Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tarek Fateh: Chasing a Mirage (2008)

Steve Paikin interviews Tarek Fateh. Really worth watching. If nothing else, just part 3, which is most relevant to India.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Bullies, continued

CIP sees the various incidents such as the Danish cartoons on Muhammad, the "Let's Draw Muhammad Day", etc., as needless disrespect of a mostly powerless minority.

The needless disrespect part is no doubt **sometimes** there. But I see it in a broader context, which is the attempt to export the mind-set that is revealed in the links below. There is a pending UN resolution, sponsored by Pakistan and its friends in the OIC (organization of Islamic countries), to make criticism of religion against UN policy.

The below is just a case that caught media attention, the blasphemy law is routinely used to persecute minorities and dissidents.

1. The Blasphemy Case of Asiya Bibi.

2. On the blasphemy law.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Disunion blog

The NYTimes is running a blog series, Disunion, revisiting the American Civil War. I've linked to it under "My Blog List" on the left.

So far, it has been very good.
e.g., The Sound of Lincoln’s Silence, or this
A Senator Secedes – Reluctantly.

Khaled Ahmed: Ideology as false consciousness

If you think through the implications of what Khaled Ahmed writes, they are not pleasant.

Khaled Ahmed wrote in The Express Tribune:
Pakistan began describing itself as an ideological state when the word had been made respectable by the Soviet Union through its planned economy and rapid growth. Ideology in the case of Pakistan was its religion.
Ideology means that the state has an idea which it thinks is right, and will punish anyone who doesn’t believe the state.
In his rejection of the Pakistan constitution, al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri questions Pakistan’s ‘incompleteness’. He wants the constitution to clearly ban bank interest, lotteries, insurance and stock exchange, etc, while clearly outlawing women as leaders of the state. His book The Morning and the Lamp is being distributed by the madrassas that agree with him.

As long as we are ideological, we have no business calling al Qaeda’s suicide-bombers non-Muslims. In fact, they are better Muslims killing lesser Muslims.

i.e., "better Muslims killing lesser Muslims" is an integral part of the state ideology of Pakistan.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lawsuit I'll be watching with interest

NY Post
I hope they subpoena David Headley and get him to testify in court. I hope visiting America becomes something every Pakistani with the least bit of connection to the ISI stops doing.
Relatives of two New Yorkers murdered in a Hasidic center during the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, have sued Pakistan’s intelligence agency and the Kashmir-based terror organization that was reportedly behind the operation.

Gavriel Noah Holtzberg, a rabbi originally from Brooklyn, and his pregnant wife, Rivka, were gunned down when terrorists stormed the Chabad Lubavitch center in a commando-style attack that also killed the couple’s unborn child.

The Holtzberg’s 2 year-old son survived the attack after being rescued by an employee. He now lives with his grandfather in Israel, who filed the suit in Brooklyn federal court.

The lawsuit names Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, several ranking ISI officials, and Lashkar-E-Taiba, a terror group that operates in Kashmir, the disputed territory over which both Pakistan and India claim sovereignty.

The wrongful death suit asks for unspecified damages and cites claims that the ISI has worked closely with the Lashkar-E-Taiba group.

James Kreindler, the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the Holtzberg’ family, also handled a successful civil suit against the government of Libya and its intelligence agencies after the 1988 terror attack that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.

A call to Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, D.C. was not immediately returned.

Airport scanners

The airport X-ray scanner has been touted as one of the best ways to prevent a future terrorist attack.

But now a leading scientist has come forward to say it is just as likely to kill you as a terrorist's bomb blowing your plane out of the sky.

The bizarre warning stems from a statistical coincidence which apparently shows that you are just as likely to die from radiation allegedly emitted by the scanners as you are to die due to a terrorist bob on your flight.

Peter Rez, from Arizona State University, said the probability of dying from radiation from a body scanner and that of being killed in a terror attack are both about one in 30 million, making body scanners redundant.

Read more:

Walt: Delusion Points

George W. Bush's presidency really was that bad -- and the fact that Obama has largely followed the same course is less a measure of Bush's wisdom than a reminder of the depth of the hole he dug his country into, as well as the institutionalized groupthink that dominates the U.S. foreign-policy establishment.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Microfinance crisis in Andhra Pradesh

An overview of the coverage, with lots of links.

In particular, this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pakistan's terrorists are regrouping

Read about it here, in this United Arab Emirates newspaper.  I just wanted to highlight this, however:

Analysts say it appears that factions of Pakistan's anti-Inda terrorist community are moving towards a merger under JuD leadership.

They requested anonymity on grounds of personal security. They cited written threats, made since July, to Pakistani journalists who have reported on the resumption of public activity by JuD activists, and the historic ties between the militants and the Pakistani military.

Quotes on the deserved fate of Infidelators

On Kasab, one of the terrorists of Mumbai 26/11:
“Look, don't blame him. There is nothing wrong if he did it with good intentions against an infidel country like India,” said Amjad Ali, a 60-year-old farmer with white hair.
From a story on the ongoing violence in Karachi:
One trader quietly told how on Oct. 19, gunmen pulled up the steel shutters of his store and shot his two sons and brother inside. His sons, age 24 and 26, died, while his brother was critically injured and is now partly paralyzed......
"They shot them as if they were infidels," said the shop owner....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Truth will out!

Times of India: In denial till now, Pak quietly names 453 soldiers killed in Kargil War

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Now You Get Mad!


Now You Get Mad!

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn't get mad when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn't get mad when we gave people who had more money than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in tax breaks.

You didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.

You didn't get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their lives because they had no health insurance.

You didn't get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.

You finally got mad when a black man was elected President and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick and the massive numbers of jobless people deserve short-term help to avoid complete financial ruin during a horrendous economic downturn. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer (WHO authorized the Bank bailout again?), and the worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you (too big to fail banks, deregulation, etc)...but helping fellow Americans who are sick, poor, unemployed, suffering?... HELL NO YOU CAN'T!!

Monday, November 15, 2010


M.J. Akbar:
For six decades, the destabilisation of India through terror has been the motif of Pakistan policy. So how does it matter to India whether Pakistan is stable or unstable?

On the Laskhar-e-Taiba

ProPublica's Sebastian Rotella has an important pair of articles in the Washington Post on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008, and brings up a fact Americans have been reluctant to confront - that their ally, Pakistan, is a state sponsor of terrorism.  There is nothing really new in the story, except that these facts are being laid out in the Washington Post and not just on Bharat Rakshak forum.

Regarding the mastermind of the attacks, Sajid Mir:
Two years later, Mir and his victims are at the center of a wrenching national security dilemma confronting the Obama administration. The question, simply put, is whether the larger interests of the United States in maintaining good relations with Pakistan will permit Mir and other suspects to get away with one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in recent history.
My answer is: Of course!  The US government continues to pump in arms and money to the sponsors of Sajid Mir.  These people also sponsor the Taliban who daily take the lives of American and other NATO soldiers.

All the talk of people being radicalized by poverty, by foreign occupation, by US foreign policy, etc., (e.g., Glenn Greenwald on is well and good.  What no one seems to be willing to confront is what to do about the state sponsorship of such.

Here are the articles:
1. On the trail of Pakistani terror group's elusive mastermind behind the Mumbai siege
2. An intricate plot unleashed in Mumbai, the West confronts a new threat

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pakistan's hollow stand on terrorism

Nicely explained.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


A token effort.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

India-US: failure in intelligence sharing

ProPublica has a very troubling report that US intelligence had 5 separate warnings about David Headley, a.k.a. Daood Gilani.  David Headley is the Pakistani/American who performed reconnaisance for the Lashkar-e-Taiba for the Mumbai 26/11 (Nov 2008) and other attacks.

The Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, launched a review of the Headley case after ProPublica reported last month [2] that federal investigators in New York City looked into a 2005 tip from Headley's wife about his training with Lashkar and other extremist activities. The New York Times followed with a report [3] that another of his wives, a Moroccan, warned U.S. embassy officials in Pakistan in 2007 that she thought he was a terrorist. Officials said both leads were taken seriously, but the wives' allegations were too general to connect Headley to a terror group or plot.

The review has found four additional warnings, officials say. The newly discovered leads surfaced in 2001, 2002, April 2008 and December 2008 -- a month after Lashkar killed 166 people in Mumbai, six of them Americans. Headley, whose reconnaissance was crucial to the attacks, was not arrested until October 2009.

The tipsters in the newly disclosed cases all warned that Headley was an extremist, and three tied him to training or other terrorist activity in Pakistan. The tipsters included one of his former girlfriends in New York City, the owner of a business frequented by his mother near Philadelphia, and one of his mother's friends in the Philadelphia area. The review also turned up a second, more specific tip from Headley's Moroccan wife when she contacted U.S. officials in Pakistan again, just seven months before the Mumbai attacks, officials say.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Krugman on Obama's failing

Mr. Obama’s problem wasn’t lack of focus; it was lack of audacity.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Obama, summarized

"He speaks a lot, but his actions speak less." - from here

Gandhi's answer to libertarians

In the words of Bhikhu Parekh:

Gandhi saw more clearly than most other writers both the interdependence of human beings and the ways in which systems of domination were built up and sustained. He argued that all systems of domination rested on a profound misunderstanding of human nature, and wrongly assumed that it was possible for one man or group of men to harm another without also harming themselves. Human beings were necessarily interdependent and formed an organic whole.

An individual owed his existence to his parents without whose countless sacrifices he would neither survive nor grow into a sane human being. He grew and realised his potential in a stable and peaceful society, made possible by the efforts and sacrifices of thousands of anonymous men and women. He became a rational, reflective and moral human being only within a rich civilization created by scores of sages, saints, savants and scientists. In short, every human being owned his humanity to others, and benefited from a world to the creation of which he contributed nothing.

As Gandhi put it, every man was 'born a debtor', a beneficiary of others' gifts, and his inherited debts were too vast to be repaid. Even a whole lifetime was not enough to pay back what a man owned to his parents, let alone all others. Furthermore the creditors were by their very nature unspecifiable. Most of them were dead or remained anonymous, and those alive were so numerous and their contributions so varied and complex that it was impossible to decide what one owed to whom. To talk about repaying the debts did not therefore make sense except as a clumsy and metaphorical way of describing one's response to unsolicited but indispensable gifts. Since the debts could never be 'repaid' and the favours 'returned', all a man could do was to 'recognise the conditions of his existence' and to continue the ongoing universal yajna or system of sacrifices by accepting his full share of collective responsibility. The only adequate response to the fact that he was born in and constantly sustained by yajna was to look upon his own life as yajna, an offering at the universal altar, and to find profound joy in contributing to the maintenance and enrichment of both the human world and the cosmos.

As Gandhi put it, 'Yajna having come to us with our birth we are debtors all our lives, and thus for ever bound to serve the universe'. Not rights but obligations were the basis of moral life, and one's rights were embedded in and grew out of others' discharge of their duties.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Ten year hunger strike!

The Indian Express published this editorial:

On Tuesday {November 2}, Manipuri poetess and human rights activist Irom Sharmila completed 10 years of her fast-unto-death and created a record in the history of resilience. She is forcibly fed and kept alive by way of naso-gastric intubation at a government hospital in Imphal. To keep her in continued detention, charges of attempt to commit suicide are repeatedly slapped on the “Iron lady of Manipur” as she is now fondly called. Even now, an end to her fast does not seem to be in sight as the government is not prepared to repeal the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act despite making many promises. Her only demand is repeal of the Act, enacted in 1958 as a temporary measure to deal with insurgency. Wherever the Act has been in force, there have been strong protests.It was moved by the Malom massacre of 10 innocent people, including an elderly woman, waiting at a bus-stand on November 2, 2000, by the Assam Rifles men that Sharmila began her fast. The Act empowers the security forces to arrest, detain and even kill those who arouse suspicion. It also empowers them to search and destroy properties on mere suspicion. As a result, disappearance of persons, extra-judicial killings, torture and rape become routine in such areas. Though Sharmila’s is essentially a one-person agitation, her demand enjoys a groundswell of support in not just Manipur but across the whole Northeast. Countless have been the occasions when the Manipuris have extended their support to her cause. But all the bandhs, protests and self-immolations have been of no avail as the government is determined to keep the Act on the statute.Four years ago, when every form of protest failed to move the state, the elderly women of Manipur were left with only their naked body to protest. What infuriated them was the rape and murder of Thangiam Manorama by the men of the Assam Rifles. The whole world was shocked by the unprecedented form of protest but the government thought only about a temporary solution to the law and order problem. The BP Jeevan Reddy Commission, set up to look into the demand, also recommended repeal of the Act. The highest court of the land has also, on occasions, taken a stand against the Act but it still remains in force as if all the laws of the land are not sufficient to administer Manipur without this 52-year-old draconian Act that goes against all the tenets of accountability.

The Lesson of the Election

On a commenter, howardmk, writes:

And The Winner Is:

Me! Me! Me! (And I don't mean "Maine.") As someone who lives in the world of ordinary people, I can tell you that whoever over-intellectualizes the election result will miss it by a mile every time - because ordinary people have no truck whatsoever with anything even approaching "higher thought" (and you can take that as gospel). They reason thusly: Tax Me Less, and everything else be damned. They can't be bothered with whatever "2 plus 2" actually equals. So what if virtually all tax breaks go to the rich? At least someone's getting taxed less - and that's the only game in town as far as they're concerned. Their hatred of the "poor" - who, presumably, pay no tax - is so great that it absorbs every other consideration. Which explains why the mindless slogan "tax and spend" reduces them to raging looney toons: they know that some of the "spend" portion will go to the "undeserving poor." End of discussion. They may feign outrage over trillions of their tax dollars going to the rich - but they will fight tooth and nail to see that not one red cent ever goes to the poor. Their all-encompassing ideology consists of one maxim: "I work hard for my money and I'll be damned if I'll give any of it to those who won't work!" At which point someone needs to slap them upside the head and say "So I take it you're a peasant in Bangladesh? Because, if not, then you don't even know what work is. All you do is twiddle your thumbs, then stick you hand out for your reward come payday."

On Offensive Cartoons

In Outlook India (Nov 1, 2010, Strip the Skin), Manjula Padmanabhan tells us that cartoons are meant to sting. (emphasis added)
People talk about humour as if it were something cute, cuddly and inconsequential but really, it’s just the opposite. It’s a vital outlet for releasing pent-up angers and frustrations. It’s not surprising that a lot of humour is scatological. Laughter acts like a neuro-laxative, purging the mind and heart of toxins. If communal hatred, for instance, could be expressed through vicious plays instead of riots, biting satire instead of car bombs, and blasphemous cartoons instead of arson and rape, maybe Indian streets might see fewer and less catastrophically destructive riots.

Sadly, we will never know whether or not that assertion is true. The world is going the other way. Remember sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me? Today the opposite is the norm. Words can inspire hate crusades that eventually engulf lives and trigger pogroms. It’s like the exact opposite of what Neo does in The Matrix—he’s able to “resist” bullets by telling himself they’re only as real as his mind allows them to be. In our world today, something as insubstantial as a single cartoon, or a blogpost, can gradually escalate into a hail of bombs that pulverises individuals, communities and nations.
Cartoons, caricatures and satirical drawings are intended to be rude. The point of rudeness is that it has to be offensive, like a vaccination has to employ real germs, in order to train a person’s immune system to recognise an invading virus and guard against it effectively. When we go to a doctor, we expect honesty and forthrightness, even if the diagnosis is frightening and in that sense “rude”. We accept bitter or painful medical treatments because we want to feel well again. But when it comes to the daily news, we change the channel and burn down newspaper offices if the forecast isn’t sunny all day, all night.