A happy, prosperous and fulfilling New Year!
Notes from a golmal world.
Sør-Trøndelag, a county council in Norway has decided to boycott goods from Israel, on account of the West Bank Barrier (also referred to by Israel as a wall or fence).
"The county has before decided to boycott South Africa in protest against the apartheid government. In a similar way we wish now to make clear that we distance ourselves from Israel's politics"
said Geir Jarle Sir�s from the Socialist Leftwing Party to the Norwegian TV 2.
Harry’s Place, where this item is from, asks why Israel has been singled out for a boycott when leaders of other countries such as Burma, China, Iran and Sudan are “doing much more terrible things”. Sounds like moral relativism to me, since Israel’s “terrible things” are as bad as any terrible thing from Burma, which, irrespective of any boycott, is still more of an International pariah than Israel.
This is more information about the Israel Wall:
“It is estimated that Israel's Annexation Wall will be completed in the early part of 2006. When it is finished it will annex 47% of the West Bank, and hand it over to the settler population.
At least 15% of Palestinians will be left outside the wall1, completely isolated from the rest of society, and over 222,098 refugees for the second or third times will experience, "land confiscation, destruction of property, and denial of access to their lands thus directly affecting their means of livelihood"2. In the end, it is not an over exaggeration to say that the entire Palestinian society will directly suffer by its completion, in addition to the seemingly unstoppable illegal Israeli practices that continue unhindered.”
Meanwhile, an Indian blog from the same end of the political spectrum as Harry’s Place, the eponymously titled Secular-Right India, links to a Reuters report about recent developments on the India-Bangladesh border:
India is deploying thousands of new troops on its frontier with Bangladesh and setting up hundreds of more border posts to check illegal migration and movement of armed militants, a top official said.
New Delhi decided to bolster its eastern border defences in September to crack down on militants moving in from Bangladesh, although Dhaka denies anti-India elements are using its soil.
Secular-Right India, as expected, thinks that this is “An excellent development”. It's unsubtle but this sentiment is by far the most representative of reactions coming from India regarding the border wall building exercise with Bangladesh.
I found a comment by Roz Paterson, tucked away in the archives of the Scottish Socialist Voice:
Inspired perhaps by Israel’s ‘apartheid wall’ to keep out the Palestinians, India is constructing her very own security barrier to discourage migrants from its poorer neighbour, Bangladesh.
The Indian government has made some noises about terrorism prevention but the real motive behind the fence that will ultimately span the entire 2500 mile border with Bangladesh is that India’s economy is booming and she doesn’t want to share.
But where the Israeli barrier has been cunningly arranged to grab fertile lands from the Palestinians, the Indian wall is disadvantaging primarily Indians - approximately 65,000 of them - in this matter. Because of a longstanding border-treaty between the two nations, which states that no fence can be erected within 150 yards of the border, the barrier is set 150 yards back into India. For Indian border farmers this is disastrous, as, thanks to the cranking up of aggression between the two peoples, they must now abandon farmlands they have worked for generations or face being hounded from them by the Bangladeshis once they find themselves on the wrong side of the wire.
The aggression goes back decades and is most powerfully felt in the relations between Indian and Bangladeshi border guards who stalk the perimeter. There is a long history of clashes between the two, but now it’s getting murderous.
Three weeks ago, an Indian local assistant commander is alleged to have been lured across the border by members of the Bangladesh Rifles, where he was tortured then killed. Meanwhile, in India, paranoia regarding Bangladeshi immigrants is running at an hysterical high. So hysterical that, last month, the Maharashtra state government closed down Bombay’s dance bars because, they claimed, the Bangladeshi dancers there were spies!
Despite having nowhere to go, and no money to facilitate a move, many border Indians are upping sticks anyway, too afraid of what may come next. For some, this has ghastly echoes of Partition, when the crude severance of the subcontinent following the British withdrawal forced Hindus to flee in one direction while Muslims fled in the other. Thousands were murdered, others disappeared, still others ran with only the clothes they stood up in... and landed, some of them, in Tripura, near the Bangladeshi border, where they were granted Indian citizenship and allowed to settle. That period of relative peace seems done with now and, for many whose memories extend back to the butchery of Partition, history is coming back to haunt them.
Both walls are to keep people out. Palestinian people in the case of Israel’s wall and Bangladeshi people in the case of India’s. Both have been built on the pretext of keeping terrorists out but thats where the parallel ends. India has built its wall to keep out economic migrants from Bangladesh. So obviously it doesn't take a political scientist to know that the reason for both walls is to protect the economic interests of the wall builders. However, anyone living in West Bengal or East Bangladesh knows that the border is and always has been porous and happens to benefit India as much as Bangladesh with both licit and illicit trade. India has obviously decided that the cost of unprecedented levels of one-way illegal Muslim migrancy into India outweighs the benefits of two-way trade along the longest border in South Asia.
But what is Bangladesh's reaction to all of this? Apparently talks between the two nations are continuing. What should Bangladesh’s correct response to India’s Wall be? Discuss.
The Golmal Press Album Charts for 2005 have been awaited with baited breath since the last of the Xmas leftovers were polished off. So before we get another attack of the munchies, here are the top 10 albums voted by Golmalsters all over the world:
Another Madlib joint. And knowing Lord Quas, joint is the operative word. This is the second installment of the musings of the herbed-up dysfunctional alien brother from another planet.
The production value alone will keep this in the classics library forever.
This is hip hop. This isn’t hip hop.
Listening to the music of Will Oldham is like finding yourself staring at an open flesh wound, mesmerised and repulsed at the same time.
This album is pared down to a guitar and the superb lyrics and Oldham’s unique voice.
If this beautiful music doesn’t move you, get in touch with your feelings, you monster. An excellent review can be found here.
Two artistst completely on top of their game get into a studio and produce a hip hop album that breaks the mold. Repeated playings brings out its wit, intelligence and humour.
“Genius – but do you even know what that means!”
Absolutely effing blinding.
A compilation of Iraqi pop and folk music from the Saddam era. Shareef may not have liked it, but this album ROCKS!
This is joyful, sexy, hopelessly dance-able, uninhibited and funky. Not for Pro-War Johnnies who like to think nothing good ever happened in Iraq before March 2003.
Essential stuff. Also see Radio India, released by the same people.
When electronica wonder-boy drops his anorak and sings, he shows off a voice that is as soulful and beautifully sonorous as anything by Al Green, Prince, Stevie Wonder etc. Yes, that good.
To see the man live is to see his electronica credentials for yourself as he splices and loops his vocals on himself. Wondrous.
Play that funky music, white boy.
This album blew my socks off when it was released earlier this year. That was when I first heard Mr Daedelus perform a live set on Mixing It (Radio 3).
“Fourteen tracks featuring completely on their game spots from MF Doom, Sci, TTC, Mike Ladd and even Miami's Cyne taking a moment away from creating what will be their amazing upcoming debut album for City Centre Offices.”
The second of the two Mind Fusion releases from the guru-ji, Madlib.
Essentially this is 3 tracks of blissed out rare jazz, funk and 70s soul put together in his inimitable style.
The man is a giant and he lives in our time.
 M.I.A. – Arular
All the dancefloor shifters mixed by Diplo are here like Galang and Sunshowers. All the snarly lyrics. All the irresistible breaks. This will be a classic.
Maximum Respect goes out to an London Asian dance superstar who has re-written the rules of Brit-Funk. Politicised, angry and raunchy. Give her a mention, Pickled Politics!
Any album which can have a track called 'The Black Hawk War, or, How To Demolish An Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologise For the Inconvenience but You're Going To Have To Leave Now, or I have Fought The Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Land' and still be a beautifully crafted song has got to be worthy of your schekels.
One of the best singer-songwriter working today. Heads and shoulders above the rest. Thank you Sufjan.
No chart of the year will be complete without at least one issue from Scott Herren aka Prefuse 73 (and any number of other avatars and incarnations).
Beautiful modal jazz arrangements, honed down hip hop beats, real acoustic instruments sampled over sharp-as-you-like electonica.
Thanks to Boomkat for the cover images, reviews, pointers and generally being the best leftfield music store on t’internet.
Tracks from these albums and more are played on that brilliant and unique internet radio station, Radio.TiffinBox.
We’re still in the midst of celebrations of the birth of Jesus (Sayyidana Is’ah) here at Golmal Towers. The holidays have meant a couple of days of revelry involving getting together with family and friends and cooking lots of delicious food and drinking robust concoctions of fruit and wine. Not much different to the way most people do it I suppose. Being happy go lucky immigrants, Mrs Siddhartha and I made up the culinary traditions as we went along. We prepared a 3 duck roast instead of one big bird. A slow-ish roast with an onion and garlic and soy marinade and basted with a sauce made from lashings of pistacchios, almonds, ghee and ginger. Fluffy edged roast potatoes with butter sautéd chestnuts to complete the 'English' course.
A wondrous Khoresht pilau was prepared which is basmati rice with butter, saffron and pomegranate. (It strikes me as I’m typing this that I fancy attempting a Persian style tah-dig “bottom rice” at some point). Along the way was an Indian style lamb stew in black eyed peas with plenty of fenugreek and coriander. Accompanied with a number of Mrs Sidd’s amazing bhartas (patés) which usually involves mashing the item(s) to a paste and garnished with virgin mustard oil, chillies, red onions, black pepper, garlic and fennel. Some of the bharta contenders were grilled eggplant, pea and shrimp, avocado with cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprouts with mustard seed and a solid no-nonsense tahini with parsley and garlic. Being of Bangali household, fish is never a second class citizen at Golmal Towers and we went to town with a sublime King Prawn in Thai red curry sauce and a salmon roast with a citrus accent of oranges and limes. Topping the fish was Ruhi, lovingly cooked in trad Bangladeshi-style involving shallots, tomato and coriander sauce in a thick jeera-based sauce. Accompanied with paratha bread, mango, olive and apple chutnies. Not to forget cucumber raita and the Siddhartha salad – my variation of a Leventine salad. Round off with Indian and Syrian sweets (rasmalai and pakhlava make a great multi-textured combo) and dark chocolate ice cream sundae.
Finished off the meal with cigars and wacky roll ups, wine, Arabic gawa (coffee) and a little light music.
Here is a suitably seasonal essay on the unity of faiths from William Dalrymple on New Statesman (you get one look a day).
Moreover, in the year that Islamist terrorism finally reached London, it is important to emphasise that Christianity and Islam are not nearly so far apart as both Bin Laden and the neo-cons would like us to believe. As the British Museum miniature of the Nativity under the tree shows, there are certainly big differences between the two faiths - not least the central fact, in mainstream Christianity, of Jesus's divinity. But Christmas - the ultimate celebration of Christ's humanity - is a feast which Muslims and Christians can share without reservation. At this moment, when the Christian west and Islamic east are engaged in another major confrontation, there has never been a greater need for both sides to realise what they have in common and, as in this miniature, to gather around the Christ child to pray for peace
Happy Christmas to all Golmalsters. The symbolism of the icon, The Lord of All Unity:
The position of Christ’s right hand is especially significant. As described by John Baggley in Doors of Perception: “Christ’s right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing that is turned towards the heart, indicating the inner knowledge of Christ that is given outward expression in the open book.” Jesus is placing before our eyes by means of the scripture verse the great desire of His heart for unity and the reason for His gift of glory. This unity is not only unity among Christian believers but also unity in homes, communities and in every human heart.Thanks to Printery House for the icon and the text.
Even if you don't like the questions, don't like the answers, think you know the answers already, Mr Blair, it is us, not you, who are paying the cost for this, every single bloody day. If the cost of answering questions makes you squirm, then too bad. We voted you in, we pay for you and your wars and your policies to be implemented and you say you act 'in our name'. We run the risks on the trains, the buses, the streets each day. You answer to us, the public and if I could shame you into answering us now, my God, I would.
How dare you presume you know our questions and how dare you presume that they can be answered by a 'narrative of what happened', as if we are children to be placated with a story. I know what happened, I want to know why. I want a debate, Mr Blair, I want a dialogue.
Toopi tip: Tim Ireland @ Bloggerheads
December 16th is Bangladesh's Independence Day. A country that was created with the spilling of the blood of millions. Bangladesh was created as a secular constitutional democracy in 1971. Thirty four years later, it is still fighting the very forces it had battled then. In those days the home-grown enemies of freedom were called Razakars, or collaborators. They aided and abetted the Pakistanis in their grim crusade of rape and mass graves. Nowadays, those Islamic extremists look no different, hark back to same obscurantist ideologies and are willing to kill their own to further their cause. Bangladesh is in the midst of a second War of Independence.
To illustrate, Salam Dhaka has posted this juxtaposition of two images. The image above shows a newspaper clipping from 1971 announcing Independence. The newspaper's name shows the legend The Daily
Pakistan Bangladesh Times. The second, from 2005, shows the mugshots of Ataur Rahman Sunny, the so-called leader of the JMB the Islamic terrorist army, and his cohorts who have so far indiscriminately killed dozens in terrorist attacks.
When Iranian President Ahmadinejad makes anti-Semitic statements he abuses his position and hurts Muslims. When MPACuk makes horrendous racist and anti-Semitic statements in the UK, Muslim Brits should know that at some point they stop speaking on behalf of Muslims and, instead, on behalf of and paying lip service to European ultra-right wing movements. So when Ahmadinejad spouts anti-Semitic garbage, Muslims especially should know that it, and the subsequent political fallout is part of some fucked up political dance of his own making.
Amartya Sen wrote a considered and thought-provoking article on Multiculturalism, originally for the FT last month, which can be found here.
Multiculturalism with an emphasis on freedom and reasoning has to be distinguished from “plural monoculturalism” with single-focus priorities and a rigid cementing of divisions. Multicultural education is certainly important, but it should not be about bundling children into preordained faith schools. Awareness of world civilisation and history is necessary. Religious madrasas may take little interest in the fact that when a modern mathematician invokes an “algorithm” to solve a difficult computational problem, she helps to commemorate the secular contributions of Al-Khwarizmi, the great ninth-century Muslim mathematician, from whose name the term algorithm is derived (“algebra” comes from his book, Al Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah). There is no reason at all why old Brits as well as new Brits should not celebrate those grand connections. The world isnot a federation of religious ethnicities. Nor, one hopes, is Britain.Now take a look at this piece by Andrew West, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, in the aftermath of the Cronulla Beach riots. If the Ozzie press is anything to go by, there is little in the way of soul-searching for the white riots and more angry ejaculation along the predictable tack of 'Islam is the enemy':
I do not embrace multiculturalism, as such, because I do not believe all cultures are compatible with non-discriminatory liberalism. I prefer a multi-ethnic, non-racial society, which has at its core a canon of valuesthat include racial and gender equality.Is Andrew West protesting about Islam taking the form of a monoculture in a pool of other monocultures in Sydney, or, in fact, any other community? Or does the "core culture" that he languor's for nothing more than shorthand for White, Australian and dominant as expressed here by Sharon Verghis, a Malaysian-Indian who lives in the Shire, wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald saying that the locals need to take some responsibility.
[...]Some multicultural theorists will squawk and say that I prefer only a soft multiculturalism (if they insist on calling it that) that does not offend western liberal values. They would be spot on. My acceptance ends when theassault on the liberality of society itself begins.
Live long enough in Sutherland Shire and you soon become familiar with the codes and rules, unwritten but understood, that govern the area's most famous attraction, Cronulla Beach. If you're a white local, it's your beach. If you're wog/Leb/in any way "ethnic", you go to nearby Brighton-le-Sands, or try your luck elsewhere. Geographically, the two beaches are neighbours. Racially andculturally, they may as well be on different planets.
Race riots that were sparked off in Cronulla Beach, Sydney on Sunday erupted again overnight and continue to shame Australia with random displays of phoney patriotism and boneheaded jingoism. Carrying on from events on Sunday, pissed-up white youths continued to attack "Middle Eastern looking" people. Most comments on the blogosphere have been deeply remorseful about the actions of the rioters. But there are many Australian bloggers whose opinions resonate with this type of thing:
Muslims have been assaulting Australian men and women for the past decade, then it could be argued that it is the Lebanese Muslims who have been engaged for a sustained period in violent acts of racism inspired and condoned by their belief ideology. In fact, I would argue that what has been going on is an attempt to reduce Aussies to dhimmis via physical acts of violence that create fear and leave a lasting impression. Confronted with such sustained acts ofwarfare, Aussies have no choice but to fight back.Another bugbear is Multiculturalism - read black immigration. Dr Mark Lopez, author of The Origins of Multiculturalism in Australian Politics, said locals in the Sutherland Shire, in Sydney's south, had taken "a lot of shit" from Muslim youths." (!)
Of course, John Howard PM piped up with the odd condemnation, but we know his heart isn't really in it. A beach party pogrom against Arabs/Easterners that is in tune with his own visceral personal views is only going to hurt him politically because it is internationally emabbrassing.
This is a legend seen emblazoned on a white riot t-shirt wearer:
We grew here
You flew here
Spent an evening with Jon Stewart yesterday. This involved seeing Jon and two writer-producers from the Daily Show read from Stewart's America: The Book.
The Vol describes the show exactly as how I experienced it. The show was great comedy and the satire was fast, clever and scathing and absolutely hilarious just like I've come to expect from the Daily Show which we in England have been seeing on More4 for the past 3 months or so.My only gripe was that the ticket price (£26) was way over what was, in the end, three guys reading from excerpts of a book. It just meant that at that price, I wasn't willing to cough up for the book as well. But it was well worth it and he's still the funniest man around with intelligent anti-War satire. Respect.
Last week, the Harry's Place site was the victim of IP redirection by clever techies with time on their hands. The event was pinged across all the pro-war blogs with predictable shock and awe. One pro-war blogger, the "paranoid, smug, arrogant, self satisfied loon bat" AKA Scott Burgess of the paranoid, smug, arrogant, self satisfied and loon batty Daily Ablution described the event thus:
"There are reports that Harry's Place has been hacked down. One poster there has emailed me confirming that this is true.
Oddly, I'm still able to connect, and even to comment, as are at least some others."
The logic used by the Ablutionist in that passage above is analogous to:
"I have reason to believe that my car has broken down. My wife has phoned me confirming that this is true. Oddly, I can still start it and even drive it, which I did, as has at least, some other guy."
You can expect more of this kind of incisive logic for your money from the Daily Ablution. Good luck.
It started off as a harmless sore throat. Within days that had developed into a full blown bout of flu complete with runny nose and a phlegmatic cough. I then thought I had recovered. All symptoms of the cold had disappeared. But from last Friday, I started feeling feverish, my body felt it was burning up but I was also feeling extremely cold. But just like the words of the old standard:
Fever in the morningI'm only feeling feverish in the morning till about midday, and then when I go to bed at night. As a result I'm getting terrible sleep, with long bouts of wakefulness, during which time my mind is playing at full volume. Sleep is little better, with the usual recurring dreams I have (since I was a boy) when I get sick. Dreams which usually involve marching soldiers and planes flying into mountains! Have I got the dreaded dengue?
Fever all through the night.
On November 15 a suicide bomb targetted the criminal court buildings in Barisal, in southern Bangladesh, killing two judges. The bomber survived with injuries. Two weeks later (29 November), two separate bombs were detonated in Gazipur and Chittagong, killing 9 and injuring dozens more. One bomber died instantly while the other is in critical condition. The terrorist organisation who has claimed responsibility for all three bombing call themselves the Jamayetul Mujahideen of Bangladesh (JMB). Their demands are simple:
We do not want Taguti [non-Islamic] law, let Qur’anic law be introduced. Law framed by humans cannot continue and only the laws of Allah will prevail.
Bangladesh is shaken and its people are panicked. This is a country with the densest population in the world. You explode a bomb in any packed location, you'll kill dozens. Clearly reactions are frought and anger at the ruling party is open and vociferous as the country shut today in a mass strike (hartal) as an expression of populist rage. The ruling party, the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), who made affiliations with the Jamaati party in a political end game to ensure a parliamentary majority is having to deal with a political alliance with a party (the Jamaat) which sees no qualms in cultivating and empowering its Islamic Fundamentalist tendencies. They now have blood on their hands by giving these religious maniacs with the respectability of political consensus.
This analysis of the events from UnholyWars describes the motives of the JMB:
The JMB, which seeks to establish strict Islamic rule in the Muslim-majority country, also carried out previous attacks on courts. The outfit first carried out attacks on August 17 in court and government office premises in 63 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts, while a second attack was staged in October. Two weeks ago, two assistant judges were killed in the southern town of Jhalakathi by a suspected suicide attacker also allegedly linked to the banned group. Letters said to be sent by the JMB have continued to threaten judges and government officials across Bangladesh, including Supreme Court judges.
It's time for serious talk. Politics aside, we need to ask ourselves "Why does an 18 year old boy strap bombs to himself and want to blow himself up for the happiness of Allah?" Is the motivation money or has he been brainwashed? If so, who is brainwashing them? We can see that most of these kids are madrassa students which is mostly controlled by Islamic Oikya Jote and Jamaat. Is the motivation political power or is it idealogical? I am sure people know where the money is coming from through the Islamic NGO's from countries like Saudi Arabia. Why have we not done anything about it for the last 30 years? The answer is because we are scared to piss of the religious voter. That begs the question - can our political parties solve this problem? clearly they have political and structural limitations.
In the meantime, let us be clear of the root cause of this spate of Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism. It is the direct side effect of a democratic alliance between a right wing secular party (BNP) and an Islamic political party which rehabilitate extremist Islamic fundamentalist groups within it. Call these groups al-Qaeda if you must as their raison d'etre is the same as that of their poster boy bin Laden. Both of these parties are unwilling or incapable of rooting out these groups who in the meantime (5 years of BNP rule) have grown and consolidated their power base. This heart warming picture (right) shows the marriage that has spawned this monster. Ladies and gentlemen, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and Maulana Nizami (Jamaat).
Other bloggers who have covered this story are:
M Arman at Drishtipat (PDF)
Happy birthday to Woody Allen who turned 70 yesterday. A prolific genius whose body of work encompass films, books, jazz music and for me, his funniest and most joyful work, his standup. Those of his films I’ve seen (and I really should see more) not only rank amongst my favourite as films go but are also regarded as some of the best ever made: Annie Hall, Zelig, Manhattan, Whats up Tiger Lilly, Crimes and Misdemeanours. The list goes on. He’s certainly up there with Kubrick and Bergman in the pantheon of Great Directors.
When I was little boy, I wanted a dog desperately, and we had no money. I was a tiny kid, and my parents couldn't get me a dog, 'cause we just didn't have the money, so they got me, instead of a dog - they told me it was a dog - they got me an ant. And I didn't know any better, y'know, I thought it was a dog, I was a dumb kid. Called it 'Spot'. I trained it, y'know. Coming home late one night, Sheldon Finklestein tried to bully me. Spot was with me. And I said "Kill!", and Sheldon stepped on my dog.