Monday, 29 September 2008


i wasn't going to post tonight, but it seems that the subject of death continues to be a theme. there was the death of paul newman, and yes, i'll admit to being a fan. well not so much that i could remember any more than 4 of the movies he's been in when the kids asked who he was. but a fan nonetheless, with the wistful thought that they sure don't make 'em like they used to.

i'm also a fan of his wife, joanne woodward. again, couldn't name you many of her starring roles. the one i remember most was her role as candida in the george bernard shaw play, which she did so well that i had tears in my eyes when watching it (on television, not so lucky as to ever have seen her perform in person). she always seemed to me to be one of those incredibly talented people who were held back because of a more famous spouse.

so mr newman is gone. and there have been many words said by many people in tribute. today's paper has a large article, i'd say about a quarter of a page, devoted to the words of robert redford and the clintons and various other persons of note. and very much deserved, i'm sure, given the amount of charitable work he did. not just a pretty face, as the saying goes.

just below this rather substantial article were a couple of short paragraphs, under a rather small headline, informing us that 11 people had died in baghdad from bombings during ramadan. 11 people were worth 2 paragraphs. we didn't even get to know their names, or how old they were or what their occupations may have been. we didn't get to hear anything about them, because they were just more casualties in that conflict, part of a much bigger number of deaths.

and there really isn't room in the paper to mention them all, and to hear what their colleagues and neighbours might have had to say about them. they weren't famous, they weren't people we have come to know through public exposure. they may have been noble and charitable too, they may have carried out acts of extreme courage in war-ravaged country, but we didn't get to hear about that.

i asked myself again, as i do so often, what a human life is worth. we all know that some lives are worth more than others, in terms of the amount of time we bother to spend thinking about them. but what scares me is this: because we don't get to hear the details of these other deaths, we can ignore them. all we have is the number 11. a number that has no face, no humanity. because we don't see them, nor see their families, it becomes easier not to care. we learn to accept the deaths as a fact of life in that part of the world, we dissociate ourselves, and so the situation continues.

we feel for austin hemmings, as we should. here was a death that merited a big article on the front page of the paper, with a family photograph and a life story. we identify with mr hemmings because he is one of us, a fellow kiwi. we feel anger, and we demand that something be done. we'll write letters to the paper, we'll talk about it over the tea break. we will spend some time thinking about that poor man's family and what they must be suffering.

but those other 11, who also had families? well they're too far away and too foreign for us to care so much. but the point is that we might have cared, if we had the photographs and the life stories; if we had seen with our eyes the pain and suffering. by failing to share those stories with us, the media are depriving us of the chance to identify with those victims and to feel the urge to take some action to secure the well-being of those they left behind.

we heard all about the shooting in finland, of 10 innocent deaths as part of that horrific tragedy. we saw the grief of that nation and heard much about the potential political impact on gun laws. we saw the lighted candles and the flowers for the victims, and we could identify with them and grieve with them. but in iraq, they are facing that number of deaths every month, in baghdad alone.

i remember a friend of mine who lived visited tunisia around 2004. she stayed for a couple of months. she told me that every night, the family would watch the news in tears. they'd cry every night, because they were getting the full report of what was happening in iraq. they felt the full force of the tragedy. we didn't, and we still don't.

if you didn't listen to it this morning, please take the time to listen to this interview on radio nz this morning. in fact, please listen to it more than once, because it deserves your attention. it's an interview with james orbinski, a canadian doctor who volunteered for the group "doctors without borders". he spent time in somalia and rwanda, and the stories he has to tell bring humanity to the meaningless numbers that we see in our papers.

so farewell, paul newman. your going is a loss to the world, and your example an inspiration to many. farewell also to those other 11. and to all the victims of war and famine. inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe raji'oon.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

a sudden death

we're now at the business-end of ramadan, with the last 10 days involving extra prayers. it's also a time of low-energy for me, as the fasting takes its toll. hence the lack of blogging for the last few days. ramadan will be ending either on tuesday or wednesday, and hopefully normal service will resume not too long after that. although i've been enjoying the not-blogging, in that it gives me more time to myself at night.

i did a little spot on community radio today on ramadan. i took the girls along, and they had a bit of a say as well. the eldest was totally opposed to being on radio until i assured her that absolutely no-one from her school would be listening to this station. this relaxed her quite considerably and made her submit to parental authority in a much more pliant fashion. i try not to pull rank in these sorts of situations, but every now and then i decide that i actually do know what's good for them. that is the prerogative of being a mother, after all. i console them with the fact that they can similarly torture their own kids, when they have some.

in any case, i thought they did wonderfully (well, i would, wouldn't i!!), and the presenter, mel driscoll, also did a good job in getting them to chat comfortably.

onto other news. i got news today of the sudden death of a very close friend of my father. he lived in india, and had heart attack yesterday and was gone today. the suddenness of it was shocking, and i can only imagine the grief that his family is going through.

it was a special friendship, in a time when india was a much more relaxed place than it is today. i remember my father telling me about how he would visit the hindu temple with his friend and partake of the prasad, and his friend would come to the mosque to take part in prayers. they did this naturally, as if it were no big deal.

such a difference from the india of today, where right-wing fundamentalist parties have a much stronger presence and communities are so much more divided. i don't know if that kind of thing happens as much nowadays. possibly in some areas it does, and more probably among the urban elite.

but when i look at my father today, i don't think he would do the same at all. and i don't think his friend would either. even though they have maintained an extremely strong bond, and were together in england only a few months ago, pounding the pavements of london as avid sightseers. maybe it's a factor of age, of increased religiosity, of the need to preserve the religion in a purer form.

i think of my own position. i would have no problem visiting a hindu temple, in fact i was invited to visit the hamilton temple a couple of years ago at their 5-year anniversary celebration. i'd be quite happy to watch their spiritual and ritual ceremonies, but i wouldn't join in with them. i'd certainly not eat the prasad, simply because i wouldn't feel comfortable with it.

similarly, i'd be happy to visit a church and sit through the sermon and prayers. i've attended christian funerals and a christening and a wedding. but i wouln't sing the hymns, i wouln't be saying amen to the prayers. i couldn't take the role of anything other than an independent observer.

i don't take this position from a point of view of disrespect, or because i believe myself to be superior to anyone else. it's more a fact that i don't agree with their belief system so wouldn't want to be a part of their prayers and practices. i always make a point of accepting invitations to people's places of worship or religious celebrations, because i do believe in breaking barriers and creating a sense of community. but there is a line which i won't cross, and i'm firm on that.

so anyway, hope my dad isn't feeling too sad tonight. and i send my best wishes and condolences to the bereaved family. it's yet another lesson about how unpredictable life is, and how important it is to make the most of it.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

bird of peace?

have posted at the hand mirror about the tzipi livni, probably the next prime minister of israel.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

bloodshed in pakistan

one of the best things about ramadan is the social aspect. people love to invite each other to break fast in the evening, and have dinner together. the result is that almost half the month is spent eating out, with a variety of cuisine from middle eastern to african to asian.

tonight, i was invited by a pakistani family, and many of the others present were pakistanis too. the food was, of course, delicious. but the atmosphere somewhat dimmed, what with the recent bombing of the mariott hotel in pakistan. the last i heard at 6pm on radio nz was that 52 had been killed, with still many missing.

pakistan has had a history of political turbulence and violence; indeed some of the worst violence in the indian sub-continent occurred at the time pakistan was formed. it was a process that tore the area apart, physically and emotionally. at the present time, it looks like the level of violence will be escalating, though nowhere near partition levels. one thing musharraf did have was the solid power of the army behind him, allowing him to keep a tighter control of the country. the lack of democracy also meant a tighter control on violence.

despite his control over the country, anger has continually been felt throughout the country at pakistan's support of american action in afghanistan. that anger is escalating as a result of american action, as was highlighted by gwynne dyer in a piece published 2 days before the attack:

The latest incident, just after midnight on a Monday morning, began when seven US helicopter gunships and two troop-carrying Chinook helicopters landed near the Pakistani border in the Afghan province of Pakhtia.

US troops got out and tried to cross the border into Pakistan, presumably in search of some "terrorist" target. According to local officials, Pakistani paramilitary troops manning a checkpoint fired into the air to warn off the Americans while local tribesmen took up defensive positions.

On this occasion, the US soldiers stopped. With nobody around to stop them, however, another American ground force attacked a target in Pakistan's South Waziristan province on September 4 and, according to local witnesses, killed about 20 people, including women and children.

The local witnesses may be exaggerating, but the fact American troops carried out an act of war on Pakistan's territory without informing Islamabad, is not disputed. And there have been other recent American attacks, involving missiles fired at suspected terrorist targets, in which innocent Pakistani civilians have unquestionably been killed.

the mariott hotel was a target because it's an international hotel chain which represents rich foreigners. but the bombers were uncaring of the fact that many of the victims are impoverished locals working as security guards and hospitality staff. not that a poor person's life is worth more than any other, but rather it brings home the brutality of this kind of attack, as well as that of the american attacks detailed by mr dyer. there is simply a lack of consideration for innocent civilians who will be caught in the crossfire.

my pakistani friends tell me that the "talibanisation" of pakistan is increasing, as is hatred of americans and their continued attacks on pakistani soil. mr zardari continues the alliance with america, as did his now-deceased wife benazir bhutto, so is very much a target. this latest attack was also a protest at his swearing-in, which happened a couple of days ago.

one wonders how the situation can be improved, but there is no quick answer. the level of simmering anger in that country is pretty high, as they bear the brunt of the war on terror on their home soil. unless there is a significant change of foreign policy in the US, i just don't see things getting any better.

Friday, 19 September 2008

the milk of human kindness

well, what a hectic couple of days. last night i spoke at the sufferage eve debate, which was a great event. thanx heaps to julie, who was the main organiser and had put a lot of energy into the event. and yes, the cupcakes were fabulous.

also fabulous was getting to meet some of the bloggers whose work i read regularly. it was the first time i'd met julie from the hand mirror, and can confirm that she's as wonderful in person as she has been by email and blog. i also met paul litterick, who writes the fundy post, and managed to have a few brief words with david slack who blogs at public address.

i have to say that nicki kaye and lynn murphy, the two speakers on the right, did well fronting up to an audience of predominantly lefties. it's a pity that no women from the right attended the event (or if they were there, they didn't own up to it!), but we still had a pretty lively question and answer session after the speakers.

today was another sufferage day event, hosted by hamilton city councillor daphne bell. daphne has been a personal inspiration to me, in terms of her integrity. she's a politician who just doesn't play politics. she is as honest and upright as they come, and she's shown me that you don't have to play games to succeed. genuinely nice people can get through and make a difference, and she's one of them.

later was the AGM for community radio hamilton, and all good news there. it's a great station, running well thanks to our excellent general manager phil grey. from my work in other community organisations, i know just how much difference a well-motivated and competent manager can make.

today i've also been thinking about those chinese babies who died from tainted milk powder. what a terrible thing it is to lose a child, but to lose one under such circumstances must be especially difficult. it just goes to show that the business sector not only needs regulation, it needs adequate enforcement of that regulation. this disaster is purely a result of greed, of cutting corners to increase profits. of course, i'm sure no-one deliberately set out to kill children or to cause significant health problems. they were just hoping to get away with a very dodgy practice. but more than anything, my thoughts are with those greiving mothers and fathers, and wishing that some good things happen in their lives some time soon.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


i have a post up at the hand mirror, about fashion week.

and while i'm concentrating on appearances, here's a good by piece by tracey barnett about why appearance is something about sarah palin that we shouldn't be focusing on.

and of course, there's all the fuss about helen clark's latest campaign photographs, which have been done with soft lighting to make her look good, with some airbrushing to the whites of her eyes. i'd have to say that i also hate how there's so much focus on photo's of miss clark and none on photos of mr key. she's got to have a photo on the hoardings, of course she'll want a nice one. can we go back to talking about policies now?

and finally, on a more substantive issue, there is opportunity for giving your views on the UNCROC report (that's the united nations convention on the rights of the child). closing date for submissions is 17 october 2008. and don't forget that submissions on the proposed changes to sexual violence legislation are due by 30 september.

Monday, 15 September 2008

full moon

tonight was chinese moon festival, with a big event at founders theatre in hamilton. nice to see such a range of people attend, and some wonderful performances. i'm always amazed at the commitment to musical performance witnessed at these events. tonight there was a lovely piece played on a bamboo flute by a young man that was quite impressive.

found this press release of interest, about the SPCA and CYFS putting in place a protocol whereby the SPCA will inform CYFS when they see cases of animal cruelty, and vice versa. the justification for this is:

"The correlation between animal abuse and human abuse is widely documented. That animal abuse is part of a web of factors that make up family violence is now generally accepted," says Robyn Kippenberger...

"Our animal welfare officers, when inspecting or uplifting animals subject to cruelty, may be the first to see signs of abuse of children in the family"

i think this is a very good move as it increases the chances of identifying at-risk children.

finally, this piece in the herald struck a chord, about the inherent racism in the promotion of beauty products to lighten the skin. this is particularly common throughout asia and africa, and i've grown up with that asian notion that fair-skinned = more beautiful. it's frustrating and extremely hard to fight. the blame on the mother highlighted towards the end of the piece seems to be so typical. when things go wrong, somehow it's always the mothers who seem to take the blame.

but more importantly, where is tapu misa? haven't seen anything from her for a couple of weeks and she was about the only writer at the herald that i read regularly. i hope she hasn't left.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

campaign launch

i've had a couple of posts up at the hand mirror, this on friday and another related one tonight.

have been extremely busy over the weekend, now that the campaign is officially on. we had an excellent campaign launch in hamilton on saturday, a joint launch of the waikato team with hon nanaia mahuta, sue moroney, martin gallagher, myself and peter tairi. hon shane jones came down from northland to join us.

it was wonderful looking at the breadth and diversity of our team. we laughingly refer to martin as the token white male, and he's kind enough to not take offence. but it really is such a contrast to the national team of tim mcindoe, david bennett and lindsay tisch, all three of them cast from exactly the same mould. no doubt they have different life experiences they bring to the team, but really, compared to our team they do look a little boring.

last night, i had to fit in 3 events over the space of a few hours, but it's all part of the fun. it surprises me how much i enjoy campaigning, given that i'd always thought of myself as an introvert (was painfully shy in my teenage years), but there you go.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

why we need kiwibank

two pieces of good news today: mobil have petrol down by 6 cents a litre (about time, not enough of a reduction, and why haven't the other companies immediately followed suit?) and the reserve bank have dropped the OCR (official cash rate) by 0.5 percent.

listening to alan bollard on checkpoint, his reasoning for the larger than expected drop of 0.25 percent was to push banks to lower their rates. you may remember that the last time the OCR was reduced, banks were using every excuse they could to not drop their lending rates. in fact, you may even remember brendan donovan and bernard hickey on radio nz urging people to hurry up and fix their mortgages, because bank lending rates were not going to drop in the near future, no matter what the reserve bank did (read my earlier post for more details on their conflicts of interest).

well thank goodness for kiwibank, who today dropped all their rates immediately after mr bollard's announcement, thereby forcing other banks to do so. now just imagine if we did not have a state-owned bank that was put the interests of nz'ers first. there would be no competitive pressure on all the overseas banks to drop their rates in any significant way - in fact, i understand that most of them aren't dropping fixed mortgage rates yet.

this means that they would have increased the profits they pay out to overseas investors at the expense of " hard-working kiwi mums and dads" ie your average nz borrower. kiwis would have continued to pay high interests rates, while the banks could access money at a significantly cheaper rate.

but because kiwibank has moved to drop rates immediately, the other banks will be forced to follow. if they don't, you the customer have the power so use it. demand that your bank offer you a lower fixed rate if you're up for renewal, and if they refuse then take your mortgage to kiwibank. customers forget about the bargaining power they have in the marketplace, and if enough of them threaten to take their business elsewhere, the overseas banks will be forced to be more competitive.

but just remember that you would not have had that power, that option to move to a cheaper alternative, without kiwibank. which makes you wonder why bill english wants to sell kiwibank "eventually". this is a bank that is turning a profit, that is providing a tangible benefit to the people of this country, and he wants to sell it off. of course, he's issued a public denial, as has john key, but their underlying philosophy has always been that they want to sell and there is no doubt that they will do so if they get a second term. in the first term, all they have to do is create conditions (ie run down the bank) to justify the sale.

oh, and as a disclaimer, let me disclose that i don't bank with kiwibank, i don't have any mortgages or loans with any financial institutions, nor do i hold any shares in such. and while i'm at it, kudos to jim anderton for creating this institution.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

money and politics

have posted today at the hand mirror, on funding of political parties.

also went to a meeting earlier in the day to help organise an event to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the universal declaration of human rights. looks like we might have something interesting happening in hamilton later in the year to celebrate this important event. will blog more on this at a later date.

Monday, 8 September 2008

a thousand apologies

a couple of things to catch up on today. first of all, i knew that nz had given it's approval to the india-US nuclear deal a few days ago, when sapna posted this on AEN. was a little horrified at the angle of the article, that US diplomacy was so powerful that it had overcome all the objections of countries like nz. felt a little better when i read no right turn's analysis of the reasons for the change in vote and the concessions gained.

another thing i totally forgot about: i was supposed to put in a plug for "a thousand apologies", having promised to do so at the diversity forum. better late than never though, and if you missed it last friday night, please do take a look this week. if you haven't heard of this new comedy show, here's a bit of detail:

The brainchild of producers Shuchi Kothari & Sarina Pearson, A Thousand Apologies is a comedy sketch series that addresses the diversity of the pan-Asian experience in contemporary New Zealand.

Edgy, irreverent, and occasionally rude, A Thousand Apologies lampoons stereotypes and situations that are familiar to many New Zealanders: from beleaguered homestay students to overqualified Indian parking wardens, possessive Indian mothers to overachieving Chinese students. It pokes fun at everyday racism. No one is immune.

Created by a group of Pan-Asian writers and directors who formed the A Thousand Apologies Collective, this series is groundbreaking comedy from an Asian New Zealander point of view. Without the straitjacket of political correctness, we’ve drawn upon our everyday experiences to explore what it’s like to be among the country’s fastest growing minority group.

Starring an ensemble cast of fresh local talent including Tarun Mohanbhai, Raj Varma, Katlyn Wong, Jamie Bowen, and Morgana O’Reilly, A Thousand Apologies features characters from all ages and all walks of life.

The time has come for Asians to stand up and be laughed with. We’re confident you’ll join us and if in the process we offend - we offer a thousand apologies!

i started to have a bit of a discussion with one of the producers about the ethics of creating a show that allowed people to laugh at ethnic minorities. this came from a comment by pio (sorry, can't remember his last name, he's the guy that does the series "some of my best friends are..." on maori television) in his address to the diversity forum on the sunday night. pio said that he never did jokes that belittled maori, because it lowered the mana of that people and gave racists more fodder. ok i'm paraphrasing, i know he said something along those lines but he said it so much better than that. basically, he was saying that he disagreed with the billy t james style of humour (though he never mentioned any names) that played on the worse stereotypes people held, and tended to embed them.

so i put this proposition to this woman, and she said, on the contrary, she believed that the only people who were allowed to poke fun at a culture were members of that particular culture. each of us got sidetracked at that point, but i would have loved to carry on that discussion. i think it's the same sort of discussion that was held in the pacific community over "bro-town".

i have to say that i can sympathise with the criticisms. i can imagine that some pacifika people would hate the portrayal of islanders all being poor, involved in crime and gangs and the like. (ok, i admit i've never seen the show, maybe it doesn't do that at all). in the same way that the african-americans used to hate the way they were portrayed by hollywood, and why "the cosby show" broke so many barriers.

on the other hand, i know how much i enjoyed "the kumars at no. 42", and how much i could identify with it even though it was more about the british experience than a kiwi one. and i don't think the kumars did anything other than to normalise british indians, and make their experience part of the mainstream. of course the characters were all stereotypical, and yet i'm sure that every british person could identify with them, not just those of indian origin. once you begin to identify with characters like that, it's much harder to hate them, or to hate the community they come from.

unfortunately, i wasn't able to watch "a thousand apologies" as we tend to have the tv off in our house over ramadan (in an effort to focus more on our spirituality). so i'm unlikely to watch the next 3 episodes either. i hope that the show will be a success, especially because it includes tarun mohanbhai, that indian guy who brought us "d'arranged marriage" and "cornershop confessions". turns out that tarun and i had very similar childhoods growing up in 1970's nz, although he was in pakuranga and i was in hamilton. we both agreed that things have much improved in this country and (sounding very much lik a couple of 90 year-olds) that kids these days just don't know how lucky they are!

and finally, i also read deborah coddington's attempt at an apology - won't link to it, but you can read russell brown's comments here, as well as a contribution in the comments section by tze ming mok. what a pathetic excuse of an apology. pretty much a "sorry to have caused offence, but did y'all have to be so mean to me?" julie talks about the gang-rape analogy (as did russell), so i won't go into it again. but this seems to be another in the vein of dr clydesdale and cameron bagrie: put out a shoddy piece of work and when critics pull apart the work on the basis of proven facts, complain about personal attacks by bullies. an apology, ms coddington, means actually being sorry for putting out incorrect facts and making unfair conclusions. when you're ready to give a real apology, let us know.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

father's day

tomorrow is the one day we set aside in the year to recognise fathers. much like mother's day, this can seem more of an insult than a celebration ie every day should be a day when father's are valued and recognised. why reserve only one day in the year for it?

but what can i say, my girls have been looking forward to father's day, and preparing for it. it means something to them, and who am i to take away that special moment they'll have with father tomorrow? at least i've instilled enough of my values into them that they don't feel the need to spend huge amounts of money to show their love. a home-made card and a home-made banana cake (with a box of chocolates) show more love and attention than any fancy gift could have done.

so a day to reflect on fatherhood. fathers don't tend to get much good press these days. the focus tends to be on the absent ones, and the ones who fail to pay their child support. as an accountant, i've seen my fair share of self-employed fathers setting up trusts or companies in order to avoid paying child support.

poneke talks about the outrageous slur on fathers by a cop in a kindergarten. as an aside, while i don't believe that 1 in 4 girls were abused by their fathers, i do believe that 1 in 4 girls has suffered childhood sexual abuse. i base this belief on the personal experiences of women i know. ok, a subjective test, but i can't believe that the sample of women i know is so much different to the norm. nonetheless, i do concur with his anger at the behaviour of this particular police officer.

then there are this lot, who are planning to give simon power a hard time to try to get some attention. as well as burning the flag, and various other goings-on. i wonder if these worthy fellows think about the kind of role-models they are providing for their own children. i have no problem with protests (having been on quite a few myself) nor with off-the-wall activism designed to capture headlines, but the kind of harassment that is being dished out here hinders the cause rather than helping it.

part of the problem with fatherhood is the changing roles of men and women in our society, of which plenty has been written by better minds than me. we're in a period when relationships are being redefined, old structures are falling apart while new ones develop. it's an odd period of change, and no wonder everyone's a little confused.

i've been thinking about what i want from the father of my children (for them of course, not for me!). these would be some of the most important:

1. that he should love them more than anything else in the world, and let them feel that love, be aware of it every moment of they're awake.

2. that he should bolster their confidence, and make sure they know that they are wonderful people. his children should not go through life feeling that they are a disappointment to him.

3. that his relationship with them should be such that they feel comfortable telling him about their problems.

4. that he should listen to them, comfort and support them in their times of sorrow and celebrate their successes with them.

5. that he should provide financial security for them while they are children, and provide them with the education and skills necessary to develop their own financial security as adults.

6. that he should accept their choices (as long as they're legal!) even when his children take a path that is different from what he wanted for them, at all times remembering that we don't own our children.

7. that he should provide boundaries for them, and let them know clearly and firmly what's right and wrong. oh and that he should live by these values as well!

i'm sure i could think of plenty more, if i spent more time at it. looking through the list, i realise that these are all things i expect from myself as a mother as well. so what makes fathering different? i'm not sure i can say, other than i know there are some things my girls will share with me that they won't share with him. had i been a mother of boys, that may have been different.

of course no-one is perfect, and not all fathers will be all those 7 things at all times. for those not-so-good days, as long as they can achieve number 1 on my list, that will be more than sufficient thank you.

of course there are many wonderful fathers out there, who struggle and sometimes come up short, but have done their best and raised wonderful children. you're stars, all of you. i hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow, and that you're families take the time to let you know how special you are.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

india-US nuclear pact

was totally not intending to post today, after being involved with cooking for 40 people (after i got back from work), but couldn't resist this:

Tomorrow the secretive 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will meet in Vienna to try again to give approval to the nuclear pact which has seen Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invest his political future in.

Despite its name the NSG reaches decisions by consensus and last month failed to do so when six small nations, led by New Zealand, refused to approve it.

It if fails to reach consensus tomorrow the deal is certain to die as negotiations will not leave enough time for the US Congress to ratify it before the departure from office of President George Bush.

it'll be really interesting to see how the vote goes. there is a lot at stake here for nz, and it seems that india has been pretty angry thus far that nz has been holding out.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

brilliant bloggers

the 4th down under feminists carnival is up at bluemilk, and the hand mirror has several posts entered (including some of mine!). looks like a whole heap of great writing.

speaking of which, i have to thank deborah at the hand mirror who has nominated me for an award, the first blog award i've received. i really love blogging at THM, it's wonderful to be part of a group of women with strong views, great writing skills and some very interesting experiences. and i love how we are able to disgree on issues, yet still contribute positively and have great discussions.
unfortunately, i don't know how to copy the logo though as you can see above, i have tried. here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

so below are some of my favourite blogs, in no particular order. i've started with ones on my blogroll:

zen and the art of peacekeeping is the new blog of the writer of frida's notebook, who i totally admire for her peace activism and her beautiful writing.

dr sapna because she's the only other kiwi indian woman blogger i know, and because i love her bolshy, in-your-face style.

in a strange land from deborah. this is not just me returning a favour. i really love the stuff she writes about, and the angles she writes from. the writing is always intelligent, meaningful and leaves a lasting impression.

notes from the grey lynn singles club by lyn whose lefty blog i enjoy reading.

and some others that i like are:

hoyden about town, who has probably been nominated heaps of times but i love this blog because it takes on the advertising world, the sporting world, and every other sphere where women are treated as sex objects rather than as whole human beings.

one angry girl, who i found when i was looking for material on an anti-porn post i did a little while back. she has put together the resources and the arguments, as well as the voices of women who have worked in the porn industry. i ended up reading the site for hours when i came across it.

rage against the man-chine by nine deuce, which is often way too radical for me. but even so, she raises issues and speaks to them in a forthright, no-nonsense way and i often find that i agree with her thoughts even though i might not always agree with the way she expresses them.

so those are my seven, but i also love:

bluemilk, who nominated the hand mirror for this award which is why i didn't nominate her as part of my seven.

abyss2hope who writes about sexual violence issues. great consciousness-raising.

and finally, i received this today by email:

In response to enquiries from some of you, any member of the public wishing to comment on the suitability of Clint Rickards being admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand can do so by writing to:
Professional Standards Director, Auckland District Law Society, PO Box 58, Shortland Street, Auckland.
Letters must be received by 4.00 pm Friday week - 12 September.

Criteria: Before granting admission, the ADLS must be satisfied that a candidate "is of good character" and "a fit and proper person" to be admitted. Yesterday some media incorrectly stated that only ADLS members can comment. The ADLS confirmed with me today that every letter received by a member of the public will be attached to Mr Rickard's application, for consideration by the Society.
Therefore, your voice (and letter) will count.

i somehow can't bear the thought of this guy standing in court defending alleged rapists and abusers. i do know they need proper defence lawyers, but it just doesn't seem right that mr rickards should be allowed to do this. any victim that has to be cross-examined by him will not be able to put his history out of her mind.

Monday, 1 September 2008


i'm going to find it difficult to post over the next month as ramadan starts from tonight. from tomorrow, we muslims will be taking no food or drink (not even water - nil by mouth as the doctors say) during daylight hours. we eat breakfast early in the morning, then eat again at sunset. this goes on for the whole month.

people often wonder why we do this. i think the response i hate most is "what? you can't eat all day? oh you poor thing". to which i say: why waste your time feeling sorry for me? at least i know that at the end of the day i'll be getting a full and tasty meal, and a nice warm bed to sleep in. what about all the people in this world who go hungry all day, who still have to work hard for a few measly dollars, and who don't know where there next meal is coming from? what about the people who don't have access to clean, running water and have to walk an hour each way to the nearest water source? what about the thousands who die each year because they don't have blankets to ward off the cold at night? those are the people who really need your sympathy, not me.

i fast during ramadan to remind me of what i have and how much i need to appreciate it. i fast to avoid arrogance; to remind me that i'm one car accident or medical diagnosis away from being a lifelong invalid, dependant on the state and the kindness of strangers. i fast to remind that life is not all about consumption, about what i have and what i can accumulate; that life is not just about me.

but it does mean that i tend to get quite tired at the end of an evening, and i'm not sure i'll have the energy at 9.30 or 10pm (which is when i usually sit down to write) to say anything coherent. but i'll try.

in case you missed it, i posted about arranged marriages earlier today at the hand mirror.

now that the labour party list is out, i can finally say that i'm a candidate for the labour party. over at the hand mirror, someone called mkura questioned why i was standing for labour:

Anjum... why?

This is the same Labour party that committed a huge modern day raupatu via the Foreshore and Seabed Act, oversaw the Oct 15 'Anti-Terror' raids, sent SAS troops to war against Afghanistan, allowed Ahmed Zaoui to be held in solitary for ... way too long and have written all kinds of clauses into immigration law discriminating against, well, anyone who isnt a WASP and the list goes on...

Why o why would you lend them a veneer of happy rainbow nation legitimacy with your good name?The colonial parliament isnt even a legal entity FFS, its an instrument of the illegal foreign occupation of these islands!


and here is my reply:

mkura, i've been thinking about how to respond to you, because i can understand how you feel. i don't think any answer i can give will satisfy you, but i can just put my reasons out there and leave you to judge them as you will.

the reason i stand for and with labour is that i'd much rather see a centre left government ruling this country than a centre-right one. under a centre-right government you would never have seen the primary health care strategy, for example, which is sheer brilliance though never recognised as such. you would never have seen working for families which targets poorer households; rather you would have had across-the-board tax cuts that benefitted the rich. you would not have had the low level of employment, the investment in skills based training, the raising of the minimum wage each year, the reduction in public debt, the investment and encouragement towards savings rather than consumption and so much more.

of course the centre-left is not perfect and has many shortcomings. it would be nice if we could move much further and faster on getting increased protections for workers, particularly low-paid workers; if we could get more money to those right at the bottom of the heap; if we could have a better solution to the foreshore and seabed; if we could have immigration law that had more compassion.

with a lot of these issues, the problem is about getting numbers on the day, and about trying to fight a media-driven hysteria to come up with the best answer that you can under the circumstances. it's about being able to persuade people with the arguments, and when that argument just doesn't get through because media won't report your side impartially (eg the herald and the EFA as the most blatant example), then you do the best you can and hope to live to fight another day to achieve a better outcome.

why? mkura, because i think it's better to get involved inside the system and try to improve it, rather than to stay outside and try to change through other forms of political activism. i think both ways of working are valid, but i've chosen to do the former. i don't know how successful i am in terms of changing things for the better, but i really do try.

that's why.