9th January, 2011

Jack Straw’s scaremongering

by Rumbold at 10:23 am    

Following the conviction of a mainly Asian group of Jack Straw spoke of a culture which sees Pakistani men view white women/girls as ‘easy meat’, and that this is a specific problem in parts of his area. Mr. Straw did not mention any other ethnicity, so one would expect to see evidence that Pakistani men in Lancashire were far more likely to be convicted on sexual offences then non-Pakistanis. Chris Dillow has the statistics:

Table 5.4b of this pdf shows that, in the latest year for which we have data, Lancashire police arrested 627 people for sexual offences. 0.3% of these were Pakistanis. That’s two people. 85.5% were white British. In Lancashire, there are 1,296,900 white Brits and 45,000 Pakistanis. This means that 4.163 per 10,000 white Brits were arrested for a sex crime, compared to 0.44 Pakistanis. If you’re a journalist, you might say that the chances of being arrested for a sex crime are nine times greater if you’re white than Pakistani.

Most (if not all) sex offenders have contempt for their victims, and it might well be that some Pakistani sex offenders draw their contempt from their culture/background. But, on a statistical basis, given the far higher prevalence, as a percentage, of white people who commit sex crimes, Mr. Straw might well ask what it is about white Western culture that allows sex offenders to see their victims as ‘easy meat’. Asian gangs who go round grooming women/girls for sex need to be crushed and locked up. As do white gangs and any other combination of gangs. Based on available evidence, it is unclear why focusing on the racial element will benefit anyone, and given the statistics we have at present, is likely to reduce the chances of stopping such crime in the future (as resources will shift anyway from where they are most needed).

Update: Platinum786 makes some excellent points in the comments below:

(Reposted from the comments): Straw mentioning race wasn’t helpful as he did it in a generic manner, Pakistani men don’t see white women as easy meat, British Pakistani sex offenders do, but if he had said British Pakistani sex offenders see white women as easy meat, it wouldn’t have been such a great headline, for the below reasons;

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Filed under: Current affairs,EDL
7th January, 2011

Zionists continue to take control of nature

by Rumbold at 9:53 am    

Everybody knows that Jews control the world. Until recently, this control was thought to merely relate to the banks, governments and other global corporations. Recent discoveries have however led to the realisation that the Jews are increasingly taking control of other species. First we had the Iranian revelation that Paul the octopus was a Western propaganda agent. Then came the unmasking of a Mossad shark, dispatched to Egyptian waters to damage their tourist trade. Even neutral observers knew there was something fishy going on. Now the latest Zionist creature to be caught is a vulture dispatched by Israeli security forces. The creature, tagged as a part of a experiment by Tel Aviv University to track its flight (hence the Tel Aviv University stamp on the tracker) was rumoured to be an undercover agent for Mossad after being arrested by the Saudi Arabians. The vulture was spotted after Saudi forces noted a bird with a skull cap. Undeterred by this setback, the head of Mossad promised to unleash more creatures on anti-Zionists:

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Filed under: Current affairs,Humour
5th January, 2011

Pakistani rallies for peace

by Rumbold at 8:03 am    

Pakistan often gets a bad press. If a country was defined by media coverage, then Pakistan would be solely a land of terrorism and violence, punctuated by frequent coups, rigged elections and natural disasters. Yet the vast majority of Pakistanis reject terrorism and Taliban style government, judging by the lack of votes won by such parties in Pakistan’s history. Understandably, terrorist attacks and communal violence make headlines more regularly than an opposition to terrorism and communal violence. That is why it was heartening to see such strong support for rallies throughout Pakistan in favour of peace and an end to state and non-state repression and violence:

The rallies took place across 108 Pakistani cities and towns.

It brings to mind the old adage that Pakistan is a “moderate country held hostage by extremists.” Given the murder of the governor of the Punjab, a leading moderate, recently, these rallies are needed more than ever.

(Via Rezwan at Global Voices)

Filed under: Pakistan,Terrorism
4th January, 2011

Leftie action: let the cream rise to the top

by Sunny at 8:42 pm    

There’s a somewhat long-winded debate going on amongst lefties across blogs about the merits of ‘democratically organised versus new-social-order decentralised’ action. In other words, do we let a few people take the lead, in a democratic fashion, or do we let the anarchic system prevail where anyone can use social networks to pimp out their actions. I caricature of course, but I don’t have time to write 2000 words on the subject.

So I’ll be brief. Not long after I launched Liberal Conspiracy I was on the hunt for more women bloggers. I spotted Laurie Penny a mile off and invited her to join us (she didn’t get the email and later approached me but the point stands). Laurie, if slightly on the verbose side, was eloquent, passionate and a firebrand. Perfect for leftie-blogging, and her posts on LC always caught on fire.

My aim wasn’t to dictate what people said or even have some form of democratic accountability: it was only to build a platform where people’s writing could shine and where campaigns could be run, from a left-perspective. When she wrote controversial blog-posts attacking other lefties I resolutely defended her right to challenge existing orthodoxies. I wasn’t interested in creating a circle-jerk where new ideas challenging the old ones couldn’t bubble through. And I’d defend the right of writers to be controversial. She has since become very popular, and I’m glad LC played a part in making that happen.

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Filed under: Current affairs,Media

Trial by media

by Rumbold at 11:36 am    

Anton Vowl at the Enemies of Reason has an excellent post on the media’s treatment of Chris Jefferies, who has been questioned by the police in connection with the death of Joanna Yeates. He points out the allegations and insinuations that have been hurled at Mr. Jefferies even though Mr. Jefferies had not been charged with anything:

His photograph has appeared on the front page of national newspapers 11 times. He was described as “weird”, “lewd”, “strange”, “creepy”, “angry”, “odd”, “disturbing”, “eccentric”, “a loner” and “unusual” in the course of just one article. That the former English teacher should have liked the classic Oscar Wilde poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol was described by one article as “Chris Jefferies’ favourite poem was about killing wife”. That the teacher should have taught pupils about the horror of the Holocaust and a classic novel by Wilkie Collins was described as him being “obsessed with death”. He was accused of being a ‘peeping tom’ by people who never made a complaint to police about his activities. One front-page headline asked of the landlord “Could this man hold the key to Joanna’s death?” and the next day asked “Was Jo’s body hidden next to her flat?” next to a picture of him.

Should people accused of major crimes have their identities protected? On balance yes, and it certainly should be the case for anyone who has not even been charged and brought to trial yet. There can be advantages to publicising potential suspects: other people may come forward with information which could lead to the police catching the perpetrator. But set against this is the damage done to innocent people (and everyone is innocent until proven guilty). For the time being Mr Jefferies’ life is over, thanks to a rabid media. I don’t know if Mr. Jefferies was involved at all in Ms. Yeates’ death, but nor does the media. That is for the courts to decide.

Filed under: Civil liberties,Media

Did WikiLeaks really set back democracy in Zimbabwe?

by Sunny at 9:18 am    

To cut a long story short, the implication is that WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable (09HARARE1004) which gave an excuse to Robert Mugabe to try and charge Morgan Tsvangirai with treason.

Now, Robert Mugabe doesn’t need much excuse to be a genocidal maniac who wants to subvert peace, but is WikiLeaks to blame?

The story was first report in the Atlantic by Christopher Albon, and the Guardian’s CIF followed up with this piece by Republican James Richardson.

But I found this story curious for the reasons that WikiLeaks has now hit back with:

Wikileaks has been releasing its cables only in collaboration with its media partners, using its media partnerships to outsource its harm minimization procedures. This ensures that cables are only released after they have been greenlighted and redacted by professional and accredited journalists working for one of the media partners.

If this is actually the method by which the cables are published, then it will be important to find which media partner first published 09HARARE1004. A glance at the datestamp for 09HARARE1004 reveals it was published on the 8th of December, 2010. The only publication making reference to 09HARARE1004 as early as this, is a publication of the full cable in The Guardian. The Guardian’s title for the cable is “US embassy cables: Tsvangirai tells US Mugabe is increasingly ‘old, tired and poorly briefed’”. It identifies gossip about Mugabe at the salient content of the cable, and entirely fails to identify the importance of the material on international sanctions against Zimbabwe, which is the material which allegedly incriminates Tsvangirai.

So, err, the piece in the Guardian blames WikiLeaks for releasing the cable when it seems that the Guardian itself was the first media source to release the cable. I’ve sent off a few emails to try and confirm all this.

Filed under: Media
3rd January, 2011

Now the Wikileaks sh*t is really hitting the fan

by Sunny at 10:30 am    

The US government is stepping up security in Afghanistan to stop smuggling, after WikiLeaks cables embarrassingly showed that millions of dollars were leaving the country by nefarious means.

According to a secret cable released by WikiLeaks, Ahmed Zia Massoud, a former Afghan vice president, visited the United Arab Emirates last year carrying $52 million in cash. Mr. Massoud has denied the report. Beyond the flow of money to Dubai, millions of dollars more are believed to be smuggled through border crossings, and American officials fear at least some of the money is being funneled to Afghan insurgents taking shelter in Pakistan’s tribal regions.

You’d think right-wingers in the US would be happy that someone is exposing their tax dollars being wasted, no? But that’s not even the big story….

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1st January, 2011

Unrest in Tunisia and the wider Middle East

by Rumbold at 12:07 pm    

For those of you who have sobered up and are not hungover *ahem*, Nesrine Malik has a good piece on how protests in Tunisia, which erupted after an unemployed man set himself on fire, relate to the greater Middle East:

There are few moments in the political atmosphere of the Middle East that fill me with genuine pride. While eyes have long been fixed on opposition movements in Iran and Egypt, suddenly Tunisia has provided one of the most inspiring episodes of indigenous revolt against a repressive regime.

Following the self-immolation of an unemployed man, riots and demonstrations have swept through the country.

Lebanese journalist Octavia Nasr wrote on Thursday: “I never thought this day would come. Certainly not in Tunisia. To be quite honest, out of the Middle East region, I thought such a rebellious act would come from Egypt where the opposition to President Mubarak’s regime is so fierce and vocal that public demonstrations of anger and dismay have become a routine.”

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