Archive for December, 2007

Top four games of the year

Becuase I can’t think of five:

1. Football Manager 2008 (this game has a reserved slot every year in my list).
2. Call of Duty 4 (might be double up as a useful piece of propoganda, but from a gaming perspective it is very good).
3. Halo 3 (this had to be here).
4. World in Conflict.


Top 10 books of the year

Didn’t do as much reading as I wanted to. But here’s my list:

1. Exit Ghost by Philip Roth (2007 was my year to read American literary greats and Roth won).
2. The Ugliness of the Indian Male and Other Propositions by Mukul Kesavan.
3. Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
4. Parachutist at Fine Leg: Unusual Occurrences from Wisden edited by Gideon Haigh (Up Pompey came very close as sports book of the year).
5. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.
6. The Triumph of the Political Class by Peter Oborne (see this link).
7. On Suicide Bombing by Talal Asad (I doubt many will get his argument, opting to express outrage at his conclusions).
8. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon.
9. The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World by Rupert Smith.
10. Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore (selected largely because it reminded me of my first ever real attempt to write ‘properly’: research, footnotes and everything. I chose to write a biography of Stalin at school for a history/humanities class).

2007 offerings by Douglas Copeland (JPod) and JG Ballard (Kingdom Come) were disappointing.

Books I wanted to read include The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism (I’ll get around to it one day, YB), How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read, The Septembers of Shiraz, Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, The Road, The Mughal Emperors, The End of Tolerance and In the Country of Men. This list could actually go on.

Malaysia reverses ban on Christians using ‘Allah’

The Malaysian government has reversed a decision to ban a Christian newspaper using the word Allah to refer to God.

The government had threatened to refuse to give the Weekly Herald a publishing permit if it continued to use the word.

The paper’s editor said the word had long been used by Christians to refer to God in the Malay language.

The ruling was immediately condemned by civil rights and Christian groups in Malaysia, who said it infringed their right to practice their religion.

But Malaysia’s internal security department demanded the word be removed, saying only Muslims could use it.

Ali Eteraz had written about this (and more), while Mere Islam had pointed out that this ban went against Islam’s claim to be a universal religion.

Malaysians argue over word for ‘God’

Malaysians argue over word for ‘God’

A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the government after it decreed that the word “Allah” can only be used by Muslims.

In the Malay language “Allah” is used to mean any god, and Christians say they have used the term for centuries.

Opponents of the ban say it is unconstitutional and unreasonable.

It is the latest in a series of religious rows in largely Muslim Malaysia, where minority groups claim their rights are being eroded.

A spokesman for the Herald, the newspaper of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, said a legal suit was filed after they received repeated official warnings that the newspaper could have its license revoked if it continued to use the word.

“We are of the view that we have the right to use the word ‘Allah’,” said editor Rev Lawrence Andrew.


Russian supplies Iran with air defence system ‘better than American version’

Russia is to supply Iran with a new and lethal anti-aircraft system capable of shooting down American or Israeli fighter jets in the event of any strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iran yesterday confirmed that Russia had agreed to deliver the S-300 air defence system, a move that is likely to irk the Bush administration and gives further proof of Russia and Iran’s deepening strategic partnership.

Iran’s defence minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, told Iranian TV that the deal had been agreed under a previous “contract”. He did not say when the system would be shipped to Iran.

Russian defence experts yesterday acknowledged that the missile system, originally designed in the 1970s, would significantly enhance Iran’s ability to shoot down enemy aircraft.

The S-300 had a range far superior to that of the US Patriot system, experts said. It could also shoot down cruise and ballistic missiles, they added.

“It’s a formidable system. It really gives a new dimension to Iran’s anti-aircraft defences,” said one Russian defence expert, who declined to be named.

“It’s purely a defensive system. But it’s very effective. It’s much better than the US system. It has good radar. It can shoot down low-flying cruise missiles, though with some difficulty.”

The sale follows Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit to Iran in October to attend a meeting of Caspian Sea nations, the first trip by a Russian head of state to Tehran since Stalin attended a 1943 summit with Churchill and Roosevelt.

34 votes needed to defeat 42 day detention bill

Gordon Brown faces a humiliating parliamentary defeat over plans to allow police to hold terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge.

A survey of Labour MPs by The Independent has uncovered a growing insurrection. Only 34 votes are needed to defeat the detention plans and at least 38 MPs – enough to wipe out Mr Brown’s Commons majority of 67 – are vowing to oppose controversial moves to extend the existing 28-day maximum detention period.

The scale of the rebellion will alarm Labour whips determined to hit the ground running next year after the Prime Minister’s disastrous end to 2007.

It emerged as Sir Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions, delivered a damning verdict on Mr Brown’s 42-day plans. He argued that the 28-day limit was working well, accusing ministers of wanting to pass laws based on a theoretical threat. “I think the basic point is whether you want to legislate on the basis of hypotheticals or whether you want to legislate on the basis of the evidence that we have acquired through practice,” Sir Ken told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One. “It seems to me that if you are legislating in an area which is going to curtail civil liberties to a significant extent, it is better to proceed by way of the evidence and the evidence of experience.”

The struggle over 42-day detention, which ministers say is necessary because of the increasing complexity of terrorist conspiracies, is due to come to a head within two months. Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and minor parties have already vowed to oppose the moves, which means that Mr Brown risks losing his first Commons vote since taking the reins.

Earlier government suggestions of a 56-day limit have been dropped and Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, has launched a campaign to win support for the new proposal. She has stressed that there would be tough judicial and parliamentary safeguards on each occasion that the existing 28-day limit was exceeded.

But, although MPs praise her efforts to consult them, there is no sign of the rebellion abating.

Director of public prosecutions rejects increasing detention without charge to 42 days
Not a Day More

Bhutto ‘killed in bomb blast’

Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been killed in a presumed suicide attack, a spokesman for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) says.

Other reports said Ms Bhutto had only been injured and taken to hospital.

Ms Bhutto had just addressed a rally of PPP supporters in the town of Rawalpindi when the rally was hit by a blast.

At least 15 other people are reported killed in the attack.

Ms Bhutto has twice been the country’s prime minister and was campaigning ahead of elections due in January.

GeoTV is also reporting this. It is all over the major newswires.


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