¡Eurr Oh!

Of course my opinion matters..
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Bush tells US voters he isn't retreating because of Iraqi oil

Washington Post

During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, President Bush's aides sternly dismissed suggestions that the war was all about oil.

"Nonsense," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had declared. "This is not about that," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Now, more than 3 1/2 years later, someone else is asserting that the war IS about oil -President Bush.

As he barnstorms across the country campaigning for Republican candidates in Tuesday's elections, Bush has been citing oil as a reason to stay in Iraq. If the United States pulled its troops out prematurely and surrendered the country to insurgents, he warns audiences, it would effectively hand over Iraq's considerable petroleum reserves to terrorists who would use it as a weapon against other countries.

"You can imagine a world in which these extremists and radicals got control of energy resources," he said at a rally in Colarado on Saturday. "And then you can imagine them saying, 'We're going to pull a bunch of oil off the market to run your price of oil up unless you do the following. And the following would be along the lines of, well, 'Retreat and let us continue to expand our dark vision'",
Bush said extremists controlling Iraq "would use energy as economic blackmail" and try to pressure the United States to abandon its alliance with Israel.
At a stop in Missouri on Friday, he suggested that such radicals would be "able to pull millions of barrels of oil off the market, driving the price up to $300 or $400 a barrel."

Some analysts, however, said that Bush is exaggerating the impact of Iraq's oil production on world markets.

Iraq has more than 112 billion barrels of oil, the second-largest proven reserves in the world. But it currently pumps just 2.3 million barrels per day and exports 1.6 million of that, according to the State Department's tracking report on the country, still short of what it produced before the invasion.

That represents a fraction of the 85 million barrels produced around the world each day and less than the surplus capacity of Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries, meaning in a crisis they could ramp up their wells to make up for the shortfall, analysts said.
The United States also has 688 million barrels of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, enough to counter a disruption of Iraqi oil for 14 months.

Even if Iraq did not sell oil to the United States, it would not matter as long as it sold it to someone because the international market is fungible and what counts is the overall supply and overall demand, according to analysts. If Iraq cut off exports altogether, it still would not have the dire effect on the world market that Bush predicts, they said. The price of oil began rising dramatically in 2002 as the confrontation with Iraq loomed, but many factors contributed, including increasing demand by China and problems in Nigeria, Venezuela and elsewhere.

The world, in fact, has already seen what would happen if Iraqi oil were cut off entirely, as Bush suggests radicals might do. Iraq effectively stopped pumping oil altogether in the months immediately after the invasion. And yet the price of oil has never topped $80, much less come anywhere near the $300 or $400 a barrel Bush cited as a possible consequence of a radical Iraqi regime withholding the country's oil.

"They're a minor exporter," said Edward Morse, managing director and chief energy economist at Lehman Brothers. "They have potential to be a greater exporter. But it's ludicrous to suggest someone could hold the world hostage by withholding oil from the market, especially a regime that needs money".

Tony Fratto, the White House spokesman, argued that even if radicals could not move the markets dramatically with Iraqi oil, they would use the country as a base to topple other governments in the Middle East such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ,(!?) which would give them "a lot more oil to blackmail with."
posted by aarkay @ Sunday, November 05, 2006   0 comments
1999 US War Games Foresaw Problems in Iraq

The U.S. government conducted a series of secret war games in 1999 that anticipated an invasion of Iraq would require 400,000 troops, and even then chaos might ensue.

Documents on the "Desert Crossing" games came to light on Saturday through a Freedom of Information Act request by the George Washington University's National Security Archive, an independent research institute and library.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Central Command, which declassified the secret report in 2004, declined to comment Saturday because she was "not familiar with the documents".

"The conventional wisdom is the U.S. mistake in Iraq was not enough troops," said Thomas Blanton, the archive's director. "But the Desert Crossing war game in 1999 suggests we would have ended up with a failed state even with 400,000 troops on the ground "

There are currently about 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, down from a peak of about 160,000 in January.
posted by aarkay @ Sunday, November 05, 2006   0 comments
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Pakistani ISI responsible for mosque carnage in India..?


Noorul Huda Samsudoha (23) and Shabbir Ahmed Masiulah (36), arrested in the
Malegaon blasts probe, have confirmed the role of Pakistan's intelligence agency
ISI in the blast.

The investigation so far by the Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Mumbai Police has further revealed that the conspirators behind the blasts had traveled to Pakistan and receieved training, and also had links with those involved in the Mumbai train blasts on July 11.
While both the accused have been remanded to police custody till November 16, the ATS is in search of at least three more persons.

The blast at Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabarastan in Malegaon on the auspicious day of Shab-e-Barat on September 8, killed twenty-five people and injured 240.
Noorul Huda was arrested on October 8, and his involvement in planting a bomb on September 13 at yet another mosque was also confirmed.
He was caught with books published to spread disharmony amongst communities. He used to work at a battery manufacturing unit owned by Shabbir Ahmed Masiula, who had also apparently undergone ISI sponsored training in Pakistan, and traces of RDX were found in the chemicals at this factory.

Okay.. HOW could they blow up a mosque and kill (more) Muslims, who were praying for their dead relatives (and most probably fasting too) on the very day that has been set aside in Islam as a day to pray for the dead..?
We go kill more people for their families to pray for next Shab-e-barat?
Are they THAT desperate to spread an insurgency that they feel such murder is justified?

Sorry, the main aim of Pakistan's actual existence wasn't to destabilise evil India next door. It was to protect and empower the Muslims in India at the time who were, just like the Muslims who died in the Mosque, dying and suffering in violence and injustice directed toward them. Surely our national agenda hasn't digressed THAT deep into political opportunism that we can afford to kill a few people (Muslims, no less) so long as national interests are fulfilled...

I dono whether the accused are claiming ISI allegiance to avoid a beating in jail or if they're telling the truth. But if it's true and the ISI think their actions are justified as payback for something like Indian disturbances in Balochistan or other Indian misdemeanours that piss them off, and they're protecting Pakistan's interests - they're so WRONG.
It only takes us further away from our original mission statement as a country and frankly, just disproves the rationale behind Pakistan's creation. And so technically, their decision to hurt Indian Muslims in a hope to turn them against the Indian administration, is in direct opposition of national interests.

Having said that, some Muslims in India believe that Hindu extremists (like Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and other anti-Muslim/Pakistan groups) had orchestrated the attack and wanted to make it look like a Pakistan-sponsored crime to further their own political agendas.
And there was some evidence to support this theory too.
For eg, Muslims in Malageon said that they had discovered a corpse with a fake beard when they were lifting the bodies killed in the blast. Some of the Muslim papers in UP carried the story the next day. However, the police, who had taken the body away when the residents reported it to them, two days later claimed that there was no such body was ever found.
It is pretty tempting to dismiss this ISI link they revealed today as an Indian conspiracy to cover up the truth so they can pin the blame on ISI and prove a point, but they can only push a cover-up so far, and I'm sure they know that.

posted by aarkay @ Saturday, November 04, 2006   0 comments
Friday, November 03, 2006
Bush threatens world peace say Britons

British voters see US President Bush as a greater threat to world peace than either the North Korean leader or the Iranian president, according to a poll.
The international survey by ICM for the Guardian newspaper and other newspapers in Israel, Canada and Mexico, exposes high levels of distrust in US policy.

In Britain 69% of those questioned believed US policy had made the world less safe since 2001, with only 7% thinking action in Iraq and Afghanistan had increased global security.
posted by aarkay @ Friday, November 03, 2006   0 comments
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Oprah gives audience the "Gift of Giving Back"

Oprah Winfrey has famously given members of her audience new cars, paid off their debts and fulfilled their wildest dreams.

Now she's given them what she calls the "gift of giving back."

On a show that aired Monday, Winfrey gave more than 300 audience members $1,000 debit cards sponsored by the Bank of America to donate to a charitable cause.

Winfrey called the $300,000 gift her "favorite giveaway ever."
"I can honestly say that every gift I've ever given has brought at least as much happiness to me as it has to the person I've given it to. That's the feeling I want to pass on to you."

People can give the entire sum to one person -- relatives aren't eligible -- or they can split it among charitable causes.

"You're going to open your hearts, you're going to be really creative, and you're going to spend it all at once on one stranger or spend a dollar on every person," Winfrey said.
"Imagine the love and kindness you can spread with $1,000."

Although I'm not an Oprah-lover as many women around the world are, I understand what she means by the "gift of giving" and seriously agree with the importance of making (even forcing) people to realise through experience that contentment and happiness one can get from sharing things without wanting or expecting anything in return.
Good on Oprah! She is pretty amazing, especially when she takes initiatives like this one.

I find the following prose in Kahlil Gibran's masterpiece, The Prophet, befitting as food for thought in relation to Oprah's charitable tendencies:

You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And what is fear of need but need itself?

Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.

And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and
from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

posted by aarkay @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   0 comments
Syria switching to the Euro?

Sources say country intends to switch foreign currency surplus from dollars to euros, in order to pay external debts and combat US economic sanctions.

This may be the biggest news of the week for America, but will prob go largely unnoticed in the US media.
Why? Because the US midterm elections are just around the corner, ofcourse!

Bush, as we know, has entertwined American play for oil with the country's other 'national interests', and a lot of his political supporters are actually supporting his aggressive pursuit to consolidate the demand for US energy requirements - a sector that their business interests have significant representation in.

Saddam Hussein made ONLY one threat was of real danger for the United States, and that was to stop selling oil for US$ - in favor of Euros.

If the Euro DOES become the world's benchmark currency for oil, the America economy has the potential to be BLOWN by a Depression that'll put the 1929 to shame..
posted by aarkay @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   0 comments
Bangalore becomes Bengaluru

So India's tech capital is now the latest to follow in a mounting wave of name-changing across Indian cities. Apparently, this is a response to rising globalisation distorting traditional "Indian-ness", which the name change seeks to correct.

Im not sure how well that sits - I suppose it'll take some getting used to. But hey- don't all changes?

More importantly, I wonder if the superfluous face-lift(s) is the only solution offered by the Indian administration to protect local culture from 'foreign invaders'.
Because if it is, that would be a shame in a democratic nation of more than one billion people, and will surely come back to bite them in the a*s some time soon.

A leading socialite of Bangalore (a group that is overwhelmingly outnumbered by those struggling to financially maintain themselves), Roshin Varghese, described the name change as “a retrograde step”. She said that Bangalore’s image as a progressive, dynamic and swinging city will be lost. (Cited in today's Telegraph, UK)
To the socialite, that means fewer parties.
Ah, but to the unemployed middle-classer, it means potentially more jobs for the local Bengalurians.
Fair play, I say.
However, (I emphasise again that) a name change alone is NOT going to protect Indian interests or the Indian culture from foreign usurpation.
It's sort of like a temporary fix to deal with local sentiment. I hope the people start demanding more concrete measures if that is what they desire before it's too late.
posted by aarkay @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   0 comments
Mutton or lamb?!

posted by aarkay @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   0 comments
N.Korea/US show conciliatory attitude too

Perhaps Krazy Kim also found inspiration in Mandela's "Spirit of Reconciliation".
Then again, perhaps he was betting on more concessions and 'respect' from the developed world when he tested his nuclear device..
Either way, North Korea has confirmed that it will return to nuclear weapons talks without conditions and the US has indicated it is ready to discuss financial sanctions that provoked Pyongyang's 12-month boycott.

"The DPRK decided to return to the six-party talks on the premise that the issue of lifting financial sanctions will be discussed and settled between the DPRK and the US," read a statement from North Korea's Foreign Ministry yesterday.

America's top North Korea negotiator, Christopher Hill, said Washington was ready to discuss its crackdown on Pyongyang's foreign banking outlets, but said it was not a condition of resuming the six-party talks in Beijing.
"(The North Koreans) made very clear these were not conditions but they wanted to hear that we would address the financial measures in the context of the talks," said Mr Hill.

The return to formal talks also diminishes, for the time being, the risk of a second nuclear test in the wake of the North's October 9 test of what is largely believed to have been a small plutonium bomb.

Since last November, dictator Kim Jong-il had refused to rejoin negotiations until the US lifted sanctions on Banco Delta Asia of Macau, suspected of involvement in Pyongyang's money laundering and currency forgery.
The banking strictures, in common with UN Security Council-endorsed trade and economic sanctions imposed in retaliation for the nuclear test, are aimed at Mr Kim and the regime's elite.

However, international anxiety has mounted that deepening Pyongyang's isolation is exacerbating the risk of widespread famine in North Korea this northern winter.

The Chinese, who chair the six-party talks aimed at curtailing North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, convened a meeting on Tuesday between the US and North Korean delegations in an attempt to get negotiations back on the rails.

As a result of Tuesday's agreement, the six-party talks - which also involve South Korea, Japan and Russia - could resume as early as this month.

North Korea's return to the negotiating table is a win for all the other players in the six-party talks, but especially for China.
Beijing remains Pyongyang's only significant ally, despite growing calls within China for the alliance to be renegotiated. It has consistently said the Korean crisis must be resolved by diplomacy.
How much of the pressure that finally forced North Korea back to the talks was the result of diplomacy and how much attributable to the threats of UN-endorsed sanctions is impossible to know, but Beijing can claim significant kudos either way.
posted by aarkay @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   0 comments
The "Great Croc" dies

And Nelson Mandela led national tributes to the Apartheid era President P.W. Botha (aka "The Great Crocodile")
Today, Mandela was the one who led South Africans in remembering former the defiant face of apartheid who doggedly clung to white rule- the same man who refused to free Mandela from jail.. What a man
When I learnt that the Apaertheid ended as recently as the 1990s, I was shell-shocked - partly because that meant that my parents and their entire generations had allowed it to continue for so damn long.

Mandela was jailed for a total of 27 years, more than ten of which transpired under Botha's presidency.
The Kudos he gives Botha for his role in South Africa's evolution away from apartheid-era segregation and towards the eventual multi-racial elections that catapulted Mandela to President of S.Africa in 1994, is a remarkable example of the "Spirit of Reconciliation" that Mandela advocated.
Many believe that it was this spirit (which was at the center of his presidential rule) that saved S.Africa from a violent and bloody transition from apartheid.

Current President Thabo Mbeki also joined in, saying: "It stands to his credit that when he realized the futility of fighting against what was right and inevitable, he, in his own way, realized that South Africans had no alternative but to reach out to one another".

I find the ANC's spirit of forgiveness absolutely remarkable and think we would all benefit by taking a moment to pause and consider the triviality of personal grudges we may hold against others,and what purpose they stand to serve.
posted by aarkay @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   0 comments
Monogamy rules!

The Lancet finds that concerns about rising promiscuity and premarital sex in modern society are unfounded, with monogamy still the dominant pattern of behaviour.
The first global survey of sexual behaviour published by The Lancet yesterday, shows there is no universal trend towards having sex at an earlier age. That disproves the reported increases in under-age sex and teenage pregnancy.

The research, which included data from 59 countries, shows most people have had only one recent sexual partner, even with the move towards later marriage in most parts of the world.

The study also suggests that people in developed countries are more likely to have multiple sexual partners than those in poorer regions.
(Or maybe the poorer regions are also plagued by more taboos on the matter, making the survey participants less willing to admit to personal promiscuity/adultery?)

"Most people are married, and married people have the most sex," the authors say. "Sexual activity among young single people tends to be sporadic, but is greater in industrialised countries."

But all said and done, none of the information suggests a trend towards sex at a younger age.

Although females were found to lose their virginity earlier than males on average, there is evidence this gender gap is narrowing, especially in industrialised countries.

Kaye Wellings at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicinesaid: "The latest estimates suggest 12.5 per cent of boys and 6.9per cent of girls have had sex before the age of 15, but these figures may be skewed by the tendency of boys to exaggerate sexual activity."

True, that!
posted by aarkay @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   0 comments
Allow independant investigators, says HRW

US-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch Wednesday urged the Pakistan government to give journalists and activists access to the shut-off area to establish the facts behind the raid.

"The Pakistani government should allow independent investigators into the area to determine who carried out the attack, how it was planned and executed, and who was killed," HRW South Asia researcher Ali Dayan Hasan said. "The onus is on the Pakistani government to provide a credible account of the legitimacy of the attack resulting in the death of so many."

However Pakistan security officials say that Ayman Al-Zawahiri and London airliner bombing plot mastermind Abu Obaida Al-Misri had frequently visited the seminary in the past.

Neither were in the madrassa at the time of the attack, the officials said at a briefing.

The attack followed months of surveillance and was necessary because the training camp's chiefs were "in a hurry to push them out after training for attacks" in either neighbouring Afghanistan or Pakistan, they said.
posted by aarkay @ Thursday, November 02, 2006   0 comments
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
D+ on propaganda

UPI reports that "the U.S. Department of Defense is creating a Public Affairs 'rapid response team' to respond to what it sees as unfair or inaccurate coverage.
Many of the additional staff at the Pentagon Public Affairs Office will be dedicated to ... trying to convince reporters and newspapers to cover the stories that the Pentagon wants to see more of. Others will be dedicated to monitoring the Internet, creating podcasts and responding to reports on blogs, negative stories and terrorist propaganda.
The Pentagon press office in the last few weeks has also inaugurated a new blog on its Web site defenselink.mil to respond immediately to news reports it objects to.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff... noted that Donald Rumsfeld this year gave Pentagon media operations a "D+", compared with the enemy. 'We're trying to do better than a D+,' Ruff said."
posted by aarkay @ Wednesday, November 01, 2006   0 comments
In pictures

Think of how easy it is for manipulative "leaders" to transfrom the sentiment of a disempowered people like this, into this, this and this, fully exploiting the vast scope for political benefit therein.

Those who call for bloodshed as part of their political manifesto have become like birds of prey, zoning in on the vulnerable ills of society for subsistence. And we (the "enlightened moderates")provide the illiterate and embittered masses as game.
posted by aarkay @ Wednesday, November 01, 2006   0 comments
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Blair defeats opposition :(

Tony Blair defeated an opposition bid in parliament on Tuesday to force an inquiry into his (party's) handling of the Iraq conflict.
But his Labour Party's majority did witness a sharp fall to 25 from 60+, since some Labour lawmakers rebelled on this contentious issue that has divided the party and eroded Blair's authority in the Commons.
Losing this vote would have further increased the mounting pressure on Blair to reassess his Iraq strategy, which faces an increasingly skeptical British responnse. Misgivings came to a head earlier this month when the chief of the British army in Iraq questioned the the objectives and the benefits of maintaing British troops in Iraq.

Perhaps seeking to avert what would have been a damaging defeat, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett raised the possibility of holding an inquiry into the Iraq war once UK troops were home:
"I have no doubt that there will come a time when we want to look at the lessons learned from our full experience in Iraq," Beckett told parliament. "But now ... is not that time."

posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
Pro-Taliban groups threaten Pakistani establishment(s)

KHAR, Pakistan (AP): Thousands of pro-Taliban tribesmen threatened to send suicide bombers to attack Pakistani forces and execute people found spying for the Americans in a fiery protest held here today to denounce the Pakistani air raid

Inayatur Rahman, a local pro-Taliban elder, said he had prepared a "squad of suicide bombers" to target Pakistani security forces in the same way that militants are attacking Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We will carry out these suicide attacks soon," he said, asking the crowd if they approved the idea.
The angry mob yelled back in unison, "Yes!"
The rally also adopted a verbal resolution to stone to death anyone found spying for the Pakistan army or U.S. government...

The scary mullahs are seriously rinsing the developing situation for all it's worth..
I ASK AGAIN: What strategic political/military/security objective could the Mush administration possibly have envisioned??
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
IBM officially reports on plans in China & India

Representatives at IBM (manufacturer of
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   1 comments
2002 convictions overturned by appeals court

KARACHI, Pakistan -- An appeals court today overturned the convictions of the four terror suspects held for the 2002 car bombing that killed 14 Pakistanis outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.
The court just threw out the death sentences for Mohammed Hanif and Mohammed Imran and life imprisonment for Mohammed Sharib and Hafiz Zubair, saying that the earlier trial court decision was based on "flawed evidence".
The suspects had been arrested following the June 2002 car bombing near theU.S. diplomatic mission in the southern port city of Karachi.

Weren't the 60 pages of documented "flaws" in Mirza Tahir's case before the Shariat Bench (which re-condemned him to the gallows) similarly compelling enough to absolve the man..?
I really don't get this.

Come to think of it, they'll probably take these four guys to the Shariat courts too in their blinded passion for justice. The retarded part is that they overturn an acquittal, and in the process, unduly prolong a potentially innocent man's suffering.

Read the link to the China article posted earlier again - The Chinese get it
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
CHINA changes capital punishment law

Are Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz reading THIS??

These legal developments in CHINA deal a stinging blow to Mush & Co.'s SEVEN years of political apathy towards anything and everything other than Bush's GWOT..

C'mon... Pakistan doesn't even have a communist history.
Plus, they say we're currently a democratic nation. Then why the hell are we lagging behind the brutally oppressive Chinese regime? What is our excuse?
Could it be that we're more brutal than other contemporary totalitarian regimes, but just less exposed in our misconduct?

If so, then it's high time our misgivings, on why this country was created, were exposed - and then actively adressed instead of ignored and tucked away as a problem for the next regime to solve.

MMA-style Islamist coalitions don't need to have a majority in Parliament for their warped vision of Pakistan to be fulfilled. All they need is a selectively complacent leader who won't object to the path they aggressively lead the country down. Since the coalition's inception, that is exactly what they got..!
It is NOT a good path - and opposition to the "Islamic" solutions they prescribe (and we currently follow) means nothing until it is implemented in law.
Whatever the consequences of standing upto them, we'll have to deal with it.

When you believe in something (such as the dangers introduced by the fundamental flaws arresting our parallel legal systems), NOTHING should stop you from achieving what is 'right'. To believe with that vigour, you necessarily have to KNOW.
And I don't think Musharraf or the PM know the first thing about why our country was created or what the message of Islam is.
That's why Musharraf actually blocked the moves to reform shady laws within the Pakistani legal arena.
Arguably, that means that none of Pakistan's leaders have shown any worthy convictions. Other than a staunch commitment to maintaining their stronghold.
I state the obvious-I know.
But sometimes repitition can work to change opinon - Bush admittedly believes in and practices that theory too!
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
The spin has already spun into a big, fat MESS

The missiles that leveled a school in Pakistan's Bajaur Agency and killed more than 80 pepople WERE fired by Pakistani helicopters, asserted Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan today. But he also said that Pakistan DID use intelligence provided by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan in carrying out the raid.
Although he declined to describe just how much help was provided by the coalition, he stressed that U.S. forces didn't fire any missiles.
(Erm..what happened to that 40 sq-foot box that WE have cornered Zawahiri into, according to your intelligentsia?!)

Meanwhile, from the US front, military spokerman Col. Tom Collins bluntly said he had no information regarding the recent operation in Pakistan. Who cares other than those of us here in Pakistan if that turns out to be a well-placed lie?

Among those killed in Monday's attack was Liaquat Hussain, a cleric who had sheltered militants in the past and was believed associated with al-Zawahri.
(Why were we signing peace accords with such 'associates' then??)
Sultan now claims that the raid was launched after the madrassa's leaders, headed by Hussain, rejected government warnings to stop using the school as a training camp for terrorists..But we were told that there was a N.Waziristan-style peace accord in the pipelines for Bajaur. And that this agreement was being facilitated by none other than the deceased Liaquat Hussain himself....
Since militant groups in Bajaur are believed to ferry fighters, weapons and supplies to Afghanistan to target U.S. forces there, obviously our American allies were none too happy with another contentious deal fuelled by aims local political expedience. Sure, they may want Musharraf around-but there's only so far all legs of the American coalition in Afghanistan can orchestrate a compromise sympathetic of Musharraf's politically fragile condition. They have their own political turmoils to deal with.
Sultan has, however, denied the reports that al-Zawahri was in the area at the time of the attack. "It is all wrong, speculative and we launched this operation on our own to target a training facility," he said.

At vociferous protests held in Khar today, loudspeakers have begun blaring songs urging people to wage holy war, as protesters gathered in a large field to be adressed by the psuedo-clerics who secretly love all potential scandal as much as the opportunistic politicians.
"We will continue our jihad. We will take revenge for the blood of our martyrs," local Islamic cleric, Maulana Roohul Amin, told the crowd. "The forces of infidelity are trying to erase us from existence."

Although the boundaries of this 'endangered species' do blur along the Islamo-tribal horizon, the opportunity to further blend the disparate systems is being totally exploited by Maulana Amin and his contemporaries in any and every locality wherein they find disillusionment and anger. (I think that's pretty much everywhere now). Protests have been held all the way from the northwestern city of Peshawar to the southern city of Karachi, the largest taking place in Chingai and the Bajur district's main town of Khar, where 2,000 tribesmen and shopkeepers chanted "Death to Musharraf! Death to Bush!"

Fears are now high that the attack will fan unrest across Pakistan. That is ostensibly what some people want.
In Islamabad, Pakistan's most influential Islamist political leader (Qazi Hussain Ahmed of the MMA coalition, which most of us are convinced was a political force facilitated and allowed by Musharraf when he was trying to gain legitimacy back in the day) blamed American forces for the attack, although he didn't provide any evidence to support his claim. He has called for widespread protests today.

Ahmed claimed that many children were among Monday's dead. But the Pakistani army (aka govt.) says that no children or women were killed.
Indeed, most victims' bodies were so mangled that positive identification was impossible.

Was such mangling absolutely necessary as a strategic Pakistani move at this precise point in time? Arguably, if the attacks were spurred entirely by Pakistani interests and they weren't coerced somehow, they COULD have at least waited until the Prince and the Duchess left, so as not to ruin their holiday and the diplomatic significance their trip holds for Pakistan..right?
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
Accusations of voter fraud in the (real!) OC

Twelve people have been charged with tricking voters in Orange County into registering as Republicans, US prosecutors said Monday.

The defendants, ranging in age from 19 to 52, were accused of fraudulently registering 37 voters as Republicans between August 2005 and February 2006. They were charged with fraudulent completion of affidavit of registration, which is a felony. Five defendants remain at large.

The suspects were hired to register new Republicans by private firms paid by the Orange County Republican Party, prosecutors said.
No charges were filed against the companies or the Republican Party.

The recruiters visited shopping centers and college campuses and were paid $10 a head for newly registered Republicans.
Voters were asked to sign petitions for lower taxes or stricter sex offender laws, then tricked into signing voter registration cards,
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
Zakaria in Newsweek

The Newsweek cover piece in the magazine's November 6th edition, compares the Iraq war to the final days of the Korean War—"not a defeat … but certainly not a victory."

Fareed Zakaria argues that the best America can hope for now is a "grey ending" that avoids worst case scenarios.
Although he says that doesn't mean pulling out now: "The United States must redefine its mission, reduce and redeploy its forces and fashion a less intrusive involvement with Iraq, one that both Iraqis and Americans believe is productive and sustainable for the long term."

Frankly, such goals seem larger-than-life, given the shocking lack of foresight exhibited by US foreign policy thus far. Nonetheless, let's give them the benefit of doubt and presume Bush and co. are able to commit to such 'redefinition' in the meaningful sense.
The first medicine Dr. Zakaria prescribes is ditching the illusion (or DElusion) of creating a "united, secular, harmonious, freedom-loving" Iraq, to begin recognising the sectarian realities that exist on the ground.
Indeed, the Good Doctor makes a helluva lot of sense - but will the United States be able to swallow the bitter medicine of admitting to past miscalculation, the necessary remedy in the current scenario?
I guess we can only wait and see. But Zakaria's commentary comes as a soothing balm for onlookers like myself, reassuring us that sense is not universally disappearing - and when/if things DO go wrong and the perpetrators of chaos claim they "never saw it coming", we'll know for certain that they merely chose to remain ignorant and out of solutions.
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
Belusconi's corruption

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and a British lawyer have been ordered by a Milan court to stand trial on charges of corruption, according to a media report today.
Berlusconi is accused of ordering the payment in 1997 of at least $600,000 to David Mills in exchange for the lawyer's false testimony in two trials against Berlusconi, AP reports.
If convicted, Mills and Berlusconi could apparently face three to eight years in prison.
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
MySpace plans to block illegal uploads

MySpace.com said it had licensed a new technology to stop users from posting unauthorized copyrighted music and oust frequent violators of its policy, reports Wired News.

Major studios and record labels have begun accusing sites like MySpace and YouTube of infringing their artists' copyrights.
So MySpace has now licensed technology from privately-company Gracenote, which will allow it to review music recordings uploaded by community members to their profiles. This technology will compare those filed with Gracenote's database of copyrighted material, subsequently block uploads without proper rights.

Once Gracenote's technology is integrated into its service, users who repeatedly try to upload unauthorized music will simply have their accounts deleted, MySpace said.
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
IRAQ WAR: a result of Saddam's defiance - or of US imperialist designs?

Saddam Accepted American Ultimatum BEFORE the US Invasion
A former political adviser to Saddam Hussein's son said today that Saddam was willing to yield to all American demands before the U.S. invasion of Iraq- but the Bush administration refused his offers. The disclosure was made by Totonto-based Hossam Shaltout, former American pilot and founder of the peace organization Rights and Freedom Intl.
("But why now, after all these years?", I first asked, linking the timing and nature of his claims to a Democrat payroll.)
"Saddam was willing to yield to all American demands, announced and unannounced, to reach peaceful resolution," said Shaltout, "but the Bush administration, including Elizabeth Cheney, undersecretary of State, David Welch, the U.S. ambassador in Egypt, and Gene Cretz, his political attache, did not respond to his offers."
Shaltout recounts how he was planning to fly from Amman to Baghdad to announce Saddam's decision, but Royal Jordanian Airlines officials claimed that the US ordered his flight to leave Amman five hours ahead of schedule, causing him to miss the flight and preventing him from announcing on CNN that Saddam would bow to the Bush ultimatum.
Delayed by one day, Shaltout then travelled to Baghdad by road and raced to get the communique approved from Saddam so that it could be broadcast by a international TV stations based in Baghdad...(but) "It was very late at night and CNN in Baghdad was closed".
So they went to al-Jazeera, and Shaltout told al-Jazeera correspondent Hafez Almirazy on the air that he had the Iraqi government's official reply to the Bush ultimatum. Moments after Mirazy asked him for a brief, the plug was pulled on the transmission - and the rest, as they say, is history. Shaltout has a copy of that interrupted broadcast.
Shaltout also says that when the Americans arrived in Baghdad, he offered his assistance to U.S. military officials. In response, he claims he was arrested by Marines who went to his hotel suite and seizesd his documents. Nonetheless, Shaltout still has the videotape of his arrest, and several supporting documents.
Again - as eager as all us war(or Bush)-critics may be, to accept Shaltout's claims as evidence that the past five years of war and bloodshed can be accredited to any and everything other than legitimate threats to US national interest - it is seriously odd how his story if all these "supporting documents" chose to reveal themselves now.
But here's the catch - this isn't the first time the world is hearing of Bush and his aides subverting a peaceful resolution in Iraq - it was briefly reported back when America moved in on Saddam.
I think the possibility of a Democrat renumeration for Shaltout is still potentially valid though, for digging up a sufficiently sufficiently damning Iraq-related blunder may be the exact formula required to rattle the public nerve before elections.
Shaltout's peace organisation actually issued a press release to (re)announce the horror of the American tragedy played out by Bush & co. in Iraq (note how he mentions an entire coupe of Republicans) and it is currently being circulated to international new acencies by PRNewsire.
Or then again, perhaps such a press release is actually Shaltout's PR/marketing effort to be recruited onto the Democrat paylist by reminding them of this scorching hot story he has has to tell, and hey - that would mean I've just given the opposition party inspiration on how to play with it..!
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
Royal visit to Peshawar called off

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have pulled out of their scheduled visit to Peshawar tomorrow amid security fears.
The decision to cancel tomorrow's visit was taken on the advice of the ever-paranoid Pakistani government.
Pakistani helicopter gunships reportedly destroyed an al Qaeda-linked madrassa today.

In The Telegraph's report, they only go so far as mentioning that "the planned demonstrations were believed to be in connection with the incident".

The situation is actually a tad bit worse than that - Jamaat Islami will protest the misreported American attack on Muslims children in what they've dubbed a Condemnation Day tomorrow.
With their violent track record, that could mean anything..
posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
Yet ANOTHER development on madrassa destruction


Ayman al Zawahiri was the target of a Predator missile attack this morning on a religious school in Pakistan, according to Pakistani intelligence sources.

(Well, on the plus side- at least it's now being openly described as a U.S. attack.. and of the several -ves that now emerge, I think the scariest is that nut-job Islamist leaders are more capable of telling tha truth than our govt. and military officials. On that note, Qazi's allegations were perhaps also indicative of the growing rift between Mush and his fundo-boys, who were recruited back when we had our elections. Notably, they're currently busy fighting over the introduction of the Hasba Bill in NWFP)

So ABC News learnt that the raid was launched after U.S. intelligence received tips indicating that al Qaeda's No. 2 man may have been staying at the school, located in the Bajaur region.

Despite earlier reports that the missiles had been launched by Pakistani military helicopters, Pakistani intelligence sources now tell ABC NEWS that the missiles were INDEED fired from a U.S. PREDATOR DRONE PLANE.

Two to five senior al Qaeda militants were killed in the attack, including the mastermind of the (failed) airliner plot in the U.K., according to Pakistani intelligentsia.
No word yet on whether or not Zawahiri was killed in the raid, but one intelligence source in Pakistan has expressed doubt over whether Zawahiri would have been staying in a madrassa at all, since they are obvious target for strikes against militants. That source, however, did express confidence that Pakistani intelligence is closing in on Zawahiri's location.
The sources tell ABC News they believe they have "boxed" Zawahiri in a 40-square-mile area between the Khalozai Valley in Bajaur and the village of Pashat in Kunar, Afghanistan. They hope to capture or kill him in the next few months.

FORTY sq-miles? Woah - that's a reaallly small box, less than 7-miles to a side! How about we change the "next few months" to "next few weeks" and note the coincidental US ELECTIONS this craziness should point out to the Americans?

An F.Y.I. for Pakistani onlookers - this is what them Yankee cowboys call the "Phase 1" in an operation that could be dubbed "severe Paki-shafting".

Either Pakistan was completely clueless of US plans to strike, until it was too late.. Or then our officials betrayed a recently forged alliance with the head of the bombed madrassa, Maulvi Liaqat, who had JUST agreed to rally together the fiercely independent tribal heads of the Bajaur region to sign a peace deal with the government (immediately controversial like the contentious peace accord signed in September with local leaders in North Waziristan).

Neither scenario would leave much chance of us taking that severe shafting well.

posted by aarkay @ Tuesday, October 31, 2006   0 comments
Monday, October 30, 2006
It wasn't Pakistan bombing the school - it was AMERICA

Iranian News Agency IRNA reports:

Pakistan's major Islamic group said on Monday that American planes had bombed a religious school in the country's tribal region, and condemned the Pakistani government for taking responsibility for what he called the massacre of innocent students.

Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmed said his party will observe a Condemnation Day across Pakistan on Tuesday. He appealed to the people to take to the streets and protest against the innocent madrassa students in Bajur Agency, rejecting the claims from an army spokesman, who had immediately taken responsibility of carrying out the strike.

Addressing a news conference Hussain said that the U.S government was responsible for the bombing, which was aimed at sabotaging the peace agreement between the government and the people of Bajur Agency.
Pakistan should have given a "befitting reply" to such aggression from US forces, rather than accepting the blame and (falsely) asserting that Pakistani security forces carried out the attack, he said.
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
Olmert forges far-right cabinet alliance

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert won cabinet approval today, allowing a far-right faction to join the government, a partnership likely to complicate any attempts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. All but one cabinet member voted in favour of membership, Israel Radio said.

Led by Avigdor Lieberman, the Yisrael Beitenu party advocates annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank and the jurisdictional transfer of several Arab towns in Israel to the Palestinian Authority.
With prospects poor for a renewal of Middle East peace efforts any time soon, there appear to be few issues ahead that could divide the new Israeli alliance.

Nabil Shaath, a senior member of the Fatah party, has called Lieberman "a dangerous creature" and said his inclusion in the cabinet was "an ugly symbol of the direction this Israeli government is taking".

So shifting the Israeli public's focus towards fears of a nuclear Iran, Olmert announced in August that the "realignment" plan, on which his centrist Kadima party won elections in March, was no longer a pressing issue. The winning proposal had called for the dismantling of dozens of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
In fact, taking it off the agenda helped pave the way for Lieberman, himself a settler, to join Olmert's political coalition.
Now Olmert has given Lieberman special responsibility for 'strategic issues', which is Israeli shorthand for 'Iran's nuclear program', which Israel seems to inevitably link to Palestinian occupation.
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
ESSENTIAL READING - On Mirza Tahir Hussain

Zofeen Ebrahim writes another article on Mirza Tahir Hussain. Except this time, it is published in the local Pakistani media - making her article a well-overdue but much appreciated Pakistani debut in what has become an increasingly international (and urgent) appeal to save Mirza's life.
Published in The News' weekend supplement, Zofeen's article, "The chronicle of a life foretold", must be read by all Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike.

Through her reporting, Mirza finally had the chance to tell the people of Pakistan (ostensibly his 'brethren') about his 18 years of silent suffering, and could perhaps (I hope) also reach out to the dead taxi driver's family, and appeal to the Muslim in them rather than the tribal Pathan who lives in them, responsible for demanding Mirza's blood.
The Pakistani media only woke up to his plea once the political circus had formed around his impending execution, and remained deafeningly mute on the status of his apolitical appeal far longer than the ethics of "responsible" reporting call for.

"I don't think death penalty should be abolished, as it is a hud," said Mirza, speaking to Zofeen in the clandestine interview she carried out during Ramadan.

"Quite an irony," comments Zofeen, "when half the world outside Adiala Jail...has literally moved mountains to drum up support... vociferously and relentlessly campaign for his release".
Although I question how relentless these appeals have thus far been, vociferous is certainly an apt description of the international public response his case has received in recent weeks.

Then Mirza says something that tells me how he is most definitely the kind of devoted Muslim we really need more of in Pakistan.
Having spent all those years reading and learning about the Quran and all things Islamic, Mirza has not become radicalised. Far from it. He understood the foundation of the Islamic principles of justice, which I have unsuccessfully tried drumming into everyone's head since I learnt of his case, writing to lawyers, judges, parliamentarians and even Mush himself:

"Executions should only take place when there is not even a shadow of doubt in the minds of the jury. Once proven guilty, the culprit should be executed swiftly. The person shouldn't have to go through endless waiting," he said quietly, obviously speaking from his own long painful experience.
Clearly, Mirza has understood the nature of Allah's message from his studies.
Did you know that the prevailing prison culture is actually highly un-Islamic? I think Mirza does.
That is probably why he sent asked Times reporter Martin Fletcher to tell his children about his case and "warn them about bad countries" and not about a bad religion.
A real Islamic justice system should be efficient enough to conclude a criminal case swiftly, carrying out the needful punishment in a timely manner; such that personal reform is allowed through a release where possible, or the prescribed societal remedy is administered quickly so as to act as a strong and effective deterrent.
As Mirza correctly notes, the Quranic injunctions that call for hud punishments also call for "proof of guilt beyond all reasonable doubt".
After all, it IS a justice system, and it is meant to help society progress and evolve towards the pure and noble path called for in Islam. I would have thought Mirza's Pakistani experience had made him lose all faith in the Islam that this country claims to stand for.
Certainly, when I first read about his case, I was myself shocked and repelled by what my religion was apparently condoning. Luckily, I too read and questioned an reached a definitive conclusion - Pakistan's Islamicisation was an utter failure and now stands as an affront to the Religion of Peace itself and MUST be overhauled if we're ever to start raising good Pakistanis on our local "pure" soil.
Right now it's just fertile breeding ground for a whole new generation of embittered and disillusioned youth.
I myself am so disillusioned by what I've seen my country do to Mirza, I've questioned the real benefits of retaining my Pakistani citizenship.
I've repeatedly wondered what I would do were I in his position, and I've questioned - is there more virtue in running away from the law because you knew its unjust, or is acting with good intentions and clean conscience still a virtue even when the system is blinded by objectives that are on the wrong side of justice?
I have yet to reach a conclusion - and that worries me.

Unless Pakistan is saying that a criminal is more likely to reform in prison than he is outside within mainstream Pakistani society, the past 18 years of Mirza's life make absolutely no sense. I grieve for the eighteen years he has lost more than I fear for his death.. I can't help it. I want to scream and shout and knock the bastards around the head and force their closed eyes open to see the heartless cruelty they're guilty of perpetrating.

Notably in his interview, Mirza tells Zofeen how he no longer fears his impending execution. Sure, it must have scared him once upon a time- But he has come a long way indeed from the time he first heard his death sentence.

"That day only the judge, the court police and I were present in the court room. Even my lawyer preferred to stay away, it being such a dreadful occasion. To save my family from what I was going through, I just told them that the judgment had been postponed till the following week."

He was first condemned to death by a Sessions Court in 1989, but I don't know if that's the sentence he's referring to here. Whenever it was, he has since been preparing for his death, and "God (has) helped," he says. He tries to "accept Allah' decree (on his fate) with an open heart".

Is that not a shining example of the steadfast belief and piety Allah requires from His subjects? Is that not the strength and willpower all motivational speakers and psychologists try and instill in us when we stumble and fall, which we all do every now and then?
This man has fallen - and he fell pretty deep into his personal hell. But his outlook and his faith haven't descended to those dark depths with the rest of his life. They might have imprisoned his body, but they certainly didn't manage to imprison his sense of righteousness - the same righteousness that led him to the police station to hand over the gun after it had accidentally gone off and killed Jamshed Khan. That's probably the only heartening aspect of Mirza Tahir's story.

Zofeen ends by asking him a compelling question: What if tomorrow he were to be released?
His answer was remarkable for its sensitivity, but also frightening in its implications:
"The first thing I'd do would be to go to Jamshed's family and ask for their forgiveness. I may have suffered these many years, but so have they. I wish there was something I could do to change what happened that night, 18 years ago, but it was not in my hand. It just happened."

Why is that frightening? Well, because the same tribal mentality that would drive Jamshed's mother to set herself alight if her idea of "divine justice" (read: merciless vengeance) isn't fulfilled, would drive the male members of Jamshed's family to take justice into their own hands, killing their brother's murderer themselves.
This would take them right back to the Arabian tribalism that Prophet Muhammad and the Quran sought to overhaul with the introduction of
Qisas and/or Diyat(blood money) as a formal remedy for murder and bodily injury. It allowed for the human propensity for revenge, while regulating exactly how such retaliation is to be carried out (by the State).
Part of the due process described was establishing guilt "beyond all resonable doubt" before enacting any such punishment, be it the execution of a murderer, or the (hud) punishment of publicly whipping an adulterer.
Our courts belie a failed justice system, much like the rest of Pakistan, which has recently been described as a 'failed state'.
Furthermore, we have upheld Islam for all the wrong reaons and successfully established a farcical Islamic Republic that is reminiscent of pre-Islamic Arabia. To be sure, we're not alone in our blasphemous cowardice - other examples include Iran and former Afghanistan, where they too lack(ed) the courage to stand up to a fanatical Ummah.
And that is why a court would deal leniently with the man who admits to commiting a murder to preserve family honour or, in this potential scenario, to claim his Islamic right to avenge a dead relatives life.
What happened to Mirza's Islamic right of self-defence? Why didn't the courts uphold this right, among the many others we stubbornly denied him for eighteen years?

Relevant here is a Prophetic tradition in the Kitab-al-Diyat compiled in Sunan Abu Dawood (Book 34, Number 4483) and narrated by Abu Hurayrah:

A man was killed in the lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH), and the matter was brought to him.
The slayer said: Apostle of Allah, I swear by Allah, I did not intend to kill him.
The Apostle of Allah (PBUH) said to the victim's legal guardian: "Now if he is true and you kill him, you will enter Hell-fire. So he let him go. His hands were tied with a strap. He came out pulling his strap. Hence he was called Dhu an-Nis'ah (possessor of strap)".

And so it is that Mirza Tahir was Dhu an-Nis'ah, and Allah will accept his constraints.
And so it is every Pakistani law-enforcer who actively or passively allows Mirza to go to the gallows for an unintentional murder are liable to enter hell-fire, for his execution would be an unjustified murder in its own right.
While Islam may accept Mirza's extenuating circumstances for his crime, Islam certainly won't be as forgiving of Musharraf's political cowardice if he turns a blind eye to Mirza's appeal and oversees his execution.
And so it is that if Musharraf continues down this damning path, Pakistan will just continue enwrapped in tribal sensitivities identical to pre-Islamic rituals in Arabia, on which Muhammad (pbuh) said : "All the merits of pride (or honour) mentioned in pre-Islamic times, and the claims made for blood or property, are under my feet.."

posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
Go on holiday... In Bin Laden's caves!

OBL's (in)famous secret hideout at the Tora Bora caves in Afghanistan, is reportedly being converted into a £5.3 mln holiday resort..

The Sun quotes former warlord-turned-governor, Gul Agha Sherazi, who claims that the area is now "completely safe".
This comes despite the fact that two journalists have been killed in the area during this month alone.
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
Opinion in People's Daily, CHINA

Headlined "US seeking favorable development of Korean nuclear issue", this opinion piece suggests that the U.S could actually be the "biggest beneficiary" of DPRK's nuclear test.

Declaring that non-proliferation is only a veneer behind which hide other American objectives, such as securing national security, the writer asserts that the US is "not absolutely against nuclear proliferation", citing a range of their technology sharing initiatives with 'friendly' nation states in recent years.

The distinction drawn between the changing boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable nuclear proliferation has changed in tandem with America's strategic security objectives.
Using the example of India, the writer recalls how America was keen to establish a civilian nuclear power program with India, and helped the eastern democracy acquire upto seven times the weaponry held by its neighbour, Pakistan.

"The US helped India (because it wanted) to curb the rise of autocratic nations. Now, as long as the US needs anti-terrorism support, the US will keep Pakistan on side as a non-NATO ally and give it billions of dollars of support. It no longer worries about the impact of a nuclear Pakistan on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it will not concern itself with the legitimacy of the Pakistani government, or investigate the legal liabilities of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani atomic bomb".

The article goes on to describe the implications of America's "utilitarian" approach to nuclear proliferation for Chinese stability, which the writer predicts will not change until the next American President is sworn in. That's something I guess the Chinese are anxiously waiting for..!

posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
Does Islamic law allow nuclear jihad?

If it didn’t before, it does now.
In theory, writes Noah Feldman, the Quran explicitly forbids attacks on Muslims, women, and children. However, those strictures have clearly been relaxed, as warfare-and popular opinion-have evolved.
By understanding this phenomenon, Feldman talks of the (illegitimate) political considerations made by today's Ummah when expressing their scholarly view on contemporary Islamic issues, such as suicide bombings in Israel:

"Given that embracing Palestinian suicide bombing had become a widespread social norm, it would have been essentially unthinkable for an important Muslim scholar to condemn the practice without losing his standing among Muslims worldwide. In the Islamic world, as in the U.S. Supreme Court, the legal authorities cannot get too far away from their public constituency without paying a price.What happened...is that without the scholars paying too much attention (to the question), the killing of Israeli women and children became a kind of exception to the ordinary laws of jihad."

The supposed scholars are thus guilty of (often knowingly) corrupting the message of Islam. They are, most damningly, guided by flawed worldly sentiments rather than the timeless injunctions laid down by Allah in His Book. They know what Allah wants - but worldly power is too enticing for them to proclaim a wrong as wrong.

Feldman goes on to ask:
"If the Islamic laws of war are under revision, or at least the subject of intense debate, what does that mean for the question of the Islamic bomb? The answer is that the expanding religious sanction for violence once thought unacceptable, opens the way for new kinds of violence to be introduced and seen as legitimate in turn. First Israeli women and children became acceptable targets; then Americans; then Shiites; and now Sunnis. It would seem that no one is out of bounds"

If you can bend shari’a one way then, hypothetically, you can arguably bend it the other way too. That’s the good news. The bad news is, the Shari'ah has now bent so far in the wrong direction, it’ll take decades to turn Islam's message back around.
That is particularly of national interest to the US, since a staunch anti-Americanism has itself become a central component of the Islamic fundamentalism condoned by this new-age psuedo-Shariah.

"Islamist anti-Americanism rooted in Iran has worked far better than its designers might have imagined... The marriage of Islamism and anti-Americanism will probably be considered by history as the most significant consequence of the Iranian revolution. Anti-Americanism has become a staple of Islamist sermons and Web postings, an effective tool for drawing angry young people to the movement... Bin Ladenism, in this sense, owes much to the Iranian revolution even though Al Qaeda was never Iran’s direct ally. United States support for Israel has always been an important part of the argument for Islamist anti-Americanism, but today it is by no means a necessary component. If U.S. support of Israel were to weaken, the American presence in Iraq and elsewhere in the gulf would easily substitute as a basis for hatred.The United States therefore has strong reason to block its enemy Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — not simply because Iran will seek to become a greater regional power, as any nation might do, but because the Islamic Republic of Iran as currently constituted is definitionally anti-American. There need not be a direct threat of Iranian first use against either the United States or Israel for this reason to weigh heavily. A nuclear Iran will be a stronger and more effective enemy in pursuing anti-American policies under the banner of Islam".

Feldman also talks at length about how Sunnis are apt to respond to Iran’s proliferation with nukes of their own. And sure enough, Gulf Daily News reported on Sunday:

Egypt seeks China N-aid
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will seek Chinese help for Cairo's planned civil nuclear program during a visit to Beijing next month, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in remarks published yesterday (October 28th).
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
"North Korea WILL test again"

The commander of American forces in South Korea has predicted that North Korea will conduct a second nuclear weapon test.

US General B.B. Bell was quick to add that the North's first test hasn't changed the balance of power in East Asia, and he told journalists that American and S.Korean forces could quickly defeat the communist state if war broke out on the peninsula.

Mr Bell said that because the Krazy Kim's regime had already tested one nuclear weapon, he assumed that the country would test a second bomb "some time in the future".

That's a seriously strange statement, even from an American army-man.. On the one hand, he appears to bolster paranoia, while on the other hand, he attempts to soothe and reassure a skeptical public (both at home and internationally) that US forces are strong and unbeatable.

The thing is, we've all witnessed just how prolonged an American war (or two) can be..
Plus, his assertion that Kim "will" test again, is clearly based on flawed logic and more assumptions. So what's the dealiyo? Is he preparing the world for his plans to establish the THIRD American war-front?
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
Adam Smith to appear on £20 note

The Bank of England will issue a new £20 note featuring a portrait of Scottish economist Adam Smith, replacing English composer Sir Edward Elgar.
Smith, most famous for his book the Wealth of Nations, will also make history as the first Scotsman to appear on a Bank of England note. He already appears on Scottish £50 notes.

Isn't the move also significant as England's hat tip to Smith's concepts of competition and laissez-faire economics, and perhaps of the Kingdom's commitment to capitalism?
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
LA Times Editorial on Afghanistan

Entitled "Backsliding in Afghanistan", this editorial highlights how and why the US is slowly but surely losing control in the country.

One of the several reasons cited is the resurgent Taliban, with respect to which the following ovservation is made:

"The United States has done little diplomatically in the last five years to establish a meaningful border between Afghanistan, which does not recognize the international border known as the Durand Line, and Pakistan, which has abandoned any effort to control the tribal areas on its side of the border.

NATO forces...have taken over the daunting task of fighting the insurgency —
but they cannot chase the Taliban into Pakistan, reducing the effort to a
cynical, though deadly, farce. Taliban forces attack, then retreat across the
border into the Pakistani tribal areas to rest, rearm and treat their wounded.
Then they return to kill more U.S. and NATO soldiers".

The implications of declaring continued US/NATO efforts within Afghan borders as "farcical", aren't difficult to gage..

posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
Jirga in Bajaur make their stance clear

Pak Tribal jirga hails Osama, Mullah Omar as "Heroes of the Muslim World"

The jirga of the Mamoond tribe and local pro-Taliban militants in the Umree area announced that tribal people would protect Pakistan's borders and join efforts to fight the "enemies of peace" in Bajaur (tribal agency in the FATA).

A local Taliban commander, Maulana Faqir Muhammad, told the jirga that the tribals had no link with terrorism, and claimed that the federal government was responsible for the deterioration of law and order in agency areas.

"We have no other agenda except to uphold the supremacy of Islam. Jihad against the enemies of Islam will continue and Sharia will be be enforced through "practical jihad", not democracy," he said.

(Then why oh why is your entire tribal system SO glaringly UNislamic, Maulana Faqir?)

The timing of such an announcement is also interesting, as it comes just days after the political administration of Bajaur Agency released nine suspected alQaeda militants, triggering rumours that a North Waziristan-like peace accord was also likely in Bajaur.
As far as I'm concerned, such "peace accords" are synonymous with HYPOCRISY. They follow in the long list of fatal compromises this government has made due to political cowardice.
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
Mush's US trip cost $ 1 million!!

President Pervez Musharraf's recent 18-day visit to the US, which has been flayed by local opposition leaders for being a marketing trip to launch his book, may have cost Pakistan's exchequer upto a whopping ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!
That would make the trip one of the most expensive trips undertaken by any Pakistani head of state or government in the 59-year history of Pakistan.

According to the Daily Times, a total of 28 limousines plus two vans were hired for the delegation, which collectively cost the Pakistani taxpayer $375,000.
Among other preposterous costs, the entire Pakistani delegation stayed at one of the district's most expensive hotels - the Four Seasons - where a single room costs $500 or more.

The PIA aircraft carrying Mush remained parked in New York and for a couple of days at Washington. How much revenue did PIA surrender when one of its passenger aircrafts was put out of service for eighteen days?
With airport parking charges and fuel costs included, the figure would surely cross the $1ooo,ooo mark.
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments
India was top arms shopper in 2005

According to a study conducted by the US Congress, India topped the 2005 list of arms purchasers in the developing world, aqcuiring weapons agreements worth $5.4 billion.

Saudi Arabia ranked second, with agreements amounting to $3.4 billion, while China came in third with $2.8 billion worth of arms agreements.

India was also the leading developing world arms purchaser from 1998-2005, making arms transfer agreements totaling $20.7 billion during these years.

According to the study, Russia emerged as the major supplier of arms to the developing countries during 2005 with sale agreements worth $7 billion, as against $5.4 billion in 2004. France ranked second at $6.3 billion and the US ranked third with nearly $6.2 billion.

From 2002-2005 however, the US and Russia have dominated the arms market in the developing world. During this four year period, the US made $33.3 billion in arms transfer agreements with developing nations, while Russia earned $21.8 billion.
Collectively, the US and Russia thus conducted nearly 60 per cent of all arms transfer agreements with developing nations from 2002-05.
posted by aarkay @ Monday, October 30, 2006   0 comments

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