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Saturday, September 20

Nick Clegg on the Daily Show

"Just one more thing, ask the Prime Minister why he dragged my country into an unnecessary war ... "

Friday, September 19

Music: Love Sensation

Dan Hartman
and Tom Mouton wrote, produced and arranged this masterpiece of disco by Loleatta Holloway.

Famously sampled for the hideous "Ride On Time" (she sued, successfully) and subject to numerous unnecessary remixes.

Culture en péril


Music: Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now

WARNING: low volume. I love the byline on this YouTube clip "Pour les anciens!"

McFadden & Whitehead's classic was played as Barack Obama accepted the Democratic party nomination.

There are innumerate versions of this. Here's the original extended version for extensive partying down.


I've been using Snipshot for ages now as as v. quick, in-browser method for generating web ready images on-the-fly. For web purposes it's great.

But it's not ready yet for Firefox 3.0 and has thus disappeared from my right-click.

What's replaced it is Picnik, which is similar photo editor but with more options and also a firefox add-on (Facebook too). It is Flash based, takes slightly longer, it does try to sell to you and it is tied into Flickr.

But that's being picky. Recommended!

Ban this sick filth ...

HT: Chris Boland

Try the Daily Mail headline generator:

From the people who bring you the David Blunkett policy maker, Michael Howard Sings The Smiths, and Alastair Campbell’s Wheel of Retribution.

Thursday, September 18

LGBT asylum emergency

Two gay asylum seekers at serious and real risk of attack, imprisonment and possible killing are currently at the last stage before being deported by the British government.

gayasylumuk has been notified that gay Ugandan John Bosco Nyombi has been transferred from a detention centre to Heathrow. Azerbaijani Babi Badalov has been transferred to a detention centre with a flight booked for this Saturday.

The government plans to return Nyombi to a country which actively - led by its President - persecutes LGBT. Newspapers print the names and addresses of gays and lesbians and demands 'action' is taken against them.

Badalov has been threatened with death by 'honour killing' and his sexuality has already led to persecution and would definitely lead to more persecution if he is returned.

The answer of the British government to this: "be discreet" Seriously. This is the position of the British government.

In reality the policy is to refuse the maximum number of asylum applications on the most spurious of grounds. In reality the British Home Office, which manages asylum seekers, is rife with homophobia.

When he was informed that he was going to be detained and deported Babi responded by saying "I feel sick" To which the UK Border agent told him "well you make us sick, you're going back where you belong."

Recent LGBT asylum cases such as that of the Iranian Mehdi Kazemi have highlighted the absurd and shameful attitude of the British government to LGBT asylum seekers. It is an embarrassment to all right-thinking British people and it is therefore no surprise that support for LGBT asylum seekers has come from across the political spectrum.

gayasylumuk calls for two things:

1. maximum embarrassment and a collective 'turning of the back' by UK LGBT and all right thinking people, particularly as the governing Labour Party conducts its annual conference in Manchester next week
2. signatures to the petition initiated by the Rev. Walter Attwood to Gordon Brown []

We also reiterate our call earlier this year that:
"We hope that gay and lesbian Labour voters in particular will consider changing their vote if the policy isn't changed before the next election. This is one way to get the message through on their hypocrisy regarding lesbian and gay rights issues — when embassies in other countries are flying the rainbow flag they aren't doing this in Tehran, Kingston or Kampala."


Further information
Museveni launches campaign against gays
Human Rights Watch adds Home Office to 'Hall of Shame'
gayasylumuk condemns "inhumane, anti-gay" Labour government

Babi campaign
Bosco campaign

Wednesday, September 17

Zim: good signs

On Tuesday I voluntarily stopped at a Police road block set up in the vicinity of Bob’s palace and offered my hand in congratulations to the Police saying, “now you will have a better deal with MDC running Home Affairs”. They vigorously shook my hand and they were over the moon!
Witness, from Sokwanele.

Outside the Sheraton on Monday some war vets were singing “You sold out!” to Mugabe during the signing ceremony.

There were tens of hundreds of MDC supporters gathered singing and waving outside the hotel entrance. They completely blocked out the few Zanu supporters. The mood was electric, tangible with excitement and joy. Even the Presidential guard were looking relaxed!

When the ZPF dignatories left the hotel in their cars they were faced with a sea of waving open hands, chanting “chinja” (change) and just loving every bit of the rare window of freedom of expression.

A small group of (brave, stupid!) ZPF youth split into two groups and surrounded a small group of MDC supporters and started stoning them. Well, it was a matter of seconds before the wider crowd of MDC retaliated angrily on the spot. The ZPF youth were seen to go to the Presidential guards standing nearby complaining they had been beaten by the MDC. The guards response was, “what were you doing going into their group in the first place? !!”

The body language, reaction of the military man behind, standard of rhetoric, everything is summed up in these clips of Tsvangirai and Mugabe from Monday:

Tsvangari from his interview with Chris O'Neal today:
We had a similar kind of people in 1980, those who refused to accept black majority rule has arrived and were even undermining the government, even going to the extent of sabotaging the government. In the process of change of this nature that is expected, but it does not stop a train moving forward.

Cute animal tricks

Engaged as I am with somewhat serious matters ATM, thank the skygod for u-toob. [But even in this space I learn that Sarah Palin hates cats. Grrrrrr.]

My letter to Jacqui Smith

Dear Ms Smith

I have voted Labour all my life and worked for many years for the party. It is because of the work of people like me that Labour has gay rights policies.

But your treatment of gay asylum seekers has driven me to vow to never put an X next to any Labour candidate ever again.

Babi Badalov is just the latest under threat of death by 'honour killing' (this is the threat he faces) or similar if returned but you believe he can be 'discreet'.

I learn tonight that your thugs will be deporting him.

There is a word for this Ms. Smith, hypocrisy. You would not dare use language like 'discreet' to British gay people.

This is not 'civilised', this is not honorable and it is not fair.

You have forever lost my vote and support for Labour until and unless the party changes its shameful attitudes to these most vulnerable people.


Paul Canning

'You make us sick, you're going back where you belong'

The Azerbaijani artist and gay asylum seeker Babi Badalov, who I wrote about recently (Insight: the hell of the asylum seeker), has been detained and has been given deportation directions for this coming Saturday.

Campaigners are urgently seeking the intervention of his local MP, which they believe will stop the deportation.

Babi's campaign has already gained the support of writer and playwright Patrick Jones, Leane Wood AM, Bethan Jenkins AM, Chris Bryant MP, Cardiff Council Leader Rodney Berman and Deputy Leader Neil McEvoy.

A demonstration is also being urgently organised. A campaign organiser wrote to me that, "I've never seen him, or anyone for that matter, looking so scared".

When he was informed that he was going to be detained and deported Babi responded by saying “I feel sick”

To which the UK Border agent told him “well you make us sick, you're going back where you belong.”

As a result of beatings and bullying over the years Babi has only eight teeth remaining and suffers from a number of mental health problems.

Since arriving in Cardiff in December 2006, Babi has engaged fully with various parts of the local community and has made many friends in his new home. He is still producing poetry, is writing a book about his art/gay life experiences and is also working on a film addressing the rise of Muslim fundamentalism. This latter work, as well as many other aspects of his art, would of course be impossible in Azerbaijan.

For the first time in his life, Babi felt happy and safe in Cardiff. He felt able to openly express himself artistically, politically and with regard to his sexuality, without associated feelings of fear, shame and imminent repression.

Babi is under open threat of death by 'honour killing' but Jacqui Smith believes he can be 'discreet'.

What you can do to help Babi stay

Use this model campaign letter to copy/amend or write your own letter to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, asking her to allow Babi to stay safe in Cardiff.

Hand-written letters can be more effective, if you have the time. Remember to quote the Home Office ref. number: B1234623

Send to:

Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
3rd Floor Peel Buildings
2 Marsham Street

Please send any copies of letters/faxes to

More about Babi.

Update: Cardiff picket for Babi

Tuesday, September 16

No blinking!

What will her eyelids do in the face of terror? Sarah Palin doesn't need to know what the Bush Doctrine is — she is the Bush Doctrine.

Forgotten heroes

Our current Paralympics medal tally, with one day to go. Am I missing something here? Why is this not 'news'?

Sunday, September 14

Britain's indigenous peoples shame

Here's something you won't read, er, anywhere:

One year after the UN General Assembly approved the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Britain and four of its former colonies have not shaken off their reputation as leading opponents of tribal peoples’ rights.

The four countries which voted against the declaration – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US – are all former British colonies. And the British government continues to resist calls to sign up to ILO Convention 169, the leading international law on tribal peoples.

In addition, many of the companies in the spotlight for targeting tribal lands are based in Britain, Australia, the US or Canada. Perhaps the most controversial is UK-based Vedanta, which is planning a massive bauxite mine on the sacred hills of the Dongria Kondh tribe in India, despite their steadfast opposition.

Other mining companies mired in controversy are US-based Freeport McMoran, operators of the world’s biggest gold mine at Grasberg, in Papua, Indonesia, and Canadian TVI Pacific, whose mine in the Philippines has been fiercely opposed by the Subanen people. Norway’s government has recently sold its shares in British company Rio Tinto, a joint venture partner in the Grasberg mine, due to ‘a risk of contributing to severe environmental damage’.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director, said today, ‘For centuries the colonial policies of Britain and other European countries were directly responsible for the deaths of millions of tribal people around the world. How tragic that today Britain and its former colonies are exporting another kind of misery – commercial exploitation under the guise of ‘development’.’
From Survival International. THE most vulnerable peoples in the world. And Miliband/Brown will stamp all over them. In your name.

Zimbabwe: the end is nigh

The signing of the deal between Mugabe/Mbeki/Tsvangari is opaque. But as soon as I began reading about behind-the-scenes deals for the generals who have been running Mugabe for months I began to think: this is it, it's almost over, they're negotiating an exit strategy.

And the key driver behind this? The collapsing economy.

If you read/watch Zim at all you soon learn that there are always more factors at play than you'd thought of. Devil/detail. But let's be hopeful.

Chris O'Neal says 'Mugabe is now poised to sign his own political death warrant'. His big point about the deal: "Mugabe will not be without power, but he may be reduced to obstructing more than governing.":

Crucially, the two MDC factions have a majority of one in both bodies [council of ministers /cabinet], as well as control of parliament, allowing the party to out-vote Mugabe and set policy. That will allow the MDC to dismantle the apparatus of repression which helped keep Mugabe in power long after his popularity crumbled. The government will be able to abolish legislation banning newspapers, locking up journalists and imposing severe restrictions on freedom of speech.

Mugabe is expected to keep his hands on the military through a Zanu-PF defence minister, which the MDC can live with because it will help reassure the generals. Tsvangirai has pressed hard for control of the police, which is crucial if he hopes to assure people that they can vote as they wish in future elections. Both sides are pressing to run the justice ministry, but that may be one that Tsvangirai loses because of fears within Zanu-PF that if he controls the police and the justice system the MDC could hold the guilty to account.

Crucially, the MDC is likely to get the finance portfolio because foreign donors will not want to hand money over to a Zanu-PF minister. It is the prospect of that money that unlocked the prospect of agreement. Without power for Tsvangirai there will be no foreign aid, and without hard currency Mugabe had no means of turning around an imploding economy.
Here's the key, as the economy collapses:
Western governments have said they want to wait and see if Tsvangirai is really wielding power, fearing that he may have been duped into a deal that allows Mugabe to outmanoeuvre him.
More from David Coltart.
This is undoubtedly historic but we still have a long and treacherous road to travel. Even had we in the combined MDC obtained total control the challenges are immense. The grave humanitarian and economic crises are enough to test any Government. The new Cabinet that will have to address these challenges is composed of protagonists – virtually all of the Cabinet Ministers to be appointed by the MDC T and M have at some stage in the last 9 years been brutalized on the instructions of those they will now have to work with. Zimbabwe remains highly polarised and it will take statesmanship on all sides to make this work.

But work this must. Zimbabwe is a great country with a tremendous future and it can and will get through to a new dawn of freedom.
And here's another view, civic society in Zim is strong. And undiminished - note; kept strong by the web - still discussing Transitional justice options for Zimbabwe.
The organizations present at the workshop, having agreed on these principles also set non-negotiable minimum demands for a transitional justice process. The civil society’s minimum demands include no amnesty for crimes against humanity, torture, rape and other sexual crimes, and economic crimes such as corruption; no extinguishing of civil claims against the perpetrators or the state; comprehensive reparations for victims of human rights violations; no-one should hold an official office who has been responsible for gross human rights violations and corruption; a credible and independent truth seeking inquiry into the conflicts of the past which holds perpetrators to account and which provides victims the opportunity to tell their story; independent monitoring and reform of the operations and structures of the police, army, paramilitary, security coordination, administration of justice, food distribution and other organs of state involved in the implementation of the transition.
We wait to see whether the deal is as positive as it seems. Whether in any way the guilty will be held to account in Zim. Whether the hope is correct. But what is very, very clear is that if the world has chosen to forget and ignore - as they have in so many other countries - none of this would have happened.

And there's your take-away.

Alaska Women Reject Palin

Back from a short break to this news: a huge ‘Alaska Women Reject Palin’ Rally.

I say news, but no-one is covering it except the local press. And I say huge - it was huge for Alaska. This is some of Mudflats report of today's (Sunday's) rally in Anchorage:

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It’s probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots”, and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received many nasty, harassing and threatening messages.


Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.


So, if you’ve been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart.

Todays' New York Times has an extensive piece on Palin's past. Two of the books she tried to get removed from library? 'Daddy's Roommate' and 'Pastor I Am Gay'.

Update: Late to it but now some of the MSM is covering the rally.