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Thursday, September 11

Enough!

Arianna Huffington on how Obama should react to the sleazy, despicable attacks from the Repugs:

The fear of activating the residual racism provoked by the caricature of the "angry black man" should no longer hold sway. As John Cusack points out, over the last 40 years, popular culture has been "filled with images of strong, powerful black actors who have been able to express righteous rage and still capture our affection and respect. From Sidney Poitier to Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Morgan Freeman -- these are men who have the inherent dignity to express the kind of cosmic rage that comes from being human and responding to injustice. They are perceived as authentic and powerful precisely because they show us their anger as they fight for what is right and true and good. If they didn't, we wouldn't respect them."

Picture Poitier as Virgil Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night when Rod Steiger's southern sheriff mocks his "funny name for a nigger boy from Philadelphia" and asks, "What do they call you up there?"

Righteous rage drips from every syllable of his five-word answer: "They call me Mister Tibbs!"
Prescience, from Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: "Well you made her Mr Drayton, I just met her in Hawaii":

Her Maj owns McCain

"The Queen began using a computer in 2006 and regularly emails her grandchildren, although a year earlier she confessed to never having used a computer while conferring an honorary knighthood on Microsoft founder Bill Gates."

"During her reign the Queen has always kept up to date with the latest technology," said a Buckingham Palace spokesman.
"The visit to Google is another example and shows how willing she is to embrace new technology and change."
The Queen gives an audience to YouTube owner Google
McCain was asked by the New York Times if he actually looked at websites. He said his staffers showed him things on the computer, such as Drudge Report and Politico. His wife then yelled at him, during the interview, because he didn’t mention his daughter Meghan’s weird blog.

Asked if he could actually make the computer show him a website, McCain said:

"They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself."
John McCain Looked at the Computer!

By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith is 82, McCain is 72.

Wednesday, September 10

Ellen and Portia's Wedding Day



Pass the Kleenex!

Still here

Of course the world didn't end - despite the fears of Daily Mail readers, including very scared children (sigh - and what does that tell you?).

All that and the LHC has actually not done a collision, wherein the fear lies. This is a great video explaining what it's actually all about.

Insight: the hell of the asylum seeker


The Azerbaijani gay asylum seeker Babi Badalov last week sent out a plea to friends reflecting his appalling situation, caught in the fifth richest country in the world, between destitution and possible honor killing (actually more than possible, his relatives have already made threats). A situation which the Home Office, backed by the Daily Mail etc. considers 'civilised'.

Babi is currently trying to get his case reviewed having been turned down on the basis that he can be 'discreet' once he's 'sent back' (a passive way of describing what will actually happen to this remarkable artist). This is Labour. This is the direction they give to so-called 'independent' judges in asylum cases. Tell them they can be 'discreet'. One face to foreign gay people, another to British ones. 'Be open'/be discreet'. What is it Labour?

I'm sharing this plea from the heart to cut through the chaff and get to the heart of the matter. Jacqui Smith and our government are perfectly content to effectively torture tens of thousands of such people, gay and straight, old and young, in our name.

Well, not in mine.

The Nigerian gay preacher which Babi refers to is the gay Nigerian Anglican church rebel Davis Mac-Iyalla who - indeed - was granted asylum in record time. Good on Davis, but it stinks of hypocrisy.

Yes, it is capitalised and - in the original - in large text. AKA screaming.

HELL-OO HOMEOFFICBASHI JACKGUI SMITH HEAD UNITED KINGDOME MINISTRY INTERNAL AFFAIRS
I AM TIRED TIRED OF PAIN YOU GIVING ME
IT WAS 47 years ENOUGH PAIN HORROW LIFE FOR ME BACK IN MY COUNTRY
A NOW YOU MORALLY TORTURING ME
FOR 2 YEARS
HOW MUCH I SHOULD CONTINIE LIVE WORRY SCARY LIFE HERE
EVERYDAY I AM INTO FEAR
EVERYDAY I AM UNHAPPY WITH HAPPY LIFE AROUND ME
EVERYDAY I HAVE FEAR OF POST MAN WILL DELIVER TERRIBLE NEWS LETTER TO ME FROM HOME OFFICE
EVERY TUESDAY I GO SIGNING I FEEL I WILL GET HEART ATTACK
MY KNEES ARMS FEEL LIKE ELECKTRICAL SHOCK
I AM TERRIBLE AFFRAID THEY WILL DETAINE ME
WHERE I AHVE BEEN ALREADY 32 DAYS IN 4 DIFFERENT DETENTION CENTER AND THEY KEEP ME 3DAYS MORE AGINST LAW DUE TRANSPORT DIDNT COME
YOU GRANTED NIGERRIAN GAY PREACHER IN RECORD TIME
HE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ME
YOU MAKE SOME VERY HAPPY SOME KEEP UNHAPPY INTO WORRY FEAR
HELLO MISS SMITH
DO YOU NOW THAT I AM 49YEARS OLD
I HAVE NOT STRONG HEALTH AND WEAK HEART
DO YOU WANT ME DIED HERE?
I VERY HATE THIS INJUSTIC WORLD!!!

Do something
Home Office email (always note Babi's Home Office reference number: B1234623)
public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
indpublicenquiries@ind.homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Any support will go on Babi's case file.

Petition

Tuesday, September 9

Web 2.0 backs up

"I'm afraid that some blogspot and wordpress blogs may still experience delays due to the backlog in our queues, but we are working as quickly as possible to work through."
Which is why Technorati hasn't updated my blog for 15 days.

And there's all those Twitter outages of course ...

Human ghost in the machine?

“We still don’t know where the bottom is”

HT: Crooks & Liars

Mort Zuckerman talking about the Fannie and Freddie Mac bailout.

video

The bank deregulation fallout (which G.Brown may have had a hand in). Been there, done that?

Here's the legacy for the grandkiddies: disastrous climate change and massive debt. Could we be more selfish?

‘The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.’
John Kenneth Galbraith

Sleazy self-promotion



But oh so timely on the interwebs ...

SpinSpotter + e-ink


Couple of possible game changers lurched onto the scene yesterday. I say lurched because they're not without their faults but - hey - you can see the potential.

SpinSpotter is a Firefox add-on which claims to be able to spot spin in news reports.

Users download Spinoculars, a toolbar that sits atop the browser and lets readers know if the story they are reading has any phrases or words that indicate bias.It highlights those phrases in a big red box, and readers can click to find out what exactly SpinSpotter found wrong with the phrase.
As Scott Rosenberg points out, this isn't actually that easy for an algorithm to do. And he's right on the central point: 'objectivity' is - well - 'objective'.

But anything which helps debunk can only help. And if tools can be devised to do this, good on 'em.

Next is something which is an inch closer to that sci-fi future promised in - owh - 1956?; talking magazines. Esquire used so called e-ink on their 75th anniversary edition. The YouTube of it doesn't thrill very much but - you get the potential ...


Monday, September 8

Music: Patrice Rushen - Haven't You Heard



Most famous for 'Forget me nots' - sampled for 'Men in Black' and 'Fastlove' - this is my favourite of hers. This killer track was sampled in Kirk Franklin's 2005 fab gospel hit 'Lookin' 4 U'.

Patrice has a blog!

Sunday, September 7

Michael Palin for President

The only poll that counts

Click for www.electoral-vote.com
Yet again reading in the sundays UK coverage of the Presidential election "race tightening" and nothing but reporting of the national poll numbers.

None of this matters as the only poll that counts is the electoral one. Huh? This is the one George Bush won in 2000, despite having less votes nationally than Gore. Each state gets so many 'electors' and it's the total of them which decides the winner. Not called the 'United States' for nothing.

And in that poll - the only poll that counts - currently stands at:

Obama 301 McCain 224 Ties 13
So it's no wonder that the cool heads at Intrade, who put money on outcomes, currently have:
Obama win 311 to 227
Obama has been leading, by these sorts of margins, in these real-world polls since June. Of course this could change but every indicator is that it's not exactly 'tight'. Bear this in mind as you read non-stop UK coverage about a so-called 'tight' race .... journalists have a vested interest in ignoring the only poll that counts.

~~~~~~~

On Palin, this is what she's up against in the vice-presidential debate. I predict a knockout:



Postscript: I've been reminded that the pollsters also have an interest in this being 'tight'. Plus the New York Times has more today on that electoral vote map showing places like the Dakotas 'in play'.

Postscript: Here's another reality check. Obama will have 1.5 million organisers on the ground for the election - thanks to the web, all the groundwork which I've been documenting. This is something like 5X what Karl Rove ever managed.

Palin may indeed 'energize the base' but these numbers, alongside the sustained voter-registration effort, which has driven Democrat-aligning voter sign-ups for months, is yet more evidence that all the evidence is pointing to Obama winning.

Postscript: A point raised by a commentator as well as some pundits is the 'Bradley effect', where people say they'll vote for the African-American candidate to pollsters but don't. Short answer to this is that no-one knows until November 5th. But, as I note, those betting money on the outcome still hold that this will be negligible and are betting Obama. I'd also add that the evidence from the primaries shows a negligible to non-existent Bradley effect.

Another asylum seeker on his way back to being killed?

One more story in the government's two-faced, ongoing war against overseas gays and lesbians who have the nerve to flee to the UK.

Guest post by Hywel Bishop

As a recent post indicated, Babi Badalov has recently heard that his asylum application appeal has been rejected. Feeling that his case had not been adequately dealt with by his solicitor Babi's campaign support group managed to find him a new solicitor who is now in the process of making an application for a fresh claim.

Since changing solicitor his previous solicitor has been extremely disruptive and has so far refused to send Babi's case notes to his new solicitor, despite it being of the utmost importance that a fresh claim is lodged as quickly as possible.

News of Babi's campaign and his claim for asylum has reached Azerbaijan on a number of occasions. These have included pictures of Babi and details about his sexuality, making it even more dangerous for him to be deported.

Previously, one of Babi's brothers had threatened to kill him if he found out that Babi was gay after a friend told him that he had seen Babi wearing an earring in public. Following the publication of these newspaper articles Babi has received phone calls and text messages from various family members expressing their disgust. His sister called crying and screaming on the phone asking if what she had read was true. When Babi said that it was she told him that he had brought shame on this family and their region and that she never wanted to see him again. If Babi is forcibly deported back to Azerbaijan Babi would therefore have no family to return to and he fears that his brothers will try and kill him in order to restore some honour to the family name.

Despite the 'decriminalisation' of 'consensual same-sex male acts in Azerbaijan in 2000 (largely enacted in order to remove any obstacles to Azerbaijan's accession to the Council of Europe) homosexuality still remains an extremely taboo subject. A report by the International Lesbian and Gay Association of Europe in 2007 highlighted how decriminalisation has not led to 'sexual orientation' becoming protected in anti-discrimination legislation.

The report also indicated that gay people and the wider LGBT population were subjected to human rights abuses, discrimination, and social exclusion. The report characterized the community as "vulnerable and exposed to extortion by law enforcement officials," facing problems such as ridicule, forced bribes, abuse, and in some cases rape by law enforcement officials. The report noted that the community lived under a constant fear of being "outed" to family, friends, and colleagues.

Like most gay people who have claimed asylum because the persecution they have experienced because of their sexuality Babi faces an uphill struggle.

Sexuality, for the Home Office, is for the most part dismissed as adequate grounds for being granted asylum. The Home Office 'policy' line with respect to gay asylum applicants is that because gay people are not necessarily visibly they can therefore live 'normal' lives by being 'discreet' about their sexualities. Even those that it believes have suffered appalling persecution because of their sexuality are regularly forcibly deported back to the countries they have fled.

They are told that they should go and live in another part of the country and to be 'discreet' about their sexual practices. This translates into nothing more than telling people to go and live a life in the shadows, hiding their sexuality and preying that no one finds them out.

While this twisted logic should not be applied to anyone it is impossible for Babi to live such a life. Even before the reports about Babi hit the headlines in Azerbaijan his status as a well known artist made him a visible figure and has been a major cause of the physical and mental attacks and persecution he has had to suffer for many years. But now following all the media attention it would be completely impossible for him to go and try and endure such living conditions.

For the past few months Babi like the vast majority of other asylum applicants has been required to report to the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) building in Cardiff. Every time that he goes there he fears that he will be detained. None of this is doing much for Babi's metal and physical health. He is becoming increasingly depressed and his supporters are extremely worried about him.

Babi now has to wait to hear whether the courts will grant his 'fresh claim'. He will then, more than likely, have to jump through many other hoops before his asylum application is finally granted.

Overall, the Home Office is geared to making it as difficult as possible for those fleeing persecution to have their asylum applications granted. However, Babi's supporters all remain positive despite the Home Office's best efforts to make life as difficult as possible for him.

But Babi is not alone in having to endure this. This is what awaits all those who come here in search of a better life free from persecution and instead get a regime that forces them to live a life where they are not allowed to work to support themselves, have to live on benefits at 70% of those of UK citizens and are imprisoned in one of the UK's 12 privately run detention centres.

There are a number of ways in which you can help Babi. Please sign his on line petition and forward the details to as many of your friends as possible. You can find out about other ways in which you can actively support Babi by visiting No borders Wales who are supporting Babi with his campaign to stay in Cardiff where he feels safe.

Paul Canning
So-called 'honour' killings are a deadly serious issue in numerous countries for lesbians and gays, in particular Iraq but also Turkey, Palestine, Pakistan, Gambia, Brazil, Mexico and others. There have been cases in the UK of gay asylum seekers also been attacked for similar reasons.