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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Na Ghar kay, na Ghaat kay: Unwelcome in Karachi, unable to return By Qurat ul ain Siddiqui

KARACHI: ‘I am not at ease here,’ admits Mohammad Salaar, surveying the bustle and traffic at Safora Chowk in Karachi’s Gulistan-i-Jauhar area. ‘The political culture of the city is unfavourable for displaced families like mine which didn't opt to stay at a refugee camp.’

Salaar is one of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas last August. According to City District Government Karachi officials, between 100,000 and 300,000 IDPs have settled in Karachi in the past few months. Many have yet to adjust to their newly adopted home. As Salaar puts it: 'Life in Karachi is not very favourable for us Pashtuns. I am only here because I have relatives on whom I can rely. We haven't been helped by the government in any manner.’

Born and raised in Bajaur’s Damadola district, Salaar left his home village seven months ago. He now works as a day labourer in Karachi while living with his family in a cramped room in Sohrab Goth for which he pays Rs 3,000 per month. For Salaar, adjusting to the difference between life in his hometown and this sprawling metropolis has been challenging. But the likelihood of returning to Bajaur any time soon is rather small. Like thousands of other IDPs, Salaar finds himself in limbo, unwelcome in Karachi and unable to return home.

Israel: Civilians & Combatants

In 2005, Asa Kasher and Amos Yadlin published in an American academic journal "Assassination and Preventive Killing,"[1] an essay that explores the issue of "assassination within the framework of fighting terror." There are good reasons to believe that the political and practical significance of this essay goes far beyond its academic interest. Asa Kasher is professor of professional ethics and philosophy of practice at Tel Aviv University and an academic adviser to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Amos Yadlin is a major general who at the time the article appeared was the military attaché of the embassy of Israel in Washington; he is currently the head of Israeli army intelligence.

The writers are quick to point out that the "views expressed in the present paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the...IDF or the State of Israel." But the issue is not whether their views are official, but whether they are in fact influential in the Israeli army. Soon after the recent Israeli intervention in Gaza, Amos Harel argued in Haaretz (February 6, 2009) that the guidelines suggested in the article are indeed the ones that govern the IDF's conduct in battle. This claim has since been both affirmed and denied by Israeli soldiers. We will not join that dispute here, but given the intense interest in Israel's rules of engagement in the Gaza fighting, it's critically important to address Kasher and Yadlin's argument.

MIDEAST: Tunnels Become a Lifeline By Erin Cunningham

Since the Jan. 18 ceasefire, Israel has continued to operate its commercial crossings at minimal capacity. Only 35 percent of the 613 million dollars in funding requested by the United Nations (UN) Flash Appeal for Gaza has been received for reconstruction efforts.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that on average 127 aid trucks a day are entering Gaza, compared to 475 per day prior to the Hamas takeover.

"If Israel opened the borders, the tunnel business would end in a second," says Abu Hussein, a Palestinian who manages a tunnel on the Gaza side of the border. "But what are we supposed to do? These tunnels feed the people, give them what they need and give us jobs."

Before the war smuggling through tunnels, which the UN said last year was so widespread that it amounted to an industry, was generating some 650 million dollars in cash each year.

Analysts estimate that at least two-thirds of the goods sold across the Gaza Strip come from the tunnels, and that they employ some 12,000 Palestinians from all over the territory. Gaza's unemployment rate, according to the UN, stood at 45 percent before the war. It is the highest in the world.

The poetry, and wisdom, of Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney, the greatest living English-language poet, turned 70 this week.

The Irish, of course, take their poets more seriously than most -- and they take their Nobel laureates, of whom Heaney is the fourth, very seriously indeed. Monday, then, was quite a day for the Derry-born farmer's son now known to literary Dublin's sharp-tongued gossips as "famous Seamus."

Famous he surely is. In the United Kingdom last year, two-thirds of all books sold by a living poet were by Heaney -- and this despite the fact that he once protested his inclusion in "The Penguin Book of English Verse" with these tart lines: "Be advised, my passport's green / No glass of ours was ever raised / To toast the Queen." No wonder that on a recent visit to The Times, Irish President Mary McAleese recited one of Heaney's poems from memory.

Ireland commemorated his birthday with an exhibit of art inspired by his work, with newly written string quartets and a symphony based on his poems, and with a nationally televised documentary on his life and writings. More than 400 invited guests listened to the poet deliver a birthday address, which was broadcast live over one of the national radio stations, and, afterward, there followed more than 12 continuous hours of Heaney in recorded readings of his collected poems.

Parsi fiction—a piece of fiction?

Roshan G. Shahani retired as reader and head of the Department of English at Jai Hind College, University of Bombay, where she taught for thirty-nine years. She is the author of Family in Fiction: Three Canadian Voices (Bombay: The Registrar, S.N.D.T. Women’s University, 1993), based on her doctoral dissertation, and Allan: Her Infinite Variety (Mumbai: SPARROW, 2000), a memoir about her mother, as well as of several journal articles. She has also edited numerous publications brought out by the Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women (SPARROW), for which she is also a trustee. Her research interests include contemporary Indian and British literature as well as women’s studies which she taught at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Roshan was the editor of BEAM, the Bombay English Association Magazine. In this reflection, she evaluates the work of a diverse range of writers who are Parsis, including Gieve Patel, Bapsi Sidhwa, and Adil Jussawalla. Questioning the very category of ‘Parsi writing,’ she suggests that a less essentialist perspective might be more fruitful for critically examining the work of the writers gathered under that label.

Is there something quintessentially Parsi about Parsi culture? Can there be any such classification into which writing by Parsis could be slotted? Why do we distinguish writers of this particular community as a specific category? Do we, for instance, talk about Christian writing, or Hindu writing? Unlike regional writing, say like Sindhi or Bengali literatures, it is not the commonality of a specific regional language that can group such writing together, since English is virtually the first tongue of the Parsi writers, at least when it comes to the written, if not the spoken, word. Unlike Dalit writing, which emerged as a very conscious movement, challenging certain hegemonic notions of ‘Indianness’ and of Indian cultural traditions, Parsi writing, if one can provisionally use such a term, did not, at any given moment, form a cogent movement. Parsis have, traditionally, been a privileged minority, in terms of economic and cultural status.

Robert Fisk: Is this the price of America's new friendship with Syria?

They're out. The four top men blamed for the murder of the Lebanese ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri in the Saint Valentine's Day massacre four years ago have been freed from their drab prison at Roumieh north of Beirut, amid a flurry of gunfire and fireworks. In Damascus – their home from home if you believe what Mr Hariri's men tell you – they must be drinking champagne.

Once more the UN donkey, clip-clopping on to the world stage after the murder of Mr Hariri, has been proved a mule. Judge Daniel Fransen, of the UN tribunal, declared in the Hague yesterday that the Big Four – how well we know their names in Lebanon – should go free: The Lebanese General Security commander Major-General Jamel Sayed, the former Internal Security director general Major-General Ali Haj, the ex-intelligence director general Raymond Aza and the former Presidential Guards commander Brigadier General Mustafa Hamdan.

The power of poetry runs as deep as the roots of its societal moorings: Jawed Naqvi.

If Pakistan is a den of Muslim terrorists, as they would like us to believe, why do Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a true blue Marxist poet or Habib Jalib, a militant variant of Majaaz, continue to be such icons there? Dagh Dehlvi’s ghazal, made popular in the four corners of India and Pakistan and beyond by the late Iqbal Bano’s mesmeric voice, admonishes the muezzin for his inopportune intervention thus:

Di muezzin ne shab-i-wasl azaan pichhli raat
Hai kambakht ko kis waqt khuda yaad aaya!

Ghalib of course was a self-declared heretic — only half-Muslim, as he once confessed. As he witnessed savage turmoil in 19th century India, not unlike the one being experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan today, Ghalib’s inspiration to celebrate the Brahmins must have come from the role played by Maharashtra’s Peshwas and assorted freedom fighters like Mangal Pandey against British colonialism:

Wafadari ba shart-i-ustawari asl-i-imaa’n hai
Marey butkhaney mein to Kaabe mein gaarho Barahman ko.

By blanking out Urdu from mainstream discourse, the Indian state has sought to delete an entire genre of liberal culture represented by Ghalib, Mir and Majaaz from public discourse, not to speak of Hafez or Rumi who are at least worshipped in Iran. The media completes the smear campaign. No wonder the only private Urdu channel in India is then harnessed to propagate the teachings of the narrow-minded mullah, which passes for Muslim culture. Typically, the rightwing of all religions like to see the wimples, ignorant of the curlers underneath.

The World's Most Influential Person Is...

Click on the last link here and check out the person at #4 ~~~t

In a stunning result, the winner of the third annual TIME 100 poll and new owner of the title World's Most Influential Person is moot. The 21-year-old college student and founder of the online community, whose real name is Christopher Poole, received 16,794,368 votes and an average influence rating of 90 (out of a possible 100) to handily beat the likes of Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Oprah Winfrey. To put the magnitude of the upset in perspective, it's worth noting that everyone moot beat out actually has a job.

Since moot launched in 2003, the site has given birth to Internet memes as diverse as Lolcats and Rickrolling. 4chan averages 13 million page views a day and 5.6 million visitors a month; by some estimates it is the second largest bulletin board in the world. (See the TIME 100 finalists.)

For proof of moot's influence on the Web, one need look no further than the TIME 100 poll results. While Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao got a larger vote total (20,391,818), the runner-up for the title of World's Most Influential Person, Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim, received a mere 47 on the influence scale. Moot denies knowing about any concerted plan by his followers to influence the poll, though's technical team did detect and extinguish several attempts to hack the vote. (See the full results here.)

The joy of exclamation marks!

There is a town of 1,471 happy souls in Quebec called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!. The second "Ha!", amazingly, is part of the town's name, not my commentary on the first "Ha!". Unlike, for example, the Devon town of Westward Ho! Ho! There, the second "Ho!" is mine. Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is the only town in the world whose name has two exclamation marks. It will remain so until Wolverhampton is renamed Wolverhampton!! to highlight its funky new Black Country vibe, which, all things considered, seems unlikely.

In and out of style: Punctuation past and present

The full stop

It stops, and it will never stop being useful. Often used for rhetorical effect to break up sentences into. Significant. Words. Or phrases. Ed McBain wrote: "Oh, boy. What a week." The 1906 edition of the King's English lamented "spot-plague", meaning the full stop has to do all the work. In the intervening period, the full stop. Has. Done more work. Than Edwardian lexicographers. Would have thought possible.


I love ellipses, which are also experiencing a revival online (so easy not to finish a thought but instead to lean on your full-stop key .... ), and I use them to seem cleverer. Ellipses confer gravitas on banal thoughts ...

The comma

Use wrongly and hilarity ensues. Thus: "Mr Douglas Hogg said that he had shot, himself, as a young boy." Take out the commas, and Hogg mutates into someone who takes himself out.

The semi-colon

Yay or nay? Literary types divide over this. In France, they have been arguing about it histrionically. Lynne Truss argues that "they are the thermals that benignly waft our sentences to new altitudes". George Orwell once purged A Clergyman's Daughter of the semi-colons, arguing they were unnecessary.

The colon

Functional, utilitarian. Fowler said that, "the colon ... has acquired a special function, that of delivering the goods that have been invoiced in the preceding words". Dull, isn't it?

The question mark

Thanks to Australian uptalking, this, like the exclamation mark, is undergoing a renaissance? Now, it can be used at the end of any sentence? It makes everything you write read like Russell Crowe whining about the media? This, to be sure, is no advance? Or is it?

• This article was amended on Wednesday 29 April 2009. We referred to a German person starting a letter with the greeting 'Liebe Franz!" when we should have said 'Lieber Franz!'. This has been corrected.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kenyan women hit men with sex ban

Can this work in other countries?~~t

Women's activist groups in Kenya have slapped their partners with a week-long sex ban in protest over the infighting plaguing the national unity government.

The Women's Development Organisation coalition said they would also pay prostitutes to join their strike.

The campaigners are asking the wives of the Kenyan president and the prime minister to join in the embargo.

They say they want to avoid a repeat of the violence which convulsed the country after the late-2007 elections.

Martin Amis: 'Men are terrible. We can't help it'

If Martin Amis is worried about security – about random visits, say, from Islamist nutters seeking revenge, or from latte-sipping liberals whose anti-torture instincts have, on reading recent Amis, been sorely tested – he clearly hasn't told his nine-year-old daughter. We've already had a nice chat about her day, and her lovely pink top, and the portrait on the wall, when I realise that this dark-eyed little girl, who pressed the buzzer on the outside gate, and opened the front door, and welcomed me in, hasn't actually told either of her parents that I'm there. She's delightful, of course, but I can feel the taxi-meter of precious interview time ticking away. So finally I crack and off she trots – serious, soulful, sweet – and here they are, Mummy and Daddy, one of the most glamorous literary couples in the world.

Mummy is Isabel Fonseca, the beautiful American heiress, writer, novelist, and second wife. And Daddy – well, we know who Daddy is. Amis fils, he used to be called, this writer of brilliant, glittering, savagely comic novels, this writer of coruscating, polysyllabic, look-at-me prose, this writer who is one of the most famous writers alive. Amis fils he used to be called to distinguish him from Amis père, angry young man turned grumpy old devil, poet, curmudgeon, pen pal of Larkin and creator of – yes – savagely cruel comic novels, and of one of the funniest books in the English language, Lucky Jim. If Kingsley was the colossus who loomed – a colossus who, famously, gave up reading his son's books – Martin was the sexy one, the hip one, the one who wrote the blistering satires on money and success, but did pretty well at garnering both.

Amanpour: Obama's 100 days of foreign affairs

udging by the hysterical reaction in some quarters, to President Obama's handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, or his bow to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, you would think that America's national security rested solely on body language not sound policy.
The presidential handshake between Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez spurred many comments.

The presidential handshake between Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez spurred many comments.

But just for the record, let's not forget that President George W. Bush kissed and held hands with the same Abdullah after 9/11, while also looking deep into the soul of Vladimir Putin. And a generation earlier, egged on by British Prime Minister "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, President "Tear Down That Wall" Ronald Reagan, decided that indeed Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was a man he could do business with: the business of ending the Cold War.

While Obama has not managed in 100 days to defeat Islamic militants, usher in a Middle East peace treaty or disarm North Korea, on these and other issues he has laid down some important groundwork. Most importantly, the global polls following his first overseas trip show he has begun restoring America's name and reputation, key ingredients to successful policy making.

Specter's Departure A Wake Up Call For GOP

How much more can the Republicans take? Demoralized, shrinking and seemingly lacking an agenda beyond the word "no," Republicans today saw their ranks further thinned with the stunning news that Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter is switching parties and will run for reelection in 2010 as a Democrat.

Specter is worried about his own survival -- and particularly a primary challenge from the right. Many in the GOP might say good riddance. After supporting President Obama's stimulus package, Specter was persona non grata in his own party. So it may be easy for some Republicans to conclude that they are better off without people like Arlen Specter.

But his defection is a reminder that the Republican Party continues to contract, especially outside the South, and that it appears increasingly less welcome to politicians and voters who do not consider themselves solidly conservative. Northeast Republicans have gone from an endangered species to a nearly extinct species. Republicans lost ground in the Rocky Mountains and the Midwest in the last two elections. That's no way to build a national party.

If Martin Amis is worried about security – about random visits, say, from Islamist nutters seeking revenge, or from latte-sipping liberals whose anti-

You've got to love the underdog. It doesn't matter who they are or whether or not they're good at all, we just want the little guy to win--because in the real world, he usually doesn't. So today we celebrate these tiny, underdog countries, the Rocky countries, who kicked ass against all odds. You've got to love the underdog. It doesn't matter who they are or whether or not they're good at all, we just want the little guy to win--because in the real world, he usually doesn't.

So today we celebrate these tiny, underdog countries, the Rocky countries, who kicked ass against all odds. That's the Balkans. So when we hold up Albania as an example of a badass underdog of a country, well, you can see what kind of neighborhood they're from.

And it's been that way for a long time. More than 500 years ago, the small, mountainous, fiercely independent country was under attack by the Ottoman Empire, at the time a hugely powerful nation that had just torn through the whole of the Balkans like paper mache. Only tiny Albania stood in its way of total regional domination. The Ottomans promptly high-fived each other, said something about how "this was going to be fun," and prepared for a route.

Le Corbusier: Maman's Boy

Despite the inherently social nature of architecture and city planning, personal histories of master builders were uncommon before the last century, and are still greatly outnumbered by biographies of painters and sculptors. A turning point in the public's perception of the building art came with the publication of Frank Lloyd Wright's An Autobiography of 1932, a picaresque narrative that captivated many who hadn't the slightest inkling of what architects actually did. Wright's self-portrait as a heroic individualist served as the prototype for Howard Roark, the architect-protagonist of Ayn Rand's 1943 best-seller, The Fountainhead. But the novelist transmogrified Wright's entertaining egotism into Roark's suffocating megalomania, an image closer to that of another contemporary coprofessional: Le Corbusier, the pseudonymous Swiss-French architect and urbanist born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret in 1887, twenty years after Wright.

Le Corbusier was the only one of Wright's competitors who matched his flair for self-promotion. However, Le Corbusier's posthumous influence has outstripped that of the greatest American architect. His schemes were often less specific to their sites than Wright's, and thus more adaptable elsewhere. Le Corbusier's work in South America and India won him a third-world following Wright never attracted. And his "Five Points of a New Architecture" of 1926 became a modern "must" list that could be copied by almost anyone, anywhere. It included thin piloti columns on which buildings could be based; ribbon windows; open floor plans; façades freed from load-bearing structure; and roof gardens. Such formularization was also central to the steel-skeleton, glass-skin high-rise format later perfected by a third contemporary, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but it did not offer the recombinations possible with the "Five Points."

MIDEAST: If Only They Could See

AMSTERDAM, Apr 28 (IPS) - Mohammed Al-Sheikh Yousef could save his eyesight if only he could cross the border out of Gaza. He was denied a permit by Israel; he got one from Egypt, but not for someone to accompany him. And he can't go on his own because he cannot see very well."If Mohammed does not get out of Gaza for medical treatment within the next 14 days, he may totally lose his eyesight and be blind for life," Dr. Mawia Hasaneen, head of the ambulance and emergency service for Gaza hospitals told IPS in a telephone interview. "In the past few weeks we have received 150 appeals from people in Gaza who are in need of urgent medical care," says Ran Yaron from Physicians for Human Rights, a human rights group in Israel that campaigns on behalf of Palestinian patients to obtain exit permits for healthcare. "We submitted 99 applications to the Israeli army on behalf of the patients, but only 15 cases were approved," Yaron told IPS. "Israel as the occupying power has primary responsibility for the health of the civilians of Gaza because it controls the crossings. It should not use the patients as a political tool."

Doctor and Patient

The Portuguese novelist António Lobo Antunes discovered his literary vocation while delivering babies, performing amputations, and carving up corpses. Lobo Antunes trained as a doctor, and in the early nineteen-seventies, during military service, he was dispatched to Angola, near the end of a futile war in which the faltering Portuguese empire grappled to retain its African colony. In a makeshift infirmary, he lopped off limbs while a queasy quartermaster—disqualified from operating because the sight of blood made him sick—turned away and recited instructions from a textbook. Lobo Antunes also assisted a witch doctor who presided over births. As he recalls in a new volume of essays and short stories, “The Fat Man and Infinity” (translated by Margaret Jull Costa; Norton; $26.95), he spent hours struggling “to pull living babies from half-dead mothers” and sometimes emerged into the daylight “holding in my hands a small tremulous life,” while mango trees rustled overhead and mandrills looked on. At such moments, he came “closest to what is commonly known as happiness.” The experience brought about a novelist’s epiphany. There was another way, Lobo Antunes saw, to fill the world with extra existences: characters could emerge fully formed from their creator’s brain, rather than making their blood-smeared escape from the womb.

'How to Win a Cosmic War' by Reza Aslan

In the essay "Movements and Campaigns," a tribute to the literary critic Irving Howe, the late philosopher Richard Rorty wrote that Howe's take on literary and artistic modernism was true of any political movement: "namely, that it 'must always struggle but never quite triumph, and then, after a time, must struggle in order not to triumph.' If the passion of the infinite were to triumph," Rorty explains, "it would betray itself by revealing itself to have been merely a passion for something finite." A "campaign," in contrast to a movement, makes explicit its limited aspirations. It is "something finite, something that can be recognized to have succeeded or to have, so far, failed."

Reza Aslan's "How to Win a Cosmic War" recognizes the struggle between Global Jihadism and the war on terror as an insolubly infinite one. He proposes, instead, that we'd be better off if we replaced the rhetoric of the absolute obligation, which characterizes movements, with the campaign's rhetoric of the finite aim.

Finally....and to Other Allah-wala's shame...

The top leaders of the Tableeghi Jamaat have denounced enforcement of Sharia at gunpoint, religious extremism, militancy and terrorism.Leaders of the Jamaat also called for promoting inter-faith harmony, tolerance, human rights, social justice and peace. They were speaking at the conclusion of a three-day congregation near here. ‘Shariah cannot be enforced at gunpoint,’ declared Haji Abdul Wahab, Amir of the Tableeghi Jamaat, Pakistan.Had that been the case, Allah Almighty would have sent fierce angels to protect prophets and enforce their faiths, he said.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter's Switch: Why It Matters

With newly minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania in their ranks, Obama's party now controls 59 seats in the upper chamber. When Al Franken of Minnesota is finally seated, Democrats will have 60, the number needed to squash a filibuster and move to a final vote.
Sixty is the magic number in the Senate -- but only if the party can muster 60 votes. Sixty members alone doesn't do it, a point emphasized by conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska when asked by the Huffington Post what Specter's move does to his own position as a power broker in the Senate.
"Nothing. Sixty members doesn't translate to 60 votes, so it doesn't really change anything for me," he said. "The automatic assumption that people will take from this is, 'Ah, things are changing.' And maybe they will, but it's not automatic."

Trio cleared over 7/7 attacks

Three men have been cleared of helping to plan the 7/7 London suicide attacks.

A retrial jury at Kingston Crown Court found them not guilty of conspiring with the 2005 bombers by organising a reconnaissance mission to London.

Waheed Ali, 25, Sadeer Saleem, 28, and Mohammed Shakil, 32, all from Leeds, admitted knowing the bombers - but denied helping them.

Ali and Shakil were found guilty of a second charge of plotting to attend a terrorism training camp in Pakistan.

The men were originally tried in 2008, but the first jury failed to reach verdicts against them.

CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan 8 Months Before DoJ Approval

Last December, in a typically bullish defense of the Bush administration’s conduct in the “War on Terror,” Vice President Dick Cheney stated, “On the question of so-called ‘torture,’ we don’t do torture, we never have. It’s not something that this administration subscribes to. [W]e proceeded very cautiously; we checked, we had the Justice Department issue the requisite opinions in order to know where the bright lines were that you could not cross. The professionals involved in that program were very, very cautious, very careful, wouldn’t do anything without making certain it was authorized and that it was legal. And any suggestion to the contrary is just wrong.”
The “requisite opinions” referred to by Cheney consisted primarily of two memos issued in August 2002 by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), whose lawyers interpret the law as it relates to the powers of the executive branch, which were issued in connection with the administration’s “high-value detainee” program.
The first of these memos (PDF), which has become known, simply, as the “torture memo,” was leaked in June 2004, in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Notorious for the attempts by its primary author, OLC lawyer John Yoo, to redefine torture as the infliction of physical pain “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death,” or the infliction of mental pain which “result[s] in significant psychological harm of significant duration,” it had been vilified by lawyers and human rights activists for nearly four and a half years by the time that Cheney made his pronouncement.

U.S. Plans Attack and Defense in Cyberspace Warfare

And the Pentagon has commissioned military contractors to develop a highly classified replica of the Internet of the future. The goal is to simulate what it would take for adversaries to shut down the country’s power stations, telecommunications and aviation systems, or freeze the financial markets — in an effort to build better defenses against such attacks, as well as a new generation of online weapons.

Just as the invention of the atomic bomb changed warfare and deterrence 64 years ago, a new international race has begun to develop cyberweapons and systems to protect against them.

Ahmadinejad is an agent of the Mossad?

I am not saying that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an agent of the Mossad. Absolutely not. I don’t want to be sued for libel. I am only saying that were he an agent of the Mossad, he would not behave any differently.

And also: If he did not exist, the Mossad would have had to invent him. Either way, the assistance he is giving to the government of Israel is invaluable.


When preparations were made for a second “Durban Conference”, this time in Geneva, the Israeli government did everything in its power to convince at least the countries of North America and Europe to boycott it. That was not so easy. Well before the start of the conference, the US succeeded in eliminating the reference to Israel in the draft of its final document (leaving only a reference to the resolutions of the first conference), and in the end it decided to boycott the conference anyway. But the European countries agreed to attend.

The Israeli government was anticipating the conference with great apprehension. The atrocities of the Gaza War have turned public opinion in many countries against Israel. The conference could become an outlet for these emotions. The brightest minds in Jerusalem were trying to find ways to prevent this.

And then along came Ahmadinejad. Since he was the only head of state to attend, the organisers could not prevent him from speaking first. He delivered a provocative speech — not being satisfied with criticising Israel, his words dripped with unbridled hatred. That was a welcome pretext for the European representatives to get up and walk out in an impressive pro-Israeli demonstration. The conference became ridiculous.

Glenn Beck: A Savvy Fraud Who Knows Just How to Please His Audience of Conservative Suckers

Those who take a single drop of Beck's tears seriously need simply watch recordings of his stage shows. As he paces the stage, Beck switches the tear-ducts on and off like a switch, sometimes as many as six times in a single hour. He even chokes himself up for slick produced segments like the trailer for the stage show based on his bestselling (and ghostwritten) Christmas novel, The Christmas Sweater. Then there is the memorable Freudian slip Beck dropped on Fox in early February, while recounting the story of a missing girl. “Two years ago, I made the father a promise,” Beck says, choking up, “that I would not let this story dry — er, die….” Any doubts that Beck is just acting are more deeply buried by examining his turn guest hosting Larry King Live last summer. Watch that clip, and you will see a master tailor of on-air persona at work. He is in full-control and almost unrecognizable.

Nothing is sacred in Glenn Beck's business strategy to grow his company by stoking rightwing anger, anxiety, and paranoia. This is true even of those things he wants us to believe he holds most sacred. The poster for his upcoming comedy tour is the same Revolutionary War-era severed-snake symbol that Beck chose as the logo for his dead-serious “9/12 Project.” He just swapped the words “Laugh or Die” for the original “Join, Or Die,” then stamped it with his corporate logo.This fluid, self-serving, and multi-platform use of a hallowed symbol — from teary-eyed professions of selfless “9/12” patriotism to the promotion of his crappy observational comedy — is classic Beck.

So make fun of him all you want, but Glenn Beck is not crazy. He is a very wealthy and possibly visionary fraud, the Bernie Madoff of conservative anger and fear in the Obama era. He is laughing and crying in the plush backseat of his stretch limo right along with you, all the way to the bank.

Optical disc offers 500GB storage

Optical discs have been a leading storage solution for decades. A disc that can store 500 gigabytes (GB) of data, equivalent to 100 DVDs, has been unveiled by General Electric.

The micro-holographic disc, which is the same size as existing DVD discs, is aimed at the archive industry. But the company believes it can eventually be used in the consumer market place and home players.

Blu-ray discs, which are used to store high definition movies and games, can currently hold between 25GB and 50GB.

Micro-holographic discs can store more data than DVDs or Blu-ray because they store information on the disc in three dimensions, rather than just pits on the surface of the disc

Geithner, Member and Overseer of Finance Club

Last June, with a financial hurricane gathering force, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. convened the nation’s economic stewards for a brainstorming session. What emergency powers might the government want at its disposal to confront the crisis? he asked.

Timothy F. Geithner, who as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank oversaw many of the nation’s most powerful financial institutions, stunned the group with the audacity of his answer. He proposed asking Congress to give the president broad power to guarantee all the debt in the banking system, according to two participants, including Michele Davis, then an assistant Treasury secretary.

The proposal quickly died amid protests that it was politically untenable because it could put taxpayers on the hook for trillions of dollars.

But in the 10 months since then, the government has in many ways embraced his blue-sky prescription. Step by step, through an array of new programs, the Federal Reserve and Treasury have assumed an unprecedented role in the banking system, using unprecedented amounts of taxpayer money, to try to save the nation’s financiers from their own mistakes.

With Rivals Ahead, Doubts for CNN’s Middle Road

The election of Barack Obama does not seem to have ushered in a kinder, less-polarized environment in politics — or television.

And that’s not a good break for CNN, a network whose strategy is to steer the middle course in its news coverage. CNN’s competitors have been finding more success pounding away at those poles — at least during prime time.

Since the beginning of March, CNN has fallen behind both the longtime ratings leader, Fox News Channel, which, as the voice of disaffected conservatives, again has an imposing lead, and the upstart MSNBC, which has tried to mirror Fox’s success by steering to the left.

CNN has even dipped behind its sister network HLN (formerly Headline News) on many occasions. Since the beginning of 2009, CNN has finished fourth in prime time among the cable news networks on 35 out of 84 weeknights.

Lacy Threads and Leather Straps Bind a Business

For the brother's sake I hope they hire additional security in these taliban infested times~~t

KARACHI, Pakistan — In Pakistan, a flogger is known only as the Taliban’s choice whip for beating those who defy their strict codes of Islam.

But deep in the nation’s commercial capital, just next door to a mosque and the offices of a radical Islamic organization, in an unmarked house two Pakistani brothers have discovered a more liberal and lucrative use for the scourge: the $3 billion fetish and bondage industry in the West.

Their mom-and-pop-style garment business, AQTH, earns more than $1 million a year manufacturing 2,000 fetish and bondage products, including the Mistress Flogger, and exporting them to the United States and Europe.

The Qadeer brothers, Adnan, 34, and Rizwan, 32, have made the business into an improbable success story in a country where bars are illegal and the poor are often bound to a lifetime in poverty.

If the bondage business seems an unlikely pursuit for two button-down, slightly awkward, decidedly deadpan lower-class Pakistanis, it is. But then, discretion has been their byword. The brothers have taken extreme measures to conceal a business that in this deeply conservative Muslim country is as risky as it is risqué.

Obama move alarms Israel supporters

But the administration has asked Congress for minor changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the event Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government.The aid measures may never come into play. Power-sharing negotiations between Hamas and its rival, the U.S.-backed Fatah faction, appear deadlocked. The two have been bitterly divided since 2007, when Hamas drove Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. Fatah controls only the West Bank.Nevertheless, the move has alarmed congressional supporters of Israel, who are watching for signs that the new Democratic team at the White House might be more sympathetic to Palestinians than was the Bush administration.

Sign of times

Could Pakistan Dissolve Altogether?

Another expert pontificates on the fate of Pakistan...t

Boston University anthropologist Thomas Barfield has been publishing relentlessly ever since the mid-1970s, when he wandered northern Afghanistan doing doctoral fieldwork. He has since emerged as one of America's foremost experts on the region, focusing on political development, provincial-state relations, and customary law. In 2006, Barfield, now president of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, received a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to complete his upcoming book on the changing concepts of political legitimacy in Afghanistan. I caught up with the professor to discuss the P-word—Pakistan—and its role in our current predicament. At the time of our interview, Pakistan's government had not yet signed its agreement with the Taliban that allowed for the imposition of strict Islamic law in six northwestern regions, including Swat.

Mother Jones: To what degree does future Afghan stability depend on reconciliation between India and Pakistan?

Thomas Barfield: The India/Pakistan relationship is probably central. Pakistan has from its inception defined itself in opposition to India, and that makes it difficult. But Kashmir needs to be reconciled. Pakistan could also dissolve: The four provinces have very little holding them together.

MJ: So what happens if Pakistan dissolves?

TB: There will probably be an independent Pashtun state, unlikely to join with Afghanistan, because for all the lip service Afghans give to Pashtunistan, they can count. If they were part of this state, they would be a minority, and that's probably not a good idea from their point of view. There could be an independent Baluchistan. That's Pakistan's major gas producing area, and there's been an insurgency there for a long time. Some people say Baluchistan might join with Sindh, the other major populated area. Sindh is mostly Shia, and they feel persecuted by these radical Sunnis. There's really a large number of Shias in Pakistan that these radical Sunnis consider to be heretics—they are mostly in the south. Also in the south, in Karachi, you have all the so-called Muhajirs, the people who left India to resettle in Pakistan. So effectively you'd get three or four states. The most powerful would still be the Punjab. That would be the one holding the nuclear arms—Islamabad, Lahore, that area.

MJ: Who would be in charge?

TB: The Punjabis. They see themselves as the dominant group in Pakistan. They're more moderate on the religious and political spectrums—as long as they can be in charge. The army that you see now is mostly Punjabi, so you'd have this large army overlooking this rump state with lots of nukes. The other thing to consider is the elites are highly modern and moderate, highly westernized: Could a social revolution break out in which the elites who have run the place since it was founded are displaced by an entirely different social class that is more radical—that doesn't have the same vested interests or education? The army has always stood to prevent that, so presumably if they would hold on to the army, the army would hold on to Punjab and prevent things from getting out of hand. But then the question would be, if it starts to fall apart like that, would India feel the need to make a preemptive strike to go after the nukes?

Monday, April 27, 2009

WHO Raises Flu Alert Level To Phase 4

MEXICO CITY — Mexico says the World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert for swine flu by one level, two steps short of declaring a full-blown pandemic. Mexico health department spokesman Carlos Olmos confirms the move.

WHO says the phase 4 alert means sustained human to human transmission causing outbreaks in at least one country. It signals a significant increase in the risk of a global epidemic, but doesn't mean a pandemic is inevitable. Many experts think it may be impossible to contain a flu virus already spreading in several countries.

WHO has confirmed human cases of swine flu in Mexico, the United States, Canada and Spain. Only Mexico has reported deaths from the new strain.

Syed Saleem Shahzad: Pakistan goes its own pace on militants

OK I am no 'expert'...but on~~~t

Major General Tariq Khan, the Inspector General of the Frontier Corps (FC), is at the forefront of this. He spoke last week to Asia Times Online at the FC's headquarters in the historic Balahisar Fort in Peshawar, the capital of NWFP.

In terms of Pakistan's counter-insurgency prioritizes, one of the world's most wanted persons - Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud - rates low, although his network has caused major instability not only in NWFP but in the entire country. Some say he is the harbinger of the neo-Taliban's strength.

"Baitullah Mehsud is overrated," said Kahn. "Nobody has really gone into South Waziristan and sorted him out and when that happens, probably we will make a better assessment of his capacity. We have given him some importance in the area, and it has allowed him to acquire a kind of artificial leadership because whenever someone has trouble, they call him and he sends in some improvised-explosive-devise experts and a few rocket experts, who are Tajiks and Uzbeks.

"He also has a lot of funding, and he has got some training schools for suicide bombers, and he does some recruitment. He creates a military response or maneuver just by doing such explosions here and there and he opts to put pressure on the government to relieve the military pressure we are applying here," said Khan.

Ahmadinejad tells Stephanopoulos: I Accept Two State Solution

STEPHANOPOULOS: "If the Palestinians sign an agreement with Israel, will Iran support it?"

AHMADINEJAD: "Whatever decision they take is fine with us. We are not going to determine anything. Whatever decision they take, we will support that. We think that this is the right of the Palestinian people, however we fully expect other states to do so as well: the U.S. administration, European governments. The right to determine their fate by the Palestinians should be respected by all of them."

ECONOMY-INDIA: Tax Haven Loot Turns Election Issue

General elections currently being contested in India have brought an unusual issue to the fore - the repatriation of more than a trillion dollars believed to have been stashed away in Swiss and other tax havens.

Leading the charge is the ultra-nationalist, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which carried out mock election exercises to sensitise voters to its plank that the money, if returned, could be channelled into development activity.

Lal Krishna Advani, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, began demanding that the Indian government pursue the issue of ‘black money,’ well before the G20 summit in London earlier this month where pledges were made to devise a post-crisis economic plan to shore up the global financial system.

Following up on high-profile scandals involving Liechtenstein and Switzerland, the G20 nations demanded that tax havens dismantle the secretive structures that have allowed fake corporations, anonymous trusts, foundations and money laundering operations to flourish.

"We assure the nation that India will join the global effort to put an end to banking secrecy and intensify it by every means - diplomatic, political and economic - to get back the real sovereign wealth of our country," Advani has vowed.

Zia Mohyeddin column - The Indian Shakespeare

In one of the mini-climactical scenes from Hashr's Nek Perveen, the reprobate "hero," Afzal, having squandered all his wealth, returns to his house. His beautiful, devoted wife, Perveen -- who has been subjected to all kinds of devilish devices to force her to lose her "honour," but has withstood the test -- receives him with open arms. He confesses that under the influence of alcohol he has committed a murder.

Perveen (the embodiment of goodness) is only concerned with her husband's welfare. She begs him not to think of her wretched state, but to change his bloodstained clothes and leave the town at once to escape the long arm of the law.

The faithful old servant, on the other hand, offers an even better solution. He is three scores and upwards; he has lived long enough. What better last service can he render to the family but to confess that he, and not his young master, has committed the crime? If he were hanged, he would be happy to have laid down his worthless life in the service of those it has been his great and good fortune to serve.

Ideal ingredients of a melodrama. The scene begins with the "good" Perveen singing a song to bemoan her plight. When she ends her song, the faithful retainer, Tehseen, enters the stage and informs her that he has been unable to trace her husband. It is at this point that Afzal, the profligate husband, walks in:

Perveen: My loved one, where have you been? Where did you live for so long? Answer me. Oh God, you are trembling

Afzal: Touch me not. I am the vomit of sin, a dung heap, a cesspit… come not near me, unless you wish to sink into a mire of indignity. Fear me, for I am a hateful murderer.

Pretty trite stuff, you might think and yet, in an experimental production I conducted recently, as soon as the depraved husband waved his wife away, "Touch me not…" the audience began to listen, not with a sense of relishing the bombast of a by-gone age but attentively, savouring the language. When the repentant Afzal ended his speech with:

There was a round of applause. Verse, even prosaic verse, spoken theatrically, has always elicited a deferential response from our audiences.

The theatre for which Agha Hashr wrote was neither uncertain nor in a state of ferment. Everything was in its place. The sole purpose of a dramatic performance was, as the chorus in a Broadway musical put it:

'We hate to overtax you

We're here to relax you.'

Even if he had believed in "women's lib," Hashr could not have expressed himself in a theatre which demanded that the established order must remain intact. The dramatists too, were inclined to think that way. In Hashr's plays, kings and noblemen become dissolute, but through some last-minute dramatic stratagem, see the error of their ways; those who rise above their station meet their come-uppance; the servants stay in their place; the women remain subdued and dutiful.

Hashr's plays are not entirely devoid of rebellious women. In Shaheed-e-Naz, the cheeky house-wife, Fitna, soliloquizes:

"I cannot imagine why this rigmarole called marriage was created, unless the intention was to subjugate us and deprive us of our independence. A man may give the glad eye to whoever he wants, but if a woman were to dare to look at a man, her eyes are gouged out. Do women not have heart, desires, feelings…?

But such utterances are given only to menial characters, the saucy maid, or the side-kick of a comedian. Women of noble birth only mouthed what was expected of them: "We women cry out at tyranny, but in our hearts we admire a tyrant. Govern us, we cry to our husbands - and if you do, we moan, but our soul is at peace." I quote from a Victorian pot-boiler, Cynthia's Secret.

These sentiments delighted the playgoers no end. It must be borne in mind that an Urdu play drew an almost exclusively male audience, who wanted entertainment, amusement, and a lot of show-business, unmixed with highbrow stuff, and untainted with art.

More than anything else, they wanted to feel assured that the real place of the woman was to be at the beck and call of her husband. And so, when the penitent Afzal (in Nek Perveen) declares that he is not worthy of his good wife because he has squandered all her possessions, Perveen kneels down and says:

"No, no, no, my lord and master. I don't want money, dresses or jewels. I only want you. A woman's ornament is her husband. Not gold, not silver, but you. You alone are my wealth."

The audience responded with thunderous applause. Hashr was a past-master at crafting such show-stopping moments. Silver King urf Nek Perveen (the full title of the play) was a colossal commercial success.

Agha Hashr who rose to become the star playwright of both the Madden and the Alfred (the two most established and solvent) theatrical companies, had humble beginnings. In his younger days he had gained a strong reputation for winning Munaziras (open debates) against Christian missionaries. He used to say, not without a touch of pride that he, like Shakespeare, was a man without a degree and that degrees did not turn men into dramatists.

It is for researchers to determine when the epithet of "Indian Shakespeare" was conferred upon him and by whom. It could have been a princeling or one of his Parsi impresarios. Be that as it may, the bill-boards, and his published plays, always had the words "Indian Shakespeare," in parenthesis, underneath his name, except in one copy of Aseer-e-Hirs that I saw, in which the epithet was written above his own name.

Hashr has written somewhere that his method of writing a play is amusing, to say the least. In a preface he writes, and I translate. "Just as in a Marsya there are different sections, i.e. the serene morning, the heat of the afternoon, the eulogy of the sword, the battle scenes, the mourning, etc., so I divide my play into different sections : the romantic scenes, comic scenes, court scenes, scenes of villainous plotting and scheming -- and, of course, the songs and the musical numbers. I write each of these scenes, separately, as and when I am in the mood for writing a certain kind of a scene. Then, when it is time to get the play ready, I blend them, as required". (my italics)

The last line says a lot. It mattered not how even the great Hashr wanted to fashion his plays, he had to bow to the wishes of his impresario in matters of structure, theme, songs and the number of comic scenes.

(to be continued)

"Forbidden Gardens' Works By Dominique Rousserie & Kevin Baker

Frank Rich - The Banality of Bush White House Evil

Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to “protect” us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from “another 9/11,” torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality.

Levin suggests — and I agree — that as additional fact-finding plays out, it’s time for the Justice Department to enlist a panel of two or three apolitical outsiders, perhaps retired federal judges, “to review the mass of material” we already have. The fundamental truth is there, as it long has been. The panel can recommend a legal path that will insure accountability for this wholesale betrayal of American values.

Nicholas Kristof: Time to Come Clean

In short, today’s revulsion at waterboarding is broad but fragile. And that makes it essential that the United States proceed with an independent commission to investigate harsh treatment and tally its costs and benefits.

President Obama worries that the commission will be a distraction, but the truth is the opposite. Revelations will continue to trickle out — including a new hoard of photos of abuses scheduled to be released by May 28 — creating a constant roar of charges and counter-charges. Liberals will jab Mr. Obama from the left, and Dick Cheney from the right, until the president resembles St. Sebastian (the human pincushion). Mr. Obama won’t be able to escape torture.

First, it could help forge a consensus against torture, for almost everyone in the national security world believes that the result would be a ringing affirmation that we should not torture.
It’s in Mr. Obama’s interest to reach such a consensus, because otherwise the next major terror attack — and there will be one — will be followed by Republican claims that the president’s wimpishness left America vulnerable. His agenda on health care, climate change and education will then risk a collapse into dream dust. The way to inoculate his agenda is to seek common ground through a nonpartisan commission....

Money talks Democracy obeys

There is an old and very revealing book by (alas!) a foreign journalist about a certain Indian tycoon and his political connections, which has remained largely unread for a good reason. It is available as photocopy with a few friends I know in Delhi because an agreeable judge seems to have been persuaded in some state or district of the country to proscribe it. Actually we do not really know how the book was banned or who banned it. But we do have a gut feeling about who must have got it removed from the bookshops the moment it was published in 1998.

Many MPs in the current parliament are openly identified with this tycoon or that. And so while Dhirubhai Ambani passed away some years ago, he continues to influence the course of Indian politics through his progeny. His two sons have proven access to most politicians at home and important ones, including, often enough, American presidents, abroad. It is they who are invited to a presidential inauguration in the White House, not any representative of the Indian government.

At this juncture in the multi-phased elections, very little is known about the next government in India. The nature of coalition politics and a history of money-induced defections by MPs from one camp to another or even by parties to swap partners, political punditry is just that – political punditry.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

love in times of explosions

all through the wrinkled night
the image of a woman, man and child
as they maddeningly raced away
while explosions flashed
behind them haunted me
the child had mix of joy and fear in his eyes
he was enjoying the fury, and fear
reflected in the eyes of people around him
the woman resolved to take her man and
child away from danger and threat
the man displayed grit to shelter
and protect his woman and child

here was love in the times of explosions
this we saw in mumbai, lahore, delhi, karachi
love calms and counters hatred
love rises above genders, race, religion

Against Readings - Mark Edmundson

I think that it is possible to write books and essays in behalf of literature that will demonstrate its powers of renovation and inquire into the limits of those powers. Such books can and should be inspiring not only to members of the profession but to educated (or self-educated) and curious members of the general public who are willing to do some hard intellectual work. As a profession, our standing in and impact upon society beyond our classrooms now is minuscule. Yet we are copiously stocked with superb talent: Some of the best young minds in America continue to be drawn to the graduate study of literature. But unless we as a profession change our ways and stop seeking respectability and institutional standing at the expense of genuine human impact, they are destined, as Tennyson has it, to rust unburnished, and that's a sorry fate for them and for all of us.

One must admit that it's possible to develop too exalted a sense of the transforming powers of literature and the other arts. What worked for me and you and you may not have a universal application. It's probable that most people will be relatively content to live within the ethical and conceptual world that their parents and their society pass on to them. Burke and Johnson thought of common-sense opinion as a great repository of wisdom stored through the ages, augmented and revised through experience, trial and error, until it became in time the treasure of humanity. Perhaps the conservative sages were right. But there will always be individuals who cannot live entirely by the standard dispensation and who require something better — or at least something else. This group may be small (though I think it larger than most imagine), but its members need what great writing can bring them very badly indeed. We professors of literature hold the key to the warehouse where the loaves lie fresh and steaming, while outside people hunger for them, sometimes dangerously. We ought to do all we can to open the doors and dispense the bread: We should see how far it'll go.

Culture & Barbarism - Terry Eagleton

Why are the most unlikely people, including myself, suddenly talking about God? Who would have expected theology to rear its head once more in the technocratic twenty-first century, almost as surprisingly as some mass revival of Zoroastrianism? Why is it that my local bookshop has suddenly sprouted a section labeled “Atheism,” hosting anti-God manifestos by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and others, and might even now be contemplating another marked “Congenital Skeptic with Mild Baptist Leanings”? Why, just as we were confidently moving into a posttheological, postmetaphysical, even posthistorical era, has the God question broken out anew?

Can one simply put it down to falling towers and fanatical Islamists? I don’t really think we can. Certainly the New Atheists’ disdain for religion did not sprout from the ruins of the World Trade Center. While some of the debate took its cue from there, 9/11 was not really about religion, any more than the thirty-year-long conflict in Northern Ireland was over papal infallibility. In fact, radical Islam generally understands exceedingly little about its own religious faith, and there is good evidence to suggest that its actions are, for the most part, politically driven.


The distinction between Hitchens or Dawkins and those like myself comes down in the end to one between liberal humanism and tragic humanism. There are those who hold that if we can only shake off a poisonous legacy of myth and superstition, we can be free. Such a hope in my own view is itself a myth, though a generous-spirited one. Tragic humanism shares liberal humanism’s vision of the free flourishing of humanity, but holds that attaining it is possible only by confronting the very worst. The only affirmation of humanity ultimately worth having is one that, like the disillusioned post-Restoration Milton, seriously wonders whether humanity is worth saving in the first place, and understands Swift’s king of Brobdingnag with his vision of the human species as an odious race of vermin. Tragic humanism, whether in its socialist, Christian, or psychoanalytic varieties, holds that only by a process of self-dispossession and radical remaking can humanity come into its own. There are no guarantees that such a transfigured future will ever be born. But it might arrive a little earlier if liberal dogmatists, doctrinaire flag-wavers for Progress, and Islamophobic intellectuals got out of its way.

Poetry Chronicle

The speaker of Dunn’s recent poems is a regular guy cursed with an understanding of human nature more subtle than he’d prefer. A poem like “The Unsaid” succeeds not only because it nails its depiction of a couple stalled by miscommunication and reproach — “In the bedroom they undressed and dressed / and got into bed. The silence was what fills / a tunnel after a locomotive passes through” — but because the poem’s very existence squares its pathos: the speaker understands the problem perfectly but still can’t solve it. A typical Dunn poem opens up a basic human trouble — a body souring with age, a marriage souring with regret, a believer souring with doubt — meditates on it with equal parts seriousness and good humor, and finally offers not quite consolation but acceptance, a sense of having gained some measure of dignity simply by looking life in the eye. As is true of every other poet who ever lived, what’s best about Dunn is also what’s worst: in his case, a plainspoken, curlicue-­free lucidity (I actually want to say “wisdom,” but fear it makes Dunn sound square or folksy, faults he’s too sharp and wry to be accused of), which is a tonic in small doses but can cause numbness if consumed in quantity. “Please Understand” ends “I’ve never been able to tell / what’s worth more — what I want or what I have.” “What Men Want” ends “After the power to choose / a man wants the power to erase.” “Nature” ends, “Gray, then, was the only truth in the world.” I trust the poet’s every nuanced ambivalence but eventually find myself wishing — against my better instincts, and his — that he’d burn a house down or get baptized or anything else definitive and audacious.....

John Pence Gallery to open A One Man Show for Jacob Collins

The Accidental Guerrilla - By David Kilcullen Reviewed by JANINE di GIOVANNI

David Kilcullen is a former officer in the Australian Army, a strategist and a scholar. He is also an expert on counterinsurgency, or how to combat a rebellion, and one of the few brave souls who had the ear of people in the Bush White House and advised against the invasion of Iraq. [ An dhe echoed the demise of Pakistan in six months if.....~~~t]

In “The Accidental Guerrilla,” Kilcullen draws on his vast experience not only as a dedicated field researcher, but also as a soldier — he commanded an infantry company in counterinsurgency operations in East Timor in 1999. The most extensive sections of his book concentrate, naturally, on Iraq and Afghanistan (which he still sees as “winnable” with a long-term commitment), but his analysis leads him as well to smaller movements in such places as Chechnya, Thailand, Indonesia and the Horn of Africa.

Discussing the tribal areas of Pakistan, Kilcullen shows how Al Qaeda moved in by taking over communities — establishing bonds by marrying local women, operating businesses, eventually recruiting the villagers as fighters. To see Kilcullen’s theory at work, you need only to look at the Swat region of northern Pakistan.

The Hindus: An Alternative History -By Wendy Doniger - Reviewer Pankaj Mishra

Yet it is impossible not to admire a book that strides so intrepidly into a polemical arena almost as treacherous as Israel-­Arab relations. During a lecture in London in 2003, Doniger escaped being hit by an egg thrown by a Hindu nationalist apparently angry at the “sexual thrust” of her interpretation of the “sacred” “Ramayana.” This book will no doubt further expose her to the fury of the modern-day Indian heirs of the British imperialists who invented “Hinduism.” Happily, it will also serve as a salutary antidote to the fanatics who perceive — correctly — the fluid existential identities and commodious metaphysic of practiced Indian religions as a threat to their project of a culturally homogenous and militant nation-state.


As Wendy Doniger, a scholar of Indian religions at the University of Chicago, explains in her staggeringly comprehensive book, the British Indologists who sought to tame India’s chaotic polytheisms had a “Protestant bias in favor of scripture.” In “privileging” Sanskrit over local languages, she writes, they created what has proved to be an enduring impression of a “unified Hinduism.” And they found keen collaborators among upper-caste Indian scholars and translators. This British-Brahmin version of Hinduism — one of the many invented traditions born around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries — has continued to find many takers among semi-Westernized Hindus suffering from an inferiority complex vis-à-vis the apparently more successful and organized religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.


SlumWow! Bill Maher Brings You Latest Craze In Infomercials (VIDEO)

The Endgame - Times of India Editorial

Knee jerk? Deliberated? Mark-Twainish? ~~~t

The fact that a significant portion of Pakistan's nuclear assets believed to number about 85 weapons are situated near Islamabad adds to the urgency of the situation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurance notwithstanding, there is a real possibility that these may be jeopardised if the Taliban advance continues unchecked. Under these circumstances, for Islamabad to believe that compromise and political settlement are still possible Malakand authorities have stated that the Taliban have agreed to vacate Buner is untenable. A strong, coordinated military response to roll back the creeping advance of radical forces within Pakistan's borders is now Islamabad's only feasible option. It is a strategy that should have been employed months if not years ago; no time must be wasted in its implementation now if Pakistan is to exist as a nation state.

Given these circumstances, it is in New Delhi's best interests to keep open channels of communication with Washington. It must overcome its reflexive negative reaction to any suggestion of a working relationship between the two. India, after all, has the greatest stake in how events in Pakistan unfold, but little independent leverage there. For that reason, it must also prepare contingency plans about how it would respond if Pakistan were to collapse.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra: From Lahore to Oxford by Way of Allahbad:

Oxford University is to appoint a Professor of Poetry and the nominations are to close next week. Two poets, Derek Walcott, winner of Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, and Ruth Padel, great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, are in the running. And both are considered favourites.

The dark horse and a new entrant in the race is Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, born in Lahore and a Professor at Allahabad University.

After the Poet-laureateship, this 300 year old position is a high profile position and has been held by the likes of W H Auden and Seamus Heaney.

The author of four collections to date, he is supported by writers including Tariq Ali, Amit Chaudhuri and Toby Litt, and was described by one of his nominators, Oxford English lecturer Peter D McDonald, as "one of the finest poets working in any language", and "a poet-critic of an exceptionally high order". Guardian
Here are some excerpts from Mehrotra's Bhojpuri Descant

A servant who knows
The secrets of the house,
A pretty wife,
Spetched clothes,
A wicked king:
They need careful handling.

A shoe that pinches,
A sharp-tongued wife,
The first-born a daughter
An unproductive farm,
A duncish brother:
They cause endless grief.

A spendthrift son,
A cross-eyed buffalo,
A moody ox:
Get rid of them at once.

An ox with six teeth
Will quickly change hands,
An ox with seven
Will butt its owner,
An ox with nine
Will rush in nine directions
And won't spare even the family priest.

One plough is death,
Two's survival,
Three's good business,
Four's a kingdom.

A wise farmer does his own tilling,
The one less wise walks beside his team,
But the farmer who goes looking for tillmen
Forfeits his seed.

Clouds throughout the day,
A clear sky at night:

Chicken a la Carte : Director: Ferdinand Dimadura | Genre: Drama | Produced In: 2005

Synopsis: This film is about the hunger and poverty brought about by Globalization. There are 10,000 people dying everyday due to hunger and malnutrition. This short film shows a forgotten portion of the society. The people who live on the refuse of men to survive. What is inspiring is the hope and spirituality that never left this people.

You are about to encourage an artist:Rate for the joy & consciousnesseffected by this film...Thanks for raising the bar :-)

[thanks RJ]

Obama and Netanyahu - Storm Clouds Ahead?

Since his first days in office, President Barack Obama has expressed clear support for speedy action toward the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Since then, he and his key advisers - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special envoy George Mitchell - have all quietly but firmly stayed the course in supporting that goal.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly objects. He argues for starting with an "economic peace" for the Palestinians, and discussing sovereignty issues with them only much later - if at all. Though he has stopped short of saying an outright "No" to the Palestinian state idea, his advisers warn that he is adamantly opposed to the emergence of what he and they call "another Hamastan."

Thus far, this disagreement has not erupted into an open confrontation. Netanyahu has, after all, only been in office since Mar. 31. But it may well become more acute during May, when Netanyahu visits Washington.

Islamophobia Alive and Well in the U.S.

In an Apr. 6 address to the Turkish Parliament on the final day of his European trip, President Barack Obama praised Muslim Americans for "enriching the United States".

However, according to Dr. Munir Jiwa, director of the Centre for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union of the University of California, Berkeley, "virulent Islamophobia" persists across the country.

Jiwa, who is also a professor of Islamic Studies, told IPS that among those who did not vote for Obama last November, there are even more anti-Muslims. "They think we have voted in someone who is, as they say, a ‘closet Muslim’, and they think that sometime, he will come out of the closet," he said.

The latest survey by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press found that 12 percent of the U.S. public believes Obama is a Muslim, virtually unchanged from 10 percent in March. This misconception – he attends a Christian church - is shared equally by Republican and Democratic respondents.

Robert Fisk's World: Everyone wants to be an author, but no one is reading books

I blame technology. The internet, email – neither of which I use – and the accursed laptop. I curse the laptop for two reasons. Firstly because I use it. Secondly because it encourages hopeless authorship. It's not that everyone with a laptop thinks they can write a book. The problem is that everyone with a laptop does write a book.

They arrive by the dozen, in my Beirut mail bag, unsolicited on my Beirut doorstep, in my European mail. A few are brilliant. Most are awful. They are packed with misspellings, bad grammar and often pseudo-anthropological jargon. "An Ontology of Abstraction and Concreteness" is the subtitle of one heavy volume I was generously handed after giving a lecture in Ottawa. "The Arab Mind as a Function of a Rational Epistemic Orientation" one chapter is entitled. "From Multidimensional Thinking to Dual and Dichotomous Thinking: The State of Intellectual Retreat," reads another. "Social Catalysts of Cultural Collapse." And on and on.

Byatt on Byatt

"The minds of stone lovers had colonised stones as lichens cling to them with golden or grey-green florid stains. The human world of stones is caught in organic metaphors like flies in amber. Words came from flesh and hair and plants. Reniform, mammilated, botryoidal, dendrite, haematite. Carnelian is from carnal, from flesh. Serpentine and lizardite are stone reptiles; phyllite is leafy-green. The earth itself is made in part of bones, shells and diatoms. Ines was returning to it in a form quite different from her mother's fiery ash and bonemeal. She preferred the parts of her body that were now volcanic glasses, not bony chalk. Chabazite, from the Greek for hailstones, obsidian, which, like analcime and garnet, has the perfect icositetrahedral shape."

This is from my story "A Stone Woman", a fairy tale about a woman who is turned into stone - or into many kinds of stone. The stone is a metaphor for grief and for ageing and stiffening. We are always being told language is inadequate to describe things. I think it is endlessly inventive if we pay it attention. I love all the buried metaphors in the stone-names. Thinking and writing are making connections. I once gave a reading in a university where a student said self-righteously "You used a word I didn't know in that reading. Don't you think that was elitist of you?" I replied that if I were her I should have rushed to the dictionary in glee and delight.

Nicholas D Kristof: Islam, Virgins and Grapes

Muslim fundamentalists damage Islam far more than any number of Danish cartoonists ever could, for it’s inevitably the extremists who capture the world’s attention. But there is the beginning of an intellectual reform movement in the Islamic world, and one window into this awakening was an international conference this week at the University of Notre Dame on the latest scholarship about the Koran.

“We’re experiencing right now in Koranic studies a rise of interest analogous to the rise of critical Bible studies in the 19th century,” said Gabriel Said Reynolds, a Notre Dame professor and organizer of the conference.

The Notre Dame conference probably could not have occurred in a Muslim country, for the rigorous application of historical analysis to the Koran is as controversial today in the Muslim world as its application to the Bible was in the 1800s. For some literal-minded Christians, it was traumatic to discover that the ending of the Gospel of Mark, describing encounters with the resurrected Jesus, is stylistically different from the rest of Mark and is widely regarded by scholars as a later addition.

One of the scholars at the Notre Dame conference whom I particularly admire is Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, an Egyptian Muslim who argues eloquently that if the Koran is interpreted sensibly in context then it carries a strong message of social justice and women’s rights.

Dr. Abu Zayd’s own career underscores the challenges that scholars face in the Muslim world. When he declared that keeping slave girls and taxing non-Muslims were contrary to Islam, he infuriated conservative judges. An Egyptian court declared that he couldn’t be a real Muslim and thus divorced him from his wife (who, as a Muslim woman, was not eligible to be married to a non-Muslim). The couple fled to Europe, and Dr. Abu Zayd is helping the LibForAll Foundation, which promotes moderate interpretations throughout the Islamic world.

Paul Krugman: Reclaiming America’s Soul

Paul should have invoked Nuremberg. [Following orders is no defence] ~~t

I don’t know about you, but I think America is capable of uncovering the truth and enforcing the law even while it goes about its other business.

Still, you might argue — and many do — that revisiting the abuses of the Bush years would undermine the political consensus the president needs to pursue his agenda.

But the answer to that is, what political consensus? There are still, alas, a significant number of people in our political life who stand on the side of the torturers. But these are the same people who have been relentless in their efforts to block President Obama’s attempt to deal with our economic crisis and will be equally relentless in their opposition when he endeavors to deal with health care and climate change. The president cannot lose their good will, because they never offered any.

That said, there are a lot of people in Washington who weren’t allied with the torturers but would nonetheless rather not revisit what happened in the Bush years.

Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London

It's not elegant and it's not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell's Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.

Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll's original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton's Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings, and says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

"This could change bookselling fundamentally," said Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings. "It's giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon ... I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that's pretty compelling."

The Medical Tests Every Woman Must Have

Sure, your to-do list is probably longer than the Great Wall of China, so you may be tempted to let your annual mammogram or cholesterol test slip. But don’t let that happen: Stud­ies show that regular checkups and screenings can help keep you out of the doctor’s office the rest of the year. Here, we lay out the essential med­ical tests you need in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and up, according to top women’s-health experts. In most cases, these should be covered by insurance—but be sure to ask first.

Thousands of Pages of Evidence and a Quarter Million Signatures: What Will It Take For Attorney General to Prosecute Torture Crimes?

By the time Attorney General Eric Holder took his seat before a Congressional subcommittee on Thursday, the Bush torture program had broken wide open. In the past week alone, hundreds of pages in declassified legal memos and Congressional reports had blown the lid off the previous administration's harsh interrogation policies to reveal -- in addition to grisly new details about what the U.S. government did to prisoners in its custody -- a chronology of the program's history that implicated the most senior government officials, including Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and of course the former president. What's more, it appeared that the torture of high-value detainees in 2002 and 2003 was, at least in part, the direct consequence of Bush officials' need to extract a link -- fictitious or otherwise -- between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.Damning stuff, to be sure. Yet watching Holder's testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, where his office was met with a coalition of activists delivering petitions carrying 250,000 signatures from Americans who support appointing an independent prosecutor to investigate Bush's crimes, it would be hard to guess that it came in a week that saw such a flood of evidence of human rights violations and war crimes come to light. Reiterating his contention (following the initial release of legal memos last week outlining the rationale for Bush era torture) that "those in the intelligence community who acted reasonably and in good faith are not going to be prosecuted," Holder also reassured the committee members that he "will not permit the criminalization of policy differences" -- an almost superfluous response to one of the bogus conservative talking points that has sprung up -- the notion that holding accountable lawyers who authorized flagrantly illegal techniques against U.S. held prisoners will have a "chilling effect" on advisers' opinions. But, he said, "it is my responsibility as attorney general to enforce the law. ... If I see evidence of wrongdoing I will pursue it to the full extent of the law." Very well, but with virtually no references to the avalanche of evidence that emerged this week, Holder's words, like President Obama's pep-rally style speech before the CIA last week and the hearing itself (which, in fairness, was held to discuss the 2010 budget of the DOJ), largely belied the severity of what has been revealed in the past week.

Little-known Indian writer joins race for Oxford poetry professor

With a week to go before nominations for Oxford's new professor of poetry close, the competition has heated up after a new candidate threw his name into the ring alongside Derek Walcott and Ruth Padel.

The most high-profile position in British poetry behind the laureateship, the 300-year-old post has been held by the likes of WH Auden, Paul Muldoon, Matthew Arnold and Seamus Heaney. With graduates getting ready to vote for their choice on 16 May, so far Nobel laureate Walcott appears to be edging ahead, with nominations from 121 Oxford graduates to Padel's 96.

But a surprise new entry from Indian poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra could upset the campaigns of the two current candidates. Mehrotra, a poet and literary critic who is currently professor of English at the University of Allahabad, has held visiting writer posts at universities around the world. The journal Fulcrum said his poems were "coded messages from the unconscious, but [that] there is an exceedingly conscious hand that crafts them".

The author of four collections to date, he is supported by writers including Tariq Ali, Amit Chaudhuri and Toby Litt, and was described by one of his nominators, Oxford English lecturer Peter D McDonald, as "one of the finest poets working in any language", and "a poet-critic of an exceptionally high order".

Friday, April 24, 2009

cascading chandni

guess or foreguess
she a work in progress
they aiming to regress

antediluvian lashes
travel from Chand's back
to the cobwebs in my eyes

the salmon swimm-
ing on her back
now glide in my eyes

this rubicundity
swamps and smothers
rumi's love and lover

the distorted word
delivered from barrels
spell pandemonium

these crimson rivers
could be profound
instead they confound

The unenlightened elite —Nadeem Ul Haque

Thoughtful summation. Read the earlier passages too ~~t

Who offers the poor hope?

Certainly not the government! Certainly not the donors with their minor employees! The liberal elite made big promises and delivered nothing. The promise of globalisation and liberalisation has rightly lost its lustre in the minds of the poor.Theatre, cinema, or any form of intellectual activity that will offer an alternative vision has been zoned out. Where should the poor look for a vision; who offers them hope; who offers them community; who gives them some opportunity; who gives them the vision of a just society? Think about it. It is the mosque and the maulvi. Mosques remain totally unregulated, need no zoning permission and have been actively encouraged by the state. Not surprisingly, the mosque is the only community centre for the excluded poor; the unregulated maulvi the only visionary. This is the unintended consequence of the greedy, unenlightened behaviour of our elite. The unenlightened elite —Nadeem Ul Haque

Harris Khalique: They are Clear - (We are NOT)

They are clear.

They want a system of governance which is according to their belief.
They are clear about establishing a particular form of government which is run like an emirate or a caliphate. Parliament, the judiciary and the constitution in their present form must be eliminated.
They are clear about how justice should be dispensed and what penalties should be imposed. They are clear about what role should be assigned to girls and women in a society.
They are clear about how to treat religious minorities.
They are clear about Shias. Either they should be killed, purged, converted to true Islam or declared non-Muslim.
They are clear about pulling down all tombs, shrines and mausoleums of saints and Sufi poets for it is forbidden to revere a human being after his or her death.
They are clear about how Muslim men should look like.
They are clear that all such organisations which work for health, education or provision of other services to the poor and downtrodden are in effect missions who want to convert people to Judaism and Christianity.
They are clear that polio drops must not be dispensed to children.
They are clear that promoting iodised salt is a part of the greater conspiracy hatched against the virility and fertility of Muslims.
They are clear that it is their divine duty to impose sharia and it must flow out of the barrel. They are clear that anyone who stops them must be punished.
They are clear in whatever they say, they do and they stand for.

'Indus Valley civilization was literate'

The 4,000-year-old Indus Valley civilization that thrived on the Indo-Pak border might have been a literate society which used a script close to present day languages like Tamil, Sanskrit and English, reveals a new finding announced on Thursday. A group of Indian scientists have conducted a statistical study of the symbols found in the Indus Valley remains and compared them with various linguistic scripts and non-linguistic systems like DNA and computer programming. They found that the inscriptions closely matched those of spoken languages such as Tamil, Sanskrit and English. The results published in the journal Science show that the Indus script could be “as-yet-unknown language”. An article in 2004 claimed that the Indus script does not represent language at all, but just represented religious or political symbols. The claim was made that the Indus civilization was not a literate civilisation,” Rajesh Rao, lead author at the Washington University said. “At this point we can say that the Indus script seems to have statistical regularities that are in line with natural languages,” he added.

Syed Saleem Shahzad: Frontier wisdom

OAG: Afghanistan today is practically a narco state and it is not that we did not warn them [US] in 2003-04 on the record and I especially told them they were going to fail in Afghanistan, that they must not allow opium cultivation in Afghanistan. Ryan Crocker is a witness, Nancy Powell is a witness. In 2006, president Musharraf sent me to Washington and LA [Los Angeles] and I delivered talks on that. I predicted that they would fail because of two reasons. One, politically you got it wrong and, two, narcotics.

Let me explain the narcotics first. At that time when I gave them the warning there were 10,000 acres [4,000 hectares] under cultivation in Balochistan. I was then the governor of Balochistan. There were 28,000 acres in NWFP and 38,000 acres under cultivation in Afghanistan - this is United Nations data. Within two years in Balochistan, it was zero. They [US] would not believe us. They came and they surveyed for themselves and said, "You guys have done it!" I said that if we could, you could too. In FATA and the frontier region [NWFP], from 28,000 acres it came down to 4,000 acres. In Afghanistan it shot from 38,000 acres to over 400,000 acres [within two years from 2003-04 to 2005-06] and today Afghanistan is supplying over 93% of world demand for opium and heroin, these are United Nation figures, and it is valued at $38 billion per annum on the international market. Only three to four billion dollars comes back into Afghanistan and the rest goes into the hands of the international narco mafia.

Today, about 56% of Afghanistan's GDP [gross domestic product] is narco, it is practically a narco state. We warned them that if they allowed this two things would happen. One, you would provide a funding lifeline to the insurgency. This has happened now. And second, you would create such a massive vested interest of the international narco mafia, which is so powerful in the West, that with the local narco mafia in Afghanistan they would develop such a huge vested interest in continued conflict in Afghanistan that they would never allow Afghanistan to settle. And today that has happened, and now they are publically acknowledging that narcotics is the problem. Is Pakistan responsible for that?

Is it fueling the militancy? Last year we conducted, in September, an analysis that showed that about 15,000 militants in arms [in the Pakistani Tehrik-i-Taliban] on an average then, today it is more, were getting a 8,000 [US$100] to 10,000 rupees salary. Their rations were free. All their arms and ammunition were free. They were highly mobile with 4x4 off-roaders, diesel free, petrol free, everything was free. They had fantastic communication equipment, including satellite phones. So who was paying for them? We estimated that they were spending at least 20,000 rupees per person [per month]. A very conservative estimate, 20,000 times 15,000 men times 12 months equals a 3.6 billion rupees per annum budget.

We asked, "Where is this money coming from?" Pakistan has not given this money. no zakat [charity] or donation is going to raise that sort of money. Please tell us where this money is coming from. The route is Afghanistan. They, [US] talk about cross-border intrusions from Pakistan into Afghanistan. What about the reverse, which has been taking place for years, this ammunition, money, narco, everything is coming from Afghanistan.