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»   Coming to Captain SKA's "Liar Liar" party tonight? Comedy, left-wing activists and lots of Tory bashing! Why not eh? http://bit.ly/fB48w4 5 hrs ago

»   'Why anti-fascists should let Pastor Jones visit the UK' http://bit.ly/gB0eO5 - great post by @RadicalDanFrost 5 hrs ago

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  • Technorati: graph / links
    17th August, 2010

    More evidence that I tweet too much…

    by Sunny at 3:00 pm    

    According to Tweetminster, who have compiled a report of how the Coalition has been doing on Twitter - I’m in the top 20 of media ‘influencers’ on Twitter. The full graphic is here. Seems all that time wasted on Twitter hasn’t entirely gone to waste. Kind of.

    Filed under: Blog

    Responses to the propaganda published by Time

    by earwicga at 2:07 am    

    From a CIA memo published byWikileaks:

    Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.

    Time did it’s duty last month by publishing a cover picture of Aisha, a young Afghan woman who has had her face mutilated by her family with the title ‘What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan’ and an accompanying article by Aryn Baker.  The article details the horrific lives of Afghan women, 8 years after Team America decided to attack and occupy Afghanistan.  The irony of Team America’s failure to protect Aisha seems to be lost on Baker and Time.  Thankfully. Aisha has now been flown to Los Angeles for reconstruction work.  I’m not sure why she had to go that far considering India pioneered facial reconstruction which was documented in 600BC, but I am sure she will be well looked after.   (more…)

    Filed under: Current affairs
    16th August, 2010

    Halal pizza non-story fades

    by Rumbold at 10:01 pm    

    Remember the outcry over the news that several Dominoes’ pizza outlets had decided to stop selling pork on their pizzas, as there wasn’t enough demand for it? This was taken to be a sign of political correctness towards Muslims, and so a minor change in stock in a few eateries prompted national headlines. Now Dominoes is reverting back to the old menu after finding that demand for the new products was weak:

    The pilot ‘hasn’t had the impact expected and the company has reluctantly decided to return to a conventional Domino’s menu’, it said in a letter to customers.

    A classic case of demand affecting supply. However, it was still felt necessary to get a few quotes from previously offended parties:

    ‘It did seem pretty unfair on non-Muslim pizza lovers,’ said pizza fan Chris Yates, 31. ‘It was as if I wasn’t allowed ham or pork on my pizza in case I offended someone.’

    Nope, they just didn’t think enough people were buying them.

    Filed under: Media

    Erm…

    by Sunny at 3:01 pm    

    I know Rumbold won’t like this, Earwicga is holding her nose and Leon is ecstatic.

    Reasons outlined here.

    Update: Heh! It’s always refreshing to have detractors who obsess about your decisions only months after denouncing you as insignificant.

    Filed under: Party politics
    15th August, 2010

    Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International

    by earwicga at 9:47 pm    

    Salil Shetty, interviewed by Sarfraz Manzoor for the Observer, highlights his dedication to universal human rights and discusses today’s new challenges for Amnesty International including the potential for and dangers of using new digital media in the way Wikileaks does.

    From the article:

    The idea of human rights being universal is something Shetty imbibed early in his life and he believes that being Indian can be useful in making that argument. “If you ask poor people in developing countries or countries like India, where I am from, about whether human rights are a western concept they would not even understand the question,” he said. “The popular misconception is that human rights are something that is given from the west to developing countries. But my take is different, and for me the idea of basic human rights – the right to education, free expression – is deeply embedded.”

    The challenge for Amnesty lies, he believes, in making the organisation truly international. “Our presence in the developing world needs to expand,” he said. “We need a more vibrant presence in India, Brazil and Africa so that it is the people there who are doing the research and the campaigning and not people sitting in London.” Amnesty International’s origins, from its inception following a letter in the Observer in 1961, were linked to the idea of individual members making a difference.

    I hope that one of Shetty’s first actions is to ramp up the campaign to repeal India’s Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA).  The AFSPA gives immunity to government forces who rape, kidnap and kill and generally abuse citizens in any which way pleases them.

    In Manipur for example, the AFSPA  is the root cause of much of the violence perpetrated there by non-state actors, keeping the citizens of Manipur in a constant state of poverty and turmoil.

    Report from HRW on HR abuses in Manipur:  “These Fellows Must Be Eliminated”  Relentless Violence and Impunity in Manipur

    Amnesty International Statement: Government of Manipur Must Release Irom Sharmila Chanu

    Edited to add: AFSPA And Political Violence In Kashmir

    Filed under: Current affairs,India
    14th August, 2010

    Talking on Al-Jazeera on Obama and Guantanamo Bay

    by Sunny at 7:47 pm    

    I took part in an extended discussion about Obama’s (slow) attempts to close Guantanamo Bay on Al-Jazeera last week. You can watch the video here. I came off less critical of Obama than I usually am, mostly because the others were attacking him anyway. And look - there are problems with trying to shift those prisoners into the US or European states - that cannot be denied. Obama could push this strongly, but he’s got quite a bit on his plate right now.

    Filed under: Terrorism

    Standing up for liberal values

    by Sunny at 4:12 pm    

    A few weeks ago I was invited to a discussion by the global warming denialists Institute of Ideas. The subject of the Burqa came up. On the panel was Jo Phillips who said she was ‘somewhat libertarian’ on the issue and then proceeded to completely contradict herself.

    She said she found it annoying that many liberals were unwilling to ‘assert their values’ and tell these women who wear the Burqa that they should follow western values. This is a standard decent-left / neo-con talking point: in the name of forcing people to do what they like, they claim that lefties or liberals are afraid to stand up for western values.

    This kind of tripe is repeated all the time by Martin Amis, Chris Hitchens, Nick Cohen etc. I pointed out that if she actually believed in liberal values or was even vaguely libertarian she would stand up for the right for people to wear what they want. Unsurprisingly - the audience overwhelmingly sided with me (the irony is that the same Jo Phillips later said, when talking about global warming, that people should be allowed to live how they want to and carry on polluting if they wished).

    I’m reminded of this when reading about Obama’s strident defence of the Ground Zero Mosque. Obama doesn’t just call it a constitutional issue - he makes it (rightly) an issue about American character and way of life:

    This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.

    America has a shaky history, but freedom of religion is written into its political DNA more powerfully than most countries on the planet. Obama isn’t just standing up for enlightenment values, he’s saying we should stand up for these values regardless of those exercising it. That is principle - not the pathetic gibbering that many on the decent-left/neo-con fringe come up with.

    On Radio 4 today - fighting the cuts

    by Sunny at 3:25 pm    

    On BBC Radio 4 today:

    Cuts in public spending are coming and, according to a recent opinion poll, a majority of voters accept that they will have to happen if the budget deficit is to be reduced.

    But what happens when people realise that cuts may affect them personally? The coalition government has asked voters for feedback about how and where the cuts might bite. How else can voters make their voices heard beyond Westminster, short of going on strike?

    I’m also interviewed in the programme and you can hear my lovely voice (not) at 10min and 15 secs in.

    Filed under: Media
    13th August, 2010

    Jeffrey Goldberg, propaganda merchant for Israel’s plan to attack Iran

    by Sunny at 11:33 am    

    I pointed yesterday to an article by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, who says quite seriously that Israel wants to attack Iran over the next 12 months because ‘it has no choice‘ (he says so, so it must be true). Glenn Greenwald today points out why Goldberg is laying the ground for the neo-cons.

    1) This is Goldberg in his recent article: “In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions…”.

    This is Goldberg in 2002 when he advocating invading Iraq:

    Saddam Hussein never gave up his hope of turning Iraq into a nuclear power. After the Osirak attack, he rebuilt, redoubled his efforts, and dispersed his facilities.

    I admire people who can hold and understand two opposing views but this is ridiculous. As Greenwald says: “This is what a propagandist, by definition, does: asserts any claim as fact in service of a concealed agenda without the slightest concern for whether it’s true.”

    2) And what about Goldberg’s claim that, “the imposition of devastating economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran will persuade its leaders to cease their pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

    Does Iran actually have nuclear weapons? In the wingnut community this is accepted as fact. But (I’d blogged this but completely forgotten about it), as Jonathan Schwarz points out:

    The official position of the U.S. intelligence community about this remains the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate. And it said Iran stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003. Maybe it was wrong, or maybe something’s changed since then. But it is the essence of Goldberg-itude to simply ignore this and assert the opposite as unquestionable fact.

    Remember - this report came out under the Bush administration - which was trying its hardest at the time to create a drumbeat against Iran too. Is there any new evidence to contradict this? No, it’s just accepted as a given that Iran is developing nukes, even if the intelligence community says its bollocks.

    You have to admire neo-con chutzpah: they’re not only happy to u-turn when required, but happy to ignore America’s military-intelligence establishment. Maybe US national intelligence is infiltrated by Muslims? Arabists? Wet-liberals! Who knows.

    A slightly different take on liberty from most libertarians

    by Sunny at 3:22 am    

    A friend went to Manchester this week to meet a woman, an Ahmadi Muslim woman from Bangladesh (Ms B). She arrived here over five years ago and has a young daughter who goes to school. The daughter has a Mancunian accent is well settled in, except that sometimes the kids tease her because they’re so poor. During this time Ms B has been here, the government has not granted her the right to stay or work - she has to live on meagre benefits.

    They’ve now rejected Ms B’s application to stay in this country and planning to forcibly detain her. This might involve separation from her child (who will also be detained) and then they’ll be deported to Bangladesh. Given Ms B ran away from her husband - she has no family support back there, no money or business, and no way to live. It’s likely she and her daughter will fall into deep destitution.

    This is just one examples of hundreds, if not thousands, across the country where the government is forcibly coercing people out of the country and knowingly driving them to destitution.

    I bring up this anecdote in response to Mr CivLib, who wrote a long-explanatory blog post about libertarianism to explain the point that libertarianism is a diverse ideology (as is socialism, which he accepts, though most libertarians don’t). Anyway, I think him for having the courtesy to engage properly.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Civil liberties
    12th August, 2010

    The drumbeat to declare war on Iran gets louder

    by Sunny at 9:59 am    

    Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic has written a long article titled: The point of no return.

    His point is that within the next 12 months, Israel will take the unilateral decision to fly into Iranian airspace and attack what it believes to be its nuclear weapons programme.

    When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel—regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran’s nuclear program—they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.

    At least he’s realistic about what the consequences will be. And those are just the short-term consequences.

    But the article then goes on to say, in effect, that Israel thinks it has no choice because Obama’s willingness to confront Iran isn’t credible. He concludes, after spending a lot of time discussing Israeli perspective, with:

    Based on months of interviews, I have come to believe that the administration knows it is a near-certainty that Israel will act against Iran soon if nothing or no one else stops the nuclear program; and Obama knows—as his aides, and others in the State and Defense departments made clear to me—that a nuclear-armed Iran is a serious threat to the interests of the United States, which include his dream of a world without nuclear weapons.

    It looks like a kite-flying operation. The drumbeat for Obama to attack Iran otherwise Israel will, is likely to kick off with this… though it has been in motion for a while.

    But here’s the thing: the article doesn’t even bother discussing that bizarre concept of peace. It’s assumed without doubt that the Iranians are only interested in obliterating Israel and that no peaceful settlement can be found.

    I also have this radical idea. It involves Israel making significant overtures to its Arab neighbours by stop building illegal settlements, working with the Obama adminstration to build on peaceful steps, and offering Palestinians much more autonomy, aid and land. That would reduce tensions massively across the Middle East, create the environment for a closer relationship with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and would isolate Iran. But none of this is discussed as a viable option. There’s only one option: either Israel attacks or the US does something drastic. The neo-cons have learnt absolutely-fucking-nothing from their previous escapades.

    11th August, 2010

    Thanks to global warming, expect more floods and deaths

    by Sunny at 12:01 pm    

    Aid workers now say that almost 14 million people have been affected since the unusually heavy rainfall began 11 days ago in Pakistan, with at least 6 million people urgently in need of aid.

    Reuters also report that the United Nations says in terms of the number of people affected and who will need short- or long-term help, the floods are worse than the 2004 tsunami, which killed 236,000 people around the Indian Ocean.

    Much worse is expected to come.

    Aid workers warn that the number affected could increase with water surging south into Sindh province. There are reports that 2,500 villages have already been flooded in the region.

    It’s also worth repeating that this is exactly what happens when you have global warming: we will see more extreme weather conditions across the world. Reuters again:

    For the current floods, rainfall of about 400 millimetres (16 inches) in mountainous areas in the far north of Pakistan and adjoining parts of Afghanistan between July 28 and 29 triggered a torrent of water down the Indus and Kabul Rivers.

    “That was a record,” said Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, director-general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department. “The only explanation can be the link to climate change. Because that area very rarely receives monsoon rains,” he told Reuters, pointing to the risk of the monsoon belt shifting as well as changes in the intensity of the monsoon.

    Note what a major US Department of Defense report said earlier this year:

    First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies, reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters.

    Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows.

    Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.

    We can expect much more of this - and not just in South Asia but increasingly across the Western world.

    Filed under: Environmentalism

    Republicans think of a brilliant way to get back at Muslims

    by Sunny at 9:07 am    

    Conservatives in the United States are very happy that a Mosque is being built in the loose vicinity of ‘Ground Zero’. Hence the Ground Zero Mosque ‘controversy’. So yesterday the wingnuts thought of a brilliant way to get back at Muslims.

    They’d build a gay bar next to the Mosque! LOLZ! ROFL!!!!1! etc

    What a great idea! Even libertarians like Megan McArdle think its “brilliant”. Muslims hate gays right, so why not test their tolerance? It’s not like Republicans have anything against gays… *cough*. Fox News loved it. They invited their host Greg Gutfield - who came up with the plan - to talk about it all over other shows.

    There’s only one problem, which hasn’t quite penetrated the wingnut world yet….

    there are already three gay bars right close to the Muslims centre being built.

    Filed under: Humour,United States
    10th August, 2010

    Goodbye Lee John Barnes LLB (Hons.)

    by Rumbold at 10:01 pm    

    Lee John Barnes, considered by some to be one of the finest legal and political bloggers of our, or any generation, has resigned as chief legal officer of the BNP. LJB wrote a long resignation letter criticising Nick Griffin and other party grandees for their shambolic management of the party, and suggesting that Nick Griffin had monopolised the leadership. LJB was also upset at being sidelined by outside legal advisers brought in by Nick Griffin, and feels that the BNP is no longer fit for power, claiming that “such a political party cannot be trusted with political power in our society.”

    One of the great joys of the BNP having LJB as their chief legal adviser was knowing that every time he spoke, he spoke with the authority of a senior BNP figure. This could take the form of detailed responses, such as answering our eighty five questions, or merely promising us a “quick trial, a short rope and a long drop.” His interests range from cheering on arson attacks to detecting the hidden hand of Zionism behind affairs.

    BNP watchers will have a duller time after this.

    (Via Harry’s Place)

    Filed under: Humour,The BNP

    I’m speaking at Frontline Club today….

    by Sunny at 3:22 pm    

    Social media has opened up new ways for people to communicate, organise and campaign.

    But in what ways are people using social media for political ends? Looking at examples from around the world we will be examining the ways in which new tools are being used and the ways they have been used to challenge authority.

    What can we learn about both the potential of web and phone technology and what are their limitations. Can online buzz be translated into tangible effects? Or has as been claimed with the case of the Green protests in Iran, has the role played by social media been hyped by an over-excited mainstream media?

    …that is the blurb.

    I’ll be part of the panel today along with various journalists from around the world.

    Filed under: Events

    So where are the right-wing anti-racists now?

    by Sunny at 2:00 am    

    Yesterday the Daily Mail screamed with this headline: Revealed: The UK maternity units in which only 1 in 10 mothers is of white British origin

    The headline is incorrect for a start - this is the case in only one health trust across the country. See, I was under the impression that right-wingers didn’t care for skin colour, as they keep claiming. It’s the left which is obsessed by race and skin colour right?

    So it’s bizarre that not a single right-winger or Tory MP is actually willing to say: ‘so what?’ to this. There is however Douglas Carswell MP who seems rather worried about the colour of kids being born in the UK:

    I think we have to face reality and that is if you continue to have mass immigration it’s going to have a very significant impact on the demography of our country - and it’s going to have a significant impact perhaps on the sort of country that we are.

    Doesn’t really sound like a right-winger who doesn’t care for skin colour, does it? It’s because this claim has always been rubbish.

    Right-wingers only don’t care for skin colour when there is obvious discrimination and minorities are vastly under-represented in an area. When the issue of black babies comes up however, suddenly they’re all lamenting mass-immigration.

    Right on cue, the BNP have posted an ‘endangered species alert’.
    More: Minority Thought

    Filed under: Race politics
    9th August, 2010

    Why some direct EU taxes would be a good idea

    by Rumbold at 9:55 pm    

    For those who oppose the deepening of the EU state, the idea of that body directly taxing European citizens should be anathema. It would take power from national governments, who are seen to have a mandate from the voters, and give it to the EU, where an essentially unelected and opaque body holds sway. This is what the EU’s Budget Commissioner is proposing, and it is unsurprising that the call has elucidated a storm of protest:

    Taxes on aviation, financial transactions and CO2 emission permits are all possibilities, he told the daily Financial Times Deutschland.

    However, the UK promptly rejected the idea.

    Despite the headline implications though, this could potentially benefit those who wish to see the EU trimmed and focused more on the goal of providing a single market with freedom of movement, goods and services.

    The EU state has massively deepened (and expanded) in the last thirty years. It has extended its control into employment, health, law, defence, justice, foreign policy and any other number of areas. When the European Constitution was originally rejected, the EU merely introduced the bits it wanted anyway, changed the name of the rest of it and got it reintroduced. Labour and the Liberal Democrats promised to support a referendum in their manifesto, reneged on the deal, yet were not punished for it electorally. Lacking any mandate from voters, the EU has nonetheless multiplied its power and influence many times over. How? Because the ordinary voter just doesn’t care enough.

    The percentage of British laws that come from the EU is estimated to range from around 10-80%. The fact we can’t get a reasonable estimate is damning enough, but for argument’s sake, let’s call it 20%. A body that makes 20% of our laws should be permanently in the public gaze, especially as it can currently overrule UK rulings and law. Yet how often do you see EU policy making headlines on the BBC, or debated on Newsnight? That is not to say that there is some Europhile media conspiracy. The Eurosceptic press concerns themselves with tales of the supposed criminalisation of egg merchants for using incorrect labels. This reduces the EU to the status of a pantomime villain. How many voters who can explain the British political process can explain the EU one?

    So why would direct EU taxes be a good idea then? You only have to look at the anger that followed the domestic expenses scandal to see that voters see taxes as ‘their money’ if they think it is being squandered and it has come directly from them. The removed nature of the EU does not create this feeling for most at present. EU taxes should make voters care more about the EU, and pay more attention to how the money is being spent. This hopefully would encourage more media interest in the actual EU apparatus, increasing understanding and thus creating a virtuous circle. There would be more pressure for good governance, something which should please Euro-sceptics and -philes alike.

    Debate today: Is the Burqa a threat to freedom?

    by Sunny at 8:59 am    


    (click on it for the full version)

    More about the event here
    Today · 19:00 - 22:00
    Location The Cafe at the Rich Mix centre
    35 - 47 Bethnal Green Road
    London, United Kingdom
    Free to attend

    Filed under: Civil liberties,Events
    7th August, 2010

    The problem with feminism…

    by earwicga at 11:17 pm    

    … is feminists.

    Feminists like Julie Bindel who revel in unacceptable transphobia using anti-feminist essentialism as a prop to her outdated and bigoted dogma.  Feminists like Dr. Aisha Gill, friend of Gita Sahgal, who worked tirelessly on the pr in support of the islamophobic attack on Amnesty International.   Feminists like Bidisha who believe that feminism is belonging to the ‘girl’s team’ and nothing to do with men.  These three, along with Karon Monaghan QC and Sunder Katwala, were on the final panel of last month’s UK Feminista Summer School, which has been hailed as showing the resurgence of UK feminism.

    Video of the session

    Feminism is an analysis of power.  It does not exist in isolation.  The recent Time cover showed yet another manipulation of feminism supported by feminists ignorant of other power structures.  Gender inequality is NOT the only way to interpret the world, it is one essential way but on its own is utterly pointless.  Hence we see the domination of mainstream feminism by comfortable white middle-class fuckwits who can dismiss male rape victims via the phrases ‘what about teh menz’ and’ lolz’ - and they do.  And support the emancipation of Afghan women through war - and they do.

    Second wave feminism was essential to its time, but its time is over.  Move on.  Especially all you supposedly radical feminists who are the most conservative people I have ever had the misfortune to come across.  THIS is why women don’t call themselves feminists, they don’t ascribe to the views of the dominant club - the prescriptive ideology formalised by an established elite - who protect their borders with academia and columns in the MSM.  Today, as the ConDem coalition attacks women in particular, feminism needs to stop excluding people, get politically savvy and start protecting ALL women.  Using divisive old school bigots on panels does not do this.

    To conclude, I offer you ‘Intersectionality’ (more detail here) - not just a word but an education.

    H/T to Quiet Riot Girl for the video.

    Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria returns ADL’s award over ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

    by Sunny at 12:14 pm    

    Good for him. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek has returned an award back to the Anti-Defamation League in the US after the Jewish group came out against the supposed ‘Ground Zero Mosque’.
    He explains:

    Bloomberg’s speech stands in stark contrast to the bizarre decision of the Anti-Defamation League to publicly side with those urging that the center be moved. The ADL’s mission statement says it seeks “to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” But Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, explained that we must all respect the feelings of the 9/11 families, even if they are prejudiced feelings.

    “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted,” he said. First, the 9/11 families have mixed views on this mosque. There were, after all, dozens of Muslims killed at the World Trade Center. Do their feelings count? But more important, does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?

    Spot on. I linked to an excellent piece on the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ controversy by Alex Massie earlier.

    In other news: The Guardian reports that the repulsive Iranian regime is trying to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in secret, and want to do so because she’s a woman.

    The answer is quite simple, it’s because I’m a woman, it’s because they think they can do anything to women in this country. It’s because for them adultery is worse than murder – but not all kinds of adultery: an adulterous man might not even be imprisoned but an adulterous women is the end of the world for them. It’s because I’m in a country where its women do not have the right to divorce their husbands and are deprived of their basic rights.

    Well done to her for speaking out.

    And lastly: Muslim group Minhaj ul-Quran runs ‘anti-terrorism’ camp

    6th August, 2010

    Harry’s Place continues to implode

    by Sunny at 4:17 pm    

    Regular readers may remember a commenter called ‘Terry Fitz’ who used to post abusive comments here, directed at me, because I didn’t agree with his thinly veiled racism.

    After being banned from PP he started hanging around at Harry’s Place - who happily allowed him to publish guest articles, and make constant comments having a go at me over anything and everything.

    A few weeks ago I pointed out that Terry Fitz was charged for racially aggravated harassment. Nevertheless, HP and their poorer sidekick kept publishing his comments etc. Oh look, now it turns out, shock horror, that he really is a racist goon.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Blog

    Quilliam Foundation respond to the Guardian’s accusations

    by Sunny at 3:42 pm    

    by Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation

    Breaking news! Quilliam dispatched a paper to ministers advising them that the ideology of Islamism is not the same as Islam the diverse faith. Rather, Islamism is the politicisation of Islam.

    And finally, that though non-violent Islamists have a legal right to exist, they should not be endorsed or facilitated by Government. We then proceeded to identify those groups most influenced by the ideology of Islamism.

    You may be thinking…hold on, is that not what Quilliam has been consistently advising since its inception through both the Labour and coalition Governments? So what’s new?

    The mere repetition of our stance in the form of a briefing paper for the new coalition Government was enough for certain regressive commentators to shout ‘McCarthyism’! By ‘Regressive’ I mean some who claim allegiance to the left yet fail to apply their anti-fascist principles when confronted with brown-skinned fascists, seeing them as alienated minorities and therefore choosing to ally with them.

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    Don’t hate on WikiLeaks, join it

    by Sunny at 10:32 am    

    Excellent blog-post at the New Yorker on WikiLeaks:

    Shutting WikiLeaks down—assuming that this is even possible—would only lead to copycat sites devised by innovators who would make their services even more difficult to curtail. A better approach for the Defense Department might be to consider WikiLeaks a competitor rather than a threat, and to recognize that the spirit of transparency that motivates Assange and his volunteers is shared by a far wider community of people who use the Internet.

    Currently, the government has its own versions of WikiLeaks: the Freedom of Information Act and the Mandatory Declassification Review. The problem is that both of these mechanisms can be grindingly slow and inconsistent, in part because the government appears to be overwhelmed by a vast amount of data that should never have been classified to begin with—a phenomenon known as “overclassification.”

    I have to say it did amuse me earlier when neo-cons who won’t go as far as saying they want WikiLeaks shut down nevertheless said, ‘yeah but we should stop putting it on a pedestal‘.

    The WikiLeaks monster is out there now. All governments will have to adjust accordingly, even the United States. But then, as I’ve said before, this commitment to civil liberties by neo-cons was always just a rhetorical ploy rather than a core belief.

    Filed under: Civil liberties
    5th August, 2010

    Pakistan and Islam are not Synonymous

    by Shariq at 7:52 pm    

    A couple of nights ago, Tony Livesey on radio5 had a spokesperson for MPAC on to debate President Zardari’s trip to the UK. Yesterday the Evening Standard had a headline on ‘Muslim’ cabinet member Sayeda Warsi being the first minister to meet the President. Both of these examples reflect the idea that Pakistan and Islam are synonymous.

    Right now, the country’s biggest city Karachi is burning due to what is essentially an ethnic and regional conflict. Meanwhile, disastrous floods have killed over a thousand people and at the end of it, will likely have displaced over a million people. Like after the earthquake in Kashmir, a number of government and civil society institutions are trying their best to bring relief to the grieving and dispossessed. Oh, and there was a plane crash a week ago which killed over 300 people.

    I understand that people have an interest in finding out about terrorism and that it is a huge problem for Pakistan, but it is not the only one and does not define it.

    Sayeda Warsi met Zardari because she is the only cabinet member with Pakistani heritage. She would probably not have been called on to meet the President of Indonesia.

    The MPAC rep was of Pakistani origin, but there are a lot more qualified people you can contact if you are doing a radio show. Most of the political parties have representatives here. There are also a number of Pakistani journalists, writers and commentators based in the UK.

    My point is a simple one - that Pakistan has an identity outside of its relationship with terrorism. Btw, I think this is one of the reasons that the cricket team, for all its dysfunction and drama continues to resonate. It highlights a different side to the country.

    Finally, any people  with an interest in music should check out coke studio on YouTube. It just finished its 3rd season and provides a platform for the fusion of traditional and popular music and has been very popular.

    Filed under: Current affairs
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