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Monday, March 31, 2008

Mediawatch World, Mar 31: Edward Said, Mistress Shakespeare, Kurd Deportation, Arab Blogging, Jean Nouvel

Edward Said was a longstanding friend and comrade. We first met in 1972, at a seminar in New York. Even in those turbulent times, one of the features that distinguished him from the rest of us was his immaculate dress sense: everything was meticulously chosen, down to the socks. It is almost impossible to visualize him any other way. At a conference in his honour in Beirut in 1997, Edward insisted on accompanying Elias Khoury and myself for a swim. As he walked out in his swimming trunks, I asked why the towel did not match. ‘When in Rome’, he replied, airily; but that evening, as he read an extract from the Arabic manuscript of his memoir Out of Place, his attire was faultless. It remained so till the end, throughout his long battle with leukaemia. Remembering Edward Said - Tariq Ali

When I heard that Germaine Greer was embarking on a biography I was skeptical of what seemed likely to be a tenuous enterprise. There are serious gaps in our knowledge of Shakespeare himself, and facts about the woman he married are even harder to come by. Though Greer makes no use in Shakespeare's Wife of the fictions I have mentioned, she is nevertheless much concerned with what she sees as fictions masquerading as truth in what claim to be biographical writings about Shakespeare (or the Bard, as she is all too apt to call him). Ann, she considers, has had an unjustifiably bad press at the hands of (mainly male) biographers such as Anthony Burgess, Anthony Holden, and Stephen Greenblatt, and her book offers characteristically pugnacious challenges to what she sees as received opinion. Drawing on her own research in the archives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on the place of women in Elizabethan society, she makes use of the techniques and skills of a social historian and, to a lesser extent, a genealogist. Mistress Shakespeare By Stanley Wells

Blinded by the apparent allure of a tall, thin woman from France, Britain’s press completely ignored the forcible deportation, on Thursday, of 60 Iraqi Kurds, who were transported back to a decidedly uncertain future on a German plane from a UK airport. Each of the 60 “failed asylum seekers,” as they are officially known, was escorted by an armed Home Office guard funded by the UK taxpayer. The guards had previously seized the men from the detention centers at Campsfield and Colnbrook in what looked uncomfortably like a “dawn raid.” UK government deports 60 Iraqi Kurds; no one notices Andy Worthington

Blogging in Egypt is taking off, although it is still relatively unknown and certainly not popular among the general public. However, among journalists and the professional, globalized class, it is an emergent phenomeneon. The Egyptian blog ring claims more than 1500 blogs, with slightly less than half of those published in English ( The Egyptian Blog Review’s motto “from citizens to watchdogs” proclaims the potential for new forms of citizen media to bypass state control and self-censorship, evidence of the impact changes in global communications systems are having. These changes favor narrowcasting and transnational, sub-state media that provide a more realistic view of the world than the traditional state-run media. Rania Al Malky, a former journalist for the English-language Egypt Today, describes on her site how new media is both subversive to the state and empowering to the public: “In a country like Egypt where state control of the media has reached such epidemic proportions that self-censorship has become a worse threat than direct censorship, the empowering effect of a blog is undeniable. It was only natural that political activists would pick it up to spread their pro-reform message and coordinate demonstrations and other forms of civil action which have been slowly gaining momentum in the past two years. And they now have the tools to tell the real story of how their peaceful protests are ‘controlled’”. Blogging in the Arab World

- Courtney C. Radsch

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jean Nouvel, the French architect whose hyper-modern buildings have been acclaimed for their eclectic nature and departure from tradition, has won the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize, it was announced Sunday. Nouvel joins Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando and I.M. Pei in receiving the top honor in the field in recognition of his high-rises, museums and performance halls around the world. "I think they understood very well that I fight for specific architecture against generic architecture," Nouvel said by phone from his office in Paris. "Every project is an adventure." French architect Nouvel wins Pritzker

Tariq Ali's concluding paragraph in Where has all the rage gone? Some, who once dreamed of a better future, have simply given up. Others espouse a bitter maxim: unless you relearn you won't earn. The French intelligentsia, which had from the Enlightenment onwards made Paris the political workshop of the world, today leads the way with retreats on every front. Renegades occupy posts in every west European government defending exploitation, wars, state terror and neocolonial occupations; others now retired from the academy specialise in producing reactionary dross on the blogosphere, displaying the same zeal with which they once excoriated factional rivals on the far left. This, too, is nothing new. More here.

Mediawatch World Mar 30: Why Blog? Your Books, Bhandara, Iraqi Army, Crazy McCain, Gaza, Hugh Laurie, Torturing Detainees, Aga Khan's Yacht, and more

Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!” It’s Not You, It’s Your Books - Rachel Donadio

Readers discover, like it and forward links to their friends, who forward them to lots more friends. Newspaper columnists mention it, stealing — er, quoting — some of the better jokes. By the end of February, the NPR program “Talk of the Nation” runs a report on it, debating whether the site is racist or satire. And then on March 20 Random House announces that it has purchased the rights to a book by the blog’s founder, Christian Lander, an Internet copy writer. The price, according to a source familiar with the deal but not authorized to discuss the total, was about $300,000, a sum that many in the publishing and blogging communities believe is an astronomical amount for a book spawned from a blog, written by a previously unpublished author. Why Blog? Reason No. 92: Book Deal

He is 94 years old. He is perhaps India's most widely known English columnist, novelist and translator of Urdu poetry. His remarks are polemical, arrow-straight and honest. His pen as a newspaper columnist can make the mighty shiver in their boots. His short stories can compare with the best of Maupassant and the very best of Manto. His longer novel, written half-a-century ago -- Train to Pakistan -- is a classic: it probably ranks in the top ten in its genre of sub-continental writings in English; in the anguish of this novel he tries to come to terms with the tragedy and bloodshed of Partition. M P Bhandara on Khushwant Singh;hkads

Who is the Iraqi Army? The Bush administration claims the Iraqi Army is a unified force of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds who fight together for the centralized government of Iraq. That's complete nonsense. In fact, the different divisions of the army are segregated by sect. The so-called Iraqi Army fighting in the south right now is mainly the Badr Corps. This is a rival Shiite militia to Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. The Badr Corps is connected to the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. Don't get freaked out, they're theoretically the good guys. Well, at least they are the largest political party in Iraq and the ones we are supporting. Here's the problem -- they're not the good guys at all. They ran death squads and torture chambers out of the Interior Ministry throughout the period of ethnic cleansing in Iraq. Who Is the Iraqi Army? By Cenk Uygur

John McCain has been saying a lot of downright nutty things lately. You've probably come across some of them, such as his admitted lack of knowledge about economics or his excitement at the prospect of remaining in Greater Mesopotamia for the next ten decades. Yet, alas, much of his craziness has been lost in the fog of the ongoing battle between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. So here's a recap of some nuggets of wisdom you may have missed -- from McCain's mouth to Bellevue's Ears. The Top Ten Craziest Things John McCain Has Said While You Weren't Watching By Cliff Schecter

In an article recently published in the California based publication, the Coastal Post, US Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader bashed Israel for its multi-faceted execution of institutionalized violence against the people of Gaza, and called the US to account for its out-right complicity with Israel's inhuman and illegal practices: "Israel's siege has also caused extensive loss of life in Gaza from crumbling health care facilities, electricity cut-offs, malnutrition and contaminated drinking water from broken public water systems. The victims here are mostly children and civilian adults who expire unnoticed by the West. The suffering of Gaza civilians is ignored by 98% of the US Congress, which gives billions of taxpayer dollars to Israel annually."
The great lake of Gaza: a new crisis in the making - Suzanne Baroud

In 2006, FoEME published a report, "A Seeping Time Bomb, Pollution of the Mountain Aquifer by Solid Waste," which found that the unsustainable disposal of solid waste has resulted in the percolation of toxic substances including chloride, arsenic and heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead into the groundwater. Since the 2006 report was released, the German government has built a new solid waste disposal project near Ramallah and the World Bank and the EU have also completed another solid waste landfill facility near Jenin. West Bank faces toxic waste crisis - Mel Frykberg

The presence of a paparazzo certainly surprised Laurie. Irritated him a little, too. "It used to be the case that the only people who paid any attention to me were those who liked what I did," he says, drawing on the first of many cigarettes. "Now I get noticed by people who don't care whether I live or die - probably want me to die. That takes a bit of getting used to." But he gets a reasonable press, doesn't he, by and large? "I don't know. I try to avoid it. I hope you won't be offended, but I won't read this." Hugh Laurie on House, fame and LA

(CBS) A German resident held by the U.S. for almost five years tells 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley that Americans tortured him in many ways - including hanging him from the ceiling for five days early in his captivity when he was in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Even after determining he was not a terrorist, Murat Kurnaz says the torture continued. Kurnaz tells his story for the first time on American television this Sunday, March 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT Ex-Terror Detainee Says U.S. Tortured Him Tells 60 Minutes He Was Held Underwater, Shocked, And Suspended From the Ceiling

* The professor as open book: There are many reasons professors have embraced the Web and other media to reveal more of themselves.
* How do the two venerable newsweeklies stack up these days?
* A review of The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order by Parag Khanna.
* From the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, Satoshi Kanazawa (LSE): The Evolutionary Psychological Imagination: Why You Can't Get a Date on Saturday Night and Why Most Suicide Bombers are Muslim.
* From Discover, here are 20 things you didn't know about sex — and you thought you knew everything.
* Some policy pointers for the next president: Get out of Iraq, work with (some) Islamists, create the Palestinian state — thereby, undercut Al-Qaeda.
* Paul Berman on why radical Islam just won’t die.
* A review of Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle between East and West by Anthony Pagden (and more).
[Thanks RZ for all of above]

With a £100million price tag, the Alamshar was intended to be a superstar among super-yachts, 165ft of exquisite luxury powered by engines capable of blasting it to more than 60 knots - and on to a new transatlantic speed record. But the vessel's billionaire owner, the Aga Khan, has reportedly been left hugely disappointed by claims that his eagerly awaited new possession cannot reach half the expected speed - and is now considering launching a major legal battle against the British dockyard that built it. More carthorse than racehorse ... the Aga Khan's £100m yacht

Amidst the recent furore over Max Gogarty’s unblog-like/allegedly nepotistic travel blog entry on the Guardian website, a phrase caught my eye: Director of Digital Content Emily Bell’s reference to their “duty of care” to blogger Max. It particularly interested me because I had a similar experience recently with a student blogger, who was on the receiving end of ferocious (and partly justified) criticism on an Australian alpha blog. What was my duty of care to her? What is a publisher’s “duty of care” to bloggers?

Paul Jay presents:



Mediawatch Desi Mar 30: PM's Speech Coverage, FP on Nawaz, Khushwant Singh, Ghazi Salahuddin, M J AKbar, Sehba Sarwar

The Gillani speech in the NA is the most widely covered event today in the news, editorials and columns. You, me and the people of Paksitan will be the judge of it in time to come.

PM Gillani's Speech Highlights

* Frontier Crimes Regulations and Industrial Relations Order repealed
* A “truth and reconciliation commission” proposed
* PM House budget cut by 40 per cent
* Special counters at airports for parliamentarians to be removed
* No money to be spent on the renovation of government buildings and residences
* A freedom of information law to be framed, while Pemra will be made a subsidiary of the information ministry
* Talks will be initiated with extremists who lay down arms and ‘adopt the path of peace’
* A new package for tribal areas promised
* Employment commission to be set up
* Madressah authority to implement a uniform curriculum
* One million housing units to be built annually for low-income groups
* Irrigation channels to be bricklined.

From Dawn, (editorial), Cowasjee, (Irfan Hussain - not really), Daily Times, The Nation, (editorial), Humayun Gohar, The News, In Urdu - Hussain Haqqani

Not even has he emerged as the regional leader; yet Mian Nawaz Sharif is funnily behaving like a tsar. In Sindh and Balochistan, the electorate had shrugged him off like a nauseatingly smelling rag, electing his PML (N) not even on a single seat in the February poll. The NWFP was a bit charitable, with the voters doling out some alms to him, but only scantily. It was only in Punjab that his PML (N) could muster up a sizeable support; but here too, it was no landslide for him; not even a majority to let him form a government of his PML (N) in the province on his own. And if after the poll he has made PML (N) a majority party in the province, it is a sheer feat of his notorious businessman’s no-holds-barred cunning. Unscrupulously has he poached on the prostrated PML (Q) rump and the wayward independents’ phalanx, buying out wholesale horses that had offered themselves for sale, with the money that he has made in mountains with means mostly foul. And yet he has the gall to flaunt imperial airs of an imperious emperor, which he is not. He is just a pretender, perfidiously laying claim to a status and an authority that do not belong to him by any means and which do not fit his head at all. Frontier Post Editorial on Nawaz Sharif

Let me begin with a question that I have posed this week to friends, acquaintances and even some strangers: How many days do you give President Pervez Musharraf? Some of the responses that I have collected were made at emotionally heightened moments that have marked the dramatic turn of events in our politics. And this week has had its tally of exciting stimuli, with more to come almost on a daily basis. Go Musharraf Go - Ghazi Salahuddin

He is 94 years old. He is perhaps India's most widely known English columnist, novelist and translator of Urdu poetry. His remarks are polemical, arrow-straight and honest. His pen as a newspaper columnist can make the mighty shiver in their boots. His short stories can compare with the best of Maupassant and the very best of Manto. His longer novel, written half-a-century ago -- Train to Pakistan -- is a classic: it probably ranks in the top ten in its genre of sub-continental writings in English; in the anguish of this novel he tries to come to terms with the tragedy and bloodshed of Partition. M P Bhandara on Khushwant Singh

What do Pervez Musharraf, Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Altaf Hussain (chief of the MQM), Asfandyar Wali Khan (leader of the Awami National Party of the North West Frontier Province, soon to be renamed Pakhtunkhwa) and influential opinion-makers in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad have in common? They have all come to a calculated conclusion: that the Indo-Pak impasse over Kashmir is now seriously detrimental to the economic and strategic health of Pakistan; that Pakistan has been held hostage to the Kashmir dispute and it is time to shake off the fetters of history and move on. These fetters have imprisoned travel and trade between neighbours and placed an expensive and unnecessary, if not quite unbearable, tension on the defence forces of Pakistan. They understand what common sense tells us: that free travel and mutually beneficial trade between India and Pakistan could transform the subcontinent, if not into a modern Europe then at least into the Europe of circa 1955. M J Akbar

I have been living in Houston for some time, but I often return to Pakistan to visit my parents. In December, when I arrived in Karachi with my 3-year-old daughter, Minal, the city was spinning with more than the usual winter weddings, parties and reunions. President Musharraf had issued emergency rule to hold back a possible Supreme Court ruling against him, and Benazir Bhutto had returned to Pakistan at her own risk. There had been suicide bombings, the lawyers were battling for restoration of an independent judiciary and parliamentary elections were a few weeks away. My husband, René, wanted me to postpone our trip, but my father wasn’t well, and it was important to go. I assured René I’d do my best to stay away from the political action. Karachi's Winter Days - Sehba Sarwar

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Eqbal Ahmed - Amitava Kumar

Among anticolonial intellectuals, Pakistani scholar and activist Eqbal Ahmad (1933–99), who toward the end of his life spent fifteen years teaching at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, holds a special place. He never published a classic text on the order of Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth or Edward Said’s Orientalism, nor did he achieve anything like fame. (The closest he came was a passing notoriety during the Nixon era, when he was indicted on charges of conspiring to kidnap Henry Kissinger.) Yet everyone who was someone in the vast but—in the West—obscure world of Third World radicalism knew Ahmad, and even his adversaries had a grudging respect for him. As much as Said, he was a mentor to a generation of thinkers, mostly South Asian, who have been active in protest struggles in the West as well as in the subcontinent.

Mediawatch World Mar 29: Pakistan Exempt from Earth Hour, Hilary Deathwatch, Close Gitmo, On Cleanliness, Pushkin, Why Blog?

Pakistan is exempt from Earth Hour today courtesy WAPDA and KESC. They are doing far more than all the nations in G8 combined. And the irony is no one notices it or rewards them for being such good global citizens.

Dozens of Canadian cities, towns and communities will fade to black Saturday night, switching off their lights to mark a global effort dubbed Earth Hour. Aimed at promoting electricity conservation and lowering carbon emissions, Earth Hour will take place between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. local time around the world. More than 240,000 people and almost 18,000 businesses in countries as far-flung as Botswana, Vietnam and Denmark have signed up as participants this year via a website groaning under the strain. The number of people marking the event is expected to be far higher, however. Earth Hour

Yesterday, Slate published a 1,733 word adapted-extract from Eric Lichtblau’s upcoming book, Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice. The section, while full of other interesting nuggets, is notable for its insider account of the tense moments leading up to The New York Times’s belated decision to publish Lichtblau and James Risen’s blockbuster December 16, 2005 story on the Bush administration’s warrantless NSA wiretapping program. What Can be Learned from Lichtblau?By Clint Hendler

Hillary Clinton is as good as dead. This became the consensus over the past week, when the media awoke en masse to the dual reality that 1) Clinton can't close the pledged-delegate gap and 2) Obama has her beat in the popular vote. But the Clinton campaign shows no signs of slowing—she said herself she's prepared to compete for at least three more months. So the question now is not just "How dead is she?" but "When will she realize it?" The Hillary Deathwatch-

ATHENS — Five former U.S. secretaries of State said Thursday the next president should move quickly to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That single act would improve America's dismal reputation in the world immediately, agreed Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell. Former secretaries of State: Close Guantanamo

It is not then that Hindus have no notion of dirt, except that it is different from the way it is viewed in the West and in medical books. Most of us do not realise that every civilisation has its own understanding of both dirt and hygiene, strange as it may sound to outsiders. As the ideology of caste runs across religious divides in the subcontinent, it is not surprising that Forbes magazine should have found so much dirt in Dhaka, Karachi and Mumbai. We Do Things Differently- Dipankar Gupta

Watching George W. Bush in operation these last couple of weeks is like having an out-of-body experience. On acid. During a nightmare. In a different galaxy. As he presides over the latest disaster of his administration (No, it's not a terrorist attack -- that was 2001! No, it's not a catastrophic war -- that was 2003! No, it's not a drowning city -- that was 2005! This one is an economic meltdown, ladies and gentlemen!) bringing to it the same blithe disengagement with which he's attended the previous ones, you cannot but stop and gaze in stark comedic awe, realizing that the most powerful polity that ever existed on the planet twice picked this imbecilic buffoon as its leader, from among 300 million other choices. How Lethally Stupid Can One Country Be? By David Michael Green

Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!” It’s Not You, It’s Your Books - Rachel Donadio

Readers discover, like it and forward links to their friends, who forward them to lots more friends. Newspaper columnists mention it, stealing — er, quoting — some of the better jokes. By the end of February, the NPR program “Talk of the Nation” runs a report on it, debating whether the site is racist or satire. And then on March 20 Random House announces that it has purchased the rights to a book by the blog’s founder, Christian Lander, an Internet copy writer. The price, according to a source familiar with the deal but not authorized to discuss the total, was about $300,000, a sum that many in the publishing and blogging communities believe is an astronomical amount for a book spawned from a blog, written by a previously unpublished author. Why Blog? Reason No. 92: Book Deal

From Paul at the RealNewsaul Jay and The Real News Network te

Climate changing faster than predicted?
Dr. Walt Meier on the Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse, an indication of accelerating climate change view

Iraqi demonstrators call for Maliki's resignation
Mounting anger focuses on Prime Minister al-Maliki as fighting spreads across sections of Iraq view

Monk protest disrupts media visit
State-organized trip to Lhasa interrupted by monks who talk to media view

Seven days not in Tibet
Guardian: Chinese police blocking attempts to verify different claims made by Chinese State and Tibetans view

Mediawatch Desi Mar 29: Rumour Mongering Nation, Dalrymple, Against Forced Union, Rafia , Probable Ministers, Bhandara on Khushwant Singh

Somebody is fanning rumours. Nation and its sister paper Nawai Waqt have been spreading this rumour. When I heard this sometime yesterday I tried to check it out from other sources without much success. I leave it to some in the Pakistani media to decide who is jumping the gun or succumbing to "interests" in spreading such news.

As a reader, you should ask yourself cuo bono? Who benefits? In this case by planting news of rift between the President and the new PM on his second day in office?

ISLAMABAD - President General (r) Pervez Musharraf has declined a request from Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani’s secretariat to administer oath to the new cabinet on March 29, citing his engagement out of the capital on the same day. President turns down PM’s maiden summary - Afzal Bajwa

Pakistan's cities, in particular, are fast changing beyond recognition. As in India, there is a burgeoning Pakistani fashion scene full of ambitious gay designers and amazingly beautiful models. There are also remarkable developments in publishing. In nonfiction, Ahmed Rashid's book Taliban became the essential primer on Afghanistan after 2001. Ayesha Siddiqa's Military Inc. and Zahid Hussain's Frontline Pakistan are two of the most penetrating recent studies of the country and essential for understanding the politics of Pakistan. Siddiqa is especially good on the economic and political power of the army, while Hussain's book is the best existing guide to Pakistan's jihadis. There have also been particularly impressive new works of fiction by Pakistani writers, among them Kamila Shamsie's Kartography and Broken Verses, Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers, and Moni Mohsin's End of Innocence. One of Daniyal Mueenuddin's short stories, his wonderfully witty "Nawabdin Electrician," was published in The New Yorker of August 27, 2007. A New Deal in Pakistan By William Dalrymple

It is in this context that Muslim bodies and Islamic scholars at a meeting in the national capital of New Delhi unanimously decided that "in Islam, the girl has every right to marry the boy of her choice and her parents cannot impose their decision on her since the Sharia (Muslim law) gives the girl right to choose her future husband." This meeting, attended, amongst others, by members of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), and Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband under the banner of Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA) made truly a landmark decision -- even if it remains to be tested. Muslim Leaders Speak Out Against Forced Marriage By Deepali Gaur Singh

At the its core, the lessons to be learned from Ross’s study in the Pakistani context is this: while the presence of some elite women in politics may give women better symbolic visibility, the real work of women’s empowerment can only be done when large numbers of women are attracted to the workforce and build a movement on their collective strength. Oil and women —Rafia Zakaria

The sources said that PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had approved a list of ministers. The potential PPP ministers and their possible portfolios are as follows: Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, foreign affairs; Syed Khurshid Shah, labour, manpower and overseas Pakistanis or parliamentary affairs; Sherry Rehman, information and broadcasting; Raja Pervez Ashraf, water and power; Syed Naveed Qamar, privatization or communications or ports and shipping; Farooq Naek, law, justice and parliamentary affairs; Qamar Zaman Kaira, Northern Areas and Kashmir Affairs or environment; Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, defence or commerce; Nazar Gondal, narcotics control and Babar Awan, human rights.

The following are the PML-N members whose names have been approved by the party:

Ishaq Dar, finance; Khwaja Mohammad Asif, petroleum and natural resources; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, defence production; Ahsan Iqbal, education; Khawaja Saad Rafiq, youth affairs and Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, railways. Rana Tanveer and Tehmina Daultana are also expected to become ministers in the first phase of cabinet formation. Cabinet Portfolio Speculations in Dawn

He is 94 years old. He is perhaps India's most widely known English columnist, novelist and translator of Urdu poetry. His remarks are polemical, arrow-straight and honest. His pen as a newspaper columnist can make the mighty shiver in their boots. His short stories can compare with the best of Maupassant and the very best of Manto. His longer novel, written half-a-century ago -- Train to Pakistan -- is a classic: it probably ranks in the top ten in its genre of sub-continental writings in English; in the anguish of this novel he tries to come to terms with the tragedy and bloodshed of Partition. M P Bhandara on Khushwant Singh

Saturday, March 29, 2008

ROM’s South Asian gallery offers journey through the ages Joanna Smith

Painted a brilliant blue, the nameless goddess presides over a shining kingdom filled with tapestries, gold-plated illustrations and other treasures from long ago.

Created in Mumbai by Indian artist Navjot Altaf in 2002, the untitled sculpture exemplifies the spirit of the new Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum, housing the region’s traditional and contemporary art in one space.

Her pose recalls that of the traditional female goddess figure and she is sculpted from the teak wood familiar to South Asian handicraft industries, yet she rests atop a metal bottle rack, a reference to the “readymade” art of 20th-century Western artist Marcel Duchamp.

The inclusion of contemporary South Asian art in the new 4,000-square-foot gallery was important to Deepali Dewan, lead curator for the new space in the ROM’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal addition. [click on the heading for more]

Media Watch Desi Mar 28: Why the SC is Silent on Such Travesties, Burney Yearns, Haqqani Grabs, Pakistan is No Honduras, Oldest Conservationsit,

Will the learned judges take suo moto notice of child marriages, women married to Qur'an, the killing that goes on in the name of honour? Read this: Islamabad, March 27: A nine-year-old girl was allegedly married off to avenge her father’s marriage to his maternal cousin in Pakistan’s Punjab province. The marriage was allegedly ordered by the village council in Burewala under the custom of "vani" according to which little girls are married off to their family’s enemies. "The panchayat made the ruling after Rab Nawaz, the father of the victim, married his maternal cousin," the girl’s mother Anwar Bibi was quoted as saying by the Daily Times.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani girls may be getting hooked to smoking as early as 15 years, says a new study. The study conducted by the Aga Khan University shows that 16 per cent of girls have tried smoking by the age of 15, while over six per cent smoked at least once a month by that age. Interestingly, the users were found to be aware of the hazards of smoking. The university, which published its study in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, interviewed 644 Karachi girls with an average age of 15. Pakistani Girls Smoking Early

Islamabad, March 27: Leading rights activist Ansar Burney, who was the human rights minister in Pakistan’s caretaker government, will visit India in April to meet the family of Sarabjit Singh and gather any evidence about his innocence and to trace Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails. Mr Burney said he would go to India on April 2 at the invitation of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. "I plan to meet Sarabjit’s family and his sister Dalbir Kaur to gather evidence they claim to have regarding his evidence. This will make it easier for me to work for his case," Mr Burney said on Thursday. "At the same time, I will also try and meet the Pakistani prisoners who are in Indian jails. Obviously I will also try and do whatever is possible for their release," he said. Burney will meet Sarabjit’s family By REZAUL H. LASKAR

[As hinted at in Baithak previously] Islamabad, March 27: Hussain Haqqani, a close aide of slain former Premier Benazir Bhutto, was on Thursday appointed as ambassador at large for Pakistan’s new government formed by PPP and its allies. Mr Haqqani will also serve as senior adviser on foreign affairs and national security to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, official sources said.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — If it was not yet clear to Washington that a new political order prevailed here, the three-day visit this week by America’s chief diplomat dealing with Pakistan should put any doubt to rest. The visit by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte turned out to be series of indignities and chilly, almost hostile, receptions as he bore the brunt of the full range of complaints that Pakistanis now feel freer to air with the end of military rule by Washington’s favored ally, President Pervez Musharraf. “How is Pakistan different to Honduras?” Mr. Saleem asked, a query clearly intended to tweak Mr. Negroponte about his time as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, when he was in charge of the American effort to train and arm a guerrilla force aimed at overthrowing the leftist government in Nicaragua. He was later criticized for meddling in the region and overlooking human rights abuses in pursuit of United States foreign policy goals. The diplomat demurred, according to Mr. Saleem, saying, “You have put me on the spot.” Today's Pakistan is No Honduras

Years ago my friend Wali Mohammad Manganhar from Shahdadkot (Larkana district) told me of the fish of Pir Chattal. Deep in the heart of Kachhi district of Balochistan, this shrine lies just below the great brown loom of the Khirthar Mountains at the mouth of the Mula River and pass. The legend according to Wali Mohammad was that the fish were sacred to Pir Chattal and thus under his protection. Anyone eating them suffered a painful and embarrassing punishment on the day after as the fish emerged squirming out of the eater’s sphincter. Who Pir Chattal was is not told and there are no further legends concerning him. But one thing is certain, this saint whoever he or she was, has been around for a good bit of time. Our oldest conservation programme —Salman Rashid

A picture is worth a million words.

May she rest in peace!
May the CJ rest in apolitical peace!
May Goldy smile in peace!


Photo credit the Nation

In 1979, I was the only general who opposed the hanging of Bhutto in the Corps Commander Conference, because, it was unjust and at the behest of USA and a political disaster for Pakistan. In 1979, I opposed Gen Zia's policy to support the Iraqi invasion of Iran, in a cabinet meeting, because it was not our war... In 1988, in a meeting with the president and the prime minister, I opposed the signing of the Geneva Accord, without determining the modalities for a peaceful transfer of power to the Afghan mujahideen... In 1991, in a cabinet meeting, I opposed Mr Nawaz Sharif's policy of supporting US war on Iraq, because it was a direct assault on the heartland of the Muslim world and control of oil resources. Since 1999, I have continued to oppose the military take over and regime change at the behest of USA. Since 2001, I have no contact with General Musharraf, because, I opposed the government policy to join the American war against Afghanistan because, it was not our war. Thus Spake the General

If terrorism has to be fought we must do it on our own. The Americans, as we have seen, will make the problem worse. Thus the first condition of fighting terrorism is getting rid of American advice and assistance. The Frontier Corps doesn't need to be recast by the Americans (as they propose to do). Is the new Iraqi army any better for being outfitted by the Americans? There is even – and this is really silly – a USAID programme for the 'capacity-building' of MNAs and MPAs. As part of this programme there is a 'capacity-enhancing' centre (with newspapers and computers, etc.) right in the Parliamentary Lodges in Islamabad. Madam Speaker, your urgent attention please.) Goes to show how busy our American friends have been, and what unlikely corners they have penetrated, these past seven years. And thus spake the born again MNA/Columnist

Media Watch World Mar 28: Another $300 mil ripoff, Chinese Muslim,Geert Peters, Hilary Peaks, Sad'r Surges, Wright Birstles, Gate Inventories and more

Suzanne Goldenberg breaks another $300 million story. Andy Worthington brings us a Chinese Muslim's plea. Geert Wilders fart escapes without bang, while Hilary continues to wrestle with her imagination. Treasury aids Bankruptcy. Sadr's Surge is better. Reverend Wright Bristles and Rice Jumps Up (Not Condi!) Gate orders Nuke Inventory. And more from RealNews.

The Pentagon entrusted a 22-year-old previously arrested for domestic violence and having a forged driving licence to be the main supplier of ammunition to Afghan forces at the height of the battle against the Taliban, it was reported yesterday. AEY, essentially a one-man operation based in an unmarked office in Miami Beach, Florida, was awarded a contract worth $300m (£150m) to supply the Afghan army and police in January last year. But as the New York Times reported in a lengthy investigation, AEY's president, Efraim Diversoli, 22, supplied stock that was 40 years old and rotting packing material. US gave $300m arms contract to 22-year-old with criminal record Suzanne Goldenberg

The stories of the Uyghurs in Guantánamo — Muslims from the oppressed Xinjiang province of China, formerly known as East Turkistan — have long demonstrated chronic injustice on the part of the US authorities to those who know of them, although they have only sporadically registered on the media’s radar. A Chinese Muslim’s desperate plea from Guantánamo Andy Worthington

Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician, has posted a film on the internet that accuses the Quran of inciting violence, despite government fears that it will offend Muslims and cause protests. It was posted on his Freedom Party's website but could be watched only briefly before the site said it was not available for technical reasons. Dutch Islam film posted on website

If Wilders really wanted to expose Islamism -- the entire legacy of 20th century ideological Islam -- he would start with how the French Suez Canal Company funded the Muslim Brotherhood's first mosque. That fact is casually mentioned in Hasan al-Banna's autobiography (which I am certain Wilders bothered to consult). Or Wilders would have tried to begin some criminal proceeding in the international criminal courts against those men who came up with the genius idea of encouraging disaffected Arab youth into going into Afghanistan and then gave them $1 billion in machine guns, bombs and stinger missiles to play with. Or Wilders could have expressed some outrage over the drafters of the new Iraqi constitution -- drafted in consultation with Western lawyers -- which makes Sharia the law of the land (a fact bemoaned by Iraqi feminists). Geert Wilders' Islamophobic Farce Ali Eteraz

Even some Clinton loyalists are wondering aloud if the win-at-all-costs strategy of Hillary and Bill — which continued Tuesday when Hillary tried to drag Rev. Wright back into the spotlight — is designed to rough up Obama so badly and leave the party so riven that Obama will lose in November to John McCain. If McCain only served one term, Hillary would have one last shot. On Election Day in 2012, she’d be 65. Tanya Harding Option - Maureen Dowd [thanks NF]

Last week, Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, and John Lipsky, a top official at the International Monetary Fund, both suggested that public funds might be needed to rescue the U.S. financial system. Mr. Lipsky insisted that he wasn’t talking about a bailout. But he was. As I said, the important thing is to bail out the system, not the people who got us into this mess. Looking ahead, we probably need something similar to the Resolution Trust Corporation, which took over bankrupt savings and loan institutions and sold off their assets to reimburse taxpayers. And we need it quickly: things are falling apart as you read this. The B Word - Paul Krugman

Tens of thousands of supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr marched in Baghdad yesterday as a crackdown on his followers raged in southern Iraqi towns and rockets and mortars exploded across the capital. In Sadr City, the vast Shiite slum named after Sadr's slain father, enormous crowds of angry men jammed the main circle chanting and shouting slogans calling for the ousting of US-backed Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. Moqtada Al Sadr's Surge

Thank you (Jodi Kantor of NYT) for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a "Spiritual Biography" of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met. Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack's spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, "What is that in your hand?," that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it "in his hand." Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that. Flashback: Wright's Letter To NYT About Obama

Rice prices jumped 30 per cent to an all-time high on Thursday, raising fears of fresh outbreaks of social unrest across Asia where the grain is a staple food for more than 2.5bn people. The increase came after Egypt, a leading exporter, imposed a formal ban on selling rice abroad to keep local prices down, and the Philippines announced plans for a major purchase of the grain in the international market to boost supplies. Global rice stocks are at their lowest since 1976. Jump in rice price fuels fears of unrest By Javier Blas in London and Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered a full inventory of all nuclear weapons and related materials after the mistaken delivery of ballistic missile fuses to Taiwan, the Pentagon said Thursday. Gates told officials with the Air Force, Navy and Defense Logistics Agency to assess inventory control procedures for the materials and to submit a report within 60 days. Gates Orders Inventory of US Nukes LOLITA C. BALDOR

The Securities and Exchange Commission sued a Canadian drug maker this week—and in the process blew apart the premise of a two-year-old 60 Minutes investigative piece on short sellers.
The March 2006 segment by Lesley Stahl sought to warn viewers about hedge funds that use bad information to drive down stock prices to benefit themselves at small investors’ expense. 60 Minutes Blows Biovail Story By Dean Starkman

BEIT SIRA, West Bank — Ali Abu Safia, mayor of this Palestinian village, steers his car up one potholed road, then another, finding each exit blocked by huge concrete chunks placed there by the Israeli Army. On a sleek highway 100 yards away, Israeli cars whiz by. “They took our land to build this road, and now we can’t even use it,” Mr. Abu Safia says bitterly, pointing to the highway with one hand as he drives with the other. “Israel says it is because of security. But it’s politics.” Batustisation in Broad Daylight

“When asked which four websites they visit most often, a whopping 67% of them included Myspace, with an equally large number - 65% - listing Facebook. The next greatest number was Ebay at just 20%. Other popular answers, surprisingly, but much lower, were Wikipedia, Youtube, Flickr and Dont Stay In. Other websites were mentioned barely twice - the research gathered long lists of obscure websites. A web presence without a website?

Arab leaders have begun gathering in Damascus for a summit already undermined by a series of high-profile snubs. Yemen and Jordan on Friday announced they would be sending low-level representatives to an annual Arab League meeting normally attended by heads of state. A Jordanian official said that the kingdom's delegate to the Arab League, Omar Rifai, would head the Jordan delegation at Saturday's summit. Absences Overshadow Summit

From Paul at the Real News





Friday, March 28, 2008

Media Watch Desi Mar 27: Qayyum Resigns, Cabinet Trading, Qehhat uk Rijaal, Mahmud Sipra, Mariana Babar,

The Cabinet is afflicted with BS (Bhai Syndrome) or to be more precise with BBS (BaRa Bhai Syndrome.) The heat is turned up in the family of bhais over cabinet posts. Not only they are fighting over who gets what, it has been also reported there are also heated discussions over who should not get invited to sit at the centre table.

And a fox is being considered to guard over the hens. The fox is Rahman Malik who was Bibi's constant companion while Goldy was incarcerated. He is being considered as an "Home Advisor" with cabinet minister's rank and perks. (Advisor, because he is not an MNA.)

THERE is a fascinating article by Andrew Roth Jinnah’s new republic in an American weekly (The Nation) datelined Dec 13, 1947 that puts its finger on Pakistan’s most critical weakness — the quality of its leadership. Reporting from Karachi, the author comments on the country’s first cabinet: “With enormous problems, Pakistan has only a very ordinary set of leaders to cope with them”, barring a few “the other members of the cabinet are all mediocrities.” The exceptions identified by the author were the “brilliant” Mr Jinnah, the prime minister and the finance minister. In 2008, the problems have become much more enormous and the leadership has become much more mediocre. Even the exceptions at the very top are conspicuous by their absence. This is written by Samia Altaf in today's Dawn. [This reminds me of the classic line uttered by Ayub Khan's older brother who was the leader of the Opposition - her shaakh per ulloo baitha hay/anjaam e gulistan kiya hoga]

The Pakistan Steel Mill produces thousands of tons of a “waste product” known in steel parlance as “slag”. ...“slag” is the basic raw material required in a 21st century technology used for producing a proven and patented building material called “slag cement”. It takes upwards of USD250 million and three years to put up a million-ton capacity conventional cement plant. It takes only 50 million euros to put up a plant that will do the same thing in 18 months. The end product is reportedly three times more durable then conventional cement, is eco-friendly and costs 20 dollars a ton less to produce. Which is probably why one of the largest steel producers in the world, a man called Laxmi Mittal, is busy trying to negotiate a license to produce slag cement. Mahmud Sipra

Marianna Babar has an different take on the meeting of mid rank US diplomats' meeting with Zardari. While the majority of the media critcised Zardari for visiting the diplomats she criticses the diplomats for not calling on Zardari. "It is also being frowned upon that nowhere in the world condolences and congratulations are offered at their own residences. It is expected that to condole a tragedy as great as that of Benazir Bhutto, all "excuses" of "logistics" should have been put aside, and the US officials on behalf of President Bush should have driven to the Zardari House to condole and congratulate the PPP leadership on their recent election victory." What kept US officials away from Zardari House?

Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, is clearly playing a double game. On one hand, his party is one of the main partners of the anti-Musharraf coalition while on the other hand he is maintaining close links with pro-Musharraf elements. His unilateral decision to bring MQM on board at the eleventh hour without prior approval of the coalition partners may arguably be justified in view of the situation prevailing in Sindh. However, his secret meeting with President Musharraf’s principal secretary Tariq Aziz in the wee hours of Wednesday points to something else. Naeem Chisti Bats for Nawaz Sharif

Sad news: after A-G Qayyum's departure Hum Sub Ummed Say HaiN will have no competition for ratings! Pakistan Attorney General Malik Qayyum tenders resignation ISLAMABAD, March 27: The Attorney-General of Pakistan, Malik Qayyum tendered his resignation from the post, a local TV channel reported. The Attorney General, who is a retired chief justice of the Punjab High Court, tendered his resignation to President Mushasrraf on Thursday. The private channel reported that President Musharraf had accepted Malik Qayyum’s resignation. (Posted @ 20:48 PST)

Media Watch World Mar 27: Finally the Trial, Khadr, Basra, the other US PoWs, Huilary, Cairo, Comoros, Anjhoun, Marijuana, Maliki, Books, and more

The trial is underway for one of the accused in Toronto.

Most of the arrested were young men and teenagers . They were aided and abetted by a paid informant. I cannot go into the details because the trial magistrate has imposed a ban on publication.

But I am at liberty to say this. It is inhuman of the magistrate to put in solitary confinement teenagers on suspicions and allegations when he knew the kids were aided, abetted, and egged on by the state sponsored informants.

As you read the reports linked here please keep in mind one thing. These kids, boasting to conquer the world were "led" and "nudged" by paid informers.

Links, HERE, and HERE and defence report HERE

And while this tamasha is going on
Ottawa fights Khadr ruling. Speak of dichotomy.

The Iraqi army is fighting the Mehdi Army Shia militia in the streets of Basra after the government launched its most serious offensive to gain control of the southern oil city. The fighting was spreading across Shia areas of Iraq as the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Mehdi Army, called for a campaign of civil disobedience in which shops, businesses, schools and universities would close down. Basra on Fire By Patrick Cockburn

The "War on Terror" is this president's excuse for invoking that clause. Because that war will, by definition, continue as long as we insist that there is a difference between the terror inflicted on our innocents and the terror inflicted on theirs, American soldiers are effectively signing away their freedom indefinitely when they join the military. They are prisoners of an ill-defined and undeclared war on a tactic -- terrorism -- that dates back to Biblical times and will be with us indefinitely. According to U.S. News and World Report, there are at least 60,000 of them. Pentagon Holds Thousands of Americans 'Prisoners of War' By Penny Coleman

Normal service on my blog was lost for a week from March 9 as I made my first ever trip to the United States to promote my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, armed only with a mobile phone, and with sporadic access to the internet. How it is that I managed to make it so far in my life without visiting America is beyond me. New York was astonishingly familiar, not just because it has been a cultural reference point since my youth, but because all the supposed distinctions between the US and the UK turned out to be effectively non-existent. The “special relationship” at a governmental level may be largely reliant upon certain shared imperial ambitions, but on the ground, though clearly dependant upon shared language, it was apparent that, for several decades now, we have both been dipping into a cross-pollinated pool of common experience. The Guantánamo Files: Andy Worthington’s US tour report

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Shiite militiamen are everywhere. Police and Iraqi army checkpoints are nowhere in sight. U.S. soldiers are keeping their distance. Sadr City - the Baghdad nerve center for the powerful Mahdi Army - is suddenly back on edge as the militia leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, and Iraq's government lock in a dangerous confrontation over clout and control among the nation's majority Shiites. Shiite enclave back on edge By HAMZA HENDAWI and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA

The relationship between individuals, specially between men and women and desi at that is in the news. In Banglore a husband smothered his wife with a pillow killing her then took out his life leaving a long suicide note. Read them in Aditi Nadkarni's
What Rinku Sachdeva's Death Tells Us About Ourselves and Deepti Lamba's Rinku Sachdeva Dies Again Online. And the Toronto Star had this report on a man who first suspended his wife from a tenth floor balcony before letting go of her - Man admits guilt in wife's deadly 10-storey plunge.
What kind of men our mothers and fathers breed these days? Is society at fault for not protecting these women?

Hillary Wasn’t Lying! Bosnia gunfire footage discovered…
By Moderator on Political Pranks Submitted by Douglas Grant From Barely Political:

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- An outspoken Egyptian tabloid news editor has been sentenced to six months in prison for reporting on the president's health problems, which the judge said caused panic among foreign investors and threatened Egypt's economy. Ibrahim Eissa, editor of the daily Al-Dustour, will post the 200 Egyptian pounds bail ($40) to avoid serving his sentence while he appeals, a court official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't not authorized to speak to the media.

The president of the breakaway Comoros island of Anjouan has fled to the neighbouring French-run Indian Ocean island of Mayotte in an attempt to seek asylum. Mohammed Bacar reportedly fled by speedboat on Wednesday after African Union troops mounted an operation to remove him from power.
Comoros island president flees.

[The only thing Anjoun is known for is ylang-ylang]

One of America's largest and most important groups of physicians has moved to cut through the clutter of political controversies over medical use of marijuana. Lawmakers and the public alike would do well to pay attention. The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group in the United States. Its 124,000 members are doctors specializing in internal medicine and related subspecialties, including cardiology, neurology, pulmonary disease, oncology and infectious diseases. The College publishes Annals of Internal Medicine, the most widely cited medical specialty journal in the world. In a landmark position paper released in February, these distinguished physicians are saying what many of us have been arguing for years: Most of our laws have gotten it wrong when it comes to medical marijuana, and it's time for public policy to get in step with science. Former Surgeon General: Mainstream Medicine Has Endorsed Medical Marijuana By Dr. Jocelyn Elders

The Afghan mujahedeen, who later became the Taliban, received $500 billion dollars of covert arms and aid from the U.S. (and matching funds from the Saudi Royal family). This will qualify as a blatant exaggeration. [Ali should lay away from "islamists" and check his figures more carefully]

This week the United States suffered its 4,000th military death in Iraq. .. the Bush administration has begun negotiations with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for years, even decades, after President George W. Bush leaves office. The negotiation, set to conclude this summer, will establish the basis for a long-term U.S. occupation of Iraq. According to the Bush administration, the Iraqi government requested a bilateral agreement to replace the expiring U.N. mandate for the occupation, which offended Iraqi sovereignty. Asked if there was any irony in preparing a plan to keep thousands of foreign soldiers in Iraq in the name of Iraqi sovereignty, a National Security Council official, who requested anonymity, replied, "Sure, but we plan to negotiate that aspect" of the agreement. After Iraq, Afghanistan, then Fata but no Pakistan.

Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, yesterday gave Shia militia and other gunmen a 72-hour deadline to surrender their weapons as his forces engaged in fierce street battles in the southern city of Basra for the second day running. [To put this in another perspective sub Karzai for Nouri and Mullah Omar for Shia militia]

It was a stroke of serendipity that I happened on the same day awhile back to stumble on both Mandy MacDonald’s Culture Smart Cuba and Nancy Alonso’s Closed For Repairs on the same day. It seems to me that we mostly hear about Cuba only in terms of the political agendas of some wealthy Miamians who have an agenda and the various other political players who have to play with or against them. What is sadly lacking is any reporting that sheds light on the real lives of the remarkable Cuban people whose struggles and in spite of the United States continuing embargo are creating a new path for themselves. By contrast Havana author Nancy Alonso’s Closed For Repairs, a selection of eleven fictionalized vignettes of Cuban’s dealing with the realities of life under the US embargo...This English translation by Anne Fountain is available from Curbstone Press. Combined with the somewhat more marketing oriented Culture Smart volume, Alonso’s front line reportage on the lives of work a day Cubans provides a rare opportunity for an informed glimpse about a part of the world so close by but in such a real sense so far, far away from the US. Both are Highly Recommended.By contrast Havana author Nancy Alonso’s Closed For Repairs, a selection of eleven fictionalized vignettes of Cuban’s dealing with the realities of life under the US embargo from planting vegetable gardens in pots in urban apartments to dealing with the sometimes dysfunctional transportation and distribution facilities. This English translation by Anne Fountain is available from Curbstone Press. Combined with the somewhat more marketing oriented Culture Smart volume, Alonso’s front line reportage on the lives of work a day Cubans provides a rare opportunity for an informed glimpse about a part of the world so close by but in such a real sense so far, far away from the US. Both are Highly Recommended. Jueves In Habana by: Alan [Thanks GVK]

HONG KONG — Until about four years ago, Chetan Bhagat was an investment banker distinguished from the suited phalanx in this city’s crowded financial district only by his secret hobby. Today Mr. Bhagat is still an investment banker, now with Deutsche Bank. But he has also become the biggest-selling English-language novelist in India’s history, according to his publisher, Rupa & Company, one of India’s oldest and best established publishers. His story of campus life, “Five Point Someone,” published in 2004, and a later novel, “One Night @ the Call Center,” sold a combined one million copies. An Investment Banker Finds Fame Off the Books

From Paul at the Real News

Pepe Escobar on fighting in Basra

All the news that's fit to RSS

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Media Watch Desi Mar 26: Who Calls on Whom? Dangling Peanuts, Rape, Burki, Windmills, Trying Sharifs Too and more

Humpty Dumpty called on Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty called on Humpty Dumpty. And in the evening Humpty Dumpty called on Humpty. Ms. Dumpty, it should be noted was conspicuously absent. To unravel this click HERE.

The time has come that our politicians must take a united stand on the issue of repeated US interventions in Pakistan which have now become a routine than an exception. The parliament must impose a ban on our civil and military bureaucrats as well as political leaders, apart from the government ministers, to hold meetings with foreign envoys, especially from the United States of America. Dr Naeem Chishti

WASHINGTON: President George Bush has sanctioned millions of dollars as aid to Pakistan to continue its fight against terrorism, as Pakistan's new prime minister takes over in Islamabad. Dangling Peanuts.

Violent crimes against women and children in Pakistan continue with impunity as rape remains the most taboo human rights violation and therefore, the least reported. Victims hesitate to file a first information report against perpetrators and this trend has not changed much through the last decade, despite growing awareness about crimes against women: this is simply because women victims themselves fall prey and are not able to get justice through the judicial system. Current laws pertaining to rape do not assist victims, but in fact it can take years for cases to be decided and these delays work in favour of those perpetrators who are frequently set free. Denying her right to justice - Razeshta Sethna

I am an accidental economist. I turned to the subject when I went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1961. I had meant to study physics, a subject in which I had already received a Masters degree from Government College, Lahore. By the time I arrived at Oxford’s Christ Church College, I had joined the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP). Within a week of my arrival at Oxford, Sir Roy Harrod, one of the most eminent economists of the day who was also my ‘moral tutor’ advised me to change my discipline. The moral tutor was the person who served as a guide and philosopher to those who attended Oxford and his advice mattered. He persuaded me that studying economics made greater sense for me than continuing in physics. In his own words By Shahid Javed Burki

ISLAMABAD - The PPP central leadership is thought to have thwarted attempts by Karachi-based business concerns led by a powerful stockbroker to take the MQM on board in the central coalition government, TheNation has reliably learnt on Tuesday.
Knowledgeable sources said that a person not less than the PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari thwarted the move when the magnate tried to influence the party leadership. PPP foils attempt to take MQM on board at Centre - Maqbool Malik

KARACHI (APP) - The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) has provided land to 24 potential investors in Sindh for installing wind energy mills to produce 1200 megawatts of power. This was stated by the CEO AEDB Air Marshall (rtd) Shahid Hamid while talking to newsmen after attending the inaugural session of International Conference on Alternative Energy and Power 2008, organised by E-commerce Gateway at Karachi Expo Centre Tuesday.
24 investors get land for windmills

The National Assembly must immediately pass a law, revoking that dirty piece of presidential legislation and reinstituting the quashed cases for proper trial in the courts and for lawful decision. Further, the National Assembly must adopt a resolution, urging the Supreme Court to take up for hearing the case pertaining to the Mehrangate scam, pending since long before it, in which, among others, some leading stars of the incoming leadership, including Mian Nawaz Sharif, the PML (N) supremo, are statedly implicated. Nothing less can make this new leadership come clean to acquire the moral credentials for going after the sleazy and corrupt characters of the outgoing lot. An odious song

Media Watch World Mar 26: Pakistan No Killing Field, Uri Avnery, Sadr, Coal, Al Jazeera, Peru, and more

Friends, Finns, Citizens, lend me your ear. LINK

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- A partner in Pakistan's new ruling coalition said the safety of its citizens will be a more important consideration than U.S. interests as it decides how to combat Islamic extremists. ``Pakistan cannot be made a killing field for the interests of others,'' former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told reporters yesterday after meeting with U.S. government officials in Islamabad, the capital. Sharif Says Pakistan to Fight Terrorism on Own Terms By Khalid Qayum and James Rupert

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Eileen Rose is probably the best singer-songwriter you've never heard of. This is about to change. She's just released an excellent CD and is starting an international tour which, if there is any justice in this world, should give her the success she deserves. You can wait to see if she at last gets a radio hit -- if so, you read it here first. Or check her out anyway: Rose's fourth album is called ``At Our Tables.'' Eileen Rose, Best Songwriter You've Never Heard Of: Interview by Mark Beech

A Cape Dorset artist whose sculptures and images are icons in Canada and one of Quebec's leading documentary filmmakers are among this year's winners of the Governor General's Awards in visual and media arts. Kenojuak Ashevak, who created images such as Enchanted Owl, and Serge Guigère, the filmmaker behind Driven by Dreams (À force des rêves), were announced as winners of the $25,000 award in Montreal on Tuesday.

My friend Afif Safieh, now the chief PLO representative in the US, argues that there are two Americas: the America which exterminated the Native Americans and enslaved the blacks, the America of Hiroshima and McCarthy, and the other America, the America of the Declaration of Independence, of Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt. In these terms, George Bush belongs to the first. Obama, his opposite in almost every respect, represents the second. Uri Avnery on Two Americas

The clashes are the first in Sadr City between the Shiite militia and US troops since October 21, when around 50 people were killed during US raids targeting an Iranian-linked insurgent. The fighting, which severely strains a ceasefire declared by Sadr in late August and renewed last month, prompted the cleric to issue a stern warning that he would launch protests and a nationwide strike if attacks against his movement and "poor people" are not halted. Sadrists Battle SIIC, Iraqi Troops in Three Cities

"Clean coal" is a combination of two technologies, one of which is expensive and the other completely unproven. The expensive one is coal gasification, and it is a genuinely cleaner way of burning coal. It involves baking coal to drive off gasses that aren't much dirtier than natural gas, and the gasses then are burned for power production. This technology costs a minimum of 20 percent more than a conventional pulverized coal plant, which is why only two such plants exist in the United States. Our Suicide Mission with Coal By Kelpie Wilson

A chunk of ice the size of the Isle of Man has started to break away from Antarctica in what scientists say is further evidence of a warming climate. Satellite images suggest that part of the ice shelf is disintegrating, and will soon crumble away. The Wilkins Ice Shelf has been stable for most of the last century, but began retreating in the 1990s. Six ice shelves in the same part of the continent have already been lost, says the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Antarctic shelf 'hangs by thread' By Helen Briggs

In a brief essay on Barack Obama's recent speech on race, New Yorker magazine writer George Packer, a good liberal, makes a point that is roughly similar to the one that Wild Bill Kristol made in his New York Times column on Monday: that we do not need to have "a conversation about race." ...However, there's another, deeper similarity between these pieces by the liberal Packer and the (some dare call him) fascist Kristol. Specially, both share a certain premise -- and it is one that has done us all enormous harm. That premise is some subjects are best not discussed. Topics to Avoid in Polite Liberal Conversation By Mark Crispin Miller.

Last month, Breakthrough, a non-profit that I currently head, released a videogame called ICED -- I Can End Deportation. The name is a play on Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The goal of ICED is to create awareness about the lack of due process and human rights in current detention and deportation policies. ICED has created a huge buzz, especially in the blogosphere, and approximately 70,000 individuals have downloaded the game so far. When Did "Immigrant" Become a Dirty Word? Mallika Dutt

BBC News has a report on Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering, a book that blows away the old cliche about governments being unable to censor the internet. There's a contents list and sample chapters here. bIn the UK, of course, we may be less likely to censor sites than to make it a crime to look at them. New book looks at net censorship around the world.

Steve Clark, a former senior executive at ITN and Sky News and a driving force behind the launch of al-Jazeera English, resigned at the end of last week while David Marash, a former CBS Nightline presenter who was the senior anchor in Washington, has also quit. Insiders say more than 15 staff have quit or resigned in recent months amid complaints of a lack of clarity over its direction, contractual disputes and speculation over a relaunch later this year. Senior al-Jazeera staff quit English service

Archaeologists in Peru have discovered ancient temple ruins that could predate the Inca empire.
The temple on the periphery of the Sacsayhuaman fortress includes 11 rooms thought to have held mummies and idols. The discovery at the famous spot overlooking the Incan capital of Cuzco includes ancient roadway and irrigation systems, said the team of experts. 'Pre-Inca' temple found in Peru

Those of us who may have been thinking of the path of poetry, those who understand that words are thoughts and not only our own thoughts . . . must be conscious of this: that, above everything else, poetry is words; and that words, above everything else, are, in poetry, sounds.
Sounding Romantic: The Sound of Sound - Essay by Susan J. Wolfson, Princeton University [Thanks VN]

Paul Jay and The Real News Team

US MILITARY TOLL IN IRAQ HITS 4000Phyllis Bennis: Cheney visit in Middle East intended to isolate Iran and prepare possible war

IRAQ DEATH TOLL REACHES 4000AP: US military death toll in Iraq hits new milestone as 4 more soldiers killed by roadside bomb