“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for November 2008

Farzad Kamangar.

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News in from LabourStart:

“Please join with the thousands of trade unionists and human rights defenders around the world who are mobilising in defence of Farzad Kamangar, an Iranian Kurdish teacher and trade unionist who is at risk of execution.

Education International received information from reliable sources that on 26 November Kamangar was taken from his cell 121 in ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison in preparation for execution by hanging. However, the latest information is that he is still alive and was able to meet with his lawyer on 27 November for the first time in over two months. His situation remains precarious nonetheless.

Kamangar, aged 33, was sentenced to death by the Iranian Revolutionary Court on 25 February 2008 after a trial which took place in secret, lasted only minutes, and failed to meet Iranian and international standards of fairness. His lawyer, Kahlil Bahramian, said: “Nothing in Kamangar’s judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him.” Indeed, Kamangar was initially cleared of all charges during the investigation process.

Education International, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Transport Workers Federation, Amnesty International and LabourStart are appealing to the Iranian authorities to commute the death sentence and ensure his case is reviewed fairly.”

Written by modernityblog

28/11/2008 at 22:53

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Women, Education and RAWA.

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Education International reminds us that the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is approaching and how the 25th November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:

“The 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an important moment to reaffirm and raise awareness of women’s rights. The journey to equality has witnessed the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW 1979), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC 1989).

Violence against women and girls remains a challenging struggle that has gained international recognition as a grave social and human rights concern, and that affects all societies, rich and poor, women and men.

“As teacher unions we must increase our efforts to end impunity regarding violence against women and girls. We must use all means available to bring about the end of impunity for those who repress, kill, and threaten other human beings. Democracy, respect for human rights and equality, and quality public education for all children are fundamental challenges for all societies, and especially for EI members,” said Jan Eastman, Deputy General Secretary of Education International.

There is no reliable data on the number of victims of harassment, bullying or intimidation at work and in the public sphere, whether at home or at school, during times of peace or conflict, from sexual exploitation to trafficking, early marriage and honour crimes. In all these areas, most incidents remain under-reported and few statistics are available. Teacher unions are also witnessing new and emerging phenomena such as cyber-bullying, sex industry on the internet and children victimized at ever-younger ages.

“Safety and security don’t just happen: they are the result of collective consensus and public investment,”, said Nelson Mandela in 2002. The dimension of the violence against women and girls is unacceptable.”

Let’s not forget the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).

Written by modernityblog

26/11/2008 at 14:23

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Blimp Spotted.

with 2 comments

By chance I came upon the work of Kellie Strøm, and a marvelous post he has “From Colonel Blimp to the Danish Resistance cartoonists against fascism”.

Great art work, worth a long perusal.

Written by modernityblog

24/11/2008 at 03:51

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Saudi Human Rights.

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Fresh is Glass rightly reminds us about the lack of basic human rights in Saudi Arabia:


The prisoners, as listed on the Facebook site:

1. Professor Matrook H. Al-Faleh, political science professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, detained by security forces in May 19, 2008.
2. Attorney Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi, former judge and human-right advocate, detained in February 2, 2007.
3. Attorney Dr. Mousa Mohammed Al-Qarni, former university professor and human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.
4. Professor Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Shomairy, former professor of education and human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.
5. Dr. Abdulaziz Suliman Al-Khereiji, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.
6. Saifaldeen Faisal Al-Sherif, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.
7. Fahd Alskaree Al-Qurashi, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.
8. Abdulrahman Bin Sadiq, Human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.
9. Dr. Saud Mohammed Al-Hashemi, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.
10. Ali Khosifan Al-Qarni, human-right activist, detained in February 2, 2007.
11. Mansour Salim Al-Otha, human-right activist, detained in December 12, 2007.

Their defence teams who observed the hunger strike:

1. Ayman Mohammad Al-Rashed, human-right activist.
mobile# +966505288354
2. Saud Ahmed Al-Degaither, human-right activist.
mobile# +966559201964
3. Professor Abdulkareem Yousef Al-Khadher, College of Islamic Jurisprudence, Qassim University.
mobil# +966503331113
4. Dr. Abdulrahman Hamed Al-Hamed, professor of Islamic economics.
mobile# +966503774446
5. Abdullah Mohammad Al-Zahrani, human-right activist.
6. Abdulmohsin Ali Al-Ayashi, human-right activist.
mobile# +966553644636
7. Fahd Abdulaziz Al-Oraini, human-right activist.
mobile# +966502566678 email:
8. Fowzan Mohsin Al-Harbi, Human-right activist.
mobile# +966501916774 email:
9. Dr. Mohammad Fahd Al-Qahtani, college professor and TV show host.
mobile# +966555464345 email:
10. Mohana Mohammed Al-Faleh, human-right activist.
mobile# +966505388205
11. Nasser Salim Al-Otha, human-right activist.
12. Hashim Abdullah Al-Refai, writer and activist.
13. Waleed Sami Abu Alkhair, writer and activist.
mobile# +966567761788 email:

Others are listed too, 65 in total. These people are unbelievable courageous to stick their necks out in that authoritarian regime. They could all end up in prison and worse. It is a very rare act of protest and it mustn’t go to waste. This is why it is important that the Saudi government understands that if they do they will not be forgotten. Amnesty (scroll to the bottom of the following link) lists the addresses of the relevant officials to appeal to by post or fax.

What did they strike for? Most immediately, the rights due their clients according to Saudi’s own Criminal Procedure Law and Arrest and Detention Law, specifically habeas corpus (an instrument to safeguard individual rights against detainment without trial by their state; an independent court decides whether a custodian has the right to hold the detainee; pivotal, in James Somersett’s case, to abolishing slavery in Britain), access to legal representation, periods in solitary confinement to be restricted to 60 days, visits, and a fair trial. More on Saudi law and these detainees from Emudeer on the participatory site Now Public (I wish he’d link to the odd source). Indirectly they were hunger striking for the right to continue their work on constitutional reform – the right for Saudis to gather and express themselves freely.”

Written by modernityblog

24/11/2008 at 03:40

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I Kid You Not.

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Edmund Standing is the author of some rather good posts at HP, they are broad, well researched and analytical, covering the strange links between various individual, groupings and the Far Right, so I am happy to add him to my blogroll.

Have a quick read of his post on the Taliban’s latest supporters: ‘Leftist’ journal hails the Taliban as ‘the resistance’. How predictable?

Written by modernityblog

22/11/2008 at 21:05

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Whilst I Remember.

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A few odds and sods before I get around to commenting on the BNP membership leak in earnest:

1) Socialist Unity covered the BNP leak, although I had hoped for a useful debate on the topic of anti-fascism as ever they ended up fighting like ferrets in a sack. Shame. I am just thankful that the Far Right are so fractured and disorganized, as it seems that a percentage of the British Left are more interested in bickering with each other, rather than seeing the positive side to this incident.

2) Wikio is a good place to find interesting blogs (mine is NOT there!).

3) The Mandriva community have just released an Xfce4 version of Mandriva’s Linux One 2009, I found the previous version fairly handy.

3) The Colombia Journal seems like a stimulating read for anyone concerned with Latin America.

4) Fresh is Grass’s links pointed me towards the Middle East Pact and the Abraham Fund Initiatives, worth a read.

5) The PA has taken out adverts in Israeli newspapers on an Arab peace plan, and despise many false dawns I hope this is a possible opening, and that the Israel Government deals severely with those Hebron settlers that desecrated a mosque.

6) Finally, Wine is steaming along and is at 1.1.8 development version, great!

Written by modernityblog

21/11/2008 at 02:56

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Garzón on Francoism.

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Well, sort of, thanks to Fabian for this article, and I wish I had the wits to translate it into decent Spanish, but nowadays I can’t, so you’ll have to do with a mechanical version from Google.

My apologies to any Spanish speakers, I appreciate how computer based translations can really make you grit your teeth. The original and Google’s version:

“MADRID .- The History, capitalized, will, as always, the last word. But, as it is for the little story, and before the judge Baltasar Garzon, the dictator Francisco Franco (1939-1975) has just been declared “innocent officer” in the aberrations committed in the period after the Civil War.”

My feeling is that this issue will not rest and I hope to read Paul Preston’s assessment of the judgment shortly, he’s probably writing it as we speak.

here it is: “British historian Paul Preston said recently that the need for an investigation would not go away if Garzon did not proceed.

“In a way the body politic is like any body, if there’s a wound it needs cleaning and it’s never going to heal until that’s done,” Preston said.”

Written by modernityblog

20/11/2008 at 01:41

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BNP Membership List Online.

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[This post was sticky, as I have enjoy the whole BNP debacle but back to the regular format.]

Are you worried about fascists living near you?

Solution: see HP comment on The Entire BNP Membership List Has Been Posted Online

What a laugh, I am almost crying with pleasure.

Update: HP have removed the link but putting “bnpmemberslist” into google will take you there.

Update 2: the blog has been removed but a exists. Enjoy and check out the google map of membership coverage.

Update 3:
I shall post a lot more on this, shortly, but in the mean time enjoy tim worstall.

Update 4: Duncan’s good as ever, and the AVPS discussion.

[and I finally remembered to include Duncan on my blogroll, he’s a laugh]

Update 5: Lancaster UAF have marvellous coverage, I liked this telling quote:

“The BNP is there, it’s got history and as we all knew but didn’t care to admit it has now officially revealed as having a frighteningly huge membership totalling thousands across the UK.”

Also, see Kirkless Unity, part way down the left hand side of the screen you’ll see Ex-Lincs BNP Organiser, and Bodyguard to Nick Griffin, Mick Holmes, see what he has tattooed on his chest.

Update 6:
LOLGriffin is funny and the BNP/Downfall video clip hilarious. Some sensible and questioning comments at Dave’s.

The Times said:

Many members have a fascination with mystical ideas of England, giving their own homes or email addresses names associated with paganism, Viking and Saxon history. One couple call their farmhouse New Dawn. Another member gives himself the email name “Iceni”.

There are 16 serving and more than 50 former soldiers, along with a score of ex-police officers and a sizeable crop of driving instructors. The list also includes civil servants and estate agents. One is a witch. Another is a vicar.

There is a lecturer in human rights and data protection and a “lapsed Mensa member”.

The BNP’s purported database includes personal notes on members who have skills which might prove useful. “Public speaker … HGV licence … musician” are recorded. Language skills are outlined. “

And see Norfolk Unity.

Update 7: Shiraz Socialist strikes the right note on the leak, less hand-wringing across the web and enjoy the fascist’s discomfort:

“I would not endorse or encourage acts of physical violence against anyone on the BNP members’ list. But frankly if the publication of this list results in these sickos being driven out of politics completely then that would leave me unequivocally delighted. They are a poisonous presence on deprived estates across the nation, and they are a malignant parasite upon politics in the working class. I have none of the middle class, beltway liberal concerns about their destruction that have been written over the past few days, and neither should anyone else.”

Update 8: Richard Bartholomew discusses the religious implications of BNP membership and men of the cloth in Those Three Reverends on the BNP List.

Update 9: Edmund Standing shows that the BNP are complaining again. Edmund points us to a list containing some of the criminal convictions held by BNP leaders. Not exactly your average “political party”:

“Nick Griffin (Party Chairman) Received a two-year suspended sentence in April 1998 for inciting racial hatred. His magazine The Rune carried obscene anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial material as well as crude racism.

Tony Lecomber (Group Development Officer). In 1985 he was convicted on five counts for offences under the Explosives Act, including possession of homemade hand-grenades and electronic timing devices. Sentenced to three-years imprisonment.
In 1991 he was sentenced to another three years imprisonment for unlawful wounding for his part in an attack on a Jewish schoolteacher whom he caught trying to peel off a BNP sticker at an underground station. He has a total of 12 convictions.

Colin Smith (South East London organiser). Has amassed a total of 17 convictions for burglary, theft, stealing cars, possession of drugs and assaulting a police officer.

John Tyndall (founder of the BNP). Six convictions. In 1962 he was jailed for organising a paramilitary organisation. Four years later, he was again sent to prison for possession of a loaded gun. In 1986, he was convicted for incitement to racial hatred under the Public Order Act and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

Warren Bennett (Chief Steward). Supposed to keep order in the party yet has convictions for football hooliganism. In 1998, he was deported from France with over 50 other Scottish hooligans, including several BNP members.

Steve Belshaw (East Midlands BNP organiser. Was convicted in 1994 for assaulting a lawyer in his home-town of Mansfield. At the time, Belshaw combined his BNP membership with Combat 18 activity.

Kevin Scott (North East Regional Organiser). Was convicted in 1993 for hurling a glass at a black customer in a pub.

Alan Gould (Waltham Forest Organiser). Was convicted in 2000 for racially abusing people in a local pub. He told the court that it was the drink getting the better of him.

Robert Bennett. A leading activist in Oldham BNP during the 2002 elections campaign, Bennett has served five years in prison for the gang rape of a woman. He has also served seven years for armed robbery and has over 30 convictions in total.

Mick Treacy. The Oldham organiser has five convictions for violence, theft, and handling stolen goods

Darren Dobson. Found guilty of racially aggravated assault at Oldham magistrates in November 2001. Fined £300. Connected to football hooligans in the Oldham area, and has links to the nazi terror group Combat 18

Darren Hoy. April 2002, the BNP supporter was sent to prison for 3 months for racially abusing people as they left an anti-fascist rally in Oldham.”

Update 10:
Breakdown of the occupations sample (584) from BNP membership list. (H/T: Excuse Me Whilst I Step Outside ):

Sample breakdown of BNP membership list

Update 11: Nick Lowles makes the point that the BNP has no shame: “First he announces that the BNP will use the European Human Rights legislation (which he has said that the BNP would scrap) to defend themselves, now it appears that he is willing to use the Race Relations Act.”

Update 12:
Want to number crunch the BNP membership list ? Wikileaks has the list in various formats, including CSV, so you could theoretically import it into a spreadsheet and play around with it.

It seems that some BNP members like Britain so much they moved abroad and the list has about 128 individuals in places such as Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Spain and the Ukraine.

Update 13: Some belated liberal hand-wringing, Alan Thomson faces an uphill struggle at Liberal Conspiracy. As an antidote to that nonsense try Kirklees Unity and their post about the 3 Million Lotto loser on bnp list. They are on form.

Update 14: The Daily Mash reveals “A SECRET list of BNP members has revealed the party includes people from a range of professions, not just the police.”.

Update 15:
Paul Stott remembers one-time anarchist and Hunt Saboteur, Sadie Graham, until recently a leading BNP member, “Well, Sadie has certainly come along way since those days of sweaty Anarchists staggering around punk gigs at the Acton Arms in Hackney, then rushing off for the last train back to Brighton!”

Update 16:
Edmund kept track of the Far Right’s going on, best visit him weekly.

Written by modernityblog

18/11/2008 at 20:10

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Housing, New Labour and the BNP.

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I have a guest post up at Stroppyblog which covers some of the political implications of Labour’s recent Green Paper on Council Housing.

Written by modernityblog

17/11/2008 at 23:01

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Iplayer and Tibet

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I was about to suggest that people watch “This World: Murder in the Snow” but Iplayer have taken it off.

The Beeb are probably too scared to offend the Chinese government, as it deals with the reality of Tibetans’ appalling treatment under China’s brutal military rule, still catch when its next on:

“The powerful story of a group of Himalayan mountaineers who witnessed and filmed the shooting of Tibetan refugees as they attempted to flee over the mountains into Nepal. In September 2006 Chinese border guards opened fire on a group of Tibetans high on the Nangpa Pass. A 17 year-old nun, Kelsang Namtso, was killed and two others injured. The horrifc scenes were captured on video by western climbers. This film interweaves the stories of the Tibetan survivors who esacaped and the climbers – much of whose dramatic footage has never been seen before.”

Written by modernityblog

17/11/2008 at 22:29

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Parliamentary News – Trade Union Rights

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News just in from United Campaign to Repeal the Anti Trade Union Laws:

“On Tuesday 4 November Gordon Brown suffered his biggest rebellion in the Commons when 45 Labour MPs voted for a key clause taken from the Trade Union Rights and Freedoms bill.

In advance of the Report stage of the Employment Bill, some 40 MPs had signed up to the three trade union freedom bill amendments, new clauses 1, 2 and 3. (View at: The amendments were tabled by John McDonnell MP, promoted by the United Campaign and supported by the TUC.

Sixteen MPs also signed up to the Tony Lloyd’s amendment (Chair of the Trade Union Group of MPs), new clause 6 (view at: Both the United Campaign and the IER had assisted in, drafting, promoting and supporting the amendment. The clause would have given unions the automatic right to expel fascists from their membership.

A video of the debate can be found here:

And the text of the debate can be found at:

Despite constant pressing from MPs, the Minister for Employment Relations, Pat McFadden, refused to offer even a consultation to address the weaknesses in the law. A vote was forced on new clause 2, relating to proposed new duties on “employers in relation to industrial action ballots”.

Forty five labour MPs and ten others voted in favor of the amendment.
The Minister also refused to give any ground on Tony Lloyd’s amendment although this clause was not put to the vote.

According to the Guardian ( the government had to rely on large attendance from the Conservatives and the government payroll vote to ensure the amendments were defeated. The paper said that a number of Labour MPs who had pledged to rebel were absent, campaigning in the Glenrothes by-election, making the size of the rebellion all the more surprising.

The BBC news ( reported the previous record was 36 Labour rebels over 42-day detention for terror suspects.

The support received was a tribute to all those who have supported the United Campaign lobbying of MPs. The fight for trade union freedom continues.”

Written by modernityblog

14/11/2008 at 15:46

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Acid Attack.

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Acid attack on girl.
Stroppyblog covers the terrible acid attack on girls in Afghanistan, and it should remind us that this is not an isolated incident. I have covered it before in Any Taliban Groupies About?, Women in Afghanistan and Jailed Women.

Previously, Stroppyblog has highlighted the difficulties for women in Afghanistan.

Written by modernityblog

13/11/2008 at 20:30

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Don’t Do Domestics.

with one comment

I don’t blog much on the domestic political scene and the latest proposal from New Labour is one of the reasons, my blood pressure wouldn’t take it, so I’ll let Austin Mitchell make the point:

“Sir, It makes me sad to say it but your lead story (“Council homes for life ‘to be scrapped’ ”, Nov 10) isn’t a forecast of the Green Paper on social housing, but a last-ditch attempt by a tiny group of ideologically motivated barm-pots, some of them in Communities & Local Government, to achieve their longstanding aim of destroying council housing.

This has failed so far because, despite mass privatisations, there are still 2.8 million council houses. So they now propose to turn them into transit camps for the poor. It’s illogical to say that because the Government hasn’t built anything like enough public housing for rent and can’t provide for the huge numbers in housing need, that it should now turn tenants out of council houses to make room for even poorer people. They justify this by the daft example of a 17-year-old unmarried mother allocated a council house for life who then becomes a celebrity millionaire but opts to stay in her council house instead of buying property in Hove, to the annoyance of the homeless but the delectation of her neighbours.

It would be crazy to end secure tenancies on such an extreme case. Yet the idea has been foisted on an embarrassed Chartered Institute of Housing (not the other way round, as your article implied) in an attempt to push it on our new Housing Minister, Margaret Beckett, in the same way those zealots did on Caroline Flint.

It won’t work. The Labour Party won’t wear it. Nor will the councils. Margaret is a Labour minister, not a Blairite, and she’ll give it the short shrift it deserves because she recognises, as we do, that the only answer to the acute shortage of public housing for rent is to build more. Indeed, the only way to get more housing built in a credit crisis is to finance the councils to put builders back to work and to regenerate estates so they’re not ghettos.
Austin Mitchell

Chair, Council Housing Group of MPs,

House of Commons, London SW1″

For more, see the Defend Council Housing campaign.

Written by modernityblog

12/11/2008 at 16:48

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Anti-Muslim Bigotry.

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I was about to post on Tibet, scan through one of the 132 draft posts that I should have finished off, but time past me and events by, instead I would recommend a marvelous post at HP on Anti-Muslim Bigotry by David T.

Written by modernityblog

11/11/2008 at 23:23

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Guest Posting.

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I have been lucky enough to provide a few guest posts here and there, one of them recently on Prop 8 in California at HP.

Another is at Stroppyblog, Unfulfilled Relationships.

I am delighted to post at Stroppyblog, as it is one of my favourite Lefty blogs. Stroppyblog covers many issues that aren’t given sufficient coverage on most political sites.

Written by modernityblog

10/11/2008 at 21:38

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