↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Friday, February 29, 2008

Now Three Takes on Plagiarism

Earlier I had posted these two takes on plagiarism. At the bottom I am adding one more story of the White House Aide who admitted to plagiarising.

Just read two interesting takes on plagiarism. First one is from the Daily Times editorial and the second one is a news report from DNA.

Teachers should not defend plagiarists!

A general body meeting of the Punjab University Academic Staff Association (PUASA) has taken a very strange stance on the matter of plagiarism among the university faculty. The teachers condemned the compulsory retirement of six professors — one from the psychology department and five from the physics department — against whom plagiarism was proved. Their plea was that removals were effected to pressurise the teachers. But the question is: pressurise for what? If the pressure is being felt against the tendency to copy other people’s theses then this pressure is demanded by a civil society already harassed by news of intellectual theft at the University.

Meanwhile, the vice-chancellor, Prof Mujahid Kamran, should be supported in his campaign against plagiarism in the once great seat of learning in Lahore. The Higher Education Commission has been keeping its grants in abeyance during the time it took for the University to punish the plagiarists. It has now released the funds. Meanwhile, at the Government College University (GCU) in Lahore a similar action against an erring teacher has earned the gratitude of those who want to see our teachers better rewarded for original research. Unless plagiarism is treated with toughness, merit will not be properly recognised. *

and from mumbai

Mayank Tewari

NEW DELHI: Some of India’s most reputed academics, including a vice chancellor and the director of a top Delhi engineering college, are under investigation for plagiarism, as the cancer of copying from other people’s work spreads across all layers of Indian higher education.

DNA had last week reported how a professor at the Sri Venkateshwara University in Tirupati had plagiarised 70 scientific papers, and published them in international journals, only to be finally exposed.

But the professor continues to teach at the varsity.

With no severe punishment for such academic fraud and in the absence of guidelines, Indian higher education institutions are witnessing massive spread of the malaise, because published scientific papers are key to promotions and good postings.

“Even researchers from some high profile institutes like the IITs are indulging in plagiarism,” says Dr KL Chopra, president of the Society for Scientific Values, which is dedicated to detecting scientific fraud.

Last week, the vice chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Prof PK Abdul Aziz, was asked to go on a long leave by the Uttar Pradesh governor till allegations that he copied his Phd thesis are refuted.

Dr Ranjit Singh, Director of one of India’s top engineering colleges, Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology in Delhi, is being investigated by the institute’s governing for allegedly copying the works of other scientists and claiming them as his own. Turn to

“What India needs are clear regulations and guidelines to deal with scientists who have been found guilty of misconduct in research or plagiarism,” says Dr KL Chopra, who is a former director of IIT Kharagpur. The Society for Scientific values exposed Prof Abdul Aziz and Prof Ranjit Singh.

and now this:

Senior White House aide admits plagiarism
From Kathleen Koch

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A senior White House official admitted Friday that he copied large sections of another writer's work for an essay appearing in a Fort Wayne, Indiana, newspaper.

The White House aide admits he plagiarized in an essay he wrote.

In an e-mail to The News-Sentinel, Tim Goeglein, special assistant to the president and deputy director of public liaison, apologizes, saying, "It is true. I am entirely at fault. It was wrong of me. There are no excuses."

Goeglein goes on to say he has reached out to the author, Jeffery Hart, whose 1998 writings in the Dartmouth Review he copied nearly verbatim.

"I have written to Jeff to apologize, and do so categorically and without exception," he said.

The White House press office provided the e-mail to CNN. Spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said the White House was made aware of Goeglein's column and actions Friday morning.

And is falsehood same as plagiarising?

Author of best-selling Holocaust book admits falsehood

BOSTON (AP) — Almost nothing Misha Defonseca wrote about herself or her horrific childhood during the Holocaust was true.

She didn't live with a pack of wolves to escape the Nazis. She didn't trek 1,900 miles across Europe in search of her deported parents, nor kill a German soldier in self-defense. She's not even Jewish.

Defonseca, a Belgian writer now living in Massachusetts, admitted through her lawyers this week that her best-selling book, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, was an elaborate fantasy she kept repeating, even as the book was translated into 18 languages and made into a feature film in France.

"This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving," Defonseca said in a statement given by her lawyers to The Associated Press.

"I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed. I beg you to put yourself in my place, of a 4-year-old girl who was very lost," the statement said.

Memory Man

More on that lighter note. And this comes from a person who forgets and mislays things continuously. You don't even want to hear the horror stories:)

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (AP) -- For as long as he can remember, Brad Williams has been able to recall the most trifling dates and details about his life.

Amazing memory man never forgets

For example, he can tell you it was August 18, 1965, when his family stopped at Red Barn Hamburger during a road trip through Michigan. He was 8 years old at the time. And he had a burger, of course.

"It was a Wednesday," recalled Williams, now 51. "We stayed at a motel that night in Clare, Michigan. It seemed more like a cabin."

To Williams and his family, his ability to recall events -- and especially dates -- is a regular source of amusement. But according to one expert, Williams' skill might rank his memory among the best in the world. Doctors are now studying him, and a woman with similar talents, hoping to achieve a deeper understanding of memory.

Pigeon Flying and Cock Fighting

This is on a lighter note. Behind Empress market there is a narrow lane that leads towards Rainbow Center. One end of it is lined with "pet" shops. Some of them specialise in pigeons. When asked the shopkeeper told me pigeon flying is still alive and well.

I should has asked them about cock fighting;)

1,270 birds destroyed after raid on B.C. cockfighting ring

Destroying 1,270 birds seized in a Surrey, B.C., cockfighting investigation took more than a dozen SPCA officers about 13 hours, says an official from the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

SPCA official Shawn Eccles displays metal spurs that were recovered from a massive cockfighting ring in Surrey, B.C., Wednesday.SPCA official Shawn Eccles displays metal spurs that were recovered from a massive cockfighting ring in Surrey, B.C., Wednesday.

"The most horrific part of the warrant was having to euthanize every single one of the roosters on the property,'' said Shawn Eccles, BC SPCA chief animal prevention officer.

Eileen Dreever, a senior animal protection officer with the BC SPCA, said it was a painful experience for those who usually protect animals against cruelty.

"Each and every one of us had to justify what we were doing and why we were doing it and that was because if we didn't destroy these birds they would have died a horrible death," Dreever said Friday.

Is This True Farhat Hashmi?

Is there not a single woman in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh who conducts Nikah ceremony? If true, isn't this incredulous? Is this true Farhat Hashmi? - t

Woman to conduct Egypt marriages
By Frances Harrison
BBC religious affairs reporter

Egypt has appointed a woman to conduct Muslim marriages for the first time.

Amal Soliman, 32, has broken centuries of tradition by being chosen as a judicial assistant who officiates at weddings, known as a maazun.

Some commentators are saying she is the first female in the Muslim world authorised to conduct religious marriages.

The mother of three has a masters degree in law which helped her beat 10 male candidates to get the job.

As a maazun or notary, Ms Soliman will read verses from the Koran at ceremonies, sign marriage certificates and authorise divorce contracts.

She will work in the town of Qinayat east of Cairo where her father-in-law also conducted marriages until he died recently.

Ms Soliman has told the Egyptian press that as a woman she will be able to check the bride really wants to marry the groom and is not being forced by her family.

She also says she will be better able to dissuade women from seeking divorce.

One issue that has been raised is that a menstruating woman or one who has just given birth is not allowed to enter a mosque, but Ms Soliman has been quoted as saying that during such times she will conduct marriages in people's homes or wedding halls.

Back channel is open

I have not read this in any Paksitani paper yet. The back channel is open it seems. Yesterday there were reports that the GoP has dropped fraud cases against Asif (10%) Zardari interim co-chair of PPP. And today this: read on

Pervez may restore judges


Islamabad, Feb. 28: In a major climbdown, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has sent a message to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Asif Ali Zardari that sacked judges of the higher courts can be reinstated provided they don’t hear cases against him, said an official privy to the developments.

The olive branch to the PPP, which is discussing details of government formation with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has apparently come in the form of a message conveyed through a common friend.

"The presidency is ready to restore the judges provided they don’t sit on benches hearing cases against the President," said the top government official. He said the presidency has also suggested that judges appointed by President Musharraf after 2007 November 3 emergency would be accommodated in the same positions or transferred to government positions usually held by serving judges.

"President Musharraf has also agreed to forego powers of sacking Parliament and appointing services chiefs," the official said, adding that in return he wants an assurance that no impeachment move would be tabled.

On Wednesday, in a rare show of strength, the PPP, PML(N) and the Awami National Party (ANP) and independents challenged President Musharraf to accept his defeat.

The PPP won 88 seats, the PML(N) 66 and the ANP 10 in the elections. Further, 27 independents have expressed their willingness to join the coalition. The Musharraf-backed PML(Quaid) could only win 39 seats. According to the official, Mr Zardari has not directly refused the options given by the presidency but said he would discuss this with his partners, particularly Mr Sharif, who has been saying President Musharraf is not acceptable under any circumstance.

In 1999, President Musharraf as Army chief overthrew Mr Sharif’s elected government and a year later sent him into forced exile to Saudi Arabia. Mr Sharif managed to return in November to lead his party in the national elections held last week. (IANS)

Taxi to the Dark Side - Amy Goodman

On the Sunday following Sept. 11, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney told the truth. On NBC's "Meet the Press," he said regarding plans to pursue the perpetrators of that attack: "We have to work the dark side, if you will. We're going to spend time in the shadows." The grim, deadly consequences of his promise have, in the intervening six years, become the shame of our nation and have outraged millions around the world. President George Bush and Cheney, many argue, have overseen a massive global campaign of kidnapping, illegal detentions, harsh interrogations, torture and kangaroo courts where the accused face the death penalty, confronted by secret evidence obtained by torture, without legal representation.

Cheney's shadows saw a moment of sunlight recently, as Alex Gibney won the Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature for his film Taxi to the Dark Side. The film traces the final days of a young Afghan man, Dilawar (many Afghans use just one name), who was arrested in 2001 by the U.S. military and brought to the hellish prison at Bagram Air Base. Five days later, Dilawar was dead, beaten and tortured to death by the United States military. Gibney obtained remarkable eyewitness accounts of Dilawar's demise from the very low-level soldiers who beat him to death. We see the simple village that was his lifelong home and hear from people there how Dilawar had volunteered to drive the taxi, which was an important source of income for the village. [for more click on the heading]

Niilofer Furrukh on Colin David

Op Art served as a visual device in Colin David’s paintings. The black and white background design with its linear optical illusion forms an ever-changing relationship with the form, which was either a nude or clothed figure. It is always the dynamic ‘patterned’ space rather than the form that holds the interest of the viewer. The nude became the painter’s forte and in later series it was set against verdant landscapes.

In the early post 1947 decades the artist adopted Modernism not as perpetuation of the First World hegemony but as a metaphor for change and economic freedom. In Pakistan the painters frequently borrowed classicised images of miniature paintings like Picasso did from Greek art and synthesized it with the grammar of modernism. Even if a European painter inspired them, it remained as a point of departure. The modernism that emerged in this region is not a derivative art but a stylistic adaptation used to articulate the experiences of a society in flux and in need for a dynamic expression.

It was the first generation, taught by the pioneer modernists that initiated a break from the straitjacket of formalism to deal with the reality of their lived experiences. The society was no longer being viewed in stereotypes or idealised images, but as an evolving nation faced with the challenges of transition, from a colony to a democracy.

Colin David: A master of contemporary art - By Marjorie Husain

On Monday, the 25th of February 2008, Pakistan lost a distinguished and revered artist. The world of art joins his family in mourning a great and gentle soul who will continue to live through his work for all time to come.

The country�s outstanding contemporary painter, Colin David, was an artist who understood the modern idiom in art. The sense of spatial harmony, brilliant use of colour and the contrapuntal element that balanced his work created paintings of rare and masterly quality. He was a superb draughtsman, an artist who endowed his work with a technical perfection that is all too rare.

Born in Karachi in 1937, Colin David began his art education at the Punjab University, Lahore, when the Fine Arts Department opened its doors to male students in 1956. After taking his MFA from the Punjab University Fine Arts Department in 1961, Colin was awarded a scholarship for post-graduate studies at the Slade School of Art, London. There he was guided by Sir William Coldstream, an artist who painted in the celebrated method of the �Euston Road� group. Like Khalid Iqbal before him, Colin admired Coldstream�s viewpoint involving the `reality rather than the impression� of a subject. At the Slade School, for the first time Colin David had the opportunity to paint from life, and found his artistic m�tier.

[for more click on the heading]

Canada extends its committment in Afghanistan

Here, in the Great White North we live in the shadow of a behemoth - the U.S. And in a sense we are more susceptible to its rumblings than other far off countries.

There was a time when Canada had an independent foreign policy. Lately, like the poodle Bush had across the pond, Ottawa has been trying to out do everyone. Specially under the current minority government of Stephen Harper, who when ordered to jump by the U.S. neoconzix asks 'how high'.

Canada, as you know has committed troops to Afghanistan. A majority of Canadians wants them pulled back. Harper has elicited the Liberals commitment to extend the deployment of its troops till the end of 2011.

Haroon writes about it in his column.

Canada clings to war as strategy for Afghanistan

The Liberals are talking their way out of their political quagmire in Afghanistan. They are joining the Conservatives in extending our military mission there.

The Liberal-Tory consensus comes amid increasing divisions among NATO allies as well as in the emerging power centres of post-election Pakistan over what do about the endless Afghan war.

The Liberals are now as irrelevant on Afghanistan as the American Democrats have been on Iraq.

The Liberals initiated the combat mission in Kandahar and the Democrats supported the Iraq war. Each has had difficulty pretending to be the party of peace.

By contrast, the Conservatives have been as sure-footed as the Republicans. As advocates of war, both have had clarity of purpose.

Stephen Harper and Gen. Rick Hillier are also using the same unsavoury tactics as George W. Bush and the American commander in Afghanistan – namely, that any democratic expression of doubt about the war is tantamount to aiding and abetting the enemy.

You are either with the Tories or you are "an agent for the Taliban," says House Leader Peter Van Loan.

The Liberals had a chance to carve out a clear position between a continuing commitment to an overly American combat warfare or abandoning Afghanistan altogether. John Manley, besides recommending an extension of the military mission, had called for a series of parallel steps to boost the civilian component of our commitment: A re-engineering of CIDA's failed efforts, a greater emphasis on reconstruction (there hasn't been much, even in areas where there is little fighting), democracy-building initiatives and a regional solution in concert with Pakistan and others.

The Liberals did nod in that direction but, in the end, let the government cherry-pick Manley's report.

So Why Not Two More - Bush and Cheney?

If 2,319,258 are already incarcerated than what difference would a few more make? George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be there along with former Sec. of Defense and Colin Powell and the other generals - as war criminals!

Report: 1 percent of U.S. adults behind bars

NEW YORK (AP) -- For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report.

San Quentin State Prison in California holds more than 5,200 inmates.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.

Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 -- one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.

The steadily growing inmate population "is saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime," the report said.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two excerpts from Jang Urdu

In today's Jang there are two very interesting columns by veteran columnists. The first one is by Hasan Nisar. His approach is thoughtful and balanced. Am a tad disappointed with Hamid Mir. He ought to get over his intense hatred of Pervez Musharraf and go back to his more objective reportage. Hamid Mir is seeing the relationship between Zardari and Sharif with rose tinted glasses. He does not mention the APDM agreements between the two parties when they had assumed the other to be in opposition. Read it for yourself.

مواخذہٴ، معافی، مکافات عمل,,,,چوراہا…حسن نثار

اور اس دلچسپ خبر کا تو واقعی جواب نہیں کہ مشہور زمانہ ”میثاق جمہوریت“ پیپلز پارٹی اور نون لیگ دونوں کے لئے ہی سانپ کے منہ میں چھپکلی بن گیا ہے کیونکہ میثاق جمہوریت پر عمل درآمد کی صورت میں مرکز سے لے کر پنجاب تک میں اپوزیشن کو تمام اہم امور میں مشاورت کے لئے شامل کرنا پڑے گا۔ محترمہ اور میاں کے درمیان طے پانے والا یہ ”تاریخی معاہدہ“ ”ویژن کی کمی“ کے سبب صرف یہ سوچ کر طے کیا گیا تھا کہ دونوں پارٹیوں میں سے ایک حکومت جبکہ دوسری اپوزیشن میں ہوگی

لیکن عوام نے حالیہ الیکشن میں ایسی کھچڑی تیار کردی ہے کہ اپوزیشن میں صدر مشرف کے حمایتی ہیں تو کیا اب ان میں اتنا
حوصلہ ہے کہ اہم امور پر اپوزیشن کے ساتھ مشاورت کریں؟ایک روز قبل عبدالرؤف فیم’جیو “ کے پاپولر پروگرام”50 منٹ“ میں میں نے کسی خاص حوالہ سے عرض کیا کہ اس وقت ملک میں اوسط درجہ کی قیادتیں ہیں۔ اس پر ”اوسط درجہ“ کو نہ سمجھتے ہوئے میرے ایک عزیز نے کہا کہ ”سیاست ہی نہیں صحافت میں بھی بونے ہیں“ ۔ سچ یہ ہے کہ صحافت میں بونے بونے ہی رہتے ہیں ،قد آور کبھی نہیں ہوسکتے جبکہ ہماری سیاست میں دولت، وارثت ، فوج کی آشیر باد یا کسی حادثہ کے سبب بھی بونے جن یا دیو بن جاتے ہیں۔

ماضی میں جو ”فاؤل پلے“پیپلز پارٹی اور نون لیگ میں چلتا رہا اب کچھ اور کے درمیان چل رہا ہے تو کوئی کس طرح مان لے کہ ہماری سیاسی قیادتیں بالغ اور قد آور ہوگئی ہیں……ضروری ہے کہ عالی ظرفی کا ثبوت دیتے ہوئے پاکستان اور اس کے عوام کی خاطر آپس میں عام معافی کا اعلان کرکے نئے سفر کا آغاز کریں کیونکہ کہانی سب کی ایک جیسی ہے یعنی ”اسبغول تے کچھ ناں پھرول“…کسی کے پیچھے سکندر مرزا اور جنرل ایوب ہے تو کسی کے پیچھے جنرل ضیاء الحق اور جنرل پرویز مشرف…گھر کی گھر میں ہی رہ جائے تو اچھا ہے کہ اس کے علاوہ عوام کی باری کبھی نہیں آئے گی۔ میاں نواز شریف کے ساتھ جو کچھ ہوا وہ ظلم، زیادتی اور ناجائز تھا۔ اسی لئے مجھ سمیت لکھنے والوں نے سات سال اس پر مسلسل احتجاج کیا۔”انجام بخیرتو کام بخیر“ All is well that ends wellوالی بات ہے…ہم تو اس کے عاشق اور ماننے والے اور حقیر سے امتی ہیں جس نے حضرت حمزہ کو شہید کرنے اور ان کا کلیجہ چبانے والی کو بھی معاف کردیا تھا…کہو معاف کیا،

دکھوں کی سانجھ,,,,قلم کمان …حامد میر

باتوں باتوں میں وہ یہ بھی کہہ جاتے ہیں کہ کاش بی بی صاحبہ مجھے پاکستان آنے سے نہ روکتیں۔ میں ان کی شہادت سے کچھ دن پہلے پاکستان آجاتا تو دشمنوں کی توجہ ان سے ہٹ کر میری طرف ہو جاتی اور ان کی جگہ میں مارا جاتا۔آصف زرداری کو یقین ہے کہ جب وہ اگلے جہاں میں ذوالفقار علی بھٹو سے ملیں گے تو وہ فخر سے اپنے داماد کو سینے سے لگائیں گے اور کہیں گے کہ جس مقصد کے لئے میں نے اور میری بیٹی نے قربانی دی وہ مقصد تم نے پورا کیا۔ آصف زرداری کو کوئی شک نہیں کہ جن مقاصد کے لئے بھٹو خاندان نے قربانیاں دی

ان مقاصد کا حصول نوازشریف کی مدد اور تعاون کے بغیر ممکن نہیں۔ ان مقاصد کے حصول کے لئے وہ نوازشریف کو صدر یا وزیراعظم بنانے کے لئے بھی تیار ہیں کیونکہ وہ کسی فرد یا عہدے کو نہیں بلکہ پارلیمنٹ کو مضبوط بنانے پر یقین رکھتے ہیں یہی وجہ ہے کہ وہ بڑی بڑی باتیں کرنے کی بجائے فی الحال صرف حکومت سازی میں دلچسپی لے رہے ہیں حکومت بنانے کے بعد وہ پارلیمنٹ میں دو تہائی اکثریت بنانے کی کوشش کریں گے اور جب یہ مرحلے طے ہو جائے گا تو پھر وہی ہوگا جو پاکستانیوں کی اکثریت چاہتی ہے۔ یہ اکثریت چند افراد کے ساتھ ساتھ پورے نظام سے چھٹکارا چاہتی ہے۔ آ

۔ نوازشریف کو زیادہ خطرہ جرنیل علی قلی خان سے تھا لیکن پرویز مشرف کے ہاتھوں اپنی حکومت گنوا بیٹھے۔ آج ان کا خیال ہے کہ آرمی چیف کا تقرر صرف اور صرف میرٹ اور سنیارٹی کے مطابق ہونا چاہئے تاکہ اعتراض اور پچھتاؤں کی کوئی گنجائش نہ

[There is no mention of how Nawaz tried to promote Lt. Gen Ziauddin Butt while Musharraf was away. How his plane was ordered not to land.]

ں۔ نوازشریف کہتے ہیں کہ فکر مت کیجئے! ہم پیسے اور وزارتوں کا لالچ دیئے بغیر صرف قومی اسمبلی نہیں بلکہ سینیٹ میں
بھی دوتہائی اکثریت بنائیں گے، میں قانون کی بالادستی بھی قائم ہو

I already see a conflict in priorities between these "leaders" and the "awam".

Naeem Chisti Crunching NA and Senate Numbers

A thoughtful number crunching by naeem chisti in the FP today - t

The question as to whether or not the new Assemblies will be able to complete their constitutional tenure of five years largely depends upon the working of the National Assembly. The people gave a split mandate for the National Assembly. Nonetheless, PMLN and ANP have already announced to support PPP in the centre. The three parties have 163 out of 262 general seats. After the allocation of seats for women and non-Muslims, the three parties are likely to have 212 out of 342 clear seats in the National Assembly which is only 62% of the total number of seats. All the three parties are trying to win independents on their sides.

Even if they are able to get two-third majority in the National Assembly with the help of the independents and other smaller parties, the fact remains that they do not have even simple majority in the upper house of the Parliament. The strength of PMLQ and MQM in the Senate is 39 and 6, respectively. Therefore, it will be a gigantic task for the three-partite coalition comprising PPP, PMLN and ANP to get even a simple majority in the Senate, unless they are able to bring some PMLQ senators on their side. Formation of a like-minded senators group in the Senate led by Nilofar Bakhtiar is a good beginning towards the end. Nonetheless, the balance of power in the Senate at present clearly lies in the hands of MMA as it has 18 seats in the Senate. Therefore, if PPP forms government in the centre, which is almost certain, it must join hands with Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Guantánamo’s shambolic trials: Andy Worthington

Guantánamo’s shambolic trials: Pentagon boss resigns, ex-chief prosecutor joins defense

This has been another terrible week for Guantánamo’s Military Commissions, established by Dick Cheney and his close advisors in November 2001 to try, convict and execute those responsible for 9/11 through a novel process so far removed from the US court system and the military’s own judicial procedures that the tainted fruit of torture would be allowed, and secret evidence could be withheld from the accused.

Camp Justice

Camp Justice, the newly-built home of the Military Commissions.

Struck down as illegal by the Supreme Court in June 2006, the Commissions stumbled back to life later that year in the hastily passed and virtually unscrutinized Military Commissions Act (which, for good measure, stripped the Guantánamo detainees of the habeas corpus rights granted by the Supreme Court in 2004), but they have struggled to establish any kind of credibility.

BIODIVERSITY: Life Under the Macroscope -- Stephen Leahy

BIODIVERSITY: Life Under the Macroscope
By Stephen Leahy

BROOKLIN, Canada, Feb 27 (IPS) - Free, authoritative and online: 1.8 million species.

That is the ultimate goal of the Encyclopedia of Life project, which put its first 30,000 species on the Internet this week. This ambitious global project will provide the details of every known species -- habitat, range, lifecycle, pictures and more -- and archive everything online so anyone can access this important information about life on Earth.

From sharks to mushrooms to bacteria, the Encyclopedia of Life will provide scientifically verified information that will satisfy both a grade school child's curiosity or enable a university researcher -- or amateur naturalist -- to make a scientific breakthrough, says James Edward, new executive director of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) project headquartered in Washington at the Smithsonian Institution.

Each species page has a built in content slider that allows you to select how much information you want to see on the page. And there is plenty of detail, including links to at least one million pages of digitised scientific information that is normally only available in the big 10 natural history museums located in the developed world.

"Anyone can access this for free no matter where they are," Edward told IPS.

Good News Bad News for Karzai

This news about Karzai is good news/bad news combo. It was widely held belief that President Karzai's writ extended only around the Presidential Palace. This news item extends that to 30% of the country. t

Karzai Controls a Third of Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — The Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai controls just 30 percent of the country, the top U.S. intelligence official said Wednesday.

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the resurgent Taliban controls 10 percent to 11 percent of the country and Karzai's government controls 30 percent to 31 percent. But more than six years after the U.S. invasion to oust the Taliban and establish a stable central government, the majority of Afghanistan's population remains under local tribal control, he said.

Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, the Defense Intelligence Agency director, told the committee at the same hearing that the Pakistan government is trying to crack down on the lawless tribal area along the Afghan border area where Taliban and al-Qaida are believed to be training, and from which they launch attacks in Afghanistan. But neither the Pakistani military nor the tribal Frontier Corps is trained or equipped to fight, he said.

Maples said it would take three to five years to address those deficiencies and see a difference in their ability to fight effectively in the tribal areas.

Balfour's Deceit - A G Noorani

A.G. Noorani reviews A History of Modern Palestine by Ilan Pappe, Balfour the Last Grandee by Adams and Murray and Churchill's Promised Land by Michael Palosky. In the concluding paragraphs he writes:

Can a state established by deceit and forcible ouster of the people of the land expect them to accept its legitimacy by mere efflux of time? What are 60 years to an ancient people, the Arabs? International recognition of Israel as a state cannot wipe out the facts of history or erase from the memories of the people it has wronged the brutalities it has perpetrated. International law is based on the states quo. For long it legitimised colonial rule. In law the colony was part of the territory of its overlord. It has nothing to do with morality. Israel simply lacks moral legitimacy. Itself a product of terror, it cannot complain if the people under occupation take to arms.

But will that be of any avail to them? Human blood, whether Jewish or Arab, is priceless. Violence has not accomplished and will not accomplish anything. Fortunately, there is growing acceptance within and outside Israel of the facts of history. The Arabs in Palestine can stir the Israelis’ and the world’s conscience by recourse to a non-violent campaign of revolt till justice is done to them in the light of the realities of today, however painful they are.

More cannot be demanded of the Palestinians. As Thycidides said, “It may be your interest to be our masters, but how can it be ours to be your slaves?”

[click on the heading to read the review]

Architecture: What we build.

Architecture: What we build.

Borrowed TimeHow do you build a public library in the age of Google?
Click here to launch a slide show about the architecture of libraries.

Click here to read a slide-show essay about the architecture of libraries.


William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82 - Hillel Italie

He wrote: "I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition," he wrote in The New York Times Book Review in 1986. "I asked myself the other day, `Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?' I couldn't think of anyone." - t

[for more click on the heading]

NEW YORK (AP) -- William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite Ivy Leaguer and conservative herald who showered huge and scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right's post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House, died Wednesday. He was 82.

His assistant Linda Bridges said Buckley was found dead by his cook at his home in Stamford, Conn. The cause of death was unknown, but he had been ill with emphysema, she said.

Editor, columnist, novelist, debater, TV talk show star of "Firing Line," harpsichordist, transoceanic sailor and even a good-natured loser in a New York mayor's race, Buckley worked at a daunting pace, taking as little as 20 minutes to write a column for his magazine, the National Review.

Yet on the platform, he was all handsome, reptilian languor, flexing his imposing vocabulary ever so slowly, accenting each point with an arched brow or rolling tongue and savoring an opponent's discomfort with wide-eyed glee.

AP Photo

Shaheryar Azhar: The Way Forward

Shaheryar Azhar has written an interesting column in today's News. His views offer a different and balanced perspective. t

The way forward —Shaheryar Azhar

There are two ways to deal with the wrongs of politicians: the court of law and the court of public opinion. Let those be the guide; coups don’t solve any problems, they perpetuate them

Pakistan’s born-again democracy will fail. Musharraf will be proven right that Pakistan does, after all, need ‘unity of command’. The worst of the sceptics will say “Pakistan is a failing state with or without military rule but more slowly with than without”.

Pakistan’s elite, which consists of the majority of the army’s brass, its bureaucracy, its multi-national technocrats and its feudals, will once again be singing paeans to a smartly-uniformed general who speaks in clipped tones. And they will be spitting venom in their living-rooms on Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari — those no-good politicians who are taking the country down the garbage chute.

Serbs, Cristofascism and Noam Chomsky

One of Noam Chomsky's latest books -- a conversation with David Barsamian -- is entitled What We Say Goes. It catches a powerful theme of Chomsky's: that we have long been living on a one-way planet and that the language we regularly wield to describe the realities of our world is tailored to Washington's interests.

Juan Cole, at his Informed Comment website, had a good example of the strangeness of this targeted language recently. When Serbs stormed the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, he offered the following comment (with so many years of the term "Islamofascism" in mind): "...given that the Serbs are Eastern Orthodox Christians, will the Republican Party and Fox Cable News now start fulminating against 'Christofascism?'"

Of course, the minute you try to turn the Washington norm (in word or act) around, as Chomsky did in a piece entitled What If Iran Had Invaded Mexico?, you've already entered the theater of the absurd. "Terror" is a particularly good example of this. "Terror" is something that, by (recent) definition, is committed by free-floating groups or movements against innocent civilians and is utterly reprehensible (unless the group turns out to be the CIA running car bombs into Baghdad or car and camel bombs into Afghanistan, in which case it's not a topic that's either much discussed, or condemned in our world). On the other hand, that weapon of terror, air power, which is at the heart of the American way of war, simply doesn't qualify under the category of "terror" at all -- no matter how terrifying it may be to innocent civilians who find themselves underneath the missiles and bombs.

It's with this in mind that Chomsky turns to terror of every kind in the Middle East in the context of the car bombing of a major figure in Lebanon's Hizbollah movement. By the way, The Essential Chomsky (edited by Anthony Arnove), a new collection of his writings on politics and on language from the 1950s to the present, has just been published and is highly recommended. Introduction by TomDispatch editor, Tom Engelhardt.

The Most Wanted List

International Terrorism

By Noam Chomsky

On February 13, Imad Moughniyeh, a senior commander of Hizbollah, was assassinated in Damascus. "The world is a better place without this man in it," State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said: "one way or the other he was brought to justice." Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell added that Moughniyeh has been "responsible for more deaths of Americans and Israelis than any other terrorist with the exception of Osama bin Laden."

[Please click on the heading for the rest]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib in Urdu

At this link you will find the complete kalaam of Mirza Asaullah Khan Ghalib in Urdu. For those who cannot read Urdu, and also want the sharah from Ustaads and a current commentary by the likes of Shamshur Rehman Faruqui and Frances Prictchett, they can go to the A Desertful of Roses.

Diwaan e Ghalib

بارے اس نسخےکے

ہم ماہرینِ غالبیات ہونےکا دعویٰ نہیں کرتے اور نہ ہمارا یہ خیال ہے کہ ہمیں محقّقین میں شمار کیا جاۓ۔ اردو ویب ڈاٹ آرگ کے کچھ سر پھرے رضاکاروں نے بس یہ بیڑا اٹھایا کہ دیوانِ غالبؔ کو اردو تحریر کی شکل میں مہیا کیا جاۓ۔ اور پھر یہ کوشش رہی کہ زیادہ سے زیادہ کلام یہاں یک جا ہو سکے۔ محض مروّجہ دیوان کے علاوہ بھی ع جو کچھ ملے، جہاں سے ملے، جس قدر ملے۔ بس کوشش کی ہے کہ کلام غالبؔ کا ہی ہو، کسی اور اسدؔ کا نہ ہو کہ یہ شعر بھی شامل کر دیا جاۓ ۔۔۔۔

ترتیب و تحقیق: اعجاز عبید، جویریہ مسعود

ٹائپنگ:اردو ویب ڈاٹ آرگ ٹیم۔۔۔اعجاز اختر (اعجاز عبید) ، سیدہ شگفتہ ، نبیل نقوی ، شعیب افتخار (فریب)، محب علوی، رضوان ، شمشاد

تصحیح و اضافہ: جویریہ مسعود، اعجاز عبید L

Is it Radical? Is it Revisionism? Or is it Scholarship?

As a student of this language and as a minor poet I would have avoided the use of the word "radical" in the BBC headline for the news report emanating from Turkey. But then what do I know?

To me it is pursuit of knowledge. A lot of dust had gathered down the centuries. And we do not debate with the same scholarship, zest and knowledge as earlier Muslims used to. Efforts like this should be taken up seriously all over the Muslim world. After all, do we not subscribe to the Book that intones time and again to 'read, understand and follow?'

By Robert Piggott
Religious affairs correspondent, BBC News

A Lebanese man reads the Koran
The scholars say they are returning to the original values of Islam

Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam - and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion.

The country's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

The Hadith is a collection of thousands of sayings reputed to come from the Prophet Muhammad.

As such, it is the principal guide for Muslims in interpreting the Koran and the source of the vast majority of Islamic law, or Sharia.

Why do Muslim Women Suffer Everywhere - Is Islam to be Blamed?

Why do Muslim women suffer in almost all Islamic countries? Is there something inherently wrong with Muslim men or is it the indoctrination or inability to adjust to times?

When it suits the clerics (ok mullahs if you please) they accept the wrist watch. But when a mathematical progression of the same science can calculate the birth of a new moon, they suddenly insist on climbing a camel to view the crescent with their own eyes.

Or they will accept calculations that show the as'r prayer times in a city on a given day six months from today. But refuse to accept the same set of calculations when it gives you the whole hijra calendar for the next century.

Any advance that they view as an encroachment on their turf, they term is bidaa.

The reason am writing about the Muslim women and then drifted to clerics (mullahs) is because of a news report that mentions that the Afghan women still suffer at the hands of (non-taliban) Afghans. They suffered under the talibans, they are still suffering under the Non-Talibans. So something is the matter with either the Muslims or Islam - as it observed and interpreted today.

In Afghanistan, Women's Lives Are Worse Than Ever By Terri Judd

Grinding poverty and the escalating war is driving an increasing number of Afghan families to sell their daughters into forced marriages.

Girls as young as six are being married into a life of slavery and rape, often by multiple members of their new relatives. Banned from seeing their own parents or siblings, they are also prohibited from going to school. With little recognition of the illegality of the situation or any effective recourse, many of the victims are driven to self-immolation -- burning themselves to death -- or severe self-harm.

Six years after the US and Britain "freed" Afghan women from the oppressive Taliban regime, a new report proves that life is just as bad for most, and worse in some cases.

Projects started in the optimistic days of 2002 have begun to wane as the UK and its NATO allies fail to treat women's rights as a priority, workers in the country insist.

The statistics in the report from Womankind, Afghan Women and Girls Seven Years On, make shocking reading. Violent attacks against females, usually domestic, are at epidemic proportions with 87 percent of females complaining of such abuse -- half of it sexual. More than 60 percent of marriages are forced.

Despite a new law banning the practice, 57 percent of brides are under the age of 16. The illiteracy rate among women is 88 percent with just 5 percent of girls attending secondary school.

nuts to be written about

Same Old Corn, Different Flakes

posted by Moderator
Filed under: Satire


thanks Toni

Finally a Declaration: Terrorism is Unislamic

In About Time They Get Their Act Together I had linked the meeting held in Deoband recently. Here is the report at the end of that session declaring terrorism unislamic.

This effort should be lauded and duplicated in Pakistan also. Clerics and madaris of all hues should get together and discuss the issue and agree to make a similar declaration. And if that happens then there should be a concerted effort all over the print, electronic and display media to thrust that message all over Pakistan.

Muslim clerics declare terror 'un-Islamic'

DEOBAND: Denouncing terrorism in all its manifestations, top Muslim groups in India on Monday adopted a declaration calling it "un-Islamic" and terming it against the Islamic principle of "peace". The declaration adopted by the organisations at a meeting here on Monday, however, also criticised attempts to malign Muslims and madrassas. The Anti-terrorism Conference organised by Islamic seminary Darul Uloom in Uttar Pradesh's Deoband town was attended by clerics, scholars and religious leaders from several sects and groups across the country. "Islam is a religion of mercy for all humanity. Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism. It has regarded oppression, mischief, rioting and murder among severest sins and crimes," said the declaration, adopted by over 10,000 participants. "Islam prohibits killing of innocent people," it said. The conference, however, expressed its deep concern and agony on the present global condition in which most of the nations are adopting an adverse attitude towards Muslims. "It is a matter of greater concern that the internal and external policies of a country are getting heavily influenced by these forces," it said. The gathering also condemned attempts to implicate Muslims and particularly religious institutions for terrorist acts. "The disease (terrorism) has been diagnosed in a wrong way. Whenever there is any incident of terrorism, every possible attempt is made to link it to Muslims and particularly who have studied in madrassas and some religious institutions. This is totally wrong," said Adil Siddiqui, public relations officer of Darul Uloom.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the PPPP manifesto

Notice the irony in the following? The Co Chairperson (notice the missing "for life ?) of the PPPP has said time is "ripe" to strengthen the democratic institutions.

Time ripe to strengthen democratic institutions: Zardari ISLAMABAD, Feb 26 (APP): The time is ripe for political forces to strengthen the democratic institutions and bury the conspiracies of anti democratic forces forever, co-chairman of Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) Asif Ali Zardari Monday said. Addressing a meeting of losing PPPP candidates from Sindh at his house, Asif Ali Zardari said that it was incumbent upon the democratic dispensation to strengthen the institutions rather than individuals as the public has given them mandate for maintaining the supremacy of constitutional institutions in the country. Playing its role, Pakistan People's Party will also pursue its manifesto objective of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to recognize and accord respect to the victims of injustices, the PPPP co-chairman said, and, “apology to the people of Balochistan was the first step in this direction.” (Posted @ 21:46 PS

Steve Coll interviewd by Wajahat Ali

And here is another interview

Associate editor Wajahat Ali speaks to Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Steve Coll on the recent Pakistan elections, the future for President Musharraf, and life in the Northwest Frontier Province.

Pakistan's recent elections have highlighted the many facets of political and social life in that troubled country. From the urban areas of Karachi and Lahore to the tribal areas of the Northwest Frontier Provinces, Pakistan is a study in contradictions and a microcosm for the trials and tribulations of the Muslim world. But what will happen now in a post-Bhutto (and potentially post-Musharraf) country? Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 has spent many years reporting from Pakistan, serving as the South Asia bureau chief of the Washington Post and is currently the director of the New America Foundation. Associate editor Wajahat Ali spoke to Coll on the recent Pakistan elections, the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden, and the inescapable influence of US foreign policy.

Andy Worthington on the Media and Afghanistan

An interview of journalist Andy Worthington by Joshua Holland. To read it in full please click on the link here. t

Afghanistan: The Brutal and Unnecessary War The Media Aren't Telling You About

By Joshua Holland,

They say journalists provide the first draft of history. With the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, that draft led to an almost universal consensus, at least among Americans, that the attack was a justifiable act of self-defense. The Afghanistan action is commonly viewed as a "clean" conflict as well -- a war prosecuted with minimal loss of life, and one that didn't bring the kind of international opprobrium onto the United States that the invasion of Iraq would lead to a year later.

Those views are also held by many Americans who are critical of the excesses of the Bush administration's "War on Terror." But there's a disconnect there. Everything that followed -- secret detentions, torture, the invasion of Iraq, the assault on domestic dissent -- flowed inevitably from the failure to challenge Bush's claim that an act of terror required a military response. The United States has a rich history of abandoning its purported liberal values during times of war, and it was our acceptance of Bush's war narrative that led to the abuses that have shattered America's moral standing before the world.

In his book, The Guantánamo Files, historian and journalist Andy Worthington offers a much-needed corrective to the draft of the Afghanistan conflict that most Americans saw on their nightly newscasts. Worthington is the first to detail the histories of all 774 prisoners who have passed through the Bush administration's "legal black hole" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But his history starts in Afghanistan, and makes it abundantly clear that the road to Guantánamo -- not to mention Abu Ghraib -- began in places like Kandahar.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Down But Not Out? This is Strange

PPP, PML-Q get most votes

KARACHI: Although there is a great difference in the number of seats won in the National Assembly (NA), the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) has emerged second to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on account of votes received. According to a ‘Party-Wise Total Vote Bank’ sheet compiled by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the PPP has secured the largest number of votes in the 2008 general elections. The PPP received more than 15 million votes throughout the country for National Assembly seats. The PML-Q came second, securing around eight million votes. According to the sheet compiled Monday, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) came third, receiving around 6.8 million votes. Independent candidates secured fourth position, with around 3.7 million votes cast in their favour, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was fifth after receiving approximately 2.5 million votes. It is pertinent to mention that the results of, at least, 8 NA seats have yet to be announced, as the results are either pending or elections were not held in the constituencies. razzak abro

Turbaned Obama: Is It the Beginning of a New Low

Barak "Hussain" Obama is surfacing. Or the smear campaign against him. And between now and November it will get worse.

A few days ago NYT came out with the story of Senator McCain's fling with a lobbyist.

The front runners are guaranteed to get it.

This turban business is just the icing.

AP Photo
AP Photo/Anonymous

Time to Start Asserting Civilian Control

One of the things the new government should look into is to assert itself over the "agencies". The Army budget should be capped and brought under full civilian review. This should be a long term objective.

Hamid Gul, who has confessed to his misdeeds and now Ehtesham Zamir should be charged under the law.

If General Kiani is a professional soldier he would acquisce to this in the interest of nation building and will be remembered for this.

The Army Chief should be under the Defence Minister. The Government should be able to line-item scrutinise the military budget. The Army should return all state lands acquired or confiscated to the provinces. The Army Chief should not be empowered to grant lands to officers. The various trusts should be brought at par with civilian trusts when it comes to taxation. Retired faujis pention should come from the military budget. And more. These are suggestions for long term reform. General Kiani should be made to understand a simple fact. Army exists because there is a country! And a country of 175 million needs find ways to reduce military's disproportionate share of the pie.

POLITICS-PAKISTAN: 'Inter Services Intelligence Interferes in Polls' By Amir Mir

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25 (IPS) - A former top official of Pakistan's shadowy but powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has called for the political cell of the agency to be shut down and 'confessed' to having manipulated the 2002 general elections at the behest of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

Ehtesham Zamir, who headed the ISI's political cell in 2002 and was a serving major general in the Pakistan army at that time, told 'The News' daily on Saturday that he was ordered by Musharraf to help the 'king's party', the Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q), to come to power.

Zamir blamed the rout of the PML-Q in the just concluded elections as a ‘’reaction of the unnatural dispensation'' that he helped install in 2002. His confessions follow the disclosures of another retired high-ranking army officer Lt. Gen. Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani that Musharraf ignored the advice of his corps commanders that he stop patronising the PML-Q.

Importantly, Zamir, the former second-highest ranking officer in the ISI has called for the closure of the political cell in the agency, saying it was ‘part of the problem’ for its involvement in forging unnatural alliances that were contrary to public interests.

Chore Gaya, Daku Aaaya*

I. A. Rahman has raised some interesting questions in today's News. They are of the variety that serious analysts have forgotten to ask until now in the exuberance of election results. But one cannot help noticing also, that while he raises questions not asked hitherto he also avoids some other obvious queries. - t

* The heading is a quote on the elections by curmudgeon Ardeshir Cowasjee on a ARY post elections show.

POST POLL By I. A. Rehman

It should, however, be worth somebody's while to examine whether a master-designer charged with the task of making the electoral exercise credible could have wished the outcome to be any different. The election could have invited criticism if the turnout had been very low, if the king's party stalwarts had won despite the voter hostility they faced during their forays in their constituencies, if the strong pro-PPP wave in Sindh was not reflected in the voting pattern, and if MMA and Balochistan's nationalists had won a substantial number of seats despite the boycott of polls by their parties.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, an event management company had been commissioned to ensure that the poll result did not attract doubts on the grounds mentioned above. Could the tender-winning concern have delivered?

The beauty of the polling lay in the happy convergence of the following factors. While the Q-League heavy weights, who had carpeted the streets in their constituencies with crisp currency notes, could not even become runners-up to winners, the smaller fry had little problem in attracting more supporters than ever. The crowds of voters, suggested by heavier than 50 per cent turnout, were not visible to poll-watchers who stayed at their post throughout the day. Heavy vote-fall was possible at polling stations where the lunch interval was extended beyond a couple of hours. Finally, kind-hearted presiding officers made little fuss about identity cards and won kids' hearts by allowing them to stamp the ballots, and nobody was surprised when the butcher's cat, who was quite a normal vote-eating rig till the eve of polling suddenly became vegetarian on the day of balloting.

Everybody who matters is now happy that Tariq Azim betrays no trace of embarrassment while offering the PPP help in forming a new government. Nawaz Sharif is wining plaudits for not forgiving the PML-Q and being generous to the sheep that had strayed away from the flock. They are welcome to join the flock. True reconciliation, indeed.

The game the establishment loves most has now begun. The PPP will make a push for power and those advising it to strengthen democracy by allowing the lion of Punjab to take the reins of authority are likely to fare no better than they had in 1988. A similar dilemma may be haunting the PML-N. The lure of power is stronger than the love of democracy. It is likely to continue like this for many more years.

stuff white people like

Here is a blog that satirises what white people want. I have read a few and chuckled. You will like some of them too :) --t

#61 Bicycles
February 10, 2008 by clander
A good place to find white people on a Saturday is at a Bike Shop. Bike shops are almost entirely staffed and patronized by white people!
But not all white people love bicycles in the same way, there is much diversity. First up, we have the younger urban white folks who absolutely love their fixed gear bicycles. These are seen all over college towns, Silverlake in LA, Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Queen West in Toronto, and Victoria, British Columbia. Fixed gear bicycles meet a lot of requirements for white person acceptance. They can be made from older (i.e. vintage) bicycles, thus allowing the rider to have a unique bike that is unlikely to be ridden by anyone else in town. They are also easily customizable with expensive things Aerospoke rims, Phil Wood Hubs, and Nitto Parts. The combination of rare bicycles and expensive parts makes it easy for white people to judge other white people on the quality and originality of their bicycles. This is important in determining if someone is or isn’t cooler than you.

“Taxi to the Dark Side” wins Oscar; HBO to air crucial torture film in September

Alex Gibney at the OscarsIn a genuinely impressive demonstration of frontline politics seeping into the frocks, gossip and backslapping of the Oscars, “Taxi to the Dark Side,” Alex Gibney’s chilling and compelling documentary about American torture, which focuses on the murder by US personnel of an innocent taxi driver named Dilawar in the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, won “best documentary” at the awards ceremony on Sunday. Accepting the award, Gibney said, “This is dedicated to two people who are no longer with us, Dilawar, the young Afghan taxi driver, and my father, a navy interrogator who urged me to make this film because of his fury about what was being done to the rule of law. Let’s hope we can turn this country around, move away from the dark side and back to the light.”

Taxi to the Dark SideBroadcast by the BBC last October, “Taxi to the Dark Side” — which also casts an unflinching eye on torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, demolishing the US administration’s claims that human rights abuses and murders were executed by a “few bad apples” — has been showing in cinemas across the United States to widespread critical acclaim in the ten months since its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival last April, but its US network premiere was recently derailed by the Discovery Channel. Earlier this month, Alex Gibney said that he had agreed to sell the TV rights to the Discovery Channel because executives convinced him they would “give the film a prominent broadcast,” but shortly after the company withdrew its endorsement. As Think Progress explained, “with plans to take the company public, executives were afraid the film’s controversial content might damage Discovery’s public offering.”

An open letter to Aitzaz Ahsan - Raza Rumi

A passionate plea by Raza Rumi. Hope Aitezaz listens and let the elected representatives move forward. t

This is a historic moment that cannot be squandered or lost to the politics of personalities and individuals. Most Pakistanis are in awe of the dismissed Chief Justice for his strength of character, they have tremendous respect for the members of the bench who refused to succumb to the executive diktat following the imposition of emergency in November 2007. And above all, they are also tired of General Musharraf whose good intentions have only led to the proverbial hell of energy and food crises, rampant inflation and roaming suicide bombers. But this struggle just cannot be about getting rid of the president and reinstating the Chief Justice. That would be a belittling corollary of this fabulous episode in our recent history.
[for more click on the link]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Load Shedding and Sind

Load shedding is a reality for Sind. There are hardly any new plants coming online in the immediate future. Dams, Coal, Gas or Nuclear powered generators are forever being discussed to death. Windmill and Tide generated power is not even talked about.

Recently, you must have read reports of the finding one of the largest deposits of coal in the subcontinent near Hyderabad. Coal fired Electrical Generation was responsible for much of the pollution in the las decades. But there is a new generation of plants that has cut down the pollution drastically from the old ones along with improving the efficiency ratio from about 10% to 40%. Of course there is a higher cost involved in these plants. But then the recovery rate is also increased.

"If 2% of the whole coal reserves at Thar gets utilised, the country could generate 20,000MW of electricity for 40 years and if the whole reserves are utilised, then it could easily be imagined how much energy could be generated."

The new governments, both in Sind and in Pakistan should urgently review the power generating crisis and act. This review should also focus on coal. nuclear and wind generation.

Here is an article that lists ten myths about nuclear generation.

Rob Johnston

Ten myths about nuclear power

‘It's dangerous, wasteful and too expensive!’ Greens are busily putting the case against nuclear, but there is not a spark of truth in their arguments

Profane Poet - David Mamet - Reviewed by JEREMY McCARTER

The apotheosis of David Mamet comes near the start of the movie version of “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Alec Baldwin — hair slicked back, pocket square peaking just so — unleashes a furious, seven-minute tirade against some underperforming real estate salesmen. “First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado,” he says of a sadistic new contest to increase business. “Second prize is a set of steak knives. ... Third prize is you’re fired.” After insulting his listeners’ manhood, competence and just about every other attribute that can be impugned with a well-aimed profanity, Baldwin caps the presentation by extracting from his briefcase and brandishing a pair of huge brass balls.

Thomas Victor

David Mamet in 1978.


A Life in the Theatre.

By Ira Nadel.

278 pp. Palgrave Macmillan. $26.95.

Terse lyricism, vicious comedy, masculinity that’s at once aggressive and pathetic, lots and lots of swear words: virtually every facet of the Mamet persona gets a note or two in this aria of testosterone. It says a great deal for this speech and others like it in his fierce early works (“American Buffalo,” “Edmond,” “Speed-the-Plow”) that his public profile even now remains that of a swaggering, foul-mouthed Chicagoan, despite a couple of decades’ worth of work that tells a more complicated story.

Although it’s long been the privilege of major American playwrights to wander off the reservation, Mamet has done so more aggressively than most. What was once a side business in Hollywood has become something closer to a full-time occupation. In addition to writing some two dozen screenplays, he has directed 10 films, including “The Winslow Boy,” about the kind of proper English folk that his earlier characters would have mugged, and “Spartan,” a political thriller about agents for a lethal secret government agency that gave him the idea for the television series “The Unit,” which he continues to produce. He has written 11 nonfiction books ventilating on everything from the movie business (“Bambi vs. Godzilla”) to anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hatred (“The Wicked Son”). He’s written three novels and directed commercials for Ford. He also draws cartoons. [for more click on the heading]

A Fire in the Heart - review of Suri by Caryn James

We all live in the shadow of history, and the play of its lights and shades over individual lives is the stuff of historical fiction. In his sweepingly ambitious, captivating second novel, “The Age of Shiva,” Manil Suri creates a woman who is never an actor in the great events of India’s post-independence decades but cannot escape their power to shape her.

Jon Han


By Manil Suri.

455 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $24.95.

The heroine, Meera, is smart, yet all too willing to subjugate herself. Her adulthood begins in Delhi in 1955 at a fifth-

anniversary celebration of the founding of the Indian republic, when the fireworks and excitement encourage her to fall disastrously in love. Her story goes on for the next 25 years. As she moves to Bombay and becomes an obsessively loving mother, the novel occasionally flashes back to her girlhood, when her prosperous Hindu family fled the Muslim-controlled city of Rawalpindi, in what would soon become Pakistan. But while she floats through a society in which women’s roles are rapidly changing, Meera and her era are variables in a more basic, almost mathematical formula: Scarlett O’Hara + the Civil War = “Gone With the Wind.” [for more click on the heading]

New CUNY Center to Focus on the Art of the Biography By MOTOKO RICH

Hoping to elevate the art and scholarship of biography, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York is setting up a center where its practitioners can meet, trade ideas and work.
Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

The biographers Nancy Milford and David Nasaw.

Financed by a $3.7 million gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, the new center will offer four fellowships for this fall to academics and others who are working on biographies, as well as two fellowships to graduate students at CUNY who are writing biographical dissertations. Next year the center will add two more fellowship slots.

David Nasaw, a professor of history at the Graduate Center who will serve as the faculty director of what is to be named the Leon Levy Center for Biography, said he had been mulling such a project for “a gazillion years.” But, he said, the idea finally crystallized last year when he met Nancy Milford, the author of “Zelda: A Biography” and “Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay” and now a distinguished lecturer at Hunter College.

Adil Najam of

I met him once briefly at the T2F. He was articulate, polite and responsive. Here is a write up on Adil Najam, founder now edited by Owais Mughal - from the Boston Globe. -t

Adil Najam Adil Najam, onetime TV talk show host, is now the director of BU’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. (Yoon S. Byun / Globe Staff)

The moderator

'Global citizen' Adil Najam has gone from sharing a Nobel Prize to starting a blog where Pakistanis can share views peacefully By Omar Sacirbey

Aboard a Pakistan International Airlines flight bound for Logan Airport 16 years ago, Adil Najam sat in his seat and thought, "What have I done? Why would I leave all that?"

Sports reporter, TV talk show host, national environmental expert, Najam was a celebrity in the south Asian nation of 165 million by his mid-20s. "I was quite happy there. Pakistan was good to me," said Najam, now living in Boxborough with his wife and three children. Rather than riding his good fortune, he was off to MIT for the more secure but seemingly staid pursuit of an engineering degree.

But instead of vanishing into technocratic anonymity, Najam, 42, has emerged as a rising star in the international environmental movement, earning a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore and other scientists on an international climate change council, while also becoming a go-to expert on the Muslim world for NPR, CNN, and other news outlets. Most recently he has reentered the political debate in Pakistan with his blog, which has become a must-read for Pakistan-watchers as the nation, a critical American ally in the war on terror, simmers with political violence heading into national elections today.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Justice and the Poor

Will the revamped judiciary in Pakistan dispense justice? And how?

Traditionally, the goddess of law is neither blind nor deaf. It goes easy on the rich and harder on the poor.

Unless the disenfranchised get justice, and soon and fairly, they will continue to look for the short cuts. Welcome Kalashnikov culture.

Look at the men and women languishing in jails for petty crimes, for their inability to post meagre bonds, for not affording representation.

In the great U.S. it is the same. If you rob billions, you are lightly reprimanded. Read the linked article. If you smoke crack, or peddle hash you are incarcerated for far longer.

Bankers each get 37 months in Enron case By JUAN A. LOZANO

HOUSTON (AP) -- Three former British bankers who pleaded guilty for their roles in a fraudulent scheme with former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow were each sentenced Friday to three years and one month in prison.

The 37-month sentences for David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew matched federal prosecutors' recommendation to U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr.

In November, the three defendants each pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud as part of a plea agreement after initially saying they did not collude with Fastow in a secret financial scam in 2000 to enrich themselves at their employer's expense.

Enron, once the nation's seventh-largest company, crumbled into bankruptcy in December 2001 after years of accounting tricks could no longer hide billions in debt or make failing ventures appear profitable. The collapse wiped out thousands of jobs, more than $60 billion in market value and more than $2 billion in pension plans.

Uncovering the Racism of Population Politics - Priscilla Huang

Shades of turf warfare: have more babies (white please) and stop immigrants. Here is Priscilla Huang's take on gender aspect of racism and population politics in the west. -t

When anti-immigrant zealots publicize their opposition to policies that they perceive as "pro-immigrant," they often insist that their motives are not racist. The anti-immigrant movement has carefully maintained that it is only opposed to "illegal" immigration, and welcomes immigrants who "follow the rules" and enter the country legally (even though half of all undocumented immigrants actually entered the U.S. through legal channels). Many pundits and presidential candidates similarly embrace this rhetoric. But as numerous immigrant rights organizations and columnist Andres Oppenheimer have pointed out, their assertions are in fact disingenuous.

What's more, immigrant women bear the brunt of these anti-immigrant attacks. Take the issue of birthright citizenship. Since the early 1990s, this 14th Amendment right has been under assault by nativist organizations like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, who successfully lobbied Congress members to introduce legislation that would repeal and replace the Citizenship Clause with a provision that would restrict birthright citizenship to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Over the years, restricting birthright citizenship has gained such popularity among conservative circles that the Republican party included it in their 1996 party platform. More recently, current and former Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have voiced their support for ending this birthright. (Last month, Mike Huckabee was also reputed to support the effort to change our birthright citizenship laws, but later withdrew his support).