No Google suggestions for what I think you are thinking

As most of you are aware, when typing a search term in to Google, the omniscient search engine usually helps you with a slight assist: it lists a bunch of guesses for what it thinks you intend to type even before you are done typing. It prognosticates based on other people’s searches. Go try it yourself. Type in “Sepia” and see what suggestions it offers you.

Often times the suggestion are really silly, often times scary.

I simply could not believe that the following was true so I tried it myself. It was true. I found this at Digg.com today. Click to enlarge the image.

Understand what I am showing you here? Either by their own decision or at someone’s request, Google is actively suppressing its own suggestions feature when someone types in “Islam is…” None of the other religions seem to get such special treatment. Interestingly, the suggestions are also suppressed if someone types in “Christians are,” “Hindus are,” “Muslims are,” etc. My point? This sort of selective suppression is incredibly stupid. People, however bigoted in their intentions, should be able to search for anything they want. This is akin to a form of censorship in my view. It is also kind of patronizing. Does Google think followers of Islam need extra shielding from bad intentions? I don’t want this same treatment given to the other religions either. I should be able to search for hateful terms if I want to.

It looks like Wired.com saw the same Digg post I saw and decided to ask Google. Here is the response they received:

But Google says it’s just a software problem.

“This is a bug and we’re working to fix it as quickly as we can,” a Google spokesman told Wired.com.

The suggestion feature relies on your previous searches and searches from users globally. Google says it filters out “pornographic terms, dirty words, and hate and violence terms.”[link]

I’m not sure I buy the “software bug” explanation.

Continue reading

Mother Murdered for Being Strict

Danish Minhas.jpgI think most Desis can empathize with the overly strict Desi household growing up as a teenager in the U.S. But this story has a tragic ending. (h/t Muna)

From the beginning, Houston police say, they doubted 17-year-old Danish Moazzam Minhas’ story about finding his mother’s bloody body in their apartment.

> The Lee High School student told investigators he’d spent the entire night out and came upon the crime scene when he returned home that morning in late November. The attacker, Minhas told detectives, must have surprised 43-year-old Tabassum Khan while she was counting money she planned to spend on bills and the traditional Muslim feast of Eid. [[chron](http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6801520.html)] Fingerprints left at the scene were tracked back to a classmate of Minhas. The classmate, Nur Mohamed, told cops he was hired by Minhas to kill his mother for $4,000. He only collected $1,000. > He is now charged with solicitation of capital murder, authorities said, and has confessed to arranging the killing because he felt his mother was too strict. Continue reading

Flying While Brown Deja Vu

airport-security-line.jpgWith news that the failed Nigerian underwear bomber was an actual real threat, the international community is rumbling in rapid reactions. My plans of going to South Asia this next month went awry when just a couple of weeks ago India suddenly changed their visa regulations; all people holding a tourist visa to India now need to wait two months before re-entry, leaving many tourists who use India as a home base to travel around South Asia in flux. The reasoning given? American Headley’s support in the Mumbai bombing. (FYI, rules changing daily on this, so keep updated if you will be traveling soon).

In addition to heightened visa security, the world is experiencing heightened airport security as well.

TSA is mandating that every individual flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening. The directive also increases the use of enhanced screening technologies and mandates threat-based and random screening for passengers on U.S. bound international flights.[tsa]

I haven’t had to travel on an airline yet but have been following tweets of my world traveling friends and it seems that there is no consistency to airport security. I am quickly reminded of how in the post 9/11 backlash racial profiling at airports were rampant and I needed to have a special phone call made each and every time I flew because I had the classic Muslim last name. It seems like the new TSA regulations are setting up racial profiling to be acceptable all over again.

According to information currently known about the new standards, all passengers traveling to the United States from 14 countries will be subject to heightened security screenings, including full-body pat-downs and luggage searches. These countries include Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

> The new standards will undoubtedly lead to the targeting of passengers from Muslim-majority countries. Rather than developing more effective policies that focus on behavior, the new standards categorically target individuals for additional scrutiny based upon ethnicity, religion, and country of origin. Moreover, the measures promote existing misperceptions about these communities as threats to security and harm the U.S. government’s reputation, both domestically and abroad, towards ensuring civil rights and equality.[[saalt](http://saalt.org/attachments/1/South%20Asian%20Organizations%20Express%20Concerns%20About%20New%20Airport%20Security%20Screening%20Standards.pdf)] Continue reading

MexiDesi

Seems like Abhi may have more in common with turban wearing LA Mayor Villaraigosa than we thought. (via Razib)

Indians and Mexicans.png

In world wide context South Asians and mestizos can be viewed as somewhat analogous; a stable admixture between West and East Eurasian elements. Of course, the “East Eurasian” ancestry of mestizos consists of the New World descendants of Paleolithic Siberians, while those of South Asians are the ancient long resident populations of that region of the world.[geneexpression]

It is kind of a surprising finding. As an activist that works in the umbrella political category of Asian American and Pacific Islander, it’s interesting to see that Houston Gujaratis have more in common with LA Mexicans than East Asians. Of course, one is a construct of political identity and the other one is purely genetics.

Still. I totally see this as potential marriage fodder for Desis who want to prove to their parents that they have more in common with their Mexican boy/girlfriend. I guess Columbus wasn’t that far off then, was he? Continue reading

And There’s Another One. Hansen Clarke.

Hansen Clarke.jpgAt first there was Gov. Bobby Jindal from Louisiana. Then there was Nikki Haley from South Carolina. Now, there is a new contender in the Desi-Running-For-Governor category. Hansen Clarke from Michigan announced today that he is running for Governor in 2010.

State Sen. Hansen Clarke tossed his hat in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday, only hours after Lt. Gov. John Cherry withdrew from the race, vowing “no more excuses and no more passing the buck.” The 52-year-old Detroit Democrat, [joins] an increasingly crowded primary field…[michiganmessenger]

> Clarke served six years in the House before being elected twice to the Senate. A lawyer, he also ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Detroit. [[chicagotribune](http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-mi-governorsrace-cl,0,4191053.story)] I know what you are thinking. He’s 52?!?!? At least, that’s what everyone around me is saying. I like to think Desis age well. And yes, he is Desi. Bangladeshi, to be accurate. > Hansen Hashem Clarke… was first elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. He is son of Mozaffar Ali Hashem, a Bangladeshi, and Telma Ali, an US citizen. His father was born at Sridhara village of Beani Bazar upazila in Sylhet district. [[newnation](http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/01/02/news0109.htm)] >

> An only child, Hansen Clarke grew up in a working class neighborhood on Detroit’s lower east side. His father passed away when he was only eight years old and his mother supported the family with a job as a school crossing guard. Food stamps helped fill in the gaps. [[michigansenate](http://www.senate.michigan.gov/clarke/about.php)] In 2007, Hansen went with the [Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Committee (BAPAC)](http://www.bapac-us.org/) to Bangladesh. Here’s [a video of him speaking ](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDSeF3YyOvY)to his father’s village on that trip and it seems like [he's trying to build a partnership with Bangladesh](http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/01/02/news0109.htm) (though how much of it is campaign talk, who knows). Continue reading

Everybody Loves @iamsrk

twitter.jpg

Ladies and gentlemen, something truly significant happened on the second of January. (No, I’m not referring to your hangover, although doubtless that was epic as well.) On January 2, Shah Rukh Khan joined Twitter. Yes, that’s right. Time for all of you Twitter-haters to finally perk up and pay attention. Shah Rukh Khan, that’s King Khan to you, joins Mallika Sherawat, Priyanka Chopra, Dino Morea and other Bollywood stars who use the social media site to connect directly with fans throughout the world. As a Twitter addict and Bollywood fan, I admit I’m a little excited about this development. When I first heard (through Twitter of course) that SRK had joined Twitter, he had a mere 1200+ followers. Right now he has 24,947 followers, a number that will no doubt double in the next few days, perhaps even hours. Continue reading

UPDATED: Q&A with Hassan Ali Malik

UPDATE: An earlier post incorrectly implied that Hassan is still a member of POPO. The post has been revised to correct that.

Over the last few months, half a dozen people have told me that I had to check out POPO, a band based in Philadelphia and composed of the three Malik brothers: Zeb, Shoaib and Hassan (who has since left the band). These guys have been around the music scene for a while, their sound has been called “post-hip-hop,” a fusion of punk, hip-hop and world music. In 2007, they opened for Nine Inch Nails and this past year, they signed with Mad Decent records, the record label created by Diplo (who once collaborated with and dated M.I.A.) According to the story, Diplo saw POPO play at a club in Atlanta and was so excited by their music that he detonated a firecracker onstage and was thrown out by the management. I caught up with 24-year old Hassan Ali Malik, POPO’S former drummer and sometimes-vocalist to ask him a little about his time with the band.

sunny ali.jpg

Is the band called “The PoPo” or “POPO”? The Internet has a lot of variations….

It went from “The popo’s” to “The PoPo” to “POPO.” Next will maybe be just “PO.” Or “poo poo.”

When did POPO begin?

The popos ( now “POPO”) was started by Jahan Zeb and Mike Collins in the late nineties. They played reggae.

How was the name POPO chosen?

POPO? I didn’t, but it stuck ’cause we liked the way it sounded phonetically. Doesn’t really have anything to do with the police or anything… Continue reading