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Friday, December 04, 2009

Burns Road, Karachi, The Monster of Darfur, Nicholas Kristoff, A Cloud Still Hangs Over Bhopal, Reality Check

RebeccaHamilton: Hilal's name looms large on the list of perpetrators who’ve committed atrocities in Darfur since violence erupted there in 2003. At Khartoum's request, he organized the Janjaweed, predominantly Arab militias that have operated hand-in-glove with the Sudanese government to cleanse Darfur of its non-Arab population. Hilal, who is now almost 50 years old, is among those most responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 people and the displacement of another 2.7 million. The U.S. government has sanctioned him, and the United Nations has issued a travel ban and asset freeze against him. In mid-2006, Hilal stopped giving English-language media interviews. This past August, however, he agreed to meet with me--three years and two months since he had last spent time with a Western journalist. Sheikh Musa, as Hilal is known by his Mahamid clan, said that he wanted to correct the “misperceptions” the world has about him.

If only Obama is listening, here is Nicholas Kristoff's variation of make love not war:

“To me, what was most concerning is that there was never any consultation with the Afghan shura, the tribal elders,” said Greg Mortenson, whose extraordinary work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan was chronicled in “Three Cups of Tea” and his new book, “From Stones to Schools.” “It was all decided on the basis of congressmen and generals speaking up, with nobody consulting Afghan elders. One of the elders’ messages is we don’t need firepower, we need brainpower. They want schools, health facilities, but not necessarily more physical troops.” For the cost of deploying one soldier for one year, it is possible to build about 20 schools. Another program that is enjoying great success in undermining the Taliban is the National Solidarity Program, or N.S.P., which helps villages build projects that they choose — typically schools, clinics, irrigation projects, bridges. This is widely regarded as one of the most successful and least corrupt initiatives in Afghanistan. “It’s a terrific program,” said George Rupp, the president of the International Rescue Committee. “But it’s underfunded. And it takes very little: for the cost of one U.S. soldier for a year, you could have the N.S.P. in 20 more villages.”

A Cloud Still Hangs Over Bhopal - Union Carbide and Dow were allowed to get away with it because of the international legal structures that protect multinationals from liability. Union Carbide sold its Indian subsidiary and pulled out of India. Warren Anderson, the Union Carbide chief executive at the time of the gas leak, lives in luxurious exile in the Hamptons, even though there’s an international arrest warrant out for him for culpable homicide. The Indian government has yet to pursue an extradition request. Imagine if an Indian chief executive had jumped bail for causing an industrial disaster that killed tens of thousands of Americans. What are the chances he’d be sunning himself in Goa?

Swiss Muslims gain support from unexpected source -The head of the Conference of European Rabbis, which convened this week in Moscow, issued a statement criticizing the proposed ban, saying that Europe won't defeat extreme Islam by battling freedom of religion and knocking down mosque minarets in Switzerland. "Only through unrelenting support of moderates within the Muslim community and promoting interfaith dialogue can European governments defeat the fundamentalist extreme Islam," Rabbi Dunner said.

Eat, drink and remember Mr Burnes - If you cross the Fresco intersection to move towards M.A. Jinnah Road, you’ll see Lucky Chamber on your left and the Nizam Mansion on your right. Don’t go there, and get to the main Burnes Road in the direction that will lead you to Regal Chowk and you’ll come across a series of buildings dotted with restaurants and food stalls, the same area where an unmissable food centre exists. There you’ll see the Pak Mansion, but the more prominent structures are across the road with a bustling residential locality and historic, albeit cluttered and de-coloured edifices. There are Rahat and Frere Mansions; the latter springs Bartle Frere’s name to mind. It must have been a picturesque sight when it was first built, but looks terribly messy in 2009. There are halva poori wallahs, bakeries, cafés and what not girdling this piece of stonework. Add to it the typists or compositors ready to write an application for you for a paltry amount. With the advancement of information technology their business has dwindled, but they’re hanging in there. Every once a while there comes a student or job-seeker with a sheaf of documents in his hands to these men whose typing speed can match up with Brett Lee’s bowling pace. [thanks RJ]

Reality check from Paul Craig Roberts: The US invasion of Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with American national interests. It had to do with armaments profits and with eliminating an obstacle to Israeli territorial expansion. The cost of the war, aside from the $3 trillion, was over 4,000 dead Americans, over 30,000 wounded and maimed Americans, tens of thousands of broken American marriages and lost careers, one million dead Iraqis, four million displaced Iraqis, and a destroyed country. All of this was done for the profits of the military/security complex and to make paranoid Israel, armed with 200 nuclear weapons, feel “secure.”

The American people have no effect on anything. They can affect nothing. They have become irrelevant like Obama. And they will remain irrelevant as long as organized interest groups can purchase the US government.


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