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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Judiciary

If you are not tired of all the speculations about the judiciary, here is another one. The old curmudgeon Parsi Bawa has written so many times about Asghar Khan's petition. OK forget the numbering - somebody needs to fix them. But my query for you is this: while the learned judges of the Supreme Court were chasing missing persons and their dogs, and taking suo moto notices about everything, none of them took notice of old Ardeshir Cowasjee's columns referring to Asghar Khan's petition.

Ask yourself why. Notice the dates, and again ask yourself why?

We never learn from history–10 (September 2, 2007)
We never learn from history-8 (August 19, 2007)
We never learn from history-7 (August 12, 2007)
We never learn from history-6 (August 5, 2007)
We never learn from history-6 (Oct 31, 2004)
We never learn from history-5 (Aug 25, 2002)
We never learn from history-4 (Aug 18, 2002)
We never learn from history-3 (Aug 11, 2002)
We never learn from history-2 (Aug 04, 2002)
We never learn from history (July 21, 2002)

US's Pakistan policy under fire - Jim Lobe

The government, which also includes the Awami National Party, a secular Pashtun party that displaced military-backed Islamist parties in the February elections in NWFP, has made clear it believes negotiations, significantly increased development aid and legislation designed to end FATA's colonial status and eventually integrate it with the rest of Pakistan offer the most effective strategy for turning the population there against al-Qaeda and indigenous extremists. US's Pakistan policy under fire By Jim Lobe

The reality is distinct from what is perceived above.

They do not want to integrate with the rest of Pakistan. They want to have their own obscurantist interpretation of IslamoCultural laws, as interpreted by them to be enforced in the region and later the same narrow interpretation of Shariah lawas to be implemented all over Pakistan.

Under the guise of culture and tradition they want to push the baby back in the womb.

At the height of their colonial Raj, the British tried and failed to bring them into the mainstream. What hope the fragile Pakistani successors have to make them see the light?

They cannot even enforce a uniform civil or criminal code over the whole territory of Pakistan. That is the dielmma.

‘Our Dreams Are Dead’

The walls stand 30 feet high, huge slabs of gray cement, snaking their way through the West Bank for almost 500 miles. They block roads, bisect villages, cut off kids from their schools, farmers from their fields, families from relatives. "Welcome to the Ghetto, Walls of Tears" reads one of the many graffiti. "The Dumb Wall Is Screaming," "Make Love, Not Walls," read others. And my favorite, in huge orange letters on the road to Ramallah: "Control*Alt*Delete." Around Bethlehem the walls have become a protest art gallery—an oversize white donkey with tears running down its cheeks, a dove wearing a flak vest with a bull's-eye painted on its breast, a young girl frisking a soldier. The Israelis call them separation walls. The Palestinians call them apartheid walls. They are a nightmare.

Consider the Israeli travel restrictions. No Palestinian living in the West Bank is allowed to enter Jerusalem without written permission from the Israeli government.

Despair is the word I hear most often from West Bank Palestinians, 58 percent of whom have fallen below the poverty line. "I can't get work from the Israeli side because I am haram [forbidden], and the Palestinians can't even afford to pay me bus fare," says an architect reduced to working in a bookstore. The night offers particular terrors. Jad, who works late, recognizes the sounds of frequent Israeli raids, "explosions and hard beats on doors and screams," she says. ‘Our Dreams Are Dead’
[thanks YA]

Baithak Desi Apr 29: Anjum Niaz, Asif Zardari, Shahid Masood, Nawaz, Musharraf, Taliban, Suddle, PSO, Hasan Nisar, BBC, Again?

Battle-tested Asif Zardari began by appointing men who had a controversial past, to say the least. But what has caused ripples in otherwise calm waters is the continuation of Attorney General Malik Qayyum. According to a senior Supreme Court attorney Akram Sheikh, who was once Nawaz Sharif's legal eagle in his second term, Qayyum is to go to Switzerland, Spain and London on taxpayer's expense to close Zardari and Rahman Malik's cases that probably Qayyum himself helped draft for National Accountability Bureau. "He is there for the benefit of just one man — Asif Ali Zardari." If this is not pulp fiction, pray what is? Anjum Niaz

Asif Ali Zardari has said that nation had not given the PPP mandate to restore judiciary but it entrusted the mandate for the provision of food, clothing and housing.

Shahid Masood interviews Asif Zardari
Nawaz also interviewed
Musharraf asks US for greater market access for Pak products
Govt-Taliban talks collapse
Mushahid moves Senate on The News story
Jis ki Laathi oos ki bhains - Suddle
Cash-strapped PSO may not pay dividends in June
Doing it right, or doing it now!
The woman of honour
Do Pakistanis read?
Hasan Nisar (in Urdu)
Mandate for roti, kapra aur makan: Zardari (transcript of BBC interview)
How many times have you heard this before?

Baithak World Apr 29: India-China-G8, NYT-SunPost, Gen Suleimani, McCain -Fareed Z, Syria, Israel, RealNews

India and China have been wary about joining an expanded G8 owing to fears of being coaxed and cajoled into making unfair concessions on the Doha Development Round or on carbon emission caps. Both countries attended the 2007 G8 Summit in Germany as "outreach countries" but forthrightly rejected the deal announced at this meeting for the US to abide by environmental targets conditional upon New Delhi and Beijing following suit. Arguably, the intransigence of India and China on trade and environment has rattled the US, which is not seconding Britain and France on the project of creating a G13. The US silence on India's permanent membership of the UNSC is likewise a product of anxiety about more independent-minded states spoiling the US-dominated agenda of the UNSC's five permanent members (the US, UK, Russia, China and France). The voting for the post of UN Secretary General in 2006 showed a similar ordering of choices, with the US going for South Korea’s Ban Ki Moon over India’s Shashi Tharoor. The calculation in all these instances is that India is not sufficiently pliable and can be a fly in the ointment for Washington’s unquestioned sway on global institutions. India, China hold G8 options By Sreeram Chaulia

The New York Times’s Andrea Elliot, who won a Pulitzer last year for a series profiling a Brooklyn mosque, turned in a heartbreaking article this morning detailing how a local educator was drummed out of her chance to be the principal of a new New York City public school that offers Arabic classes as a major curriculum component. One thing that makes the piece so striking is that it is, at heart, a quiet but mighty piece of press criticism. Before her departure, The New York Post, in a ridiculous story about a supposedly offensive t-shirt, pieced-together a damning quote from Almontaser that ended up sinking her career, while The New York Sun ran an amped up op-ed raising specious doubts about the school. It’s no secret or surprise that those papers’ fingerprints are all over this disgrace. But it’s still a shame. NYTimes schools Post, Sun on Arabic School

BAGHDAD — One of the most powerful men in Iraq isn't an Iraqi government official, a militia leader, a senior cleric or a top U.S. military commander or diplomat, He's an Iranian general, and at times he's more influential than all of them. Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani commands the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, an elite paramilitary and espionage organization whose mission is to expand Iran's influence in the Middle East. As Tehran's point man on Iraq, he funnels military and financial support to various Iraqi factions, frustrating U.S. attempts to build a pro-Western democracy on the rubble of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.
According to Iraqi and American officials, Suleimani has ensured the elections of pro-Iranian politicians, met frequently with senior Iraqi leaders and backed Shiite elements in the Iraqi security forces that are accused of torturing and killing minority Sunni Muslims. Is an Iranian general the most powerful man in Iraq

On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed. In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil—but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power. What McCain has announced is momentous—that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war. Fareed Zakaria on McCain's Foreign Policy Bumbling

Professor William Beeman at the University of Minnesota passed along a note today from "a colleague with a U.S. security clearance" about the mysterious Syrian site targeted in a Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike. The note raises more questions about the evidence shown last week by U.S. intelligence officials to lawmakers in the House and Senate. The author of the note pinpoints irregularities about the photographs. Beeman's source alleges that the CIA "enhanced" some of the images. For example he cites this image: The lower part of the building, the annex, and the windows pointing south appear much sharper than the rest of the photo, suggesting that they were digitally improved. The author points to more questions about the photographs of the Syrian site. Satellite photos of the alleged reactor building show no air defenses or anti-aircraft batteries such as the ones found around the Natanz nuclear site in central Iran. The satellite images do not show any military checkpoints on roads near the building. Where are the power lines? The photos show neither electricity lines or substations. Here is a link to a photo of the North Korean facility that the Syrian site was based on. Look at all the buildings surrounding it. The Syrian site was just one building. SYRIA: More questions about alleged nuclear site

April 29, 2008 | For years, liberal American Jews who have chafed under the taboo against criticizing Israel have dreamed of starting a political organization that would speak for them. Now, with the launch of J Street, that dream has become a reality. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group's founder, says that the incident that drove him over the edge took place when he was working as policy director for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. Dean said the U.S. should take an "evenhanded" approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, Ben-Ami recalled. He was immediately, and predictably, savaged as anti-Israeli and a coddler of terrorists. "All hell broke loose," Ben-Ami said. "And this from a man who's married to a Jewish woman, who's raising kids in the Jewish faith, and is extremely pro-Israel in everything he'd ever said and done. But to use that one word, and then to have that cascade into a torrent, was just amazing to me. And it's certainly been repeated and magnified with the attacks on Obama and some of his aides, some of them crossing any line that any of us should have about civil discourse." Taking back the debate over Israel

Shake-Head Lines


Paul Jay presents RealNews
What did Israel bomb in Syria?
Pepe Escobar: Real story behind September air strike has never been investigated view

Karzai, cabinet ministers flee under fire
Senior Afghan leadership, foreign dignitaries sent running for cover as militants open fire on ceremony view

Some Kurds still wait for the new Iraq
Alive in Baghdad: Attempting to redress the wrongs done to Faili Kurds view

55 dead in Morocco factory fire
AP: Officials looking into claims workers were locked inside building view

Richardson reaches out to Chavez
AP: Fmr. presidential candidate says Venezuelan leader can help with release of US hostages held by FARC view

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Europe's debt to Islam given a skeptical look

Thanks YA for this link. This is going against established facts. But that is what scholarship is. Though about this one am not too sure. Gouguenheim has a right to explore those links. Others am sure have the same opportunity to prove him right or to debunk him as a right wing revisionist. -t

When Sylvain Gouguenheim looks at today's historical vision of the history of the West and Islam, he sees a notion, accepted as fact, that the Muslim world was at the source of the Christian Europe's reawakening from the Middle Ages. "Aristote au Mont Saint-Michel" (Editions du Seuil), while not contending there is an ongoing clash of civilizations, makes the case that Islam was impermeable to much of Greek thought, that the Arab world's initial translations of it to Latin were not so much the work of "Islam" but of Aramaeans and Christian Arabs, and that a wave of translations of Aristotle began at the Mont Saint-Michel monastery in France 50 years before Arab versions of the same texts appeared in Moorish Spain.

When I talked to Gouguenheim about his book a couple of weeks ago, he said he had no interest in polemics, just some concern that his research could be misused by extremists.

At the same time, he acknowledged that his subject was intensely political. Gouguenheim said it was in light of a 2002 recommendation from the European Union that schoolbooks give a more positive rendering of Islam's part in European heritage "that an attempt at a clarification becomes necessary." Reading Gouguenheim without a background in the history of the Byzantine Empire or the Abassid caliphate is a bit of a challenge. It justifies distance and reserving judgment.

Europe's debt to Islam given a skeptical look

Jimmy Carter Speaks Out On Wright, Obama, McCain: Watch Video

Former President Jimmy Carter appeared on CNN's Larry King Live on Monday, addressing everything from the 2008 election and Rev. Jeremiah Wright to his recent talks with Hamas.

In the first segment, Carter said he would not have left Wright's church after hearing his remarks, and that Wright wouldn't be "anything permanent or damaging" to Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy.

CARTER: I grew up in Plains, Georgia and we have 600 people and 11 churches. And the largest and most powerful church is the Lebanon Baptist Church, which is an African-American Baptist church, so I have heard this kind of preaching all my life when we visited their church and they came to mine. What I think he's teaching is a liberation theology and his origins... I think sermons are still shaped by the deprivation of racial discrimination that our country has felt for 100 years after the civil war.

Carter said he would not be endorsing a candidate during the primaries (despite the fact that "all of my grandchildren and all of their spouses and all of my children and all of their spouses were for Obama"), and predicted that the party would rally around a winner after the primary elections were over in early June. But he did offer praise to both candidates:

Jimmy Carter Speaks Out On Wright, Obama, McCain: Watch Video

Baithak Desi Apr 28: Zardari - Klasra, Suddle Toothless, White Lies, Headlines

PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari seems to have finally started the rehearsal for the role of the prime minister of Pakistan, as he has sent a secret two-page letter to his party ministers with clear instructions on how they all should “behave and act” as ministers in the cabinet of Yousuf Raza Gilani. Subsequently, Zardari has also set up an “ethics committee” to ensure that his instructions are being implemented in letter and spirit. The committee will receive complaints against the ministers and the MPs so as to make the party workers and common people realise that they are there to serve them and should not give them any chance to feel aggrieved.Zardari said: “As a public representative whether in the Senate or the National Assembly or the provincial assemblies or as a minister, the PPP members must shun lavish lifestyles. Ostentatious display of riches must be avoided. Simplicity and modesty should be visible even by such small gestures as using smaller cars, avoiding big entourages and lavish dinners, etc. Use of public resources and facilities should only be for the purpose they are meant for and at no stage should we give an impression of the misuse of official resources.” Deliver the goods, Zardari tells ministers Rauf Klasra

“Dr Suddle’s mole network within the police, political parties, especially MQM, and elsewhere in the city has been rooted out in the years that followed his transfer after the killing of Murtaza Bhutto in September 1996 and subsequent dismissal of PPP government within next few months”, sources in Sindh law enforcement agencies also say... another serious problem that the new IGP, Sindh is facing relates to morale of the police force when it comes to working under Dr Suddle....majority of officers and disguised informers loyal to Dr Suddle have perished in recent years as either they have been assassinated in shootouts or in target killings under dismal circumstances. “There won’t be many now who would dare take this road to death keeping in view the circumstances in which our colleagues fell prey and nobody bothered”, he regretted. “MQM is much more stronger and IGP Shoaib is about to retire, thus, everyone is trying to avoid any controversy”, the grade-19 officer. Suddle may prove toothless - Assad Hameed

Word has it that the work ethic at the Punjab Secretariat has changed rather dramatically. Apparently the new Chief Secretary is an early bird who arrives at the Secretariat at 7.30 am on the dot. The Home Secretary, an even earlier bird, receives him at the gate and the round of ministries begins, ending at about 1.30pm. That does not mean that it is time to go home. It is then open kutchery till late into the evening, sometimes stretching up to 1.30am, technically the next day. No wonder the secretariat staff is nostalgic for days gone by, when a former CS breezed in at 1.30pm and breezed out a little later, to attend to more important matters, like looking after the Lahore Gymkhana Club. White Lies


PML-Q may table resolution on judges: Shujaat
Pakistani Taliban execute kidnapper in public
Man commits suicide due to harassment by loan recovery team

PPP’s local cadre feels neglected in formation of new set-up
Attock Fort’s two barracks to be named after Nawaz, Zardari
Hamid Mir (in Urdu) on Zardari and Judges
Couple shot dead over karo kari
Editorial: Unfair to Riaz Muhammad Khan
Blasting cliches with cliches - Ejaz Haider
Saudi King steps in

Baithak World Apr 28: Hilary's "Obliterate", Iraq Millions, Unearthed News, Syria-Golan-Israel-Hezbollah, Obama, Newsweek, Sean Penn, Ken Wilber,

You read Hilary Strangelove's "Obliterate" Iran comment first on Baithak World Apr 24.

[This obliterate remark might well come back to haunt Hilary. This is not the stuff Presidents are made off - despite her assertions to the contrary]

Now the mainstream USA media is picking up on her ill advised comment.

This morning, the Boston Globe launched the most aggressive editorial broadside yet against statements made by Hillary Clinton last week on Good Morning America, where she promised to "totally obliterate" Iran if they attacked Israel, comparing the Senator to fictional film character "Doctor Strangelove" and calling her statements a "red line that should never be crossed." Boston Globe Assails 'Hillary Strangelove' On Iran Comments

If you read the Washington Post as religiously as I do, you probably have a pretty good grasp of the taxonomy of Latin American leaders. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is a brutal dictator whose crimes include saying mean things about George W. Bush, sponsoring leftist terror groups, using Venezuela's oil revenues to sway elections in the region and, perhaps most egregious of all, banning the Simpsons! Oh, and winning a bunch of elections. He's followed by evo Morales, who is a walking, talking race card and just won't let bygones be bygones when it comes to Bolivia's traditional elites -- those friendly light-skinned plutocrats who own all the land. He's a dictator too. Then there are "moderates" like Chile's Michelle Bachelet. She might call herself a socialist, but Chile's into "free trade" and has a privatized Social Security system from the Pinochet era, so, meh. Then there's Ecuador's Rafael Correa -- young, good-looking and not at all fond of neoliberalism. The LA Times' handy pocket guide to Latin American politics lists him as a "Harvard-trained Chavez ally" (He never attended Harvard, but, you know, the facts don't much matter when reporting on Latin America). Hugo Chavez is a Dictator, Alvaro Uribe is a Beacon of Democracy -- Get it Straight!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Millions of dollars of lucrative Iraq reconstruction contracts were never finished because of excessive delays, poor performance or other factors, including failed projects that are being falsely described by the U.S. government as complete, federal investigators say. The audit released Sunday by Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, provides the latest snapshot of an uneven reconstruction effort that has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $100 billion. It also comes as several lawmakers have said they want the Iraqis to pick up more of the cost of reconstruction. The special IG's review of 47,321 reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars found that at least 855 contracts were terminated by U.S. officials before their completion, primarily because of unforeseen factors such as violence and excessive costs. About 112 of those agreements were ended specifically because of the contractors' actual or anticipated poor performance. Investigators: Millions in Iraq contracts never finished

In a superb example of print journalism, the New York Times reported last Sunday the sordid story of how television network military analysts with undisclosed financial ties to Pentagon contractors had been used by the White House and Pentagon to sell the Iraq War to the American people. In a sophisticated propaganda effort that would make Joseph Goebbels and Edward Benways green with envy, the Pentagon had turned some fifty former officers, posing as independent experts, into hand puppets mouthing pro-war talking points on Fox News, ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC. "It was them saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,'" Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst described the process. [there are more stories when you open the link -t ]Unearthed: News of the Week the Mainstream Media Forgot to Report by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle

Syria is demanding that Israel commit in writing to a withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan. The paper based its report on Syrian sources, who claim to be in possession of the "Rabin Pledge," referring to understandings reached between Israel and Syria in the 1990s, before the 1995 assassination of then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Assad told the newspaper on Sunday that the time has not yet come for peace because "the Israeli side has still not given its guarantee."
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he supports Turkish mediation of Israeli-Syrian peace talks and would back any agreement reached between the two longtime enemies. Syria said demanding Israeli guarantee on Golan pullout

Dismissive of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain’s pledge to “drive Hezbollah out of Lebanon”, serious US officials want to engage the Lebanese Resistance partly because they are concerned with Israel remaining a Jewish state in the region. The Bush administration no longer believes there is a viable military option - American, Israeli or combined - for destroying Hezbollah. The Party is deeply embedded in much of Lebanon and has broad support in the region. Recent reports indicate that some of its administrative staff is moving offices into Sunni areas including Tripoli and north Lebanon and that more Sunni, Christians and Druze are joining the Lebanese Resistance under Hezbollah leadership. - An Offer Hezbollah Cannot Refuse? - Part I By Franklin Lamb in Lebanon

Elizabeth Edwards' op-ed in The New York Times today aptly holds the title, "Bowling 1, Health Care 0," as it criticizes the media obsession with Barack Obama's bowling form and score during the past three weeks. My research shows that while cable news gasbags such as Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews, and the entire Fox crew, were the worst offenders, the Times itself has carried dozens of references to "bowling-gate" in its news pages and blog entries. Maureen Dowd even had to run an embarrassing correction after she alleged that Obama had improperly accepted the donation of bowling shoes from Sen. Bob Casey, when it was the other way around. Today she refers, again, to the "bowling debacle." Please, stop this woman before she kills again. Do We Really Want a Bowler-in-Chief? Remember Nixon!

There was a time, not so long ago, when the advisers to John McCain worried a great deal about running against Barack Obama. "We'll never get those kind of crowds," a McCain aide admitted, almost mournfully, to a NEWSWEEK reporter as they stood watching television coverage of a packed Obama rally in South Carolina last January. Obama seemed to have a kind of transcendent power, an ability to convince voters that he was not just another politician. Most McCain aides at the time wanted to run against Hillary Clinton, whom they regarded as a traditional tax-and-spend Democrat with unusually high negative ratings. ..........Yet, just five weeks later, Brooks was writing "How Obama Fell to Earth." The columnist was discouraged by Obama's performance in the pre-Pennsylvania primary debate. "Obama has emerged as a more conventional politician and a more orthodox liberal," Brooks wrote. "He sprinkled his debate performance Wednesday night with the sort of fibs, evasions and hypocrisies that are the stuff of conventional politics." Obama might win Brooks back if he returned to his high-mindedness and stopped pandering. But winning over the great mass of American voters is tricky. Obama has stood for change, and when it comes to changing politics, many Americans are with him. But change, more broadly imagined, is threatening to a lot of people, and not just high-school dropouts who own guns and live in rust-belt states. McCain, too, is out preaching change—attacking the political arena of Washington, where he has worked for more than two decades. But McCain drapes himself in red, white and blue; he is a thoroughly familiar figure, the war hero. Obama represents something newer and stranger in presidential politics, a black man with a Harvard degree who reads Niebuhr but is perfectly at home shooting hoops on a Chicago playground. To get the Democratic nomination, and to win the presidency, Obama has to show that he is not just a rock-star speechifier—or a worn-down pol trying to limp over the goal line without saying something that could possibly be used against him. He has to show voters who he really is. Most of them still don't know. Only in America - By Evan Thomas, Holly Bailey and Richard Wolffe | NEWSWEEK

INDIO, California (Hollywood Reporter) - Sean Penn is fighting the war in Iraq, poverty, homelessness and saving the environment, all from a bus. The actor, who baffled many when his name showed up on the lineup for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival underway this weekend in southern California, plans to board a fleet of biodiesel buses and take about 300 people on an 1,800-mile trek across the U.S., ending in New Orleans. Penn's brainchild, the Dirty Hands Caravan, will take off Monday and is expected to arrive in the Big Easy on May 4 for the city's annual jazz festival. "I see this as a reckoning," said Penn, who's set to appear twice on Sunday at Coachella. "My generation and those that came before have to recognize the numbing of incentive that we've passed on to the change hungry, imaginative, smarter than us youth of today." Penn said he's simply providing the wheels and the young people are leading the ride. Sean Penn leading biodiesel trek across America - By Leslie Simmons

NEED magazine caught up with Yifat Susskind, the communications director for MADRE, for a conversation on gender, human rights and development. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, MADRE is an organization that works internationally demanding human rights for women and families.
Q. From your perspective, how adequately are gender issues/gender rights being addressed in development policies or international politics? Are they being overlooked?
A. I think there has been enough demand by women’s rights activists, both men and women, who understand the importance of women’s rights to achieving broader visions of social justice that at this point, there’s a lot of recognition of that. And it’s mostly, unfortunately, in the form of lip service. But, I think that when you have a very long-term struggle like promoting genuine development and women’s rights internationally, that you need to read the signs and understand what stage of that struggle you’re at. To give you an example, it’s not immaterial that leaders do feel the pressure to at least give lip service to those issues. Because there was a time, not very long ago, when women’s perspectives and the word gender was nowhere to be seen in any of those policy circles. Working for Women around the world

Ken Wilber may be the most important living philosopher you've never heard of. He's written dozens of books but you'd be hard-pressed to find his name in a mainstream magazine. Still, Wilber has a passionate -- almost cultlike -- following in certain circles, as well as some famous fans. Bill Clinton and Al Gore have praised Wilber's books. Deepak Chopra calls him "one of the most important pioneers in the field of consciousness." And the Wachowski Brothers asked Wilber, along with Cornel West, to record the commentary for the DVDs of their "Matrix" movies. A remarkable autodidact, Wilber's books range across entire fields of knowledge, from quantum physics to developmental psychology to the history of religion. He's steeped in the world's esoteric traditions, such as Mahayana Buddhism, Vedantic Hinduism, Sufism and Christian mysticism. Wilber also practices what he preaches, sometimes meditating for hours at a stretch. His "integral philosophy," along with the Integral Institute he's founded, hold out the promise that we can understand mystical experience without lapsing into New Age mush. You are the river: An interview with Ken Wilber


Karzai escapes Kabul parade attack
Baghdad Green Zone Bombarded With Rockets
Karl Rove's Advice For Barack Obama Peace or the nuclear option
All of Gaza can't be razed

NEW DELHI: Ahead of Monday's crucial disciplinary hearing over the issue, pacer S Sreesanth said on Sunday that the incident in which Harbhajan Singh slapped him was actually a "slugfest", a statement that's likely to strengthen the case against the temperamental off-spinner, who maybe headed for a minimum punishment of being banned for five Test or 10 ODIs. Reversing his earlier stance that Harbhajan was like an "elder brother" and the slap was a "hand shake on the wrong side", Sreesanth told a television channel in his native Kerala that "It was more than a slap, it was like a slugfest. I never expected this reaction from him, I was very surprised." It was more than a slap: Sreesanth

How The Presidential Candidates Will Look In 4 Years: See Photos

Top Ten Feeds of the Week

Each week, we trawl the depths of television, the Internet, and commercial news feeds to bring you the best news clips, jawdropping on-air moments and lots of other random crap. Here are the ten best we found this week:

1) Capturing the Friedman
The world may be flat, but cream pies are definitely round
2) John King can't stop making an ass out of you and me.
Give a guy one magic wall, and he becomes a real jerk.

This gun dealer picked the wrong tragic school shooting to show up at.
4) The leader of the free world makes a cameo on "Deal or No Deal."

Maybe the banker can tell us why the economy is crumbling.
5) John McCain sinks as low low as the demographic that's gonna vote for him.
Don't watch unless you're prepared to be embarrassed for America.
6) Gayest clip of the week.
Learn what it means to be "sesk-syoo-ull."
7) Cindy McCain to Chelsea Handler: "The Force is strong with this one."
These girls like 'em old.
8) The best of Tyra Bank's Light Skinned vs. Dark Skinned Episode
Sure, you know the differences in how white and black people dance. But what about light-skinned and dark-skinned black people?
9) Hillary and Barack lookalikes re-enact what every American has been imagining.
If you're not yet embarrassed enough for America, this'll put you over the top.
10) The trailer for Sin City 2.
One for the nerds.

Paul Jay presents RealNews
A new hope in fight against malaria
Patent-free new treatment will be easy to administer and more accessible in developing world view

Powering past fossil fuels
Jose Etcheverry: "We are stuck in a paradigm of energy generation that is two centuries old" view

Hook, Line & Sinker By Josh Marshall

It seems the AP has fallen for the McCain campaign's and the RNC's effort to prevent anyone from using McCain's own words against him during the 2008 presidential campaign. As noted earlier, what the McCain campaign is pushing for here is a standard in which any negative ad targeting McCain must be delivered with the McCain camp's own spin included in order to be within bounds -- a standard few politicians, to say the least, have ever been granted. And even though the political press has been highly indulgent of the McCain campaign on this issue, I don't think I've seen any news organization so egregiously buy into McCain's false statements as the Associated Press.

The AP article lede reads: "The Republican National Committee demanded Monday that television networks stop running a television ad by the Democratic Party that falsely suggests John McCain wants a 100-year war in Iraq."

So, as you can see, the AP begins by stating as fact the McCain camp's claim that the ad is false. Then it actually directly misstates what the ad says.

[Continue with the link to see the YouTube video]

Hook, Line & Sinker By Josh Marshall

Monday, April 28, 2008

Farrakhan's Pennsylvania Admirer

Among all of the top Democrats intimately involved in the Pennsylvania primary, which would you say has had the coziest relationship with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam?
It's not Barack Obama.

The individual who has shared a podium with Farrakhan and has publicly praised the Nation of Islam the loudest is the person most responsible for organizing, mobilizing and delivering the Pennsylvania vote to Hillary Clinton: her close friend and trusted political counselor Ed Rendell.

That Rendell and the Nation of Islam have something going is beyond doubt.

Go to the video on YouTube:
See Rendell standing at the lectern with Farrakhan
Farrakhan's Pennsylvania Admirer

Insight into attack on Karzai By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Sunday's attackers penetrated no fewer than 18 security rings around the parade's venue and they used their latest weaponry - small mortars that are only manufactured by a few Western countries, including Israel. In Al-Qaeda adds muscle to the Taliban's fight (Asia Times Online, April 19, 2008) it was reported how the Taliban will use specialized weapons to launch precision attacks on high-profile targets. Asia Times Online contacts say the armed men belonged to legendary Afghan mujahid Jalaluddin Haqqani's network and were facilitated by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami network in Kabul. Hekmatyar is an Afghan warlord and politician par excellence. Ironically, Sunday's parade celebrated the victory of the mujahideen over the communists, which in turn led to several years of the country's worst-ever factional fighting until the student militia - the Taliban movement - seized power in 1996 and kicked out all the mujahideen leaders from governance. Insight into attack on Karzai By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Iran steps into enemy's territory

This week, with his three-nation tour of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad will fortify Iran's regional ties and thus achieve a milestone in his administration's "Look East" foreign policy orientation. Accompanied by a high-ranking delegation, Ahmadinejad's trip transpires at a time of heightened US allegations of Iran's meddling in Iraq and serves as an antidote to the US policy of isolating Iran and castigating it as a rogue or pariah state. Too bad for the US, which now places the lion's share of the blame for its quagmire in Iraq on Iran's "destructive influence", two key US allies in the sub-continent, India and Pakistan, are now poised to deepen their economic, political, cultural and even geostrategic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, irrespective of Tehran's defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a halt in Iran's uranium-enrichment activities. Not only that, Sri Lanka, strategically situated in the Indian Ocean, is also about to enter into a close economic relationship with Iran, in light of Tehran's funding of the US$450 million multi-purpose Uma Oya power project and its billion-dollar investment in Sri Lanka's sole oil refinery [1]. This is bound to enhance Iran's regional clout as well as create new points of geostrategic synergy between Tehran and New Delhi. Iran steps into enemy's territory By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Carter was Right But Bush, Media Ignore Hamas' Overtures Towards Peace

Haaretz reported that "Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal said Hamas would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip along Israel's pre-1967 borders, and would grant Israel a 10-year hudna, or truce, as an implicit proof of recognition if Israel withdraws from those areas."
According to Gulf News, "Former US president Jimmy Carter said that exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had told him the movement would accept a peace deal if it was approved in a Palestinian vote. ... Hamas will accept a ceasefire that is limited to the Gaza Strip, dropping its long-standing demand that the West Bank be included in any halt in fighting with Israel, senior representatives of the group said."
Haaretz also noted that "the most significant change in Hamas' stance in the talks over a calm is that it gave up on its demand that the calm extend to both Gaza and the West Bank. This may lead to a breakthrough, but if Israel refuses this offer, Hamas will continue its policy of the past few weeks ¬ escalating the violence and rocket fire."
Israel did refuse this offer, in such a quiet low-key way that it seemed Israel simply ignored the it, along with other olive branches tentatively offered by Hamas in the wake of Jimmy Carter's talks with Hamas leaders. The U.S. government and our mainstream media did much the same (though the New York Times belatedly let Carter publish an op-ed column). What could have been heralded as a new opening toward peace in the Middle East has instead been expunged from the discourse, flushed down the memory hole into the oblivion of official nonexistence.
Carter was Right But Bush, Media Ignore Hamas' Overtures Towards Peace
By Ira Chernus,

Can You Get by on Just 5 Gallons of Water a Day?

Full marks to those who keep a tight rein on their carbon footprint, but don't relax just yet: water is the new carbon, and our engorged water footprints need to be scrutinised before the rivers really do run dry. At the World Economic Forum in January, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, warned that water and food shortages would be the crises of 2008. Last week we watched the escalating food crisis reverberate around the globe. Conflicts fuelled by water shortages may well be next, triggered by climate change, population growth and poor water management. The phrase "water footprint" was coined to describe the embedded or "virtual" water in a food or industrial product -- the real volume of water used to create that product. It is difficult to avoid using products which have not been involved in a water-intensive process somewhere along the line, and the figures are staggering: it takes 1,760 litres to get one pint of milk out of a cow and into your fridge; a kilogram of cheddar swallows up 5,000 litres.
How do we get through almost nine times more water each day than someone living in Africa? Thirsty Planet, a bottled water brand which donates part of its profits to the charity Pump Aid, challenged me to survive on 20 litres for 24 hours to find out. I discovered pretty quickly that we waste the larger part of those 155 litres, by leaving the tap on while brushing our teeth, over-filling kettles (this wastes electricity, too), luxuriating in hot baths filled to the brim, and running the dishwasher or washing machine half-empty. These bad habits seemed easy to fix, though, and I was confident surviving on the 20 litres would prove a doddle. My "preparatory techniques" (you might call this cheating) were to shower and wash my hair the evening before beginning the challenge, and to skip washing any clothes or dishes for the day.
Can You Get by on Just 5 Gallons of Water a Day? By Sophie Morris,

Johann Hari: Israel is suppressing a secret it must face

But I can't do it. Whenever I try to mouth these words, a remembered smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of shit. Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison.

Standing near one of these long, stinking brown-and-yellow rivers of waste recently, the local chief medical officer, Dr Bassam Said Nadi, explained to me: "Recently there were very heavy rains, and the shit started to flow into the reservoir that provides water for this whole area. I knew that if we didn't act, people would die. We had to alert everyone not to drink the water for over a week, and distribute bottles. We were lucky it was spotted. Next time..." He shook his head in fear. This is no freak: a 2004 report by Friends of the Earth found that only six per cent of Israeli settlements adequately treat their sewage.

Meanwhile, in order to punish the population of Gaza for voting "the wrong way", the Israeli army are not allowing past the checkpoints any replacements for the pipes and cement needed to keep the sewage system working. The result? Vast stagnant pools of waste are being held within fragile dykes across the strip, and rotting. Last March, one of them burst, drowning a nine-month-old baby and his elderly grandmother in a tsunami of human waste. The Centre on Housing Rights warns that one heavy rainfall could send 1.5m cubic metres of faeces flowing all over Gaza, causing "a humanitarian and environmental disaster of epic proportions". [thanks A] Johann Hari: Israel is suppressing a secret it must face

Baithak World Apr 27: Malawi, Egyptian View, Israeli Take, Western Media, Lighght Verse, Catastrophist, Neoconner, Haj, Wrong kind of Muslim, Pope...

There is a need to scale-up the dramatic success of Malawi, a famine-prone country in southern Africa, which three years ago established a special fund to help its farmers get fertiliser and high-yield seeds. Malawi's harvest doubled after just one year. An international fund based on the Malawi model would cost a mere Rs 401($10) per person annually in the rich world, or 40,000 crore ($10 billion) in all. Abolish subsidies: The US and Europe should abandon their policies of subsidising the conversion of food into biofuels. The US government gives farmers a taxpayer-financed subsidy of Rs 6 per litre (51¢ per gal.) of ethanol to divert corn from the food and feed-grain supply. There may be a case for biofuels produced on lands that do not produce foods–tree crops, grasses and wood products–but there's no case for doling out subsidies to put the world's dinner into the gas tank. Need more Malawis

What is remarkable, however, is that Arab countries greeted Carter's mission with utter indifference. Even in Ramallah, Carter was met by junior Palestinian officials. Abbas, who was getting ready for a Moscow trip, saw no reason why he should confer with the former US president. But Carter got at least to visit Arafat's tomb. Cairo kept its cool. It arranged for Carter to meet a delegation of Hamas officials, but otherwise was unenthusiastic about his mission. Why are Arab officials so worried about Carter meeting Hamas leaders? Are they too eager to please America and Israel to admit that Hamas's involvement in talks is a good idea? And yet they received Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, with open arms when she went to Qatar. Her trip was even covered by a special team from Al-Jazeera. What is this all about? We want to stay on Israel's good side but won't let half the Palestinians have their say? The Arabs are falling into a trap. They are so busy listening to American and Israeli officials that they cannot spare the time to consider other options. The next few days will see another peace conference in Sharm El-Sheikh. In that conference, President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert would put their signature to another piece of paper. But there will not be solutions in this region anytime soon, not until Bush is out of office. The US has been holding talks with Iran for nearly five years in secret. We have no idea what came out of this. As far as we're concerned, anything can happen. A military strike against Iran is not to be ruled out. And renewed fighting in Lebanon is all too probable. These are things that we should be concerned about, but are we? Cairo View- Salama A Salama - Salama A Salama

Prior to planning once more the course of the railway between Haifa and Damascus, and before Israeli developers start searching for land on which to build shopping malls in Aleppo - one should feel free to be a little insulted. Why did Israelis need to hear about their prime minister's intentions to relinquish the Golan Heights from the Syrian media, Syrian cabinet ministers and the Syrian President? Why didn't Ehud Olmert screw up his courage during one of the thousands of interviews he gave for the holiday and inform Israelis that he had told Egypt's President Bashar Assad that he intended to withdraw from the Golan? Did he think he could write a little note - "O.K., take the heights" - and transmit it through the Turkish mediator to Assad and that everything would remain secret? Assad will tell you what's happening

What is the media agenda? Why do some stories get covered and others covered up? On May 1, 2005 The Times of London published confidential minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet members showing that Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush secretly agreed to wage war on Iraq for "regime change" nearly a year before their invasion of the country. British and U.S. officials insisted for months after that they had no plans to invade. Why weren't U.S. media more probing all along? The Washington Post reported in April 2003 that the Pentagon had no plans to count civilian casualties in Iraq. Did U.S. media react negatively? No. Why not? Had dismembered Iraqi civilians been printed on playing cards like the Iraqi leadership's "Most Wanted List" that was all the rage at the start of the war, would they have received more attention? Don't we all know the number of victims from the horrible terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field where one of the planes crashed on that fateful day? Are the lives of innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine worth less? Did reporters ask questions of officials like: "Why did the U.S. edit the 12,000-page Iraqi weapons report to the U.N. Security Council removing all names of U.S. firms that had previously sold weapons materials to Iraq in the past?" While media in the Muslim and Arab worlds have opposed the war in Iraq and in other Muslim countries, their reports and editorial lines can hardly be viewed as monolithic. It is important to understand the nuanced handling of news coming from these sources. Because of their reticence, or outright criticism of the Iraq war, channels like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya came under attack by U.S. officials and their neoconservative supporters. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority and the subsequent Iraqi Governing Council had temporarily shut down Al Jazeera's bureau as punishment. Is Coverage of Arabs, Islam Good? Western Media Under Scrutiny Magda Abu-FAdil

One evening last fall I joined a small crowd in a dusty room off busy Qasr-Al-Nil street in Cairo, facing a banner that read, “Welcome to the Cultural Salon of Dr. Alaa Al Aswany.” Many of those seated around me seemed to be simple celebrity spotters, there to see in the flesh the biggest-selling novelist in Arabic, Al Aswany, who is also an increasingly bold critic of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, which in Egypt has held power uninterruptedly for 27 years. The rest appeared to be aspiring writers or students eager for literary and political instruction. Austerely furnished with a single fluorescent light, half-broken chairs and a solitary table scarred with overlapping teacup rings, the room defused all expectations of literary glamour. Nevertheless, it offered a frisson of political danger. When the salon was held the previous year, Egyptian intelligence agents so intimidated the owner of the cafe where the meeting was taking place that he screamed at Al Aswany and his audience to go away. He later apologized, explaining that he had done it for the sake of the government spies who were watching him. Where Alaa Al Aswany Is Writing From -Pankaj Mishra

This book collects nearly all the poems Aram Saroyan wrote in the 1960s, when he was in his early 20s and, as he put it, “the only person available at a typewriter who didn’t have some predetermined use in mind for it.” The resulting pages, tapped in Aram Saroyan by his typewriter, were succinct. Saroyan was the master of the one-word poem. But his works were as musical and meaningful as more conventional poetry, too, and a lot more amusing. The minimal poems were eye openers, ear openers and mind openers, and no one else was doing anything much like them at the time, and no one has since. Saroyan was known as a “concrete poet” — that is, he was writing poems meant to be looked at as much as read. His poems aimed to be things as well as words, and they used all the resources of the alphanumeric page (or slab of stone, as Ian Hamilton Finlay did, or poster or other medium) rather than being merely linguistic expression of pre-existing ideas or perceptions. All interesting poems do this to a degree, poetry being a recognition that consciousness is made of language, but concrete poems are an extreme example, which accounts for a substantial part of their poetic pedigree (and high-class license). Lighght Verse - Richard Hell

In “The Second Plane,” his collection of noisy, knowing writings about theocracy and terror, Martin Amis goes out on a limb. He denounces both. Really, he does. He hates Islamism and he hates Islamist murder. And so he should: if certain forms of evil are not hated, then they have not been fully understood. Amis enjoys the moral element in contempt, and he is splendidly unperturbed by the prospect of giving offense. But he appears to believe that an insult is an analysis. He wants us to remember, about the Islamists in Britain, “their six-liter plastic tubs of hairdressing bleach and nail-polish remover, their crystalline triacetone triperoxide and chapatti flour.” He knows for a fact that Islamists “habitually” jump red lights, so as “to show contempt for the law of the land (and contempt for reason).” Iranians, he teaches, are “mystical, volatile and masochistic.” Amis seems to regard his little curses as almost military contributions to the struggle. He has a hot, heroic view of himself. He writes as if he, with his wrinkled copies of Bernard Lewis and Philip Larkin, is what stands between us and the restoration of the caliphate. He is not only outraged by Sept. 11, he is also excited by it. “If Sept. 11 had to happen, then I am not at all sorry that it happened in my lifetime.” Don’t you see? It no longer matters that we missed the Spanish Civil War. ¡No pasarán! The Catastrophist - Leon Wieseltier

In 2007, a whopping 400,000 books were published or distributed in the United States, up from 300,000 in 2006, according to the industry tracker Bowker, which attributed the sharp rise to the number of print-on-demand books and reprints of out-of-print titles. University writing programs are thriving, while writers’ conferences abound, offering aspiring authors a chance to network and “workshop” their work. The blog tracker Technorati estimates that 175,000 new blogs are created worldwide each day (with a lucky few bloggers getting book deals). And the same N.E.A. study found that 7 percent of adults polled, or 15 million people, did creative writing, mostly “for personal fulfillment.” In short, everyone has a story — and everyone wants to tell it. Fewer people may be reading, but everywhere you turn, Americans are sounding their barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world, as good old Walt Whitman, himself a self-published author, once put it. You’re an Author? Me Too! - Rachel Donadio

There’s never been anyone like Ahmad Chalabi in American history, never a foreigner without official status so crucially involved in a decision by the United States to go to war. Of course, Winston Churchill helped engineer America’s entry into World War II, but he was, after all, prime minister of the United Kingdom. And Chalabi — a University of Chicago Ph.D. in mathematics, wealthy banker forever going bankrupt, and creator and sole proprietor of a Potemkin Iraqi freedom front financed entirely by United States taxpayers — is no Winston Churchill. Neoconner - Leslie Gelb

Muslim pilgrims perform the circumambulate of the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Click image to expand.Muslim pilgrims in the holy city of Mecca

Last December, more than 2 million Muslims from around the world converged on Saudi Arabia to participate in the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the holy site of Mecca. The Hajjis spent a month performing religious rituals, mingling with Muslims from all walks of life, and, in some cases, taking part in communal chants of "Death to America" led by Islamic extremists. This was understandably unnerving to the 10,000 or so Americans who made the pilgrimage, not to mention those who didn't. Such behavior raised concerns that the Hajj is a breeding ground for anti-Western sentiment—or worse.

Then again, the spirit of friendship and community that typically prevails during the Hajj has also been known to promote tolerance and understanding across peoples. Malcolm X famously softened his views on black-white relations during his pilgrimage to Mecca, where he witnessed a "spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white."

So does the Hajj open minds, or does it expose Muslims to radical views that unite them against the non-Islamic world? To find out, researchers David Clingingsmith, Asim Khwaja, and Michael Kremer surveyed more than 1,600 Pakistanis, about half of whom went on the Hajj in 2006. In a recent, as yet unpublished study, they report that those who went to Mecca came back with more moderate views on a range of issues, both religious and nonreligious, suggesting that the Hajj may be helpful in curbing the spread of extremism in the Islamic world. Does going to Mecca make Muslims more moderate? By Ray Fisman

Your dress is quite Western,' they said ruefully. I was wearing jeans and a short-sleeved top (yes, I really do remember what I was wearing that day. How could I not? I thought I was going to be famous and on TV), but I was hardly scantily clad. So much for the empowered, modern, young, cool Muslim woman; turns out what the BBC really wanted was a authentic, well-covered one instead. Sadly, my story, the fairly common, non-conflicting story where cultures don't clash, but sit quietly side by side with minimal effort required, is one that never gets the limelight. But it's the one that needs to be heard so that British Muslims can simply get on with being who they are instead of continually being defined on other people's terms and in other people's words. Women in Black - even the name says it all. I'm the wrong kind of Muslim for the TV - Huma Qureshi

Child abuse. Sexual abuse. Women raised to be baby machines controlled by powerful older men in the name of God. These shockers -- and many more -- are flagrantly on offer in the spectacle unfolding around the 139 women and 437 children removed by Texas authorities from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado. The YFZ is an outpost of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a breakaway Mormon cult presided over by Warren Jeffs, convicted in Utah as an accomplice to rape and awaiting trial in Arizona for incest and conspiracy. The visuals are riveting: women in pastel prairie dresses and identical pompadour-cum-french-braid hairstyles weeping for their children in state custody; skinny-necked middle-aged men insisting they had no idea it was illegal to marry and impregnate multiple 15-year-olds. There's a feminist angle, a child-protection angle and a civil liberties angle -- it isn't clear that the children were in immediate danger, and this drastic and clumsy sweep might well cause cultists to isolate themselves even more. The original impetus for the raid -- a desperate phone call from someone claiming to be a 16-year-old girl raped and abused by her 50-year-old "spiritual husband" -- is looking more and more like a hoax. Men of the Cloth: The Vatican Isn't So Far From Fundamentalist Mormonism By Katha Pollitt

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has told Congress that American intelligence operatives attempting to thwart terrorist attacks can legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law.The legal interpretation, outlined in recent letters, sheds new light on the still-secret rules for interrogations by the Central Intelligence Agency. It shows that the administration is arguing that the boundaries for interrogations should be subject to some latitude, even under an executive order issued last summer that President Bush said meant that the C.I.A. would comply with international strictures against harsh treatment of detainees. While the Geneva Conventions prohibit “outrages upon personal dignity,” a letter sent by the Justice Department to Congress on March 5 makes clear that the administration has not drawn a precise line in deciding which interrogation methods would violate that standard, and is reserving the right to make case-by-case judgments. Letters Give C.I.A. Tactics a Legal Rationale

U.S. fumes after Israeli envoy to UN envoy brands Carter 'a bigot'
[We can call him names - You cannot]

Paul Jay presents RealNews
Israel rejects Hamas truce offer
Hamas offers a six-month 'calm,' but Israel signals it won't follow suit view

Brazil bans rice exports, protests in Peru
Africa, Latin America to be short 500K tons of rice as Brazil becomes latest country to ban rice exports view