↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Unforgettable Times- Indo English Poetry in the Seventies

There was poetry in motion, ‘Once again the murmur of voices settled into a hushed whisper, a white spotlight cast an oval patch, soft, softly, a jingle of anklets…… that was Kavita Bhambani Miss India in the seventies doing her catwalk at Ritu’s Boutique in Kolkata. Desmond Doig, the editor of JS and an artist par excellence had brought the hearts of young people like me to a perfect culture of Anglo Indian happenings. JS a youth journal from the House of Statesman, Kolkata dominated the Indo English Culture and Literary scene for nearly a decade. Popular writer Anees Jung took over the editorship of Youth Times. She brought out an issue on Love Poetry, a feat that got hold of poets all over the country writing in English to show case their work.

During this period I encountered love and started trying my hand in writing. I never stopped writing after that. It was difficult to accept, a small town boy from Hindi heartland in Gwalior writing love poems in English, I remained the odd chap out. From my town in Gwalior, I kept a close watch on the Indo–English Poetry movement. I read the works of Henry Louis Derazio and Post Derazio era poets like Toru Dutt, Tagore, Aurobindo Ghosh and Sarojini Naidu.

Much later, I was so excited when my wife started working on a thesis towards her PhD, ‘A comparative study on the works of Kamala Das and Sarojini Naidu’, a study she couldn’t complete. I was meeting a lot of poets from Delhi, reading my poems at Jawaharlal Nehru University Campus and got involved in a leftist literary cultural organization called ‘Hundred Flowers’.

Beyond dissidence: Noam Chomsky speaks with Nermeen Al-Mufti about Gaza, capitalism and the responsibilities of the intellectual

What do you think about Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip? What might be done in order to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine?

The US-Israeli attack on Gaza was a savage and brutal war crime. The term US- Israeli is accurate. Israel relied on US weapons, in violation of US, as well as international, law, and the US provided crucial diplomatic and ideological support. The diplomatic support included blocking UN efforts to bring the conflict to an end. The ideological support included overwhelming votes in Congress supporting the aggression, and almost universal agreement that it was justified, even if, perhaps, disproportionate. In fact, the attack was completely without justification. The way this issue is framed -- by President Obama and virtually everyone else -- is that Israel had a right to defend itself against Hamas rockets. But that is not the issue at all.

The issue is whether Israel had a right to defend itself by force against rockets. It is universally agreed that force can be used only when peaceful means are exhausted. No one believes that the Nazis had the right to use force in defence against the terror of the partisans.

BBC apology over Muslim Council slur

The BBC said today it had offered an apology to the Muslim Council of Britain after airing claims that the organisation approved of killing British troops. The comments were made former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore during an edition of Question Time in March.
He was speaking in the wake of Islamic protests which disrupted a UK soldiers' homecoming parade that month. The BBC has reportedly also offered the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) £30,000 in compensation, but the corporation said no final settlement had yet been been reached. During the show in question, Mr Moore said: "I've gone to (The MCB) many times, and said, 'Will you condemn the killing and kidnapping of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan?', and they won't. "Because these wars are in Muslim countries they will not do this. They do one thing that is perfectly understandable - they are opposed to the war. That is perfectly legitimate.
"But there is a bigger step they take...they say it is actually a good thing, even an Islamic thing, to kill or kidnap British soldiers." The former editor was speaking two days after a homecoming in Luton for the Royal Anglian Regiment was disrupted by an anti-war demonstration featuring vocal Muslim protesters.

Paul Krugman: The Big Inflation Scare

Suddenly it seems as if everyone is talking about inflation. Stern opinion pieces warn that hyperinflation is just around the corner. And markets may be heeding these warnings: Interest rates on long-term government bonds are up, with fear of future inflation one possible reason for the interest-rate spike. First things first. It’s important to realize that there’s no hint of inflationary pressures in the economy right now. Consumer prices are lower now than they were a year ago, and wage increases have stalled in the face of high unemployment. Deflation, not inflation, is the clear and present danger. So if prices aren’t rising, why the inflation worries? Some claim that the Federal Reserve is printing lots of money, which must be inflationary, while others claim that budget deficits will eventually force the U.S. government to inflate away its debt. The first story is just wrong. The second could be right, but isn’t.

Now, it’s true that the Fed has taken unprecedented actions lately. More specifically, it has been buying lots of debt both from the government and from the private sector, and paying for these purchases by crediting banks with extra reserves. And in ordinary times, this would be highly inflationary: banks, flush with reserves, would increase loans, which would drive up demand, which would push up prices.

Poets, Academia: A Couplet in Conflict

The idea was that penalizing candidates for dubious conduct would have disqualified many famous poets. Which is true: plenty of not-very-nice people have written very good poems, and had Oxford been electing an official “Oxford poet,” it’s conceivable that the allegations against Mr. Walcott would have been less problematic for some voters (all Oxford graduates may vote for the position). The only thing that would matter then, at least in theory, would be the poetry itself.
The difficulty, however, is that the Oxford contest was not intended to elect a poet but “the Oxford professor of poetry.” The title alone puts the contest squarely in the uncertain area between poetry and academia, even if the job itself involves only a few lectures and no class supervision. Indeed, the current professor of poetry, Christopher Ricks, is a critic who defeated a greatly admired poet, Peter Porter, for the post. So it seems reasonable to say that the professor of poetry position represents not just an academic view of “the poet,” but a view of “the poet” as he or she should exist in academia. Given how complicated that existence has often been, it should surprise no one that university life has again been disrupted by poets who, like Frost, just don’t believe in going to school.

Documenting the Palestinian holocaust

The Palestinian Holocaust photography exhibition, held last week at the Al-Sawy Cultural Wheel in Cairo, is part of a set of activities initiated by the Palestinian Holocaust Memorial Museum Team, whose aim is to create a museum dedicated to Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.
Immediately before the exhibition's opening there was also a celebration of the first anniversary of the team's formation, which included a screening of a documentary film setting out the aims of the proposed Palestinian Holocaust Memorial Museum (PHMM), as well as testimonies by photographers from Gaza and music by Ahmed El-Hagar.

The idea of setting up such a museum, the main aim of the Memorial Museum Team, was inspired by an announcement by Israel's deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, who told Israeli Army Radio on 29 February last year that the Palestinians "will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah." Shoah is a Hebrew word meaning "catastrophe", and it is sometimes used to denote the extermination of Europe's Jews by the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II.

As a reaction to this provocative statement, the idea of creating a Palestinian Holocaust Memorial Museum, modelled on the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, was put forward in March 2008. Provoked by Vilnai's words, Dalia Youssef, a young journalist and political activist, decided to promote the idea of the museum in order to draw attention to Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.

On Faux News Rove Fabricates "Colleagues" Comments About Sotomayor

Media Matters caught Karl Rove lying about criticisms of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, saying that he "got wind" of judgments from her colleagues that she was not a particularly effective judge, that she's "combative, opinionated, argumentative, and as a result, was not able to sort of help create a consensus opinion on important issues." Rove told On The Record's Greta Van Susteren, "I first got wind of this when Sam Alito, who was her colleague on the court while we were reviewing his record." The only problem? Alito and Sotomayor were never colleagues. Van Susteren did not catch the falsehood or else chose not to expose it. Video after the jump.

Why Can’t We Talk Like This?

How many people have you met whose conversation is instantly publishable?
There can never be more than a handful of such people living at any given time. My peculiar line of work has allowed me to meet a few. Of those I had the great good fortune to sit with on the air, first to mind come Noel Coward, Peter Ustinov and Jonathan Miller. Robert Benchley said that you can divide people into two groups: Those who divide people into two groups, and those who don’t. Another such group pairing would be: Those who were blessed to have seen “Beyond the Fringe” on Broadway — and everyone else.

In 1962, four British lads fresh from Oxford and Cambridge — Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller were their names — hit Broadway with a bursting bombshell of hilarity. A few minutes into the first act, a tall, thin, gangly, somewhat stork-like figure with barely kempt hair lurched to center stage and brought down the house with an improbable narration about a true incident in which a huge, unidentified load of men’s dark serge trousers appeared mysteriously in a London railway storage room; admittedly not a subject usually seen in a comic’s repertoire. In Miller’s hands it left you weak.

What a difference - James Zogby

At their White House press briefing last week, Netanyahu may have been stubborn, but Obama too held his ground. Addressing his remarks directly to the cameras, the US president lectured Netanyahu about the steps that must be taken: "all the parties involved have to take seriously obligations they previously agreed to"; "settlements have to be stopped"; "if the people of Gaza have no hope, if they can't even get clean water... if the border closures are so tight it is impossible for reconstruction or humanitarian efforts to take place, then that is not going to be a recipe for [the] peace track to move forward," and much more.

But it wasn't only a new and tougher president that Netanyahu ran into last week; it was also a very different Jewish community. A recent poll of American Jews commissioned by J Street, the Jewish pro-peace lobby, found that substantial majorities of American Jews (in the 70 per cent range) support President Obama and support a two-state solution that includes a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and some limited "right of return". In addition, a strong majority oppose settlement construction and opinion is split down the middle on whether or not to cut aid to Israel if they become an obstacle to achieving peace.

It has been clear for many years now that majority opinion in the Jewish community was not represented by the hawkish voice of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC). This pro-peace orientation has taken an institutional form, and is now stronger and more vocal than it was a decade ago. Groups like J Street, Israel Policy Forum, Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v'Shalomare, are active, working not only within the Jewish community but also in coalition with Arab Americans to change US-Middle East policy. The efforts of this pro- peace lobby were on display this week for Netanyahu to see.

US Violated Geneva Conventions, Bush Iraq Commander Says

The head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, said Friday that the US had violated the Geneva Conventions in a stunning admission from President Bush's onetime top general in Iraq that the US may have violated international law. "When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Conventions we rightly have been criticized, so as we move forward I think it's important to again live our values, to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those," Gen. Petraeus said on Fox News Friday afternoon.

Petraeus made the comment in the context of being asked about the Bush administration's so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques." The now-Central Command chief said he believed that banning the more extreme techniques had taken away "a tool" employed by "our enemies" as a moral argument against the United States. Petraeus didn't say which parts of the Geneva Conventions he thought he and other administration officials had violated.

Engaging American Muslims Will Give a Far Better Message to the Muslim World than Speeches

Although these are excellent first steps, it is critical that the President engage Muslims at home first. He must remember that he represents us, too.

President Obama could begin by making his address to Muslims worldwide from a mosque on American soil. Why not Masjid Al-Fatir, the mosque in the President's Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago? Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, built this house of worship. Ali is an American Muslim respected throughout the Muslim world. President Obama visited churches and synagogues in the U.S. during his election campaign, but not a mosque. This was most likely because of Islamophobia, which created a climate where he felt it necessary to keep a distance from American Muslims.

American Muslims are grateful for the steps President Obama has taken to lessen hostilities abroad. He banned torture, ordered the closing of Guantanamo Bay and the CIA's secret interrogation centers.

Why the Pentagon Is Probably Lying About its Supressed Sodomy and Rape Photos - Naomi Wolf

The Telegraph of London broke the news -- because the U.S. press is in a drugged stupor - -- that the photos President Barack Obama is refusing to release of detainee abuse depict, among other sexual tortures, an American soldier raping a female detainee and a male translator raping a male prisoner.

The paper claims the photos also show anal rape of prisoners with foreign objects such as wires and lightsticks. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba calls the images "horrific" and "indecent" (but absurdly agrees that Obama should not release them -- proving once again that the definition of hypocrisy is the assertion that the truth is in poor taste).

Predictably, a few hours later, the Pentagon issues a formal denial.

It is very likely that the Pentagon lying. This is probably exactly what the photos show, because it happened. Precisely these exact sex crimes -- these exact images and these very objects - -- are familiar and well-documented to those of us who follow closely rights organizations reports of what has already been confirmed.

As I wrote last year in my piece on sex crimes against detainees, "Sex Crimes in the White House," highly perverse, systematic sexual torture and sexual humiliation was, original documents reveal, directed from the top:
President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were present in meetings where
sexual humiliation was discussed as policy.
The Defense Authorization Act of 2007 was written specifically to allow certain kinds of sexual abuse, such as forced nakedness, which is illegal and understood by domestic and international law to be a form of sexual assault. Rumsfeld is in print and on the record consulting with subordinates about the policy and practice of sexual humiliation, in a collection of documents obtained by the ACLU by a Freedom of Information Act filing compiled in Jameel Jaffer's important book The Torture

The artist as a Sufi

Artist, academic and designer Abdel-Moneim Moawad offered the public a treat at his recent exhibition, fittingly named Sufi Square, which ran from 4 to 12 May at the main exhibition hall of the Faculty of Applied Arts, Helwan University, where Moawad teaches.

Interpreting Sufi spirituality with a blend of Egyptian folklore, Moawad offered a glimpse of a spirituality wrapped in the folds of mediaeval design. His pieces brought to life themes of Islamic calligraphy and decorative patterns, packaged for industrial use as well as artistic expression. The collection brings fresh perspectives to Islamic art and takes it to new heights of creativeness.
The pieces he shows can be applied to curtains, carpets, clothes, stained glass and mosaic. They can also be used as full-scale murals in public places. Some of the exhibits are computer-enlarged sketches that have textile potential. Others evoke needlepoint and handmade carpets and scarves. One of his designs has already been used to produce a 9x15- metre carpet for a factory space.

That he can draw so much upon Islamic art is no doubt related to where and how he grew up. He has spent most of his life in the old parts of Cairo, the areas of Ghuriya, Gammaliya, Khayamiya, and Bab Al-She'riya. As a child, he had the chance to admire the complex ornamentations of mediaeval Islamic art as he walked past the Mosque of Sultan Hassan, the Rifaai Mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Muayyad Mosque, the Sultan Al-Ghuri Mosque and Madrasa, and the sabil and kottab of Umm Abbas on Saliba Street. His photographic memory retained those details, and a life of focus on Islamic themes, part of which he spent as a restorer, added maturity to his outlook.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nosheen Abbas: Neutrality is sometimes a graver sin than belligerence

For a moment I thought Nosheen is pulling wool. Ms Hashmi's actions as that of Al Huda's could very well be likened to Mossad's - to infilterate, brainwash and side-line a sizeable pecentage of Muslims.~~t

Asalam-o-Aalaikum, who would you like to speak to?’ asked an educated sounding girl when I called Al-Huda International in Islamabad. I wanted to speak to the principal, I replied. Al-Huda is one of the most influential (international) Islamic organizations in the world. They have over 250 branches across the world and have female students in the millions. In effect, Al-Huda International is responsible for the religious and spiritual upbringing of millions of girls around the world. So, perhaps like many others, I wanted to know their take on the current situation in Pakistan.

I couldn’t get through to her so instead I was left with the regional director’s email address. Not expecting a swift reply, I emailed Ms Yasmin Khakwani the following question: What is your opinion about what the Taliban are doing in various parts of the country? Do you consider their actions correct?

This was her response: ‘I work for Al-Huda with a Vision of ‘Quran for all,’ so like any other citizen, I am not aware of all such activities happening around us.’

Robert Fisk's World: You don't need colour to tell the brutality of war – but it helps

French television can be the dullest in the world – but justice where justice is due. Jean-François Delassus has just sent me his 100-minute documentary for France 2 on the 1914-18 war – 14-18, Le Bruit and La Fureur – and it is an absolute cracker. Not only has the archive footage been brilliantly "sounded" (the French sonorisé is somehow more elegant) but it has been expertly colourised. French troops march to their deaths with red kepis; British soldiers celebrate the end of war in brown uniforms (along with a Brit who has dressed himself up in German field grey plus rifle and bayonet). At one point, an airship, movie camera attached, flies over the mud of the trenches and across a smashed French town where streams of refugees are trudging home. Some of this is so startling that it's difficult to realise that everyone in camera-shot is long dead.

Nadim Rouhana: This suppression is symbolic of a state that fears its past

For the Palestinian citizens of Israel, life is becoming a collective Kafkaesque experience. For years, their state has been determined to buttress its Jewish identity by legal, constitutional, cultural, and political means, in spite of the fact that one in five of its residents is an Arab. This latest series of bills is just another part of that effort. In addition to the discrimination they already face in all walks of life, Palestinians will not be able to mourn the Nakba, the loss of their homeland, or express their opposition to Israel as a Jewish state.

It is not only that they have been excluded from belonging to their homeland, which has been claimed by people who immigrated there and made exclusively Jewish; it is not only that their people have been expelled, occupied or dispersed to all corners of the world; it is not only that they are legally unequal citizens and even treated as enemies in many areas of life by the very state in which they are citizens. They also have to accept this reality: express loyalty, show no opposition, and even refrain from mourning their loss in public.

Prashad: The Ideological Tides Have Turned, and Republicans Are On the Ropes

The Republican Party is not going to disappear overnight. It is not just a congeries of ideas or a group of elected officials. It commands a large section of the electorate, and it is a vast apparatus of organisations and chapters. It would be senseless to write the obituary of American conservatism, particularly given the continued feebleness of American liberalism and the virtual absence of American radicalism. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are laid waste by financial power, which lays waste the fabric of American democracy. But the Republicans are nonetheless dented, aware that their orthodoxy is undesirable to the citizenry.

The Republican Party is not going to disappear overnight. It is not just a congeries of ideas or a group of elected officials. It commands a large sec

While everyone’s talking about how the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor may affect the Supreme Court, we need to keep our eye on the current court — and on Obama’s arguments in there.
For on the same day that Obama nominated Sotomayor, the Court came down with a horrendous decision on a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
By a 5 to 4 vote, the Court said that a defendant who has already been appointed counsel may be interrogated by police without that counsel present.
Amazingly, Obama’s Justice Department argued in favor of the decision that Justice Scalia handed down. It said the 23-year-old precedent, Michigan v. Jackson, "serves no purpose."
Distressed, Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the Michigan decision, took the unusual move of reading his heated dissent aloud from the bench.

Why Does Two-Thirds of the World's Population Still Not Have Access to Safe Drinking Water?

Despite promises made by world leaders nearly a decade ago, a new United Nations report has concluded it is still "business as usual" for 5 billion people -- about two-thirds of the world population -- who do not have access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation or enough food to eat. That's the grim assessment of "Water in a Changing World", the U.N.'s third triennial water development report since 2000. It was presented this spring at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey, as several hundred protesters demonstrated against large dam construction and the privatization of water supplies in the developing world.

Population growth and a global shift in diet toward the consumption of more dairy products and meat will put more pressure on the world's water supplies in coming years even than climate change. Meat production requires 8 to 10 times more water than cereal production. At the same time, the report said, the world's population is growing by 80 million per year, and by 2050 is expected to reach more than 9 billion people, up by 50 percent from more than 6 billion today. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, regions that now lack sufficient water supply and sewage treatment, will account for half the world's population in 2100.

Human rights and the Terrified —Rafia Zakaria

Congratulations are in order. Rafia has been elected on the US Amnesty board ~~t

In a time of terror, thus, one must ask what relevance does concern for human rights have for a population bereft of security and ravaged by war; what priority can Pakistanis, so utterly overwhelmed by the inadequacies of resources and the merciless weight of catastrophe, give to concerns about human dignity, justice and the rights of the individual to live a life free of repression? Can those hardest hit by the incipient cynicism of being onlookers to the most bloodthirsty series of deaths be expected to muster up the idealism to believe in the possibility of mutual respect based on common humanity? Human rights and the Terrified —Rafia Zakaria

Friday, May 29, 2009

Syed Saleem Shahzad: Taliban keep grip on kidnapped Canadian & Insinuations of the Rise of Mr. Percentage in Islamabad

Do you remember news reports alleging that President Zardari agreed to pay the Iranians more for their gas then was agreed to by the Iraninan Parliamnet earlier? And now this? Is Mr. Percentage back in full swing again? ~~t

People involved in the backroom negotiations for the release of Khadija, 52, say that she suffered heart problems this week and that her condition is serious. She has a history of heart problems. But the militants holding her will not release her as there is still haggling over the amount of ransom to be paid.

"We had set up all the measures for her release," former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, retired Squadron leader Khalid Khawaja, told Asia Times Online on Friday. He has been involved in the negotiations for the release of Khadija and her translator Suleman, 18.

"Maulana Fazlur Rahman [the chief of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam party, a coalition partner in the federal government] was involved on behalf of the Canadian government. Initially, the militants did not want to release her, saying she was an American proxy.

"But after Fazlur's involvement, they agreed to let her go for a sum of 60 million rupees [US$740,000]. The deal was finalized and the Canadian government had arranged the money. Then [a few weeks ago] another development took place and everything was spoiled," said Khawaja.

"Everything was being routed through the political agent in North Waziristan [the representative of the federal government]. He demanded that he receive 50% of the payment. According to him, a portion of the money had to go to Governor's House in Peshawar [capital of NWFP], which would then pass on a share to the President's Office in Islamabad.

"This demand [which meant the Canadians would have to pay an additional 30 million rupees] needed new approvals in the Canadian system, and the Canadians lost interest," said Khawaja.

Asia Times Online tried to reach two spokesmen at the President's Office - Farhatullah Babar and Farhanaz Ispahani (married to Hussain Haqqani) - but neither responded.

Is Larry Summers Taking Kickbacks From the Banks He's Bailing Out?

Is Larry Summers taking kickbacks from the banks he’s bailing out?

Last month, a little-known company where Summers served on the board of directors received a $42 million investment from a group of investors, including three banks that Summers, Obama’s effective “economy czar,” has been doling out billions in bailout money to: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley. The banks invested into the small startup company, Revolution Money, right at the time when Summers was administering the “stress test” to these same banks.

A month after they invested in Summers’ former company, all three banks came out of the stress test much better than anyone expected -- thanks to the fact that the banks themselves were allowed to help decide how bad their problems were (Citigroup “negotiated” down its financial hole from $35 billion to $5.5 billion.)

Obama in Netanyahu’s Web

The third imperative is for Obama to shift from what Nader Mousavizadeh of the International Institute for Strategic Studies recently called a “mix of rhetorical innovation and policy continuation” to new thinking on Iran freed of carrot-and-stick redundancy.
This must begin with Iran’s pride and insecurities — a medium-sized power facing the world’s superpower — and almost certainly envision as an endgame a “non-zero option” where Iran retains an intrusively monitored, limited pilot uranium enrichment program while jettisoning its unacceptable rhetoric and troublemaking to become part of a new regional security arrangement.
Netanyahu talks a lot about the “existential threat” from Iran. The United States faces a prosaic daily threat: Many more young American men and women will die in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next several years if no Iranian breakthrough is achieved.
Obama must remind Israel of that. He should also tell Bibi that the real existential threat to Israel is not Amalek but hubris: An attack on Iran that would put the Jewish state at war with Persians as well as Arabs, undermine its core U.S. alliance, and set Tehran on a full-throttle course to a nuclear bomb with the support of some 1.2 billion Muslims.

15 Relationship Mistakes We Wish We'd Stop Making

It's said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, yes, we know that snooping around our S.O.'s email account is a bad idea and that believing in the fairy-tale love stories we grew up reading is silly, but sometimes we find ourselves giving these relationship moves the ol' college try! The results? Not so successful. Plus, we start to feel unbalanced, and perhaps rightly so.

This point is this: there are certain relationship mistakes women make over and over again. Like sleeping in a bad position and waking with a stiff neck, we sometimes don't realize we're blundering and repeating until the ouch factor comes into play. Well, it's time to stop. We're declaring once and for all: let's quit! Quitters sometimes prosper, especially when lousy habits get left behind. Here's the list of relationship blunders we wish we ladies would stop making.

1. Thinking we'll never get over him. We will. Two months and several powdered donuts later... we'll feel better. Read Dumped? 10 Healthy Ways To Heal


The 10 Most Popular Conspiracy Theories

Agatha Christie once famously said, "The simplest explanation is always the most likely." However, when something shocking or catastrophic happens in our lives, simple explanations just aren't satisfying. We crave deeper reason and meaning and when that isn't given to us, sometimes we create our own. This is how conspiracy theories are often born -- someone doesn't like the official account of a major event and challenges it with a different version. Conspiracy theories can attract a wide array of people, from vehement supporters to those who just like a good story. Whether they're somewhat believable or completely ridiculous, the most popular conspiracy theories got that way for a reason -- they're just plain fascinating.

1. Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone (or possibly at all)....

10 Sleazy Ways That Goldman Sachs Distracted Us While Pocketing Billions from the Treasury

The best illusionists deflect audience focus away from the heart of the trick until the final moment of revelation. The way Goldman Sachs has worked its multi-prong bailout is like that. During last week's chatter about submitting their TARP payback application, the firm deftly diverted attention away from all the real money they took from the public.

But, let’s focus on the ten steps of Goldman’s big public rip-off: (Or keep $42 billion give back $10 billion and see your stock price double)

1) Enlist assistants. a) The Treasury department -- under both former Goldman Sachs CEO, Henry Paulson, and Wall Street-mentored Tim Geithner -- has worked really hard at ensuring our (and Congress’s) attention is on the measly $700 billion of TARP money that Congress approved last fall, and not on the other $12.3 trillion of cheap Fed loans, FDIC backed guarantees and other favors the banks got. And, it kept going last week, as Geithner told Congress, “While TARP is proving effective at improving the immediate stability of the financial system, the scope of the issues that the [Obama Administration and the Treasury] face extend beyond TARP to include striking the delicate balance between intervention and allowing market participants latitude to operate; devising a new financial regulatory structure for the future; and working through the tough problems of what form our government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, should take as we emerge from this difficult period." Translation: focus away from the Wall Street banks, while we try not to open them to any uncomfortable new restrictions.b) The FED, which has kept a cloak of secrecy around its $7.5 trillion giveaways (they call them facilities) including which bank got what deal. This is to “protect” us from the truth.

2) Become a bank. On Sunday night, September 21st, while Paulson and Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke were talking global catastrophe, Goldman and Morgan Stanley sidestepped the standard 5-day antitrust waiting period to receive instant Fed approval to become bank holding companies. Did they ever make consumer loans or take deposits like other bank holding companies? No. Have they since? No.

Syed Saleem Shahzad: Al-Qaeda strikes back in Lahore

Asia Times Online investigations reveal that in response to the Swat operation, Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud sent several men to various destinations, but they all failed to launch an attack. The biggest group was sent to the southern port city of Karachi. It comprised Amjad Zameer Khattak alias Musarat alias Talha, the son of Sadiq Zameer and a resident of Swat; Mohammad Asim alias Tipu Sultan alias Babu, the son of Mohammad Hakeem Khan of Nowshehra in NWFP; Mohammad Safir alias Saifullah, Adnan and Abdul Hameed. They had belonged to the banned outfits the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Harkatul Mujahideen, but now they are allied with a nexus headed by Baitullah Mehsud. They apparently arrived in Karachi last week and planned a suicide attack on the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which is anti-Taliban and a coalition partner in the federal and provincial government. They dropped this plan when they found the building to be too heavily guarded. They were in the process of identifying another target when their presence was leaked to the police and Khattak and Asim were arrested. The others escaped.


However, the real trigger for the Lahore attack, planned by more than two Pakistani groups, was the recent clampdown on a major al-Qaeda sanctuary in Mohmand Agency. Ten days ago, security agencies arrested four Saudi nationals. They were named only as Ahmed, Ali, Mohammad and Obaidullah and had arrived from Saudi Arabia recently. There was also an Abdullah from Libya, and all were experts in explosives and had spent some time in the Afghan province of Helmand. Al-Qaeda also has sanctuaries in Bajaur Agency, which, like Mohmand, borders the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nooristan. Top al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden and his deputy Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, have been seen in these regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The capture of the Saudis shows a real hostile gesture by Pakistan against al-Qaeda's most high-profile sanctuary. As a result, the Lahore operation was planned and financed by al-Qaeda. The Jundul Fida group led by veteran Kashmiri guerrilla commander Ilyas Kashmiri provided logistic support and militants linked with Baitullah Mehsud were used in the suicide mission.

Microsoft launches as its new search engine

The new four-letter word in your life is Bing. Whether you'll bother to try it or not, Microsoft has great hopes for it. Bing is the latest iteration of Microsoft's search engine, and it's innovative enough for Microsoft to try to rebrand what used to be called Live Search and spend around $80-$100m on promotion.

Bing was announced today by Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer at D7, the conference run by the Wall Street Journal's technology site, All Things Digital. Microsoft's staff have been using it for many months under a different name: Kumo.

It will be available to American users next Wednesday, 3 June, and UK users should have access to a beta version.

The new search engine has a number of innovative features, the main one being what Microsoft calls the Explorer pane on the left hand side. When you search for things, the Explorer pane finds results for related searches. This should be a big help for less experienced searches who aren't adept at querying search engines.

Microsoft has tried to make its search engine smarter and it makes assumptions based on real-world information sources, such as the MSN Calendar. For example, Bing provides different results if you search for Wimbledon during the tennis season or Cannes during the film festival than if you search for the same terms at Christmas.

Our New Super-Embassy in Pakistan is a Gross Example of How the U.S. Chooses Security Over Aid

Now we know the truth behind the US "aid" ~~~t

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because this has all happened before. Recently, Pakistanis learned that almost half of the $1.9 billion approved by the U.S. House of Representatives for aid will instead go toward "a new secure embassy and consulates" in their country. Of course, the United States has good reason to fear for their security in the region.
"Having a secure embassy and consulates is understandable considering that in 1979 the American embassy was burned down," says Ibrahim Warde, author of The Price of Fear. Thirty years ago, an angry mob burned down the embassy, killing a U.S. marine. According to the BBC, "the five-hour siege began as an organized student protest," but grew violent when protesters pulled down part of the embassy’s wall and stormed inside. The U.S. blamed the Iranian leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, for inciting the violence, and in turn the Ayatollah cast blame upon the U.S. for occupying Islam’s holiest site, the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Muzaffar Iqbal - Quantum note Part I

Close to the Shah-e-Zinda complex in Samarqand, where Qatham ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) is buried, is the heart of the ancient Samarqand -- the Registan Square (The "Sandy Place") which has an ensemble of three madressahs -- a unique and fabulous example of Islamic architect. The three madressahs of the Registan are: the Ulugbeg Madressah (1417-1420), the Sher Dor Madressah (1619-1636) and the Tillya Kori Madressah (1646-1660).

It was in Ulugbeg's Madressah that in 1437 the length of the sidereal year (the time taken for the Sun to return to the same position with respect to the stars of the celestial sphere) was determined as 365.2570370d = 365d 6h 10m 8s (an error +58seconds). This value was improved by 28 seconds, some 88 years later in 1525 by Nicolaus Copernicus, who appealed to the estimation of Thabit ibn Qurra, another madressah student. It was also in the Ulugbeg's Madressah where the most advanced astronomical research of the fifteenth century was taking place. This glorious tradition of madressahs is now under attack all over the world. This attack comes from Washington DC where men and women have determined that they need to strangle this fabulous institution of Islamic civilisation in order to chock Islam and their cronies have been instructed to take over madressahs. This frontal attack has different modalities in different countries. Its shape in Pakistan will be explored in the next column, insha'Allah.

Ayaz Amir: The Meaning of Pakistan? Karachi to Peshawar in 10 hours with ....

So what should be the meaning of Pakistan? Freedom from want and deprivation. An end to the tyranny of officialdom, the most pervasive tyranny across the broad spaces of our country. And every child of school-going age, boy and girl, in school studying the same books and subject to the same curriculum throughout the country. The day this happens and the day we have the sense to invest in a railway system which takes passengers from Karachi to Peshawar in less than 10 hours--with reasonably comely stewardesses (no male stewards please) serving passengers--Jinnah's Pakistan will have arrived..

Reality Check: Where are Muslim countries in Pakistan’s hour of need?

Forget about millions, not even a single date has come from the Middle Eastern countries for the IDPs of Swat, and this is surprising, because these Muslim countries are our friends and never has there been a time that Pakistan needed help and they did not come forward. In fact, compared to other countries of the world, the Middle Eastern Muslim countries were far ahead in showing generosity, a cabinet member told The News.When The News contacted the Foreign Office, one official replied: “This issue is too sensitive for me to even whisper a response.”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MoveOn Remains Silent on Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan & A Response from MoveOn

The most powerful grassroots organization of the peace movement, MoveOn, remains silent as the American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan simmer or escalate. The executive director of MoveOn, Justin Ruben, met with President Obama in February, told the president it was “the moment to go big,” then indicated that MoveOn would not be opposing the $94 billion war supplemental request, nor the 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, nor the increased civilian casualties from the mounting number of Predator attacks. [See Ari Melber, The Nation, Feb. 27, 2009]

Silence sends a message. The de facto MoveOn support for the $94 billion war supplemental reverberates up the ladder of power. Feeling no pressure, the Congressional leadership has abdicated its critical oversight function over the expanding wars, not even allowing members to vote for a Decmber report on possible exit strategies.

Here's a response from

We appreciate Tom Hayden's attempt to start a discussion here about the progressive posture on security issues, and we even understand his attempt to use MoveOn as a foil. We agree that it's time to confront the organizing challenges of building an effective peace movement in the Obama era, and we expect MoveOn and MoveOn members to play an important role in this.
In order to have a productive conversation, however, we have to make sure the facts are correct. Tom's characterization of our democratic process is inaccurate; the Top 10 issues we focus on were both nominated by and chosen by MoveOn members. Even more erroneous is Tom's description in the lead of his piece of Justin's conversation with the President. Our Executive Director, Justin Ruben, never "indicated that MoveOn would not be opposing the $94 billion war supplemental request, nor the 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, nor the increased civilian casualties from the mounting number of Predator attacks." The article by Ari Melber which Tom referenced as a source does not say that Justin said this. That particular conversation was about MoveOn members' current organizing focus on energy, health care, and the economy. And our belief that the administration should "go big" on progressive policies in these arenas.

Pepe Escobar: Pipelineistan goes Iran-Pak

The earth has been shaking for a few days now all across Pipelineistan - with massive repercussions for all the big players in the New Great Game in Eurasia. United States President Barack Obama's AfPak strategists didn't even see it coming. A silent, reptilian war had been going on for years between the US-favored Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline and its rival, the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, also known as the "peace pipeline". This past weekend, a winner emerged. And it's none of the above: instead, it's the 2,100-kilometer, US$7.5 billion IP (the Iran-Pakistan pipeline), with no India attached. (Please see Pakistan, Iran sign gas pipeline deal, May 27, 2009, Asia Times Online.)

All eyes on Balochistan With IP firmly in place, the strategic spotlight focuses even more on Balochistan. (Please see Balochistan is the greatest prize, May 9, 2009, Asia Times Online.) First of all, there's an internal Pakistani question to be settled. An editorial in the Pakistani daily Dawn has stressed how Islamabad must be serious about hiring indigenous Balochi labor and making sure "the gains of the economic activity ... are focused on Balochistan for the benefit of its poverty-stricken people".


So Islamabad still has all it takes to royally mess up what it has accomplished by approving IP. For the moment, Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia win. The SCO wins. Washington and NATO lose, not to mention Afghanistan (no transit fees). But will Balochistan also win? If not, all hell will break loose, from desperate Balochis sabotaging IP to "foreign interference" manipulating them into creating an even greater, regional, ball of fire.

Israel rebuffs U.S. call for settlement freeze in West Bank

hOr obama mama
karlo dukan dari

Report: Unreleased Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos 'Show Rape'

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

Against Readings

If I could make one wish for the members of my profession, college and university professors of literature, I would wish that for one year, two, three, or five, we would give up readings. By a reading, I mean the application of an analytical vocabulary — Marx's, Freud's, Foucault's, Derrida's, or whoever's — to describe and (usually) to judge a work of literary art. I wish that we'd declare a moratorium on readings. I wish that we'd give readings a rest.

This wish will strike most academic literary critics and perhaps others as well as — let me put it politely — counterintuitive. Readings, many think, are what we do. Readings are what literary criticism is all about. They are the bread and butter of the profession. Through readings we write our books; through readings we teach our students. And if there were no more readings, what would we have left to do? Wouldn't we have to close our classroom doors, shut down our office computers, and go home? The end of readings, presumably, would mean the end of our profession.

So let me try to explain what I have in mind. For it seems to me that if we kicked our addiction to readings, our profession would actually be stronger and more influential, our teaching would improve, and there would be more good books of literary criticism to be written and accordingly more to be read.

The future of art in an age of crisis—Part 1

By way of introduction I want to point out that as a rule people go about their daily lives and accept the cultural life they encounter as given. The various books and films and objects are “habitual phenomena” that are not generally subjected to serious criticism.

The present economic and social crisis throws the inadequacy of most of what we presently see and hear into relief. We are attempting here to trace out the roots of some of the difficulties. A historical tracing out of the problem is indispensable, in our view.

We are concerned here with two interrelated questions: the future of art and the impact of the present global economic crisis. Let’s begin with the second.

Whatever the immediate ups and downs of the stock market, the dimensions of the economic crash of 2008 are vast and systemic. Contrary to the apologists for capitalism, the present crisis is not a failure of this or that policy, or merely the product of dishonest and greedy individuals. It is a crisis, a breakdown, of the economic and social order. An entire mode of global capital accumulation based on financial operations, fueled by mountainous increases in debt, has collapsed, as our movement has explained.

Munro wins international Booker

Canadian short story author Alice Munro has won the third Man Booker International Prize.
She saw off competition from 13 other nominees, including Australian two-time Booker winner Peter Carey and Briton James Kelman, to win the £60,000 award. It is given every two years to a living author for an entire body of work that has contributed to fiction across the world stage. Munro, 77, who lives in Ontario, said: "I am totally amazed and delighted."

A World of Least-Wanted Lists

According to Ben Ward of Human Rights Watch in London, the British list was mainly about the Muslims — the American right-wingers were politically correct padding — and shows just how much Britain and countries like France and Spain still worry about the militant Islamists in their midst. But of course we shouldn’t be so naïve. People are stopped from traveling all the time — around the globe and in the United States. They are held back for minor and major infractions, but also for what they think or say, although Britain more or less stands alone in making public who is banned — a name-and-shame list, as the British government put it.

During the cold war, the United States had a rich tradition of excluding people it didn’t like on ideological grounds. Morton H. Halperin, a consultant to the Open Society Institute, an organization that promotes democracy around the world, said the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 targeted Communists but in the following decades was applied rather more broadly. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the act famously excluded the future Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the writers Graham Greene, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Doris Lessing and Dario Fo.

Although Congress eventually repealed the act, the power of “ideological exclusion” persists today in the USA Patriot Act, according to Caroline Fredrickson of the A.C.L.U. The act allows the authorities to bar foreigners who use a “position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.” In a letter in March to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, among others, the A.C.L.U. and other human rights groups said that dozens of scholars and intellectuals were being banned from the country “not on the basis of their actions but on the basis of their ideas.”

Why We Travel - Pico Iyer

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. The beauty of this whole process was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying, by George Santayana in his lapidary essay, “The Philosophy of Travel.” We “need sometimes,” the Harvard philosopher wrote, “to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what.”

I like that stress on work, since never more than on the road are we shown how proportional our blessings are to the difficulty that precedes them; and I like the stress on a holiday that’s “moral” since we fall into our ethical habits as easily as into our beds at night. Few of us ever forget the connection between “travel” and “travail,” and I know that I travel in large part in search of hardship—both my own, which I want to feel, and others’, which I need to see. Travel in that sense guides us toward a better balance of wisdom and compassion—of seeing the world clearly, and yet feeling it truly. For seeing without feeling can obviously be uncaring; while feeling without seeing can be blind.


So travel, at heart, is just a quick way to keeping our minds mobile and awake. As Santayana, the heir to Emerson and Thoreau with whom I began, wrote, “There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind nimble; it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor.” Romantic poets inaugurated an era of travel because they were the great apostles of open eyes. Buddhist monks are often vagabonds, in part because they believe in wakefulness. And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.

6 Ways the Financial Bailout Scams Taxpayers, Subsidizes Wall Street, and Props Up Our Broken Financial System

That $700 billion bailout has since grown into a more than $12 trillion commitment by the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve. About $1.1 trillion of that is taxpayer money -- the TARP money and an additional $400 billion rescue of mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The TARP now includes 12 separate programs, and recipients range from megabanks like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase to automakers Chrysler and General Motors.

Seven months in, the bailout's impact is unclear. The Treasury Department has used the recent "stress test" results it applied to 19 of the nation's largest banks to suggest that the worst might be over; yet the International Monetary Fund as well as economists like New York University professor and economist Nouriel Roubini and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman predict greater losses in U.S. markets, rising unemployment, and generally tougher economic times ahead.

What cannot be disputed, however, is the financial bailout's biggest loser: the American taxpayer. The U.S. government, led by the Treasury Department, has done little, if anything, to maximize returns on its trillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded investment. So far, the bailout has favored rescued financial institutions by subsidizing their losses to the tune of $356 billion, shying away from much-needed management changes and -- with the exception of the automakers -- letting companies take taxpayer money without a coherent plan for how they might return to viability.

Of even greater concern is the message the bailout sends to banks and lenders -- namely, that the risky investments that crippled the economy are fair game in the future. After all, if banks fail and teeter at the edge of collapse, the government promises to be there with a taxpayer-funded, potentially profitable safety net. The handling of the bailout makes at least one thing clear, however: It's not your health that the government is focused on, it's theirs -- the very banks and lenders whose convoluted financial systems provided the underpinnings for staggering salaries and bonuses while bringing our economy to the brink of another Great Depression.

Wall Street's Scams, Lies and Frauds

In May, Bernanke returned to the containment theme, saying, "we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system." A few weeks later, he reiterated that "the troubles in the subprime sector seem unlikely to seriously spill over to the broader economy or the financial system."

On July 26, Paulson told Bloomberg, "I don't think it [the subprime mess] poses any threat to the overall economy." In China a week later, he revised and extended his remarks: "I also said I thought in an economy as diverse and healthy as this that losses may occur in a number of institutions, but that overall this is contained, and we have a healthy economy."

Duh? Wrong, wrong, wrong.

But, before you dismiss these two geniuses as dunderheads, let’s consider what they knew or should have known. Or perhaps, like their counterparts in the Pentagon, they were blinded by their own assumptions and false "intelligence."

Rauf Klasra: How a jilted Karachi woman saved Pak N-programme

As the nation celebrates the eleventh anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear tests today (May 28), a shocking 30-year-old secret has been exposed. It reveals how a young woman college lecturer, feeling betrayed after a romance with a nuclear scientist of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), had given a lead to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1978, which in turn had led to the dramatic arrest of 12 Pakistani scientists and engineers, planning to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear sites at the behest of a superpower.

The startling spy ring was exposed by this female college lecturer of a Karachi Memon family to the then head of ISI Sindh Brig Imtiaz Ahmed (Operation Midnight Jackals fame), only because she wanted revenge from her lover for being unfaithful. The expose led to the arrest of Pakistani scientists who were later given death and life imprisonment sentences by the special tribunal set up by the then president General Ziaul Haq.

Brig (retd) Imtiaz Ahmed broke his silence of over 30 years to share this amazing operation with The News on the eve of the 11th annual celebration of Pakistan going nuclear. He said that while many people take credit for saving our nuclear programme, no one actually knows how an unsung jilted girl had actually ended up saving Pakistan’s nuclear project out of sheer vengeance.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Seeking Understanding?

Almost 300,000 Israelis now live in settlements in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, among a Palestinian population of some 2.5 million. Much of the world considers the 120 or so settlements a violation of international law.

The Video Shell Oil Desperately Doesn't Want You to See

Canadians Take Notice, the U.S. Is Militarizing the Border

About 50 feet before a car from Canada reaches the border inspection booth, the screenings begin. A camera snaps your license plate. An electronic card reader mounted on a yellow post scans your car for the presence of any radio-frequency ID cards inside. If there is an enhanced driver's license embedded with biometric information, its unique PIN number is read without you offering it. The Customs and Border Protection computer connects with your province's database and in less than a second – .56 to be exact – your personal information is uploaded to a screen in the booth. A second camera snaps the driver's face. Welcome to the United States of America.

High in the sky over North Dakota, an unmanned Predator drone is on patrol, equipped with an infrared security camera that looks forward 16 miles. The drone is not authorized to fly in Canadian airspace, but it can peer across into Manitoba. Another one is to be stationed near Detroit next year to scan the Michigan-Ontario boundary. More daytime and nighttime infrared camera, radar surveillance towers and remote motion sensors are being erected across the northern U.S. border with Canada.

Turkish Author, On Trial, Says Novel Is Not Blasphemous

A Turkish author on trial after being charged with inciting religious hatred in a novel based on the birth of Islam said that his book was a work of fiction but the result of extensive research and consultation with religious leaders, and therefore could not be called blasphemous. An Istanbul court on Tuesday adjourned the trial of the author, Nedim Gursel, until June 25. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted.

The novel “Daughters of Allah,” published last year, questioned the ideas of belief and violence in Islam, but had no intention of humiliating religious values, he told the NTV network. The case was filed after a citizen complained that Mr. Gursel had used inappropriate language against the Prophet Muhammad, his wives and the Koran.

In a public letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in April, Mr. Gursel noted the damage such trials could cause Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union. Similar trials against intellectuals like the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk have caused local and international protests, forcing lawmakers to redefine statutes addressing freedom of expression.

Bill Moyers: How Can We Expect an Industry That Profits from Disease and Sickness to Police Itself?

In 2003, a young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama told a local AFL-CIO meeting, “I am a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program.” Single payer. Universal. That’s health coverage, like Medicare, but for everyone who wants it. Single payer eliminates insurance companies as pricey middlemen. The government pays care providers directly. It’s a system that polls consistently have shown the American people favoring by as much as two-to-one.
There was only one thing standing in the way, Obama said six years ago: “All of you know we might not get there immediately because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate and we have to take back the House.”

Fast forward six years. President Obama has everything he said was needed – Democrats in control of the executive branch and both chambers of Congress. So what’s happened to single payer? A woman at his town hall meeting in New Mexico last week asked him exactly that. “If I were starting a system from scratch, then I think that the idea of moving towards a single-payer system could very well make sense,” the President replied. “That's the kind of system that you have in most industrialized countries around the world. “The only problem is that we're not starting from scratch. We have historically a tradition of employer-based health care. And although there are a lot of people who are not satisfied with their health care, the truth is, is that the vast majority of people currently get health care from their employers and you've got this system that's already in place. We don't want a huge disruption as we go into health care reform where suddenly we're trying to completely reinvent one-sixth of the economy.”

So the banks were too big to fail and now, apparently, health care is too big to fix, at least the way a majority of people indicate they would like it to be fixed, with a single payer option. President Obama favors a public health plan competing with the medical cartel that he hopes will create a real market that would bring down costs. But single payer has vanished from his radar.
Nor is single payer getting much coverage in the mainstream

Wall Street's Scams, Lies and Frauds

Criminologist William K. Black, a former bank regulator and expert on crimes committed by the men at the top -- so-called control frauds referencing the practices of CEOS in control at big corporations -- studied these reports, pointing out that by 2008 there were only 62,000 "criminal referrals" in this industry with only agencies reporting crimes "mandated" by law to do so.
Only one-third of these illegal practices were even reported and, then, hardly any in unregulated sectors which, in turn, dispensed 80 percent of them. These were the mortgages Wall Street bought, securitized, sliced and diced, borrowed against and resold under false pretenses. Did they know? You bet they did.
Black estimates there have been a half-million fraudulent mortgage cases annually that should have been prosecuted, but the FBI only has the capacity to handle 500 per annum because most of its white-collar-crime fighters were reassigned to the war on terror.

Debunking arguments against eastern deployment —Ejaz Haider

There is much talk in the Western media and also by visiting foreign dignitaries about the Pakistan Army’s east-oriented deployment and threat perception from India at a time when presumably Pakistan faces no threat from India but is grappling with an internal, existential crisis.The question posed is: why doesn’t Pakistan thin its defences in the east and induct more troops in the west to fight the Taliban? While the question may be genuine, and I am being entirely charitable on this count, is it based on a sound understanding of military strategy?Short answer: no.There are two broad issues here. The first relates to Pakistan’s threat perception from India; the second to Pakistan’s ongoing counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism operations. Let’s analyse them in the same order.

Finally, the issue is not whether Pakistan should or should not reconfigure its deployment pattern but whether it can. Unilaterally, it can’t.Also, if the country has to induct more troops in the NWFP and station military elements in the area for a longer deployment, it needs to build infrastructure for doing that. That decision has to be taken at the political level (keeping in mind regional security requirements) and money found for it.Therefore, before Pakistan is asked to do this or that, its threat perception has to be taken into consideration and money provided it for longer deployment on the west. The first involves pulling in India; the second, opening the purse strings.

Debunking arguments against eastern deployment —Ejaz Haider

Pakistan, Iran sign gas pipeline deal

Do we have to wait for Syed Saleem Shahzad's investigative report on whjy Zardari opted to pay MORE for the gas then the Iran Parliament voted for? ~~t (shades of Mr. 10% coming alive?)

Officials from Pakistan on Sunday finally signed a gas pipeline accord with Iran, without India's participation, after 14 years of on-off negotiations over what was initially framed as the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project. Under the gas sale purchase agreement signed between the Iranian National Oil Company and Interstate Gas System of Pakistan, Iran will provide 750 million cubic feet of gas per day to Pakistan for the next 25 years. Officials in Islamabad termed the deal a major breakthrough and an achievement that would greatly help Pakistan meet its energy needs. The two countries will sign the formal agreement for the multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project, to be completed in five years, in a third country within the next 15 days. The project, when initially mooted in 1994, was intended to carry gas from Iran to Pakistan and on to India. New Delhi withdrew from the talks last year over repeated disputes on prices, transit fees and security issues. China has shown interest in joining the strategic gas pipeline project and last year said it would import about 1 billion cubic feet a day from Pakistan if India opted out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

but oh! how times have changed

monday it's gregory
and jack both mavericks

sun, moon and the clouds
clockwork natural

you, me and the children
ardor, amour, adore

there, you have the whole world
in a cliched nutshell

the crooner canitllates
about relationships

the mariachi band
serenades simply

the elites in bubbles
exude faux modesty

this is reality
asli reality

but oh! how times have changed
reality today

is nothing more than a
show for couch potatoes

Pakistan's Struggle for Modernity

I received this link with the following comment from FK. You can click on the heading to read the article ~~t

very interesting article/critique on the us af-pak policy....the analysis is shallow but that is to be expected from the americans who are totally clueless about the dynamics of the situation in the region. the article is more like an idiot's guide to the region for the average ill-informed american and by that i mean the so-called east coast foreign policy elite who still sees the situation through his/her blinkered near-sighted ignorance.

Bloggers mobilise for Pakistan refugees

Pakistani bloggers and commentators have expressed great concern over the apparent lack of government planning for the people displaced by the military operation in North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The UN says that about 1.5 million people have been displaced since the army's latest offensive began on 2 May, and two million since last August. Most bloggers were angered by the lack of facilities provided to the internally displaced people (IDPs). Some began online campaigns to raise money and gather food for the victims while others voiced suspicion about the lack of media access to conflict areas.

'Heart wrenching'
Blogger Kalsoom posted on her blog CHUP! Changing Up Pakistan regular updates on the condition of the IDPs in various camps around Pakistan. On 6 May, she compared statistics provided by the BBC, CNN and the United Nations about the number of people homeless. [thanks AA]

Fake Sheikh buys his way into Buckingham Palace

The Fake Sheikh strikes again. Safety for the Queen and Royal Family is being urgently reviewed after a Buckingham Palace security breach engineered by Britain's most notorious undercover reporter.

Mazher Mahmood, the News of the World investigations editor best known for passing himself off as a bogus Arab princeling, claims to have been given an extensive tour of the car fleet inside the Palace by bribing a chauffeur.

Mr Mahmood claimed that he and a colleague, posing as curious Middle Eastern businessmen, gained extensive access to the royal limousines and the Queen's personal Rolls-Royce and Daimler, after being admitted unchallenged into the Royal Mews.

They were allowed to photograph and video the vehicles, including their number plates, were told their official code names and given details of security weaknesses, and even permitted to sit inside one of them unsupervised – with enough time to have planted a bomb, Mr Mahmood claimed.

World economy stabilizing: Krugman

The world economy has avoided "utter catastrophe" and industrialized countries could register growth this year, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said on Monday.

"I will not be surprised to see world trade stabilize, world industrial production stabilize and start to grow two months from now," Krugman told a seminar.

"I would not be surprised to see flat to positive GDP growth in the United States, and maybe even in Europe, in the second half of the year."

The Princeton professor and New York Times columnist has said he fears a decade-long slump like that experienced by Japan in the 1990s.

He has criticized the U.S. administration's bailout plan to persuade investors to help rid banks of up to $1 trillion in toxic assets as amounting to subsidized purchases of bad assets.

Speaking in UAE, the world's third-largest oil exporter, Krugman said Japan's solution of export-led growth would not work because the downturn has been global.

Bush's Shocking Biblical Prophecy Emerges: God Wants to "Erase" Mid-East Enemies "Before a New Age Begins"

In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France's President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.

In Genesis and Ezekiel Gog and Magog are forces of the Apocalypse who are prophesied to come out of the north and destroy Israel unless stopped. The Book of Revelation took up the Old Testament prophesy:

"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them."

Bush believed the time had now come for that battle, telling Chirac:

"This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people's enemies before a New Age begins".

There is a curious coda to this story. While a senior at Yale University George W. Bush was a member of the exclusive and secretive Skull & Bones society. His father, George H.W. Bush had also been a "Bonesman", as indeed had his father. Skull & Bones' initiates are assigned or take on nicknames. And what was George Bush Senior's nickname? "Magog".

How You Can Save 60 Gallons of Water Today!

My favorite environmental subject is water conservation. Why? Spite. I used to have this roommate who would take hour-long showers, and anything I can do to make her look bad is pleasing to me. My motives may not be pure, but at least I’m fighting for a good cause. Right?

  • Take a 5-Minute Shower Instead of a 10-Minute Shower
    Savings: 12.5 gallons

  • Put a bottle filled with gravel in your toilet tank.
    Savings: 7.5 gallons

  • Turn off the Water While Brushing Teeth and Shaving
    Savings: 8 gallons

  • Filling Your Dishwasher to Max Capacity
    Savings: 2 gallons

  • Mulching Your Garden
    Savings: 25 gallons

  • Fix that Leaky Faucet
    Savings: 5 gallons

Total Water Savings: 60 gallons

Neocon US Colonel Calls for Military Attacks on "Partisan Media"

A new report for a leading neoconservative group which pushes a belligerent “Israel first” agenda of conquest in the Middle East suggests that in future wars the US should make censorship of media official policy and advocates “military attacks on the partisan media.” (H/T MuzzleWatch) The report for JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, was authored by retired US Army Colonel Ralph Peters. It appears in JINSA’s “flagship publication,” The Journal of International Security Affairs. “Today, the United States and its allies will never face a lone enemy on the battlefield. There will always be a hostile third party in the fight,” Peters writes, calling the media, “The killers without guns:”

Lest people think that the views of people like Col. Ralph Peters and the JINSA/PNAC neocons are relics of the past, remember that the Obama administration includes heavy hitters from this world among its ranks, as well as fierce neocon supporters. While they may no longer be literally calling the shots, as they did under Bush/Cheney, their disproportionate influence on US policy endures.

One More for the Chief Justice: Tensions brew in Balochistan as countless missing By Qurat ul ain Siddiqui

I know Iftikhar Chaudhry does not come to this baithak. But am counting on one of you to forward this to this attention. We have a Swat-Buner-N/S Waziristan in the making - or worse perhaps in Balochistan. Some say it is too late. But we should not give up and hope it is not too late. ~~t

'It was a white car. My face was covered with a black mask so I could not see and my hands had been tied... they began beating me up instantly,' recalls Adnan Baloch, who was picked up in Quetta on April 18, 2009, while on his way back home from his college. He claims that eventually the car stopped outside a 'torture cell’ and he ‘was treated with electric shocks all day long’ which 'ended up paralysing' both his legs.

According to him, he was released in Mastung a day later and was taken to a hospital for treatment. 'The police was there at the hospital...and even before I could begin talking about registering an FIR, I was told that it would not be registered,’ he adds.

Although Adnan has been released after the ‘abduction and subsequent physical torture, for being politically active and for being the nephew of currently missing Baloch Republican Party's central leader Chakar Qambrani,’ there are several in Balochistan who continue to remain missing.

On March 26, 2009, Shahzeb Baloch, president of the Baloch Students Organisation – Azad’s Quetta zone was reported missing. He continues to remain missing.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s provincial coordinator in Balochistan, Fareed Ahmed, while saying that ‘hundreds appear to have been victims of enforced disappearances in the region,’ said the HRCP’s list of such cases indicates a figure of 150.

‘This is mostly because we at the HRCP include names to the list once the victim’s family approaches us,’ Ahmed said.

‘Once we have a reporting family, we try to approach the High Court to get the FIR registered, or we forward the case to Asma Jehangir in Lahore. We are also currently approaching the Supreme Court for the reopening of the missing persons’ cases.’

Monday, May 25, 2009

Poessay: Sea of Affliction and Omni Vincit Amor

There is an antediluvian connection between starlit nights and lovers. The moon's substantial and simultaneously tenuous links with the tides - of love and lovers - is intriguing and bewildering.

The Sea of Affliction is nurtured by rivers, rivulets and streams of zeal, worship, affection, amour, infatuation, passion, and rapture . Yarns narrated by storytellers of yore - Shirin Farhad, the dark Laila and her mad Majnoon, Sassi-Pannu, Heer-Ranjha, Romeo and Juliet (enters the Raj) - move and tantalize lovers and listeners alike.

The warmth of lovers is unaffected by the heat of day. The stealth of night mixes well with the scorch and sizzle of mind and sanguine and sultry emotions of instincts.

Every inadvertent touch, a brush, a kiss, a glance is euphoric, delirious, ecstatic, devouring, entrancing, rapturous, and transporting - transporting them to the distant stars.

These encounters, few and far in between, retain most of their luster and glow for long. The reverse is obvious - they lose their sheen with frequency. Ask Mark Twain.

Thoughts wander over consummation...or the edification of lack of it.

The tragic and unconsummated aspects of love have been perhaps unconsciously and unduly glorified in folklore and literature. The lovers are consumed by their passion - and subsumed by the storytellers. They succumb to fate, living in death.

omnia vincit amor

the black hole
dissipating and drawing in chaos
with the furious fervour of passion

the black hole
exploding and imploding
a supernova of 360 degree
suctorial frenzy, confusion and
passionate mayhem
nurturing impassioned death

a hiatus to change demeanor
and resume the whirling
- of implosions and explosions
consuming and subsuming
in the once black hole of life
now death
nature's anti-climactic
antediluvian renderings
to be endlessly repeated
when the tides of venus charge

Is There Hope for Arvind Krishna Mehrotra Now That Ruth Padel Has Resigned

Ruth Padel became the first Profesor of Poetry at Oxford nine days ago. Her reign is over. Guardian says: "Ruth Padel, the first woman elected Oxford's professor of poetry, has resigned following claims she tipped off ­journalists about allegations that her chief rival for the post, Derek Walcott, had sexually ­harassed students."

Commenting on Ruth Padel's resignation Novelist Jeanette Winterson said: "It's a pity she has been backed into a corner. What she has done is so much more ­trivial than her contribution to poetry. This feels malicious and nasty. We ought to be able to look beyond the woman to the poetry. This is a way of reducing women; it wouldn't have happened to a man. But then Oxford is a sexist little dump."

The irony, and bitterness in her statement is obvious. The leading candidate for the Professorship was the Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. He was forced to withdraw his nomination after what appeared a smear campaign against him. About 100 Oxford academics were sent xerox copies of a book detailing sexual harassment made by a student at Harvard against Derek in 1982.

"I withdraw from the election to be professor of poetry at Oxford. I am disappointed that such low tactics have been used in this election and I do not want to get into a race for a post where it causes embarrassment to those who have chosen to support me for the role or to myself," he told the Evening Standard. "I already have a great many work commitments and while I was happy to be put forward for the post, if it has degenerated into a low and degrading attempt at character assassination, I do not want to be part of it." Derek Walcott

It is not known if Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is still interested in the job.

I am not sure if she held the tenure for the shortest time. But she certainly was the first women poet. And she can claim another first also. She is the first Professor of poetry at Oxford to resign.

Pranic Healing

PML-Z ready to accept new NFC Award formula

Someday, if Nawaz gains power we would like to remind him of this t

‘We do believe in reviewing the current distribution of natural resources among the four provinces,’ Sharif told his guest from Balochistan.

He said that as his party (PML-N) strongly advocated provincial autonomy as enshrined in the 1973 Constitution, it believed that distribution of resources between the federation and the federating units would soften their relationships as well as eliminate the chances of misunderstanding amongst the provinces.

Powell Hits Back At Cheney, GOP On Gitmo Closing (VIDEO)

Colin Powell hit back at Dick Cheney and other critics over the president's plan to close Guantanamo Bay on Sunday. Scoffing at the notion that U.S. jails couldn't house suspected terrorists, he said that the facility has become a blight on America's image.

In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," the former Secretary of State noted that he had called for Gitmo's closure for "the past six years," and argued that the former vice president's defense of the detention center put him at odds even with his former boss.

"Mr. Cheney is not only disagreeing with President Obama's policy, he is disagreeing with President Bush's policy. President Bush stated repeatedly to international audiences and to the country that he wanted to close Guantanamo."

Where would we be without God? Where would we be without God?

God comes and goes. He hides from time to time from saints such as Thomas Aquinas or Ignatius Loyola, and never appears at all to atheists from the Baron d'Holbach to Richard Dawkins. With each coming and going, there is a plethora of books; publishers must share Voltaire's view that if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.

Dawkins, and his colourful disciple, Christopher Hitchens, have set the agenda for today's debate. Not only is there no God, but to believe in him is pernicious because religion is used to justify inhuman and antisocial behaviour - the Crusades, the Inquisition, jihad. Not so, say the editor of the Economist, John Micklethwait, and his co-author, the magazine's Washington bureau chief, Adrian Wooldridge. Religion may be retrograde in societies such as Saudi Arabia, where only one faith is allowed and there is no freedom of conscience, but it is wholly compatible with modernity in pluralist countries such as the United States.

God Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith Is Changing the WorldJohn Micklethwait and Adrian WooldridgeAllen Lane £25, pp352
Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God DebateTerry EagletonYale University Press £18.99, pp200

Police Brutality Against The Poor Baloch People Of Iran

The Baloch people in Iran are going through the hardest time in their history. They have been systematically oppressed, discriminated against and deprived of proper education. There are 3.5 million Baloch and Iran and there has not been even one single high official in the country in the last 30 years.
1. The life cycle in Baluchistan and Balochi areas is 15 years less than average in the country.
2. The official unemployment rate is more than 72 percent.
3 76% of them live under absolute poverty line.
4. While Baluch have the highest IQ in the country according to United Nations, they have the least educated people in Iran.
5. There is seven hundred academic staff in Balochistan universities and only ten of them are Baluch. While these 10 persons have educated themselves, the rest have been given scholarships to study in Iran or outside.
6. They are oppressed on a daily basis and humiliated in their own cities in the way that has never happened before....

By Dr Gideon Polya - BBC Holocaust Denial

The UK British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has produced a book and a lavish, 6-part TV series called “The Story of India”. However the 6th episode that deals with India under the British manages to completely ignore horrendous, repeated British-imposed atrocities on a scale of death greater than that of the World War 2 (WW2) Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation), most notably the 1769-1770 Bengal Famine (10 million dead), the WW2 Bengal Famine (6-7 million dead) and the British India Holocaust in general that was associated with 1.8 billion excess Indian deaths in the period 1757-1947. [1, 2].

Indeed in the TV series “The Story of India” the very word “Famine” is not even mentioned as such even once – the presenter Michael Wood refers to “famine-stricken refugees” in talking about 18th century British military campaigns in the South of India and, later in the Indian Holocaust-ignoring 6th episode, an image is given of a volume in the Indian National Library with the title “Famine”.
Does the BBC secretly subscribe to the views of a succession of racist Englishmen who regarded Indians in much the same way as the German Nazis regarded Jews i.e. as untermenschen [sub-humans]? Here, with documentation, is a sample of 7 of those views – but before reading them see the following image of starving Indians in British India circa 1900: (of course there are no such images in the BBC’s sanitized “The Story of India”). [3].

Institutionalising Financial Transparency? Dr Sania Nishtar

Sania has written about an issue that should be of concern to all of us. This "First, it must be recognised that accountability as an aspect of governance is central to problems in the public and private worlds" is the most important element.

As a first step an easily identifiable and verifiable money trail should be implemented to establish financial transparency . Any public or private organisation that pays bills (electricity, telephone, utilities, wages etc.) should be required to maintain verifiable records of monies received and dispensed. This should be extended to cover all public and private organisations including mosques, madresahs, dargahs as well as charitable and nor for profit NGOs. The government and private industries are already required by various laws. Strict and impartial adherence to financial transparency would renew faith in government and in each other. That is where we fail miserably. ~~t

The Holders of Public Offices (Accountability) Act 2009, which currently exists as a bill and is to be introduced in the National Assembly, will perhaps be one of the most vital instruments of governance in Pakistan over the coming years; its connotations and covenants defining responsibility for decisions and actions.

Given its importance, the relative lack of informed and constructive debate on the subject in civil society and political and analytical circles is indicative of a deep-seated phenomenon in the country’s societal political culture — we tend to engage in trivialities of governance and remonstrate when the manifestations of poor governance are apparent, but when it comes to substantive structural issues, there is somehow limited proactive engagement to shape governance norms. This comment underscores the importance of seven points in relation to the proposed statue with the hope that the nation will pay greater attention to this subject.

Farrukh Saleem: Tough words - well uttered

Tough words, well uttered ~~t

Uncle Sam is short on military manpower, low on intelligence and lacks an alternative supply line. We are up against an enemy in the east which is eight times bigger and an enemy within. We are beggars all right but have the surplus military manpower and the intelligence. What we need is lots of cocaine plus counterinsurgency training and equipment. Uncle Sam has what we need. And, we have what the Uncle needs.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On Poetry: The Edge of Night

Many poets have been acquainted with the night; some have been intimate with it; and a handful have been so haunted and intoxicated by the darker side of existence that it can be hard to pick them out from the murk that surrounds them. As POEMS 1959-2009 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $40) demonstrates, Frederick Seidel has spent the last half-century being that darkest and strangest sort of poet. He is, it’s widely agreed, one of poetry’s few truly scary characters. This is a reputation of which he’s plainly aware and by which he’s obviously amused, at least to judge from the nervy title of his 2006 book, “Ooga-Booga.” This perception also colors the praise his collections typically receive — to pick one example from many, Calvin Bedient admiringly describes him as “the most frightening American poet ever,” which is a bit like calling someone “history’s most bloodthirsty clockmaker.” What is it about Seidel that bothers and excites everyone so much?

The simplest answer is that he’s an exhilarating and unsettling writer who is very good at saying things that can seem rather bad. When a Seidel poem begins, “The most beautiful power in the world has buttocks,” it’s hard to know whether to applaud or shake your head. But that’s not the entire story. There is also the peculiar attraction — and occasional repulsion — of the Seidel persona. Unlike most poets, he’s rich, has known a number of famous and semifamous people, and has spent a fair amount of time whizzing around on expensive Italian motorcycles while obsessing over breasts and violence. Yet nobody really knows him. He doesn’t do readings, he rarely teaches and it’s almost impossible to imagine him showing up at a writers’ conference, unless he was looking for someone who might go well with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.