Bulgaria bus bombing suicide bomber was a Canadian

Bulgaria bus bombing suspect had real Canadian passport, lived in B.C. before return to Lebanon at age 12

By: Stewart Bell

The suspected organizer of a Hezbollah bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a local driver in Bulgaria last July has only tenuous links to Canada but still possessed a genuine Canadian passport, the National Post has learned. ….

Read more » National Post
http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/05/canadian-citizen-confirmed-as-suspected-organizer-of-deadly-bulgaria-bus-bombing/

WATAYO FAQEER

Watayo Faqeer is a Sindhi folk story character. On a very cold night his mother said: “Wataya! You are close to God. It’s very cold tonight, can’t you ask God to spare a little bit of fire from hell to keep poor people like us warm here?” Said Watayo; “Amma [Mother], There is no fire in hell. Everyone has to bring his own.”

Riots in Bangladesh as ‘Butcher of Mirpur’ gets life for war crimes

By: Agence France-Presse

DHAKA // Riots broke out in several Bangladesh cities today after a court sentenced a Islamist opposition official to life in prison for mass murder during the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.

Abdul Quader Mollah, 64, the fourth-highest leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was the first politician to be found guilty by the International Crimes Tribunal, a much-criticised domestic court based in Dhaka.

Mollah cried out, “Allahu Akbar” and said the charges, which also include crimes against humanity, were false after the presiding judge Obaidul Hassan delivered the verdict in a crowded and tightly guarded court.

“He deserved death sentence because of the gravity of the crimes. But the court gave him life imprisonment,” said Mahbubey Alam, the attorney general, adding Mollah was found guilty of five out of six charges including mass murder.

The judgement sparked immediate protests by Jamaat, the country’s largest Islamist party which enforced a nationwide strike in anticipation of the conviction.

Continue reading Riots in Bangladesh as ‘Butcher of Mirpur’ gets life for war crimes

Pakistan – Security forces allowing extremists to attack minorities: HRW

ISLAMABAD, Feb 1: The Human Rights Watch has accused the government of having failed to act against abuses committed by security and intelligence agencies which are letting extremist groups to attack religious minorities.

“The authorities did little to address attacks against journalists and human rights defenders, and committed serious abuses in counter-terrorism operations,” the HRW said in a report.

Continue reading Pakistan – Security forces allowing extremists to attack minorities: HRW

Canada falling behind on poverty, inequality, says report

Conference Board report card gives Canada a B, ranked 7th out of 17 developed countries

Canada isn’t living up to its potential or its reputation when it comes to societal issues like poverty, government and inequality, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

The group gave Canada a ‘B’, good for a 7th place ranking out of 17 developed countries, but it said the “middle-of-the-pack” ranking leaves room for improvement.

Getting an ‘A’ at the top of the rankings were the Scandinavian nations (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland) as well as the Netherlands and Austria. …

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/02/01/business-canada-society-report-card.html

Noam Chomsky- Is America Over?

Noam Chomsky: The Paranoia of the Superrich and Superpowerful

“Is America over?” It’s a standard complaint of those who believe they should have everything.

By Noam Chomsky

[This piece is adapted from “Uprisings,” a chapter in Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire, Noam Chomsky’s new interview book with David Barsamian (with thanks to the publisher, Metropolitan Books).  The questions are Barsamian’s, the answers Chomsky’s.]

Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?

The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources — the main concern of U.S. planners — have been mostly nationalized. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.

Take the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.

The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism — mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn’t deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets. Step by step, Iraq was able to dismantle the controls put in place by the occupying forces. By November 2007, it was becoming pretty clear that it was going to be very hard to reach U.S. goals. And at that point, interestingly, those goals were explicitly stated. So in November 2007 the Bush II administration came out with an official declaration about what any future arrangement with Iraq would have to be. It had two major requirements: one, that the United States must be free to carry out combat operations from its military bases, which it will retain; and two, “encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments.” In January 2008, Bush made this clear in one of his signing statements. A couple of months later, in the face of Iraqi resistance, the United States had to give that up. Control of Iraq is now disappearing before their eyes.

Iraq was an attempt to reinstitute by force something like the old system of control, but it was beaten back. In general, I think, U.S. policies remain constant, going back to the Second World War. But the capacity to implement them is declining.

Declining because of economic weakness?

Continue reading Noam Chomsky- Is America Over?

Democracy!

By Farooq Sulehria

That Pakistan’s fragile democratic process has withstood yet another deluge unleashed in the form of Tahirul Qadri testifies to the maturity our political leadership has mercifully attained. More importantly, such was the mass pressure that even Imran Khan felt isolated and avoided joining hands with Qadri.

One hopes the people of Pakistan, for the first time in the country’s history, get the chance to vote out a government. Let all the messiahs, promising ‘change’ test their popularity in the forthcoming elections.

It is highly likely that the present setup will continue with some adjustments and the next government will fail to deliver anything tangible. But still I would not join middle-class fascists yearning for ‘change’ by ‘all means necessary.’ Democracy, even in its distorted bourgeois form, is a working-class gain.

It is true that the political parties have become family fiefdoms and the ruling politicians want to reduce democracy to polling booths. However, either to win reforms within the system or overturn the system altogether, the working classes stand a better chance in a democracy than under tyranny. A change takes place when workers, peasants, women, students, and marginalised communities organise themselves. It is not introduced by any well-intentioned messiah.

Continue reading Democracy!

Imran Khan is becoming Irrelevant!

By Saeed Qureshi

Imran Khan, the founder and the Chairman of the political party, “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is quiet for quite some time. He must be pondering about his future course by closeting him in his private room. A political or public leader cannot sit idle or remain away or isolated for long, from the public eye and the countrymen. His eerie silence and diminished activity pose a big question mark.

Continue reading Imran Khan is becoming Irrelevant!

Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

Was Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

By Saeed Qureshi

Was a country that came into being in the name of religion destined to be a theocracy in the longer run? And that is what exactly happened with Pakistan. Pakistan is awash with radicalism and fundamentalism. The religious militants have taken Pakistan hostage.

The sectarianism is assuming monstrous proportions and running amok with the social peace and stability of the country. The founders would have never imagined that in the state they are striving hard to create, the religious sects would slaughter in public view their opponents and still get away from justice.

The civil liberties in the Islamic state of Pakistan are fast disappearing. The national institutions like police, courts, municipalities, post offices, banks, schools, hospitals, water and power, transportation, taxation and revenue collection are in a state of continuous decay and dysfunction.

All these state building departments are infested with unremitting maladies of corruption, malfunctioning, red tape, disorder, and lawlessness. The visible progress that one can witness is the number of mosques growing; the religious traditional events celebrated every year with renewed passion and fanfare and sectarian vendettas escalating.

If this nascent country was supposed to be rampaged and taken over by bigots and religious reactionaries with no vision of civility and the need of a civil society, then better it was not created. The cut throats fundamentalists force the people to remain stuck up in the past, follow the rituals and then feel free to indulge in any conceivable villainy, wickedness, lawlessness and rioting.

Continue reading Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

Rent-a-PM

by Hakim Hazik

If you already have carried out coup d’etas, or have your candidate in place, it is not too late. Please see our Morning-After package for details. (Previously called the Law of Necessity package.)

All are welcome to visit our brand new facility at the Constitution Avenue. We provide caretaker prime ministers, interim government leaders, technocrats and religious leaders at very competitive rates.

All our personnel come with a warrantee of a minimum of ninety days which can be extended to eleven years for a small monthly amount. (Terms and conditions apply, see the registrar Supreme Court for a detailed plan, customised to your needs).

If you already have carried out coup d’etas, or have your candidate in place, it is not too late. Please see our Morning-After package for details. (Previously called the Law of Necessity package.)

If your candidate has fallen foul of the articles 62-63 or of the Dual Nationality Law, a remedy can be found. Please see our Speedy Rehab plan for details. (Previously called the Halala package.)

This may include a six week intensive programme to learn the Ayat ul Kursi at Jamia Faridia International University. For the unlettered candidates, one to one oral instruction is available without any documentation, from our corporate partners, Arsalan-Riaz Associates. At the end of this intensive course, your candidate will fly through the requirements of reciting the selected suras in front of the most learned, pious and bewigged audience of the land and be able to maintain his parliamentary seat, without recourse to a by-election.

Continue reading Rent-a-PM

Iran president unveils Qaher-313 indigenous fighter jet

Iran has unveiled a new indigenous fighter jet, which is said to be similar to a US-made warplane.

Qaher-313 (Conqueror-313) advanced military aircraft was put on display during a ceremony on Saturday in the presence of Commander of Iran’s Army Major General Ataollah Salehi, Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi and Commander of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) Brigadier General Hassan Shah-Safi on the occasion of the Ten-Day Dawn celebrations commemorating the victory of 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who addressed the unveiling ceremony, reiterated that Iran’s defense might did not serve purposes of “expansionism and aggression against other countries” and that it was “deterrent” by nature.

Ahmadinejad also stated that the fighter jet had been completely designed and manufactured by Iranian experts.

Qaher-313 is said to be similar to the US-built F/A-18, although its appearance is similar to F-5E/F Tiger II.

Read more » Press TV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/02/02/286841/iran-unveils-new-indigenous-fighter-jet/

Top Pak scientist warns of extremist threat to n-weapons

By Hasan Suroor

Pakistani nuclear scientist Pervez Hoodbhoy has spoken of growing fears in Pakistan that its nuclear arsenal could be “hijacked” by extremists as a result of “increasing radicalisation” of the Army.

He said such fears were initially expressed mostly in the west but were now widely shared within Pakistan after “repeated” extremist attacks on Army installations, including the ISI headquarters in Lahore. These could not have taken place without “some sort of inside information”.

“There’s a fair degree of concern that because of increasing radicalisation of Pakistani Army, the country’s nuclear weapons could be hijacked by extremists,” he said speaking to a group of Indian journalists at the launch of his book, Confronting the Bomb: Pakistani & Indian Scientists Speak Out, a collection of essays by Indian and Pakistani scientists who believe that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the two countries was “undesirable” and had put the entire subcontinent in danger.

Mr. Hoodbhoy, who has often been a target of the Pakistani establishment, said Pakistan’s nuclear capability had given a new dimension to its campaign against India. Islamabad saw it as a “counter-force” to overcome India’s military superiority and was providing a “nuclear umbrella” to jihadis engaged in anti-India activities.

Pervez Hoodbhoy interview: The Mumbai massacres and Pakistan’s new nightmares

“If Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons, Kargil would not have happened. My contention is that it was the first instance that nuclear weapons actually caused a war, ‘’ he said.

Warning of continued jihadi threat to India, he said: “Today India is faced with a very difficult situation because jihadis are still operating in Pakistan with the sanction of the state and they are provided cover by the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons.”

Continue reading Top Pak scientist warns of extremist threat to n-weapons

A four-day week for the good of the country?

Should people be off on Fridays?

By Vanessa Barford

The Gambia has shortened the work week, making Friday a day of rest. Is this the perfect pattern for a working week?

In the tiny African nation of The Gambia, public sector workers will now clock in at 8am and clock out at 6pm, Monday to Thursday. They’ll still do a 40-hour week but have the luxury of Friday off.

President Jammeh wants the extra rest day to “allow Gambians to devote more time to prayers, social activities and agriculture”.

In the dark days of the 19th Century, many workers in industrialised nations considered themselves lucky if they got Sunday off. The achievement of a 40-hour week with Saturday and Sunday off for many was a major landmark for the labour movement.

But some have tried to go further. In 2008, about 17,000 government officials in the US state of Utah started working four 10-hour days in a bid to cut costs. ….

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21242782

Renowned Sindhi writer and scholar Siraj Memon passed away!

My Humble Homage, My Tearful Tribute to Siraj Memon

By Dr. Ahmed H. Makhdoom

Extremely saddened and shocked to learn about the tragic passing-away of our venerable elder Saaeen Sirajul Haque Memon.

Sirajul Haque was few years younger from my late father’s generation. However, he knew my late father as a friends and colleague for as long as I remember along with the greats of Sindh like the late Shaikh Ayaz, late Tanveer Abbasi and many other respected and revered scholars, writers and intellectuals of Sindh.

Sirajul Haque was a versatile and veritable writer, intellectual, scholar, literary figure, journalist, philosopher and a wise, sagacious and saintly being of the glorious Land of Sindh! He was, perhaps, the last of the greats and brilliant luminaries of Sindh who, through their extraordinary writings, compositions, texts, poetry and books par excellence enlightened the hearts and illuminated the minds of many of the ordinary beings like my own self throughout Sindh, who were always thirsty for knowledge and sagacity, scholarship and prudence.

Born at Tando Jam, Sindh, in 1933 he breathed his last at the age of 79 years old on 2nd Feabruary, 2013. Author of about a dozen scholarly works on History, Culture, Language and Literature of Sindh, he was also a journalist and a former Editor of Hilal-e-Pakistan, a Sindhi Newspaper which was published from Karachi, Sindh. His book “Parraaddo So Saddu” (in Sindhi پَڙاڏو سو سَڏُ) was amongst his masterpieces. He also wrote short stories and novels, which were treasured and like all over the Sindhi-speaking world in Sindh, Hind and the Diaspora.

Sirajul Haque’s innumerable books, novels, articles and newspaper and magazine columns were truly, enriching, entertaining, pleasing, amusing, engaging and highly heart-warming and enamouring.

Continue reading Renowned Sindhi writer and scholar Siraj Memon passed away!

Iran by Merlin Miller

As The Israeli War Drums Beat

by Merlin Miller

I contemplate my recent trip to the Islamic Republic of Iran and ask myself who wants war between America and Iran. I quickly surmise that it is not the American people, nor the Iranian people, but globalists (international bankers and their multinational beneficiaries). They control Israel, the American media and most of our politicians…and by extension our foreign policy.

My journey to this exotic and little understood land began with an invitation to “New Horizon – The First International Independent Filmmakers Festival”. It was a conference and festival held in Tehran from September 2nd through September 7th. Filmmakers and intellectuals from around the world attended. It was one of the most stimulating experiences that I have ever had and an effective bridge between diverse cultures and perspectives – with the purpose of promoting truth, justice, liberty, and peace.

This initiative was undertaken, not by America or other world leaders, but by a country unfairly besieged with sanctions and threats of war. My observations were in stark contrast to the perceptions of most Americans. What I experienced was a devout country with a love of God, family, and nation – and an uncompromising respect for the noblest of human endeavors.

As I write this, a giant, beautiful book, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, lies next to me. Khayyam’s wonderful poems have survived the test of time and are a testament to the normally peaceful spirit of the Persian people. This treasure was given to me by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Inside its back cover, he inscribed the following for me (transcribed from Farsi) …

Read more » Merlin Miller
http://merlinmiller2012.com/?p=996

CNN – Six Israeli security chiefs stun the world

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Six former heads of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secretive internal security service, have spoken out as a group for the first time and are making stunning revelations.

The men who were responsible for keeping Israel safe from terrorists now say they are afraid for Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state.

Israeli film director Dror Moreh managed to get them all to sit down for his new documentary: “The Gatekeepers.” It is the story of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, as told by the people at the crossroads of some of the most crucial moments in the security history of the country.

“If there is someone who understands the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s those guys,” the director told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Against the backdrop of the currently frozen peace process, all six argue – to varying degrees – that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is bad for the state of Israel.

The oldest amongst the former chiefs, Avraham Shalom, says Israel lost touch with how to coexist with the Palestinians as far back as the aftermath of the Six Day War of 1967, with the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, when the country started doubling down on terrorism.

“We forgot about the Palestinian issue,” Shalom says in the film.

Continue reading CNN – Six Israeli security chiefs stun the world

Dalit women in Pakistan – denied a life in dignity and respect

A new report documents the situation of Pakistan’s Dalit women; one of the most socially excluded and impoverished sections of the population. The shadow report for a UN CEDAW review of Pakistan in February calls on the Government to focus on education, access to basic services, and laws and special programmes to protect the rights of Dalit women.

For the first time, a report to a UN treaty body committee specifically addresses the situation of Dalit women in Pakistan. The report finds that these women are triple victims of discrimination – due to caste, gender and religion.

The report ‘SCHEDULED CASTE WOMEN IN PAKISTAN – Denied a life in dignity and respect’ has been prepared by the Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network in association with IDSN for the examination of Pakistan by the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The review is scheduled to take place in Geneva on 12 February 2013.

In Pakistan, Dalits (officially known as ‘scheduled castes’) experience multiple forms of discrimination among the country’s 180 million people. Already considered a religious minority in an Islamic society, Dalit Hindus and Christians are further victimized as ‘untouchable’ by the rest of the society and their own communities.

The situation of Dalit women is even worse due to the discrimination they face on the basis of caste and gender. They are extremely vulnerable to social exclusion, and are often subject to severe discrimination and physical assaults.

Dalit women are marginalised due to their weak socio-economic status, low education levels, and their location in harsh conditions of work – such as bonded labour, cotton picking and working in brick kilns. In the rural provinces of Pakistan, the majority of bonded labourers come from a scheduled caste background. Rape of female bonded labourers is widespread, and there is little legal recourse to address the problem.

Sexual abuse and kidnappings are some of the worst problems for Dalit women and girls in Pakistan. Ms. Radha Bhil, a Dalit woman working as a social mobilizer, says: “Women and girls from the lower caste or religious minority are easy targets for harassment, because the majority knows that they are weak and cannot take any action.”

Continue reading Dalit women in Pakistan – denied a life in dignity and respect