23rd January, 2011

Israel, negotiations and the benefits of secrecy

by Rumbold at 9:28 pm    

Al Jazeera in conjunction with Wikileaks, has revealed some of the secret offers being made in recent rounds of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. While there is a lot of interesting material in there, my focus is on the accusation that the releases will derail the peace process (such as it is), strengthen Hamas and weakened the Palestinian Authority.

It would be wrong to heap all the blame on the media for any subsequent problems. Israeli-Palestinian talks have been going on for decades with no lasting results, without any help from Wikileaks or Al Jazeera. There is also the argument that the leaks expose the intransigence of the Israeli negotiators, which should in theory allow pressure to be brought to bear on those deemed to be holding back a peace deal. The problem with the leaks lies in the reaction of extremists on all sides.

Many conflicts of this nature in recent history have been solved by negotiation (the others still continue or have been brutally crushed). Extremists in any group do not tend to like negotiation, because they know concessions will have to be made, so some times negotiations are begun by moderate leaders without the knowledge of their followers (such as with the IRA). This isn’t the case with Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, as they are public knowledge, but the general point still holds: that in any negotiation concessions need to be offered, usually ones which would infuriate extremists, so for the sake of a lasting settlement it is better if those concessions are offered behind closed doors, then any deal is presented to extremists as a fait accompli.

This is not a foolproof method by any means. But it does provide a basis for negotiation. In the future, will either side be willing to offer controversial concessions as a starting point if they believe that it is likely they will be leaked?
(Via Naadir Jeewa)

Sunny’s update: The leak has nothing to do with WikiLeaks. I’ve updated Rumbold’s post to reflect that.

12th January, 2011

Dr. Mitu Khurana wins award

by Rumbold at 10:26 am    

I was pleased to see that CNN-IBN, an Indian media network, has awarded Dr. Mitu Khurana one of its Citizen Journalist awards. The prize, which recognises ‘ordinary’ (i.e. those who are not journalists) Indians who have exposed or campaigned for something, such as a disabled passenger who secretly filmed people refusing to get up from the disabled seats for him. Dr. Mitu’s citation reads:

Citizen Journalist, Dr. Mitu Khurana, is a Delhi based pediatrician. She is the first woman to have filed a case under the PC-PNDT act against her husband and in laws. She also filed a case against a Delhi based hospital and the doctor who did an ultra sound on her to determine the sex of her twins fetuses. Mitu’s in-laws who wanted her to undergo an abortion tortured, her. She endured the abuse and harassment. She gave premature birth to twin girls. Her ordeal didn’t end there. Mitu’s attempts over 3 years to get her husband to accept the girls failed. Instead, she was thrown out of the house, so that her husband could marry again. Mitu is now trying to fight the case under the PCPNDT Act that clearly states that hospital and doctors should neither conduct sex determination tests nor disclose the sex of the fetuses. She turned CJ to create awareness about the Pre conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection¬) Act that bans sex determination tests in India.

We have been following her case for some time on Pickled Politics (see here, here and here). Dr. Mitu is now engaged in a custody battle with her ex-husband, who is using the threat of losing her daughters as a way to pressure her into dropping the case against him, his relatives and the official bodies. She has been repeatedly maligned by the previous judge, other officials and her former in-laws, so it is heartening to see that this brave woman, who is challenging the culture of aborting female babies en masse, is receiving more recognition.

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
28th December, 2010

BBC stars ‘blacked up’ controversy

by Rumbold at 10:39 am    

Having watched Little Britain once, briefly, I have been fortunate to have escaped it ever since. It came across as unpleasant and unfunny, and it seems that the show’s creators have continued in the same vein with their recent Christmas Day special. Matt Lucas and David Walliams decided to ‘black up‘ in order to play a number of characters, including a black woman:

Lucas darkens his face and wears a beard to play a Muslim worker called Taaj. He also adopts a strong West Indian accent to play a black woman called Precious who works in the coffee shop.

Though the story has been mainly pushed in the Daily Mail, which has a vendetta against the BBC, the reaction of the BBC’s spokesman was pretty weak:

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Come Fly With Me had a huge audience and many people loved it. ‘Matt and David play all the characters and they are representing a multicultural society. They are not setting out to offend people.’

“Representing a multicultural society” by ‘blacking up’? Oh dear. One of the main problems with ‘blacking up’ or blackface’ is its historical legacy. Most prominent in America as a way of perpetuating negative stereotypes of black men (and women), it also came to this country mainly in the form of the Black and White Minstrel show. Many people found it offensive at the time and still do so today. Nor is this the first time Little Britain has used ‘blacked up’ characters.

Filed under: EDL,History,Media
21st December, 2010

The Daily Mail 100 years ago*

by Rumbold at 9:22 am    

Reading through Professor Andrew’s history of MI5, I came across a story about anti-German propaganda in the run up to the first world war.

In 1906, a popular author, William Le Queux, published a book, The Invasion of 1910, explaining in meticulous detail German plans to invade Britain in 1910. The plans were made up by the author, but were widely believed. They were serialised by the Daily Mail, whose proprietor had a special hatred of the Germans (in his final will he accused them of poisoning him by ice cream).

The Daily Mail changed the invasion plans in the book, as they felt that there were too many villages on the invasion route where the Daily Mail’s circulation was low. Instead towns were added with a greater number of Daily Mail readers (to induce extra fear).

The serialisation added 80,000 to the Daily Mail’s readership and contributed to greater anti-German feeling.

*Well, 104 years ago.

Filed under: History,Humour,Media
9th December, 2010

Song against domestic violence and for SBS

by Rumbold at 9:40 pm    

Avina Shah has released a new single, Tere Bina, which focuses on domestic violence. It was inspired by the film ‘Provoked‘, which told the true story of a abused wife who killed her violent husband and was jailed for it. Southall Black Sisters were one of the most prominent supporters of her and therefore Avina Shah has decided to donate the earnings from this single to them, which is available to buy at itunes. Her website is here. As Ms. Shah put it:

Tere Bina is a positive song all about girl power! It tells the story of a young girl who finally decides to walk away from a really violent and abusive relationship. The lyrics are in Hindi but the music has a very western feel, which I think will appeal to listeners that like to hear something a bit different but with a conscience. People think that domestic violence is a thing of the past, but it’s shocking to discover how common this problem actually is still today. We’ve put a lot of thought in trying to capture all of these emotions into the song itself as well as the music video.

3rd December, 2010

Daily Mail blames multiculturalism for England’s failed world cup bid

by Rumbold at 10:57 am    

There have been many theories surrounding the reason why England lost the bid to host the world cup, from Russian bribes to journalistic scrutiny. The Daily Mail however has taken a different line. it seems that a multi-cultural video presented by the bid team could have put delegates off. The article’s headline on the main page reads:

So did this multicultural bid cost us the world cup?

This article goes onto to snidely remark that the bid team was portraying England as “so multicultural, so diverse.” If the writer had limited his criticism to the lack of English scenes (as opposed to scenes from other countries) in the video, then the argument might have some validity. But the repeated references to multiculturalism, diversity and the “ethnically diverse figures” in the article mean that the focus is more on the supposed downside of highlighting diversity and multiculturalism. To judge from the highly rated comments it seems other people interpreted it that way too:

The video is total rubbish, no doubt about it. Once again, an example of how we are too scared to celebrate our national identity for fear that the PC brigade will come along and moan that there are not enough different cultures and minorities represented. But I highly doubt the video cost us the bid, the entire process stinks of corruption.- 1031 likes

Completely agree with this article. It makes me feel sick to the stomach when we have this ‘multicultural’ rubbish rubbed in our faces. We should stick to traditional values and celebrate our heritage.- 761 likes

Filed under: EDL,Media,Sports
1st December, 2010

Liberty: the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear

by Sunny at 11:02 pm    

Says Jamie K:

If you think that someone should be killed for insulting the prophet Mohammed then you’re a dangerous extremist. If you think someone should be killed for causing mild inconvenience to the Secretary of State – peace be upon her – then you’re a presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, some blog is generally going on about how Wikileaks are such bastards for having the temerity to publish confidential information.

I mean, god forbid that anyone even begin to challenge US “national security”. Can’t have that can we?

Filed under: Media

Anti domestic violence video from Turkey

by Sunny at 3:41 pm    

This was broadcast on mainstream Turkish television channels.

“Ceyda has been accidentally hitting the door every day for the last 8 months. If you think she should see an eye doctor, then we don’t need your support”

Filed under: Media,Sex equality
26th November, 2010

OMG Melanie Phillips apologises!

by Sunny at 10:04 am    

Can’t believe I missed this earlier. The Indy’s Matthew Norman reported on Monday:

Lovers of the unusual, rejoice! Within days Melanie Phillips will make a public apology. In July 2008, Mad Mel lifted and embellished a mistake from the neocon website, Harry’s Place, regarding Mohammad Sawalha, a Palestinian-born British man whom Al Jazeera had mis-transcribed referring to “evil/ noxious” Jews at a rally.

In fact, as Arabic experts later confirmed to High Court superstar Tugendhat, he referred to the “Jewish lobby”. Al Jazeera corrected it instantly, and Harry’s Place later, yet MM magisterially ignored requests for a simple correction until a trial was imminent, when she caved. This unwonted arrogance has presented a six-figure bill for damages and costs to The Spectator, which at the time of writing continues to host her deliciously deranged blog.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of circle-jerks. By my reckoning, that’s the second time this year someone at the Spectator has cost the magazine money for using HP for research. And long may it continue.

The apology has now been published, but I’m rather disappointed it wasn’t on Mad Mel’s blog. That would have been a glorious sight.

Filed under: Media
22nd November, 2010

Andrew Gilligan confirms why he’s become a laughing stock

by Sunny at 5:23 pm    

Andrew Gilligan writes on his blog that he has left Press TV:

I did present a regular discussion show on the station, in which Islamism, and the policies of the Iranian government, were often debated and challenged. But I stopped last December, in part for precisely the reason Mr Hasan says – taking the Iranian shilling was inconsistent with my opposition to Islamism.

I have not worked for Press TV since. The only exception is two one-off shows I presented for them in the week of the general election in May, more than six months ago

Note that in May 2008 I reported that Press TV was then promoting Holocaust Denial. Even before that, it was obvious where Press TV’s sympathies lied.

So it took over a year for Gilligan to realise that taking Iranian shilling was “inconsistent” with his “opposition to Islamism”? What bollocks. Either Gilligan is the dimmest journalist that ever existed or there’s more to this story than he claims.

Filed under: Media
19th November, 2010

Tabloids lie about Muslims (again) PCC does nothing

by Sunny at 3:09 pm    

In late October the Daily Mail ran with this story:

Cafe owner ordered to remove extractor fan because neighbour claimed ‘smell of frying bacon offends Muslims’
A hard-working cafe owner has been ordered to tear down an extractor fan – because the smell of her frying bacon ‘offends’ Muslims. Planning bosses acted against Beverley Akciecek, 49, after being told her next-door neighbour’s Muslim friends had felt ‘physically sick’ due to the ‘foul odour’.

Councillors at Stockport Council in Greater Manchester say the smell from the fan is ‘unacceptable on the grounds of residential amenity’.

You can predict the I’m outraged! These Muslims are taking over! comments. Given that the Telegraph has also become a tabloid rag, it followed up with a re-write of the same story. As did the Metro.

The article was dissected by Tabloid Watch, which pointed out:

But then it becomes clear that the complaints about the smell coming from the cafe’s extractor fan were not from random passing Muslims. Indeed, the planning application details appear to show that there was just one official complaint – and that was from the person who lives next door to the cafe:

Notice he says the smell makes him ‘physically sick’, not his Muslim friends, as the Mail claimed in the second paragraph. And yes, he does mention his ‘Muslim friends’ couldn’t ‘stand the smell’. But using the term ‘Muslim friends’ strongly implies he’s not actually Muslim himself – if he was, it’s likely the Mail would have mentioned it somewhere.

But of course that’s not how the Daily Mail and Telegraph wanted the narrative to be. They wanted it to be about Nasty Muslims Banning Our Way of Life.

Anyway, after the Tabloid Watch blog went up, three people decided to complain to the Press Complaints Commission.

The PCC has now cleared the Mail, on the grounds that, “readers would not be misled as to the circumstances surrounding the refusal for planning permission.”

As Roy Greenslade points out – that is not the impression one gets from reading the comments in the article, which are aimed squarely at Muslims. Not only does the PCC downplay the importance of the misleading headline, but assumes people will actually read between the lines and get what the real story is. They don’t.
But there is one comment on the original DM article worth highlighting:

I am the neighbour who complained! Well done DM for asking for my comments on the matter, but if you had there would be No Story To Print! This vent is affecting my children’s health and that is why the council denied planning!

Yes, I have some Muslim friends who it offended, but nothing was said about my English friends who avoid my house within opening hours of the shop!

Shame on you Daily Mail. You have stirred up lots of racial tension in my area now, so for you its ‘mission accomplished.’

Mission accomplished indeed. It’s worth noting these incidents of mainstream bigotry go largely unremarked in our media culture except one or two small places.

Filed under: Media,Religion
11th November, 2010

The Indian Girl in ‘Eat Pray Love’

by guest at 12:32 pm    

This is a guest post by Rita Banerji

‘Eat Pray Love’ was showing in theaters in India about two weeks ago, and I have to admit, that like most here, I too went to see it just to see how the country looks on the big screen. But the one question that’s been nagging at me since is, “Why did they have to get Tulsi married?”

The seventeen-year-old Indian girl, Tulsi, who Liz Gilbert befriends at the ashram, has a colorful wedding in the film, which she does not in the book. True, films often distort their source to suit the audience’s whims. And a Bollywood style wedding would certainly spice up the visual appeal. Yet I found Tulsi’s wedding to be a symbolic slaughter of the spirit of this book; a mockery of one of its core issues.

Since Liz already travels, explores and writes, doing all she truly loves, what was her big soul-searching journey all about? In her own words: “I don’t want to have a baby,” an issue she wrestles with incessantly. “That deadline of THIRTY loomed over me..and I discovered I did not want to be pregnant.” And again, “I well know what desire feels like. But it [the desire for a child] wasn’t there.” Her real concern about motherhood, it seems is how she would be perceived if she openly admitted she didn’t desire children. She agonizes over how people would “judge” her. “What kind of a person does that make me?”

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8th November, 2010

Islam Channel allows crackpots to make claims about rape; gets rapped

by Sunny at 4:28 pm    

The Guardian reports:

In a programme first broadcast in April last year, Ofcom ruled that the Islam Channel host Nazreen Nawaz condoned marital rape when she said: “And really the idea that a woman cannot refuse her husband’s relations this is not strange to a Muslim because it is part of maintaining that strong marriage. But it shouldn’t be such a big problem where the man feels he has to force himself upon the woman.”

The channel also broke the broadcasting code by encouraging violence against women, in a Q&A session on marital violence, and for labelling women who wore perfume “prostitutes”.

If I remember correctly though, the presenter Nazreen Nawaz is a Hizb ut-Tahrir activist. I’m not surprised she makes the claim… it’s more worrying that the Islam Channel thinks its ok to make a Hizb ut-Tahrir activist a presenter.

Well done to the Quilliam Foundation for making the complaint.
Update: I incorrectly said they had been fined; have amended the headline now.

Filed under: Media
1st November, 2010

Reflections and top quotes from the South Asian Lit Festival

by guest at 10:27 am    

by Iman Qureshi

The inaugural DSC South Asian Literature Festival took place in London from the 15th – 25th October, and featured prominent writers, journalists, and artists who spoke on a range of different issues related to both South Asia and the South Asian diaspora in Britain.

The festival, conceived less a year ago as the whimsical daydream of two young literary aficionados, could not have been more impressive. Held in a number of venues across the city, the events addressed themes of culture, politics, reconciliation, education, and the importance of writing.

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Filed under: Culture,Media
25th October, 2010

Tories are for debating white extremists, but not Muslim ones

by Sunny at 10:22 am    

Most Tories say they’re against the ‘no-platform’ stance with extremists like the BNP. They put up Baroness Warsi against Nick Griffin on BBC Question Time even though Labour MPs like Peter Hain refused to share a platform with the BNP.

Their reasoning is that white extremists should be debated rather than shunned, otherwise the problem gets worse. And debating solves everything, right?

But you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s one rule for white extremists and another rule for Muslims. The Observer reported yesterday that David Cameron has banned Baroness Warsi from attending the Global Peace and Unity event organised by the Islam Channel. Since it’s the IC, you can expect some Muslim extremists to also be part of the proceedings. But the Tories don’t want them to be debated. Neither does Paul Goodman of ConservativeHome – who previously argued that we should debate the BNP.

Oh, bloggers at Harry’s Place are also applauding this decision, but they gave up any pretence on having equal standards on free speech ages ago.

As I’ve documented before – this hypocrisy of neo-conservatives, on the left and right, crops up regularly. Tories are against racial profiling when it’s to encourage equality in representation, but for it when arguing for black and Asian men to be stopped and searched. They want to allow white extremists like Geert Wilders coming into this country, but not Muslim ones like al-Qaradawi. They wouldn’t like white extremist groups like the BNP to be banned, but happy to advocate for groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir to be banned.

I don’t suppose it makes the heads of these ideologues explode with irony and hypocrisy, but you’d think at least government ministers who claim to care for free speech and civil liberties engage their brains a bit more. For the record: I’m not fussed either way – what pisses me off is the double-standards. Either say you’re going to debate all extremists, or don’t share a platform with any.

Filed under: Civil liberties,Media
24th October, 2010

Asian journo faces £1m libel case over article

by Sunny at 6:01 am    

This from a press release
At the High Court in London this week, Lady Justice Smith granted Indian national ‘His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh ji Maharaj’ the right to appeal in his libel case against British journalist Hardeep Singh. The case will now go before three judges at the Court of Appeal to decide whether it should proceed to a full trial.

Hardeep Singh said: “I’ve been fighting this case for three years already; this adds a minimum of another six months of torment. If I lose, it will cost me over £1 million, let alone my costs so far and a tenth of my life. This feels like the biggest game of poker you can possibly play: all for exercising my right to free expression.”

He added: “I’m hoping the government take reform of our libel laws seriously and we get a robust bill in the New Year.”

Mike Harris from Index on Censorship said: “When individuals like Hardeep Singh risk £1million and bankruptcy all for a single newspaper article, it really hits home how important libel reform is. I hope the government backs the Libel Reform Campaign’s call for wholesale reform of our libel laws so free speech is protected.”

Síle Lane from Sense About Science said: ‘Change in the libel laws cannot come soon enough. Singh’s case highlights that the laws as they stand are unfair, unduly costly, out of date and against the public interest. Until we have a clear, strong public interest defence against libel actions writers, bloggers, NGOs and journalists will be forced to back down in the face of threats.’

The case centres on an article that Hardeep Singh wrote in August 2007 for the Sikh Times, a British newspaper, in which he claimed that Jeet Singh was an “accused Cult leader” whose teachings were not in line with mainstream Sikh doctrine. In May 2010 Mr Justice Eady threw the case out with no right to appeal.

Eady’s judgment held that secular courts should not make a judgment on a religious dispute. This week’s application for appeal was granted on the limited basis that there are arguable issues in Singh’s article that do not tread on the forbidden area of doctrinal dispute.

Filed under: Civil liberties,Media
21st October, 2010

Hindu fundamentalists in Indian try to ban book

by Sunny at 7:33 am    

Yesterday the Guardian reported:

The prize-winning author Rohinton Mistry was today at the centre of a row in India after his novel Such a Long Journey was cut from a university reading list after complaints from an extremist group.

The decision to withdraw the book by the vice chancellor of Mumbai University, Dr Rajan M Welukar, shocked many in India’s cosmopolitan commercial centre. Supporters of Mistry and free speech campaigners criticised the university for agreeing to the demands of the nationalist Shiv Sena, which has a reputation for using violence to intimidate opponents.

The bastards. I loved that book as well. It’s an outrage that academics in India are so spineless and the government does nothing about it (as was the case during Satanic Verses).

Now, Rohinton Mistry has hit out:

via Sunder Katwala

Filed under: Media
19th October, 2010

Right-wing idiots throw bricks at each other

by Sunny at 7:02 am    

This is just for amusement purposes. The odious Rod Liddle yesterday wrote a blog post dissing the even more odious James Delingpole (climate change denier-in-chief on the right), calling him ‘politically correct’ for getting outraged over the 10:10 video.

The film begins with a teacher explaining the 10:10 thing to her class of kids and asking them if they fancy doing anything to help cut carbon emissions. Most eagerly sign up, but two kids do not. The teacher says ok, fair enough, never mind – and then presses a red button and the recidivist kids explode, showering their class mates with gore. I saw the film and thought it quite funny, and nicely done and even self-deprecatingly ironic. And – here’s the point – if it had been George Monbiot and Lord Stern exploding I suspect James would have been howling with laughter, instead of foaming with indignation.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Rod Liddle over this. But even a stopped clock shows the right time twice a day.

Delingpole goes ballistic, with none of the ‘humour’ that Liddle attributes to him:

Rod Liddle knows even less about Climate Change than I do about Millwall FC
In a shameless attempt to win some readers for his little known Spectator blog, Rod Liddle has thrown together a desperate post with the highly offensive and almost certainly libellous headline The Politically Correct James Delingpole. It’s about my reaction to Richard Curtis’s ecofascist snuff movie No Pressure, which Rod reckons was overdone.

See? It is sometimes amusing to read these head-bangers.

Filed under: Humour,Media
18th October, 2010

South Asian Literature Festival this week

by Sunny at 6:21 am    

I should have blogged this before (oops!)

The inaugural South Asian Literature Festival takes place in London from 15th – 25th October, followed by outreach events in Brighton, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester at the end of October.

Some events have already taken place, but here are upcoming ones:
Words Without Borders: Literature in a Time of War
19 October, Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA, 4pm
Acclaimed Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif along with special guests from the region will offer their perspectives on the effects of war on South Asian writers. Can great literature thrive and new voices be found in this environment? What impact do conflicts have on freedom of expression?

From Fatwa to Jihad
19 October, Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA, 6pm
An examination of how the rise of terrorism in the last 20 years has led to a curtailing of freedom of expression and civil liberties in the UK. Writer and broadcaster Kenan Malik and journalist Shiv Malik explore multiculturalism, terror, free speech and the “culture of offence” in modern Britain.

Twin Dynasties
21 October, Kings Place Hall 2, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG, 7pm
Two dynasties come together with Nayantara Sahgal and Fatima Bhutto. Nayantara descends from the Nehru family while Fatima is the granddaughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the niece of Benazir, both former Pakistani prime ministers. Both will meet for the first time and discuss their experiences of growing up in such powerful families.

More details on their website. I also think @ImanQureshi is live tweeting from all of them…

Filed under: Media
12th October, 2010

Andrew Marr smackdown

by Sunny at 8:49 pm    

In response to the Andrew Marr comments, I think there is only thing to say:

It’s a curious remark coming from a journalist who used the ‘rumours on the internet’ excuse when asking Gordon Brown if he was popping pills. Marr clearly reads political blogs and even absorbs the rumours. So it’s absurd to turn around and caricature them now.

And that I love drinking and blogging. #longlivewhisky

Filed under: Humour,Media

Boris in ‘PC gawn mad’ Black History Month shocker

by Sunny at 9:55 am    

The Guardian reports:

The Heritage Lottery Fund and Boris Johnson today announced £5m funding for a centre for black history and culture in Brixton, south London.

The lottery fund will provide £4m and the mayor of London £1m under the plans to develop the Black Cultural Archives.

Johnson said he was pleased to support the development of the centre, “which will house a wealth of historical material about the contribution of black people to British society. It will be a wonderful new cultural centre for London, but also for the UK, giving scholars a greater understanding of our country’s rich heritage and inspiring people of all ages and communities.”

I’ve said before that essentially, for all his libertarian-right talk, Boris Johnson is quite centrist. And so he has continued celebrating multiculturalism in London through Diwali in the Square, Eid in the Square, Vaisakhi in the square etc. And now this.
Can’t wait to see what the wingnuts make of this. A bit of rage at Boris from the right would be hilarious.

Filed under: Media,Race politics
8th October, 2010

The problem with the Prince Harry drama

by Rumbold at 1:37 pm    

Channel 4 have come under heavy fire after announcing the screening of a drama showing Prince Harry being kidnapped by the Taliban and forced to take part in propaganda videos. Some of the criticism is misplaced, as it is unlikely to give succour to the Taliban, or make a kidnap attempt on Prince Harry more likely. The problem is that Prince Harry is a real person.

There is no problem per se with a drama showing a fictional soldier being kidnapped. It is topical, it happens, and is something which needs to be exposed. The issue is that Prince Harry is real. Take a similar type of drama; let’s say a programme focused on the rape of a woman and the subsequent aftermath. If the person was fictional, it might be defensible. It would show viewers the brutality of rape, the lack of support the woman faces in the aftermath, how her friends and family react, and the physical and psychological damage.

Now imagine if Channel Four gave the previously-fictional rape victim a real identity, and the programme followed the rape of Theresa May, the Home Secretary. Ms. May would not have given consent for this, yet the programme would imagine, in graphic detail, what it would be liked if she was raped and the aftermath. Not that I am try to say that rape and kidnapping are equal (drawing equivalence between crimes, particularly one as horrific as rape, is always dangerous), but rather I wanted to use it as example to show how wrong the programme is.

Filed under: Media
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