Considering that past winners have included the frothing-at-the-mouth zionut Mellanie Phillips, it would perhaps be more accurate to rename the Orwell Prize the Orwellian Prize. Here is Ross McKibbin on this year’s winner for the best political blog. Here is Ross McKibbin on this year’s winner for the best political blog.
The Orwell Prize committee this year introduced a new prize for political blogging. It has been won by an anonymous ‘English detective’ who calls himself ‘NightJack’. His posts are a mixture of general comment and diary accounts of apparently typical days in the lives of English policemen. They are vigorously written and sometimes perfectly reasonable. NightJack regrets that the police today are kitted out as imperial stormtroopers, he has little nostalgia for the old canteen culture, he laments the mass of paperwork that has been foisted on the police (like everyone else in the public sector) and fairly argues that if plea-bargaining is to become entrenched it ought to be formalised.
On a slightly different note, Ángel Páez of IPS reports about the shocking state of water distribution in Peru. Not only do 8 million people (out of a population of 28 million) lack access to piped water but the inhabitants of the capital’s slums pay almost 8 times more than Lima’s super-rich elite for access to clean water.
In Lomas de Manchay, an area of slum-covered hills outside of the Peruvian capital that is home to 50,000 people, mainly poor indigenous migrants from the highlands, clean water is worth gold – almost literally.
Local residents of the shantytown pay 3.22 dollars per cubic metre of water, compared to just 45 cents of a dollar that is paid a few blocks away, across the main avenue, in Rinconada del Lago, one of Lima’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan’s Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner at the Oscars last night. Writer-activist Arundhati Roy was asked her opinion of the film’s global success about a week back, and here is what she had to say (see also this recent review):
People are selling India’s poverty big time both in literature and films. As they say, there is lots of money in poverty today. I am not against showing slums, but depicting them in a depoliticised manner, as has been done in the film, is quite unfortunate. Films do not show the real poor. Even if they are depicted, it’s not the true picture. The real poor are not shown in films because they are not attractive. Poverty sells but the poor do not. The film gives false hope to the poor that they too could become millionaires one day. Watching Slumdog Millionaire was like speeding on a highway with lots of potholes. The screenplay of the film is quite out of context and it feels as if a Harvard accent has been given to characters that are straight out of the Chicago black neighbourhood.