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Saturday, June 6

Fairplay to Brown, a brilliant speech

Gordon Brown gave a knockout and quite moving speech this afternoon in Normandy.

Given the current situation this may be very hard to believe! But I defy anyone to listen to it and, putting issues with the man aside, not find the content stirring

By contrast Obama's history lesson was full of sweeping historical generalisations and - yes - errors. Plus, I thought, his tone was plain wrong.

Friday, June 5

Gordon's cabinet: Lords a'leaping

Six lords* are in Gordon Brown's cabinet and I believe this is the highest number of unelected cabinet members since the 1960s, possibly earlier. Please feel free to correct me!

Now you could well make the argument that, like the USA, the great leader should be able to pick the best talents above those which political parties and electors have chosen. But that's hardly been debated here, Brown has just slipped into this position due to the lack of talent for him to pick from.

It's a rather shocking position for Labour to be in.

*Lord Mandelson, Baroness Royall, Lord Adonis, Lord Malloch-Brown, Lord Drayson, Baroness Scotland

Thursday, June 4

Only tactical votes for Labour

On his blog today Alastair Campbell makes the correct point that Labour has done well with the NHS. Speaking in Hull for Mental Health Week, he reports how this was pointed out to him by a woman from the NHS.

But a far better answer came from the woman from the NHS who spoke after me and who could not have been clearer that the government had delivered huge extra resources for the NHS, and the NHS staff were making that money work to deliver real improvements. And as she spoke, I thought what a crazy world we live in - that Labour promised to 'save the NHS', has done so, with enormous consequences for people's lives and livelihoods, and there is a risk of the country voting in extremists and opportunists because Gordon is copping it for every MPs' expenses claim.
I agree, and Cameron will slash services. However, this is what I said to him in response:
I know all this Alastair - I'm culturally Labour. But like a lot of gays in the US are getting with Obama, as an advocate for gay asylum seekers I can't get past what monstrous policies Labour has overseen regarding them. When you know the personal situations it's nigh impossible. Plus I can see the Tories being *better on this issue! Truly.

I understand politically why this has happened - why, in general, the Home Office has been left to deal so badly with the whole issue of asylum - but this just makes it worse and really is an utter betrayal of Labour's core values. Miliband is right now, like the USA, completely ignoring /denying the pogrom of Iraqi LGBT! Plus LGBT Labour have just ignored asylum, only now taking any interest.

I'm sure there are other previously loyal people who feel betrayed and it isn't good enough to just keep saying NHS! NHS! NHS! - it's marginalising and sending people (like me) to the back of the bus.

Locally I will (tactically) vote LibDem, in the Euros I will vote Green.
[I do know that others will have their reasons. These are mine]

Wednesday, June 3

Iraqi LGBT Press Statement: Iraqi gays condemn Obama/Clinton inaction on pogrom

Iraqi gays condemn Obama/Clinton inaction on pogrom
Embassy statement 'offensive and insulting'


For immediate use

A group representing Iraqi lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT) has spoken of their deep anger and offence at a statement by the Baghdad US Embassy concerning the violence and murder campaign against gays.

In a response to US Rep. Jared Polis, following a meeting with Iraqi government officials, chargé d’affaires Patricia Butenis said "We have no evidence that [the Iraq government's] security forces are in any way involved with these militias."

Iraqi LGBT has been reporting for four years on police involvement with the terror campaign.

Group members speaking from Iraq said that they are "fed up with such 'political' words" and that the Americans are doing nothing to stop the terror campaign against them. They believe that the priority for Hillary Clinton's State Department and Obama's administration is to not upset the Iraqi government as they have no other allies within the country.

They believe that no-one is trying to help them and feel that the current timid diplomacy "will not do much good".

"These words from the American embassy are insulting to us, our lives in Iraq and to those many friends of ours who have died. This statement is evidence that the Iraqi government is doing nothing to protect its citizens."

"They are responsible for these crimes through bringing no one to justice, refusing to acknowledge their police's involvement and providing no rights for Iraqi LGBT in law."

"People should not forget that what's happening in Iraq right now is a direct result of the unlawful US invasion."

Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT Rights Program, has also criticism the State Department. In an interview with EdgeBoston, responding to State spokesperson John T. Fleming's pointed statement that 'homosexuality is not a crime in Iraq', Long responded that the fact that homosexuality is not a crime punishable by death "would be an interesting fact if the law, or the rule of law, mattered in Iraq."

Long has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Iraq where he spoke to 25 survivors from Baghdad and other cities, including Najaf, Basra and Samarra.

As a consequence of what they found, Human Rights Watch has been organizing ways for as many LGBT Iraqis as possible to get out of the country.

Colorado U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who has spoken about Iraqi government involvement with the violence, has written with Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank to U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill.

"As LGBT Americans and cochairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we are disturbed and shocked at allegations that Ministry of the Interior Security Forces may be involved in the mass persecution and execution of LGBT Iraqis ... The persecution of Iraqis based on sexual orientation or gender identity is escalating and is unacceptable regardless of whether these policies are extrajudicial or state-sanctioned."

The letter called on the U.S. embassy in Iraq to "prioritize the investigation" of the allegations and work with the Iraqi government to end the executions of LGBT Iraqis. Polis is drafting another letter that would be signed by more members of Congress and sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


- - - - - - - - -

For futher comment please contact Ali Hili, Chair Iraqi Lgbt
Mob: ++44 798 1959 453
Website :

- - - - - - - - -

For further information on the situation of Iraqi LGBT please see:

Report: The Iraqi anti-LGBT pogrom: sourced from all media reports, agency, organisation and representative statements concerning the pogrom

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Telegraph journos with huge chips on shoulders

The Telegraph has made an astonishing vitriolic attack on 'Kool-Aid slurping Wikipedians' today.

Channeling Andrew Keen, Milo Yiannopoulos calls my friend Helen Milner "sickeningly PC" because she dare point out, and advocate for, those without access to the internet.

This arrogant fool seems to think she's talking about "making sure that Tower Block Tracy has access to MySpace".

No. She's not. It's about people like my mum having access to internet banking and saving and its higher interest rates. To Ryanair tickets. To online shopping deliveries if you are disabled (which lots of the 'digital disenfranchised' are). To all those benefits they miss out on.

What really got my goat though the sheer blinding sweeping ignorance of his attack on 'Kool-Aid slurping Wikipedians':

"Collaborative investigative journalism… feels good because it’s messy,” said [Channel Four's Tom] Loosemore, “and could work better than the old models.” Oh, yeah? I’d like to see a “messy” collective of Kool-Aid slurping Wikipedians conduct the sort of rigorous analysis necessary for the Telegraph’s recent MPs' expenses investigation. Can you imagine social media achieving anything like it? Of course you can’t: great journalism takes discipline and training – neither of which exists in Loosemore’s collaborative utopian fantasy.
Well how about this then fool?

When the US House Judiciary Committee released a huge pile of documents relating to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys by Former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales TalkingPointsMemo (TPM) faced exactly the same problem that the Telegraph has with the MPs expenses documents - making sense of their contents and finding the juicy stuff.

So what did they do? TPM turned to their readers, their thousands and thousands of readers.
Josh and I were just discussing how in the world we are ever going to make our way through 3,000 pages when it hit us: we don't have to. Our readers can help.

So here's what we're going to do. This comment thread will be our HQ for sorting through tonight's document dump.

And to make it efficient and comprehensible, we'll have a system. As you can see on the House Judiciary Committee's website, they've begun reproducing 50-page pdfs of the documents with a simple numbering system, 3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-1, then 1-2, then 1-3, etc. So pick a pdf, any pdf and give it a look. If you find something interesting (or damning), then tell us about it in the comment thread below.

Please begin your comment with the pdf number and please provide the page number of the pdf.
Within a few hours gems were appearing. As slacktivist put it:
This is simple and brilliant. The document dump has long been an effective means for burying a scandal under piles of paper, drowning reporters with a deluge of details. It's a way to "tell the truth, the whole truth" but not "nothing but the truth." Full disclosure of the needle along with full disclosure of the haystack. The TPM Muckrakers may have found a way to neutralize this tactic -- a way to sort through the haystack quickly enough that the details can be reported on before they're dismissed as "old news."
How much quicker could we have got the juicy stuff out of the MPs expenses docs if 'citizen journalists' had been turned loose on them?

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Tuesday, June 2

Come out, come out - because that what's changes the world

"I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they'll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects ... I hope that every professional gay will say 'enough', come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help." Harvey Milk, 1978

HT: Andy Sullivan

Twitter is rubbish ...

... No. It's. Not.

This proof just blew me away. Watch it and THINK ...

HT: Emma

Disco Clegg

For some reason - sans Boyle - the UK doesn't generate that many viral videos. Which is bizarre given our creative talent (see advertising, TV formats etc.).

This especially holds true in politics, we're sh*t when it comes to political virals. So I've a (free, no obligation) tip for the Libdems. Take a tip from Sarkozy and go disco.

Play on Cleggy's shag-a-delic image.

Worked for Sarkozy when the Presidential campaign released an official disco-sarko game.

My g*d, the disco even works for Lula! This man is invigorated and not old at all! And this video is actually viral!

Sunday, May 31

In a major victory for LGBT asylum, Ugandan John Bosco defeats the Home Office

Cross-posted from LGBT Asylum News

Following an eight year ordeal the Ugandan gay asylum seeker John 'Bosco' Nyombi has finally won asylum in the UK.

Despite a well-documented media and government anti-gay campaign in Uganda, which has included articles and photos of Bosco, he was deported in September last year. The UK Border Agency making it usual claim that LGBT can be safe in such countries if only they are 'discreet'. However the method of his deportation, which involved deception, violence and rule breaking, led to a historic decision by a British court following which the Home Office was forced to return him to the UK in March, where he was immediately put into a detention centre due to an 'error'.

As Bosco feared for his safety if he was returned, and also because the Home Office might use any publicity about his case against him, a court ruling meant that subsequent media reports referred to him Mister X.

On his return to Uganda, Bosco has been dumped by UK officials with no support (LGBT asylum seekers are regularly returned without their mobile phones, clothing other than what's on their backs or other basic items or given any opportunity to put their affairs in order) and was arresred. He managed to escape after paying a bribe.

As his face and situation was known through the local media's anti-gay campaigning he went into hiding. Twice during this time he was caught by Ugandan police and put into prison where he was violently beaten by both staff and inmates because he is gay.

Bosco won his return because a judge Sir George Newman, said the Home Office was guilty of "a grave and serious breach" of the law. He had an outstanding judicial review but despite this he was deceived into a meeting at a removal centre where he was instead bundled into a van and taken to Gatwick airport.

At the airport, when he resisted leaving the van, he was handcuffed, punched in his private parts to make him straighten his legs so they could be belted together. Crying, he was lifted on to the plane and flown out of the country. (Jacqui Smith has ordered an inquiry into widespread reports of violence during removals).

His mobile phone had been taken from him and he was given no chance to contact friends or lawyers, even though Home Office rules required that he should have 72 hours' notice of removal to give him a chance to make calls.

Judge Newman said he was also satisfied that the actions of the Border Agency officers were "deliberately calculated to avoid any complication that could arise from Mr Bosco 's removal becoming publicly known."

Lawyers for the Home Secretary conceded in court that his removal was carried out illegally.
But they argued flying him back to the UK was pointless because the 38-year-old was bound to lose the fresh asylum claim he now wanted to make.

Rejecting their arguments, Judge Newman said: "I find it impossible to conclude, on the basis of the evidence as it now is [Nymombi's situation on retruning to Uganda], that there is not the real possibility that a judge might find that he is at risk if he is returned (to his homeland) by reason of his homosexuality."

As with the Ugandan lesbian Prozzy Kazooza, who was raped and tortured by the police and won asylum last year, this has now proved to be the case.

Bosco will now be able to return to the job he had held for seven years as a carer supporting vulnerable adults in the community in Southampton. His job has been held open by staff who had previously testified to his outstanding work.

In an email to the author Bosco said:

I was worried to death not knowing where my future will be other than death but now I can put a smile on my face.

Please I ask you kindly to pass on my sincere love and word of thank you everyone you know that supported me and prayed for me.

I will never say Britain is bad because I will include those good people helped me but Just Home office as a department they tortured me and can't understand why they had to do this to me when I obeyed all the rules.

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