released a “clarification/correction”, explaining that it had edited the footage and that it was not clear who had made the comment.

    The Israeli army also backed down last week from an earlier claim that soldiers were attacked by al-Qaida “mercenaries” aboard the Gaza flotilla.

    The Jerusalem Post is still crowing about it.

    Did voters reject media election spin? Speaking at event today:

    by Sunny at 9:00 am    

    Chair: Robin Lustig, BBC Presenter
    Speakers:
    Michael Dobbs, Author and former Deputy Chair, Conservative Party
    Lord Dholakia, Chair, Liberal Democratic Party
    Stephen Pound, Labour MP
    Nicholas Jones, Author and political analyst
    Sunny Hundal, editor - Liberal Conspiracy

    I wrote an article related to this last week for the New Statesman.
    The event is free. Come down later today if you fancy it.

    Filed under: Media
    5th June, 2010

    Forcing marriage partners to learn English - I’m all for it

    by Sunny at 11:53 pm    

    The News of the World reports:

    IMMIGRANTS who want to marry Brits will be forced to take an English language test in a new crackdown on sham weddings. Immigration Minister Damian Green will unveil the plans this week, we can reveal.

    Potential brides and grooms from outside the EU will be required to prove they can speak the same language as their partner, as well as English. The test is designed to prove that anyone who moves to Britain is planning to integrate themselves into society.

    I don’t know this is being reported as a “crack-down”. I suppose that would represent the NotW’s news values, but actually I think this is a good idea.

    I’ve long argued that there’s only one way to ensure brides who comes into the country learn English: by forcing them to. I made a documentary about this for the Asian Network a few years ago, highlighting that 1000s of women come into this country as brides every year, and many don’t know or aren’t allowed to learn English when here.

    Which means that if some face domestic violence or other forms of abuse here, they are reluctant to seek help or do anything about their situation because they don’t know the local language. So in many ways this helps those women too.

    Female newsreaders on Al Jazeera

    by Rumbold at 10:53 am    

    It seems that it is not only British news channels that obsess about their female presenters’ looks, whether in terms of clothes or age. Five female newsreaders of the Arabic version of AL Jazeera have resigned after having their clothes criticised by a senior employee. Nesrine Malik explains:

    The channel is no stranger to controversy. In the latest instalment, five of its most high-profile female presenters have resigned in an apparent dispute about the dress code. The five are reportedly among a group of eight women working for al-Jazeera who had filed a complaint about “repeated offensive public remarks” about “clothes and decency” from a senior al-Jazeera employee.

    Filed under: Sex equality
    4th June, 2010

    More reaction to Israel’s Flotilla attack

    by Sunny at 9:32 am    

    This is mostly just a link-dump…

    1. Max Blumenthal: The Flotilla Raid Was Not “Bungled.” The IDF Detailed Its Violent Strategy In Advance.

    Statements by senior Israeli military commanders made in the Hebrew media days before the massacre revealed that the raid was planned over a week in advance by the Israeli military and was personally approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.

    (via @GuyAitchison)

    2. Jack Straw speaks out. And he’s not mincing his words (via @psbook), while recounting a previous experience at the border:

    All very ordinary but for the fact that the Israeli authorities made no disguise that they had ‘organised’ the crossing in a way designed to maximise the humiliation of and delays endured by the Palestinians. There was no shelter from the rain; no tarmac. None of this was remotely necessary. Indeed co-operation from the Palestinians would have been that much better if the Israelis had treated them with even a modicum of respect and dignity.

    But that was not on the agenda.

    3. George Packer in the New Yorker: Israel takes the bait

    Obama’s strategy of engagement is based on the notion that America, its allies, and its opponents have certain mutual interests that self-interest will lead them to identify and embrace. This notion has not been borne out with Iran, where the rulers of the Islamic Republic believe that self-interest—their own survival—depends on a climate of perpetual crisis and permanent demonization of the U.S. and Israel. And it hasn’t been borne out with Israel, which has just acted in a way that blurs self-interest into suicide.

    4. Reuben: A UK activist gives an eyewitness account of the raid. Reads out a list of absurd charges Israel has pressed against survivors.

    5. A demonstration is happening this Saturday in London at 1:30pm outside Downing Street (I won’t be around I’m afraid, in Oxford this weekend).

    3rd June, 2010

    Mwahahaha!

    by Sunny at 12:56 pm    

    According to Wikio, Liberal Conspiracy is now the second most talked about blog in the UK:

    The Wikio ranking is measured by incoming editorial links (i.e., not blogrolls) from blogs registered with Wikio which appear in RSS feeds. To be clear (again), this is no measure of traffic. Links are weighted by time, prominence of the linking blog, and prominence of the link in the linking article.

    Mmmmm…. nice.

    Filed under: Blog

    People don’t care about brands, only headlines

    by Sunny at 11:37 am    

    Interesting piece of research here by Niemen Journalism Labs

    This study crystallizes my thoughts. I suggest these findings illustrate the radically different way today’s consumers think of news, compared with the past. It’s not brand based. It’s not even platform based. It’s based on niche, which many have said before. But the niche isn’t just in the content or the subject matter; it’s in the mechanism of transmission.

    This, I think, is pretty profound and central to how news organisations need to think when approaching their content distribution. I’d write more but I don’t have the time.

    However, it will be the introduction to a short talk I have to give next week at this event on the future of public service broadcasting and the growth of online media. Thoughts welcome.

    Filed under: Media

    Tories against racial discrimination

    by Sunny at 12:13 am    

    Oh wait… What? It’s got official approval too? Ah well….

    Filed under: Race politics
    2nd June, 2010

    Why Bristol council got it wrong

    by Rumbold at 8:25 pm    

    Bristol council is at the centre of a media storm after advertising two posts for ethnic minorities only. The council defended its decision by citing the Race Relations Act (1976), as only 7% of its workforce is from ethnic minorities, as opposed to 12% of Bristol’s population as a whole. Whether or not this would fall foul of discrimination laws is debatable, but whatever the legality, I think it was the wrong thing to do, for a number of reasons.

    There is a great deal of debate over how to tackle the historical inequalities that exist in the labour market, namely discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, whether it be in hiring or promotion. One school of thought tends to see the solution in terms of positive discrimination, with devices such as all-women shortlists and jobs like the pair mentioned above. The other school rejects this as simply repeating the mistakes of the past (by treating people as blocks rather than as individuals), and puts the focus on meritocracy and treating candidates as individuals. Yet this approach is criticised for refusing to recognise persistent inequalities in the labour market.

    I used to be firmly in the second school of thought, and believed that merely creating an ostensibly meritocratic application process would be enough, as this would allow inequalities to be ironed out over time as the best people got chosen. However, while I still believe that should be the main approach, we also need to examine continuing structural issues. Applicants with ‘non-white’ names are more likely to get rejected from jobs then candidates with ‘white’ names, despite having exactly the same CV, which demonstrates continued racism in the job market. Factors like these show why Bristol council got it wrong.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Culture,Economy

    And in a break from the usual…

    by Sunny at 2:29 am    

    This is not man-made at all.

    Created entirely via a tropical storm in Guatemala. The high resolution picture is here.

    The cartoons on Israel’s attack

    by Sunny at 2:08 am    

    Steve Bell in the Guardian:

    Continue Reading...
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