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17th August, 2006

Hollywood v ‘The Terrorists’

by Leon at 10:48 pm    

Oh dear, something like this makes me think these actors and Directors should not give up their day job. Hollywood has decided it’s time to rid the world of the terrorist scourge:

Nicole Kidman and 83 Hollywood heavyweights are using the power of the press to speak out against terrorism. She has joined 84 other high-profile Hollywood stars, directors, studio bosses and media moguls, including News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, has taken out a powerfully-worded full page advertisement in today’s Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It specifically targets “terrorist organisations” such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine. [via deficient brain]

Well, there you go brilliant and insightful analysis of world events provided by experts in the field. It’s almost as if these darlings of the film industry felt they had to reverse the satire in Team America…

Filed under: Media, The World, Humour

The letter was counterproductive

by Jai at 11:11 am    

The Muslim MPs and organisations would have been better served if they had directed their ire towards the wannabe jihadist elements in the UK instead. Now, they are possibly doing this already (I have no idea), but something like an open letter warning “the enemy within” of the social and legal consequences of attempting terrorist attacks would have been more appropriate and a far more legitimate target for their efforts.

Jai explains why the recent letter was a bad move and has backfired in their faces.

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More silliness

by Sunny at 2:31 am    

While we’re on the subject of stupid comments and internet campaigns…. remember our Bollywood friend Rimi Sen, who said…he can even make a Black African look pretty“? Well, quite a few blogs picked it up. I also wrote it for AIM, and guess where that ended up.

rimi senWhen we called Rimi for her take on the controversy, the actress naturally feigned ignorance. She says, “I have been misquoted. I can’t speak to you as I am shooting.” As for remembering what she had actually said, the actress says, “I don’t remember any such statement.”

Heh. Who said we can’t challenge racism in Bollywood? (via t-hype)

Filed under: India, Other racists
16th August, 2006

Tamils must disown LTTE

by Sunny at 11:00 am    

So said a Times editorial yesterday:

The ceasefire in Sri Lanka, brokered by Norway in 2002, has been breached repeatedly since last December, even as the Sri Lankan Government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) both insisted that it remained in force. The ferocity of the fighting that has now engulfed much of the country’s northeast, preceded and accompanied by Tamil Tiger bombing atrocities in the capital, Colombo, has reduced to rubble the latest and most promising effort to reach a mediated settlement.

The country is again at war. In the past month, at least 550 people have been killed and 100,000 civilians rendered homeless. Among them are at least 30,000 Tamil-speaking Muslims, who make up a third of the population in the eastern part of the territories claimed by Tamil Tiger separatists and are the most voiceless and helpless victims of its murderous agenda.

Since 1983, when the Tamil Tigers took up arms, most of the 65,000 people killed have been non-combatants. [via Moju]

I’m not sure what difference the editorial will make, but there needs to be international pressure to reign in both sides before the violence spirals out of control.

Filed under: Sri Lanka
14th August, 2006

Happy Birthday, Pakistan

by Sunny at 6:52 pm    

On its 59th birthday, today, Haroon Moghul writes an essay to ask questions about what could have been. When will we know if the ‘Pakistan project’ has been successful?

Those of you who follow this blog know that I used to be a very staunch supporter of the Pakistan project, and a defender of Jinnah’s plan and the ideal of a Muslim homeland. You may also be reminded hereby of my allusions to the Sunni minority in Iraq, whose course to separatism may not, in the short-term, be inexplicable, yet in the long-term may turn out to be a very bad decision. Which leads me to this question:

Was Pakistan a bad decision? Was Pakistan a mistake?

I am certainly not saying Pakistan has not done any good, nor that Pakistan was categorically and exclusively a mistake. I’m just thinking out loud and wondering: In the long-run, would it have been better for Indian Muslims to have remained in India, albeit with some sort of significant autonomy, than it was for them to strike out, ill-prepared and poorly led, into independence, not once – 1947 – but twice – 1971?

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Filed under: South Asia

Good News From Australia

by Shariq at 1:37 pm    

John Howard’s efforts to introduce draconian legislation requiring all asylum claims to be processed offshore have been defeated. Interestingly, the bill was allegedly more to placate the Indonesian government than a result of Mr Howard’s own biases (although I’m sure they contributed).

For some facts and figures about migration to Australia and a very interesting discussion about Australians hopes and concerns over multiculturalism, see this post by Australian Senator Andrew Bartlett.

13th August, 2006

Let’s treat the plotters as common criminals

by Leon at 10:18 pm    

Excellent piece by Mathew Parris:

Some will see this as a good week to bury liberal scruples. Prepare yourself for the distinct possibility of a flight home by the Prime Minister, a recall of Parliament, one of those impassioned rallying speeches at which Tony Blair excels, and for renewed talk that “the rules of the game have changed”. Prepare yourself for a crude conflation of Israeli war aims with the security of the West, and of Hezbollah with al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgency. Prepare for a Reid-fest on the airwaves, and for renewed muttering about arrest without trial, house arrest and shifting the burden of evidence. “Join up the dots,” Mr Blair urged us last week. This weekend, dot-joiners will be on the rampage.

How sides seem to have been switched since the last century turned. Rebels and mutineers used to insist that there was a war on, and governments used to insist that there wasn’t. Hardliners took the view that people who blew things up were common criminals, to be dealt with case by case. Liberals argued that it was more useful to see them as idealists in a warped and misguided army.

Now it’s the other way round. Hardliners see a war between opposing forces. Liberals see a more fractured picture, a rebel cast of dangerous but messed-up people, idiots, nutters and psychopaths, some organised, some clever, others out of control: essentially a matter, however grave, for the police.

Some good points but the overall one about how this should be seen is pertinent and may even be the only way to stop this lunacy. I’ve long thought characterising these acts/people as ‘evil’ is pointless. It confuses the real issue of criminal activity as well as giving its supporters/adherents a greater sense of importance. Further to this it places a heavy political burden on police officers/security services that would rather just get on with their jobs than produce spectacular plot foiling dramatics for the TV cameras…

The language used to describe a current set of situations (and the actors behind) them is creating a higher sense of drama than is needed to solve this mess. Perhaps it’s time for calmer heads to prevail?

Filed under: The World, Middle East
12th August, 2006

It’s the weekend lemon curd thread!

by Katy at 4:39 pm    

This weekend Sunny and Leon will be fulfilling their pickly destiny by making lemon curd.

Well, technically lemon curd is not a pickle, it is a preserve, but the two are similar in the sense that you cook them and put them into sterilised jars whilst they are still hot and then they keep for a very long time and are very good to eat with bread or, if you are me, sneakily by the spoon out of the fridge. So it is close enough to being a pickle to be called a pickle. But please don’t tell Delia Smith that I said that because although she is a superb cook and her recipes never fail if you follow them, nonetheless she scares me in her television programmes with her sprayed-into-submission 50s housewife hair, toothy smile, blank dead eyes and staccato delivery.

Except when she is drunk at Norwich home matches, when she scares me with her slurred speech and foul language instead.

In the meantime, those of us who aren’t making lemon curd will be using the weekend lemon curd thread to report their cheery weekend activities, for example amusing anecdotes about the week that has gone and notification of any weekend plans that might be in the offing. If you have something political to say, say it elsewhere please. Thank you very much thank you thanks bye thanks.

Filed under: Current affairs

Letter by Muslim MPs and organisations

by Sunny at 1:43 pm    

The Guardian reports:

Leading UK Muslims have united to tell Tony Blair that his foreign policy in Iraq and on Israel offers “ammunition to extremists” and puts British lives “at increased risk”.

An open letter signed by three of the four Muslim MPs, three of the four peers, and 38 organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain, was greeted with dismay in Downing Street. It has courted the MCB and several of the signatories, such as key Labour MPs Sadiq Khan (Tooting) and Shahid Malik (Dewsbury), whom it believes can shape Muslim opinion.

Now updated

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Filed under: Current affairs
10th August, 2006

Plot to blow up airlines

by Sunny at 1:30 pm    

As many have already pointed out…

A plot to blow up planes in flight from the UK to the US and commit “mass murder on an unimaginable scale” has been disrupted, Scotland Yard has said. It is thought the plan was to detonate explosive devices smuggled in hand luggage on to as many as 10 aircraft.

Police are searching premises after 21 people were arrested. Home Secretary John Reid said they believed the “main players” were accounted for. High security is causing delays at all UK airports. [BBC Online]

News 24 is reporting that houses around Walthamstow and other parts of High Wycombe and East London were raided last night and this morning.
Updated with news and bloggers reactions

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Filed under: Current affairs
9th August, 2006

Meanwhile in Sri Lanka…

by Sunny at 2:16 am    

A veteran political opponent of the Tamil Tigers was wounded yesterday and three people were killed when his vehicle was torn apart by a bomb in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

The bomb, the first in Colombo in nearly four months, coincided with the funerals of 17 local tsunami aid staff shot dead in north-eastern Sri Lanka at the weekend, and brought the death toll over the past fortnight to 440.

Yesterday’s remote controlled bomb marked a change in tempo in the fighting which, since it erupted last December, had been confined to the north and east, and raised fears that a tattered three-year-old ceasefire had finally given way to all-out war. [The Times]

I hate to be the constant harbringer of bad news and writing about one bombing after another but, as Raz pointed out earlier, let’s not lose track of the escalating violence in SL.

Filed under: South Asia, Sri Lanka

Understand what is at stake

by Sunny at 12:06 am    

I said recently that the problem with Tony Blair’s approach to world events is what looks like a limited understanding of religious and non/religious politics.

In this weekend’s Observer Henry Porter made a similar point quite succintly:

That is not the thinking of neocon policy makers, so it is well to remind Mr Blair what Henry Kissinger said to the World Affairs Council in 1999. ‘In America, there has been a tendency to divide foreign policy into two schools of thought. One that identifies foreign policy as a subdivision of psychiatry and another that treats it as a subdivision of theology. The psychiatrists think relations among nations are like relations among people and you bring peace through this strenuous exercise of goodwill. The theologians believe that all foreign policies are a struggle between good and evil and the thing to do is to destroy the wrongdoer once and for all, after which normalcy returns.’ Kissinger was psychiatrist; the Prime Minister and President Bush are theologians.

Exactly right.

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Filed under: Religion, Middle East
7th August, 2006

George Galloway vs. Sky News

by Leon at 1:34 pm    

I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of Mr Galloway but this exchange was amusing to say the least. Rarely has an interviewer been rebuked so effectively by an interviewee…

Update: It’s also on YouTube.

6th August, 2006

What do Muslims want?

by Sunny at 9:50 pm    

It’s not a question. Tomorrow evening Jon Snow presents a Dispatches programme titled ‘What Muslims Want‘.

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow tackles one of the most difficult and controversial questions facing our country today: to what extent do Muslims in Britain pose a threat to this country and its values? There is a growing fear that the 1.6 million Muslims in Britain are rejecting the majority liberal, tolerant beliefs in this country for a radicalised version of Islam in which violence can be justified. Dispatches has conducted the most comprehensive and rigorous survey to date of Muslim opinion in Britain, with startling results.

The problem is, I’m not sure Jon Snow is really the right person to ask this question, given an article he’s written for today’s Sunday Times.

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Filed under: Media, Current affairs
5th August, 2006

It’s the real, non-political, non-scary weekend open thread

by Katy at 5:20 pm    

And now that you have all finished reeling from my first ever overtly political post, I bring you the weekend open thread, which frankly I now desperately need.

I don’t know how people can do that sort of posting on a daily basis. I have broken out in a light sweat, which obviously only throws my muscle definition and razor-sharp bone structure into strong relief. And you have to post links and things, which is hopelessly complicated, and then check that they all work, and all that sort of malarkey. So I am very glad to be back on the weekend open thread where I belong, and I hope that I will never have to leave it again, because there is no place like home.

So what’s everyone got planned for the weekend? And has anyone done anything amusing over the last week? Tell me tell me tell me. I am playing croquet tomorrow, which I am ridiculously excited about. In Alice in Wonderland they used flamingoes as mallets, which appeals to my sense of the bizarre gratefully. Although I intend to insist that my flamingo dons protective headgear first…

Filed under: Current affairs

A wider perspective on Israel and Middle East

by Katy at 5:01 pm    

This post has been edited and updated since it was first posted, and a substantial part had to be rewritten after a Wordpress disaster. Apologies to those who responded to the post as it was first written.

Like many Diaspora Jews, I am not an uncritical supporter of Israel and I am deeply unhappy about the current war on Lebanon.

What I would like to do is discuss and critique the conflict freely with anyone else who is interested in doing so, regardless of their background, colour, religion or nationality. But I don’t get much opportunity to do that, because I find myself having to rebut the same misunderstandings over and over again, sometimes in conversations outside of this blog, and sometimes on threads in this blog.

Even when, as Leon did recently, a thread is started with the aim of discussing how to end the conflict, it quickly turns into a battle between ill-informed tirades about Israel’s previous crimes and misdemeanours versus equally ill-informed tirades about the alleged intrinsic worthlessness of the Palestinian/Arab peoples. Neither of those lines of argument are going to get anyone anywhere.


4th August, 2006

Tony Blair’s “arc of extremism”

by Sunny at 3:23 am    

Tony BlairI used to think it was just the US President who was stupid and our Prime Minister was simply being sucked into his agenda. It seems that whatever Bush has, it is infectious. At least on foreign policy.

In a speech on Tuesday Tony Blair said we “must rethink” the war on terror. He also introduced a more silly phrases like “arc of extremism” and “how do we empower the moderates to defeat the extremists?”.

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Filed under: Middle East
3rd August, 2006

How can we stand by and allow this to go on?

by Leon at 12:30 am    

The Israeli invasion of Lebanon is making me increasingly partisan in my assessment of its developments. It’s nonsense that Israel is seriously threatened; they are virtually a regional super power (by the fact of billions of dollars in US ‘aid’).

The Lebanese people are paying thrice the price: one for the ineptness of their government, two for being neighbours to Israel and three for the provokations of Hezzbolah (although I suspect number three is viewed somewhat differently by them now…).

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Filed under: Current affairs
2nd August, 2006

A battle of words and pictures

by Sunny at 3:08 pm    

Last week I wrote about the media war taking place in parallel to the conventional conflict in Lebanon. This seems no sign of abating.

Blogger and journalist Roy Greenslade today points to growing controversy over a British blogger accusing the BBC and photo-journalists of propaganda because of invoking the “shock value” of pictures. Let me get this straight. If women and children are being blown up, do these people want to see pictures of pretty flowers on their news screens? There was plenty of blood and crying when the pictures for 9/11 and 7/7 came out - should they have been suppressed too?

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Filed under: Media, Middle East

Ignorant Americans people

by Al-Hack at 1:10 pm    

The day after the stabbing of a Santa Clara grandfather left South Bay Sikhs reeling, prosecutors are weighing hate crime and attempted murder charges against his neighbor, who apparently believed the man belonged to the Taliban.

Iqbal Singh, 40, was waiting in his carport with his 2-year-old granddaughter around 10:50 a.m. Sunday when the suspect approached him and stabbed him in the neck with a steak knife, Santa Clara police Sgt. Kurt Clarke said. Singh was still in the hospital Monday with serious injuries. The girl was unhurt.

There are indications that Thompson, who may suffer from mental illness, believed Singh was a member of the Taliban, officials said Monday. Singh is not.

From Mercury News courtesy of Sepia Mutiny.
This brings up that old chestnut don’t it. It is right for Sikhs to declare “We are not Muslims”? Or, are they making this into a faith crime when the man was just mentally ill?

Filed under: United States
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