Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hi Friends, I'm back but Kim Peek departs - I Mourn

I myself have been through the worst inner battle of my life during the last two months which was the only reason of my absence from http://www.facebook.com/saalik.siddikki and my couple of blogs. It is just like returning from the edge of INSANITY. Details later.

Last week a Hollywood actress Brittany Murphy died at the tender age of 32. Her death might have hurt millions. I just noticed some pain in her eyes in a photo on yahoo. Later her mother said she was on medication. That's all. Many join the majority everyday and leave no impact on many of us. But Kim Peek's death has forced my tears roll down. I read about him and saw him only in videos but I do feel as if someone very close to my heart has departed. I really do mourn his death. He was a living miracle of The Almighty Creator. The most amazing personality of recent times.
Peek was an amazing autistic person, a savant with a remarkable memory and inspired writer Barry Morrow when he wrote "Rain Man," the 1988 movie that won four Academy Awards. Rain Man inspired Bollywood to produce Amir Khan's "Ghajni".

He was nick-named Kimputer. I watched so many of his videos. The last one a couple of days ago on YouTube. "It was just unbelievable, all the things that he knew," Fran Peek, Kim's father said Monday. "He traveled 5,500 miles short of 3 million air miles and talked to nearly 60 million people — half have been students."

In his later years, Peek was classified as a "mega-savant" who was a genius in about 15 different subjects, from history and literature and geography to numbers, sports, music and dates. But his motor skills were limited; he couldn't perform some simple tasks like dressing himself. I wish I had met him once. The world is yearning for another Kim Peek. God bless your soul Kim Peek.

Look around, you may find one like him!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Heist: Programmed criminals

I recently watched an amazing and alarming TV show where Derren Brown, a UK illusionist and mentalist who is very adept at deep psychological influencing methods, programmed several respectable people to individually commit armed robbery, holding up a security guard at gunpoint and stealing 100,000 pounds. Normally, even hypnotism will not persuade a person to do something that is against their values, but through a veritable battery of subtle suggestion and triggering, Brown got three out of four to commit the crime. Setting up The four people were selected as the most suggestible out of a group of about twenty middle managers who had booked onto a 'motivational seminar' that was 'being filmed for television'. From the moment that they walked in the door, the programming started. A security guard was unnecessarily unpleasant to them, setting up a dislike and depersonalizing of security guards more generally. Not by coincidence, he was wearing a green outfit that was the same color as the security van that was eventually to be robbed. He even wore a badge with the same logo as on the van. The color green continued to be used as a trigger into an aggressive state where the theme of an empowered 'just do it' state of mind was extended. Covert criminal language was used. 'What are you going to take?', 'It's yours now!', 'You have to steel [='steal'] yourself'. States of inflated ego power were constantly being built and anchored to special triggers. Even 'normal' framed pictures on the wall were designed to add subtle influence. Getting criminal After an exhausting and exhaustive day, as a symbol of their new and totally empowered state, they were given a lifelike toy gun, which they were told to keep as a reminder that they can do literally anything they want. Before going out for an evening meal together, they were challenged to steal from a local convenience store as proof of their newly-empowered state -- and most did. The store owner knew, but the assistants did not. It became almost comical as they realized that a whole stream of people in suits were coming in and pinching chocolate bars and the like. Obedience and breaking values After this stage, a selected subset were asked to help with an additional experiment, which turned out to be a duplication of the class Milgram study. In this, the person is asked to help with a study of learning in which they are cast as 'educator' and another person as 'learner'. They then ask questions and administer increasing electric shocks when the learner gets it wrong. As in the original experiment, around half went all the way up to 450 volts, despite screams of pain from the learner. Critically, they are supervised by a man in a white coat who replies to all questions and requests to stop with a quiet command that they must continue. Of course, all other people are actors and nobody is really being electrocuted. This allowed selection of the final four who proved most suggestible and able to break social taboos. After further training of these four, still ostensibly about empowerment, they were deemed ready for the real event. The final event: the heist for real The scenario was repeated four times, one for each person, as follows. Each person is individually asked to a meeting, and to bring the toy gun. They walk down a street, where there is a large advertising billboard containing the empowerment slogan that had been drummed into them, 'just do it'. A van drives past, loudly playing the trigger music. The effect on the person is visible as they become more animated. There is a security van and a guard, about to put in two containers of real money. Three of the four final people, without any verbal instructions beforehand, pulled out their gun, ordered the guard to the floor, grabbed the money and fled. Only one resisted the temptation. Later, they were fully deprogrammed and spoke of the whole episode with awe, about how much they had learned and how easy and exciting the robbery was. Comment There are perhaps some questionable ethics in the covert encouragement of criminality, but the larger lesson is more shocking. People can be deliberately programmed such that they individually choose and commit acts well outside their normal values. Perhaps this is not so surprising in this age of global terrorism, where ordinary people are turned in a short period from loved school teachers into suicide bombers. Whilst we cannot change the world, this program offered a salutary lesson: that others may seek to destructively change us or those around us. For this, we can be now be vigilant. SOURCE : http://changingminds.org/analysis/the_heist.htm

Friday, October 16, 2009

Boy said to have floated off in balloon found safe

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – A 6-year-old boy was found hiding in a cardboard box in his family's garage attic Thursday after being feared aboard a homemade helium balloon that hurtled 50 miles through the sky on live television. ------- The discovery marked a bizarre end to a saga that started when the giant silvery balloon floated away from the family's yard Thursday morning, sparking a frantic rescue operation that involved military helicopters and briefly shut down Denver International Airport. ------- But Sheriff Jim Alderden turned to reporters during a news conference and gave a thumbs up and said 6-year-old Falcon Heene is "at the house." "Apparently he's been there the whole time," he said. ------- The boy's father, Richard Heene, said the family was tinkering with the balloon Thursday and that he scolded Falcon for getting inside a compartment on the craft. He said Falcon's brother had seen him inside the compartment before it took off and that's why they thought he was in there when it launched. ------- But the boy fled to the attic at some point after the scolding and was never in the balloon during its two-hour, 50-mile journey through two counties. "I yelled at him. I'm really sorry I yelled at him," Heene said as he hugged his son during a news conference. ------- "I was in the attic and he scared me because he yelled at me," Falcon said. "That's why I went in the attic." ------- Richard Heene adamantly denied the notion that the whole thing was a big publicity stunt. "That's horrible after the crap we just went through. No." ------- The flying saucer-like craft tipped precariously at times before gliding to the ground in a field. With the child nowhere in sight, investigators searched the balloon's path. Several people reported seeing something fall from the craft while it was in the air, and yellow crime-scene tape was placed around the home. ------- But in the end, the boy apparently was in the garage the whole time, even as investigators scoured the house and neighborhood for any sign of him. ------- Neighbor Bob Licko, 65, said he was leaving home when he heard commotion in the backyard of the family. He said he saw two boys on the roof with a camera, commenting about their brother. ------- "One of the boys yelled to me that his brother was way up in the air," Licko said. ------- Licko said the boy's mother seemed distraught and that the boy's father was running around the house. The Poudre School District in Fort Collins, where the boys attend, did not have classes for elementary schools Thursday because of a teacher work day. ------- The boys parents are storm chasers who appeared twice in the ABC reality show "Wife Swap," most recently in March. ------- "When the Heene family aren't chasing storms, they devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm," according to the show. ------- In a 2007 interview with The Denver Post, Richard Heene described becoming a storm chaser after a tornado ripped off a roof where he was working as a contractor and said he once flew a plane around Hurricane Wilma's perimeter in 2005. ------- Pursuing bad weather was a family activity with the children coming along as the father sought evidence to prove his theory that rotating storms create their own magnetic fields. ------- Although Richard said he has no specialized training, they had a computer tracking system in their car and a special motorcycle. ------- While the balloon was airborne, Colorado Army National Guard sent a UH-58 Kiowa helicopter and was preparing to send a Black Hawk UH-60 to try to rescue the boy, possibly by lowering someone to the balloon. They also were working with pilots of ultralight aircraft on the possibility of putting weights on the homemade craft to weigh it down. ------- It wasn't immediately clear how much the search operation cost. Capt. Troy Brown said the Black Hawk helicopter was in the air for nearly three hours, and the Kiowa helicopter was airborne for about one hour. The Black Hawk costs about $4,600 an hour to fly, and the Kiowa is $700 an hour, Brown said. ------- Col. Chris Petty, one of the pilots aboard the Black Hawk, said he was thrilled the boy was OK. ------- Asked what he would say to the 6-year-old if he saw him, Petty said: "I'm really glad you're alive, I'm very thankful, but I'd sure like to know the rest of the story." ------- The episode led to a brief shutdown of northbound departures from one of the nation's busiest airports, said a controller at the Federal Aviation Administration's radar center in Longmont, Colo. FAA canceled all northbound takeoffs between 1 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. MDT, said Lyle Burrington, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association representative at the center. The balloon was about 15 miles northwest of the airport at that time. ------- Before the departure shutdown, controllers had been vectoring planes taking off in that direction away from the balloon, Burrington said. ------- Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency tracked the balloon through reports from pilots. ------- Neighbor Lisa Eklund described seeing the balloon pass. ------- "We were sitting eating, out looking where they normally shoot off hot air balloons. My husband said he saw something. It went over our rooftop. Then we saw the big round balloonish thing, it was spinning," she said. ------- "By the time I saw it, it traveled pretty fast," she said. ------- The balloon landed on its own in a dirt field. Sheriff's deputies secured it to keep it in place, even tossing shovelfuls of dirt on one edge. ------- Jason Humbert saw the balloon land. He said he had gotten a call from his mother in Texas who told him about the balloon. He said he was in a field checking on an oil well when he found himself surrounded by police who had been chasing the balloon, which came to a rest 12 miles northeast of Denver International Airport. ------- "It looked like an alien spaceship you see in those old, old movies. You know, those black-and-white ones. It came down softly. I asked a police officer if the boy was OK and he said there was no one in it," Humbert said. ------- Associated Press writers Judith Kohler, Dan Elliott, Sandy Shore and Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report. ------- SOURCE : http://news.yahoo.com

A Remarkable Poem by the first Ming Emperor of China, Zhu Yuanzhang (born 1328

Here is a remarkable poem written by the first Ming Emperor of China, Zhu Yuanzhang (born 1328), celebrating the life and mission of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

Of the Prophet s.a.w and the Emperor 

Since Creation of Universe 
Heaven has already appointed, 
Faith Preaching Giant Saint, 
From West He’s Born,  
To receive Holy Scripture,  
With thirty part Book, 
To guide all creations, 
King of all Kings, 
Leader of Holy Ones,  
With Support from Divine,  
To Protect His Nation,  
ith five daily prayers,  
Silently hope for peace, 
With heart toward Allah, 
Empower the poor ones, 
Save them from calamity, 
See through the Unseen,  
Pulling souls and spirits, 
Away from all wrongdoings,  
Mercy to the World,  
Walking ancient Crowned Path, 
Evil vanquished to One, 
Religion Pure and True, 
The Noble High One. 

Source : Shared by Nash Dftd on Facebook

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pakistan: On The Edge of The Precipice

Posted By Shahid R. Siddiqi On October 6, 2009 - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - This article was first published at Axis of Logic - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Driven by paranoia with resurgent Islam as a threat to the established social order in the West and their obsession to control this very important oil rich region, American strategists have toyed with the idea of redrawing political boundaries of Islamic states along ethnic lines. The American attack on Afghanistan and Iraq on false pretexts of ‘war on terror’ was the initiation of this strategy. Now they seek to legitimize their actions by labeling them as efforts to dispense justice for ‘oppressed Muslim minorities’. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - They believe that smaller entities would be easier to micromanage through puppet regimes, enabling them to contain militancy and squeeze into extinction Jehadi outfits by choking their funding. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - This ‘remapping’ involves splintering the Muslim world and creating sovereign states of Balochistan, Kurdistan and Arab Shia State by carving out and unifying Pakistani and Iranian Baluchistan territories to create Free Balochistan; unifying Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan to create Greater Kurdistan and slicing off Eastern Saudi Arabia to unite it with Southern Iraq to create Shia Arab State. It is no coincidence that these territories hold bulk of the world oil and host anti-imperialist movements. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Brilliant thinking! This promises them a picture-perfect Muslim world, tailored to their needs. The difficulty, however, is that the undertaking is too ambitious, out of sync with reality and unachievable. And this mindset is bound to pitch Christianity and Judaism versus Islam, a horrifying scenario that could send shock waves deep into the Western world. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - American global interests have routinely propelled it into adversarial engagement with the Muslims, losing their hearts and minds. More often than not, Israeli interests have defined American foreign policy direction, particularly where their interests are congruent. For instance, both the US and Israel have eyes on the oil reserves of Caspian Sea and Central Asia, they need energy pipeline project transiting through Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan and desperately want a wider security shield for Israel, which involves denuclearizing Pakistan. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Israel’s interest to de-fang Pakistan’s nuclear ability dates back to mid-eighties when it attempted to bomb Kahuta facility in collusion with the Indians – a mission that was aborted when an alert Pakistan Air Force took to the skies. Now in Afghanistan they have a perfect opportunity to collude with America and India to take out Pakistan’s nuclear assets through subversion. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Pakistan’s denuclearization is important to India too. Pakistan has to be trimmed in size to enable India to achieve undisputed regional leadership. This is in American interest too, as a dominant regional power – India, could counter China that grows stronger by the day and will eventually challenge American expansionism into Asia. Together with Russia, China has already forged an alliance, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to squeeze the American military bases out of Central Asia. For America, an independent friendly Balochistan will also be very useful to keep Iran under close watch and serve as energy corridor to Central Asia. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Pakistan is, therefore, up for reconfiguration in this chess game of geo-strategic interests. It is no more of interest to America as a unified entity. President Obama’s insistence to stay on in Afghanistan followed by a massive military buildup is not apparently without sinister motives. Afghanistan not only provides safe haven and logistical support for espionage and subversion against Pakistan, it has also joined the bandwagon by creating its own Research & Analysis Milli Afghanistan (RAMA) with Indian help, a new intelligence outfit tasked to destabilize Pakistan. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Pakistan’s Balkanization strategy was presented in a 2006 article in the US Armed Forces Journal ‘Blood Borders’ that advocated the incorporation of NWFP into Afghanistan and creation of a sovereign ‘Free Balochistan’, carved out of Baloch areas of Pakistan and Iran. Grounds: ethnic affinity. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Pakistani Balochistan is estimated to hold 25.1 trillion cft. of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil, in addition to gold, copper and coal deposits, it borders Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and China and has a strategically located port that can connect Central Asian countries and China to Arabian Sea. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - In his article “Drawn and Quartered” (New York Times) Selig Harrison of the Center of International Policy, Washington, forecasts Pakistan’s break up into three sovereign entities along ethnic lines: Pashtunistan (comprising Pashtuns of NWFP and Afghanistan), Free Baluchistan (a federation comprising Sindh and Baluchistan) and Pakistan (comprising the “nuclear armed Punjabi rump state”). He attributes Pakistan’s balkanization to rising nationalist sentiment in the Pashtun belt and growing disillusionment of the Pashtuns, Balochis and Sindhis with Punjab and Pakistan. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Both articles essentially sing the same tune and present a doctrine that seems to broadly reflect America’s long term objectives. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - In this backdrop, the assessment of Michel Chossudovsky, Director of Montreal based Center for Research on Globalization (author of America’s “War on Terrorism”) [2] is significant. In his article ‘The Destabilization of Pakistan’ he wrns: “Washington’s foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nation”. He states: “The U.S. course consists in fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan. This course of action is also dictated by U.S. war plans in relation to both Iran and Afghanistan.” - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - This cannot be dismissed as conspiracy theory. There are pointers that corroborate Chossudovsky’s thesis. The Indo-US Strategic Partnership Deal “aims at containing and curbing the rising military and economic power of China and the increasing threat of Islamic extremism in the region”. Reports say a joint espionage network of CIA, Mossad, MI-6 and RAW operates in Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan and other regional countries. Dissidents from Pakistan are being trained at Sarobi and Kandahar for missions inside NWFP, whereas bases at Lashkargah and Nawah are being used to train dissidents from Balochistan for missions in support of Balochistan Liberation Army. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Now view other developments: Benazir returns after a deal with the US and is eliminated. Musharraf is shown the door. Zardari, a man of most dubious credentials, is catapulted into the presidency as Benazir’s replacement and assumes all powers. Economic downturn bankrupts the country and creates social chaos. The federal and provincial governments are completely immobilized. Corruption hits the sky. And the people begin to lose faith in the federation. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Then as a sequel to Bombay fiasco, the army is made to run from pole to post, insurgencies erupt in the FATA, North and South Waziristan and Malakand Division by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan – a rogue outfit aided and supported from Afghanistan and which is a known protégé of the occupiers of Afghanistan, the NWFP gets destabilized, the Army gets bogged down in quelling insurgencies and maintaining internal security, Baloch separatists get energized and the people of Pakistan are massacred and terrorized. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - American interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs has reached such an ominous level that the country seems to be run by an American under secretary of state or envoy Holbrook rather than its elected representatives. The parliament has ceased to be of any consequence. Pakistan suddenly finds itself in turmoil, the like of which it has not experienced before. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Even the man on the street fears that the US-Israeli-Indian nexus is out to deprive Pakistan of its nuclear assets and dismember it. The mood is very grim. The people are alarmed at the reports of an unprecedented expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad and the presence of armed white goons (believed to be Blackwater agents) on the streets of the capital. The media is screaming that the NWFP and Balochistan are targets of subversion. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - There is a great concern about Kerry-Lugar Bill which is seen as a noose around Pakistan’s neck. Discussants on the media openly accuse the Zardari government of bartering away Pakistan’s sovereignty for 1.5 billion dollars – rather cheap for a strategic nuclear state. The general consensus is that the American show of support and financial assistance is hogwash and that the PPP government is a pawn in their game. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - There is a pervasive fear that Pakistan has reached the edge of the precipice. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Unfortunately Pakistan’s political elite does not seem to be concerned. It has historically lacked foresight and comprehension of the bigger picture. It ceaselessly pursues self aggrandizement and remains preoccupied with the game of personal power politics – oblivious to the disaster in waiting. Its camp followers keep singing its praises and preach: ‘every thing will be alright once we come to power’. For the Pakistanis to expect such political pygmies turning the tide would amount to committing political suicide. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - Can Pakistan be pulled back from the edge of the precipice? The answer is yes. But to deal with these extraordinary circumstances Pakistan needs leadership with extraordinary ability. Such leadership is just not there. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - The failure of political leadership to meet such challenges has prompted military interventions in the past. After Musharraf’s recent unceremonious departure, the military is in no mood to repeat that experience. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - The alternate is for all political parties to immediately come together, shun differences and find a way of jointly and sincerely managing the country – call it a national government if you please. Its first priority should be to avert collapse that is otherwise imminent. It must end foreign interference and pursue national agenda instead of petty personal agendas. Economic and social issues are critical and many and must be identified and resolved with the collective wisdom of the politicians, armed forces, technocrats and the intelligentsia. Fundamental constitutional, political, economic and social reforms are inevitable to give the country a fresh start and must immediately be carried out. After a pre-specified time frame of say five years, a political government could return through fair elections. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - A tall order, but this seems to be the solution of last resort. If this opportunity is lost, those at the helm and those who watch silently will all be considered ex-post-facto accomplices in the second dismemberment of Pakistan. - - - - - - o o o - - - - - - SOURCE : http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The love life of LUMS students

The campus of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) is famous for being a bubble environment where risqué fashion trends are explored and high-school soap operas come to life in the midst of hijab-clad women and the bearded folk from LUMS Religious Society. To an outsider visiting LUMS, or possibly visiting Pakistan for the first time, this campus might seem at first encounter like the ideal multicultural environment akin to an ancient city-state where all live in harmony with tolerance. - - - - - - - - - -

However, as anyone with a deeper relationship with the campus or its student body can tell you, things aren’t so rosy at LUMS. In fact, the campus often seems divided between conservative, retro-revisionists and ultra-modern, party-hopping, next-generation liberals. Recently, what was previously a silent divide, became verbose on the LUMS campus mail system following a mass message sent out by a conservative student fed up with all the on-campus indecency she’s had to deal with. - - - - - - - - - -

Sent on the notable date of September 11 to the ‘General Discussion Group,’ this mail with the subject line ‘To love or not to love’ was a real ’social suicide bomb.’ The mail hit the inboxes of LUMS students and exploded into a fiery debate on public displays of affection (PDA) and sleek clothing versus religious values and cultural traditions. Since its inception, the thread has branched out into several sub-discussions, and subsequent replies from charged respondents range from traditionalists and Islamic ideologists, to ‘Class A’ revisionist hippies and devout atheists – guys, girls, freshmen, seniors, class-clowns, serious academicians alike have freely expressed themselves. So much so that it has caused many LUMS students to complain about the clogged inbox resulting from the same thread. - - - - - - - - - -

So what exactly is in this mail that’s so inspiring and polarising? Well, the mail starts with a confessional disclaimer where the claimant says that the goings on of the last month (possibly Ramadan?) have left her no choice but to state her disgust in an open email. She denies any religious connotations of her views and claims to just be dishing out societal critique based on cultural norms. Then the mail leads into the explosive sub-heading: Public Display of Affection. - - - - - - - - - -

The complainant starts by pointing at freshmen and ‘some seniors’ who have to ‘seek physical consolation from the members of opposite sex many times in a day’ on campus premises and in public sight. Then she proceeds – like one would in any good paper assignment – to back her claims with examples as evidence: - - - - - - - - - -

Quoting few instances: (Readers’ Discretion is advised) - - - - - - - - - -

1) Standing at the main entrance, a girl stands on tip of her toes and kisses a boy good bye. - - - - - - - - - -

2) Lying in the lawn in front of the library, a boy rolls over the girl lying down beside him and remains in this posture. - - - - - - - - - -

3) Sitting in the academic block, a boy constantly rubs a girl’s leg, which are already half bare, with his hand inside her capris. - - - - - - - - - -

After doubly bolstering her claim with photographic evidence, she turns to the conflict this kind of social interaction has with her parent’s generation, and the awkwardness some LUMS students have to face when their parents witness this debacle. She also notes the ‘credibility’ of LUMS students and the institution has been put on the line by ‘aunties who spread rumors that doubt the chastity of girls studying in LUMS.’ Citing a personal example, she says even her parents were hesitant in sending her to a place with such a questionable environment. - - - - - - - - - -

She goes on to refute the ‘fake hypocritical’ tolerance and liberalism put forth by ‘irreligious and uncultured people’ and fiercely argues for the rights of ‘religious, cultured, and social people.’ Interestingly, she even takes the ‘us versus them’ stance at a point signifying the extent of this expansive cultural rift within this posh college campus. - - - - - - - - - -

Ending her diatribe against cultural degradation, she advises policy measures to be taken up by the LUMS administration and draws out rules that outline an inter-gender code of conduct on campus, outlawing on-campus PDA and idealising an innocent return to the ‘LUMS culture’ of the olden day when the lewd and the salacious used to be hidden behind closed doors and bushes. - - - - - - - - - -

This e-rant has generated quite the response, opening the floodgates to a debate across campus touching on topics such as freedom, liberation, censorship, social values, multiculturalism, and the clash of civilisations, all laced with witty remarks, outlandish statements, and hyper-polar opinions. Evidently, a lot of concerned LUMS students had opinions on the matter bottled up for as long as they’ve been witnessing this campus spectacle. - - - - - - - - - -

Like any hotly debated topic among a group of LUMS students, the debate also takes a very theoretical twist based on the current readings assigned to a given LUMS student trying to come up with an analytical response. While people have cited Plato, Max Weber, Karl Marx, Rumi, and Muhammad Iqbal, others have pointed to the flaws inherent in western schools of thought and how their adoption represents the deterioration of eastern societies. - - - - - - - - - -

In one of the many replies morphing content and subject, a student addresses the newly admitted, still innocent freshmen who might be unsuspecting prey to dangerous theories and philosophies: - - - - - - - - - -

At LUMS, you will be bombarded with all sorts of atheistic and secular philosophies and ‘isms’. If you do not have the proper knowledge and conviction about Islam, you may fall prey to the untiring efforts of certain faculty members as well as your fellow students to misguide you. - - - - - - - - - -

Then the respondent conveniently takes the opportunity to steer this debate into an evangelical venture by diverting traffic to his Islamic website claimed to be providing a wealth of knowledge on religion. - - - - - - - - - -

‘I have sinned’ says a student in reply to the guiding light of the mail illuminated above, following with an open declaration of his disbelief: - - - - - - - - - -

I shave twice a week and my ‘painchas’ hang obstinately below my heels. I have a penchant for ties that resemble the Christian cross and my satanic dress code is causing me to stray far far away from the straight path. During the holy month, instead of attending Koranic recitals in the mosque, I was listening to the demonic sounds of Pink Floyd. - - - - - - - - - -

He follows by saying that he wasn’t like this until he ‘studied under the mischievous and deviant professors’ whose deviant theories made his moral-compass go all awry. - - - - - - - - - -

In an interesting turn of events, the Program Coordinator also issued a reply to the thread saying that they had been waiting for the issue to arise in public discourse so that they could take note of this and forward recommendations to the administration, prompting a possible laying down of rules that would prohibit such practices which are apparently not representative of the ‘LUMS culture.’ - - - - - - - - - -

According to LUMS students, the administration hardly ever replies to the general comments thread. Students have apparently been complaining about malfunctioning campus utilities and the lack of certain essential facilities. A student in reply to the administration email expresses shock at the fact that this is one of the top priorities on the agenda of the LUMS administration. - - - - - - - - - -

With the LUMS administration now apparently bent on enforcing moral values, one wonders if an air-tight shariah-imposed zone is going to be the next ‘in-thing’ in LUMS. Perhaps the government will have to step in if public lashings are suddenly going to be enforceable on LUMS girls found with non-mehrams. And with people getting so high-headed and passionate about ‘LUMS culture,’ one is left wondering what exactly this culture is, and how you define a culture. LUMS students on the social-morality mailing thread are not far from the game, however, one LUMS student professes: - - - - - - - - - -

As Max Weber said, all social policy- tolerance or intolerance… from more ‘tolerant’ strands of ‘multi-culturalism’ to banning of PDAs to the banning of the Hijab (France: Liberté, égalité, fraternité)- always involves a preference of some values and rejection or relegation of others- even if pretensions are held otherwise. - - - - - - - - - -

So what are the guidelines that are supposed to define the parameters of this inter-campus cultural construct? Isn’t LUMS somewhat of a sample population of the country’s educated upper- and middle-class youth subsections? What is the morality of these vast spanning cultural-geographic subgroups influenced by a myriad of mass-media content ranging from cultural franchise to strict traditionalism? And, more importantly, whose job is it to determine that such and such should be the social-cultural ideals that should be respected by everyone? - - - - - - - - - -

LUMS must decide whether it is in fact a ‘liberal’ institution. Here, liberal does not mean the promotion of some strange brand of Bollywoodised consumer-culture. Rather, LUMS should ask whether it abides to a stance of universal cultural relativism, where all cultural behavior represents a social expression, promoting a tolerance and an intermingling of discourses to promote understanding through interaction. Or is the university in fact a ‘conservative’ institution, conservative not in the sense that it promotes the fashion of beards, rubber sandals, and high-cuffed trousers, but conservative in the sense that it wants to ‘conserve’ a certain cultural aesthetic, where it wants to shelter it from outside extravagances? - - - - - - - - - -

If there is actually an ‘us versus them’ situation brewing in LUMS, then this is probably true for outside of LUMS also. Perhaps instead of enforcing some crudely designed dictum to the word, the administration should take this as an opportunity to encourage debate and discussion on the topic, gather opinions of those involved or affected, and let the strength of ideas stand on their own weight like any academically responsible institution should. Perhaps a democratic path to this issue could help shed some light on the broader national, cultural and political dilemma as well. - - - - - - - - - -

Lahore-based Asif Akhtar is interested in critical social discourse as well as the expressive facets of reactive art. He is one of the schizophrenic narrators of a graphic novel and blogs at e_scape from nowher_e. - - - - - - - - - -

Source : http://blog.dawn.com - - - - - - - - - -

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily represent the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Life is Beautiful

Life is beautiful; it’s a really wonderful topic to speak about. In this speech I will discuss two things: my life’s experience and my approach to this topic.Ladies and gentlemen, in 2007, I arrived home from a shop with my mum and my sister, very excited to be going back to Pakistan. I was excited about the packing, the gifts, but most of all because I was going to visit my grandmother after almost three years since I had come to Australia. As I entered the main door of our house and sat down with my mum to talk about our home country, the phone rang. My mum picked up the phone and my uncle’s stressed voice spoke through it; he only wanted to talk to my dad. - o - o - o - o - o -
Everything suddenly turned stressful for me; I wanted to know what was going on. Since my dad wasn’t home my mum persuaded my uncle to tell her what was wrong. After a few moments, tears started running through my mum’s eyes and she hung up... My grandmother had passed away. Just 15 days before I was going to visit her. It was a terrible loss for me and my family; because she was one of the people we loved the most. I was sad, angry and depressed...I didn’t want to talk to my friends. I didn’t even want friends. - o - o - o - o - o - I started to think ‘what is there to call beautiful about life now?’A few days later I was in a plane headed towards a place I used to look forward to but which I now was nervous about. I didn’t want to go there but now I had no choice. We were at the airport and my cousin and my other uncle were there to pick us up and take us home. My cousin was trying to cheer me up and all I could do was smile but I still wasn’t happy. The ride home was very awkward and when we got there everyone was happy to see us and I was happy to see them. The place was completely different without my grandmother and so was everyone in it. The atmosphere was tense and uncomfortable. You could say that she was the life of that house and now that house was dead. - o - o - o - o - o - Then I saw something I hadn’t seen in that house for ages. A baby. It was my cousin’s son; a very cute little boy. He walked up to me and I picked him up. That is when I realised that that’s the thing about life; it takes one thing and offers something else just as precious. I realised life is giving. I realised that even in death, life is beautiful.An average person says that art is beautiful while a person that understands beauty, like an artist says that life is art; a much more powerful art than one that can be shown on a piece of canvas or in a piece of composed music. - o - o - o- o - o - Life is living art; you can see it, hear it, smell it, touch it and taste it all at the same time. It has relations and kinships, tradition and culture, cold and warm, day and night, rough and smooth, soft and hard. It has colours that are beyond human skill to paint, it has textures that no manmade art can portray. Emotions that can be felt rather than just seen. You can say it’s a mysterious, living, 3D canvas, music with an excited, living spirit. Life shows us why people become artists or musicians. Artists want to feel life through what they create; they don’t want to create life, they would rather leave that up to God, but they want to feel life's beauty in a way that not many people can. Music is said to be food for the heart and soul ; emotions can be expressed through it. - o - o - o - o - o - That’s why people love music or become musicians.Still people say that they hate their lives while they’re living a much better life than half of the world. They should understand that there is more to life than cars, houses and money. You value something when you don’t have it. They have a good life but they don’t value it because they have it and they care more about an artificially beautiful life. I mean, whatever happened to the physical beauty of nature. I am not a tree hugging person but I do understand the true beauty of life. People on the other side of the world which are less fortunate than us will have a smile on their face just because they have clean drinking water and we should learn from that. They are thankful for every little thing that life has given them because they see the glass half full. That’s why beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder.Some people complain that life is too short. - o - o - o - o - o - Well it's meant to be that way. That’s what makes it so beautiful. Beautiful things don’t last for very long and that’s why they are beautiful. If you woke up every day with a rainbow outside your window, the rainbow would have no value. If there were dew drops on leaves every second of the day, you wouldn’t stop to look at their delicate twinkling shine and instead walk right past them.If life is short, live it to the full by experiencing its beauty.Yes life is difficult but there is a difference between making it easy and making it beautiful.So if you enjoyed my speech that is proof that life is beautiful. ZEERAK UMER SHAIKH - o - o - o - o - o - Source : My Facebook Friend Zahid Ahmed - o - o - o - o - o - “The speech that my son ZEERAK wrote and presented in a public speaking competition between three NSW high schools and came first.” ....... (http://www.facebook.com/zahid.ahmed1)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saudi Arabia opens first mixed-gender university

By Ulf Laessing and Asma Alsharif - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - THUWAL, Saudi Arabia, Sept 23 - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia opened its first co-educational university on Wednesday, a high-tech campus with massive funds which reformers hope will spearhead change in the Islamic state. Western diplomats hope the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), which has attracted more than 70 professors and 800 students from abroad, will stimulate reform after recent setbacks such as shelving municipal elections and cancelling cultural events opposed by clerics. - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - King Abdullah has promoted reforms since taking office in 2005 to create a modern state, stave off Western criticisms and lower dependence on oil.But he faces resistance from conservative clerics and princes in Saudi Arabia, one of the world's top oil exporters. - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - Al Qaeda militants launched a campaign against the state in 2003, blaming the royal family for corruption and opposing its alliance with the United States. It was mainly Saudis who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. targets. Officials who back Abdullah fear that without reforms young people will be drawn to militancy in the future."Undoubtedly, scientific centres that embrace all peoples are the first line of defence against extremists," Abdullah told regional leaders such as Presidents Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Abdullah Gul of Turkey, Western officials and Nobel laureates during the inauguration. - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - Supporters are presenting KAUST as a tangible gain for the king's plans, which have included more long-term projects such as an overhaul of courts, the education system, and building "economic cities" to create jobs for the young population."KAUST is eventually some tangible result after so much was planned and so little done," said a Western diplomat in Riyadh. - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - Former U.S. diplomat John Burgess wrote in his Saudi blog "Crossroads Arabia": "There is truly no other university in the world so well-equipped. Anywhere. The issue is, of course, what is to be done with the equipment and that remains to be seen". - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - One of the main goals is to produce Saudi scientists but so far locals, who had to compete in a tough admission process, make up only 15 percent of students coming from 61 countries, said KAUST President Choon Fong Shih of Singapore.MIDDLE OF NOWHERELocated next to the Red Sea village of Thuwal north of Jeddah, the 36-square-mile campus has lured scientists from abroad with luxury packages and a life far from the reality of the Islamic state, where clerics have wide powers over society in an alliance with the Saudi ruling family."The community's design facilitates access to the Red Sea and encourages active, healthy living and group interaction," says the KAUST website. Unlike in Saudi universities, male and female students can attend classes together and mix in cafes. - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - With more than 70 green spaces, gyms, clinics, spacious residential districts and staff driving around in electric cars there is no reason to leave the campus, which is far from the prying eyes of the religious police.Staff were full of praise for the university."One of the motivations (to come here) was that ... anything that I would dream of is here," said India's Kultaransingh Hooghan, a computer researcher who just relocated to Thuwal."There is no barrier in science," said Canada's Jasmeen Merzaban, an assistant professor of biochemistry. "Whether you are a woman or a man, working side by side you don't look at the gender at all. It's all based on science."KAUST is run by the state oil company Aramco, which has a similar liberal enclave at its headquarters in Dhahran on the Gulf coast. It is outside the control of the education ministry. - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - Columnist Abdullah al-Alami, who worked at Aramco, said more Saudis must enrol to make KAUST a success. "Fifteen percent is a small start, but remember that when Aramco was established the percentage of Saudis was less than 5 percent. Today, Saudi employees make up more than 90 percent of the Aramco population," he said. Analysts and diplomats say it is the state education system that Saudi Arabia needs to reform."KAUST is impressive but starts at the wrong end. Instead of pumping billions into universities you need to reform primary schools focusing on religion," said another Western diplomat. (Editing by Andrew Hammond and Tim Pearce) - - - - - o o o o o - - - - - Source : http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLN269137

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Suntory, partners develop world's 1st blue chrysanthemum

Osaka - - - - - - oooo - - - - - -
Suntory Holdings Ltd said Monday its joint research team with two partners has developed the world’s first chrysanthemum with blue petals. - - - - - - oooo - - - - - -
The joint research was conducted by Suntory, the National Institute of Floricultural Science of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Australian biotechnology company Florigene Pty Ltd, Suntory said.According to Suntory, chrysanthemums come with petals in various colors such as white, yellow and red but lack the gene necessary to produce the blue pigment delphinidin. - - - - - - oooo - - - - - -
The blue chrysanthemum was developed by incorporating blue pigment-producing genes from pansies, campanula and other plants. As the petal color has a purplish hue, the research team will work on making it bluer.

Japanese society going over to the 'Dark Side'

TOKYO ---- oooo ---- Illegal loan sharks who prey on increasingly desperate borrowers; rampant tax evasion; trolls in cyberspace who recruit group suicides or who serve as middlemen for prostitution by minors, or who arrange services of hitmen. Some sell their family registry data to abet sham marriages with foreigners. “Hakobiya” (mules) smuggle drugs and other illegal substances, assuming the risk of imprisonment for a round-trip ticket abroad and a pathetically small payout. - - - - - -oooo- - - - - - Biweekly magazine Sapio (Sept 9) takes up these and other matters in a 12-page special section titled “Writhing of the ‘Dark Society’ that is Swallowing up Japan.” The title and articles that follow imply Japan is becoming a society where the law of the jungle reigns. - - - - - -oooo- - - - - - The three-page story on tax evasion could well provide inspiration for a remake of “Marusa no Onna.” In fiscal 2008, the National Tax Agency charged companies and individuals with evasion to the tune of 35 billion yen, the top five offenders being mining and metals firms, real estate companies, worker dispatch firms, commodities brokers and pachinko shop operators. - - - - - -oooo- - - - - - Investigators armed with search warrants did their digging in places like the back yard of a Fukushima factory owner, where they unearthed a canister containing 73 million yen in cash. In addition to heavy fines, the most serious violators face imprisonment. - - - - - -oooo- - - - - - Basically, any current news topic can be spun off as an opportunity for creative con artists. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication’s PR activities for the switchover from analog to digital TV in 2011, for example, have spurred a host of new scams. Some crooks call on householders, clad in uniforms resembling those worn at mass appliance retailers; others present business cards introducing themselves as staff of the above ministry’s “Promotional Business Bureau.” In both cases, their aim is trick naïve people into signing up for unnecessary rewiring work or electronic components. - - - - - -oooo- - - - - - High-pressure sales techniques for energy-efficient water heaters and other products related to the so-called “eco boom” have resulted in well-meaning householders being bilked out of millions of yen. A standard MO is to tell potential buyers they’re entitled to a government rebate. “But eligibility is limited, so you have to sign up right now or you can’t get it,” a salesman will say. Within weeks of the outbreak of H1N1 influenza, hucksters were peddling spurious medications. Now, with reports of the first fatalities and fears of an epidemic as the weather turns cooler, more flu-related scams are a virtual certainty. - - - - - -oooo- - - - - - When it comes to illegal profiteering, however, virtually nothing is sacred. This year being the 20th anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s ascension to the throne, as well as the 50th anniversary of his marriage to Empress Michiko, there’s been a leap in scams by companies marketing deluxe framed portraits to people who didn’t order them. - - - - - -oooo- - - - - - “If you receive goods you didn’t order, you can just dispose of them after 14 days,” advises Asao Ito, a spokesperson for the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan. “But it seems the greater the esteem a person holds toward the imperial family, the harder it is for him to discard such pictures. - - - - - -0000- - - - - - “Scammers are harnessing that psychology to their advantage.” - - - - - -oooo- - - - - - Source : http://www.japantoday.com

'Protecting' Jewish girls from Arabs

Sep 18, 2009 - - - - - By ABE SELIG - - - - - Every night, dozens of young men in Jerusalem's Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood take to the streets and go out searching for girls. - - - - - But theirs is not a promiscuous search. In fact, the group of some 35 volunteers is looking to prevent such interaction and to stop what neighborhood residents have overwhelmingly complained is a growing problem in Pisgat Ze'ev - Arab men going out with Jewish girls. What was once a rare occurrence, residents say, has become the norm in this north Jerusalem suburb, which shares a side of the security barrier with the Palestinian village of Anata and the scattered dwellings on the edge of Shuafat refugee camp. - - - - - Residents now say that, due to Pisgat Ze'ev's location and increasingly mixed Arab-Jewish population, the phenomenon of mixed dating has grown, with violent outbursts breaking out frequently between Arab and Jewish youth over the matter, and with growing communal anger over what many here feel is simply unacceptable. - - - - - "A rare occurrence?" a shopkeeper in the local mall asked sardonically this week when asked about the situation. "My friend, it's not rare at all, this has become the reality. Pisgat Ze'ev has turned into one gigantic whorehouse, please excuse the expression." - - - - - "[The young Arab men] come here to the mall and we see it all the time, they take the girls to the bathroom, they laugh with each other about it. And as if that wasn't worse, one of them opened up an actual whorehouse just up the street. There are Jewish girls in there! It's nothing short of a disgrace!" - - - - - Enter Eish L'Yahadut (Fire for Judaism), a volunteer group made up of both religious and secular Pisgat Ze'ev residents, who walk the streets at night looking for local girls out with Arab men. - - - - - "We're not aggressive, and we don't use violence," said Moshe, a 31-year-old member of the group who spoke to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. - - - - - "Our goal is to be in contact with these girls and try to explain to them the dangers of what they're getting themselves into. In the last 10 years, 60 girls from Pisgat Ze'ev have gone into the [West Bank Arab] villages," he said. "And most of them aren't heard from after that." - - - - - Moshe said that his group also maintains contact with the Arab men as well, in an effort to convince them that pursuing such relationships is not in their best interest. "One of the girls we're in contact with, her father is a commander with the Jerusalem Police," Moshe said. "Once the guy she was with heard about that, things changed." - - - - - While some girls are receptive to the group's efforts, others are not. "But we keep trying," Moshe said. "These are girls who usually don't know any better, who come from troubled homes, and they're swept up by the guy's charm or nice clothes. We try to show them that these aren't the most important things, and we have women who speak to them as well." - - - - - According to Moshe, the group is currently in contact with 17 girls, the majority of whom are in high school. The group has encountered physical confrontations, but, Moshe said, iits work is done within the full confines of the law, and the Arab men they approach are often receptive as well. - - - - - However, Arab residents of the neighborhood told the Post that the group has been a problem. "They come out all the time and hassle us," said Imad, who works in the Pisgat Ze'ev mall. "I was out with this girl the other night, and they came up and started talking to us. I don't like it, you know? What do they care who I'm with?" - - - - - But for Moshe and his group, the importance of their job lies with the girls they say they are protecting. "Sometimes these guys are abusive to the girls," Moshe said. "While that usually starts after they're married, there was an incident recently where one of these guys was beating the girl up in the middle of the street. We got involved, and she left him, but it's a shame that it has to come to that." - - - - - Another major issue for the group are the brothels that have sprung up in the neighborhood. In addition to their nightly "patrols," the group stages protests outside the houses of ill repute in an effort to pressure the owners to shut them down. - - - - - "Our mission is not against Arabs," Moshe said. "But it is for the protection of Jewish women, wherever they may be. And with regards to the brothels, the police don't interfere, because they're run by crime families. But if enough residents stand up against them, I believe they will be shut down." - - - - - In that vein, Eish L'Yahadut is planning a rally next Thursday in front of the mall, to protest the brothels and what it calls "police inaction" over the matter. - - - - - "We want to get the neighborhood involved," Moshe said. "Because it's our neighborhood, and if we don't stand up for it, no one will." - - - - - Source : http://www.jpost.com/ Related : - - - - - Petah Tikva discourages girls from interacting with Arabs

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Musharraf admission: What’s so surprising?

Arun Kumar Singh - - - - - - Sept.16 : - - - - - - Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s latest admission that military aid provided by the United States to Pakistan for the war against terror during his tenure had been used to strengthen defences against India, and that he ensured Pakistan’s strategic weapons programme was "speeded up", as well as China’s latest border incursions should finally clear the cobwebs from the minds of India’s political leadership. - - - - - - Many Indians wonder why we continue to suffer nasty surprises at the hands of Pakistan and China. Forty-seven years after the Sino-Indian war in 1962, India has again been taken by surprise by China in Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Uttarakhand. - - - - - - India’s lack of strategic culture has been repeatedly exposed and its military often forced to fight under very disadvantageous conditions. - - - - - -

Our political-bureacratic leadership has allowed defence preparations to fall below critical levels while following a policy of "passive, low, reactive defence". Hopefully, the restrictions imposed on the Indian Army — not being allowed to patrol some "sensitive areas" on the Sino-Indian border — will be lifted before the Chinese seize more of our territory. - - - - - -

There should be no doubt as to why Pakistan and its terrorists will always aim to cause mayhem in two places in India — Mumbai and Vadinar. Mumbai is the financial capital of India. Its stock market turnover is four times that of Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And Vadinar is a small coastal town in Gujarat’s Jamnagar district. Vadinar port in the Gulf of Kutch has three oil refineries, with the capacity of 99 million tonnes and over two million tonnes of fuel storage. Both are India’s economic jugular, and attacking these will keep India economically hyphenated to Pakistan. - - - - - -

Fortunately, the Coast Guard’s new North-West Command for Gujarat, with its headquarters at Gandhinagar, has become functional. It is expected to be formally inaugurated by the defence minister in October. Hopefully, this new command will urgently receive additional vessels and aircraft to ensure the safety of Gujarat, including Vadinar. - - - - - -

What is the second-best method to hit Mumbai and Vadinar apart from terrorist attacks? The answer: cruise missiles with land attack capability, launched from ships, submarines and Maritime Patrol aircraft like the P-3C Orion. Theoretically, the 120-km range Harpoon anti-ship missile, with a 250 kg warhead, fits the bill perfectly for Pakistan as an interim system while ratcheting up the production of its larger Chinese-gifted 500-km range Babur cruise missiles to build a stockpile of 450. - - - - - -

The long-term aim of Pakistan’s Babur cruise missiles (these can be delivered by fighter or maritime patrol aircrafts to extend their range) is to counter India’s over-publicised Ballastic Missile Defence System (BMDS) and give Pakistan a "cheap" but massive first-strike capabilty intended to overwhelm India’s nuclear retaliation capability. - - - - - -

Right now, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is designed to counter India’s superior conventional military power, but the Babur cruise missile, along with new miniaturised plutonium warheads, will put Pakistan in a different league altogether. The newer versions of the Harpoon — which Pakistan is hoping to acquire from the US — already comes with a built-in secondary land attack capability. What Pakistan apparently tested a few months ago was the older anti-ship Harpoon missile. - - - - - -

Given today’s miniaturised Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), any missile specialist should be able to convert the vintage anti-ship Harpoon to a land attack capable missile with reasonably accurate chances of hitting the oil refineries at Vadinar and the various installations in Mumbai port. The only problem would be how to replace the 250-kg conventional warhead in the 53-centimetre diameter, cylindrical Harpoon missile with a plutonium miniature nuclear warhead. Most Indian scientists will tell you that it’s impossible for Pakistan to achieve this. Here also I expect China to transfer the technology of a proven miniaturised nuclear weapon which would fit the Babur and possibly the Harpoon cruise missiles. - - - - - -

The question is what are the launch platforms for the modified land-attack Harpoon missile? The answer is simple. The two older French-built Agosta 70 submarines and the half-a-dozen American P-3C Orion aircraft are the ideal launch platforms. The missile has sufficient stand off range to hit Vadinar and Mumbai. - - - - - -

The media has given enough details of Pakistan’s new Khushab 2 and 3 reactors that are expected to produce about 15 to 30 kg of plutonium for three to 10 miniaturised nuclear weapons per year. The latest media reports indicate that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpile has now grown from 70 to 90. I have no idea about India’s nuclear weapons stocks, and am uncertain about how many Agni-type missiles India can produce per year. - - - - - -

China will take Indian deterrence seriously only after we induct the 5,000-km Agni-5. The recent controversy about the 1998 thermonuclear tests "fizzle" has not cleared the air. As a nuclear specialist, it is my opinion that a lot of luck would be needed to get a complex thermonuclear prototype device to function properly for the first time and, even if it did, it would need at least two more confirmatory tests in a rugged "militarised" form. Deterrence works best when it’s based on hard reality, and not ambiguous discussions. - - - - - -

China, as expected, has kept the pressure on India, with the latest news of its forces violating Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Uttarakhand. China has mastered the art of long-term strategic planning and obviously, its gameplan is to keep India tied down by the triple threats that emerge from China, Pakistan and Pakistani-sponsored terrorists. - - - - - -

India’s external affairs ministry should stop justifying China’s daily incursions by talking about "the differing perceptions on the Line of Actual Control". China will stop its incursions only when it is deterred by India’s conventional and strategic defence capability. India needs to change its "no-first-use" nuclear policy. - - - - - -

Vice-Admiral Arun Kumar Singh retired as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam - - - - - -

Source : http://www.asianage.com/

Can Facebook fail?

Andrew Keen - - - - - - Okay, I admit it. I was wrong. Wrong about Facebook, even wrong about Mark Zuckerberg. For the last couple of years, I’ve been imagining Facebook as the next dotcom Titanic, the classically over-hyped Silicon Valley start-up, all youthful bluster, but neither a business model nor any meaningful revenue. With its Twitter obsession and endless rumors of anarchy at its Palo Alto offices (not to mention Ben Mezrich’s less than stellar semi-fictional book about Facebook’s founding), I’ve always assumed that Facebook would fail in some meltdown of historic proportion. - - - - - -

But, in a blog post today, Mark Zuckerberg began with some stunning news: - - - - - -

“As of today, Facebook now serves 300 million people across the world. It’s a large number, but the way we think about this is that we’re just getting started on our goal of connecting everyone.” - - - - - -

Just started on connecting everyone? Wow. You’ve got to admire the boy’s chutzpah. He’s got 300 million users - with 50 million added in the last 75 days, and now he’s focused on “connecting everyone” (all eight billion of us? - thus giving a nice synergy to Facebook’s $8 billion valuation). You can’t argue with 300 million users. Facebook is now too large to fail. At worst, it will turn into AOL. At best, it will become a legal monopolist like Google. - - - - - -

But Zuckerberg followed up with even bigger news. Facebook is now profitable: - - - - - -

We’re also succeeding at building Facebook in a sustainable way. Earlier this year, we said we expected to be cash flow positive sometime in 2010, and I’m pleased to share that we achieved this milestone last quarter. This is important to us because it sets Facebook up to be a strong independent service for the long term. - - - - - -

Facebook, therefore, is not the next big thing; it is the current big thing. - - - - - -

So Facebook is not only the King Kong of the social media business, but it’s also “cash flow positive”. What this guarantees, I suspect, is a Facebook IPO in the next year. Could this be Netscape 2.0? Will a Facebook IPO ignite the public market for technology again? - - - - - -

The Netscape parable, however, might be a word of warning for Zuckerberg. Back in August 1995, the Netscape web browser ruled the world in the same way as Facebook is dominating the social media space. But Netscape got acquired by AOL, the kiss of death for any technology company and a 90% market share in the mid nineties eventually collapsed to a pitiful 1%. Is it possible, then, that Facebook could still screw up? Is it the AOL or the Google of social media? - - - - - - Source : http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk

9/11 - 50 Questions Still Shrouded in Mystery !

THE ROVING EYE - - - Fifty questions on 9/11 - - - By Pepe Escobar - - - It's September 11 all over again - eight years on. The George W Bush administration is out. The "global war on terror" is still on, renamed "overseas contingency operations" by the Barack Obama administration. Obama's "new strategy" - a war escalation - is in play in AfPak. Osama bin Laden may be dead or not. "Al-Qaeda" remains a catch-all ghost entity. September 11 - the neo-cons' "new Pearl Harbor" - remains the darkest jigsaw puzzle of the young 21st century. It's useless to expect US corporate media and the ruling elites' political operatives to call for a true, in-depth investigation into the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Whitewash has been the norm. But even establishment highlight Dr Zbig "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has admitted to the US Senate that the post-9/11 "war on terror" is a "mythical historical narrative". - - - - - - The following questions, some multi-part - and most totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission - are just the tip of the immense 9/11 iceberg. A hat tip goes to the indefatigable work of 911truth.org; whatreallyhappened.com; architects and engineers for 9/11 truth; the Italian documentary Zero: an investigation into 9/11; and Asia Times Online readers' e-mails. None of these questions has been convincingly answered - according to the official narrative. It's up to US civil society to keep up the pressure. Eight years after the fact, one fundamental conclusion is imperative. The official narrative edifice of 9/11 is simply not acceptable. Fifty questions - - - - - - 1) How come dead or not dead Osama bin Laden has not been formally indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as responsible for 9/11? Is it because the US government - as acknowledged by the FBI itself - has not produced a single conclusive piece of evidence? - - - - - - 2) How could all the alleged 19 razor-blade box cutter-equipped Muslim perpetrators have been identified in less than 72 hours - without even a crime scene investigation? - - - - - - 3) How come none of the 19's names appeared on the passenger lists released the same day by both United Airlines and American Airlines? - - - - - - 4) How come eight names on the "original" FBI list happened to be found alive and living in different countries? - - - - - - 5) Why would pious jihadi Mohammed Atta leave a how-to-fly video manual, a uniform and his last will inside his bag knowing he was on a suicide mission? - - - - - - 6) Why did Mohammed Atta study flight simulation at Opa Locka, a hub of no less than six US Navy training bases? - - - - - - 7) How could Mohammed Atta's passport have been magically found buried among the Word Trade Center (WTC)'s debris when not a single flight recorder was found? - - - - - - 8) Who is in the possession of the "disappeared" eight indestructible black boxes on those four flights? - - - - - - 9) Considering multiple international red alerts about a possible terrorist attack inside the US - including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's infamous August 6, 2001, memo - how come four hijacked planes deviating from their computerized flight paths and disappearing from radar are allowed to fly around US airspace for more than an hour and a half - not to mention disabling all the elaborate Pentagon's defense systems in the process? - - - - - - 10) Why the secretary of the US Air Force James Roche did not try to intercept both planes hitting the WTC (only seven minutes away from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey) as well as the Pentagon (only 10 minutes away from McGuire)? Roche had no less than 75 minutes to respond to the plane hitting the Pentagon. - - - - - - 11) Why did George W Bush continue to recite "My Pet Goat" in his Florida school and was not instantly absconded by the secret service? - - - - - - 12) How could Bush have seen the first plane crashing on WTC live - as he admitted? Did he have previous knowledge - or is he psychic? - - - - - - 13) Bush said that he and Andrew Card initially thought the first hit on the WTC was an accident with a small plane. How is that possible when the FAA as well as NORAD already knew this was about a hijacked plane? - - - - - - 14) What are the odds of transponders in four different planes be turned off almost simultaneously, in the same geographical area, very close to the nation's seat of power in Washington, and no one scrambles to contact the Pentagon or the media? - - - - - - 15) Could defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld explain why initial media reports said that there were no fighter jets available at Andrews Air Force Base and then change the reports that there were, but not on high alert? - - - - - - 16) Why was the DC Air National Guard in Washington AWOL on 9/11? - - - - - - 17) Why did combat jet fighters of the 305th Air Wing, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey not intercept the second hijacked plane hitting the WTC, when they could have done it within seven minutes? - - - - - - 18) Why did none of the combat jet fighters of the 459th Aircraft Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, only 16 kilometers away? And since we're at it, why the Pentagon did not release the full video of the hit? - - - - - - 19) A number of very experienced airline pilots - including US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former fighter jet pilot - revealed that, well, only crack pilots could have performed such complex maneuvers on the hijacked jets, while others insisted they could only have been accomplished by remote control. Is it remotely believable that the hijackers were up to the task? - - - - - - 20) How come a substantial number of witnesses did swear seeing and hearing multiple explosions in both towers of the WTC? - - - - - - 21) How come a substantial number of reputed architects and engineers are adamant that the official narrative simply does not explain the largest structural collapse in recorded history (the Twin Towers) as well as the collapse of WTC building 7, which was not even hit by a jet? - - - - - - 22) According to Frank de Martini, WTC's construction manager, "We designed the building to resist the impact of one or more jetliners." The second plane nearly missed tower 1; most of the fuel burned in an explosion outside the tower. Yet this tower collapsed first, long before tower 2 that was "perforated" by the first hit. Jet fuel burned up fast - and by far did not reach the 2000-degree heat necessary to hurt the six tubular steel columns in the center of the tower - designed specifically to keep the towers from collapsing even if hit by a Boeing 707. A Boeing 707 used to carry more fuel than the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 that actually hit the towers. - - - - - - 23) Why did Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instantly authorized the shipment of WTC rubble to China and India for recycling? - - - - - - 24) Why was metallic debris found no less than 13 kilometers from the crash site of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania? Was the plane in fact shot down - under vice president Dick Cheney's orders? - - - - - - 25) The Pipelineistan question. What did US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain talk about over the phone on October 10, 2001, with the oil minister of Pakistan? Was it to tell him that the 1990s-planned Unocal gas pipeline project, TAP (Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/ Pakistan), abandoned because of Taliban demands on transit fees, was now back in business? (Two months later, an agreement to build the pipeline was signed between the leaders of the three countries). - - - - - - 26) What is former Unocal lobbyist and former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad up to in Afghanistan? - - - - - - 27) How come former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Niak said in mid-July 2001 that the US had already decided to strike against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban by October? The topic was discussed secretly at the July Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, according to Pakistani diplomats. - - - - - - 28) How come US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told FBI agent John O'Neill in July 2001 to stop investigating al-Qaeda's financial operations - with O'Neill instantly moved to a security job at the WTC, where he died on 9/11? - - - - - - 29) Considering the very intimate relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the ISI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is Bin Laden alive, dead or still a valuable asset of the ISI, the CIA or both? - - - - - - 30) Was Bin Laden admitted at the American hospital in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on July 4, 2001, after flying from Quetta, Pakistan, and staying for treatment until July 11? - - - - - - 31) Did the Bin Laden group build the caves of Tora Bora in close cooperation with the CIA during the 1980s' anti-Soviet jihad? - - - - - - 32) How come General Tommy Franks knew for sure that Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora in late November 2001? - - - - - - 33) Why did president Bill Clinton abort a hit on Bin Laden in October 1999? Why did then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf abort a covert ops in the same date? And why did Musharraf do the same thing again in August 2001? - - - - - - 34) Why did George W Bush dissolve the Bin Laden Task Force nine months before 9/11? - - - - - - 35) How come the (fake) Bin Laden home video - in which he "confesses" to being the perpetrator of 9/11 - released by the US on December 13, 2001, was found only two weeks after it was produced (on November 9); was it really found in Jalalabad (considering Northern Alliance and US troops had not even arrived there at the time); by whom; and how come the Pentagon was forced to release a new translation after the first (botched) one? - - - - - - 36) Why was ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmad abruptly "retired" on October 8, 2001, the day the US started bombing Afghanistan? - - - - - - 37) What was Ahmad up to in Washington exactly on the week of 9/11 (he arrived on September 4)? On the morning of 9/11, Ahmad was having breakfast on Capitol Hill with Bob Graham and Porter Goss, both later part of the 9/11 Commission, which simply refused to investigate two of its members. Ahmad had breakfast with Richard Armitage of the State Department on September 12 and 13 (when Pakistan negotiated its "cooperation" with the "war on terror") and met all the CIA and Pentagon top brass. On September 13, Musharraf announced he would send Ahmad to Afghanistan to demand to the Taliban the extradition of Bin Laden. - - - - - - 38) Who inside the ISI transferred US$100,000 to Mohammed Atta in the summer of 2001 - under orders of Ahmad himself, as Indian intelligence insists? Was it really ISI asset Omar Sheikh, Bin Laden's information technology specialist who later organized the slaying of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi? So was the ISI directly linked to 9/11? - - - - - - 39) Did the FBI investigate the two shady characters who met Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi in Harry's Bar at the Helmsley Hotel in New York City on September 8, 2001? - - - - - - 40) What did director of Asian affairs at the State Department Christina Rocca and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef discuss in their meeting in Islamabad in August 2001? - - - - - - 41) Did Washington know in advance that an "al-Qaeda" connection would kill Afghan nationalist commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, aka "The Lion of the Panjshir", only two days before 9/11? Massoud was fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda - helped by Russia and Iran. According to the Northern Alliance, Massoud was killed by an ISI-Taliban-al Qaeda axis. If still alive, he would never have allowed the US to rig a loya jirga (grand council) in Afghanistan and install a puppet, former CIA asset Hamid Karzai, as leader of the country. - - - - - - 42) Why did it take no less than four months before the name of Ramzi Binalshibh surfaced in the 9/11 context, considering the Yemeni was a roommate of Mohammed Atta in his apartment cell in Hamburg? - - - - - - 43) Is pathetic shoe-bomber Richard Reid an ISI asset? - - - - - - 44) Did then-Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence tell the CIA in 2001 that 25 terrorist pilots had been training for suicide missions? - - - - - - 45) When did the head of German intelligence, August Hanning, tell the CIA that terrorists were "planning to hijack commercial aircraft?" - - - - - - 46) When did Egyptian President Mubarak tell the CIA about an attack on the US with an "airplane stuffed with explosives?" - - - - - - 47) When did Israel's Mossad director Efraim Halevy tell the CIA about a possible attack on the US by "200 terrorists?" - - - - - - 48) Were the Taliban aware of the warning by a Bush administration official as early as February 2001 - "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs?" - - - - - - 49) Has Northrop-Grumman used Global Hawk technology - which allows to remotely control unmanned planes - in the war in Afghanistan since October 2001? Did it install Global Hawk in a commercial plane? Is Global Hawk available at all for commercial planes? - - - - - - 50) Would Cheney stand up and volunteer the detailed timeline of what he was really up to during the whole day on 9/11? - - - - - - Source : http://www.atimes.com/

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nimah Nawwab - A Saudi Arabian Poetess

Nimah Ismail Nawwab is a writer, photographer, lecturer and internationally recognized poet. Educated in Saudi Arabia, she is considered a trailblazing writer and poet. Her work and her book have been featured in Newsweek International, MSNBC, AP, The Washington Post reproduced in the Japanese English Yomiuri Shimbum, LA Times, Asian Age, the Malay Berita Harian, Hi magazine, Arabian Lady, Arab News and Saudi Gazette. She has been interviewed by Channel News Asia, NPR and others. Her widely read articles have been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Arabic including others. A voice from an ancient land, her work is both regional and global.` Nimah seeks to build bridges of understanding and was recently dubbed a ‘cultural ambassadress’ and a ‘voice for Arab women’ based on a range of interactive readings and presentations in various countries across the East and West. Her poetry has been published on several websites, translated into numerous languages and taught at schools and colleges in Arabia, the U.S, Canada, Singapore, Japan, India and others. The first Saudi Arab woman poet to be published in the United States, her pioneering work includes a historic, first-of-its-kind public book signing in Arabia and another in Washington D.C. She is also a poetry judge and facilitator of poetry sessions in several countries. Nimah has been nominated a Young Global Leader of the Young Global Leaders Forum, an affiliate of the World Economic Forum, joining 175 new leading executives, public figures and intellectuals from 50 countries. Nimah is currently working on two anthology projects revolving around women and youth. Her poems about freedom, women, family, culture, faith, tradition, tolerance and change are woven together within The Unfurling, which can be purchased through Amazon.com. She may be contacted at arapoet555@gmail.com The poet’s website: http://www.theunfurling.com/ Source : http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/

No ordinary woman - From Fiji Island

By MERESEINI MARAU Monday, September 07, 2009
FULORI Rainibogi is no ordinary woman.
At 50 years old, this Nakorovatu woman from Matailobau in Naitasiri is the leader of 175 police officers, two police stations and seven police posts in the Sigatoka Police District. She is the acting officer in charge of Sigatoka district.
Acting Assistant Superintendent Rainibogi is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a policewoman and a leader.
With all those responsibilities on her shoulders, ASP Rainibogi has a lot on her plate. But this down to earth woman from the mountains believes she can handle all that through the strength she's acquired from above.
When she was called to serve in the Salad Bowl of Fiji, ASP Rainibogi was reminded of the Bible verse- Isaah 6: 8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send and who will go for me?'. I said send me".
While her superior gave her one week to consider her new post, ASP Rainibogi instantly accepted it and said she was ready.
For her, serving the community always comes first.
She is always ready to help those who seek a helping hand.
ASP Rainibogi said being posted to Sigatoka was like going back home.
"I spent my primary school days here in Sigatoka," she said.
Her father, a retired policeman, spent some years serving there.
"I was raised by my grandparents, I came straight from my grandparents in the village to be with my parents," she said.
"But I really missed my grandparents so I returned to the village."
ASP Rainibogi attended Vunidawa District School, Naitasiri High School and then Ratu Sukuna Memorial School.
It was while staying in the village after school that she decided to follow her father's footsteps. And her dream was confirmed when her father called her up and told her to go for a police recruitment drive.
She recalled having to cross the Wainimala River to get to Suva for the recruitment. "Getting to Suva was not easy," she said. "
We came in a boat from the one side of the river to get to the road."
But it was worth every effort when she was one of those selected to join the force.
ASP Rainibogi started off as a constable.
After 28 years of dedicating herself to the force, her contributions were finally recognised when she was promoted to sergeant in 2005.
She never dreamt of being where she is now.
"I just keep working, my primary goal is to provide service to the community." she said.
ASP Rainibogi said that "maybe if I was going for the promotions, I would not have lasted".
"For me I just keep working," she said.
"And I know this has brought me through over the years."
Although she has never been on any overseas mission, the soft-spoken mother of three has served in all sections of the force - operations, administration and community.
She is now serving in her fourth division after having served at CPS in Suva, Labasa, Korovou and Police Headquarters.
Apart from her police duties, ASP Rainibogi is a family-oriented person.
"My family is always there," she said. " I know I have an important role to play in my family's life."
ASP Rainibogi is married to Isireli Rainibogi, a former soldier of Vuo in Labasa.
They have three children one daughter and two sons and a grandson.
While Mr Rainibogi is away in Iraq, ASP Rainibogi knows she has to be a father and a mother to their children.
Their eldest daughter Ateca is married and lives with her family, her youngest Jone is at home with her.
Her middle child Apenisa is with the Youth with a Mission organisation in Australia.