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  • 12th October, 2010

    Oh look, terrorists motivated by foreign occupations shocker

    by Sunny at 5:56 pm    

    Glenn Greenwald:

    In 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld commissioned a task force to study what causes Terrorism, and it concluded that “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies”: specifically, “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” through our “one sided support in favor of Israel”; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, “the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan” (the full report is here).

    Now, a new, comprehensive study from Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor and former Air Force lecturer, substantiates what is (a) already bleedingly obvious and (b) known to the U.S. Government for many years: namely, that the prime cause of suicide bombings is not Hatred of Our Freedoms or Inherent Violence in Islamic Culture or a Desire for Worldwide Sharia Rule by Caliphate, but rather. . . . foreign military occupations

    The report is summarised by Laura Rozen at Politico. She says:

    Pape and his team of researchers draw on data produced by a six-year study of suicide terrorist attacks around the world that was partially funded by the Defense Department’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. They have compiled the terrorism statistics in a publicly available database comprised of some 10,000 records on some 2,200 suicide terrorism attacks, dating back to the first suicide terrorism attack of modern times - the 1983 truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 241 U.S. Marines.

    Based on his findings, Pape does not advocate a “cut and run,” precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan, but what he calls “off-shore balancing.” In Afghanistan, he recommends a two-to-three-year plan, that would in the first year freeze the number of U.S. forces in the country while intensifying political and economic development efforts in particular in Afghanistan’s Pashtun south and east, followed by a U.S. military drawdown over two to three years — similar to the strategy in Iraq.

    I tell you I’m absolutely shocked.

    Filed under: Terrorism

    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
    11th October, 2010

    Pic of the day, from the EDL riot

    by Sunny at 9:45 am    

    From the EDL demo/riot in Leicester. Thanks to @SamTarry

    Filed under: Race politics
    10th October, 2010

    The East India Company today

    by Rumbold at 8:39 pm    

    Reading the Sunday Times Money section, I was surprised to learn that not only is the East India Company still trading, but that it is owned by an British-based Indian, Sanjiv Mehta. Mr Mehta bought the rights to the name in February, and currently runs the East India Company as a shop selling luxury items.

    Mr Mehta claims to have bought the name in part because of brand awareness- according to one survey over two billion people had heard of the East India Company. Given its involvement in, amongst others things, the 1770 Bengal famine (millions dead) and the opium trade, I am not so sure it is a particularly good brand to have. Nevertheless, it does bring to mind the old adage about India ultimately absorbing its conquerors.

    Filed under: Economy,History

    Jon Cruddas raises the very important English question

    by Sunny at 10:34 am    

    An article in the Observer today by Jon Cruddas says: English Defence League is a bigger threat than the BNP:

    A thousand English Defence League supporters protested in Leicester yesterday, the latest in a wave of anti-Muslim activity across the country.

    Last week, 40 EDL followers protested for three days outside a KFC restaurant in Blackburn which was trialling halal meat. A fortnight before, 30 EDL followers in Gateshead held an impromptu demonstration outside a police station after six of their friends were arrested for burning the Qur’an; a similar number attacked a leftwing meeting in Newcastle. On the anniversary of 9/11, there were EDL actions in London, Nuneaton, Leeds and Oldham.

    The EDL is a much bigger threat than the BNP, consumed by infighting and debt since its crushing defeat in May’s local elections. It also poses the biggest danger to community cohesion in Britain today. Its provocative marches, “flash demos” and pickets are designed to whip up divisions between communities and provoke a violent reaction from young British Muslims.

    The rise of the English Defence League, Jon Cruddas rightly contends, is a result of increasing disconnection and confusion about national identities.

    He says the left must get organised. True. But first the left must also recognise that national identities matter, and we’re going through a flux in identity, which gives rise to these people.

    The problem, for me as well as people like Jon, is that we’re then faced with lefties who are uncomfortable with old-left notions of community and solidarity, and want to blame everything on capitalism.

    So I’ll be intrigued to see where Jon Cruddas takes this. All this confirms the point I’ve always made: that identity politics (whether class or race) has been integral to British politics for centuries. The rise of the EDL is merely the latest reincarnation.

    Filed under: Race politics

    Conflict, encapsulated

    by Sunny at 9:17 am    

    An Israeli driver runs down a masked Palestinian youth, standing amongst a group of children throwing stones at Israeli cars in Silwan, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. NYTimes

    Filed under: Middle East
    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

    Guido Fawkes’ pathetic attempt to smear Sadiq Khan

    by Sunny at 9:30 am    

    This is more an observation that needed to be written down somewhere. A couple of days ago right-wing loon Guido Fawkes said this in a blog-post about Sadiq Khan:

    With the rise of Red Ed, his most loyal follower looks set to be rewarded. His extremist views rule him out of the FCO, and quite extraordinarily, Labour are talking about putting another expenses cheat in the Home Office brief.

    Extremist views? So I actually bothered to follow the link. It said:

    Khan’s outspoken foreign policy views rule him out of the FCO or defence. In a message to Ed Miliband supporters during the campaign Khan said Britain needed to support “a more independent foreign policy”, the subtext of which is in line with his rant last year that the UK’s relationship with the US was “poison”.

    The “rant” turned out to be him pointing out that drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan was turning people against the US military. Shock horror! God forbid the UK might have its own foreign policy objectives independent of the US. Clearly the words of an extreeeeeemist! He’s brown, he’s Muslim: the E-word comes easy to smear merchants like P Staines.

    I only point this out because some of these things have a bad habit of becoming received wisdom without anyone know how it originated and from where. Now that Sadiq is elected to the shadow cabinet, I hope he gets a strong shadow portfolio like Home Affairs, Justice or even the FCO. Results our later today. The Labour Uncut site have tipped him as one to potentially replacing Ed as potential leader of the party. I’ll drink to that.

    Update: Sadiq Khan is rewarded with the post of shadow Lord Chancellor and justice secretary. He will also be responsible for shadowing Nick Clegg over his constitutional and political reform programme. Excellent stuff.

    Filed under: Media
    6th October, 2010

    Interesting Bloggingheads on the Economy

    by Shariq at 8:28 pm    

    I’d encourage people to listen to this. James Pinkerton is a conservative, but an extremely idiosyncratic one. He was anti-war for example and his ideas on economic development are interesting. Some of the arguments he makes on these points are probably in line with what lefties in the UK are/should be making.

    Why the trial against Geert Wilders is wrong

    by guest at 10:14 am    

    by Iman Qureshi

    Equating the Quran with Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf, calling Islam a “retarded” religion, and demanding a “head rag tax” are just a few examples of how Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, has succeeded in catching the attention of many media headlines, as well as a Dutch court.

    Wilders, whose trial is set to resume this week, is facing five counts of giving religious offence and inciting hatred against Muslims—particularly those immigrant to the Netherlands which are of Moroccan origin—through his comments to the public and media, as well as his short film, Fitna, which can be viewed on YouTube:

    Wilders’ arguments make the scaremongering right wing press in America look moderate. His appearance on Fox News is almost amusing in its juxtaposition of an interviewer who clearly agrees with Wilder on many issues, but doesn’t quite have the balls or endorsement to say so out loud.

    Indeed, Wilders’ is acutely aware of his unconventional and outspoken discourse. He dismisses theories of multiculturalism, cultural relativism and political correctness. They have no place in a Western liberal-democratic society, he argues. And nor does Islam and its proponents.

    Continue Reading...
    4th October, 2010

    Dr. Mitu Khurana: the fight goes on

    by Rumbold at 9:38 pm    

    Dr. Mitu Khurana, whose case Pickled Politics covered extensively here and here, is facing new obstacles in the fight to gain permanent custody of her two daughters, Guddu and Pari.

    Dr. Mitu has been battling her husband and in-laws for years. Her troubles began when she refused to have an ultrasound (which is illegal in India due to the fear of female foeticide if the mother is found to be pregnant with girls); this upset her in-laws, who poisoned her and took her to a hospital in order to have the ultrasound done. When it was found she was pregnant with twin girls, she was pressured to have an abortion. She refused, and when they were born, she was expected to give them up for adoption. She did not want to, so her in-laws started conspiring against her, with her mother in-law pushing her then four month old daughter down the stars on one occasion.

    Dr. Mitu eventually left the house with her daughters for good, and filed a complaint under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act, the first individual to do so. Since then her in-laws have taken her to court in order to gain partial custody of her children, an action she believes is merely a ploy in order to get her to drop the complaint against them and the hospital. Numerous officials she has encountered have been unsympathetic or downright hostile. A high court judge even told her to reconcile with her husband and in-laws after they had tried to kill one of her daughters.

    Now, with the court case dragging on, Dr. Mitu was shocked to find that her husband has applied to take custody of the now five-year old twins, whom Dr. Mitu is forced to bring to every court session (about once a month) for no apparent reason.

    Rita Banerji has been coordinating a petition in support of Dr. Mitu.

    Glenn Beck: Indians, desire to commit multiple murders, whitewashes slavery

    by Jai at 4:45 pm    

    Further to the recent PP article about the influential Fox News anchor Glenn Beck, there has been an interesting article in the New York Times providing more information about Beck’s background and his activities. As previously discussed on PP, his fellow Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly has described Beck as “the leader of the Tea Party movement”. The Tea Party itself has of course recently been exposed as being bankrolled & manipulated right from the start by the Right-wing billionaire Koch brothers, who have links to both the Republican Party and Fox News. Beck himself also has ties with the Republican politicians & potential 2012 presidential candidates Newt Gingrich (whose own racist remarks about President Obama were discussed on PP here) and Sarah Palin.

    Readers are strongly advised to familiarise themselves with the previous PP article about Beck if they have not done so already. One of the best ways to further understand the various problems with Beck’s worldview and behaviour is to view footage from both his Fox News show and his various radio shows. Some of the following videos are very disturbing indeed.

    1. Glenn Beck’s racist diatribe about Indians

    He begins by attacking Indian doctors, and follows it with a lengthy bigotry-and-stereotype-riddled sneering rant about India itself, at one point even describing the River Ganges (sacred to hundreds of millions of Hindus) as a name that “sounds like a disease”.

    Beck’s remarks may be placed into further context by the fact that he has unashamedly promoted viciously racist books by two Nazi-sympathising authors, one of whom (Elizabeth Dilling) not only attended Nazi party meetings in Germany along with speaking at rallies by Nazi groups in the US, but also described non-white, non-Christian people as “savages” along with calling Hinduism and Islam “debasing and degrading”. Beck himself has explicitly described Dilling as one of his ideological predecessors, ie. “people who were doing what we’re doing now”.

    Continue Reading...

    Leaked documents show how US ignored warnings about Afghanistan and made it worse

    by guest at 9:44 am    

    by Iman Qureshi

    Probably around the time that then US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage infamously informed President Pervez Musharraf that he would bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if it didn’t comply with American demands, the following correspondence between the two countries, recently declassified and published by the National Security Archive on 13 September 2010, took place.

    These documents reveal that the US voiced to Pakistan their refusal to engage in any discourse with the Taliban, and instead forge straight ahead with military action.

    US Ambassador to Pakistan tells President Musharraf that “there was absolutely no inclination in Washington to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban.”

    The US further put to Pakistan a list of seven non-negotiable demands:
    1. To stop al Qaeda at the border;
    2. Provide the US with blanket landing rights to conduct operations;
    3. Provide territorial and naval access;
    4. Provide intelligence;
    5. Publicly condemn terrorist attacks;
    6. Cut off recruits and supplies to the Taliban;
    7. Break diplomatic relations with the Taliban and help the US destroy Osama Bin Laden.

    Continue Reading...
    3rd October, 2010

    I might have to watch a Bollywood film for the first time in years…

    by Sunny at 10:30 am    

    This is how Andrew Buncombe introduces ‘Endhiran’:

    In Mumbai, the print of his film was driven at dawn to a temple by horse-drawn carriage in order for it to be blessed. In Chennai, the 4am showing of the film sold out, forcing fans to hustle to get tickets for the 5am slot. In Milton Keynes, movie reviewers were charmed, and in the US, hard-to-get tickets were reportedly selling for up to $40 (£25).

    This weekend, the 61-year-old veteran of more than 150 films is earning even more money. The star’s latest film, Endhiran – English title The Robot – opened to good reviews and huge, adoring crowds who queued overnight outside cinemas across the nation to watch the latest, high-adrenaline adventure. Inside, the audiences shouted and cheered at their hero’s unlikely moves while outside fireworks were set off and drums played.

    But this movie is different for several reasons. Not only is it the most expensive Indian movie in history, costing around 1.6bn rupees (£23m), a vast sum for a film in this country even if it’s nothing compared to Hollywood. But the film was also simultaneously released globally at more than 2,000 cinemas, the largest ever distribution for an Indian film and a decision that underscores the star’s appeal with south Asian communities around the world.

    Watch the trailer - it does look a bit insane, and worth watching just for the comedy value (PS, I can understand Hindi, but not a word of Telugu).

    Filed under: Media
    2nd October, 2010

    “Join us or die”

    by Rumbold at 11:08 am    

    That’s the message anyway from the new taxpayer-funded environmental campaign, backed by staunch environmentalists such as Peter Crouch (who takes the train or swims to European matches). The video sees two children murdered for refusing to back the 10:10 environmental campaign:

    The video, (despite attempts to pass it off as humour) sums up all that is wrong with some elements of the environmental movement; it is smug, intolerant and hypocritical (that’s not to say though that there are not some genuinely committed and principled environmentalists out there).

    I think that we need to tackle climate change. Whilst new technologies and improvements in renewable energy efficiency will undoubtedly help, at the moment the best thing we can do is to reduce energy issue by making carbon-emitting energy more expensive. This can be done through the tax system (as carbon emission are externalities). But this alone is not right, as people will just see it (understandably) as a way to raise extra revenue. This is why green taxes rises need to be balanced with tax cuts in other areas, particularly income tax and National Insurance.

    Thus businesses and individuals who don’t emit that much carbon will see their tax bills fall, whilst heavy emitters will see their tax bills rise, which should encourage them to cut their carbon emissions , whether through cutting back for investing in more energy efficient products. Over time then, it should also reduce the tax take of the government, as long as the green taxes are significant enough to impact on behaviour. Chris Huhne has advocated such a policy recently:

    The Liberal Democrat minister backed a call by his party’s activists which would see 10 per cent of all Government revenue come from green taxes within five years. Revenue from green taxes is currently forecast to fall from 6.9 per cent of the total to 6.5 per cent over the next five years. Raising the proportion to 10 per cent would require an extra £22billion – an unprecedented shift in the burden of taxation.

    The LibDems claimed that raising more in green taxes would allow them to reduce other taxes. But critics last night dismissed it as a cynical move to squeeze more tax out of motorists.

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