Friday, August 21, 2009

Tomorrow, Minsterworth, 10 am

"there were no explanations or excuses for the offences other than drink"

Thus defence counsel Jonathan Devlin.

Amir Rehman, 18, shouted racial abuse as 51-year-old Ronald O'Connor walked to a shop for a loaf of bread, near the gates of Lister Park, Manningham, last December.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Rehman shouted: "Manningham belongs to Muslims. We dont want whites. We rule Bradford. We are going to get you out."

His victim tried to get in the shop, but Rehman ran towards him and stabbed him twice in the upper arm with a four to five-inch bladed knife. Rehman, of Manningham, tried to slash Mr O'Connor's face and the victim also had the palms of his hands slashed as he tried to defend himself.

Hmmm. On that evidence, and if the reporting is correct, Jonathan Devlin seems to be a man with exceptionally limited powers of analysis and deduction. I suppose there's a chance he's referring to the robberies of children rather than the racist attack.

Mr Gioserano said Rehman attended Bradford Crown Court for a preliminary hearing of the case in March, but went straight from court to Pudsey, with two other men, Amar Farooq and Tanveer Hussain, where, later in the day, they committed a series of robberies on children on their way home from school.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Methinks ..

This post bears repeating.

Pippa von Humbolt-Parker (second from left; 19 'A's) plans to spend her gap year in the Congo, teaching Pygmies to bungee jump.

A government spokesman denied A-levels were getting easier.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance Alert ...

At Shiraz Socialist they're worried about the anti-Muslim lies of the BNP, and their commenters (bar one) are supportive :

I think it correct to expose the obvious lies of the right, by pointing out the population stats etc but that, on its own, plays the BNP game. We should also point out that even if Muslims constituted 50% of the population, so what?

A short click away, at Stroppyblog, the hypocrisy of the Mail never fails to raise the old feminist blood pressure :

Like it or not, women like sex as much as men and if they have lots of it with many people then so what ? Some actually prefer men, or women, that do not judge and are not so insecure in their sexuality to be threatened by women who like sex and know what they want.
I can't help feeling that should "so what ?" A come to pass, then the Stroppers wouldn't like the answer to "so what ?" B.


Asks Andy Beckett in the Guardian and at Socialist Unity.

in Britain and most comparable countries the left is not thriving. Quite the opposite. The Brown government’s mild tilt to the left has made it no more popular. At the European elections in June, left-leaning parties, whether in office or opposition, cautious or militant, were trounced across the continent. Votes went instead to mainstream conservative parties or far right and anti- immigration groups. Over the summer the broader political debate, particularly in Britain, has shifted in the same direction: “The crisis of the financial markets has become a crisis of public spending – it’s incredible!” says Hilary Wainwright, editor of leftwing magazine Red Pepper. “Public servants are going to be scrutinised down to the last paperclip, while bankers are not going to be scrutinised down to the last million they have received from the government.”

Has the left missed its moment?

Why, yes, says Laban, repeating himself here and here. But it was a comment by 'socialist' StevieB that struck me :

StevieB - “the USSR was better than capitalism because it raised the living standards of the workers and peasants far higher than the previous capitalist regime had. The revolution allowed the USSR to become a substantial economic power.”

These two things were in fact inversely related. The USSR became a substantial power in the 1930s by depressing personal consumption (aka living standards’) to levels which kept the population in poverty and starved several million, but which enabled the government to massively expand education, the military, aviation and heavy industry. Just in time for WW2, as it happened.

Similarly levels of personal consumption are relatively low in China today, though nowhere near Soviet levels and due to a high savings ratio rather than confiscation, which enables the government to expand etc etc.

In the West, by contrast, personal consumption is actually higher then GDP in many countries - the difference being made up by borrowing. Not a sustainable scenario.

This got me thinking about education. When the Soviets expanded education, it was real education, with right and wrong answers. They wanted - and needed - engineers, chemists, agronomists, vets, metallurgists. They weren't targeted on how many peasants' offspring got to college, nor less did they want to dumb down grades to exhibit their glorious sucesses - they needed large numbers of real, competent people to face a real potential challenge.

In the UK now we expand (using borrowed money) psychology, media studies, sociology, while physics departments close. The purpose of education is increasingly to make HMG (and young people) feel good about themselves, rather than to meet perceived national needs (quite apart from education being good in itself).

And if we find we still need 'real' educated people ? Import them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two Cultures

As the Sixties and Seventies boomers, the generation when sex, drugs and rock'n'roll went mainstream, get older we see more stories of this nature :

Burnley magistrates were told how Lesley Anne Cassidy, 48, had had 127 tablets of valium which she had bought from a dealer. She had served a jail term for peddling drugs.

Cassidy wept as the court was told how she would take between 10 and 20 valium pills a day and her late husband would take the same. The defendant, of Smith Street, Nelson, admitted possessing a Class C controlled drug ...

The defendant was present and said she and her late husband had taken drugs. She said she had gone to sleep and had awoken to find him lifeless on the settee. Mr Hartley said Cassidy was admitted to intensive care, and after she was released she was arrested.

Police investigated and there was no evidence to show Cassidy supplied her late husband with drugs. There was evidence both had bought drugs. The defendant had 127 valium tablets which she had bought from a dealer. Jasmine Basnyet, for Cassidy, said she had taken valium for a long time and the number of pills she had had would only have lasted the couple for about a week or so.Both would take between 10 and 20 tablets a day.

Aye. 48 was once a respectable age for a man, a matronly one for a woman. As you get older you find that you can't do all the things you did when younger - not without a physical toll.

In the same neck of the woods, a younger woman takes a message on board :

In one of the shops I visited on a regular basis the assistants said he wanted to say something and hoped I would not take offence.

He commented on my attire or should that be the missing item not supported. He said he admired the work I was doing as a disabled person but I really should cover my head.

I instantly jumped to my defence declaring I prayed five times a day as required and even prayed the Quran on a daily basis.

The man praised this but said I would be questioned for not covering my head as it was a compulsory.

I again attempted to justify myself ‘I might not be wearing a head scarf but at least Iam decently covered, I am wearing loose clothing and nothing is showing. What’s better to dressing like this without a head scarf or covering your head whilst wearing jeans that fit like a second skin and a top that leaves nothing to the imagination’?

He replied that she would be questioned about this on the day of judgement but at least she was fulfilling the requirement of the head scarf which meant that it is one less thing to answer for.

Sometimes someone says something and it really affects you, for the first time I saw it differently. I had been asked to cover my head by various people but always said ‘Inshallah when I’m ready’.

Little did he know his good advice had sown the seed.

When I got home I was overtaken by a desperate need, the likes of which I had never experienced, to cover my head. I put on my scarf and called my mum...

It’s been about a month that i have worn it and to be honest i don’t even notice it’s there anymore. I am still the lively, bubbly, chattering Sarvat that is me.

The reaction from fellow Muslims has been a surprise. I have for many years been someone who practises my faith but now thanks to a cloth on my head it works as a visible statement that says I am a Muslim and am practising my faith.

What twisted irony, the head scarf was once used to aid me in my quest to impress, vanity. Now it is worn in the true essence of what it stands for - modesty. Allah Subhanatallah works in mysterious ways.

This little tale could have come straight from a Victorian newspaper. Righteous words, spoken in due humility, are never spoken in vain. Praise be !

Another Told-You-So

To quote :

I was never a fan of the project to democratise Afghanistan. The politics and culture of that fascinating nation are nearer to those of fourteenth-century England than to modern America. Imagine men from the Planet Zog arriving in 1350 to bring democracy to England.

Man from Zog : ‘Here you are, all registered, polling stations set up, we’ll check the count, carry on !’
1st Great Lord – ‘Super. Knights – you’ll all be voting for me‘
Knight – ‘Super. Squires – you’ll all vote for the Great Lord ‘
Squire – ‘Yeomen – put your cross by the Great Lord’s name if you want to keep that farm ’
Yeoman – ‘Serfs – I’ll show you where to put the thumbprint tomorrow’.
Serf – ‘Yes, Master’

From Our Own Correspondent :

Over the last few months, there has been a scramble by candidates to secure the backing of the big beasts of the Afghan political jungle. They are mainly the leaders and major commanders of those jihadi factions who, after years of warfare, ended up on the winning side in 2001 - in other words, with the US-led forces.

Added to their ranks are civilians who have come back from exile and some tribal leaders. All are men who have done well since 2001, establishing themselves as important patrons who look after their networks. Many face continuing allegations of corruption, opium-trafficking and human rights abuses.

They promise to deliver voters - blocks of voters - for their chosen candidate. Then after the election, it will be payback time. The next government, according to one joke I heard, will have 200 ministers to fulfil all the back-room deals made.
I suppose there's one similarity to US politics. The concept of the (halal) pork-barrel seems to have been enthusiastically adopted.

If you wanted to defend this type of politicking, you could say that Afghans tend to act communally - at the clan or village level, as tribes or ethnic groups, or as factional networks. One friend told me, quite matter-of-factly, that 300 people were waiting for him to decide who to vote for (family members and former students who looked to him for guidance).

I wondered if in Britain I could actually contact 300 relatives or colleagues to even discuss an election.

We "acted communally" too, for a very long time - via the web of institutions, clubs, political parties, societies, churches, trades unions and charities which once made up British society. I think there's a qualitative difference between that sort of 'communality' and this sort of 'communalism'. We acted that way in 1400 - but without worrying about a facade of democracy.

No one was paying the great lords to provide such a facade, of course.

One might be tempted to ask why it's so important to sort Afghanistan - or to worry about Pakistan for that matter. Why not just use Western military might to duff up the Taleban from a great height and Al Quaeda with special forces - and let the Afghans do what they will as long as they don't bother us ? What's our dog in the fight ?

After all, Afghanistan and Pakistan are a very long way away. Why should we care about what happens there to the extent of expending blood and treasure ? We don't do that for Sudan or Burma, for example - both ex-British administered territories, which is more than can be said for Afghanistan.

I think we all know the answer. Afghanistan and Pakistan are rather closer to us than their geographical position would indicate. Just as the citizens of Carmarthen preserved their dead tree for many years, so our rulers - perhaps with good reason - are concerned with preventing the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"being a Muslim has made her a better Christian"

Even the US Episcopal Church has its limits.

The decision was made by Bishop Geralyn Wolf of the Episcopal diocese of Rhode Island. Redding was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1984 and lives in Washington State, but had kept her canonical ties in the state of Rhode Island.

Redding has said that being a Muslim has made her a better Christian. "Some people don't need glasses, some people need single lenses. I need bifocals," she told CNN in a television interview.

The statement issued by the Rhode Island diocese said that Bishop Wolf found Redding "to be a woman of utmost integrity and their conversations over the past two years have been open, honest and respectful". "However," the statement concluded, "Bishop Wolf believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim." As a result, Wolf imposed what is officially called "a sentence of deposition", in accordance with the canonical laws of the Episcopal Church.