Monday, May 31, 2010

Israeli commandos storm aid flotilla; 9 killed

By AMY TEIBEL and TIA GOLDENBERG, Associated Press Writers Amy Teibel And Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press Writers – 25 mins ago


JERUSALEM – Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday, killing nine passengers in a botched raid that provoked international outrage and a diplomatic crisis.

Dozens of activists and six Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody predawn confrontation in international waters. The violent takeover dealt yet another blow to Israel's international image, already tarnished by war crimes accusations in Gaza and its 3-year-old blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu canceled a much-anticipated meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday in a sign of just how gravely Israel viewed the international uproar. In Canada, Netanyahu announced he was rushing home.

Israel said it opened fire after its commandos were attacked by knives, clubs and live fire from two pistols wrested from soldiers after they rappelled from a helicopter to board one of the vessels. Late Monday, it released a grainy black-and-white video that it said supported its version of events.

Reaction was swift and harsh, with a massive protest in Turkey, Israel's longtime Muslim ally, which unofficially supported the mission. Ankara announced it would recall its ambassador and call off military exercises with the Jewish state.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting later Monday to hear a briefing on the incident, said Lebanon's Deputy Ambassador Caroline Ziade, whose country holds the council presidency. The Arab League called for a meeting to discuss the issue Tuesday in Cairo.

The showdown came at a sensitive time for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Netanyahu, who expressed his "full backing" for the military raid, had hoped to receive a high-profile expression of support from Obama after months of strained relations over Israeli settlement construction.

The White House said in a written statement that the United States "deeply regrets" the loss of life and injuries and was working to understand the circumstances surrounding this "tragedy."

The activists were headed to Gaza to draw attention to the blockade, which Israel and Egypt imposed after the militant Hamas group seized the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians in 2007.

There were conflicting accounts of what happened early Monday, with activists claiming the Israelis fired first and Israel insisting its forces fired in self defense. Communications to the ships were cut shortly after the raid began, and activists were kept away from reporters after their boats were towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
Helicopters evacuated the wounded to Israeli hospitals, officials said. Three ships had reached port by early evening and some 80 activists had been removed without serious incident, the military said.

The footage filmed from Israeli aircraft and released by the military showed activists swarming around commandos after they descended from a helicopter by rope onto a boat carrying 600 passengers. Activists scuffled with the commandos and are seen throwing an object the military identified as a firebomb.

A commando who spoke to reporters on a naval vessel off the coast, identified only as "A," said he and his comrades were taken off guard by a group of Arabic-speaking men when they rappelled onto the deck.
He said some of the soldiers were stripped of their helmets and equipment and thrown from the top deck to the lower deck, and that some had even jumped overboard to save themselves. At one point one of the activists seized one of the soldiers' weapons and opened fire, the commando said.

A high-ranking naval official displayed a box confiscated from the boat containing switchblades, slingshots, metal balls and metal bats. "We prepared (the soldiers) to deal with peace activists, not to fight," he said. Most of the dead were Turkish, he added.

Turkey's NTV network showed activists beating one commando with sticks as he landed on one of the boats. Dr. Arnon Afek, deputy director of Chaim Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv, said two commandos were brought in with gunshot wounds. Another had serious head wounds from an unspecified blow, Afek added.
Before communications to the boats were severed, a Turkish website showed video of pandemonium on board one of the vessels, with activists in orange life jackets running around as some tried to help an activist lying motionless on the deck. The site also showed video of an Israeli helicopter flying overhead and Israeli warships nearby.

Activists said Israeli naval commandos stormed the ships after ordering them to stop in international waters, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Gaza's coast.

A reporter with the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, who was sailing on the Turkish ship leading the flotilla, said the Israelis fired at the vessel before boarding it, wounding the captain.

"These savages are killing people here, please help," a Turkish television reporter said.

The broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, "Everybody shut up!"

At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel's military chief of staff and navy commander said all of the violence was centered on the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara, which was carrying 600 of the 700 activists. Troops took over the five other boats without incident, military chief Gabi Ashkenazi said.

"To me it is clear without a doubt, judging by what I saw and what I heard in the first reports from the soldiers, that in light of the danger to human life this violence required the use of weapons," Ashkenazi said.
Robin Churchill, a professor of international law at the University of Dundee in Scotland, said the Israeli commandos boarded the ship outside of Israel's territorial waters.

"As far as I can see, there is no legal basis for boarding these ships," Churchill said.

Many of the activists were from Europe.

At Barzilai hospital in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, a few activists trickled in under military escort. "They hit me," said a Greek man, whose right arm was in a sling, calling the Israelis "pirates." He did not give his name as he was led away. A second man, also Greek, wore a neck brace.

The European Union deplored what it called excessive use of force and demanded an investigation by Israel. It called the Gaza blockade "politically unacceptable," and called for it to be lifted immediately.

Turkey and other nations called on the U.N. Security Council to convene in an emergency session about Israel.

Thousands marched in protest in Istanbul, some setting Israeli flags on fire after unsuccessfully trying to storm the Israeli consulate. Israel quickly advised to its citizens to avoid travel to Turkey. In Jordan, hundreds of protesters demanded that their government break diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Israeli security forces were on alert across the country for possible protests, but no serious unrest were reported.
There were no details on the identities of the casualties, or on the conditions of some of the more prominent people on board, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland and European legislators. Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, 85, did not join the flotilla as she had planned.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Israeli "aggression," declared three days of mourning across the West Bank and called on the U.N. Security Council and Arab League to hold emergency sessions on the incident.

Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the rival Hamas government in Gaza, condemned the "brutal" Israeli attack and called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene.

In Uganda, Ban condemned the deaths and called for a "thorough" investigation. "Israel must provide an explanation," he said.

Before the ships set sail from waters off Cyprus on Sunday, Israel had urged the flotilla not to try to breach the blockade and offered to transfer some of the cargo to Gaza from an Israeli port, following a security inspection.

Organizers included the IHH, an Islamic humanitarian group that is based in Istanbul but operates in several other countries. Israel outlawed the group in 2008 because of its ties to Hamas.

The flotilla of three cargo ships and three passenger ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid and 700 activists was carrying items that Israel bars from reaching Gaza, like cement and other building materials.

Israel has allowed ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009.

Goldenberg reported from aboard the Israeli warship INS Kidon. AP writers Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Source :  
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100531/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Justice against all odds at last

Monday May 31, 2010
INDIA DIARY
By COOMI KAPOOR

Every once in a while there comes a criminal case which warms the cockles of law-abiding people disgusted with corruption and endemic delays in the administration of justice.
THE wheels of justice grind but grind ever so slowly. Often offenders get away scot free or with a mere rap on the knuckles for serious crimes. The heady cocktail of money, political influence and the notoriously overburdened courts invariably result in subversion of justice.
Yet, every once in a while there comes across a criminal case which warms the cockles of law-abiding people disgusted with corruption and endemic delays in the administration of justice. One such case has been in headlines recently.
Despite the gross misuse of political influence, police and civil administration, the 18-month prison sentence awarded to the retired director general of police, Haryana, S. P. S. Rathore, for the molestation of a 14-year-old girl, has given hope that in spite of all odds justice can still be done.
It took twenty years for Rathore to be punished for the molestation of Ruchika Girhotra. Belonging to the elite Indian Police Service, Rathore in 1990 was also President of the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association. He called Ruchika to his office on the pretext of finding her a tennis coach. Belonging to a conservative middle class family, Ruchika took her friend, Aradhana Prakash, to Rathore’s office next day.
Surprised to find Aradhana with her, Rathore asked her to go out on some excuse while he molested Ruchika. A very shaken Ruchika confided in her friend as to what had happened.
After mulling over the consequences of complaining against a senior police officer, the family gathered courage to lodge a formal complaint against Rathore.
Now, instead of feeling contrite and making amends for his boorish act, Rathore began a systematic campaign to harass and intimidate Ruchika and her family.
Local cops stalked Ruchika when she stirred out of her home. False cases of theft – as many as thirteen in all – were slapped against her young brother. Police touts slandered her in the neighbourhood where Ruchika lived in Chandigarh, the joint capital of Haryana and Punjab, that she was of “loose moral character.”
Due to pressure from Rathore, who wanted Ruchika to withdraw the molestation complaint, the school where she was studying expelled her on the flimsy ground that she was late by three days in paying the monthly tuition fees.
Her younger brother was booked for cycle theft and paraded naked in the neighbourhood by the local police. Unable to bear any longer the harassment of her family, three years after her molestation, Ruchika committed suicide. She was seventeen at the time.
Meanwhile, investigation in the molestation case was making no headway. Despite his superior police officer recommending the filing of a FIR, the State Government refused. It was because successive chief ministers belonging to two different parties were solicitous of Rathore’s career.
Despite the State Chief Secretary and the State Director-General of Police recommending action, ruling politicians promoted Rathore in the police hierarchy. Eventually, he was appointed the head of the State Police. Rathore retired in 2002 as the DGP of Haryana Police. That was twelve years after molestation and nine years after her suicide.
The case against Rathore would not have made any headway, especially given the notoriously slow progress in courts, but for the doggedness of Ruchika’s friend, Aradhana who had accompanier her to Rathore’s office on that fateful day.
Now married and settled in Australia, she came down to stand witness, braving repeated, and arbitrary adjournments and delays in the trial court. Her family too was intimidated but her father and a couple of good Samaritans refused to buckle under pressure.
What eventually impacted the delivery of justice was the stellar role played by the news television channels. A number of them highlighted Ruchika’s and her family’s harassment at the hands of the then DGP and the political protection enjoyed by him.
Civil society activists took out candlelight processions to demand justice for Ruchika. Last December, a lower court awarded him six months for molestation, while fresh cases of abetment to suicide, attempt to murder and illegal confinement were filed against him.
But because a six-month sentence entitled him to an immediate bail, Rathore was seen coming out of the court grinning from ear to ear, a picture flashed by the print and television channels across the country and which disgusted the whole nation.
With his handlebar moustache and his thin crop of hair, chemically dyed black, and slapped on his head, Rathore’s broad grin provoked a national outcry. Asked to explain that sneering smirk, he said that he was an admirer of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister, who had taught him to keep smiling.
Well, last Tuesday ( May 25) that smirk was gone, though most brazenly he told a newspaper that “the smile was on my face, is on my face and will remain on my face”. In order to avoid going to jail, Rathore immediately after the sentence pleaded illness and asked to be sent to a hospital.
The court refused. Instead, he was led to a jail where he had to contend with mosquitoes and sizzling summer heat, regulation prison clothes, a stone-hard bed and basic and ill-cooked food. For company, he had hardened criminals. His appeal against the sentence in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, filed by his lawyer-wife, would come up for hearing later.
Meanwhile, there was a renewed demand for salutary punishment for Rathore’s juniors who had intimidated the molested girl and her family. A Haryana cadre Inspector General of Police, and two other senior officers have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Whether they will pay for doing the `illegal’ bidding of Rathore remains to be seen, though the politicians who had protected him despite adverse recommendations by Rathore’s bosses are unlikely to suffer any penalty. Nor is there any chance of Rathore being tried for abetment to suicide since the police had failed to produce any evidence.
Expectedly, Rathore and his lawyer-wife blamed the media for his troubles, denying that he had actually violated the young girl. Soli Sorabjee, the leading Supreme Court lawyer and a former attorney general of India, countered the charge of trial by media, maintaining that it was instead a commendable case of media activism.
Even district and sessions judge, Gurbir Singh, while convicting Rathore last week termed the legal battle “between two unequals” but denied that the media had influenced the outcome of the case. He observed that “ .. media cannot influence decision-making process… courts and judicial system is very strong..”
It says something about the prevailing justice system which allows the rich and the powerful to get away with murder that the conviction of the former DGP of Haryana Police had become a cause celebre throughout the country, with television channels and newspapers according it prime space.
Clearly, the fact that a powerful police officer who wielded immense political and administrative influence could be brought to justice gladdened the hearts of ordinary Indians.
In a country where it is not uncommon for the rich and the famous to go scot free for their various acts of omission and commission, the conviction and sentencing of Rathore has renewed faith in a far from perfect justice system and brought some finality to the bestial crime against the fourteen year old schoolgirl who was forced to commit suicide.


Power of Negative Thinking with Positive Attitude

Let God Fill the Empty Space

It goes without saying that a positive thinker sees the glass half filled whereas a negative thinker sees it half empty.

Oh, suppose you have a half filled glass, what now?  Should you keep it half filled and half empty and for how long?

The day before yesterday I was sitting with a friend.  I was drinking my cold drink from a bottle using straw.  My friend had his drink poured in an imported glass.  He had already finished half of his drink when his young niece, about 4, came over, picked the glass and finished the drink.

We both watched her silently and hoped that she would leave now, but she did not.  Instead, she asked his uncle, my friend, to fill it again for her!  My friend’s sister came, grabbed the kid’s hand and took her away.  But, the story did not end there.  We completed our talk and I returned home.

Now while I am typing this article, a half filled glass of water on my desktop CPU has arrested my attention.  It is factually this glass of water that has triggered me to initiate writing this article.

I am still thinking about the kid.  Why did she ask my friend to re-fill the glass?  Very simple, she felt that she could drink more.  I don’t know whether she got a re-filled glass or not but, that little rascal taught me a great lesson that I would like to share with you.

My understanding the matter is that if we have a half-filled glass, we should not remain complacent with it.  We should rather try to empty it as fast as we can and think about how to re-fill it again, of course legitimately!

The Creator has set a definite example for us to follow.  And that is the process of evolution which confirms that everything is on the move towards a certain level of growth.  I have been sitting in my chair, before my computer, for the last two hours but, in reality, I have moved 7200 seconds ahead of where I was 120 minutes ago. 

Time is not the same at 1:15 A.M. where it was at 11:15 P.M.  The air is not the same, neither the temperature nor the humidity.  Even my aura must have undergone many changes during this short span of time.  And the age of the whole universe has also decreased (or increased) by two hours and moved further closer to the dooms day.   

So, our state of being complacent with the half filled glass does not mean that everything has come to a standstill.  It is rather us who have remained behind by not finishing the glass and seeking more to re-fill it.  Our complacence solely means one thing that we do not have a desire, a passion or obsession to achieve more in life.

Just imagine what would happen if all the people, since the arrival of Adam and Eve on this earth, would act complacently?  We would still be living in the prehistoric age looking for huge leaves to cover our bodies and exploring caves for a save overnight sleep.

What will happen if we change our angle of vision to that of negative thinkers?  I am still watching my half empty glass and thinking to finish it quickly.  Here I go; the half filled glass is fully empty.  Now it is impossible for me to continue writing.  So, I am going to refill it again but this time with something better like cold milk. 

Oh, please wait.  I won’t leave your thirst for learning unquenched.  The conclusion of all this talk is that if we do not empty our half filled glass, we may not think about refilling it with something better.  Does it also imply that people given half filled glass are actually blessed with a stronger passion to find ways to re-fill it?  I think this is what God likes them to do.

Whatever you possess, physically, intellectually or spiritually, just consume it and share it with others so that God conceives a better idea of how to fill the space again and with something better.  This is also a kind of attitude of gratitude for what we are blessed with and a surefire way to further growth in every sense of the word.

Your learning something and sharing it with others or earning money and spending it on the neediest ones means you put yourself before God in a position where He does not leave the empty space unfilled.  It is against His own system. Try the formula and be gratified.

The power of negative thinking also works this way.





Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Tree in Agonizing Pain


Have you ever seen a tree in such a pitiable state of excruciating pain?  If not, please look at this tree and feel the intensity of its agony.  If plants and trees can communicate with each other, why can't they express their feelings of joy and pain.

There have been reports in the past that people helped plants in their growth by speaking sweet words to them and developing a strong rapport as friends.  Apparently we have no reason for not believing them as plants and trees are also amongst the most amazing organisms that The Creator has blessed us with.

Some people were shocked to see this photo when I posted it on my photography blog http://shuttermess.blogspot.com on 12-29-09.  I guess it was because most of us do not have time to look around and watch nature.  

The above photo was taken in Jinnah Bagh (previously Lawrence Garden, Lahore).  Hundreds, if not thousands, of people go there everyday to spend time alone or with family and friends, to find solace or a dating partner.  They enjoy the cooling and soothing shadows of huge trees, some of which are witness to every single moment of twentieth century, but none pays attention to the trees that are standing there absorbing all the heat from the scorching sun of Lahori summer.

First I passed by the tree after taking enough snaps for the day, then I felt a signal knocking at my subconscious mind and turned back.  I recalled that I had been in the vicinity of that tree for quite awhile and nothing seemed unusual, at least to my angle of vision.  I moved around the tree making three four circles and was shocked to see the tree, just a moment before clicking the shutter, as you see in this photo. I don't know whether I saw it like this a few moments ago or might have overlooked.  Now I am sure that the tree transmitted very strong distress signals that my subconscious mind received.  I patted the tree for a few moments to discover onlookers curiously smiling at me.

Anyway the photo of this tree in agonizing pain speaks all for itself. 



Muslim leaders must reach out to common Christians, Jews to make interfaith dialogue effective

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2010

A funny thing happened after the Saudi Arabia-sponsored 2008 World Conference on Dialogue in Spain: People began paying attention.

For those readers who may have forgotten, King Abdullah initiated the interfaith dialogue conference with the hope of bridging the gap that exists primarily among Muslims, Christians and Jews. Not unexpectedly, the conference was greeted with a lukewarm response, if not more than a little hostility by the Western media. Saudi Arabia, according to the argument at the time, was presumptuous to sponsor a conference on religious harmony since no churches are permitted in the Kingdom.

Media coverage was casual and the event was soon forgotten. Or maybe not. According to the Washington Times, an arch-conservative newspaper and ordinarily a harsh critic of Saudi Arabia, some Jewish leaders have recognized that such conferences can narrow the gap that separate Jews and Muslims.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, who heads the Foundation For Ethnic Understanding in the United States, attended the conference in Spain and a similar one later in Vienna.

“The challenge of the 21st century is to narrow the chasm between Judaism and Islam,” Schneier told The Washington Times. He added that, “the King has realized how much damage has been done by religious fundamentalists and extremists, particularly in Islam.”

Well, okay, that’s true as far as it goes, but what Schneier doesn’t mention is the utter failure of the media, both Western and Arab, to convey what Islam means to Muslims on a personal, not political, level, and just how removed the vast majority of Muslims are from extremist ideology.

Although speaking from a Western viewpoint, Blake Michael, chairman Ohio Wesleyan University’s religion department, puts the Muslim position in better context than Schneier: “A lot of Muslims around the world are utterly bewildered by terrorist and jihadist efforts. They want to get the truth about the complexity of Islam out there. They feel the Western media cover a narrow strand of what Islam is about.”

The number of interfaith dialogue conferences has increased tremendously over the past five years or so, but even more so since King Abdullah’s 2008 conference. The inclusion of Muslim imams who were previously absent at interfaith conferences has added another layer of dialogue.

Unlike Christian, Jewish and other religious leaders, Muslim leaders have two strikes against them when participating in religious conferences. They must answer questions about extremist ideology found on dozens of websites that is perceived as speaking for the Muslim community. They also must find a solution to the manufactured threat of Wahhabism, which is considered by Western conservatives as a conspiracy to create a caliph.

Most non-Muslim religious leaders recognize these two issues are not reflective of the Muslim community, but whether they convey that message to the members of their church or synagogue is another issue. I think not. It’s one thing to participate in large scale conferences like the ones held in Spain and Austria and the ones that followed, but the greater challenge is to bypass the Christian and Jewish hierarchy and speak to the people themselves.

Saudi imams and sheikhs might consider educating non-Muslims on the true voice of Islam by participating in events at smaller venues outside major metropolitan centers. Many non-Muslim centers, for example, have guest clergy from other faiths give lectures and presentations.

Discussions between imams, priests and rabbis will help break down significant barriers.

King Abdullah got the ball rolling two years ago and Muslims are quietly being heard by non-Muslim leaders, but the next step is to make sure that message is delivered unfiltered to the rest of the non-Muslim community.

 Sabria Jawhar  

http://saudiwriter.blogspot.com/2010/04/muslim-leaders-must-reach-out-to-common.html

---------------------------------------------

Saalik Siddikki Opines:

The title of the article itself is a positive suggestion, rather invitation, for the leaders of the Muslim world to pay attention to.

Though, keeping in mind the attitude of Muslim leaders towards each other based on their regional positions, it seems to be a far-fetched fantasy, yet,  prior to that there must be a unified effort to re-organize OIC by sacrificing egos and superiority arrogance to make Ummah a real fraternity to voice consensus on all issues.



The bitter truth is that leadership of each of the following countries assumes itself superior to others for one reason or the other:

Pakistan   -   for being a nuclear power
Iran           -   for its post-Shah revolutionary transformation
Turkey      -   for having better relations with the West
KSA          -   for being the religious centre of the Muslim world
Egypt        -   for its arrogance of being a superior nation
    Whether non-Pakistani Muslims agree or not, the whole Islamic world is badly in need of a leader like Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Rahmat-Allah-Alaih) who possessed every single quality of a true leader. 

    Otherwise, regardless of the blunders committed by Kamal Ata Turnk, Jamal Abdul-Nasir and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, we at least need another charismatic leader like one of them with an improved vision, devotion and determination to lead the Ummah towards a lasting unification.





    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Saudi Princess to Religious Police

     "Loosen your grip on the population and fight government corruption"

    In her column in the government daily Al-Madina, Saudi Princess Basma bint Saud attacked the Saudi religious police, accusing it of instituting religious terrorism. She claimed that it operates savagely against ordinary civilians instead of dealing with the corruption within the government. The column provoked reactions in Saudi Arabia, and was widely discussed on Internet forums.

    Princess Basma is a social activist and a prominent supporter of women's issues in Saudi Arabia. Recently, in an extraordinary step, Basma was photographed with her face unveiled for an interview with Al-Madina. Also, counter to the custom among Saudi princesses, she married a man who is not a member of the royal family
    Following is the translation of her column:[1]

    "I Have Searched the Annals of History... And I Have Not Found a Trace of the Term 'Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice'

    "I have searched the annals of history, the biography of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, and I have not found a trace of the term 'Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice' [the official name of the Saudi religious police] except for in the Koran, as a general [appeal] to all people, who are said to have been 'commanded to be virtuous and forbidden to commit vice.' This is a general term, in which God commands all the Muslims…

    "What is the meaning of 'virtue' in the Koran and in the Arabic language? This word indicates gentleness, kindness, and conversation, according to the various uses that are well-known to everyone from Islamic prophetic literature, which commands and asks for reciprocal operation.

    As for forbidding vice, this means using virtues to ward off any vice, meaning, anything that is condemned by the mind or by morals, or anything forbidden by the Koran…

    "In the entire scope of the Islamic world, from east to west, from north to south, there is no government authority that has been established in order to act in this area [i.e. supervision of morals and enforcing norms]. All Islamic governments have left this area in the hands of the education [system] and religious culture.

    As the Prophet Muhammad said [according to a Hadith]: 'I have been sent to make your behavior exemplary,' not to coerce behavior. [As Koran 16:125 says]: 'And argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.' There is no order to arrest [people] while committing crimes in plain sight, by violent beatings, scandals and fatal car accidents…"

    "There Are Still People Who Commit Religious Terror... Many of Them Have Not Studied the Correct Islamic Law In Depth"

    "God created the world with a word, by saying 'be' and the world was. Despite all the divine statements, prophetic clarifications, the words of the Koran, the verses and evidence, and threats of the most severe divine punishments, there are still people who commit religious terror.

    [They] ignore what has happened in Afghanistan with the Taliban movement, and they overlook the severe repercussions manifested by the severe punishments and catastrophic results [that will ensue from God]. They continue to be oppressive, while many of them have not studied the correct Islamic law in depth, nor the biography of the Prophet Muhammad or the instructions of the Koran and the Sunna. We see among [the religious police] young members who, with good intentions, want to mend everything that was corrupted by international media and globalization. [However, they do this by] using oppressive means, which do not show sound knowledge or organization, or even a level-headed manner of conduct."

    "Do They Not Know That Allah Sees You Even If You Do Not See Him? Did We Not Learn That It Is Up To the Master of the Universe to Mend and Straighten the Path?"

    "[The religious police consider] every woman guilty until proven otherwise. Any legitimate mingling between religious scholars and their students, even at conferences, carries a sexual meaning. Can they enforce morals and good and righteous intentions based on this state of mind?

    Do they not know that evil, temptation, and error, happen in the home of the villain, in his inner sanctum? Anyone who wants to commit an act of abomination would not do so in broad daylight, in restaurants, on the roads – they would hide behind high walls. Even if they could reach lairs of sin, do they not know that Allah sees you even if you do not see Him?

    Did we not learn that it is up to the Master of the Universe to mend and straighten the path? Are the historical stories of men and women who have lived in sin not enough? Have we not been told the stories of the Koran that educate us that Allah chooses whom to lead on the path of righteousness whom to misguide… How far we are from all these lofty and eternal things…"

    "The Religious Police Must Learn that Corruption Must Be Fought From the Inside"

    "The religious police must learn that corruption must be fought from the inside, and that its members face a broader and more comprehensive mission among our official circles. They should help our righteous government uproot the neglect, the theft, and the embezzlement of public funds. [They should] assist it in establishing justice, helping the judges, and mending the hostility [in society], rather than some of them wasting their time walking [mindlessly] and in savage persecution of women and men, which was commanded neither by God nor the Prophet.

    "Oh, religious police, how far are we from our Islam. How far are we from the middle path, from the prophetic commandments and divine justice, that Muhammad was sent with, so the world would be ruled according to honest morals, and so we look at the world respectfully, and with a will to enter Islam, not by drawing away from anything that is connected to Islam, as a result of what the religious police is doing on the ground.

    "I call upon the head of the religious police to mend what this generation and the local and international media have spoiled, regarding our awful situation due to the policy of some people who have understood Islam and its implementation in a twisted manner and have begun to do whatever they want, while utterly disregarding our principles and reputation in the world…"

    Endnote:
    [1]  Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), April 30, 2010
    From: MEMRI

    Canada Insists On Visa Insults, Angers India

    May 27th, 2010 -- Age Correspondents | New Delhi

    There was further reason for India to be greatly annoyed with the Canadians after it emerged on Wednesday that an Intelligence Bureau official who was to have travelled to Canada as part of preparations for the Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to that country was denied a visa as his organisation had “engaged in violence”.

    The IB official, who was due to travel to Toronto, was later given a visa but only after New Delhi lodged a strong protest about the visa denial.

    In an understandably angry reaction, the home ministry on Wednesday wrote to the ministry of external affairs asking that
    Canada “apologise” for citing the reasons it had for repeated denial of visas to various officials, and also described the developments as “unacceptable”.

    Wednesday’s revelations only added fuel to a fire which was stoked when it became known earlier this week that a retired BSF official too was denied a Canadian visa for having served with the paramilitary force in
    Jammu and Kashmir.

    It has now emerged that three serving Army brigadiers, a retired IB official and another official working for the Armed Forces Tribunal were also denied Canadian visas for having worked in organisations “engaged in violence”.

    In an indication of the home ministry’s anger at the Canadian government’s stand on officers who may have served with the Army or paramilitary units in
    Kashmir, a senior official said on Wednesday: “It’s a question of our country’s self-respect.

    The reasons cited by
    Canada for denying visas should be withdrawn immediately.

    Otherwise
    India will retaliate by denying visas to Canadian officials who go to Afghanistan via our country.”


    Israel's Nukes Out of the Shadows

    Nuclear Offer to Apartheid Regime Blows Diplomatic Cover

    By JONATHAN COOK 

    Nazareth.

    Israel faces unprecedented pressure to abandon its official policy of “ambiguity” on its possession of nuclear weapons as the international community meets at the United Nations in New York this week to consider banning such arsenals from the Middle East.

    Israel’s equivocal stance on its atomic status was shattered by reports on Monday that it offered to sell nuclear-armed Jericho missiles to South Africa’s apartheid regime back in 1975.

    The revelations are deeply embarrassing to Israel given its long-standing opposition to signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, arguing instead that it is a “responsible power” that would never misuse nuclear weapons technologies if it acquired them.

    Reports of Israel’s nuclear dealings with apartheid South Africa will also energise a draft proposal from Egypt to the UN non-proliferation review conference that Israel -- as the only nuclear power in the region -- be required to sign the treaty.

    Israeli officials are already said to be discomfited by Washington’s decision earlier this month to agree a statement with other UN Security Council members calling for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear arms.

    The policy is chiefly aimed at Iran, which is believed by the US and Israel to be secretly developing a nuclear bomb, but would also risk ensnaring Israel. The US has supported Israel’s ambiguity policy since the late 1960s.

    Oversight of Israel’s programme is also due to be debated at a meeting of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna next month.

    The administration of US President Barack Obama is reported to have held high-level discussions with Israel at the weekend to persuade it to consent to proposals for a 2012 conference to outlaw weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

    As pressure mounts on Israel, local analysts have been debating the benefits of maintaining the ambiguity policy, with most warning that an erosion of the principle would lead inexorably to Israel being forced to dismantle its arsenal.

    Echoing the Israeli security consensus, Yossi Melman, a military intelligence correspondent for the Haaretz newspaper, also cautioned that declaring Israel’s nuclear status “would play into Iran's hands” by focusing attention on Tel Aviv rather than Tehran.

    Israel refused to sign the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, having developed its first warhead a few years earlier with help from Britain and France.

    Tom Segev, an Israeli historian, reported that Israel briefly considered showing its nuclear hand in 1967 when Shimon Peres, Israel’s current president, proposed publicly conducting a nuclear test to prevent the 
    impending Six-Day War. However, the test was overruled by Levi Eshkol, the prime minister of the time.

    Mr Peres, who master-minded the nuclear programme, later formulated the policy of ambiguity, in which Israel asserts only that it will “not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East”.

    That stance -- and a promise not to conduct nuclear tests -- was accepted by the US administration of Richard Nixon in 1969.

    According to analysts, the agreement between Israel and the US was driven in part by concerns that Washington would not be able to give Israel foreign aid -- today worth billions of dollars -- if Israel declared itself a nuclear state but refused international supervision.

    Nonetheless, revelations over the years have made it increasingly difficult for the international community to turn a blind eye to Israel’s arsenal.

    Mordechai Vanunu, a technician at the Dimona nuclear energy plant in the Negev, provided photographic evidence and detailed descriptions of the country’s weapons programme in 1986. Today the Israeli arsenal is estimated at more than 200 warheads.

    In 2006 Ehud Olmert, then the prime minister, let slip Israel’s nuclear status during an interview with German TV when he listed “America, France, Israel and Russia” as countries with nuclear arms.

    Even more damaging confirmation was provided this week by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which published documents unearthed for a new book -- The Unspoken Alliance by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, an American historian -- on relations between Israel and South Africa’s apartheid regime.

    The top-secret papers reveal that in 1975 Mr Peres, then Israel’s defence minister, met with his South African counterpart, P W Botha, to discuss selling the regime nuclear-armed missiles. The deal fell through partly because South Africa could not afford the weapons. Pretoria later developed its own bomb, almost certainly with Israel’s help.

    Israel, Mr Polakow-Suransky said, had fought to prevent declassification of the documents.

    Despite publication by the Guardian of a photographed agreement bearing the date and the signatures of both Mr Peres and Mr Botha, Mr Peres’ office issued a statement on Monday denying the report.

    Israel’s increasingly transparent nuclear status is seen as an obstacle to US efforts both to impose sanctions on Iran and to damp down a wider potential nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

    This month the US surprised officials in Tel Aviv by failing to keep Israel’s nuclear programme off the agenda of the IAEA’s next meeting, on June 7. The issue has only ever been discussed twice before, in 1988 and 1991.

    Aware of the growing pressure of Israel to come clean, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, declined an invitation to attend a nuclear security conference in Washington last month at which participants had threatened to question Israel about its arms.

    At the meeting, US President Barack Obama called on all countries, including Israel, to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    A draft declaration being considered at the UN review conference later this week again demands that Israel -- and two other states known to have nuclear weapons, India and Pakistan -- sign the treaty.

    Egypt has proposed that the 189 states that have signed the treaty, including the US, pledge not to transfer nuclear equipment, information, material or professional help to Israel until it does so.

    Reuven Pedatzur, an Israeli defence analyst, warned recently in Haaretz that there was a danger the Egyptian proposal might be adopted by the US, or that it might be used as a stick to browbeat a recalcitrant Israel into accepting greater limitations on its arsenal. He suggested ending what he called the “ridiculous fiction” of the ambiguity policy.

    Emily Landau, an arms control expert at Tel Aviv University, however, said that those who believed Israel should be more transparent were “misguided”. Ending ambiguity, she said, would eventually lead to calls for Israel’s “total and complete disarmament”.

    The last Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, five years ago, failed when the US repudiated pledges to disarm and refused to pressure Israel over its nuclear programme.
    Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.







                            

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    A bunch of insanes!



    A news item on Shahid Afridi's selection as a captain:
    ISLAMABADFormer Test Captain Zaheer Abbas was stunned by the decision to appoint Shahid Afridi as captain especially for the Tests.


    He said the selectors should have given more thought on the captaincy issue.
    “The move is a big gamble and could backfire as the all-rounder was not a regular in the five-day side,” Abbas said while talking to APP on Wednesday.
    “I am really surprised at the board’s decision because he has not played a Test in the last four years,” he said. “It is a strange decision and one that could badly backfire because Shahid (Afridi) has not been a regular Test player and his last Test was in 2006. So how can the board give him the captaincy for two very tough series against Australia and England,” he said.
     (The Express Tribune)

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Whatever additional arguments PCB has up its sleeves, the whole bunch of money minters sitting there cannot justify Shahid Afridi’s selection. His disgusting and psychosomatic act of chewing the ball, in Australia, is the most lamentable stigma and disgrace that he has tagged with the name of Pakistan for good.

    And then Afridi’s evading answer as to why he did so is the one big reason that he should not have been declared as a captain.
    I do not accuse PCB’s chairman out of any biased sentiments, but a real probe must be carried out to determine just how much of Afridi’s earnings would be shared with the elephantine Butt.
    There seems not something ‘kala kala in daal, the whole dall rather looks kaali kaali’
    What can people of Pakistan expect from an insane chairman of PCB, selected and protected by another insane surrounded with insane stooges, to hand over the reins of captaincy to a confirmed insane and perhaps the only one in the history of cricket who was caught madly and insanely chewing the ball, on live cameras.