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Sunday, 31 May 2009

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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Saturday, 30 May 2009

Yoof BNP: Billy Br*t

Fantastic parody by Tim Ireland involving a store-bought puppet of a BNP ad talking about the great (white) Brit icons.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Another Prop 8 postscript

On his blog, the Guardian's Michael Tomasky asks 'Does Barack Obama believe in gay marriage?'
I know he's officially against it. But I'm asking you -- as a matter of personal belief, like if he were just a highly successful lawyer in Chicago rather than the president of the Yew-nited States -- do you think he'd be for, or on some personal level he won't discuss currently is in fact, a gay marriage supporter?
Here's what I think.

There are some rumours that he'll make a major statement around the Stonewall 40th anniversary. There's a real head of steam grassroots movement getting going and it's only going to get angrier - including with those telling them to be quiet and patient such as the Washington gay lobbyist types who many blame for the Prop 8 loss. He will throw out a bone.

I doubt there's not quiet pressure as well as the Democrats have high profile gay supporters - think what happened when entertainment mogul and major fundraiser David Geffen was snubbed by Bill Clinton and early and very publicly supported Obama - but it would be on gays-in-the-military, Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), not gay marriage.

As Nate Silver points out, the latter will steadily make its way across the country (see this post on the metrics of that). The former has overwhelming support in the country with only some of the military bureaucrats and top brass are, I think, seriously able to delay it for that much longer through keeping Obama's ear, as appears to be the case at the moment.

A more serious issue is the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA, a Bill Clinton legacy), as I'd bet repeal might not even get through the Senate at the moment - remember, Hillary fudged it during the campaign and it's the bluedogs (right leaning democrats) who have the balance of power - and in reality a lot of practical change flows from getting rid of that.

On where his true belief is, who knows. But I do believe that when he first stood for election in Illinois he said he supported gay marriage, so the change of stance tells you a lot. It's all politics.
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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Why gay marriage will (eventually) pass in all US states (even Mississippi)

The decision of California's Supreme Court to reject the challenge to the ban on gay marriage – Proposition 8 – voted on by the people in November 2008, seems to have excited much 'woe is us' comment (as well as rallies in 104 American cities and towns last night).

Alistair Campbell even blogged that:
It left millions across the state and across America in despair wondering when they will get the opportunity to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and of society.

Yesterday’s decision cancelled out much of what San Francisco gay rights campaigner Harvey Milk, the subject of a brilliant recent film – and many others – worked for. It may be years until gay Californians again have the rights already enjoyed by the people of Iowa, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Actually, I suspect Milk would have had more of a sense of proportion and definitely more of a sense of history.

Prop 8 - gay marriage remember, not civil partnerships (that weird 'seperate-but-equal' status which gave Tony Blair a nice liberal shiver) - came within a couple of points of being defeated.

Already activists have vowed to try again ASAP. And they'll get what they want - something Milk probably didn't even dream of - real equality.

It's inevitable because the culture is only going in one direction - pro-equality.

The stats whiz Nate Silver, THE 'go-to' guy when it comes to reading poll results (and other predictive factors), who best predicted the 2008 Presidential race (and who I referenced a lot in my posts about that) says so.

Following the passage of gay marriage in Iowa he built a predictive model whose outcome is that gay marriage will come in every US state by 2024, with half getting there by 2012. He discovered that you can build it on only three variables.
  1. The year in which the amendment was voted upon;
  2. The percentage of adults in 2008 Gallup tracking surveys who said that religion was an important part of their daily lives;
  3. The percentage of white evangelicals in the state.
Its accuracy is such that:
The model predicts, for example, that a marriage ban in California in 2008 would have passed with 52.1 percent of the vote, almost exactly the fraction actually received by Proposition 8.
Because of changes in US society:
Marriage bans are losing ground at a rate of slightly less than 2 points per year.

Below are the dates when the model predicts that each of the 50 states would vote against a marriage ban. Asterisks indicate states which had previously passed amendments to ban gay marriage.

2009 (now)
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
New York

New Jersey




New Mexico
North Dakota*
South Dakota*

West Virginia



North Carolina


South Carolina*



So don't worry, be happy! :]

Postscript: The ruling, as with the original vote, has stirred up a massive grass-roots movement for LGBT civil rights in the United States. Protests happened in 104 American cities the night of the decision and are notable for the engagement of a new generation many thought too interested in partying.

Last night protesters came out in force when Obama came to LA for a Democratic Party fundraiser - led by Lt. Dan Choi, the West Point graduate and Arabic linguist fired for being gay. They see Obama putting off repealing 'don't ask, don't tell'.

One of the things which Obama repeatedly said during the campaign was that in order for him to help make change happen he needed to see a grass-roots movement piling on the pressure.
Anybody who’s been at an LGBT event with me can testify that my message is very explicit -- I don’t think that the gay and lesbian community, the LGBT community, should take its cues from me or some political leader in terms of what they think is right for them. It’s not my place to tell the LGBT community, "Wait your turn." I’m very mindful of Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” where he says to the white clergy, "Don’t tell me to wait for my freedom."

Well, it's happening.

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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

How bad floods created great egov web 2.0

At Socitm's Better Connected event 2 June in Brum by far the hit of the day was this presentation:

John Steed from Cheltenham Council talked about how the massive flooding of the town a few years ago gave a kick-start to their social media efforts - and quickly won top level support after a brief hesitation.

They used a free blog service, Flickr and YouTube to keep residents and others informed during the crisis. They couldn't rely on the website alone and this allowed them to help residents help themselves - posting photos of what was happening for example.

John talked about what's been going on since then and they are making some great use of social media, being innovative and implementing some good ideas. Their Flickr content has evolved into a 'go to' place for local photos as local photographers get engaged. Their videos are useful in being visual and showing some beautiful parts of the town.

His talk inspired a lot of people on the day and - as one twitterer noted - why we don't seem to applaud any longer at these sorts of events is a mystery.

Montpellier, Cheltenham, UK

Postscript: Why .gov webbies need professional status

A couple of weeks ago I made the argument 'Why .gov webbies need professional status'.

This is not a new idea, it's been circulating in the UK for a couple of years. Problem is it hasn't actually gone anywhere.

Now the idea has some solidity through the efforts of myself and Socitm.

At Socitm's Better Connected event in Birmingham, 19 May, attended by 120 mainly local government webbies from all over the UK, a meeting was held at the end of conference and was very well attended after a long day.

Myself and Vicky Sergeant from Socitm presented on where the proposals were at. This will be repeated 2 June in London, if you are not attending that event as a delegate you are welcome to join the meeting at ~4pm. Let Socitm know of your intention to attend by emailing

This was Vicky's presentation:

I'm working on adding video :/

I explained how the idea germinated, how I had been discussing widely over a year of so on sustainable models. I explained how the organisation once started would decide its own priorities and what I thought the potential was.

Audience questions were extremely positive and one exchange in particular was amusing. Relating to the old question in egov of where web lives - in ICT or Communications (or customer services) - the thought of being in neither but being its own department was raised. Oh, the radicalism! (More on that concept below).

Anyone can contribute to the discussion about the web professionals group on Communities of Practice.

I also spoke about the inspiring work done by the organised web professionals in US government.

One inspiration, aimed directly at the competition around who 'owns' web in government came from the recent Government Web Manager Conference.

Macon Phillips (the US government’s New Media lead) and Vivek Kundra (the US government’s head CIO) acknowledged the third distinct group of players at the table: web managers. They said they weren't interested in asserting authority or oversight over web managers or suggest that Web Managers should be subject to their oversight. They acknowledged that there are three distinct pieces to this puzzle of online government, and we citizens need all three to fit together seamlessly if we are to be served well.

This was significant because it was clearing the air after behind-the-scenes fights on exact those issues of authority and oversight.

An example which would be very familiar to Whitehall web managers were fights when US web managers wanted to push top tasks – those government services that citizens want most. US 'Public Affairs Offices' instead wanted to promote the agency’s and administration’s message.

The descending peace - and benefit for citizens - is an outcome of US web managers being organised.

The Federal Web Managers Council – and the broader Government Web Manager Forum – has laid out this strategic plan:
“We believe the public should be able to:
  • Accomplish their most top government tasks online quickly and easily
  • Access government content online whenever and however they need it
  • Have direct online interactions with their government
  • Trust government web content to be accurate, timely, easy to understand, and coordinated across agencies
To achieve this vision, we’ve chosen one primary goal on which our community will focus: Improve how the public accomplishes their most top government tasks online.”

Monday, 25 May 2009

Report: The Iraqi anti-LGBT pogrom

Photo Bill Wilson Copyright © 2009

The following report - sourced from all media reports, agency, organisation and representative statements concerning the pogrom - is made available for reuse under a Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.


The anti-gay pogrom

Iraqi gays report that their lives are in danger, that they live in continuous fear of people finding out that they are gay.

Gays are being sadistically tortured, mutilated and murdered, some by the method of sticking a special glue (which can only be removed by surgery) up their anuses then forcing diarrhea. This method is being employed not just in Baghdad but in smaller town and cities all over Iraq. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cellphones in Iraq. There are reports of hospitals turning away gays with glued anuses.

Attacks against gays have been abundant in Shiite neighborhoods, especially poor regions and remote areas such as the southern provinces and the Hurriya, Sho’la and Sadr neighborhoods in Baghdad.

Although gays could be tried and imprisoned under the Saddam regime Iraqi gays report that "now they kill people like us."

The campaign started in 2004, following the religious decree of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani that said gay men and lesbians should be “punished, in fact, killed .. The people should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”

Since then Iraqi LGBT has received reports and information of over 600 LGBT people killed.

But Iraqi gays and media reports say that the killings have massively escalated since the end of 2008.

Iraqi LGBT has received reports of 63 killings in the last four months but does not have correspondents or members in large parts of Iraq and believes that the actual number of gays killed since December 2008 is much higher.

Amnesty International says that 25 boys and men were killed in Baghdad this spring "following calls from religious leaders to eradicate homosexuality."

There are reports that religious leaders, both Sunni or Shiite, have used Friday sermons and satellite channels as a platform to incite hatred and violence toward homosexuals.

Reporting about the murders by anal glue of gays in Sadr City in April by Iraqi daily newspapers and many television stations branded gays as 'perverts' and 'terrorists who are undermining the moral fiber of Iraqi youth'.

Posters and leaflets distributed in the Baghdad neighborhoods of al-Shola, al-Hurya and Sadr City contain orders to "cleanse Iraq from the crime of homosexuality."

Lesbians are reported as being burned to death in Kadhimiya, Hurriya Al-Olaa, Hurriya Al-Thaniya, Dolaai and Dabaash.

Baghdad US Embassy workers are reported as saying that the killings are not tribal or familial disputes.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that homosexuals are a specific group which have been identified as at risk of violence.

State involvement and lack of action

Human Rights Watch says that Iraqi LGBT are vulnerable to attacks from both state and non-state actors.

Mobile phone footage circulating in Baghdad shows uniformed police harassing LGBT. There are reports of police extracting bribes.

Police have been quoted as waging a campaign to "clean up the streets and get the beggars and homosexuals off them.”

Iraqi LGBT has received reports that police and the Ministry of the Interior are behind some of the murders.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) says that despite the legal obligations of the Iraqi government to protect all citizens, crimes committed against LGBT Iraqis and those believed to be homosexual are not properly investigated or prosecuted.

US Vice President Joe Biden is reported to have said 'the Iraqi .. government is either too ineffectual to act, or is afraid of offending the religious zealots who perpetuate the attacks'.

The US State Department, following representations by Rep. Jared Polis and the Council for Global Equality, is investigating reports of trials and executions of LGBT, including for membership of the Iraqi LGBT group, as well as reports of arrests, beatings and rape by Ministry of Interior security forces. Polis says that at least one gay man has been executed by the government for 'membership of a banned organization' and that "gregious human rights violations ... [are] being carried out by Iraqi government officials from the Ministry of the Interior."

Amnesty International has expressed concern at the government’s failure to "publicly condemn the killings." It urged the government to make sure that the killings are "promptly and effectively investigated, and to see that the perpetrators are brought to justice." They also condemned police statements that,"appear to condone or even encourage the targeting of members of the gay community in Baghdad."

The Australian government has questioned the Iraqi Ambassador to Australia and Australia’s Ambassador to Iraq has questioned the Iraqi government over the pogrom.

On April 8, 2009, IGLHRC and Human Rights Watch submitted an urgent appeal to the Special Procedures of the United Nations to ask for an investigation.


Statements by Iraqi LGBT

This letter was written to Los Angeles councillor Bill Rosendahl in response to the passage by Los Angeles City Council of a resolution in opposition to the Iraqi gay pogrom.

I’m a 25 year old graduate student from Baghdad and my name is Ahmad.

I want to thank you very much for caring about me and my problem. Finally, after many desperate years of hopelessness I found a group of people that understand and care about me.

My problem is that I’m a gay, and as a gay man I can’t live a normal life in Iraq because:
  • My life is in danger. I live in continuous fear of people finding out that I’m gay.
  • I can’t express my deepest emotions. I can’t love...I can’t tell those who I care about that I love them... It is like being tortured from inside.
In the past few months I have heard of many cases of violence against gay men, including killing, torturing, and public humiliation of us. The religious vigilantes (known as Maghawer) have kidnapped many men suspected of being gay. No one knows anything about the fate of those gays.

The Maghawer’s most popular method of torture for homosexuals is putting silicon glue on their anus to shot down their digestive system and then force them to take laxative drug to make them suffer.

Every time I walk on the street I wonder what may happen to pen to me today. To protect myself, I have to lie to everyone and pretend that I am a straight person. It is really hard to be a 24/7 liar out of the fear of death…I keep asking myself if this is going to be MY LIFE!!!

I have no one to turn to. Not even other gay men or my family members. Recently I have been blackmailed by men I had sex with in the past. They told me either I have to have sex with them again or they will out me to my family, neighbors and even classmates. I had to choose between scandal and public humiliation and prostitution. But I decided that I can’t have sex with people I don’t love … so I decided to transfer to another college in Northern Iraq.

My family doesn’t know about my homosexuality…if they find out, they will disown me because I will become a disgrace to them. They may even try to kill me to protect their honor. I always have to pretend in front my family that I ‘m “normal”…but like any other straight man, my family wants me to marry a woman … I try to avoid that conversation as much as I can but there is a lot of pressure on me to get married.

I am not happy with myself. I am not proud of who I am.

A while back I went to a psychologist to see if he can treat me. I told him about my problem…he told me that homosexuality has no treatment in Iraq and only experienced doctors in developed countries can give me therapy.

The news made me so depressed that I started thinking of committing suicide. I feel even without vigilantes killing me, I AM ALREADY DEAD FROM INSIDE.

I just want to know what wrong I have done. Do I have a choice to be gay? Do I want to humiliate myself? Do I want to live in constant fear and anxiety? Do I want my family & friends to hate and abandon me if they discover my truth? Do I want myself to be killed on the hand of uneducated people for something I didn’t choose?

I don’t want to make it long for you…but I want to let you know that I have already suffered too much and I don’t have the power to go through more pain and suffering.

And finally I want to thank you for your support and help…

My Regards and Best Wishes to ALL of YOU…

Comment by Hasan given to The Independent

My boyfriend was killed by the police because of his sexuality.

Policemen came to his house, 10 minutes away from mine, put him in a police car, arrested and killed him.

They told his parents it was because of his job. He was working for Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender). For six months I didn't go out, I didn't do anything – just grieved for him. He was killed because of who he is.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, we – the gay community – were very optimistic. We thought that we would live in a democracy and felt safe with US troops around. So we started to print leaflets that promoted freedom for gay and lesbian people.

But members of our group started being arrested for it. The leaflets weren't political, they were just spreading gay rights.

We have the right to exist and be who we are, but this offended the government. The leaflets had our email addresses and telephone numbers, so the government and the militias came to find out who was distributing the leaflets.

In 2004, the situation got much worse. People began to be killed in the streets, burnt alive and mutilated for being gay. We were a target for the government and militias. I fled to the UK; I feel very safe here but get emails every day about more killings in Iraq. And the problem is that the UK Government doesn't allow us to stay with refugee status even though Iraq is one of the most dangerous places on earth for homosexuals and a war is being waged by the parts of the Iraqi government on gay people. In the UK, I can't work or study because I've been denied the right to asylum, but my only option is to go back to Iraq, face my family and my community and be killed.

Four members of our organisation have already been deported. I am fighting for my right to stay by re-applying for asylum with the help of Iraqi LGBT. Otherwise, I have no future. On Thursday, we will protest outside the Home Office to highlight the homophobic killings. I wish someone would listen and help us; this has been going on in Iraq for years and no one cares.

Hasan, 26, is gay. He moved to the UK nine months ago from his home in Babel province, south of Baghdad, after receiving death threats. His boyfriend was killed because of his sexuality.

Call for help

My name is [name and address removed], Baghdad, Iraq.

I was detained at my residence December 15, 2008 after midnight, by the Ministry of Interior. During the detention process, they hit me on the head and my rear end to make me confess that I am a member of the Iraqi-LGBT. Later on the Ministry of Interior transferred me to the criminal justice court in al Karkh, and after a short trial I was sentenced to death.

I was sentenced without given the chance to defend myself or to hire an attorney. Two days later I was returned to the same place and was told that the execution will take place in two weeks.

Please pass this message to [my friend] in London. I just wish to tell him not to forget about my mother and siblings, I was their only supporter.

I am all hopeful that Allah will show Iraqis a life with no death sentences. And lastly, I ask you for help. Is there anyone to help me before it is too late?


The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) advises favourable consideration for people belonging to specific groups from these areas which have been identified as at risk, including members of religious and ethnic minorities; Iraqis perceived as opposing armed groups or political factions; Iraqis affiliated with the multinational forces or foreign companies; media workers; UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers; human rights activists; and homosexuals.

Improving security prompts UN to revise guidelines for Iraqi asylum claims

What you can do

There are a number of ways in which you can take action.

Support Iraqi LGBT through fund raising and donations

This support is desperately needed and will be put to good use both inside Iraq itself and to support the exiled movement. The group needs £10,000 a month in order to keep its safe houses and other support for beleaguered LGBT inside Iraq going.

You can find out how to do this on the Iraqi LGBT website

Alternatively, in the USA, tax-deductible donations can be made at

Contact your local representative to urge them to ask for your government's pressure on the Iraqi government to take action

In the USA -
You can get contact information for Representatives and Senators on this website
The only statement so far from the State Department is carried in this post

In the UK -
Contact your MP through this website

Suggested letter

The following is a letter for a UK MP which you can adapt for your locality


I write to draw your attention to the pogrom of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people which is currently taking place in Iraq.

Although this has yet to draw much mainstream media attention the reports are truly horrifying and escalating. They have draw the attention of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and US Representatives.

However the UK Foreign Office does not appear to be taking any action.

I refer you to the statement of Bill Rammell [].

The following report covers the pogrom:

I would urge you to ask the Foreign Office why they are not taking stronger action in this matter.



Please take action today!

British jobs for American actors!

This is an absolutely brilliant mock BNP advert - the title refers to how they were found out for using stock photos of Americans for their so-called 'doctor', 'housewife' on the leaflet dropping through everyone's letterboxes.

Click to enlarge.

To Chris Bryant and Ben Bradshaw: STFU

Cross posted from Wardman Wire


Both Ben Bradshaw and Chris Bryant have claimed ‘homophobia’ as a defence for their MP’s expenses claims.

Bryant says he had to ‘flip’ homes due to nasty smears (presumably emanating from the ‘underpants episode) being daubed on his Rhondda constituency home.

Bradshaw thinks the Telegraph is homophobic because it called his partner his “boyfriend”.

Neither of these claims are being accepted by readers of, the LGBT news site where they appear.

Nor should they. The comment which most sums up my feelings being ‘What a pair of fantastic role models for young gay people to look up to - not’.

Bradshaw in particular seems to be resorting to a diversionary tactic which reminds me of ‘is it because I is black?’ Plus he tries to make out that gay MPs in general are being singled out saying “It is very interesting that gay Tory MPs have also been smeared” - because the Telegraph once referred to Nick Herbert’s “boyfriend” rather than using “partner”.

Bradshaw ignores the fact that since his government cow-towed to religious interests and refused to introduce gay marriage (something he has never, to my knowledge, done anything but defend), instead resorting to the sexual apartheid of civil partnerships - literally ‘different but equal’, they also refused to introduce a similar ‘non-religious’ status for heterosexuals - what the hell is his partner’s ‘official’ title? If anything it’s ‘civil partner’!

‘Boyfriend’ is only homophobic if you read it as such. I understand fully that some use it with that intent but you have to see it in context and the rest of the Telegraph piece on Bradshaw isn’t that.

Bryant, defending his ‘double flipping’ and claiming a total of £92,415 in second home expenses since 2004 plus a £77,000 profit made when he moved again, puts it all down to having to ‘escape homophobic thugs who daubed lewd messages’ on his main constituency property.

As readers point out, if he were an actual role model he would have pursued them and made sure the South Wales police did their job - he wouldn’t have been driven out or taken the police’s advice to move.

Can you imagine the reaction to him from the black community if he was black and they were racist messages and he ran away from defending himself?

Plus there’s the small matter - as another commentator points out - that if one of his constituents were subject to homophobic attacks (and they weren’t living in social housing) they’d have to re-house themselves at their own cost.

Now that we have a great number and fair spread of out public figures in the UK - though not enough, think footballers - I think these comments display a bit of maturity in the gay community, like I think has happened in the black community. It’s no longer ‘my gay role model, right or wrong’.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Today I will be mainly feeling anger

My oldest mate's marketing company has just gone under after eighteen very successful years.

It wasn't killed by the recession, as this report says, or by losing business from playstation, but by the banks.

About six weeks ago, with no warning, their bank cut their overdraft down to 10% of what it was. They couldn't get any credit from anywhere else, not from any other lender and there is nothing either local or national government had set up to help small businesses like theirs.

And they had business. Despite reports of major cuts in marketing budgets they had been gaining clients (it was a youth specialist, one of the first to be set up).

So twenty jobs have gone entirely because of the bank's malfeasance and with no help whatsoever from a government which bails out banks and has yet to prosecute any of the criminals in them but has done nothing for thriving small business hit by a credit crunch their billions is alleged to be helping end.

This makes me extremely angry, especially as he has weathered a series of major hits, including a huge fraud against him, the sorts of ups and downs that end many small businesses, and come out stronger through sheer hard work and bravado. He deserves better.

It really is time a few of those b(w)ankers were strung up as an example to others.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Going Richard II on the moats

Daily Show spikes MPs expenses and John Oliver gets on his horse for jolly old England and defends the English right to a moat, 'to encircle ourselves with a trench of murky ooze'.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
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Cute animals: Need a break? Whack-A-Kitty!

No adorable liddle kitties were hurt in the making of this video ...

Music: Postscript: The big fat gay collab

These things are obviously hitting a nerve. A nerve which says f***k you. In this case, French.

Oh jeez this is fabulous!

MPs expenses goes quackers

The news that, beating the moat cleaning expenses, an MP charged a duck island to expenses makes me go all quackers.

And think of Scrooge McDuck.

Comment is superfluous. Scrooge McDuck meets Pink Floyd.

And here's something to cheer up Sir Peter Viggers:

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Your emissions are killing me

These two maps show, firstly, the world in terms of carbon emissions and, secondly, the world in terms of mortality as a result of climate change.

They come from a study published in the Lancet (pdf / more).

Humbled somewhat?

In an editorial (registration required) the Lancet identifies:
  • an astonishing lack of knowledge about how we should respond to the negative health effects of climate change
  • we have an immense task before us to address the inadequacies of health systems to protect people in countries most at risk
  • technologies have to be developed out of greater research investments into climate change science, better understanding about how to deliver those technologies in the field, and a more complete appreciation of the social and cultural dimensions into which those technologies might be implanted
  • there is a political challenge in creating the conditions for low-carbon living
As a leading foci for discussion on health, the Lancet is calling for nothing more than a bringing together of the disciplines of disease, food, water and sanitation, shelter and settlements, extreme events, and population and migration in this challenge.

And it says:
Too many doctors have been silent for too long about the importance of climate change to the future of health and health services.
HT: Ezra Klein

Monday, 18 May 2009

My fave Twitter client

After casting around for a good Twitter client for the desktop I have settled hard on Twitzap.

  • updates automatically (and you can set how often it does this)
  • allows tweets even when Twitter is down
  • allows you to set up channels really easily to follow one person or a group or a search term / hashtag
I tried Tweetdeck but it kept fighting with my Firewall and their website offered little help. I also really wanted something running in my browser and not eating up more resources. Plus I really didn't like the interface.

Another service I really like is twittertise. Ostensibly an advertising client (gulp) it does allow you to 'pre-tweet'.

As I've noticed that people can miss tweets (I do), it's useful if you need to throw out a question or promo something to be able to set up a retweet over a few days or at different times. It's obviously a tool for abuse as well but like most things it has it's angel side as well it's demon one :]
Paulie draw my attention to Mashable's list of tools for managing multiple accounts.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Watch 'Us Now' online

The British film about about the power of mass collaboration, government and the internet, which has been exciting interest amongst egovernment circles and was shown at the end of the Gov 2.0 camp held in Washington recently, is now available to watch for free online.

In his student flat in Colchester, Jack Howe is staring intently into his computer screen. He is picking the team for Ebbsfleet United's FA Trophy Semi-Final match against Aldershot . Around the world 35,000 other fans are doing the same thing, because together, they own and manage the football club. If distributed networks of people can run complex organisations such as football clubs, what else can they do?

Us Now takes a look at how this type of participation could transform the way that countries are governed. It tells the stories of the online networks whose radical self-organising structures threaten to change the fabric of government forever.

Us Now follows the fate of Ebbsfleet United, a football club owned and run by its fans; Zopa, a bank in which everyone is the manager; and Couch Surfing, a vast online network whose members share their homes with strangers.

The founding principles of these projects -- transparency, self-selection, open participation -- are coming closer and closer to the mainstream of our social and political lives. Us Now describes this transition and confronts politicians George Osborne and Ed Milliband with the possibilities for participative government as described by Don Tapscott and Clay Shirky amongst others

IDAHO 2009: One Voice, One Message, Heard Around the World

This is a global video mashup for International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia 2009.

359 people from 48 countries took part in massive global web video project to mark the IDAHO 2009.

IDAHO was founded by a black French scholar and activist, Louis-Georges Tin, as a first truly global initiative, he says:
We are overwhelmed and, at the same time, humbled by this torrent of enthusiastic support that has poured in from all four corners of the world since we kickstarted the video project in April. People have made the effort to go to such places as the Statue of Liberty, the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Merlion, the Petronas Twin Towers and the Eiffel Tower to shoot their video, contributing to the spectacular visual feast you see in the mashup.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Music: The big fat gay collab

There's a disgusting amount of hate on the internet (especially on youtube) directed at minority groups (especially the LGBT community) so the creator of this viral was inspired to organize this collab video. Never set out to "change the world", simply wanted to make something light hearted to put a smile on the face of any hate-victim watching.

The song is f#ck you by Lily Allen, originally written about George Bush.

youtubers in this video mum! snaps for my awesome mum!

if you missed the bandwagon to join the collab, feel free to make a video response!

Friday, 15 May 2009

MPs Expenses - A Musical Guide

Climate change in the abstract

This chart is adopted from a survey, conducted by George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication. It reveals that Americans are concerned about global warming in the abstract.

The further we get out from the individual, the more impactful people think climate change will tend to be.

These beliefs are not necessarily irrational - climate change probably will have more impact on the developing world than the developed one, and it almost certainly will have more impact on our children than it does on ourselves.

Conclusion? Climate change advocates need to find ways to personalise the terms of the debate.

The majority of the British public is still not convinced that climate change is caused by humans - and many others believe scientists are exaggerating the problem, according to an exclusive poll for The Observer.

HT: FiveThirtyEight

BBC Question Time, as seen from Twitterland

Is Ben Brogan the bastard child of Lady Penelope and Parker?

Is Ben Brogan the bastard child of Lady Penelope and Parker?

I managed to be asleep during what was the year’s TV highlight it appears - and the iplayer won’t have it available until tomorrow.

So how to read the mood on the other side of the screen (in Grimsby it was obviously ‘burn the witch!’)? Twitter of course and - what’s this? - it’s ‘trending’? It’s number one trending?!

Thousands of tweets it appears and after sifting through the spam - oh yes, just add #bbcqt for attention for your eco-funerals or whatever - here are some highlights (going backwards, as is the twitway).

bengoldacre: #bbcqt can we have some kind of air raid siren for the next time something that good is on telly please?

jonreed of course, people in Grimsby are always that angry. The #bbcqt cameras just happened to be on them this evening.

barneygale @RhysT #bbcqt Did the irony of the McDonalds CEO talking about the elite few exploiting the weak not strike you? I’d laugh if I wasn’t cryin

stephenpglenn RT @steevbishop: #bbcqt The final question will be about the change to Twitter replies and the audience then burn the hall down.

adlopa I’m voting with my feet at the next election. I have a weeping bunion that I can mark the ballot paper with. #bbcqt

alexchafer #bbcqt, they didnt say it exactly as “it was withn the rules” but it was suggested 8 times in total using different terminology

jjaron And now it’s time to switch over to Question Time: You’re Fired #bbcqt

AndySawford #bbcqt none of the panellists happy chatter in the closing credits, they all looked stunned

gift_of_the_fab #bbcqt Arghh… they didn’t get to the bash Michael Martin question. Fail.

dancohen243 RT @craigmcgill Dear Mrs Beckett, journos have always found stories via leaks Don’t whine now or try & bring your staff in as victims #bbcqt

siliconglen #bbcqt And another “one rule for them and another for us”, how come House of Commons bar is exempt from smoking ban? MPs need to get real.

mathewhulbert @doktorb How dare Ming Campbell lecture Ben Brogan? #bbcqt.

andrewl No Ming, no transparency required - the DT are using *private* money - you’re wasting my money away. #bbcqt

KerryMP @doktorb Why - because I’m accusing Ming of being sanctimonious and desperately scrambling for moral high ground? #bbcqt

mutantsounds #bbcqt Sheesh, Margaret, seriously - just shut up and try to look sorry for the rest of the show. It’s working for Theresa May.

petermoore “The first rule of journalism: don’t discuss your sources.” (Ben Brogan of The Telegraph on the expenses ‘disc’) #bbcqt

mattwardman RT @KerryMP: #bbcqt Is Ben Brogan the bastard child of Lady Penelope and Parker?

antagonise Margaret Beckett, #tool of the DNA/data storing gov’t, is worried about personal data of #State employees. The #irony! #bbcqt #questiontime

siwhitehouse #bbcqt Telegraph a “receiver of stolen goods” . . . think I can guess the next audience comment

simonbarrow Good grief, someone on BBC QT wants to ‘knight’ the Telegraph. The kangaroo court’s rage blinds it to other forms of vested interest. #bbcqt

stephenpearne #bbcqt Presumably Beckett is wearing a bright red jacket to conceal the fact that she has been red in the face whenever she’s been speaking.

ComeOnYouReds Ming - afghanistan casulaties overshadowed by expenses debacle - 7 on the clapometer. #bbcqt

wardmanwire #bbcqt Where does one get a tool to manage 50-60 tweets a minute?

patricksmyth That fat guy in the blue shirt has heckled Beckett from the start,when she answers him he says ‘don’t talk to me like that’.Hilarious #bbcqt

crishawes #bbcqt Ming “It’s out job to clean it up”… yeah, like asking an arsonist to put out the fire.

KerronCross “Throw the bums out, on their ear.” I wonder if Ben Brogan is being anatomically correct there? #bbcqt

IanDouglas Margaret Beckett giving Ben Brogan the look of death #bbcqt

kcorrick Ronald McDonald is coming across very well #bbcqt Although is in slightly nicer position. Good point about potential apathy.

EbA Love the guy who said we want action but not spin then went on to talk about David Cameron. You been spun fool. #bbcqt

norock Ah. Beckett now suggesting that EVERYONE is too busy being good MPs to look after the details of claiming millions… #bbcqt

liambillington #bbcqt Theresa May sounds as if she is about to burst into tears.

doktorb #bbcqt - “You’re not trusted!” “You’re too busy fiddling expenses” “Don’t lecture me!” cries audience members.

lexij #bbcqt Margaret Beckett “people are at risk of losing their jobs” Hmmm. Indeed.

StephenMullen Audience member worried that because of the expenses issue, that the BNP may get elected. #bbcqt #votetostopthebnp

norock Wow - where did they find the ‘can’t we just say something nice about politicians’ woman for the #bbcqt audience?

Tweetolla #bbcqt String quartet now playing in background for Menzies Campbell’s 73 hours travelling a week ‘woe is me’ plea.

DarrellGoodliff #bbcqt surprising smattering of applause for attack on the media

KerryMP #bbcqt ‘Cameron showed leadership when he found out what MPs were up to’… Such as claiming £680 to remove wisteria from their chimneys?

doktorb #bbcqt - “Brown is a donkey” calls man from crowd.

ydue impressive fail-off from ming and beckett #bbcqt WHYYYYYYY AM I ONLY PAID 3X THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. WHYYYYYYY DO I HAVE TO WORK SO MANY HOURS

radioproducer The #bbcqt discussion on twitter would appear to be, unplanned, unmanaged, unmoderated, free, and very successful.

.. and that’s where search twitter etc. stop as it goes way over 1000 tweets and my browser blows up …

Postscript: having now watched it I don't see the residents of Grimsby lynching Margaret Beckett. Compared to historical, riotous reaction to the-powers-that-be this was incredibly tame. Twitterland gave its own, quite different, perspective on last night's events.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Cute animals: Suryia and Roscoe - Friends at First Sight

Smile alert!

Music: Boops (Here We Go)

Sly and Robbie may well be the most prolific recording artists ever. One staggering estimate is that they have played on or produced some 200,000 songs.

Sly and Robbie are reggae’s longest lasting production team. The rhythm section of drummer Lowell Dunbar (nicknamed Sly after Sly Stone, one of his favorite musicians) and bass guitarist Robert Shakespeare started working together in the mid 1970s, after having established themselves separately on the Jamaican music scene.

They changed the face of Reggae several times: in 1976, they introduced a harder beat called “Rockers”, which quickly replaced the then prevalent “One drop” style, then introduced the “rub a dub” sound in the early 1980s. Sly and Robbie were important in developing the trend towards computer assisted music and programmming in the mid 1980s.

They produced three of Grace Jones' albums: Living my Life, Nightclubbing and Warm Leatherette.

Boops is their sole UK hit.

Postscript: 'It's the economy faggot' - Dan Savage on Obama and LGBT rights

Savage also points out in his column how Obama made a joke of the progress on gay marriage at the White House Correspondents Dinner last Saturday.
The more I think about the joke Obama told at the WHCD the more ticked off I get. We're witnessing rapid and historic progress in the fight for gay equality and Barack Obama, who campaigned on our issues and described himself as a "fierce advocate" of gay and lesbian equality, hasn't acknowledged the breakthroughs in Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in a setting or a with comments that are in any way equal to the significance of this historic moment. The best he can do—all he's willing to do—is toss off an Adam-Sandler-level joke.