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October 21, 2008

Quote of the day

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7681914.stm

Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large

Stephen Green of Christian Voice


October 14, 2008

the Activist

Last Wednesday Lord Andrew McIntosh at the House of Lords invited a group of journalists from Belarus to give a talk about the deteriorating conditions of media freedom in Belarus. Half way through the conference, an old granny of about 80 walked into the chamber, wrapped up all in black with a Miss Marple – styled hat fashioned on top of her head and her face barely visible from behind her thick glasses. People exchanged glances and made an effort to ignore this odd appearance.

However, when the time came for questions, the granny was the first one to shoot her hand up in the air. She stood up propping herself on the desk, cleared her throat and gave an elaborate speech ending with a question ”...perhaps Belarus will cease to exist altogether?” She spoke of human rights abuses, of censorship, of tyranny and Lukashenko’s pride at being “the last remaining dictatorship in Europe”.

I felt like the whole chamber has just leapt a giant step into the future, where 80 year old people don’t sit at home knitting, but attend public talks and gatherings and fight for their causes; where agism is non-existent and the whole nation is so old that the young people no longer have the time to campaign and protest. But it was a good feeling, an out-of-this-world experience and a very curious sneak-peek into the future.

May 22, 2008

"You've already done enough

Dalai Lama is visiting this week and I have every intention of approaching him and bathing in the glory of his holy presence. But this year being China’s year, there’s no avoiding talks of Tibet and other controversial things China’s up to.

China Media Centre of University of Westminster held a media talk titled Reporting Tibet. The panel featured some distinguished journalists including Isabel Hilton, Jonathan Fenby (former editor of The Observer and The South China Post and author of the Penguin History of Modern China), BBC World news editor Jon Williams, Ma Guihua, London correspondent for the Xinhua News Agency and Wang Rujun, chief correspondent at the People’s Daily UK Bureau.

When the panel opened discussion to the audience, a man identifying himself as an Uyghur addressed Jon Williams with the question: why is there no coverage of the oppression of the Uyghur people in China. A lady sitting next to him got hold of the microphone and said with a particular urgency in her voice: I’ve been living here for 7 years and I have only once heard the media report the oppression in the Uyghur autonomous region. And today we came here specifically to say thank you to the one journalist who spoke up, and we even brought flowers.” Sadly, the named journalist from Channel 4 was sent to China to cover the earthquake.

I was so touched by this genuine gesture that I approached the couple immediately after the debate to ask for their contact details, hoping to interview them afterwards. The gentleman looked at me for a second and asked: where are you from? Stupidly, but quite naturally, I said ‘China’. “You’ve already done enough” was his answer.

For a second there I stood completely puzzled and bewildered. Quite frankly, this is the most racial discrimination I’ve ever been subjected to.

I’m not a communist; I like to think I’m not brainwashed; I’m not nearly old enough to have done anything to the Uyghur people, but for some reason their unquestionable sincerity in bringing the flowers, in dressing up in their traditional clothing, in speaking up in praise of that one journalist – all that has made me feel like I personally owe them something. As a journalist, I owe them a stage for them to speak up and voice their concerns. I’m too ignorant to judge if ‘my people’ have really wronged them and how. But I can’t even begin to image what kind of injustice a people would have suffered to be uttering phrases like “You’ve already done enough”.

He wasn’t saying it to be mean. But I knew that no matter what I said I couldn’t convince them to look at things differently. And even though I haven’t done anything to them and I had every desire to learn about their struggle and hear their story, they’ve lost that trust in Chinese people and in journalists who steal their words and their image to sell yet another agenda.

May 01, 2008

Still a very dark mind


December 23, 2007

To Fred


December 06, 2007

Big Issue everyone!!!

I’m starting a one-person’s campaign and waging a war against Christmas spending. This year, instead of presents, I will buy a copy of the Big Issue for every one of my friends. I can’t afford to donate a toilet to a village in India, or help bring up a child in Africa, but at least I can give a temporary shelter and hot meal to a homeless person around the corner.

Please feel free to join the campaign!

November 27, 2007

The bushy eyebrows and the silver hair

striking resemblance

November 24, 2007

Holocaust deniers club

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_denial#Notable_Holocaust_deniers

- Hi, I’m Linda, Holocaust Denier.
- Hi, I’m Bobby, Nanking Massacre Denier.
- Hi, I’m Lucy, Armenian Genocide ? I’m not convinced!...
- Hi there, Tom. Rwanda never happened.

Hi and welcome to all of you. Are you feeling like everyone is talking about something you don’t believe ever existed? Are you told you are in denial? Then we are delighted to welcome you on board! This month our Victims of Denial Club has made it our common goal to help those who deny Holocaust and face legal prosecution for it. We ask:

  1. Should our choice be punishable? We were presented with evidence from both sides of the argument, but we found on the balance of probabilities that Holocaust may not have happened the way it’s been described. When we watch TV adverts, we are also presented with evidence of how wonderful Cilit Bang is, but we may still choose not to believe in its miraculous power.
  2. Should our beliefs be denied validity if enough people agree it offends them?
  3. If the law on Holocaust denial prohibits such views in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Switzerland, does it mean the rest of the world is free to deny Holocaust?
  4. Finally, we ask whether denying the Flying Spaghetti Monster should be deemed criminal, and
  5. Whether such issues should be regulated by law at all.

Today’s meeting will be adjourned until the phrase ‘Holocaust denier’ loses its negative implications and status of a criminal conviction. Thank you all.

November 18, 2007

Review: American Gangster

Movie image
American Gangster
4 out of 5 stars

The story begins with the death of a great man, whose life inspired a certain ‘nobody’ to become ‘somebody’. We enter the story at the time of the rise of Frank Lucas – an aspiring gangster (Denzel Washington), and the fall of Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) – a divorced police officer desperately clinging onto his dignity in the time of overwhelming corruption in the society. The two are both great at what they do, and it’s only a matter of time before they two meet and the audience learns a valuable lesson about guns, drugs and how to run a successful business.

For a film that has ‘gangster’ in its title, this one, though 18 rated in the UK, has little bloodshed, sex, drugs or even foul language. In fact, it portrays the daily life of a gangster mastermind as the running of a gentleman’s club: routine, peaceful and almost quiet. It oversees Lucas’s every step in his gradual fall from top to bottom of his game while Roberts’ persistent efforts lead him to the truth behind the drugs, the gangs and the cops.

General reaction: when is this story going to culminate already???

General feeling: it’s missing something

Sum up in one sentence: A great story that could have been told with much more passion, cohesion and intensity, and in slightly less time.

November 17, 2007

My third first video project: Abortion

It’s been 40 years since the Abortion Act 1967 has been adopted and a legal defence became available for doctors that perform abortions under certain circumstance. Since then, abortions have become safer and more accessible, but with an average of 200,000 abortions carried out every year in England alone, it has become clear that abortion is treated by many as a means of contraception. This video looks at some other issues of the current debate around abortion.

November 15, 2007

the BBC bias

The BBC loves being called impartial. It may choose its words carefully, research the stories meticulously, it probably even tries hard as hell to get all accounts of a news piece. But lately its choice of pictures has not been so neutral and have been more than informative.

BBC picture choice

November 14, 2007

Goodbye Waterloo

Goodbye Waterloo

A small, almost family event took place yesterday to see off the last Eurostar train from Waterloo. The service will now run to and from St. Pancras station, which has undergone an £800m upgrade to welcome Europe and ‘186mph’ speedrail into central London.

Waterloo station is among the busiest in the capital, catering mostly for long and short-distance passengers to the South and South-West of London, covering destinations such as Alton, Guilford, Woking and Porthmouth. Talks of incorporating the Eurostar tracks to help relieve congestion on stations such as Charing Cross and Waterloo itself have produced no results so far.

Amidst celebrations here in London, first passengers to France are likely to face a less warm welcome due to transport strikes in France as the union confronts Sarkozy.

Christmas ambush

Xmas temptation

To avoid the “Oh my god it’s already Christmas season and I haven’t got any presents for anyone yet! Oh, they are gonna be ma-a-a-a-d…” effect, Christmas now begins in October. Restaurants, bars, clubs and even pubs have started advertising their ‘exclusive’ and ‘ultimate’ Christmas plans even before I started shopping for a Halloween pumpkin. So really, there is no excuse for not having a good Christmas present now. Except… if you get philosophical.

If you start by pondering aloud, in an as-a-matter-of-fact manner, “why, oh, why do I have to buy?”, any reasonable person would just give up trying and make a mental note not to get you anything worth more than 2 quid for next Christmas.

If, however, they manage to miss the sarcasm in a haze of holiday hype and courteously listen in on your deep and meaningful monologue, then you can bring in the religion card. Caught in the spirit of ho-ho-ho, even Muslims and Sikhs go on spending sprees and set up emergency Christmas funds. But if you take a step back from that ever-so-charming spirit and go back to the roots of the holiday… most of us aren’t even Christian! We just like the sales, and the ribbons, and tearing up layers of wrapping only to discover your boyfriend doesn’t know you all that well after all.

Another philosophical thought worth a PhD thesis is whether all the consumerism is in accord with the Green idea that is so en vogue these days. Perhaps as a gesture of desperation to save the planet and to make poverty history you could buy each one of your friends a copy of the Big Issue: a quality read for them, a big sincere ‘thank you’ for you and a hot meal for the homeless.

And if all that fails, then perhaps you should consider getting some new friends. After all, it’s all about the new beginnings.

November 13, 2007

Worldwide campaign calling for action: Burmese demonstration in London

Demonstrations were held outside Chinese embassies in 12 cities around the world to mark the 12th year of detention of Burma’s pro-democracy leader and Nobel peace laureate – Aung San Suu Kyi.

Students, immigrants and refugees from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) joined the demonstration backed by scores of campaigners representing a range of NGOs, including Amnesty International, as well as students and other members of the society sympathetic to the cause.

The demonstration in London was held on Great Portland Street. The Chinese diplomatic mission in London did not issue an official comment in relation to the protest.

My second first video project: NUJ rally

Following budget squeezes, job slashes and letters inviting world class journalists to ‘voluntary resign’, the National Union for Journalists has finally decided to act and react. A series of demonstrations were held nation-wide and in several locations around Mainland Europe to raise awareness of the crisis in the media industry. Serious speeches were delivered and friendly jokes were exchanged at the final rally, where the NUJ’s current president Michele Stanistreet, along with a number of colleagues cut a square cake in celebration of NUJ’s 100th birthday.

November 10, 2007

Brown and Cameron

The relationship between Brown and Cameron seems awfully hostile, even for a couple with diagonally opposite views. Or perhaps that is the problem: they are not that much different at core? Surely, Brown being a Scot with a common man’s upbringing and Cameron with his privileged background and private education are very different? Yes, but if the opposites attract, then the only reason these two are in such a deadlock of hatred and disdain is because they are in fact very much alike.

They share similar ideas ; ideas that they like and in fact agree on; nevermind whether the ideas are actually good or employable, but the two of them both like them. So they hate each other because the idea that they like rests comfortably on the enemy’s lap.

November 07, 2007

Classified ads, PunterNet and human trafficking

Writing about web page http://www.punternet.com/index1.html

There is an article in the current issue of the Economist titled Indecent proposals that looks at the relationship between classified ads that sell sexual services and human trafficking.

Just last month Harriet Harman, the Cabinet Minister for women has made a link between human trafficking and the “ugly” adverts circulating local newspapers. According to Frances Broderick of the Poppy Project, it is sending out the message of safety of selling sex, which is “very dangerous” itself.

The English legal system is still awkward around the issue of selling sex, struggling to balance between keeping it safe and public and not encouraging illegal activities that provide new sex workers. So far, the collaborative efforts to curb illegal immigration, sex trafficking and sexual abuse of children have resulted in a quasi-cooperation between the newspapers and the Met, whereby the newspapers now keep a record of transactions and, if required, will provide relevant information to the authorities.

The PunterNet

For a website that covers a supposedly glamorous industry (according to the ITV drama a Secret diary of a call girl made public that essentially interprets prostitution as paid one-night-stands), the PunterNet looks harshly primitive. However, many may argue that glamorising the website would indirectly glamorise the industry as well.

The webmaster is extremely cautious about the content and access to the material on the site. Perhaps disappointingly, there are no pictures of foxy prostitutes, but the site is valuable for the ‘user-generated content’ – the reviews and reports, available to registered users, on various escorts and agencies. It also features an integrated catalogue on sex services available throughout London and the UK, searchable by location, type of business (individuals, massage parlours or agencies) and range of sexual activities on sale.

The Charities

While the sex industry prospers, there has been an increasing amount of charities aimed at tackling various negative side-effects of free sex. These have different purposes and goals, ranging from freeing victims of sex-trafficking (the Poppy Project) to improving conditions of employment for foreign prostitutes in England (x:Talk).

Although the English law does not prohibit selling or buying sex, it should seek to establish a legal framework for the publishers to take part in preventing the abuse and illegal activities related to the sex industry while safeguarding access to sexual services.

November 05, 2007

Learning to live again

A routine balance check revealed that I’ve only got £3.74 left on my account. Normal people would get a job. Yours truly decided to spare herself the embarrassment of whoring herself to potential employers, explaining why I think GAP is so great and why I’d make a great team player as a waitress at Wagamama’s. I just would, and if they don’t know it – it’s their loss. Instead, I decided to starve myself and ‘learn’ from this experience. Not so long ago I had my first Amish experience (which I’m still to review) and got by just fine, albeit not without challenges. Nearly a month ago I fasted in solidarity with my Muslim boyfriend, and lost 3kgs. This time I shall endeavour to survive on £3.74 (a.k.a. nothing) for at least a week. Of course, I’ve already stuffed my fridge with food-alike substances, topped up my mobile and my Oyster card for the month, the rest should be considered ‘extras’. That means no teas to go from Starbucks (resist the charm of the red Christmas promotion cups!!!), no buying the Guardian every day (nothing wrong with reading it online), no art exhibitions (the The art of seduction: sex through the ages, from every possible angle exhibition will stay there until January), and most of all: no Christmas-induced shopping. That’ll teach me a lesson.

November 03, 2007

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

Sadly, a rather pointless film that conveys more a message of indecisiveness between the film-makers rather than anything meaningful at all. The film is missing organisation and focus and looks more like a splash of interpretations (arguable facts) rather than a lined-up narrative. The random inserts of “artistic symbolisms” made absolutely no sense. The tired use of candles and lighting bolts was truly revolting. The film had also managed to make the defeat of the Spanish Armada look like it was a one man’s show by Sir Walter, who, in his own turn was portrayed as what can only be described as a Jack Sparrow wannabe, swinging on ropes and diving into the sea. It doesn’t come close to the British production of Elizabeth, although rather spectacular and with a few impressive costumes.

General reaction: What????
General feeling: Disappointment

October 30, 2007

One of the best adverts this year: Smirnoff Triple Distilled

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JCbeP5Fjyw

Great soundtrack, amazing images, witty plot – an advert one could watch over and over again. It should definitely be nominated for the Cannes Lions Awards.