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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Burma's Monks - Buddha's Warriors - Jawahara Saidullah

Jawahara is a friend of mine and she has written this heartfelt piece which has been quoted on slate also. There is an interesting comparison for us. What is happening in Burma sounds so familiar to us. Army's brutality, section 144, populace's yearning for real democracy...yet what is interesting to note is the reaction of mai-baap log.

How they treat the generals here and the generals there. ?

well, read on! -t

On the other side is the military junta that has terrorized Burma for years. There is the ban on public gatherings of more than five people. And the warnings that these protesters will be dealt with. The same way they dealt with the rebellion of 1988, when 3000 student members lost their lives to the military.

And yet Burma is marching again because it cannot do so. Will they prevail? And if they don't will it still be worth the effort? That is a question that only those 100,000 can answer.

The history of Burma and India is intertwined. As is the history of my family with Burma. And today as I hear about the monks who march despite the warnings of reprisals, these memories float past my vision.

My great-grandfather immigrated there and built a successful business. My mother was born and grew up there, though she moved to India (with her family) as a child refugee, when they caught the last boat to leave Rangoon harbor without being blown up. Burmese is the language my mom and her sisters spoke when they didn't want their kids to understand.

[for more click on the heading.]

The True Face of Jehadis by Amir Mir- book review by amrita rajan

These are men of different beliefs and different goals, working in tandem or on their own in a murky world where loyalties shift with dizzying speed and end objectives quickly dilute themselves into survival tactics. He introduces us to the Pakistani Army, the ISI, various terror outfits that frequently change their names to keep one step ahead of alerts that go out from international agencies, and the main players in these circles such as Dawood Ibrahim (a man he pegs as someone possibly more or as dangerous as Osama bin Laden without the kind of worldwide notoriety the latter has achieved) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (whose connection to terror in Pakistan has been overshadowed by his decision to join Osama bin Laden).

He breaks down the acronyms so many of us see on a daily basis - such as the HuM, LeT and JeM, etc - into portraits of real people rather than the one massive block of terror organizations they sometimes appear to be. It’s a world full of rivalry and warfare, death and betrayal.

Eventually, one gets the impression that one is peeping into an alternate universe. I came away at the end of the book unable to comprehend the daily reality of these men (and women). I can see them clearly, but their lives are not merely foreign, they are thoroughly alien.

[caveat: ams is a fellow contributing editor at desicritics - for more click on the heading]

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Cellphone Without Borders By DAVID POGUE

It’s amazing the way the Internet keeps toppling traditional businesses. Telegrams have gone away. Music CD sales are tanking. Newspapers are hurting.

One especially lucrative business, however, has somehow escaped the Internet’s notice so far: international cellphone calls.

That’s about to change. Early next month, a small company called Cubic Telecom will release what it’s calling the first global mobile phone.

Cubic points out that this feature alone is a life-changer for people who have moved, for example, to the United States from overseas. Their family back home can keep in touch for the price of a local call.

I signed up for numbers in Paris, London and Barcelona, and then asked friends in those cities to call me. They dialed local numbers, and my phone rang in New York — very slick. Voice quality was typical of Internet calls: perfectly understandable, but slightly muffled, with a quarter-second to one-second voice delay.

Even that’s not the end of this phone’s possibilities. For a flat $42 a month, you can turn on its unlimited Wi-Fi calling option. It lets you receive unlimited unmetered calls to any numbers in the world from Internet hot spots, or make them for a penny a minute. Either way, you have little fear of racking up your bill.

[for more click on the heading]

Getting Lost In Translation: Ahmadinejad And The Media - By Ali Quli Qarai

First I want to make some remarks about that now world-famous statement of President Ahmadinejad at Columbia: “We do not have homosexuals in Iran of the kind you have in your country.” The American media conveniently ignored the second, and crucial, part of his sentence as something redundant.

What he was saying is that homosexuality in the US and homosexuality in Iran are issues which are as far apart from one another as two cultural universes possibly can be. They are so dissimilar that any attempt to relate them and bring them under a common caption would be misleading. “Homosexuality is not an issue in Iran as it is in present-day American society.” This was, apparently what was saying in polite terms.

[for the rest click on the heading]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Reform, Reprogram, Reset: Islam's Fifth Stage?

In my last fiqh class the professor explained the development and evolvement of Muslim thoughts with regard to fiqh and arriving at a useful and workable methodology to be used in fiqh. He identified 4 stages which are as follows:

Stage 1 – The time of the 4 rightful caliphs when the sahaba (companions) mainly practiced shura (consultation)

Stage 2 – Afterwards by the end of the first century of Hijra, different schools were established in various cities, which also used shura to arrive at a local ijma (consensus)

Stage 3Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shafie (or in short Imam Shafie) (767 – 820), who distinguished between what was agreed upon in various local schools and that which was agreed upon by all schools unanimously, i.e. between local and universal/uniform ijma (consensus) and he placed more importance on universal ijma, which was evidently much more restrictive.

Stage 4 – At the turn of the twentieth century with the emergence of reformers such as Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1839–1897), Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) and Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) who refused blind taqleed (imitation of and adherence to what was established before) and called for reopening the doors of ijtihad (independent interpretation or personal reasoning)

[for more on the fifth stage click on the heading]

Other Colors: Essays and a Story By Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely - review by Michael McGaha

Pamuk, who started out as a painter, calls them "word pictures." Most of them are marked by the same elegiac tone he put to such effective use in his memoir "Istanbul: Memories and the City." The story titled "To Look Out the Window" was published in Granta in 1999 as "Famous People" in a fine translation by Erdag Göknar. A minor masterpiece, it's a bittersweet evocation of Pamuk's wealthy extended family's life in Istanbul in the winter of 1959 as seen through the eyes of 7-year-old Orhan. Rarely have I come across such an utterly convincing re-creation of how a child perceives the adult world. Maybe Pamuk is so good at this because he has never really grown up. What is most distinctive about his writing is his reckless, childlike honesty. He sees things that the rest of us prefer to overlook and tells the truth as he sees it without considering the consequences to himself or others. Naturally, this has gotten him into considerable trouble with his family, his friends and the Turkish government.

[for more click on the heading]

‘You don’t have to meet someone but it’d be nice’ - farooq ahmed

Finding a date is hard enough but for many modern Muslims in the west it’s even tougher. Meeting in bars is prohibitively difficult due to Islamic temperance laws. A similar injunction against unmarried Muslim men and women canoodling, or even spending unchaperoned time together, rules out many other forms of dating. And thus, young Muslims find themselves torn between the values of their immigrant parents, who champion semi-arranged or assisted marriages, and the dominant western culture, which prizes “love marriages”, usually preceded by some form of casual dating.

At the first table, the women gave us their condensed biographies. There was a Nasa engineer, an ophthalmologist, a schoolteacher, a dentist, and someone who had once portrayed Princess Jasmine from Aladdin at Disneyland. Like us, they were mainly Indian and Pakistani, Egyptian and Saudi, but many more were dressed in non-western garments – sequins trailed from prismatic headscarves that occasionally shimmered in the ballroom’s overhead lights.

Over the next two hours, I met nearly 100 women, averaging about a woman a minute. The faces of the first five are among the few that I remember well, not only because the Nasa engineer had some sort of bouffant squirrel’s nest for hair but also because Princess Jasmine, who looked nothing like the character she had played, was one of the more engaging women I met that Saturday, witty and sarcastic with mischievous eyes.

[thanks are due zehra for this link. to read more click on the heading]

A friend to Hezbollah, an enemy of logic - robert fulford

Aspectre is haunting global capitalism, the spectre of Naomi Klein. Wherever globalists wander, they find her standing in their way, sternly shaking her finger like a schoolteacher handing out bad marks. If supporters of free trade celebrate a success, like China, Klein calls it "corporatism" and reminds us that many millions of Chinese remain impoverished. When globalism fails, in Argentina or Indonesia, Klein quickly identifies the enemies of humanity, the "Chicago Boys," University of Chicago economists who destroy social democracy everywhere.

The way she frames her views is at least as interesting as the views themselves. "Shock doctrine," for example, sticks in the mind even if no one understands it. It means everything and nothing. "Shock" refers, among many other things, to CIA-funded brainwashing experiments at McGill in the 1950s, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and any demand from the International Monetary Fund for payment of a loan.

[this is an interesting take on naomi klein by robert fulford. earlier on i linked her talk with alan greenspan. to read more click on the heading]

India: All Write, that's enough - Raja M

this is a follow up on the earlier post:)

here is an interesting article on indians writing in english. - t

Penguin opened shop in India with seven titles in 1987, but currently has more than 2,000 titles. Penguin India, Asia's largest English-language publisher, declared that it is targeting US$50 million sales this year.

From Mulk Raj Anand, R K Narayan, Anita Desai, Salman Rushdie, and Vikram Seth to Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy and Vikram Chandra, India has its fair share of successful resident or, more usually, non-resident writers of English fiction.

Dean Mahomed (1759-1851) may not be too familiar to the nominating committee for the Nobel literature prize, but he is credited as being the first Indian author in English, as well as opening the first Indian restaurant outside India (in England).

The unassuming R K Narayan (1906-2001) lived to be one of the finest Indian writers in English, with his honest, delightful novels set in the fictitious southern Indian town of Malgudi and narrated in simple English spiced with his special sardonic brand of humor. He is probably the only Indian author in English whose novels were translated into a hit Hindi movie (Guide) and a prime-time television serial (Malgudi Days).

[for more click on the heading]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Arab poetry's sometimes subversive answer to "American Idol" - Saifedean Ammous,

is it our culture? poverty? the high cost of books? reading preferences? or the lack of it?

with a population of over 170 million (estimate) the first edition of a poetry book published numbers between 1000 to 2000...fiction and non-fiction by name brand authors fares only marginally better...

over in the electronic media there is hardly any bait-baazi competitions...perhaps folkslazily sit back and are content with antakshiri

that is why i found this intersting-t

The Arab World has had its own enormously successful pop music answer to American Idol in Superstar which has concluded its fourth season with resounding success, unearthing some real stars of today's thriving Arabic cheesy pop scene. But a few months ago, the governors of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi took a bold move by organizing a similar contest for poets. This comes as another step in Abu Dhabi's ambitious attempts to use its petro-dollars to transform itself into the capital of Arab culture, and one of the world's leading cultural centers -- a Florence to Dubai's London.

Perhaps the only thing that is as hard as translating Arab poetry to other languages is trying to explain to non-Arabs the extent of poetry's popularity, importance and Arabs' strong attachment to it. Whereas poetry in America has been largely reduced to a ceremonial eccentricity that survives thanks to grants and subsidies from fanatics who care about it too much, in the Arab world it remains amongst the most popular forms of both literature and entertainment. Whereas America's top poets may struggle to fill a small Barnes & Noble store for a reading, Palestine's Mahmoud Darwish has filled football stadiums with thousands of fans eager to hear his unique recital of his powerful poems. And while in America a good poetry collection can expect to sell some 2,000 copies, in the Arab world the poems of pre-Islamic era poets are still widely read today in their original words, as are those from the different Islamic eras leading to the present. The late Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani had a cult following across the Arab world, and his romantic poems have for decades constituted standard covert currency between lovers.

[for more click on the heading]

Thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on - By Simon Rabinovitch

LONDON (Reuters) - About 16,000 words have succumbed to pressures of the Internet age and lost their hyphens in a new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.

And if you've got a problem, don't be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby).

"People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they're not really sure what they are for," said Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, the sixth edition of which was published this week.

[for more click on the heading]

Alan Greenspan vs. Naomi Klein on the Iraq War, Bush's Tax Cuts, Economic Populism, Crony Capitalism and More

NAOMI KLEIN: ..., Mr. Greenspan. Are you aware that, according to the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources?
ALAN GREENSPAN:...But what I was saying is that my reason for being pleased to see Saddam out of office had nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction. It had to do with the potential threat that he could create to the rest of the world.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yes, I realize that, but he was not simply deposed. The US invaded Iraq, occupied it and took control over its resources. And under international law, that it is illegal to wage wars to gain access to other countries’, sovereign countries’, natural resources.
ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. No,.. (after fudging and justifying the action as 'premptive he sadded this -t) And as you point out, yes, I am a believer in the rule of law, and I think it is a critical issue, not only for domestic economies, but for the world economy as a whole.

AMY GOODMAN: ... “Between April 2003 and June 2004, [$12 billion] in US currency -- much of it belonging to the Iraqi people -- was shipped from the Federal Reserve to Baghdad, where it was dispensed by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Some of the cash went to pay for projects and keep ministries afloat, but, incredibly, at least $9 billion has gone missing, unaccounted for, in a frenzy of mismanagement and greed.”

Alan Greenspan, when you were head of the Federal Reserve, how much knowledge do you have of this? Did you investigate this? And did you investigate this? Were you aware of this at the time?

ALAN GREENSPAN:...There was, as far as I can judge, a huge drain of the resources into areas which nobody to this day can understand or follow...

[click on the heading to read this in full]

The War on Gaza's Children - Saree Madkisi

While talking of ramadaan's manifestations...fasting, zik'r, prayers, piety, charity and city traffic, political deal-makings, supreme court deliberations...and the goodies that we invariably over eat come iftar... we (blasphemously) avoid any meaningful discussion of the plight of other muslims -t

An entire generation of Palestinians in Gaza is growing up stunted: physically and nutritionally stunted because they are not getting enough to eat; emotionally stunted because of the pressures of living in a virtual prison and facing the constant threat of destruction and displacement; intellectually and academically stunted because they cannot concentrate -- or, even if they can, because they are trying to study and learn in circumstances that no child should have to endure.

Even before Israel this week declared Gaza "hostile territory" -- apparently in preparation for cutting off the last remaining supplies of fuel and electricity to 1.5 million men, women and children -- the situation was dire.

As a result of Israel's blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish the populace, about 70% of Gaza's workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the United Nations, and about 80% of its residents live in grinding poverty. About 1.2 million of them are now dependent for their day-to-day survival on food handouts from U.N. or international agencies, without which, as the World Food Program's Kirstie Campbell put it, "they are liable to starve."

[for more click on the heading]

Pets and Persons - abbas raza

a wonderful tale of relationship - pet lovers are a notch above the rest. chances are that a greater percentage of pet lovers are more caring - for fellow human beings - t

Now, after much research, Freddy was taken to a different vet, who criticized the first one for not having performed a standard series of blood tests to rule out common feline ailments, and when these tests were finally administered, the news was shocking: Freddy's blood came back positive for Feline Infectious Peritonitis, an incurable viral disease (related to the human SARS virus) which quickly kills cats in a most painful way, causing them to lose their eyesight, and their organs to fail rapidly one by one. She already had many of the symptoms of the disease, especially the labored breathing which is typical of FIP. She was in pain and the vet recommended that she be brought in the next day at noon (a week ago Saturday) to be killed by lethal injection, sparing her (and, of course, Margit) a slightly more drawn out death of terrible suffering and agony. I spoke to Margit on Friday night and tried as best as I could to steel her for this duty and then canceled all posting at 3QD for that Saturday in a private act of mourning. Since the day I started 3QD more than three years ago, we had never had a day without any posts until then. (Did you notice?) And then I felt dejected and disconsolate, even desperate.

[click on the heading for more]

Sunday, September 23, 2007

TV Channels in Pakistan

Breaking news? Latest news? Updates? And in Urdu: braking noos, taaza khabar, or taaza khabrain, soorkhian?

I don't know if there is a PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) guideline on how many commercial and non-commercial breaks a TV station is allowed per hour. And if they do, how are they enforced.

I don't know if the major players like ARY or GEO have their own internal guidelines.


Am sure of one thing: the engineer, producer or director who inserts these 'breaks' has no idea of the juncture, time, or propriety for these insertions. They display an utter disregard for the hapless viewer.

This affliction is displayed non-chalantly across the board. PTV and other licensees routinely break into Mushy's telecast. Serious deliberations on the 'deal' -- alright, pontifications -- by earnest sounding pundits are rudely interrupted by these irritating breaks on all channels. And the viewer, the one who was glued to to the programme is left wondering what the duck .

What is more disconcerting is that these interruptions bring only news that is seldom newsworthy of a break.

On nationally aired programme what is the worth of a break informing of a car and truck accident in Ceechawatani in which five of a family, mother, uncle and three children were injured? Go fetch the father please!

What suspense is created when a shouting politician is interrupted in mid sentence, "Nawaz Sharif is a..." with a breaking news that repeats a 17 hours old news item, "There is still no news of the 250 Frontier Constabulary Jawans missing in South Waziristan" and this break is brought to you by Finest Stainless Spoons - a Brand nearest your lips?" And after this irritating break you return to the anchors and guests now laughing. What did we miss? Is Nawaz a joker? Or the ... Khair, janay diji'aye!

We know commercials pay for the station's subsistence. But for how long will these stations and outlets continue to ignore the viewer?

How soon a budding entrepreneur will realize there is a niche for commercial free programming like NPR or PBS? (A mix of public funding plus public subscription service?)

And would anyone know why soorkh, which is red is used in Urdu as soorkhi for the heading which is usually in black and white?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

bricks, walls and bridges

bricks are used to build walls or bridges.

asking yourself, if you build walls or bridges will tell you a lot about your self.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bin Laden wants Musharraf 'removed' - al jazeera

Nawaz, Immi and Pinky have company now. Only Allah know who is a Muslim. When Osama bin Laden bin Bush declares Mushy infidel, is he the latest Allah-wannabee? - t

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In a new audio message found on major Islamist websites on Thursday, the al-Qaeda leader called on Pakistanis to rebel against General Pervez Musharraf for the killing of a Muslim cleric during the bloody end to the siege at Islamabad's Red mosque in July.

"We in al-Qaeda organisation call on God to witness that we will retaliate for the blood of … Abdul Rashid Ghazi and those with him against Musharraf and those who help him, and for all the pure and innocent blood," said the speaker on the recording who sounded like bin Laden.

"So Pervez, his ministers, his soldiers and those who help him are all accomplices in spilling the blood of ... Muslims. He who helps him knowingly and willingly is an infidel like him," the tape said.

[click on the heading for more]

Not doing justice to Karachi - Ananya Vajpeyi

Winterbottom is too politically discerning a filmmaker to portray Karachi or Pakistan with the outright Islamophobia that makes Bernard-Henri Levy's book Who Killed Daniel Pearl? (2003) almost unreadable. Winterbottom shows us Mariane Pearl saying publicly only days after her husband's abduction that ordinary Pakistanis suffered as much from acts of terror as did westerners like her. But while Mariane desists from blaming others indiscriminately, Winterbottom shows Karachi to be nightmarish in a way that is subtly connected to its cultural essence. It is identified as an overpopulated, poor, lawless and radicalised megalopolis, located in an underdeveloped Muslim country, an evil place that civilised, trusting and competent Americans and Europeans enter at their own peril and where they probably end up dead.

This couldn't be further from my own experience of the city. In spring 2006 I went to Karachi, partly to attend the World Social Forum and partly in an attempt to come to terms with the scene of Danny's demise: to see for myself how I would react to the city where he died. I was there seven days, during which I slept for about seven hours in total. I could not stop taking it in. During that intense period, I tried to make sense of a city that was so similar to those of India, my home country. I understood at least three of Karachi's languages -- Urdu, Punjabi and English -- all of its food, its clothing, its politeness and rudeness, its transparency and its impenetrability. If I wore the right clothes, no one on the street would guess that I was Indian and not Pakistani.

[for more click on the heading]

How high will the Canadian dollar go? - Nicolas Van Praet and Grant Surridge, Financial Post

TORONTO -- Now that the Canadian dollar has reached parity with the U.S. dollar, how much higher can it go?

The loonie hit parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time in 31 years on Thursday, capping a 62% rise from 2002 on the back of booming commodity prices and a deepening disenchantment with the greenback.

[for more click on the heading]

Religious leaders, US congressmen gather at iftar

raza you may be interested in this:)

The Rumi Forum, a Washington-based organization working to foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue and whose honorary president is Fethullah Gülen, for the second consecutive year brought together a number of distinguished speakers and invitees for an iftar dinner.

The iftar -- the evening fast-breaking meal in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan -- was organized under the auspices of 21 US congressmen, and five members of the US Congress were among its guests. The keynote speaker was Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). İstanbul's Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II (Mutafyan) and US Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios were guests of honor at the event.

[for more click on the heading]

A government bolstered by mafias - Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

stealing silver from titanic? opposition, particularly imran khan tires not of asking for 'free and fair' elections, they have convinced themselves that the judiciary is finally free. for how long remains to be seen, after all do you think this judiciary can resist the pressures of PPP or PML-N if and when they come to? did they not indulge in murder, mayhem, ransom, profiteering, corruption also as ahmed accuses the present govt.? the suggestion that i made in Pakistan At the Precipice: A Vision for Coexistence perhaps could be a viable start. but it needs consensus and will - both in short supply in today's pakistan - t

During General Musharraf’s rule people have suffered from the manipulations of powerful mafias that include sugar mafias, stocks mafias, land mafias, human trafficking mafias, and abduction-for-ransom mafias. All these enemies of the people have conducted their nefarious trades with impunity under the umbrella provided by the general’s government in return for political and support and monetary gain.

[for full column click on the heading]

Judges being pressurised to adopt middle-way - Dr Naeem Chishti

Can the judges read the writing on the wall. writing on the wall also is a reference to hamid mir's urdu column in today's jang. in this column naeem chisti makes a different conclusion. time will tell:) - t

General Musharraf’s extreme ultra-constitutional action means nothing but a replay of what he had already done on October 12, 1999. However, this time his ultra-constitutional action will be brief and precise focussing mainly on two points: getting rid of unwanted judges and selected revision of the Constitution. General Musharraf will have no difficulty to get approval of this ultra-constitutional action either from the re-composed Supreme Court or from the re-convened Parliament and Provincial Assemblies. President General Pervez Musharraf has already made it clear that he has full support of the Armed Forces. Therefore, his ultra-constitutional action is not likely to be opposed by his colleagues in the Military. Otherwise too, most of the top position holders in the Armed Forces at present are appointees of General Musharraf himself. He must have made their appointments after due deliberation on the basis of his personal as well as official knowledge about them. Besides, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have always shown exemplary discipline in all circumstances. As such, there is no likelihood that General Musharraf’s ultra-constitutional action will be opposed by the Military high command either before or after it is taken.

{for more click on the heading]


There is something of a modern-day bard in Pakistani architect Naeem Pasha, but it’s not just because he writes poetry – it’s more an expression of what he wants his buildings to be.

"It's not that I am concentrating on purely architectural expression," said Pasha, 64, his brown-rimmed glasses perfectly offsetting a head of thick snow-white hair and neat goatee. "All those sketches would have a lot of couplets, the beginning of a poem might be there," he said smiling.

I was intrigued.

[for more click on the heading]

Thousands honour Terry Fox - jim wilkes

Andy Valentine shares a special kinship with Terry Fox.

And he felt more inspired with every step of the 10-kilometre Terry Fox Run through Streetsville, which wound through Memorial Park and along the sumac-shrouded Credit River.

The 26-year-old engineering apprentice, who beat cancer as a teenager, was among thousands of runners, walkers and cyclists who raised cash for cancer research yesterday, continuing Fox's legacy in more than 40 locations across Greater Toronto and hundreds more across Canada and in dozens of countries around the world.

"He had a vision and a goal and, although he died while trying to achieve it, we're all here to keep it going, to keep his dream alive," Valentine said.

[for more click on the heading]

What is marriage? - Restso

Through all of this it would seem that there is no definition of marriage beyond the legal one. No other aspect we discussed can be considered inseparable from marriage. Love occurs without marriage and marriage without love. Reproduction and child rearing as well occur without marriage and vice versa. If two people are able to provide a safe and loving home for a child, we as a society should be happy that someone will love this child, that this child will have a place to live and food to eat. Society is not based on male/female pairings as much as it's based on individuals who see themselves as part of a larger community, people who love, people who give, people who work to make the world a better place. @!$%#ty things happen daily and with all the hate, rape, murder, starvation, poverty and violence in the world, if two people wish to define their relationship as marriage, why should we stop them?

[click on the heading to read in full]

Four-month jail and bail for Mid-Day journalists

Interesting news from the Court and how they use their powers to "protect" the "image" of their Supreme Court brethern _t

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Friday sentenced two journalists, a cartoonist and the publisher of afternoon tabloid Mid-Day to four months imprisonment each for contempt of court for publishing unsubstantiated news reports against former chief justice Y.K. Sabharwal. All four were then released on bail.

A division bench of Justices R.S. Sodhi and B.N. Chaturvedi said: "We feel, in this peculiar case, the contemnors have tarnished the image of the highest court, and sentence of four months' imprisonment would serve the end of justice." Those sentenced include resident editor Vitusha Oberoi, city editor M.K. Tayal, publisher A.K. Akhtar and cartoonist Irfan.

{formore clickon the heading]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

where do smiles go?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

where do the smiles go?
the one that played on your lips
the one that glistened from a new leaf
the one that deserted when the toy was taken away
the one that can be sensed
amidst the sighs, grunts, sweat in the dark
is it hidden in the foggy post-post smoke?
does it seek refuge in the floating rose petal?

is there a bridge that smile takes
who is at the other end?
what is at the other end?
why are these queries so open-ended
and ceaseless? and how?

are smiles brave? or cowering under bravado?
are they innocent? or all knowing?

why do smile-prints wall-paper memory ville?
why do they awe and shock and...?

feel free to ask me why they intrigue (me) so

Why Did Senator John Kerry Stand Idly By? - By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Naïve Americans who think they live in a free society should watch the video filmed by students at a John Kerry speech September 17, Constitution Day, at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

At the conclusion of Kerry’s speech, Andrew Meyer, a 21-year old journalism student was selected by Senator Kerry to ask a question. Meyer held up a copy of BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast’s book, Armed Madhouse, and asked if Kerry was aware that Palast’s investigations determined that Kerry had actually won the election. Why, Meyer asked, had Kerry conceded the election so quickly when there were so many obvious examples of vote fraud? Why, Meyer, went on to ask, was Kerry refusing to consider Bush’s impeachment when Bush was about to initiate another act of military aggression, this time against Iran?

At this point the public’s protectors—the police—decided that Meyer had said too much. They grabbed Meyer and began dragging him off. Meyer said repeatedly, “I have done nothing wrong,” which under our laws he had not. He threatened no one and assaulted no one.


Kerry’s meekness not only in the face of electoral fraud, not only in the face of Bush’s wars that are crimes under the Nuremberg standard, but also in the face of police goons trampling the constitutional rights of American citizens makes it completely clear that he was not fit to be president, and he is not fit to be a US senator.

[for the rest click on the heading]

Uproar over plan to split Jerusalem - Al Jazeera

Israel's deputy prime minister has sparked uproar with a proposal to divide Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians as part of a peace deal.

The proposal by Haim Ramon, reported on Wednesday, was made in a letter to a member of the Jerusalem city council.

In his letter, Ramon suggested that Israel cede control over the occupied and annexed eastern sector to the Palestinians.

"Jewish neighbourhoods will be recognised as Israeli," local media quoted Ramon's letter as saying. "Accordingly, Arab neighbourhoods ... will be recognised as Palestinian."

[for more click on the heading]

Canada Dollar Dominance Shows Break With U.S. Dollar - Haris Anwar

Canada's currency, nicknamed the loonie after the image of the national bird on the one-dollar coin, has risen about 4 percent against its U.S. counterpart since June 12 amid growing speculation that losses related to U.S. subprime mortgages would prompt the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

Of the 16 most traded currencies, none has done better than the loonie's 13.5 percent gain against the dollar this year. It reached a 30-year high of 97.66 U.S. cents today. The currency has rebounded from a low of 61.80 cents in January 2002.

[for more click on the heading]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

pigeons, jamil naqsh and i

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

they have been older than you and I
hence the ornithological ramblings today
on columba livia and homo sapien

they blow their chest and circle the female
we vow till death or till another fair one smiles
they drag their rear while chasing females
we chase the rears to come ahead
they stick close to their intended target
we stray from target to target to target

look intently, rarely any two are alike
and with our similarities, we differ mightily
they are polymorphic, shades of gray
and white and colours in between
we are monomorphic, black, white
red and blue and colours in between

they have orange or red-orange eyes
we compensate with coloured lenses
they suck water, we use straws
- for arguments and diet drinks
they are solid and speckled and
we are tall, short, dark and fair
they have feet of red, iridescent necks
we have faces red and who knows
if harnessed energy harnesses us
might end up glowing in the dark

they fly fast, home-in uncannily
we wander lazily, long for home
after dark, they congregate on the window sills
as we fight traffic to our shacks, flats, houses
they have been around for 20 million years
way older than neanderthals - adam aside

taste buds they have more than30, and we, 9000 plus
they are not fussy eaters, we cherish fine cuisine
(more, when they can be slyly written-off)

they are wild and are bred in captivity
we are bred in captivity and turn wild
they are mostly monogamous, and we
violate monogamy when in the dark

to express their love they bill
we whisper, caress, move to kiss
will end ruminating and not tell you who jumps
on whom, but you are free to guess

for jamil naqsh

Pashtun Suicide Terrorism---An Update: International Terrorism Monitor---Paper No. 282 - B Raman

readers of this blog will note mr b. raman earlier speculated that the tarbela-ghazi suicide bombing was carried out by an officer of the commando unit who lost a sister in the lal musjid action - here he seems to be retreating from that assertion - t

6. The UN has made an interesting study on suicide terrorism in Afghanistan by a team of competent professionals led by Ms. Christine Fair, formerly of the Rand Corporation and now of the US Institute of Peace, who is quite knowledgeable on jihadi terrorism in the Indian sub-continent. The results of this study were released by the UN on September 9, 2007. According to this study, the number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan has increased from 17 in 2005 to 123 in 2006 and has already touched 103 till August 31, 2007. The report added that most suicide bombers were Afghan nationals, but received training or support in Pakistan's tribal region where many were recruited from madrasas (religious schools). Unlike the suicide bombers of Al Qaeda, who came from a well-to-do and educated background and were well-trained and well-motivated, those of the Neo Taliban came from poor families and were poorly educated. According to the report, although the vast majority of suicide bombers targeted military and government establishments, around 80 per cent of the casualties were innocent civilians.

9. As a result of this anger, there has been a surge in acts of suicide terrorism by the Pashtuns in Pakistani territory. These attacks initially started in the FATA and the NWFP, but have spread to Islamabad, the capital, Rawalpindi, where the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army are located, and Tarbela Ghazi, where important establishments of the SSG are located. The Pashtun suicide bombers have been targeting military and police personnel, though, as in Afghanistan, more civilians than personnel of the security forces have been killed except in Rawalpindi and Tarbela Ghazi, where many personnel of the security forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were killed.

Greenspan: Ouster Of Hussein Crucial For Oil Security Bob Woodward

more greenspan!

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview that the removal of Saddam Hussein had been "essential" to secure world oil supplies, a point he emphasized to the White House in private conversations before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Greenspan, who was the country's top voice on monetary policy at the time Bush decided to go to war in Iraq, has refrained from extensive public comment on it until now, but he made the striking comment in a new memoir out today that "the Iraq War is largely about oil." In the interview, he clarified that sentence in his 531-page book, saying that while securing global oil supplies was "not the administration's motive," he had presented the White House with the case for why removing Hussein was important for the global economy.

"I was not saying that that's the administration's motive," Greenspan said in an interview Saturday, "I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?' I would say it was essential."

[for more click on the heading]

Greenspan on 60 Minutes: It was all Bush's fault By Mike Whitney

“Why didn’t you stop the illegal or shady practices you knew were taking place in subprime lending?” Stahl inquired.

“Err, I had no notion of how significant these practices had become until very late. I didn’t really get it until late 2005 and 2006”, Greenspan replied nervously adjusting his tie.

Hmmmmm. That’s not exactly true, Maestro. In fact, here’s what Greenspan said as chairman at the Federal Reserve System’s Fourth Annual Community Affairs Research Conference, Washington, D.C. April 8, 2005.

“Innovation has brought about a multitude of new products, such as subprime loans and niche credit programs for immigrants. Such developments are representative of the market responses that have driven the financial services industry throughout the history of our country. With these advance in technology, lenders have taken advantage of credit-scoring models and other techniques for efficiently extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers.”

Sounds like a ringing endorsement of subprime lending to me.

[for more click on the heading]

It is the death of history - Special investigation by Robert Fisk

2,000-year-old Sumerian cities torn apart and plundered by robbers. The very walls of the mighty Ur of the Chaldees cracking under the strain of massive troop movements, the privatisation of looting as landlords buy up the remaining sites of ancient Mesopotamia to strip them of their artefacts and wealth. The near total destruction of Iraq's historic past – the very cradle of human civilisation – has emerged as one of the most shameful symbols of our disastrous occupation.

Of all the ancient cities of present-day Iraq, Ur is regarded as the most important in the history of man-kind. Mentioned in the Old Testament – and believed by many to be the home of the Prophet Abraham – it also features in the works of Arab historians and geographers where its name is Qamirnah, The City of the Moon.

Founded in about 4,000 BC, its Sumerian people established the principles of irrigation, developed agriculture and metal-working. Fifteen hundred years later – in what has become known as "the age of the deluge" – Ur produced some of the first examples of writing, seal inscriptions and construction. In neighbouring Larsa, baked clay bricks were used as money orders – the world's first cheques – the depth of finger indentations in the clay marking the amount of money to be transferred. The royal tombs of Ur contained jewellery, daggers, gold, azurite cylindrical seals and sometimes the remains of slaves.

[for more click on the heading]

Monday, September 17, 2007

An Open Letter to the New Generation of Military Officers Serving and Protecting Our Nation - By Dr. Robert M. Bowman,

wonder if similar thoughts can be applied to our brave military men and officers -t

“The Nuremberg Principles says that we in the military have not only the right, but also the DUTY to refuse an illegal order. It was on this basis that we executed Nazi officers who were ‘only carrying out their orders’… The Constitution which we are sworn to uphold says that treaties entered into by the United States are the ‘highest law of the land,’ equivalent to the Constitution itself. Accordingly, we in the military are sworn to uphold treaty law, including the United Nations charter and the Geneva Convention… Based on the above, I contend that should some civilian order you to initiate a nuclear attack on Iran (for example), you are duty-bound to refuse that order. I might also suggest that you should consider whether the circumstances demand that you arrest whoever gave the order as a war criminal.”

[for the full letter click on the heading]

Pakistan’s poker-game - Irfan Hussain

The cards in hand

In the worst scenario, Musharraf might impose martial law for a brief period, and use the resulting suspension of the constitution definitively to rid himself of the chief justice - whom he abruptly suspended on 9 March 2007, provoking widespread popular protests and an ultimately successful legal challenge - as well as five of his equally independent colleagues. After this show of force, the president would hold elections (a month-long window for which opens on 15 September) that would be engineered to produce a hung parliament, with seats divided between the ruling (pro-Musharraf) Quaid-e-Azam (Pakistan Muslim League / PML-Q), Benazir Bhutto's PPP, the Karachi-based ethnic Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and the clerical coalition of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). Such a dispensation would allow Musharraf to manipulate the divisions in the opposition to rule for another five years.

[for more click on the heading]

Saudi Feminist Wajeha Al-Huwaidar Launches New Campaign: Let Us Drive Cars

while we worry about a euphemistic bird called 'free-and-fair-election', independent judiciary, occupied pakistan or occupying army or a return to corrupt civilian rule the saudi woman just want a driver's license.

"On the occasion of the second anniversary of the accession of the Keeper of the Two Holy Sites, King 'Abdallah Bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz, and with the national holiday approaching on September 23, we, the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia, announce that we will be delivering a message to King 'Abdallah, may Allah preserve him, demanding that he return that which has been stolen from women: the right to [free] movement through the use of cars, [which are] the means of transportation today.

[for more click on the heading]

Nouri Gana - An Interview with Hisham Matar

NG: How did you come to fiction writing? What are the major literary influences on you?

I came to fiction through poetry. Poetry paralleled my interest in music and architecture. I can not think of a time when it had not--whether, in the early years, through my family, or later--been present in some way in my life: the reading of it and the attempts, often futile, of writing it. Shortly before writing my novel the poems I was attempting to write had become more and more concerned with narrative. In the Country of Men began as one such poem. A scene that is now about forty or fifty pages into the book, where Suleiman is alone in the garden picking mulberries, was the first thing I wrote. I thought I had begun a poem about a boy in the garden, in the mythical garden, as it were, picking ripened fruit. Twelve lines, three or four weeks at the most and I will be done, I thought. The novel took five years to write.

Most of my early reading was in poetry. I continue to be intrigued by Lord Alfred Tennyson’s ability to grieve for his friend Lord Hallam for over fourteen years. Memoriam, the series of poems he wrote over that period, is a moving and curious testimony to the perennial nature of grief. Not many people read Tennyson these days. It’s a shame. He had a fabulous ear for language--and a wonderful beard. I like a good beard. It is rare these days to see a well-groomed, flamboyant beard. Tennyson’s, from what I can see through the few photographs I have seen of him, was not necessarily carefully groomed, but certainly flamboyant. Some of the other writers whose work I return to are Joseph Conrad, Ivan Turgenev and Marcel Proust.

[pls. click on the heading to read more]

Cold War II - Noam Chomsky

Without irony, the Bush administration and the media charge that Iran is “meddling” in Iraq, otherwise presumably free from foreign interference. The evidence is partly technical. Do the serial numbers on the Improvised Explosive Devices really trace back to Iran? If so, does the leadership of Iran know about the IEDs, or only the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Settling the debate, the White House plans to brand the Revolutionary Guard as a “specially designated global terrorist” force, an unprecedented action against a national military branch, authorizing Washington to undertake a wide range of punitive actions. Watching in disbelief, much of the world asks whether the US military, invading and occupying Iran’s neighbors, might better merit this charge -- or its Israeli client, now about to receive a huge increase in military aid to commemorate 40 years of harsh occupation and illegal settlement, and its fifth invasion of Lebanon a year ago.

[for more click on the heading]

Maureen Dowd on the Stars of Fake News

Other couples may disappoint. Jen and Vince. Paris and Nicole. Cheney and Rummy. But Stewart and Colbert have soared to hilarious new heights puncturing the Bush administration's faux reality, with Stewart as the droll anchor and Colbert as the puffed-up Bill O'Reilly-style bloviator. While real network news withers, Stewart's show has become the hot destination for anyone who wants to sell books or seem hip, from presidential candidates to military dictators. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf arrived at the Daily Show studio with bomb-sniffing dogs and a bulletproof facade for the anchor desk. For a Strong Man, Stewart said, he was "good people." At the Emmys, Colbert greeted the Hollywood audience as "godless Sodomites,'' and at the White House Correspondents Dinner, he proclaimed, standing beside the president, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." He hawks his own Formula 401 sperm on his show -- "the more Stephen Colberts in the world, the better," he assured me -- including a Spanish version, "para chicas''; wants Congress to build a wall and moat with flames, fireproof crocodiles, predator drones and machine-gun nests to keep out immigrants; and has a running "Dead to Me" list that includes New York intellectuals, the cast of Friends and bow-tie pasta. "I'm not a fan of facts,'' he boasts. "Facts can change all the time, but my opinion will never change." Truthiness, a word he made up just before going on air, has been hailed by New York magazine as "the summarizing concept of our age."

[for more click on the heading]

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Time-out for things temporal - Anjum Niaz

(this is what i wrote to anjum niaz)

as i opened today's Dawn Magazine on the back your column's heading and SWOT's Trivial Pursuit caught my eyes


it was tough deciding which one to go for first

digression: why must we focus on religious-derivatives only selectively? (in this case food wastage highlighted in ramadaan?)

of course this is not a veiled criticism of your column but an observation i have made in the past...tenth of muharram...papers are full of sacrifice/stand in to divine will/charity/celebration gifts of life...

isn't this compartmentalization intriguing?

ps: oh another pet peeve! when folks say happy ramadaan! why not a happy new year on the first of muharram? ok,enough!


TAKE a break from life. The temporal one, I mean. Eleven months in a year is enough to pander to the demands dictated by self and others around. Thirty days of spirituality then can click with the soul, whether you fast or not, that’s your business.

Butt complains of humans wasting food. Well, he can say that again! In America the size of the helpings is phenomenal and therefore impossible to finish.

If you allow competitive metabolism to take a back seat, open up the heart to the Higher Being and during these weeks go all out to stay the course will you not come out a winner?

[for her column click on the heading]

Majid Lahori: the people’s columnist - Khalid Hasan

It has been 40 years since Majid Lahori died, but neither before nor since has there been another newspaper columnist who could rival him. He was truly a people’s columnist, and what he wrote remains as delightful today as it was then. In 1971, 14 years after his death, his friend and fellow journalist, Shafi Aqeel, put together a collection of the columns he wrote for Jang . The book, published in Lahore, with a second edition in 1989, is now out of print. Today’s newspaper readers are not likely to be aware of Majid Lahori, and the fault is not theirs but that of a system which shows little interest in the past, and even less interest in those who have departed. Let me, therefore, invoke the memory of this most entertaining of Pakistan’s columnists by rendering bits of his versatile output in one short column dedicated to his memory. All translation is limited by what can be transmitted from one language another, but one hopes what follows will encourage some to seek the original.

Iranian Sisyphus - Mustafa El-Labbad

Although Rafsanjani had effectively served as co-pilot from Khomeini's death in 1989 until the presidential elections of 2005, and although he holds the posts of chairman of the Assembly of Experts and head of the Council of Guardians, his influence now barely exceeds that of a speaker of a major party in parliament, in this case the moderate conservatives. In large part this is due to the rising power of the Revolutionary Guard, which stands in the way of Rafsanjani's return to centre stage. In sum, his relatively restricted powers in the two positions he currently occupies are insufficient to lever him back into the co-pilot's seat or even a higher position yet.

Rafsanjani has tasted almost all the senior offices in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He's been minister, speaker of parliament, president, head of the Council of Guardians and, now, chairman of the Assembly of Experts. However, if he has set his sights on it, the position of supreme leader remains well out of reach. He has risen again within the fold of senior Iranian decision-makers, in spite of his relatively advanced years and his reverberating defeat in the presidential elections against Ahmadinejad. However, his rise is reminiscent of Sisyphus, the legendary Hellenic king doomed for all eternity to push a rock up a hill only for it to go tumbling down to the bottom again.

[for more click on the heading]

The French have a word for it

Over the centuries the English language has assimilated phrases and words from other languages. Here are some examples.

A cappella, Italian, sung without instrumental accompaniment (literally “in chapel style”)

Ad hoc, Latin, made or done for a particular purpose (lit. “to this”)

Agent provocateur, French, a person who tempts a suspected criminal to commit a crime so that they can be caught and convicted (lit. “provocative agent”)
Al dente, Italian, (of food) cooked so as to be still firm when bitten (lit. “to the tooth”)

Alfresco, Italian, in the open air (lit. “in the fresh”)

Bête noire, French, a person or thing one particularly dislikes (lit. “black beast”)

Blitzkrieg, German, an intense, violent military campaign intended to bring about a swift victory (lit. “lightning war”)

Carte blanche, French, complete freedom to act as one wishes (lit. “blank paper”)

Caveat emptor, Latin, the buyer is responsible for checking the quality of goods before purchasing them (lit. “let the buyer beware”)

C’est la guerre, French, used as an expression of resigned acceptance (lit. “that’s war”)

[for more lick of th eheading]

On Language: William Safire

Frequency of use does not determine crossover from informal (or colloquial) to formal (or standard) usage. Jerk, in the sense of “boob,” has been ubiquitous since 1935, and dork (from dirk, “dagger,” with its penile connotation similar to schmuck) has been with us at least four decades, but they remain slang. Same with the jerky, dorky sense of a schlep, as in this use in a Boston Globe review of “Mere Anarchy,” a book of Woody Allen essays and stories: “His characters . . . are the usual mensches and schleps.”

Although mensch, from the German via Yiddish for “person of integrity and honor,” is classed as “colloquial” by the O.E.D., it has earned standard status in Merriam-Webster and Webster’s New World dictionaries. But it’s plain to see that the “dopey” sense of a schlep remains slang.

[for more click on the heading]

Lust for Numbers - By NELL FREUDENBERGER a review of THE INDIAN CLERK

review of THE INDIAN CLERK By David Leavitt.

Once Ramanujan arrives in England, he becomes a Cambridge celebrity: there is competition among the dons for proximity to the “Hindoo calculator,” as he’s called in the press. Another mathematician, Eric Neville, takes Ramanujan into his home; his wife, Alice, becomes obsessed with their guest’s comfort, catering to his dietary restrictions, albeit in a very British fashion (a “vegetable goose” is one of the more appealing attempts). There are various justifications for the impulse to save Ramanujan: Alice claims to be easing his culture shock, while Hardy hopes to develop his mind. In both cases, however, their fascination has a sexually predatory edge: Hardy “cannot deny that it excites him, the prospect of rescuing a young genius from poverty and obscurity and watching him flourish. ... Or perhaps what excites him is the vision he has conjured up, in spite of himself, of Ramanujan: a young Gurkha, brandishing a sword.”

[for more click on the heading]

Imaginary gods are really immortal - Andrew Brown

If we see politics as essentially a matter of conflict between shifting coalitions, one of the functions of religious argument is to strengthen and enlarge your own coalition in a way that pure politics, with their suggestion of grubby self-interest and compromise, just won't do. Appeals to theology function to make your position inflexible when it needs be, because they are by definition appealing to a supreme value; but they can also have the opposite effect, when surrender becomes inevitable, they have the further advantage over merely political claims that the sacred text can be reinterpreted without losing any of its immemorial authority. Look at the role that Christianity played first in justifying apartheid, and then in proving the need to demolish it.

[for more click on the heading]


But in private conversations in Ramallah, one name pops up more and more often: Marwan Barghouti.

"He holds the key in his hand," they say there, "both for the Fatah-Hamas and for the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts."

SOME SEE Marwan as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela.

In appearances, the two are very different, both physically and in temperament. But they have much in common.

Both became national heroes behind prison bars. Both were convicted of terrorism. Both supported violent struggle. Mandela supported the 1961 decision of the National African Congress to start an armed struggle against the racist government (but not against the white civilians). He remained in prison for 28 years and refused to buy his freedom by signing a statement denouncing "terrorism". Marwan supported the armed struggle of Fatah's Tanzim organization and has been sentenced to several life terms.

[for more click on the heading]

Saturday, September 15, 2007


am counting the days

the hours

when i will start missing
the crow's incessant

and irritating bawling
the five shower a day

the stretched palm
at intersections

the one legged hawker
selling tissue boxes

the legless old man
with toys spread out
who never utters a word

the traffic signal light
red, blue, yellow
that means go

the faux subservience

if you get a chance
you should eavesdrop
when they talk about you
such racy language
will make you squirm
and smile

am counting the days

the hours

when jet-lagged
i unpack


start missing the crows

Carole Angier reviews Diary of a Bad Year By J M Coetzee

What is wrong with the world today, he argues, is its postmodern relativism, which he traces back to quantum mechanics and (a bit paranoid) 'literature classes in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s'. Nothing is solid any more, including the authority of the writer on the page. So naturally C presents his Strong Opinions in unrepentantly authoritative mode.

He is a theoretical, even philosophical thinker, producing essays on the origins of the state, on Machiavelli, on intelligent design, on probability. Many are demanding, apart from the jokes ('Can one imagine Jesus saying that he will probably come again?'); all are pessimistic. Even Hobbes is too upbeat for C. According to Hobbes, we gave up our freedom to the state voluntarily, in return for security: but what he did not mention, C says, is that this pact is irreversible, and that ever after 'we are born subject'. This is true even, or especially, in a democracy, which does not allow for politics outside the democratic process. 'In this sense,' C concludes, 'democracy is totalitarian.'

[click on the heading for more]

In Wrongful Pursuit of Mr. Right - Meghan Daum

It's as if these characters have begun to absorb Behrendt and Tuccillo's overarching point, which is that it's better to be alone (possibly even forever) than stuck in a bad relationship. "My only job is to be as happy as I can be about my life . . . and to lead as full and eventful a life as I can," Tuccillo writes.

That's a pretty revolutionary statement in a society so deeply rooted in monogamous couplehood and nuclear families. And therein lies the undercurrent of radicalism beneath the bright pink jacket and quippy one-liners. He's Just Not That Into You is dark at times, and it may be this startling honesty, this overdue recognition of the unfairness of life and the mysterious, illogical ways of the heart, that draws so many women to the book. "I think some of those people who are single and ready to have love in their lives are going to get cancer and die," admits Tuccillo, "or get hit by a car, or just never find love with a good man and maybe just settle." (Behrendt on this issue: "I believe life is a speedy and awesome gift, so don't waste the pretty.")

[click on the heading to read the essay]

October - a poem by Laura Van Prooyen


after Ana Castillo

It must be October, when the bones
turn yellow. It must be the yellow

of a mistaken bus. The bee
may have thought: the promise

of nectar. The bee
may have thought: long neck,

a flower. Her hair already
a nest, mistaken. Her hair

already a tangle of bees.
It must be October, a bus

full of children. It must be
the mother digging for bones.

The Greatest Story Never Told - By Stephen Lendman

so much for freedom in the land of the free -t

In all parts of the major media, no Israeli criticism is tolerated on-air or in print, and any reporter, news anchor, pundit or on-air guest forgetting the (unwritten) rules, won't get a second chance. Support for Israel is ironclad, absolute, and uncompromising on everything including its worst crimes of war and against humanity. Open debate is stifled, and anyone daring to dissent or demur is pilloried, ridiculed, called anti-semetic, even threatened, ostracized, and finally ignored. In his seminal work on Middle East affairs, "Fateful Triangle," Noam Chomsky put it this way: "....Israel has been granted a unique immunity from criticism in mainstream journalism and scholarship...."


The first study showed the New York Times reported 2.8 times the number of Israeli deaths to Palestinian ones when, in fact, three times more Palestinians were killed than Israelis. In the second one, the ratio increased to 3.6 adding further distortion to the coverage. Reporting children's deaths was even more skewed, coming in at a ratio of 6.8 for Israeli children compared to Palestinian ones and then at 7.3 in the later study. The latter ratio is particularly startling since 22 times more Palestinian children were killed, in fact, than Israelis in 2004 according to B'Tselem - the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Terroritories. The Times simply ignored them.

[for more click on the heading]

Bush calls for permanent US military occupation of Iraq - Barry Grey

if iraq is to be the 51st state then dubya should be renaming usa usw (united states of the world)...and then afghanistan and pakistan would not be far behind. one upshot will be there will be no line-ups to immigrate to the usa

The heart of Bush’s speech was an allusion to the perspective of permanent US military and political control over Iraq. Iraqi leaders, Bush said, “understand that their success will require US political, economic and security engagement that extends beyond my presidency. These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America.”

Fanatics' desperate effort to destroy pre-Islamic heritage - danial

As if the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues wasn't enough, fanatical mullahs and their constituents from Swat in the Northwest Frontier province attempt to blow up yet another statue in the name of their twisted version of Islam which is quite alien to the Subcontinent...

It is a miracle that there was only "minimal" damage, but I surely hope this serves as a wake up call to normal Pakistanis that fear this menace and to do something about it. They have no problem destroying remnants of our ancient Islamic heritage in Saudi Arabia, such as the Ottoman-era al-Ajyad fortress in Saudi Arabia, the the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, Iraq, and the Wahhabi raid of Karbala in 1801 where Imam Hussein's shrine was looted by the vandals, so what does remnants of non-Islamic heritage hurt them?

To the defenders of this lunacy, would you have been okay if suddenly the Spaniards decide to destroy remnants of their Islamic past in southern Spain? Would you accept the Hindus torching the Taj Mahal on the basis of again, being a remnant of India's Islamic past? Was the destruction of Babri Masjid by Hindu fanatics justified since it offended their sensitivities? Where does this madness end?

[for the rest click on the heading]

Photos from Hajj 1952 - danial

here are some wonderful haj pictures circa 1952

[click on the heading]

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pakistani Special Services Officer Turns Suicide Bomber -Desicritics News Analysis

According to a note from B Raman, an ex-spook in the Indian external intelligence service, a Pakistani elite officer blew himself up at Tarbela Ghazi on September 13th, killing 19 other elite counter-terrorism army officers belonging to the Special Services Group, and when US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was visiting Kabul and Islamabad. The officer's young sister was reportedly killed in the Lal Masjid siege in July 2007. If this is indeed the case, then the sole guarantee against Pakistan turning Taliban and using the nuclear weapons and missiles, the Pakistani Army, has worms inside. I would be afraid, very afraid.

[for more click on the heading]

here is the original opinion piece by by b raman of the south asian group

Was a Covert Attempt to Bomb Iran with Nuclear Weapons foiled by a Military Leak? - By Michael E. Salla, M.A., Ph.D.

Mr. Ruppert learned that the Secret Service had the authority to directly communicate presidential and vice presidential orders to fighter pilots in the air thereby circumventing the normal chain of command. (Crossing the Rubicon, pp. 428 - 429). Furthermore: "It is the Secret Service who has the legal mandate to take supreme command in case of a scheduled major event - or an unplanned major emergency - on American soil; these are designated "National Special Security Events".LINK.

Mr. Ruppert and others have subsequently claimed that 911 was an "inside job;" and alleges Mr. Cheney through the Secret Service, played a direct leadership role in what occurred over 911. Consequently, it is very possible that Mr. Cheney could have played a similar role in circumventing the regular chain of military command in ordering the B-52 incident. The B-52 incident could be part of a contrived "National Special Security Event" directly controlled by Cheney by virtue of the alleged authority granted to him by President Bush, and through the Secret Service which at least theoretically, has the technological means to by pass the regular chain of military command. I now move to my third key question.

There has been recent speculation concerning a possible attack against Iran given reports that the Pentagon has completed plans for a three day bombing blitz of Iran according to a Sunday Times report, LINK. The Report claims that 1200 targets have been selected and this will destroy much of Iran's military infrastructure. Such an attack will devastate Iran's economy, create greater political instability in the region, and stop the oil supply. A disruption of the oil supply from the Persian Gulf could trigger a global economic recession and lead to the collapse of financial markets.

[click on the heading for the rest]

UN vote `stain' on Canada's image

OTTAWA–Canada tarnished its international reputation as a champion of human rights by voting against an epoch-making United Nations declaration on aboriginal rights, native leaders say.

The declaration, which has been decades in the making, sets out global human rights standards for indigenous populations, who face discrimination, land theft, violence and deprivation in many parts of the world.

Only four countries – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was approved by a vote of 143 to 4, with 11 countries abstaining.

"In our view, it is a stain on Canada's international reputation," Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine said in an interview. "It's a slap in the face for all indigenous peoples."

[for more click on the heading]

Google joins Ansari X - sponsors $30 million contest

Google Inc is bankrolling a $30 million prize to the first private company that can safely land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back a gigabyte of images and video to Earth, the Internet search leader said.

If the competition produces a winner, it would prove a major boon to the emerging private spaceflight industry and mark for the first time a non-government entity making a lunar space probe.

Google partnered with the X Prize Foundation for the moon challenge, which is open to companies around the world.

The Santa Monica, California-based nonprofit prize institute is best known for hosting the Ansari X Prize contest that led to the first manned private spaceflight in 2004.

[for more click on the heading]

rahul dravid resigns

rahul dravid resigns as india's captain. wise move on his part. am reminded of bradman when asked of his decision, he said i'd rather retire when you ask 'why?" rather than wait for 'why not?'

may be BCCI should announce sachin as an INTERIM captain for the forthcoming australian tour (sep 25) and then appoint a young captain to lead them for the future? - t

Rahul Dravid has resigned as the captain of the Indian cricket team. He met BCCI Chief Sharad Pawar in Delhi on Thursday and told him he wants to step down as captain and concentrate on his game.

He told Pawar that he is not interested in retaining the skipper's job for the series coming up in Australia.

While it's bad news for fans, the good news is that Rahul will not hang up his cricket boots. He has assured Pawar that as a batsman and senior player he will give his full support for his successor.

[click on the heading]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Edifice of Pinkerism - By SETH LERER

Not since the 18th century has there been so much argument about the mind. In that era, philosophers such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant argued about the relationships between thought and speech, and between sensation and knowledge, in terms that we still mull over today. Are human beings born with innate ideas, or are we just blank slates, filled up by experience as we grow up? Is language something that uniquely makes us human? Do words really represent things in the world or are they markers of ideas inside our brains? Is there a language of thought itself, or do different languages embrace and shape the world in different ways?

Such questions have been asked afresh in recent years, not only by philosophers and linguists, but also by cognitive scientists and evolutionary biologists seeking the origins of human sensibility. Among the most prolific and most public of the current generation of inquirers into human understanding is the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. In a veritable bookshelf of recently published volumes, he has argued for what might be called a soft innatism: a theory of mind that holds that certain concepts or ways of thinking are hardwired into our brains at birth.

[click on heading for more]

Stand by Our Man in Pakistan - By Anthony C. Zinni

As embattled Pakistani ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf increasingly becomes the target of political and personal attacks from all angles, Gen Anthony Zinni, former commander of the US Central Command, fears the United States may be alienating one of the nation's strongest allies in the war on terror. And though Zinni acknowledges that perfect allies don't exist, in this op-ed published in the Sept. 9, 2007, Washington Post, Zinni encourages the government and the media not to abandon Musharraf, and to recognize his contributions as a steadfast ally.

To read "Stand by Our Man in Pakistan," published by the Washington Post on Sept. 9, 2001 click on the heading

Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine general,

is the former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command. He is a distinguished military fellow at the World Security Institute.

a letter from the frontier post

(let us see if the CJ and the SC takes notice of this - t)

Appeal to President, Chief Justice

Syed Saad Sulaiman Karachi

I am a resident of House No. SD-42, Phase 2, Malir Cantt, Karachi. On the night of September 11th, my younger brother Hammad Sulaiman who is a student of Karachi University in evening program had just gotten off the bus near our home, when he was attacked brutally with sticks, bats and racquets by sons of a retired Squadron Leader, along with their friends. He was repeatedly hit on his head, face and other body parts. As a result, my brother is currently admitted in Intensive Care Unit of CMH Malir Cantt in semi-conscious state. Besides suffering from broken nose and teeth, one of his eyes had to be removed due to irreparable damage to his optic nerve and according to the doctors, he will only be able to see through one of his eyes for the rest of his life. In the meantime, the squadron leader is threatening us with dire consequences if his sons are arrested. Furthermore, he has already sent them away from home. Adding insult to injury is the fact that he is threatening to approach as high as President Pervez Musharraf if we pursue a case against his sons. I therefore, make a desperate appeal to his excellency the President of Pakistan, his honour the Chief Justice of Pakistan, their excellencies the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Chief Minister of Sindh and Governor Sindh to kindly help us get justice by ordering immediate arrest of the culprits.

God and Goat - Tamim Al-Barghouti

Omar Ibn el Khattab, the prophet’s companion and the Muslims’ second Caliph, known for his legendary justice, once said: If I am told that a goat tumbled in Iraq, I cannot sleep, feeling guilty because I did not level the road for her”

A goat is tumbling in the rubble.
Whenever a goat tumbled in Iraq
Omar could not sleep
For not leveling the road for her.

A goat is tumbling in the rubble
Searching in the remains of the National Museum in Baghdad
For a plant or a document.
To a hungry goat, they make no difference,
Nor do they really differ,
A flower in the rubble documents it,
And a document puts life into the rubble
May be the goat knows better
Let the roads be leveled for her.

[click on the heading for more]

The Greatest Story Never Told - by Stephen Lendman

No issue is more sensitive in the US than daring to criticize Israel. It's the metaphorical "third rail" in American politics, academia and the major media. Anyone daring to touch it pays dearly as the few who tried learned. Those in elected office face an onslaught of attacks and efforts to replace them with more supportive officials. Former five term Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney felt its sting twice in 2002 and 2006. So did 10 term Congressman Paul Findley (a fierce and courageous Israeli critic) in 1982 and three term Senator Charles Percy in 1984 whom AIPAC targeted merely for appearing to support anti-Israeli policy.

In all parts of the major media, no Israeli criticism is tolerated on-air or in print, and any reporter, news anchor, pundit or on-air guest forgetting the (unwritten) rules, won't get a second chance. Support for Israel is ironclad, absolute, and uncompromising on everything including its worst crimes of war and against humanity. Open debate is stifled, and anyone daring to dissent or demur is pilloried, ridiculed, called anti-semetic, even threatened, ostracized, and finally ignored. In his seminal work on Middle East affairs, "Fateful Triangle," Noam Chomsky put it this way: "....Israel has been granted a unique immunity from criticism in mainstream journalism and scholarship...."

[for more click on the heading]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Veni, Vidi, but not Vici!

Why is the suddenly pro-active Pakistan Supreme Court deafeningly silent on this? The justices under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary are taking suo moto notices on various issues but are tight lipped over this petition. Again, why?

By all accounts there will be elections shortly. Does the nation not have a right to know before the elections, how the political parties were manipulated? Who maneuvered them? How much money passed into whose hands? Under what laws the ISI was structured?

A reinvigorated court is in every one's interest.

I have no illusions that once the opposition gains power they will, not stifle its powers. Both BB and NS and their cohorts have scores of cases against them. And despite a plethora of platitudes and all their coyness mixed with righteous indignation they have to answer the nation for the gross mismanagement, corruption and even murders when they were in power.

In We never learn from history – 10 - Ardeshir Cowasjee wrote:

Now let us revert to an old but currently vital subject. In June 1996, after the Mehran Bank/ISI scam had been revealed in the National Assembly, retired Air Marshal Asghar Khan wrote a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Sajjad Ali Shah asking him to initiate legal proceedings against the former chief of army staff General Mirza Aslam Beg and the former head of the ISI, Lt General Asad Durrani.

Notice # 10? He has written eight other columns on the same subject beginning from #1 in July 21, 2002. (Could not find #9...perhaps Dawn missed it?) Here are the links.

#1-July 21, 2002
#2-Aug 04, 2002
#3- Aug 11, 2002
#4- Aug 18, 2002
#5 - Aug 25, 2002
#6 Aug 05, 2002
#7 Aug 12, 2007
#8- Aug 19, 2007
#10 - Sep 02,2007


Why did the judiciary not intervene in this extra-judicial action? - Aaman

veni, vidi, but not vici

In the chess game being played between the increasingly pro-active judiciary and an executive that gives off mixed signals, but has guns - the two protagonists are moving pawns and measuring each other.

The Rip van Judges of the SC realise that they can push the executive only to a certain limit.

The K(h)akistocracy also has begun to realise the limits of its interventions in national affairs.

Then there is the politically active ISI with its alleged dossiers on every Pakistani who is anybody in politics, media or business.

The judiciary will (seemingly) weigh in, pushing the envelope, as it had been doing lately, without rocking the boat. (read pushing Musharraf/Army to impose martial law or emergency.)


Nawaz Sharif has either seized the opportunity or missed the boat.

He badly fudged on three counts.

He had an agreement negotiated on his behalf by the late Lebanese President Rafiq Hariri (who agreed to do this on behalf of the then Crown Prince, and now King Abdullah of Saudi America) to seek his release from lifetime imprisonment in 2000. Nawaz Sharif signed the documents in which he promised to stay away from Pakistan and not take part in politics for ten years from that date. After signing this agreement, the then President Tarrar pardoned him and Nawaz Sharif readily abandoned most of his political associates in limbo and left for the Suroor Palace in Jeddah along with his brother Shehbaz and other family members in a Saudi jet.

Count One: He convened a conference of Opposition Parties in London in August where Bhutto's PPP finessed him. She had earlier seized the opportunity and benefited from her semi annual pilgrimages to the US over the last decade. The US Administration suddenly gave a green signal and every major TV and cable station and newspaper lined up outside her apartment to interview and project her as a moderate, liberal partner for Musharraf to share power with. Nawaz Sharif woke up and did too little too late to repair the perception in the US eyes as a softie with talibanesque sympathies. (There were reports towards the end of his second stint as PM, when he had two thirds majority in the parliament, that he was going to push through an amendment to the constitution declaring himself as Amir ul Momineen - that would be akin to Imam + Vilayat Faqih in the Iranian Constitution.)

Count Two: For seven long years he vehemently denied the existence of any agreement. Then two or three months back he started fudging and said to a media person that he had not signed any agreement with Musharraf (meaning Pakistan): then he hinted that the agreement was signed with a third party, which changed to a third country, which changed to a 'friendly' country. Then the duration of the agreement which the GoP claimed was for ten years, Sharif - a seasoned businessman, a former PM who had two shots at Premiership, two days before his departure for Pakistan claimed the duration was verbally agreed to for five years, not ten. All this fudging has puzzled and weakened his defenders in the media and in his party in Pakistan.

Count Three: (And this applies in equal measure to Benazir Bhutto also).The unchecked Rip Van Judges of the SC would be problematic for them both should they return to Pakistan and/or power in Pakistan. Both the major parties and their leaders have countless cases of abuse of power, corruption, murder, and extra judicial killings against them and their leaders. So a real independent judiciary would be an anathema for all the power players. If this scene plays out the Rip Van Judges know too well they will be silenced. (A trial balloon has already been floated: restrictng the CJ's tenure to 30 months.)

So, to answer you Aaman, the judges can only push the envelope so far. After all they have to play on the same chess board with the Army today as with NS or BB tomorrow.

Yes, it is all a game. The public? Did you say the public? What is Latin for who cares? quisnam blandior...desolo?

Perfect 10 at Mainz

By winning the World rapid chess championship for a record 10th time, Anand has only improved upon his increasingly enviable record. At the German town of Mainz, Anand won the title for the seventh straight time to go with the three titles he claimed at Frankfurt, the previous venue of the annual event.

This year, Anand tamed Armenia’s Levon Aronian 2.5-1.5 in the best of four finals following a four-player league. Former World champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan and Etienne Bacrot of France were the other contenders. Three days before Anand retained the rapid title, Aronian had won the Chess960 world title by beating the Indian who was making his debut in this vastly popular variant of the game.

For the record, Anand had won the rapid event in 1997 in a four-player field where he beat Anatoly Karpov in the final. He retained the title the following year by stopping Vladimir Kramnik. In 2000, when the format involved eight players, Anand won with a round to spare.

[for the rest click on the heading]

The Inflammatory Attacks on Islam and What They Represent - By Bill Fletcher Jr.

I was in the airport the other day awaiting my flight and decided to go into a bookstore. In a prominent position sat a book called Religion of Peace? by a Robert Spencer. Intrigued by the title I examined the copy only to discover that it is one of the crudest and blatantly ahistorical attacks on Islam that I have seen in a quite a while. Essentially the author attempts to argue that Christianity is the religion of peace and Islam is not.

My purpose in writing this commentary is not to engage in an attack on any religion. Within both Christianity and Islam, not to mention other religions, there have been strong tendencies to support justice, as well as tendencies towards intolerance and aggression. Each person has a right to believe and worship as he or she sees fit. Yet for writers, such as Spencer, to act as if the historical record is clear and decisive against one religion-Islam-is as outrageous as it is ignorant. Anyone remember the role of Christianity in the Crusades; the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain; the African slave trade; the invasion of the Western Hemisphere; or the silence of the Pope on the Holocaust against the Jews?

[for more click on the heading]

Islamism Goes Mainstream - My evening with Tariq Ramadan.- By Christopher Hitchens

I had come here to defend atheism and secularism in general but also to have a debate with Tariq Ramadan, an Islamist academic domiciled in Geneva, who has emerged as the most sinuous and dexterous of the "interpreters" of Muslim fundamentalism to the West. He eventually declined our original debate, but there was nothing to stop me from attending his event and trying to re-stage our canceled confrontation from the floor.

[for more click on the heading]

Nawaz’s cooked-up return to Pakistan S. Saeed

ISLAMABAD: To counter the European Union, especially the Britain, United States had to intervene at the highest levels of Pakistan and Saudi governments to ensure that Nawaz Sharif does not disrupt the negotiated power deal between Benazir Bhutto and Gen. Musharraf, learned The Frontier Post on good authority.

Highly placed diplomatic and political sources confirmed that following the August 23rd verdict of the Supreme Court to allow Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan, Americans had to activate their channels to block Nawaz Sharif’s entry into a newly controlled set-up of Pakistani politics.

Sources wishing anonymity revealed that Bush administration was tipped that EU and especially its closest partner in war on terrorism, Britain is in favour of launching Nawaz Sharif into Pakistani politics to disrupt the American stated and covert intentions of not only continuing but winning the war on terrorism through Musharraf by stabilizing him in power.

Deal between Gen. Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto has already been sealed, added the highly placed sources in Washington. Entry of Nawaz Sharif at this critical juncture would have jolted the American plans and finally they had to send in under secretary of state for the region Richard Boucher to convey a clear message to Gen. Musharraf and especially to his allies like Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain that toying with their plans might lead to NATO’s invasion of Pakistani tribal areas.

[for more click on the heading]

Passport - Mahmoud Darwish:

Stripped of my name and identity?
On soil I nourished with my own hands?
Today Job cried out
Filling the sky:
Don’t make and example of me again!
Oh, gentlemen, Prophets,
Don’t ask the trees for their names
Don’t ask the valleys who their mother is
>From my forehead bursts the sward of light
And from my hand springs the water of the river
All the hearts of the people are my identity
So take away my passport!

[ on theh eading to read the poem in full]

The kidnapping of Nawaz Sharif - Fasi Zaka

Now that Nawaz Sharif has time on his hands once again, he might do well and reflect over his circumstances. First off, he has lost the moral high ground. Despite denying the existence of a deal that got him out of prison illegally (and simultaneously leaving all his supporters high and dry), he suddenly retracted with a statement that sounded nothing less than contrived and highly opportunistic by claiming that the deal was only for half the time, and not ten years as believed.

While the Benazirs, Musharrafs and Shujaats of the world sound totally duplicitous, Nawaz, along with Imran Khan, was the only one who looked as if he had turned over a new leaf by not negotiating with the Dictatorship to create an unholy marriage. Even Fazlur Rehman had jumped in to eye the prime minister's slot. But, by admitting the existence of the deal and trying to push an incredulous story that he had signed on the tacit assumption that it would be renegotiated, it makes him no different than the others.

There is only one man who can unmask the government's deceit in the Nawaz case, and that is Nawaz himself. He needs to have the guts to come out and communicate what happened, claim he is in illegal detention in foreign shores, and counter his royal captors. That is the only way he can honour his "deal" with the Pakistani public as a leader. His interests are with us, not the Saudis.

[pls. click on the heading for more]

The Infidel Europeans Love To Hate: Ayaan Hirsi Ali By Anne Applebaum

(this is a 'sympathetic' treatment by Anne Applebaum . she glosses over unpleasant and untrue details about how ayaan hirsi ali 'lied' her way through and had to resign from the Dutch Parliament. also please note the AEI - american enterprise institute is the hotbed of neoconzix supporters of dick cheney, bush et al - t)

For those who haven't encountered her name yet, suffice to say that Hirsi Ali is a European of African descent with an almost American rags-to-riches life story. As a young woman, she escaped from her Somali family while en route to an arranged marriage in Canada, made her way to Holland, learned Dutch, attended university, and eventually won a seat in the Dutch parliament. Along the way, she also made an intellectual journey—beautifully described in her new book, Infidel—from tribal Somalia, through fundamentalism, and into Western liberalism. After Sept. 11, 2001, horrified by some of the things Osama Bin Laden was saying, she reached for the Quran to confirm a hunch: "I hated to do it," she wrote, "because I knew that I would find bin Laden's quotations in there."

Partly as a result, she lost her faith, concluding that the Quran spreads a culture that is "brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women, and harsh in war," and that should not be tolerated by European liberals. That conclusion led her into a series of controversies—and to the murder of a Dutch filmmaker with whom she had co-produced a film about the mistreatment of Islamic women. The murderer was born in Holland, the son of Moroccan immigrants; he pinned a letter threatening Hirsi Ali onto his victim's chest. Ultimately, she left Holland for Washington, where she remains, ensconced at the American Enterprise Institute.

[for more click on the heading]