Category Archives: Media

What is a ‘major political party’? Greens to overtake UKIP in membership size

leaders
It is expected that in the coming weeks the Green Party will become the fifth largest political party in the UK by overtaking UKIP in terms of membership.

According to new figures collected by Adam Ramsay at Open Democracy, the Green Party are now just a few hundred members short of UKIP and a few thousand short of the Liberal Democrats.

Labour  190,000
Tory  149,800
SNP 92,000
Lib Dems 44,576
UKIP 41,514
Greens 40,879
Plaid  8000
BNP  500

This latest twist in membership size will only add weight to those who are calling for the Green Party to be included in the TV leaders debates. What would constitute a ‘major party’ (what Ofcom deems them not to be) if it is not more members than UKIP, beating Lib Dems in some polls and getting more votes and MEPs than the Lib Dems in May’s European Elections?

Of course, the political elephant in this very Westminster room is the SNP that currently have roughly double the membership of the Lib Dems and are being tipped by some to wipe out Labour in Scotland.

Are the SNP not a ‘major party’ in UK politics?

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Does drinking urine cure joint pains?

Hynd’s Blog reported before on how Uganda’s New Vision asked the question – ‘Is Panadol made from dead people’s brains‘.

Not to be outdone the Daily Monitor – the main rival paper to the New Vision – today asked – ‘Does drinking urine cure joint pains?’

Monitor
After offering a slightly cyptic answer which included the phrase,  “People have eaten cattle hooves for backache” the article does finish with the relieving (geddit) suggestion:

“Please seek medical treatment for your knees instead of contemplating drinking a waste”

Once again, a hat tip for some wonderfully obscure journalism.

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On international media representation of Uganda

The international media today picked up comments from Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, saying that Uganda’s tourism industry should rival that of Spain’s.

His comments, made in Uganda’s ‘New Vision’ newspaper were then picked up by Agence France-Presse (AFP) and published in global news platforms such as The Guardian.

After reading The Guardian article I did something I very rarely do – I read the comments section.

The first comment came from one Herman Lategan and said:

Grd 6

Other early commenters followed a similar theme in their comments:

Grd 1

Grd 2

Grd 3

Whilst I find the hateful and widely misinterpreted rhetoric of anti-homosexuality in Uganda deeply worrying I equally find it sad to see a country lumped with such a characteristic as its one defining feature.

Equally, I am not convinced that by choosing to not visit Uganda (let alone leaving comments under Guardian articles) you are doing anything to help alter this hateful and misunderstood rhetoric that is a much larger than just Uganda.

What I do know though is that Uganda faces a huge image problem in ‘the west’ and these comments, at least in part, are a symptom of this.

This image problem is one exasperated by painfully fictitious portrayals in the media such as the one in Series 2 of the Newsroom that I have just finished watching (other than the lyrics of Band Aid 30 I struggle to think of anything recent that is so crass).

Or, closer to home, try searching Uganda on the Guardian’s home page. All you will find are articles about the anti-homosexuality bill, the hunt for war-lord Josef Kony or bizarre novelty pieces quoting some supposedly hilarious thing an official once said.

Whilst all legitimate issues to cover they are, by themselves, playing into a mainly false perception of what Uganda is like.

In short, it’s crass, it’s unhelpful and it represents a form of low level journalism that I dislike. And importantly it’s all people in the UK (my home country, the place I love most), hears about Uganda (my home, the place that is pushing for that top spot in my heart).  

I find that really fucking sad.

I was about to write something along those lines in the comments section when this well-intentioned comment, one which many in Uganda would see as a balanced response but many in the UK will read like trolling, popped up.

Grd 5

I wasn’t sure I had the stomach to ever enter into the comments section of The Guardian let alone on a subject like this and so I headed back here to the safe shores of Hynd’s Blog.

Sane and respectful comments welcomed!

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Stroud News and Journal: ‘Couple to embark on gruelling charity run’

This is from last week’s Stroud News and Journal about my up-coming charity run aiming to raise money and awareness of the African Palliative Care Association.

It is not too late to sponsor us – just click here

Click on the article to enlarge:

Image (142)
Thanks to the SNJ for their support!

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When The Daily Mail asks to use a photograph you’ve taken this is how you respond

Very proud of my good friend and occasional Hynd’s Blog contributor, Mike Assenti, for this wonderful response to the Daily Mail when the paper approached him asking to use one of his photographs.

Mike

Follow Mike on twitter @ClipOnMike.

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The Sun’s barefaced hypocrisy on baring boobs

The sun

Today, The Sun published the ‘shaming’ story, ‘New sex game shame for topless Brit birthday girl in Magaluf’.

Putting aside whether or not it is in any of anyone’s business what a girl does on her 18th birthday it is worth just taking a moment to highlight the paper’s barefaced moral hypocrisy when it comes to baring breasts.

The Sun goes to great length ‘to celebrate’ the ‘bare-breasted beauties’ (see this 40th anniversary ‘celebration’) that they have daily on their page 3, but don’t seem to hesitate to talk of the shame that this girl is supposed to have felt for choosing to get her boobs out for a drinking game.

So which one is it – is The Sun celebrating natural beauty, in which case I personally look forward to the page 2 cock close-up juxtaposed next to the boobs, or, are we shaming people for getting their naughty bits out?

Of course The Sun is not the only paper to sink into a moral hypocrisy as they try to appeal to both middle-England’s sense of perpetual outrage and to the dispiriting fact that half naked pictures sell papers.

The other example that springs to mind is The Daily Mail’s obsession with fighting the ‘sexualisation of childhood’ whilst at the same time running pictures of 14-year-old Kylie Jenner in a “tiny wetsuit” and “skimpy bikinis”.

For what it is worth I personally feel a lot of sympathy with the ‘celebrating natural beauty’ argument but just feel that is not, and indeed, cannot, be properly ‘celebrated’ in a society and newspaper industry that is so depressingly dripping in overt sexism.

Perhaps even more importantly though, I just feel that this sort of barefaced hypocrisy deserves to be highlighted.

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Ice Bucket Challenge: Pour a bucket of water over my head? Not in Uganda I won’t

This is an article that I wrote for The Daily Telegraph about why I didn’t complete my ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ but did make a donation to Water Aid. 

telegraph 2

You can read the whole article in The Daily Telegraph by clicking here

You can watch the video below

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2014 Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to Kampala

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is being held in Kampala Uganda at the National Theater on the evenings of the 2nd and 9th September 2014. The tour consists of an incredible collection of short adventure films from across the world.

You can buy your tickets from the theater box office.

Not convinced yet?

Check out this preview:

See you there!

BANFF

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Filed under Media, Outdoors, Photography, Sport, Travel, Uganda

Only the USA voted against launching UN investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza

US No vote

Only the United States of America voted against launching an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza at the United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday. 

Twenty-nine of the council’s 47 members voted for a resolution calling for the creation of a commission of inquiry to look at “all violations” of international law.

17 members, including large parts of the EU (including the UK) abstained on the motion. 

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights had commented that, “there seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,”

Read more in the New York TimesGuardian, and Haaretz

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“Rihanna illuminati princess pushing satanic agenda”

After I posted a photo yesterday of the wonderfully obscure ‘Is Panadol made from dead people’s brains?‘ story from Uganda’s New Vision, a few people sent me through bizarre headlines they had seen from around the world.

I thought I would share my favourite of these stories.

This is the impressively odd headline that was tweeted from @TomSavoury from his time in Tanzania:

If anyone can find the text to this article please do contact me, I would love to read it.

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Is Panadol made from dead people’s brains?

The answer is of course, no. Panadol is not made from dead people’s brains.

In case there was any doubt though the New Vision, Uganda’s largest national newspaper, helped clear this up for us today. This is from page 24:

panadol
Wonderfully obscure!

A hat tip to my friend Malcolm who spotted this. 

 

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Was the highlander’s contribution to BBC’s Question Time a ‘Better Together’ plant?

You might disagree with the sentiment of this man’s contribution to last night’s ‘Question Time’ but you have to appreciate the passion…

There is debate though about whether or not he was ‘Better Together‘ plant in the audience. Personally, I think there is about as much chance of that as this chap being a ‘Yes Scotland‘ campaign plant.

 

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Hynd’s Blog in top 100 political blogs in the UK

ebuzzing 2
Hynd’s Blog has this month been catapulted to the dizzying height of the ’91st most influential political blog in the UK’ according to the online analysis site ‘e-Buzzing‘.

Hynd’s Blog is still not quite matching the pace set by Labour List, Guido Fawkes or Left Foot Forward who top the list but still…it is nice to know someone somewhere is reading my ramblings. And to whoever you are – thank you! You, the readers, are the difference between this online blogging hobby being something worthwhile or just another blogger exuding the signs of virtual insanity by talking to oneself.

So thank you, it is really appreciated that you take the time to visit Hynd’s Blog.

Well, enough of this sentimental mush….onwards and upwards.

More information:

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Journalism is not a crime #FreeAJStaff

NYT FreeAJ

This protest from the New York Times was a powerful reminder of the importance of press freedoms and the potential impact that the trial of the Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt could have.

NGOs and governments alike have spent the last 24 horus urging the Egyptian government to free the Al Jazeera staff who have been on trial for charges including belonging to and aiding a terrorist organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, and of “manipulating” images to suggest “there is a civil war that threatens to bring down the [Egyptian] state”.

The charges have long been rejected by Al Jazeera and have been condemned as a clamp down on free press by human rights groups.

It is with great sadness then that I read that the journalists have been jailed for 7-10 years.

Responding to the news, Amnesty International described the verdict as “an absolute affront to justice“.  The Guardian quickly published an article that condemned the verdict as:

a shocking blow to the principle of free speech

Perhaps the strongest condemnation was reserved for Al Jazeera English’s managing director Al Anstey who said the verdicts defied “logic, sense, and any semblance of justice”.

As a passionate defender of freedom of speech, Hynd’s Blog stands in solidarity with all those calling for the release of the Al Jazeera staff. This verdict is not just an affront on these journalists but to the principle of good journalism and freedom of speech. It is a tacit acknowledgement that anyone could be arrested for simply doing their job and reporting the news!

More information: 

hashtag_freeajstaff_451608304

 

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Palestinian human rights activist on BBC’s ‘Desert Island Discs’

Raja
Raja Shehadeh, the human rights lawyer and writer who founded the human rights organization Al-Haq, yesterday appeared on BBC radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’.

Just before he tells Kirsty Young his final choice of disc (about 38 minutes in) he makes an important point about the importance of humanizing the conflict and generating empathy between different people. A point that should be axiomatic but is so often ignored and/or forgotten.

As with all things Israel/Palestine related I need to cover myself and say that I don’t know enough about Raja to make any sweeping generalizations about him. On the occasions though that I have read his work or heard him speak he has always come across as passionate, articulate and most importantly willing to build rather than burn bridges.

This for me as a human rights activist is incredibly important. As an aspiring writer though I have also been taken aback by the beauty in which he forms his words.

A friend sent me this quote from his book ‘Palestinian Walks: Notes on a vanishing landscape‘:

To my left at the perfectly still waters of the [Dead] Sea, transformed by the sun into a luminous platinum sheet, and to my right at the formidable wall of incandescent rock along which we were travelling, towering steeply, challengingly, seemingly an impenetrable line of defence, a mighty gateway into another world. 

This imagery resonates powerfully with my own memories of walking in the West Bank.

This book, Palestinian Walks, is itself a combination of his human rights activism and his commitment to personalize the conflict that is intertwined in some truly beautiful adjectives.  It is a deeply personal reflection of walking, or not being able to walk, in the West Bank.

I think this is why I was drawn to the Desert Island Discs programme, because it is once again a deeply personal reflection on the conflict and the human rights abuses that occur there.

 

 

 

 

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How and why to return today’s free copy of The Sun newspaper

justice
When you get your free copy of The Sun in the post today, you can return it to FREEPOST, The Sun, London E98 1AX.

My suggestion is to write “Justice for the 96” or “You dropped page 3 once, why not forever?” on the front. But I trust Hynd’s Blog readers to think of their own creative slogans as well (suggestions in the comments box below please!).

Let’s get creative and tell The Sun that we don’t want their divisive, misogynistic, lying newspaper in our front rooms.

UPDATE:

Love this from my friend Ellie:

Sun

Wow, the Labour Party has just been entered into the ‘what single tweet has made you most angry/disgusted/disappointed’ competition:

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Channel 4 looks at Africa’s scandalous shortage of pain medications

“without the political will to change, vulnerable people remain deprived of humane treatment and an end to life free of pain.” 

This is the conclusion of the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Africa’s Drug Scandal’ that I helped to coordinate through my work – the African Palliative Care Association. The documentary is due to be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK at 7:35pm on Friday 30th May 2014.

I am posting about it here because it strikes me as a rare opportunity to get a large number of people thinking about an issue that is incredibly important to me.

The documentary focuses in on the issue of access to pain medications – predominantly oral morphine. Having access to such medication is something that most people in the UK take for granted. If you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness tomorrow you would assume that you would be given the appropriate pain control that would firstly enable you to live your life to the full but secondly, would enable you to die a peaceful death.

For the majority of people in the world this is simply not the case. Indeed, as ehospice reported last November, due to a lack of access to inexpensive and effective essential opioids more than 4 billion people, over half the world population, live in countries where regulatory barriers leave cancer patients suffering excruciating pain.

In countries like Senegal where the documentary is set the situation is dire. Last October Human Rights Watch found that the government only imports about one kilogram of morphine each year – enough to treat about 200 cancer patients when there is an estimated need in the tens of thousands of patients!

And so, this is one of the corner stones of my organisations work – to lobby, offer training, educate and empower people to ensure that everyone has access to the pain medications they need.

unreported world

It might seem like an abstract issue, but as Krishnan Guru-Murthy, the renowned Channel 4 reporter finds out, once you see a patient suffering in unbearable but perfectly treatable pain you instantly understand the importance of the issue.

Guru-Murthy concludes the situation amounts to “needless cruelty”.

I find it impossible to see how anyone, when faced with this reality could conclude anything different.

The programme can be watched live online here, on 4OD for 30 days after broadcast here, and you can read a preview in the Radio Times here.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

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Russell Brand – Start a revolution in the European Elections

Russell Brand
A friend of mine, Dom Aversano*, has today launched a petition calling on Russell Brand to use both his vote and his influence to stop UKIP winning the up-coming European Elections.

His petition calls on:

‘Russell Brand to vote in the European Elections to prevent a UKIP victory, and use his influence to encourage young people and European citizens** to do the same.

I think this is a worthwhile cause that supporters of all political parties (and none) can get behind.

Please do sign the petition and then share with friends.

I don’t want the UK represented by UKIP. If you feel the same as me do something.

Take action!

 

*Yeah the same Dom Aversano who secured some half a million signatures on his petition to Iain Duncan Smith.

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Stop the war coalition supports the war (against Israel’s legitimacy)

stwc_logo_transparent
The ‘Stop the war coalition’ ran a blog a coupe of days ago entitled:

Time to go to war with Israel as the only path to peace in the Middle East

I have left this headline in bold because I figure if people misinterpret what the actual article says from this ridiculous headline then so be it – it is there fault for putting such a stupid headline up in the first place.

You see, by going ‘to war with Israel’ what they actually meant was (and again I quote) ‘a legitimacy war’ with Israel. Crystal clear? No not exactly.

By legitimacy war (you find out deep into the quite long article) what they actually meant was a grass-roots movement involving the BDS campaign against interaction with Israeli settlements (that are illegal under IHL).

It takes quite a dedicated reader though to get to the last few paragraphs of this article where it finally explains what it means by ‘war’ and then ‘legitimacy war’. Most people will come away from this article thinking one of two things:

1) Stop the war now backs a one off war against Israel

2) Stop the war now wants a ‘peaceful war’ against Israel’s legitimacy (right to exist).

To put this into a little context, the biggest gripe that most people who are broadly pro-Israel has with the BDS movement is that they feel it sometimes calls into question Israel’s legitimacy. It’s right to exist. This fear is based on a real danger. There are those who would gladly see the state of Israel disappear of maps altogether.

It is curious then that this article decides to refer to BDS as a ‘legitimacy war’.

Is this sloppy language or purposeful provocation?

Even for those who bothered to skip down to the conclusion would have been met with the phrase:

It is important that world public opinion reject as meaningless the diplomatic charade of peace talks while the fate of a people continues to be daily sacrificed on the altar of geopolitics.”

They must be able to see how this would be interpreted can’t they? It sounds like a justification for walking away from peaceful negotiations and to resort to other means.

As I say, I reading the article I couldn’t decide if the language was just sloppy or a purposeful provocation.

That was until I got to the very bottom and saw the author.

Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, was, from 2008 to 2014, United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”

I can’t believe that he would have been unaware of the context I have described or the consequences of his words. Which, worryingly, leads me to the only conclusion I can see available – it was a form of purposeful provocation.

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Filed under Human rights, Media, Middle East, War

Dear Metro, Is sexual assault really so funny that it makes you snort tea through your nose?

metro
Dear Metro, Is sexual assault really so funny that it makes you snort tea through your nose?

I ask because in your article 27 things men do in bed that women hate you seem to suggest that the list your readers provided was ‘hilarious’.

Now, I might have missed something here but I am not quite seeing what is ‘hilarious’ about (for example) number 16:

‘Being so aggressive with their hands during foreplay that they pretty much give you internal bleeding and bruising.’

Or number 18:

‘Pulling your hair so hard you scream and your eyes water.’

The list goes on, biting, putting ‘objects inside’ someone, anal sex without asking or using lube…

These answers are all quite legitimate answers to ‘things [some] men do in bed that [some] women hate’ but let’s be clear…what some of the readers of the Metro have described is sexual assault.

Personally, I’m not seeing anything too funny in that and I find it amazing that both a journalist and then an editor have.

 

UPDATE: the journo who wrote the original article is evidently looking for more laughs. An hour ago she tweeted:

 

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