3rd December, 2008

One Law Is Enough For All Of Us

by Sid (Faisal) at 12:30 am    

Maryam Namazie writes on the One Law for All campaign against Sharia law. I am reposting it here in its entirety because I think it deserves an airing here on PP. I’m sure she won’t mind.

The One Law for All campaign against Sharia law in Britain is to be launched at the House of Lords on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2008 from 4:00 to 5:00pm.

Even in civil matters, Sharia law is discriminatory, unfair and unjust, particularly against women and children. Moreover, its voluntary nature is a sham; many women will be pressured into going to these courts and abiding by their decisions. These courts are a quick and cheap route to injustice and do nothing to promote minority rights and social cohesion. Public interest, particularly with regard to women and children, requires an end to Sharia and all other faith-based courts and tribunals.

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Filed under: Current affairs
2nd December, 2008

Clinton appointment met with overwhelming response

by Rumbold at 9:55 pm    

Reports the Daily Mash:

“Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and the leaders of Hamas and Fata made a video conference call to Mrs Clinton stressing there was absolutley no need for her to get involved when she becomes Secretary of State. Livni said: “Everything’s fine. These guys are a hoot, I love them. We’re actually thinking about going skiing together.”

With her Palestinian counterparts nodding vigorously in the background, Livni added: “So there’s really no need for you to come here at all. Why not try India and Pakistan?” But last night the Indian and Pakistani governments stressed they were making excellent progress towards a lasting solution and that Mrs Clinton would really be wasting her time. A Pakistani government spokesman said: “Loving the Indians. Nice people, helluva cricket team. Perhaps Mrs Clinton should focus on Africa.”"

Filed under: Humour

Indians: blaming Pakistan is not the answer

by Sunny at 11:45 am    

The international media’s glare is much stronger on India this time than earlier atrocities. It’s also likely India wants to influence Obama’s approach to South Asia – always a source of frustration because of America’s support for Pakistan while it is a key ally in Afghanistan. And finally, during earlier atrocities such as the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in Dec 2001, Bush intervened to ease tensions. But now Bush is a lame-duck while Obama hasn’t assumed power.

All these factors mean that the sabre-rattling the Indian government and media are doing could rapidly spiral out of control into a full-scale war. Don’t doubt for a minute there aren’t hardliners on either side itching to teach the other side a lesson ‘once and for all’. Pakistan has already indicated it may move troops to the border if the latter made any “aggressive moves”, most likely to get the US to step forward but this may not materialise.

While blaming Pakistan is the easy option, it’s futile.

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Filed under: India,Pakistan,Terrorism

Telegraph and climate change denialists

by Sunny at 10:17 am    

The world has moved on, but the Daily Telegraph is still giving space to climate change denial nut-jobs.

Alarming though it may be that the next US President should have fallen for all this claptrap, much more worrying is what he proposes to do on the basis of such grotesque misinformation. For a start he plans to introduce a “federal cap and trade system”, a massive “carbon tax”, designed to reduce America’s CO2 emissions “to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80 per cent by 2050″. Such a target, which would put America ahead of any other country in the world, could only be achieved by closing down a large part of the US economy.

Mr Obama floats off still further from reality when he proposes spending $15 billion a year to encourage “clean energy” sources, such as thousands more wind turbines. He is clearly unaware that wind energy is so hopelessly ineffective that the 10,000 turbines America already has, representing “18 gigawatts of installed capacity”, only generate 4.5GW of power, less than that supplied by a single giant coal-fired power station.

Thank god that Obama is an environmentalist. George Bush, as Newsweek wonderfully pointed out once he was elected, was not only a nutjob denier but actively obfuscated the data to suit his own fantasy-world and oil interests. In the Guardian last week, Chris Goodall nailed these 10 big energy myths around green technologies – it’s worth reading.

It’s amusing that while in America the climate change denialists are being killed off thanks to active rebuttals by scientists, here we still have attempts by right-wing rags like the Daily Mail and Telegraph to keep screaming denial. When will it end?

Filed under: Environmentalism,Media
1st December, 2008

Indian Muslim body refuses to bury terrorists

by Sunny at 6:28 pm    

The Times of India reports:

The Muslim Council on Sunday decided not to allow burial of the bodies of the nine terrorists killed during the Mumbai siege in the Marine Lines Bada Qabrastan (cemetery). The council said it was trying to send a message to all cemeteries in India that none of the bodies should be buried on Indian soil.

Bhai Jagtap, a Congress MLA from VP Road-JJ constituency, told TOI some Muslim organisations had approached him demanding that the terrorists should not be buried in any cemetery in India.


Filed under: India,Terrorism

Is This Thatcher’s Britain?

by Leon at 3:28 pm    

The BBC reports today on research it commissioned into British community life:

Community life in Britain has weakened substantially over the past 30 years, according to research commissioned by the BBC.

Analysis of census data reveals how neighbourhoods in every part of the UK have become more socially fragmented. The study assesses the health of a community by looking at how rooted people are in their neighbourhood. Academics created “loneliness indices”, to identify where people had a “feeling of not belonging”.

I can’t say I’m surprised, nor am I really sure it takes a study to make people aware of this.

What has caused this social disintegration? Why are people more disconnected than ever before in the UK? Is the easy answer that it’s Thatcher’s fault enough of an answer (or even an answer at all)? Or has something else gone wrong, if so what? More importantly, how to we change things for the better?

Documentary on Forced Marriage Unit

by Rumbold at 1:14 pm    

Tonight, BBC2, 7:00pm.

Leon updates: Details here:

International investigative documentary series. Saira Khan investigates the dramatic stories of British Asians taken to Pakistan by their parents and forced to marry against their will.

With exclusive access to the Government’s Forced Marriages Unit and its office in Islamabad, the programme follows the dramatic rescues of young women in remote rural communities in Pakistan.

Quick Thought on Inter-Racial Marriage

by Shariq at 10:20 am    

Ta Nehisi Coates has an interesting post on inter-racial dating/marriage. Reading the post and the comments, one thing which struck me was how cultural attitudes amongst african-americans are inverse to those amongst south asians.

Culturally, it is generally ok if a black woman decides to marry a white man. However, there is more disapproval if a black man decides to marry a light skinned brown or white woman. On the other hand British Asians families tend to disapprove more of girls marrying men of a different race/religion than vice versa, sometimes with tragic effects.

Does anyone have any explanations for this or is my analysis totally wrong?

Filed under: Culture
30th November, 2008

Sir Gulam Noon: raise drawbridge now I’m okay

by Rumbold at 9:30 pm    

Sir Gulam Noon, best known for making a loan to the Labour party in order to circumvent party funding rules, has called for Britain to close her borders for five or ten years, so that people like him, who landed in Britain with very little money but with hope, can be turned away:

“‘Bluntly, I think we are self-sufficient now,’ he writes. ‘We should wait for five or ten years, until all the newcomers have been properly integrated and assimilated into the country. Until then we should just shut the door.’”


(Via David O’Keefe and Marvin)

Filed under: Current affairs

Lashkar-e-Taiba لشكرِ طيبه

by Sid (Faisal) at 2:00 pm    

Lashkar-e-Taiba (Urdu: لشكرِ طيبه laškar-ĕ ṯaiyyiba, literally Army of the Pure or Righteous, also transliterated as Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba or Lashkar-i-Taiba) is one of the largest and most active Islamic terrorist organizations in South Asia. The group was founded by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in Afghanistan’s Kunar province in the late 1980s becoming especially active after 1993 and has close ties to Al-Qaeda. The aim of the group is the end of Indian rule in Kashmir and establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia.

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is believed to be based near Lahore and is said to operate several militant training camps in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and is believed to receive support from Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI). The group also receives support from South Asians Muslims living in the Persian Gulf region and through “Islamic charities.” Lashkar e-Taiba purports to train its hundreds of thousands of young members for an Islamic Jihad in the troubled region of Kashmir & Jammu.

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Andrew Gilligan comes to Sky

by Sunny at 3:42 am    

Got a press release this week:

Press TV, a 24-hour English language news channel, is set to give British viewers a genuine alternative to the western establishment consensus when it launches on Sky on December 1. The broadcaster, whose headquarters is in Tehran but which has bureaux in all major world capitals, will go out on Sky Channel 515 adding to its global footprint via a dozen other satellites and its website. Press TV offers in-depth analysis of news and current affairs especially focusing on the Middle East.

Press TV has signed a number of politically diverse and high-profile presenters including MPs George Galloway and Derek Conway, broadcast personalities Nick Ferrari and James Whale, and political journalists Andrew Gilligan, Yvonne Ridley and Lauren Booth.

Gilligan is in such good company there. Heh.

Filed under: Humour,Media
28th November, 2008

British Pakistanis in Mumbai unlikely

by Sunny at 11:06 pm    

It’s unlikely but not impossible. The front page of today’s Evening Standard loudly asserts that some of the terrorists were from Leeds and surrounding areas. Subsequent reports by the BBC say nothing has been confirmed.

At this point nothing is certain because there is a constant stream of conflicting reports from India. Media orgs there are jumping on anything anyone says, so take it with a bucket of salt. The Indian government pretty much makes it near impossible for British Pakistanis to get a visa there, whether on business or for pleasure. If Pakistanis want to travel, they not only have to register where they’re going to be staying but also have visas only for specific cities rather than the country. And even then, they’re watched by the police. I’m not even exaggerating. The only way a British Pakistani terrorist would have gotten to India is by smuggling on to a boat going from Karachi to Mumbai. This was advanced as a theory earlier but has now been withdrawn.
PS – Issam Ahmed has a good article on CIF on avoiding finger-pointing at Pakistan.

Filed under: India,Terrorism

Celebrating a recession

by Ala at 5:57 pm    

It looks like America’s and Britain’s fiscal stimulus packages could fail for more reasons than one: people aren’t going to spend the savings they make from tax cuts in a climate of fear and anxiety over future financial security… oh and some environmentalists are going to make a virtue of spending nothing at all.

Now in its 17th year, Buy Nothing Day, which is celebrated every November by environmentalists in over 65 countries, is set to take place on Black Friday in the United States at a time when retailers are looking to that day for salvation for their business.

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Quote for the Weekend/Open Thread

by Shariq at 3:10 pm    

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.”

From Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse 5.

Apart from being deeply profound on a personal level, for me this is a beautifully succinct summary of what the left should aspire to. Atheists, feel free to substitute whatever you want in place of God :p

Filed under: Current affairs

What does India do now? Some thoughts

by Sunny at 10:48 am    

The Mumbai terror attacks have been referred to as India’s 9/11 so many times I’ve lost count. In such circumstances its easy to reach for emotions and hyperbole to make sense of it all, but I would prefer to be a bit more dispassionate.

There are two broad elements to a response: intelligence led counter-terrorism, and political diplomacy.

Political diplomacy
1) Saying ‘we never negotiate with terrorists’ is a naive idea when its unclear who the terrorists are. In every such situation you have to wean away the moderates and non-violent agitators while minimising the danger that violent extremists can cause. This means winning hearts and minds. There are legitimate reasons for anger against the Indian govt: the Gujarat riots and subsequent failure of justice, discrimination against Muslims generally and human rights violations in Kashmir. These need to be resolved for human rights reasons anyway, regardless of whether its portrayed as ‘appeasement’.

At the same time, its also worth stating that: there’s no reason why Muslims should be angry at ordinary Indians for what happened in Gujarat and; its not just Muslims who are discriminated against – the Dalits are generally in a worse situation (and there’s more of them).

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Law against forced marriages comes into force

by Sunny at 8:50 am    

The BBC reports:

Laws to prevent forced marriages and protect those who have already fallen victim have been introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The laws mean anyone convicted of trying to force someone into marriage could be jailed for up to two years.

A victim, friend or police can apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order. These court injunctions will forbid families from actions such as taking people abroad for marriage, seizing passports or intimidating victims.

People are split over the law – not just Asians generally but the women’s groups themselves. Some like Karma Nirvana want a specific law against forced marriage that makes it a criminal offence (something the Tories propose to do). Others like Southall Black Sisters, who drafted this bill with Lord Lester, wanted to skirt around it so that victims don’t feel that their parents will be put into prison.

To be honest, I think the second situation is more confusing than the first. We’ll have to wait and see if this symbolic piece of legislation has any real impact. Otherwise I bet the voices calling for full criminalisation will get louder. And just to make it clear: forced marriage isn’t itself legal, but the police have to use other laws (kidnapping, coercion etc) to charge someone rather than charging them and the family straight for forcing someone into a marriage. I’m in favour of this act, but I do want it to go further.

Filed under: Culture
27th November, 2008

Tory frontbencher Damian Green arrested

by Leon at 9:36 pm    

The BBC reports:

Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green, was arrested earlier and had his home and Commons office searched by police.

He was held on suspicion of “conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office,” the Metropolitan Police said. He has not been charged but is being questioned by police. The Conservatives say he denies any wrongdoing.

It is understood to be connected to alleged leaks of information from the Home Office.

Interesting news, I wonder how many leakers must be a little more nervous than usual tonight?

Update: An excellent piece over at Liberal Conspiracy by Unity about this case.

Update 2: There’s been a fair amount of bloggers getting riled up about this, I’m not going to link to them all but suffice to say Iain Dale’s leading the charge, albeit slightly verging on self parody in my opinion, with this ditty . Along with Unity above Hopi Sen has some sensible things to say including this:

When Lord Levy, Ruth Turner and John McTernan were arrested by the Metropolitan police, It was Labour people who were outraged by police tactics, and right wing blogs who were cheering on the arresting officers and calling for the Prime Minister to be arrested. I don’t remember too many comments about the politicisation of the police or how similar it was to the age of Stalin.

Filed under: Current affairs

‘There are Muslims who are Sikhs’

by Sunny at 4:44 pm    

I can’t resist this. David Miliband is giving a press conference now regarding the Mumbai attacks and said: “There are Indians who are Muslims, there are Indians who are Hindus… and there are Muslims who are Sikhs.” That’s news to me! A slip-up, but a funny one nevertheless

Filed under: Humour

On Al-Jazeera English at 9:30pm

by Sunny at 4:28 pm    

I’ve been asked to come on Al-Jazeera English tonight at 9:30pm to talk about the Mumbai bombings (they want a British perspective)… which is in advance of a Question Time Extra debate at 11:30pm on BBC News 24, which I suspect might also focus on the Mumbai bombings now.
I’m going to try and pull together some thoughts on what this means for India and Pakistan, having written about their approach to terrorism recently for CIF while I was travelling through those countries.

Filed under: Media,South Asia

Hitler fails as an artist…again

by Rumbold at 4:21 pm    

(After the Mumbai terror attacks perhaps some light relief is needed.)

A painting by Hitler from the first world war failed to meet its reserve price of £2,800 at auction. The seller had been given the painting two years ago by her son as a birthday gift, who paid £10,500 for it, but she hated it so much that she was happy to sell it at a loss.

Who buys their mother a painting by Hitler? I can just imagine the scene now:

Proud son: “Mum, I got you a painting by that artist you like.”

Mother: “Actually, I said that I didn’t like Hitler.”

Son: “Oh.”

Filed under: Humour

More on the Mumbai blasts

by Sunny at 1:47 pm    

Some more snippets. The terrorists are definitely Muslim:

A militant holed up inside Mumbai’s Oberoi Hotel told India TV on Thursday that seven attackers were holding hostages inside the luxury establisment. There are seven of us inside hotel Oberoi,” the man identified as Sahadullah told India TV. “We want all Mujahideens held in India released and only after that we will release the people. Release all the Mujahideens, and Muslims living in India should not be troubled,” he said.

Yeah I can really see them releasing more mujahadeens.


Sajjad Karim MEP was at Taj Hotel when it was attacked and told the Guardian:

“All I saw was one man on foot carrying a machine-gun type of weapon – which I then saw him firing from and I saw people hitting the floor, people right next to me,” said Sajjad Karim, MEP for the north-west of England. “I was in the lobby of the hotel when gunmen came in and people started running. There were about 25 or 30 of us,” said the Tory MEP, speaking by mobile phone from a barricaded basement room. “Some of us split one way and some another. A gunman just stood there spraying bullets around, right next to me.

“I managed to turn away and I ran into the hotel kitchen and then we were shunted into a restaurant in the basement of the hotel. We are now in the dark in this room and we’ve barricaded all the doors. It’s really bad.”

Constantly updated blogs:
Mumbai Metblogs
NY Times Lede blog
A Google Map of where the attacks took place

26th November, 2008

Mumbai hit by multiple bombs and hostage-taking

by Rumbold at 8:01 pm    

Sunny updates
The Times of India reports:

In one of the most violent terror attacks on Indian soil, Mumbai came under an unprecedented night attack as terrorists used heavy machine guns, including AK-47s, and grenades to strike at the city’s most high-profile targets — the hyper-busy CST (formerly VT) rail terminus; the landmark Taj Hotel at the Gateway and the luxury Oberoi Trident at Nariman Point; the domestic airport at Santa Cruz; the Cama and GT hospitals near CST; the Metro Adlabs multiplex and Mazgaon Dockyard — killing at least 80 and sending more than 900 to hospital, according to latest reports.

The attacks appeared to be aimed at getting international attention as the terrorists took upto 40 British nationals and other foreigners hostage. The chairman of Hindustan Unilever Harish Manwani and CEO of the company Nitin Paranjpe were among the guests trapped at the Oberoi. All the internal board members of the multinational giant were reported to be holed up in the Oberoi hotel.

Two terrorists were reported holed up inside the Oberoi Hotel and commando operation was on. An unknown outfit, Deccan Mujahideen, has sent an email to news organizations claiming that it carried out the Mumbai attacks.

The Saudi pecking order

by Sid (Faisal) at 7:00 pm    

Now that we’re on the brink of of a long term recession, and given that the Saudi royal family are amongst the few people lucky enough to have the cash to bail out British banks, you might have considered working in Saudi Arabia.

In which case you might find it useful to read this breakdown of social scales in the GCC by blogger Lucky Fatima (“Can I be straight with you?”) before you go.

This is part of a balanced, well-informed and enjoyable read on Racism against Asians in the Arabian Gulf.

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Filed under: Current affairs

Give Brown and Darling Some Credit

by Shariq at 4:17 pm    

It may turn out that their decisions were wrong. However the moves to recapitalise the banks were backed by most economists, finance people and business journalists as a sound measure to try and restore confidence in the markets and prevent an economic catastrophe.

On the other hand the deal which Hank Paulson has given to bail out Citigroup has been universally condemned as being too generous and not safeguarding taxpayers interests. Via Kevin Drum, here is a summary of what economists have said about the deal.

Do check it out. It seems staggering that this is being allowed to happen. Unfortunately Obama is sticking firmly to his ‘one president at a time’ mantra because he doesn’t want to be associated with what Paulson does. I guess that’s fair enough but it would be nice if someone tried to stop this happening.

Sunny updates: I can’t wait for the right-wing libertarian trolls to exclaim somewhere that Citibank should be allowed to fail or that this isn’t symptomatic of most financial companies badly failing obligations to shareholders.

Filed under: Economics

The ‘wealth creators’ myth

by Sunny at 12:56 pm    

So, taxes are raised slightly for high income earners and suddenly some people are up in arms. Here is Boris Johnson’s policy advisor Anthony Browne stupidly stating the obvious:

Short of introducing a London banker tax, this is as close a direct hit that the Chancellor could get on those who brought the country to its knees. It is overall an Old Labour redistributive budget, yanking up taxes on the rich to help the poor.

Yes, progressive taxes usually are redistributive and most people including economist Adam Smith were in favour. Boris Johnson himself turned up on TV later saying higher taxes would hit the ‘wealth creators’ who were the life-blood of the economy.

Let’s shoot this fallacy down right here. The bankers from London’s Sqare Mile, earning over £150,000 a year have actually been net wealth destroyers over the past decade. All the wealth created by the big banks here and in the US has been destroyed and much more – taking other industries down with them. These former Masters of the Universe were so rubbish at gauging risk and so good at flogging off bad debt that when the wobble came – confidence crashed everywhere.

Destruction so swift comes only when people know they are living in a house of cards. They knew the boom would not last because the models were dubious, and would not withstand a crisis of confidence.

Furthermore, these so-called Wealth Creators have been Wealth Re-distributors too: enriching themselves during the boom while playing around with other people’s money. But now that the economy has crashed and pension funds have lost money – do these Wealth Creators give any of their money back? Nope. They made their money while the going was good, now tax-payers have to pick up the pieces.

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