Delhi comes out for Fatima

By , TNN

Literary do: This was a good opportunity for Delhi’s literary enthusiasts to get a copy signed by an author who usually gets a fair degree of attention this side of the border.

Fatima Bhutto recently launched her book, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, in Delhi. To celebrate the occasion, restaurateur AD Singh hosted a do at The Dirty Martini at Olive Qutub, Mehrauli. Dressed in a smart blue sari, Fatima obliged guests who approached her to get their copy signed. “Earlier, there were some serials from Pakistan which were telecast in India as well. But now, Pakistan means just music and singers (here), which is not enough,” Fatima said.

Phoren praise: Radidja Nemar, a French national who was on an India tour, also attended the session. “I’ve heard about her. This is going to be my first book from this author. It was lovely speaking to her, especially on the unspoken violence that a majority of women go through,” said Nemar.

Courtesy: The Times of India
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/Delhi-comes-out-for-Fatima/articleshow/24935639.cms

‘Magnificent Delusions’ of US-Pakistan relations

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Even as an ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani was one of the most eloquent critics of Pakistan’s military, the country’s most powerful institution.

Haqqani, once derided at home as Washington’s ambassador to Pakistan for his pro-Western views, has taken a step further, accusing the government of directly supporting militant groups in his latest book “Magnificent Delusions”.

Now a professor of international relations at Boston University, he was ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, a turbulent time in US-Pakistan relations that culminated in a raid by US special forces in May 2011 that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Haqqani resigned in November 2011 and left Pakistan after becoming involved in a scandal surrounding a secret memo that accused the army of plotting a coup and sought help from the United States to rein in the military.

Haqqani, who has denied any connection to the memo, spoke to Reuters by telephone from the United States about his book and his views on US-Pakistan relations.

Q: Why do you believe Pakistan supports militant groups?

A: As far as terrorism is concerned, Pakistan was the conduit of weapons and training for the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. After that, Pakistan switched it to India, especially in Kashmir. And that is the point at which the United States said “You are engaging in terrorism”. The Pakistani response was “But we started it together”.

The problem is that the “pro-jihadi” narrative has become so mainstream that it is very difficult for any government to … put all fighters out of business. But Pakistan would not find peace without putting all of them out of business.

Q: Why is this happening now?

A: The whole idea of building a nation around religious nationalism has backfired. What has happened is that religious nationalism has only produced extremism. If Pakistan were to be an Islamic state, the question arises “What kind of Islamic state?” We are now in a virtual civil war between various sects and militias attached to these sects who don’t tolerate each other.

Continue reading ‘Magnificent Delusions’ of US-Pakistan relations

The Number of Billionaires Is Growing Across the Planet, as Global Inequality Spreads

Gone are the days when U.S. billionaires accounted for over 40 percent of the list.

With the help of  Forbes magazine, we and colleagues at the  Institute for Policy Studies have been tracking the world’s billionaires and rising inequality the world over for several decades. Just as a drop of water gives us a clue into the chemical composition of the sea, these billionaires offer fascinating clues into the changing face of global power and inequality.

Read more » AlterNet

China: Growing Strikes, Corruption and Debt are Harbingers of coming Revolution

Written by Daniel Morley and Congyue Dai

Six months into China’s new Politburo Standing Committee under Xi Jinping’s Presidency, it has become abundantly clear that the next ten years under his rule will not resemble the relative social stability and rapid growth of the past ten years. The cart will not keep on rolling down the same path. Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party stand at a crossroads, facing that classic dilemma of all ruling classes – either to open up to democratic reform or clamp down on growing dissent?

Underneath the bland, controlled and seemingly unchanging edifice of Hu Jintao’s Presidency China has been anything but unchanging. Millions have joined what is by far the world’s largest proletariat and started producing more and more commodities. Of particular interest to Marxists is the rebirth of the Chinese labour movement which is growing in confidence and organisation day by day. This fact is of infinitely greater significance in determining the new regime’s approach to reforming itself than the pleas of enlightened liberals.

According to China Labour Bulletin (CLB), the three months from June to August 2013 saw 183 strikes, 7% up from the previous three months and more than double the amount in the same period in 2012!

Read more » http://www.marxist.com/china-strikes-corruption-debt-harbinger-of-revolution.htm?fb_action_ids=739718982710238&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map={%22739718982710238%22%3A159396910938122}&action_type_map={%22739718982710238%22%3A%22og.likes%22}&action_ref_map=[]

Hoodbhoy to address conference on violence against minorities

By Raja Zahid A Khanzada

DALLAS: Internationally known Pakistani activist and peace scholar Pervez Hoodbhoy will be the keynote speaker at the high profile conference on violence against minorities in South Asia here organized by the South Asia Democracy Watch (SADeW.

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-123642-Hoodbhoy-to-address-conference-on-violence-against-minorities

Billion Dollar Pay Check? 10 CEOs in America Break All Records for Executive Pay

“I have never seen anything like that,” says the author of the report on CEO pay.

For the first time ever, the 10 highest-paid chief executives in the US all received more than $100m in compensation and two took home billion-dollar paychecks, according to a leading annual survey of executive pay.

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/billion-dollar-pay-check-10-ceos-america-break-all-records-executive-pay

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Tells Foreign Affairs Committee He Would Welcome Voice of America in Sindhi

ShermanWashington, D.C. – At a meeting between the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) raised the prospect of a Voice of America broadcast into Pakistan in the Sindhi language.

In response to Sherman’s question, Prime Minister Sharif said, “I would welcome it.” The Prime Minister went on to list efforts of his own government to communicate in the Sindhi language.

Sherman, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is the chair of the Congressional Sindh Caucus.

“The response from the Sindhi community in Pakistan to U.S. public diplomacy in their language has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Sherman. “The Prime Minister of Pakistan welcomes this outreach.”

In a Foreign Affairs Committee markup on July 21, 2011, Sherman offered an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The amendment required that, of the funds made available to Voice of America, $1.5 million be used only for Sindhi language programming. The Committee considered and unanimously approved Sherman’s amendment. However, that bill never became law.

Courtesy: via Sapac Sindh + Sindhi e-groups/ e-lists, October 25, 2013

Oligarchs — new dictators of the 21st century

BY Christian Caryl

WASHINGTON: Earlier this month, the investment bank Credit Suisse published its annual survey of global wealth. The bank’s report is filled with illuminating findings, but one in particular caught my eye. It has to do with the distribution of assets in Russia, where, as the report notes, a mere 110 people own a mind-boggling 35 per cent of the country’s entire wealth. At the same time, 93.7pc of Russians are worth $10,000 or less.

As the report notes, this makes Russia the country with the greatest wealth disparities in the world. Americans, who are now increasingly concerned about deepening inequality in their own country, might seek some consolation from this dismal conclusion. Even under present circumstances, wealth in the United States is still spread a lot more evenly than that. Things could be worse, right?

Well, maybe. But I see little cause for jubilation. Russia is merely the most extreme case of a worldwide trend that potentially represents one of the greatest threats that democracy faces today: the spread of oligarchy.

The problem isn’t just that some people in today’s world are fabulously rich. It’s that disproportionate wealth increasingly goes along with disproportionate power. Russia, again, offers a textbook example of the dangers. Back in the 1990s, a handful of politically well-connected business tycoons managed to profit from their close relations with Boris Yeltsin’s Kremlin by taking advantage of the privatisation of the country’s industrial jewels — above all its vast oil wealth. Those magnates weren’t shy about exploiting their economic power to political ends. They bankrolled Yeltsin’s re-election as president in 1996, controlled ministerial appointments, and dictated government policy. No wonder these businessmen-cum-politicians were soon dubbed the “oligarchs.” (”Oligarchy” is Greek for “government of the few.”)

Continue reading Oligarchs — new dictators of the 21st century

Russell Brand: ‘Revolution Is Coming… I Ain’t Got a Flicker of Doubt’

British comedian goes off on failed paradigm, talking egalitarianism, consciousness, and filthiness of profit with the BBC

– Jon Queally, staff writer

The British left weekly New Statesman has taken a chance on an up-and-coming rogue editor, but the actor-comedian and newly welcomed progressive-minded firebrand Russell Brand seems so far to be a brilliant and elegant choice.

Tapped to guest-edit the magazine’s ‘Revolution’ issue this week, Brand is making waves both for his feature-length essay on the topic but also with a televised interview that aired Wednesday night on the BBC with veteran Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman.

Read more » Common Dreams
https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/24-6

McDowell County, USA Has Close to Haiti’s Life Expectancy: Welcome to Third World America

Many Americans, especially in the South, can look forward to dying far younger than their counterparts in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and much of Europe.

The Affordable Care Act is merely a small step in the direction of universal healthcare. One need only look at the data on life expectancy among Americans to realize how badly health care reform is needed in the United States. People in much of Europe are, on the whole, outliving residents of the U.S., which in some places, is looking more and more like a Third World country when it comes to life expectancy.

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/mcdowell-county-usa-has-close-haitis-life-expectancy-welcome

The toxin of nostalgia hinders progress and fuels extremism

By Hussein Ibish

Beware nostalgia. It’s unavoidable. It’s bad enough when we sit back and think of the “happy days of childhood” and sigh, oblivious to the fact that they were, at the time, experienced as nothing of the kind. But in the political context, deep nostalgia should set off the loudest alarm bells: in almost all cases, something is going badly wrong or a gigantic con is under way.

The toxin of nostalgia is at the heart of much of the worst political rot in the contemporary Middle East, and, indeed, much of the rest of the world.

As the historian Joseph Ellis explained in the Los Angeles Times, the right wing American Tea Party movement is positively 18th century in its mindset and instinctively dislikes and distrusts the Constitution as too centralising a political structure.

They would, he convincingly argues, prefer a return to the catastrophic Articles of Confederation of the 1780s.

Meanwhile, some Germans are presently experiencing “Ostalgie” – a portmanteau neologism that means nostalgia for communist East Germany, including the infamous Stasi secret police.

Even the worst of times can be reimagined, particularly in the context of present day alienation, as recuperable and, potentially, the loss of a “golden age” or a “time of innocence”.

Certainly many Americans who disparage the 1960s and their cultural impact conveniently forget the racism and sexism of the pre-civil rights era.

So there’s nothing unique about the poisonous nostalgia that is informing a great deal of the worst politics in the Middle East. But in any situation in which everything is in flux, insidious influences such as nostalgia and constructed histories can become particularly powerful and therefore damaging.

The entire Islamist movement is built on various forms of nostalgia and constructed, manufactured histories. The one thing that all Islamists have in common is a rejection of the overwhelming bulk of Islamic religious and political philosophy and traditions in favour of a “return” to some supposedly “pure” form of the faith as practised by the earliest generations of Muslims. There is a tendency to chronologically privilege the periods closest to Revelation as less prone to corruption by misinterpretation or non-Islamic cultural norms.

Islamists of all stripes reject the heterogeneous and pluralistic traditions of most mainstream historical Islam in favour of an assertion of a return to a “pure” past or the re-creation of some sort of fictional seventh century “golden age.”

Nostalgia has also poisoned key aspects of the Arab uprisings. When post-dictatorship Egypt finally went to the polls, voters proved significantly uninterested in individual personalities who might have offered new political approaches, such as former Muslim Brother Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, former foreign minister Amr Mousa or former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

Instead Egyptians turned to the warm but false familiarity of political nostalgia. They mainly voted for the two most well-established institutions of the country: the heirs of the regime set up by Gamal Abdel Nasser and the long-standing and equally familiar opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Neither has changed much since the 1950s.

It’s hard to avoid speculating that Egyptians felt a certain comfort in seeing their primary choices in terms of large, recognisable and established groups – neither of which showed any sign of innovation – rather than individuals who might have had some new ideas or approaches.

In other words, the Egyptian election was basically a gigantic exercise in misguided nostalgia that set the stage for the disastrous failed presidency of Mohammed Morsi and the current uneasy period of transition.

Many societies can’t exist without telling themselves elaborate and preposterous lies about their founding, because the truth is always too ugly to be collectively inspiring or induce patriotism. And societies imagine deep and organic roots for their contemporary political identities that are either largely or entirely fictional.

Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/the-toxin-of-nostalgia-hinders-progress-and-fuels-extremism#ixzz2iMxVShHf

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Pakistan: Back in the picture

By Farahnaz Zahidi

Entering the cinema, I wondered if Zinda Bhaag would be all that they were saying it was. Turns out the neo-realistic film, set in inner city Lahore and directed by Farjad Nabi and Meenu Gaur, was more. Watching the scene where Khaldi, a young man desperate to get out of Pakistan, looks with burning eyes and a quiet longing at his friend Chitta, who is leaving as an illegal immigrant to Italy, I realized that Pakistani cinema had finally arrived.

Zinda Bhaag is the country’s first entry to this year’s Oscars, in the foreign language film category. But equally important, the film’s box-office collections (75 lakh Pakistani rupees in its first week) are an indication that Pakistanis are returning to the cinema. Many youngsters queuing up at the new multiplexes mushrooming across cities are discovering Pakistani films for the first time.

For over a decade, barring the occasional activism-laden films, very few movies have been produced in Pakistan. After the fall of East Pakistan (now Bangaldesh), Pakistan lost over 1,100 cinema screens and a major chunk of talent and technical expertise of the film industry. That, coupled with the steep taxation policies of the mid-’70s, discouraged traditional investors, and new financers entered the game. “Investors, primarily from Punjab, who wanted to turn black money into white via the film industry affected the kind of films made,” says Pakistani film critic Rafay Mahmood, referring to the crass, violence-fuelled Punjabi entertainers that became the staple. Pushto films from the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suffered a similar fate.

Pakistani television then became the benchmark for quality, and soon cinema had to compete with this mass medium. Realistic serials like Khuda ki Basti (1969-74) and Waris (1980) were both critically-acclaimed and successful. The ban on Bollywood, in place since 1965, was only lifted in President Musharraf’s era, with a restored version of Mughal-e-Azam that paved the way for more Indian releases. But families preferred watching these films from across the border on their VCRs, as it was both convenient and cheaper.

The ‘revival’ of indigenous films today is due to a number of factors, including the success of Bollywood in Pakistan, which revived exhibitor interest. The advent of multiplexes over the last two years has also helped. The mid 2000s saw a surge in graduates from local institutes like the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in Karachi, all keen to act in films in Pakistan. They will find a supporter in Nadeem Mandviwalla, the man behind The Platform, Pakistan’s first independent film distribution body launched a few months ago. Mandviwalla promises to incentivize filmmakers experimenting with alternate genres by helping them with film distribution and promotions. Also the owner of multiscreen cinemas like Atrium in Karachi and Centaurus Cineplex in Islamabad, he is enthusiastic about the work he is seeing today. “An industry that had not made films for the last 10 years comes up with Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi (MHSA) and Waar. Imagine what they will produce a decade from now,” he says.

Continue reading Pakistan: Back in the picture

Bilawal declares war on “hijackers of faith”

KARACHI: Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, on Friday said he was declaring jihad (holy war) against “hijackers of the faith”, DawnNews reported.

Addressing his supporters at Karachi’s Karsaz on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the Oct 18, 2007 bomb blasts that killed 176 people during a historic rally led by Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal promised supporters that he would fight for the people.

The PPP chairman said that on Oct 18, the Taliban had used a child in the suicide attack on the rally led by his mother on her return from Dubai.

Read more » DAWN

The 4,500-Year-Old City of Mohenjo Daro Is Crumbling, And No One Is Stopping It

Mohenjo Daro likely was, at its time, the greatest city in the world. Roughly 4,500 years ago, as many as 35,000 people lived and worked in the massive city, which occupies 250 acres along Pakistan’s Indus river.

Mohenjo Daro sat beneath the soil for thousands of years, a preserved relic of the ancient Indus Valley civilization. But excavation exposed the city to the elements, and now, says the Telegraph, the ruins may have as little as 20 years left.

[T]he once lost city is in danger of disappearing again as its clay wall houses, grid system roads, great granaries, baths and drainage systems crumble to dust, a victim of government neglect, public indifference and tourists’ fears of terrorism.

Archaeologists have told The Sunday Telegraph that the world’s oldest planned urban landscape is being corroded by salt and could disappear within 20 years without an urgent rescue plan.

Last year, heavy flooding threatened the ruins, but even outside of natural disasters the town is fading fast.

Preservation work has been going on since the first major excavations in 1924 and intensified after it was made a World Heritage Site in 1980, but the effort has flagged as scarce government funds have been diverted by earthquakes and floods, officials said.

They need 350 labourers, as well as masons, supervisors and technical staff, but on the day The Sunday Telegraph visited there were just 16 men wheeling barrows of mud to shore up the walls.

IN MEMORIES OF THE THOORI PHATAK MARTYRS OF SINDH

By Naseer Memon

On 17th October 1984, five young Sindhis were brutally killed and scores were injured when an army contingent sprayed two buses of students with bullets. Sindh University students were on their way to Larkano to attend an event when they were stopped near Thorri railway crossing in the then Dadu district. These buses were fired upon indiscriminately by Marshal-law force of Gen. dictator Zia, the biggest enemy of Pakistan. Five young men namely Malik Khushk, Zakrya Memon, Amanullah Vistro, Anwar Abbassi and Mitho Buledi died on spot and several were injured. More than 100 students were arrested and subjected to inhuman torture. Seven of them served prison for more than five years. A judicial inquiry was conducted but the report was never made public because it is believed that the inquiry concluded that the act was shear barbarity.  Sindh remembers and salutes great heroes of this day.

مٹی کی محبت میں ہم آشفتہ سروں نے

وہ قرض چکائے ہیں جو واجب بہی نہیں تھے

Courtesy: Via Naseer Memon’s Facebook wall

Commentary: U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world

By Xinhua writer Liu Chang

BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) — As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.

Emerging from the bloodshed of the Second World War as the world’s most powerful nation, the United States has since then been trying to build a global empire by imposing a postwar world order, fueling recovery in Europe, and encouraging regime-change in nations that it deems hardly Washington-friendly.

With its seemingly unrivaled economic and military might, the United States has declared that it has vital national interests to protect in nearly every corner of the globe, and been habituated to meddling in the business of other countries and regions far away from its shores.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone to all lengths to appear before the world as the one that claims the moral high ground, yet covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders.

Under what is known as the Pax-Americana, we fail to see a world where the United States is helping to defuse violence and conflicts, reduce poor and displaced population, and bring about real, lasting peace.

Moreover, instead of honoring its duties as a responsible leading power, a self-serving Washington has abused its superpower status and introduced even more chaos into the world by shifting financial risks overseas, instigating regional tensions amid territorial disputes, and fighting unwarranted wars under the cover of outright lies.

As a result, the world is still crawling its way out of an economic disaster thanks to the voracious Wall Street elites, while bombings and killings have become virtually daily routines in Iraq years after Washington claimed it has liberated its people from tyrannical rule.

Continue reading Commentary: U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world

Injustice with Sindh continue

Ecnec approves nine projects of Rs43 bn

ISLAMABAD: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) that met here on Monday with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, accorded approval to nine projects valued at Rs42.92 billion in the energy, education, health, transport and communications, irrigation and water sectors.

The meeting approved two projects for Punjab amounting to Rs24.84 billion, three projects for Balochistan valuing to Rs 8.70 billion, one project for Sindh of worth Rs2.08 billion and two projects for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa costing Rs4.40 billion and one national scholarship programme of Rs2.90 billion.

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-206926-Ecnec-approves-nine-projects-of-Rs43-bn

India Ready To Launch First Mars Mission

By Ryan W. Neal, International Business Times

India has begun a countdown towards the launch of its first spacecraft bound for Mars. The Indian Space Research Organization will launch a Mars Orbiter Mission probe named Mangalyaan in the next few weeks.

Mangalyaan recently arrived at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota and will be loaded onto a launch vehicle that is just about ready for takeoff. Mangalyaan will orbit Mars and take photographs of the Martian surface and search for signs of methane in the Mars atmosphere. An array of senors aboard Mangalyaan will explore morphology and mineralogy of the Mars surface.

The Indian mission to Mars has a launch window between Oct. 28 and Nov. 19, which will get Mangalyaan to Mars in September 2014. It will orbit Mars for about six to 10 months.

If successful, India will become just the fourth nation to reach mars, along with the former Soviet Union, Europe and the US. Japan and China have both attempted Mars missions and failed.

The mission will cap off a successful year for ISRO. In 2013, India debuted environmental and communications satellites and a successful unmanned mission to the moon.

Mangalyaan will be joined by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbital probe. Representatives of NASA told Space.com that having a diverse set of vantage points and sensors will contribute to a more complete understanding of the Martian geology and climate.

Courtesy: http://socialreader.com/me/content/U6xgl

US Congressman backs Balochistan’s right of self determination.

BRUSSELS: A member the U.S. House of Representatives has called upon the Pakistan government to stop its authoritarian measures in Balochistan and to respect the right to self-determination of the Baloch people.

In a message to an event organized at the European Parliament in Brussels titled Balochistan: Destiny Denied, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who is member of the House Judiciary Committee and member of the Crime, Terror and Homeland Security Sub-Commitee, called on the Pakistan government to “cease its authoritarian operations” in Balochistan. He said, “Americans empathize with Balochistan’s call for self-determination.”

The congressman from Wisconsin added, “The Baloch people have passed for nearly seven decades to throw the yoke of Pakistani rule … Baloch activism had been met by Pakistani armor, artillery and air strikes.”

Rep. Sessenbrenner said in his statement, “I support … freedom and liberty for the Baloch people. It is their right to determine their future and how best to protect the rights of Balochistan’s citizens.”

Read more » http://tarekfatah.com/us-congressman-backs-balochistans-right-of-self-determination/

Singapore model of Pakistan origin killed in Islamabad

Body of Singapore model found in Pakistan

A model and beauty queen from Singapore who went missing in Pakistan has been found dead in a ditch on the edge of Islamabad.

Fehmina Chaudhry, 27, a Singapore-based model originally from the Pakistani port city of Karachi, went missing last Thursday while visiting Islamabad to buy property, police say.

“Police arrested the real estate broker and after interrogation, he told officers that he had murdered the model and dumped her body in a stream at the outskirts of the city,” Islamabad police spokesman Muhammad Naeem said.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/body-of-singapore-model-found-in-pakistan-20131016-2vla5.html#ixzz2hvJtQZDg

 

Israel poverty figures up, 40% of children at risk

Nearly twice as many youngsters facing financial difficulties compared to average for European countries

By Stuart Winer

he number of Israelis at risk of poverty has gone up in the last decade and is nearly twice the average in the European Union, figures released Wednesday show. Details from the “Society in Israel Report No. 6,” published by the National Central Bureau of Statistics, showed that an increasing number of Israelis are failing to make ends meet.According to the report, 31 percent of the population in 2011 was in danger of poverty, compared to 17% in the European Union. For the purposes of the report, risk of poverty was defined as when each member of a household is supported on less than 60% of the average financial resources available to the rest of the population. Among Israeli single-parent households with dependent children, 44% were facing poverty compared to 41% in 2001. In Europe, the numbers stood at 35% in 2011 and 32% in 2001. Luxembourg was found to be worst of all with 46%. The number of children at risk of poverty in Israel was twice that in Europe in 2011

Read more » Times of Israel
http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-poverty-figures-up-40-of-children-at-risk/

About 60 percent of Russians see communism as good system – poll

About 60 percent of Russians believe there were more positive than negative aspects to life in the former Soviet Union, an opinion poll suggests.

Of the 1,000 people whom Russia’s Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) interviewed by telephone in a survey last month, 14 percent said the word communism had percent “very pleasant,” “positive” or “wonderful” connotations for them and 12 percent said they were nostalgic about the Soviet era.

Communism was just a thing of the past for 11 percent, but the same proportion believed communism meant good and stable life.

Read more » http://rbth.ru/news/2013/10/12/about_60_percent_of_russians_see_communism_as_good_system_-_poll_30755.html

China’s Official Press Agency Calls For New Reserve Currency, And New World Order

by Tyler Durden

We assume it is a coincidence that on the day in which we demonstrate China’s relentless appetite for gold, driven by what we and many others believe is the country’s desire to have a call option on a gold-backed reserve currency when the time comes, just posted in China’s official press agency, Xinhua, is an op-ed by writer Liu Chang in which he decries the “US fiscal failure which warrants a de-Americanized world” and flatly states that the world should consider a new reserve currency “that is to be created to replace the dominant U.S. dollar, so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States.”

Of course, if China were serious, and if the world were to voluntarily engage in such a (r)evolutionary reserve currency transition ….

Read more » Zerohege,com
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-10-13/chinas-official-press-agency-calls-new-reserve-currency

The International Day Against State Religion

The Secretary-General, United Nations: Recognize “The International Day Against State Religion”

Petition by G. M. Lakho, Karachi, Sindh

To,

The Secretary-General,

United Nations,

UN Headquarters,

New York.

Please take active, effective and meaningful steps for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

Read more » Change.org

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-secretary-general-united-nations-recognize-the-international-day-against-state-religion-5?share_id=rGSZgPuCHQ&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

Time to change course

By Najam Sethi

Excerpt: … General Kayani’s reputation as a premier “thinking” general cannot be denied. By the same token, however, he must bear the burden of his misguided strategic theories that have brought Pakistan to an “existential” crisis (his own words) in the last five years. The “good Afghan Taliban, bad Pakistani Taliban” theory that has underpinned the army’s Af-Pak strategy has come a cropper because all forms and shades of Taliban and Al-Qaeda are one criminal network and the quest for a “stable and Pakistan-friendly” Afghanistan has foundered on the rock of big power dynamics.

It has been argued that General Kayani supported the cause of democracy by not imposing martial law when the chips were down for the PPP government. But the truth is that a fiercely independent media, aggressive judiciary and popular PMLN would have revolted against any martial law. The international community would not have supported it. And General Kayani’s own rank and file would have frowned upon it.

Under the circumstances, we hope the next COAS will change course and help the elected civilian leaders make national security policy to salvage our country.

– See more at: http://www.najamsethi.com/time-to-change-course/#sthash.5kCkjdPc.8J2Km32a.dpuf

GAURDING SINDHI LANGUAGE

By Dr Ali Akbar M. Dhakan, Karachi, Sindh

We Sindhis have sacrificed a lot as we have lost many political leaders since independence of our country Pakistan like the father of nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan, G. M. Syed, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Shaheed Mohotarma Benazir Bhutto and many other political parties workers. We have therefore got attachment and sincerity, love and affection with all our country leaders and workers. Similarly the same attachment we have with our own language or mother tongue. Every language has its own importance and status in every country. We feel pride if we speak Punjabi in Punjab, Pushto in Pakhtunkhawah, Siraiki in Multan areas, Balochi & Sindhi in Balochistan and Sindhi in our own Sindh. But we being Sindhi speaking in Sindh have not been so careful to save our own language even in our own Sindh not only outsiders have neglected but even our own Sindhi speaking people in Sindh have neglected speaking Sindhi language in right dialect and pronunciation. We senior citizen Sindhis born before the creation of Pakistan, speak sindhi somewhat in its proper dialect but sorry to express with greater grief and sadness that even we being elders of our families have never given attention towards our younger generations and future children to speak in proper pronunciation and status according to our Sindhi alphabet as the new born children particularly born in big cities of Sindh like Karachi, Hyderabad and other big towns, I have not learnt the right dialect of the Sindhi language because of being spoken generally Urdu and English in the elite families of Sindhis. It is not common in these homes where the mothers of our children are non-Sindhis and do not speak Sindhi language, they do not try to let their children speak in Sindhi. Most of our elite Sindhi families themselves do not allow their children to talk in their own language and therefore they avoid speaking their own language.

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Thoughts on leaving Pakistan

By Manal Khan

The last time I put thoughts to paper was a year and a half ago, when my husband and I moved back to Pakistan from the US. It happened very suddenly, under very sad circumstances, and there we were – thrust into a disorienting new life, filling roles we had never anticipated, never wanted, inhabiting, once again, the cloistered, uninspiring world of Lahore’s privileged class.

Much elapsed during the past 18 months in Lahore – much to rejoice and remember. Engagements, bridal showers, weddings. Baby showers, and babies! Farewell parties and welcome-back parties, birthday parties and Pictionary parties.

PTI fever, elections, and Pakistan’s first peaceful political transition. Cliff-diving in Khanpur under a shower of shooting stars, dancing arm-and-arm with Kalash women as spring blossomed in the Hindukush,  tracking brown bears and chasing golden marmots in the unearthly plains of Deosai.

I rediscovered my love of history, of abandoned old places that teemed with a thousand stories and ghosts and memories, thanks to a research job at LUMS. I spent many days wandering the cool corridors of  Lahore Museum, many hours contemplating the uncanny beauty of the Fasting Siddhartha, whom I had the privilege of photographing up-close. I stood beneath the most prodigious tree in the world in Harappa. I got down on my knees with a shovel and brush during a student archaeological excavation in Taxila, personally recovering the 2,000-year old terracotta bowl of a Gandhara Buddhist monk.

But, there was also dissatisfaction. Frustration. Restlessness. When we were not travelling, we were in Lahore. And Lahore was, well, warm. Convenient. Static. Living there again was like a replay of our childhood; like watching a favourite old movie on repeat. After a while it got monotonous,  somewhat annoying, and a little disappointing.

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Zinda Bhaag: Pakistani cinema’s return to glory?

By Arshed Bhatti

I watched Zinda Bhaag at its World Premier in Toronto, incidentally on August 14, 2013 – Pakistan’s Independence Day. After a successful ten day run, followed by many reviews, and nominated for Pakistan’s official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category, I thought I’d write my personal review of the film.

Using cricket lingo, Zinda Bhaag is not a Shahid Afridi sixer, or a T-20 slog. Instead, it is a technically perfect and faultless double hundred by a maestro like Javed Miandad, with its due share of sixers and boundaries. Like any double hundred, Zinda Bhaag not only gives a winning position to the team, it also plays a catalytic role in the popularity and promotion of the game, that is, the film industry in Pakistan.

My earlier reference to Shahid Afridi’s sixers and T-20 slogs was simply to explain that his sixers are part impulse, part response to public demand, and part reflex action, whose comprehension follows rather than precedes the act; whereas, Zinda Bhaag is neither. Although it has its fair share of adrenaline pumping shots and tense situations, it is a well-timed, well-planned, and well-executed game changer.

What makes a great film, you ask?

I have a formula which contains seven elements that all new directors must strive to achieve. The film’s directors, Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, have adhered to it in their own way. The acronym of my formula is S.A.V.E.S.M.E. The first five letters denote elements intrinsic to a film, and the last two, in a way, are extraneous to the film. S.A.V.E.S stands for Script, Acting, Visuals, Editing and Soundtrack – and once the movie is made – M.E. stands for Marketing and Exhibition.

In my humble opinion, any film must score a minimum of B+ on the first five elements to be considered a serious attempt at film-making. I gave Zinda Bhaag an A+ on script, editing and sound track; while the acting of main characters oscillates between A+ and B+.

Although the budget constraints for its marketing and promotion are obvious, I still gave it a healthy B+ on its marketing since the intelligent use of social media and personal networks of the film-makers seem to be filling the gaps quite adequately.

Now, what exactly was so great about this film?

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/19057/zinda-bhaag-pakistani-cinemas-return-to-glory/