Want to know why liberals/lefties feel so let down by Obama? Here’s why

The US president fails to stand up to ignorance and bigotry – again!

From Reuters:

Ask any travel agent, globetrotter or gap-year student: the Golden Temple in Amritsar, north India, is both a site of pilgrimage for Sikhs and a must-see on any tourist's Indian itinerary.

But India's most famous foreign tourist, US President Barack Obama, who will tour the country next month, may have to forgo his visit.

It was supposed to be Obama's only religious appointment on the four-day trip to India, but a politically sensitive row over the required headwear for the temple threatens to derail his plans.

According to local media reports, the president's team has baulked at the idea of Obama wearing a headscarf or skullcap -- required for any visitor to the holy site -- due to fears it may feed rumours circulating about his alleged Muslim beliefs.

The sight of droves of foreign tourists sporting colourful headscarves, most provided by the temple, is as much a part of the dazzling experience as the temple itself.

Reportedly, the president's aides proposed a modified version of Obama's now customary baseball cap as a compromise. But sports caps fall foul of Temple regulations, placing him in a delicate position.

I'm lost for words. Speechless. Barack – get a backbone!

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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