26th November, 2007

Will Kabaddi encourage you to join the Army?

by Sunny at 9:19 am    

Erm, apparently they think it will.

There is more to the Army’s interest in kabaddi than just sport. The recruitment section is funding the game and the tour. They see it as a way of appealing to young British Asians and encouraging them to sign up as soldiers.

Well, none of the quotes by Army personnell state that so it may amount to the journalist’s take. I can’t think of anything more silly. But the idea of British soldiers playing Kabaddi is funny though. During my first year at university, a huge group of us drove down to Margate for the day. Randomly, we decided to play Kabaddi on the beach while onlookers watched in amusement. Happy days, I tell you.

Filed under: Humour,Race politics

Politics and the internet

by Sunny at 4:25 am    

<shameless plug>Yesterday, Radio 4’s Westminster Hour had a special supplement on Power and the Web, presented by Spectator editor Matthew D’ancona. Although I briefly feature near the end (plugging PP), the programme is well worth listening to despite the damage I may do to your ears. The second part goes out Sunday December 2 at 10.45pm and will mention Liberal Conspiracy.</shameless plug>

Filed under: Blog
25th November, 2007

New IVF rules: Demise of the Traditional Family?

by SajiniW at 10:02 am    

It’s rare to find I agree with Minette Marrin. Whilst I admire the way she writes without fear, I find the ‘doom-mongering’ can get a little heavy sometimes.

Alas, she has made some interesting points regarding the new proposals for fertility treatment.

The most contentious of the proposals is to remove the requirement to consider the “need for a father” when deciding whether to offer IVF. This is part of ministerial efforts to make it easier for homosexual couples to have test-tube babies.

This has (unsurprisingly) caused outrage amongst religious and conservative circles, with Iain Duncan Smith saying it would “drive the last nail in the coffin of the traditional family”.

Marrin has also considered the necessity of men in today’s society.

There’s the “widespread use of the word testosterone as a term of blame and abuse”, in addition to women increasingly blaming their difficulties on men. She proposes the argument for a serious revaluation of men thanks to the numbers of women living capably without them, in addition to reprising traditional roles.

She also argues the benefits to offering fertility treatment to lesbian couples.

There is no reason for seeing lesbian couples and their children as the beginning of the end of family life. Nor is it a rejection of men. Anyone who knows any lesbian parents knows they are usually keen on family life, keen to be accepted into the normal world of parenthood and to welcome men into it, too. They just don’t welcome men into their beds.

Lesbian women who go through the misery of IVF treatment to have a baby, and who make the commitment of marriage as well, are people who by definition want to start a family. They support family life and they want to be part of the ordinary family-friendly world. It may not be traditional family life, but it is closer to it than the behaviour of an irresponsible straight girl who gets pregnant the quick and easy way without thought of providing a companion to help her bring up her child and then relies on state handouts. It is those girls who are aggressively banging nails into the coffin of family life, not the tiny number of thoughtful lesbians.

24th November, 2007

Is the Brown Premiership coming to an end?

by Leon at 10:58 pm    

The moment Gordon Brown announced there would be no election something clicked into place for me. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time but a few weeks later I was struck by this sudden sense that Gordon Brown’s days were numbered.

This fed into a conversation with a good friend (and Labour party supporter I might add), we both concluded that he’d be gone in six months but without doubt within twelve. Uttering out loud those words I was almost shocked to hear myself say them! I had no special knowledge, no divine insight or great analytical skill just this strong instinct that this was it for him. I usually don’t make judgments on such abstract grounds.

Since the ‘no announcement announcement’ the government has come to look more and more like the last days of Major premiership. Crisis and incompetence, one after another have come tumbling out into public view. Brown’s controlling style has become a great deal more transparent and more embarrassing for his Ministers and supports.

It transpires I’m not alone in thinking his time is running short:

Secondly, I think somebody is going to resign. Maybe somebody quite big. Sooner or later a figure important to Mr Brown’s credibility or authority will decide they’ve had enough and quit. This is as likely to be in a fit of pique as a mood of calculation.

Admiral Lord West, the PM’s new big-tent security adviser, must have been tempted to walk out when carpeted and humiliated by Mr Brown last week. Mr Miliband must have had his red-mist moment when his speech was unspoken before he had spoken it. Lords Malloch-Brown and (Digby) Jones cannot surely stay the course for ever. The Governor of the Bank of England must have known private rage recently, as Brownite dweebs tried to undermine him.

This has all been within a few weeks. Can the PM get away with sheer bad manners indefinitely – especially if his stock falls farther, his inner circle narrows and the resources of the protection racket he runs begin to fail? So I’ll nail my colours to the mast. Mr Brown could become the Steve McClaren of British politics. Something is going to happen, something quite nasty. What, we must wait to see.

I agree, that last line is my sense also; I think we’re seeing the last days of Gordon Brown’s Premiership (and possibly the Labour Government).

I think his time as leader and Prime Minister is running out, and running out fast.

Update: Paul Linford and OurKingdom have also picked up the scent. Ben Brogan joins the fray with this piece. And for those that think we’re being far fetched or don’t think it’s possible, ask yourself this: six weeks ago did you know that Ming was going to be gone all of a sudden?

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The Really Very Quick Open Thread

by Clairwil at 4:52 pm    

Hello,
Having been unable to fight my way through the crowds of Winterval shoppers. I have sought refuge in an internet cafe to ensure the weekly happy post reaches you. The bad news is I appear to be at a semi-functioning pc which does not like videos at all so no clip just now, though I’ll add one later at home. In the meantime you could pop over to my blog and view the clip on my last post where a rather plastic looking fool tries and fails to outwit Jeremy Kyle. Until now I’d never have thought failure at so easy a task possible, truly the de-evolution of man is upon us!

Still there’s nothing like fiddling while Rome burns, so lets have your jokes, funny tales, amusing links, weekend plans and banter below please!

Oh and if you’ve spotted anything wonderful on the the net this week, please alert the good folk at the Britblog Round Up at britblog@gmail.com.

Update: Don has very kindly drawn my attention to the above video clip. It’s a hoot- though I suspect Jeremy Kyle would be less than amused by it.

Filed under: Current affairs
23rd November, 2007

Uttar Pradesh hit by multiple blasts; at least 14 dead

by Rumbold at 8:21 pm    

India’s most populous state was today rocked by a series of blasts:

“The bombs placed on bicycles went off simultaneously in and around the court premises in Varanasi, Lucknow and Faizabad. Nine people have been killed in Varanasi, while four deaths have been reported from Faizabad.

Bangladesh based outfit Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islamia (HuJI) is suspected to be behind the blasts but an unknown group, the Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. The group apparently sent an email to a private TV channel just five minutes before the blasts. They also said they are purely Indian and not connected to the ISI [Pakistan Intelligence Service], the Lashkar-e-Toiba [Pakistani terrorist group based in Kashmir] or Huji.”

Continue Reading...
Filed under: India

Pakistan suspended from the Commonwealth

by Sunny at 12:44 pm    

Sounds like the right decision to make. Hopefully it’ll put more pressure on Musharraf to hold free elections as soon as possible.

Filed under: Pakistan,South Asia

The right terminology for terrorists

by Sunny at 9:26 am    

In yesterday’s Guardian Timothy Garton Ash said Jihadists is the best term he can think for the current threat of terrorism, eschewing that silly term Islamofascism. Works for me.
Osama Saeed prefers Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism and says we should value accuracy. But he ignores the fact that people (including himself) like to use short-hand phrases all the time. The MCB for example uses Neo-con and Zionist quite liberally, without explaining every time what exactly they mean. Enough of the double-standards please.

Anyway, language is constantly evolving and I see this as a good development. Are you confused by all the phrases people use? Provide some examples…

Filed under: Religion

Ministry of Truth / ChickYog

by Sunny at 3:41 am    

Ministry of Truth has a slightly different domain now, please update your blogrolls. And Chicken Yoghurt is down again. Justin, sort out your hosting company mate!

Filed under: Current affairs
22nd November, 2007

Does ‘leftwing’ politics equal welfare politics?

by Leon at 3:00 pm    

I was reading this piece in the New Statesmen about the rise of BME candidates in the Conservative Party when something Shaun Bailey said stood out:

“People are shocked at my conservative views. But left-wing politics equals welfare politics.

It’s an interesting and I assume widely held rightwing belief that leftist politics will always equate to state dependency. A question I want to ask is how true is it? Does ‘leftwing’ (let’s pretend for a moment the right/left dichotomy is still relevant) politics equal welfare politics?

Is the solidarity and dare I say collectivist tendencies of the left always doomed to keep people poor and a slave to the state? Or is this a convenient myth from a political ideology that likes to ignore the corporate welfare state dependency of the private sector?

Filed under: Current affairs

Opposing 28 days extension

by Sunny at 12:20 pm    

Over on Liberal Conspiracy I’ve said that we plan to start a campaign on opposing the extension of 28 days as a pre-charge detention period. Feel free to add your thoughts to it there.

Filed under: Civil liberties

Pickled Politics’ comment policy

by Rumbold at 10:09 am    

Comments policy on blogs is a difficult issue and an ongoing struggle. Pickled Politics has somewhat of an ad hoc policy, deleting comments where appropriate and occasionally banning people if it is felt that there is no other option. What do you think should be the policy? Are we too soft at the moment, or too harsh, or about right? Is there any way to bring in a crystal-clear policy, or does each comment/commentator have to be judged on their own merits?

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Blog

Meltem Avcil

by Clairwil at 12:27 am    

This email just came to me from Positive Action In Housing regarding the plight of Meltem Avcil. If you want to help out email Prime Minister Gordon Brown to protest browng@parliament.uk and the Home Secretary, homesecretary.submissions@homeoffice.qsi.gov.uk.

‘We have just been informed that government authorization has been granted to Home Office officials to charter a private jet to remove 14 year old Hall Cross Lower pupil, Meltem Avcil, and her mother, either today or first thing tomorrow. We have been informed that removal is IMMINENT and “use of force” has been authorized.

Meltem Avcil, whose 14th birthday is today, had been assessed by doctors from Medical Justice yesterday. There was concern about Meltem’s psychological state, as a result of being incarcerated for three months at Yarlswood Detention Centre, after being dawn raided by an immigration snatch squad at their flat in Doncaster, their home for the past six years. Doctors requested she be transferred to Bedford hospital for assessment.

Until literally minutes ago, Meltem’s supporters believed she had been transferred to Bedford hospital along with her mother. Unfortunately, our sources have informed us that it was “extremely worrying” that Meltem was being taken from Yarls Wood WITH her mother.

What is most worrying of all is that the Children’s Commissioner has taken up Meltem’s case and Dianne Abbott MP raised her case in the House of Commons yesterday. Meltem’s case was also highlighted in today’s Independent newspaper.

Meltem’s mobile phone has been cut off. During her time at Yarls Wood she says she was denied access to newspaper coverage of her case. The Home Office has cut off all communication with Meltem’s lawyers, despite counsel standing by to carry out a judicial review of her case.

We are concerned that Meltem’s school, Hall Cross Lower, responded to Meltem’s predicament by saying they “wish her the best of luck for the future” . We are also concerned that the National Union of Teachers, where protests were held today in Doncaster, have issued no statement on the treatment of Meltem Avcil.’

21st November, 2007

Kamila Shamsie and Christopher Hitchens

by Sunny at 7:28 pm    

Oh look, the poster-boy of those fighting ‘Islamofascism’, Christopher Hitchens, has turned up to support his mate: ‘Martin Amis is no racist’. Of course, he’s not going to convince anyone other than those liberals feeling a bit guilty of supporting Amis earlier. Phew! Now that Hitchens has also confirmed that Martin Amis isn’t racist we can all enjoy ourselves again and not feel guilty. I mean, some of our best friends…

Kamila Shamsie, writing on the Guardian books blog, nails it. And why do I keep coming back to Amis again? Because, as I said yesterday on CIF, “the intentional demonisation of Muslims has become legitimate discourse.” I also said the likes of Amis and the Evening Standard are doing the terrorists work for them but for some reason they took that sentence out.

A view from Pakistan

by Sunny at 3:38 pm    

(This is by journalist friend currently in Karachi)

These are strange times in Pakistan. For those of us who have ferociously supported the right for free speech, this is perhaps the worst place to be alive at the moment. Yet the forces which are standing by carrying flickers of hope are also unparalleled.

On Tuesday, Police baton charged journalists from Karachi Press club in Sadar. The journalists were holding a peaceful demonstration against ban on Geo Television Network and curbs on media in Pakistan. According to Geo officials, the police have arrested 200 journalists including five women. An eyewitness said the journalists were brutally beaten and most of them were bleeding after the brutal attack. After seeing the situation, senior journalists including Owais Tohid, head of Geo English offered their arrests.*

After the incident, the journalists observed protest sit-in against police violence and arrests and announced to offer collective arrests in protest. According to reports several injured journalists have been transferred to hospitals for medical aid. Meanwhile, the number of police and Rangers has been increased outside Karachi office of Geo Television.

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Media,Pakistan

Unrest in Bengal

by Rumbold at 3:19 pm    

Calcutta has been hit by a wave of riots:

“Troops have been deployed in the Indian city of Calcutta after protests over a controversial writer turned into riots. Police using tear gas and baton charges were unable to control crowds calling for Bangladeshi feminist writer Taslima Nasreen to leave India. Rioters blocked roads and set cars alight. At least 27 people were hurt. More than 100 arrests have been made.

Wednesday’s trouble in the state capital began after the predominantly Muslim All-India Minority Forum called for blockades on major roads in the city. The group said Ms Nasreen had “seriously hurt Muslim sentiments”. Many Muslims say her writing ridicules Islam.

The All-India Minority Forum says Taslima Nasreen’s Indian visa should be revoked and she should be forced to leave the country. Critics say she called for the Koran to be changed to give women greater rights, but she vehemently denied making the comments. Ms Nasreen fled Bangladesh in the early 1990s after death threats and has spent the last three years in Calcutta after a long stay in Europe.”

Sunny’s update: In the comments, pounce points out that the riots are actually about the killing of villagers, not the writer Taslima Nasrin. Bad BBC reporting in other words.

The Indian Workers Association

by Sunny at 11:56 am    

The Socialist Worker website has an interesting article titled: ‘How Southall’s Asians fought against racism‘, with some background information to how the Indian Workers Association came about. The IWA is probably the most influential Asian political body of its time, the one and only trade union for and by Asians. Even now it has a huge impact on Southall politics and kept Piara Khabra in power for years.
(This is an editorial by the SW so take it with a pinch of salt)

Filed under: Race politics

The white working class get TV programmes

by Sunny at 8:46 am    

BBC 2′s new season of programming, announced yestreday, has a series of programmes examining, “how life has changed for the white working class in Britain.” Fair enough, although if the white working class need a special season of programming to show how their life has changed it means BBC 2 was ignoring them earlier anyway. We know television is an exclusively middle-class institution anyway.

What I’m partly confused about is why all these changes have to be looked at through the prism of race / religion.

The dramatic centrepiece is White Girl, written by Abi Morgan and starring Bleak House star Anna Maxwell Martin. The story focuses on an 11-year-old girl, Leah, her family’s relocation to an entirely Muslim community in Bradford and her feelings of isolation, which are heightened when she discovers that she and her siblings are the only white children at school.

Documentaries are to include Last Orders, telling the story of the embattled Wibsey working men’s club in Bradford, while All White In Barking observes relationships and questions prejudices in a multicultural east London community.

Tim Samuels, the documentary-maker behind pensioners’ band the Zimmers, will take a subversive look at the reality of immigration in middle England and whether the economy would cope if recent Polish immigrants were to return home. Finally, Rivers Of Blood assesses the impact of Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech, 40 years on.

All contemporary issues of course, but race politics isn’t the only thing to have affected the white working classes over the last 20-40 years. What about globalisation? How has working class culture and institutions changed? What about their politics? The housing crisis? Life-chances? Increasing wealth inequality?

It looks like another contrived ratings-grabbing attempt, by bringing in race or religion to every programme, rather than actually examining how things have changed. Sign, if anything, that its middle-class commissioners are just interested in “representing” WWC like every other group.

Filed under: Media
20th November, 2007

We must stand up for Muslim civil rights

by Sunny at 2:33 pm    

Rather than treating British Muslims as a monolithic group represented by the likes of the MCB, we should regard them as fellow citizens and actively defend the attack on their civil liberties. If we don’t do it then the Islamists will step in.

This is vital not only to defeating terrorism but also protecting our democratic rights. On Sunday Henry Porter said “We must not tolerate this putsch against our freedoms”. I agree. Under the threat of terrorism this government is doing everything it can in order to curtail our freedoms, hoping it will succeed by tacitly indicating that it will only apply to Muslims.

We can either get organised and resist this or be willing participants.

From my article today on comment is free.

‘Shame on us’

by Sunny at 11:54 am    

In the Guardian yesterday Ronan Bennett took another well-deserved swipe at the sorry excuse for a chimpanzee, Martin Amis.

Amis’s views are symptomatic of a much wider and deeper hostility to Islam and intolerance of otherness. Only last week, the London Evening Standard felt able to sponsor a debate entitled: Is Islam good for London? Do another substitution here and imagine the reaction had Judaism been the subject. As Rabbi Pete Tobias noted on Comment is Free, the so-called debate was sinisterly reminiscent of the paper’s campaign a century ago to alert its readers to the “problem of the alien”, namely the eastern European Jews fleeing persecution who had found refuge in the capital. In this context, Rod Liddle’s contribution to proceedings – “Islamophobia? Count me in” – sounds neither brave, brash nor provocatively outrageous, merely racist. Those who claim that Islamophobia can’t be racist, because Islam is a religion not a race, are fooling themselves: religion is not only about faith but also about identity, background and culture, and Muslims are overwhelmingly non-white. Islamophobia is racist, and so is antisemitism.

We can dispense with Amis’s polite fiction that he is talking about “Islamism”; there are just too many generalisations (“The impulse towards rational inquiry,” Amis wrote elsewhere, “is by now very weak in the rank and file of the Muslim male”), too many references to “them” and “us”. When he says, for example, “they” are gaining on “us” demographically, he is demonstrably not talking about “Islamists”. The danger of being overrun, outnumbered, outbred is a repugnant trope beloved of supremacists everywhere (it was used by the Evening Standard about “aliens” 100 years ago). It is, for example, horribly familiar to Arab Israelis, and to Irish Catholics (from whom Eagleton is descended). When Amis voices his fears of being overrun, he is, and he knows he is, perpetuating and enhancing the spectre of the other, and loading it with the potent imagery of swarming poverty, violence and ignorance.

Spot on. He ends by saying: “Shame on him for saying it, and shame on us for tolerating it.” Not all of us tolerated it of course, but there were plenty of inbreds calling themselves ‘liberals’ who quietly shuffled their feet. Shame on them.

Filed under: Race politics,Religion

‘Islamic cars’

by Sunny at 8:50 am    

The City Circle blog links to an amusing story about Iran, Turkey and Malaysia getting together to build an Islamic car. With tongue firmly in cheek, they add:

You can just see an Islamist-run advertising agency positioning the new product:

“The Islamic car is superior and will dominate over all other cars. If you want a fast-track to paradise you must buy the Islamic car, not drive those filthy decadent kuffar cars on their one-way street to the hell-fire. No need for a Satnav when our in-built Qur’an is the only guide you need. Choose any colour, as long as it’s green. No need to follow secular man-made traffic laws any more, Shariah law applies whilst driving. Women drivers must be accompanied by a close male relative. Should you get killed in an accident you will be considered a martyr. And of course no need for car insurance”.

Brilliant! The comments are funny too.

Filed under: Humour,Religion
19th November, 2007

Damn, these Chinese need energy!

by Sunny at 5:29 pm    

The New York Times has another interesting article on China’s energy needs:

The Three Gorges Dam, then, lies at the uncomfortable center of China’s energy conundrum: The nation’s roaring economy is addicted to dirty, coal-fired power plants that pollute the air and belch greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Dams are much cleaner producers of electricity, but they have displaced millions of people in China and carved a stark environmental legacy on the landscape.

At the same time, China’s insatiable appetite for energy is mostly being met with a building spree of coal-fired power plants. Coal accounts for 67 percent of China’s energy supply. Just last year, China added 102 gigawatts of generating capacity, as much as the entire capacity of France.

To ease its addiction to coal, China wants 15 percent of the country’s energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020, compared with 7.5 percent today. To do that, it is developing solar, wind and biomass projects so rapidly that some experts say it could soon become a world leader in renewable energy. Even so, forecasts show these sources will amount to less than 4 percent of the energy supply by 2020.

In a few decades people will probably look back and ask how China became such a huge industrial power. This is probably how. If the country becomes a leader in renewable energy then Europe and the US will be left even further behind.

Breaking the law

by Rumbold at 11:10 am    

Right-wing papers have a reputation for standing up for law and order. They condemn the criminals of today’s world, demanding more prisons and longer sentences. Yet the self-same columnists will often turn a blind eye to law-breaking when it is a law that they do not like, or even imply that it is okay to break the law. Thus a chief constable is labelled as the ‘Mad Mullah’ of the ‘Traffic Taliban’ for cracking down on speeding in his patch. Some columnists write about they went on a hunt and managed to evade detection by hunt monitors and the police.

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Civil liberties
17th November, 2007

The Weekend Open Thread Delayed By SPORT

by Clairwil at 4:26 pm    

m>Hello,
As anyone resident on the British Isles is aware there is no event on earth more important than a SPORTING event. Everything must stop for SPORT and the drinking that goes with it. I often wonder if women would be allowed to gather in such numbers to bellow abuse at folk and sing badly -like a mass hen night. Excuse my rotten mood but I’ve been fighting my way through gaggles of drunk kilted men all afternoon and even I’m starting to hate the Scots.

Oh it was all so pleasant this morning a few flags, bagpipes and Rod Stewart on the radio -then the crowds came. For some inexplicable reason they’ve blocked the entrance to my flat. I wouldn’t mind but I resent being manhandled by drunks on my own doorstep.

But enough of my whining I trust your weekends are all a bit happier. Let’s have the usual chit chat below and no fighting.

Finally today’s clip is from ‘Grey Gardens’ otherwise known as Clairwil’s retirement plan.

Update! There are now two clips -Thanks to Rohin for his suggestion.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Updated: Cyclone in Bangladesh (3000 dead)

by Sunny at 4:21 am    

I know it’s the weekend but this needs flagging up. Over 1000 3000 people are now feared dead in Bangladesh after a cyclone hit the country earlier this week. It could have been much worse, the last cyclone of similar strength caused much more damage.
Blogger Rezwanul has been doing his best to cover this calamity. Mash has a few heart-felt words on blogging about Bangladesh. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is reporting on work they’ve been doing out there and you can donate to them (via).

Filed under: Bangladesh,South Asia
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