Tag Archives: Africa

Boko Haram freed Nigerian women tell of captivity horror

Former hostages held by Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria say some fellow captives were stoned to death as the army approached to rescue them.

The women said Boko Haram fighters started pelting them when they refused to run away as the army came nearer.

A group of nearly 300 women and children was brought out of the vast Sambisa forest to a government camp.

The military says it has rescued more than 700 people in the past week in an offensive against the Islamist group.

The women said several were killed in the stoning, but they did not know how many.

‘Pregnant’

Others were killed inadvertently by the military during the rescue operation, they added.

Soldiers did not realise “in time that we were not the enemies” and some women and children were “run over by their trucks”, said survivor Asama Umoru.

The survivors said that when they were initially captured, the militants had killed men and older boys in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest.

Some were forced into marriage.

One woman, Lami Musa, 27, said she had avoided that fate.

“When they realised I was pregnant, they said I was impregnated by an infidel [her husband] and they killed him,” she said.

Continue reading Boko Haram freed Nigerian women tell of captivity horror

Ebola reaches Europe for the first time: Spanish nurse tests positive for virus after treating African patient

By Jorge Sainz, Associated Press

MADRID, Spain — In what is the first reported incident of Ebola transmission outside Africa, a Spanish nurse who treated a missionary for the disease at a Madrid hospital tested positive for the disease, Spain’s health minister said Monday.

The female nurse was part of the medical team that treated a 69-year-old Spanish priest who died in a hospital last month after being flown back from Sierra Leone, where he was posted, Health Minister Ana Mato said.

The woman went to the Alcorcon hospital in the Madrid suburbs with a fever and was placed in isolation. Mato said the infection was confirmed by two tests and that the nurse was admitted to a hospital on Sunday.

Read more » National Post
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/06/ebola-reaches-europe-for-the-first-time-spanish-nurse-tests-virus-after-treating-africa-patient/

I Wear the Badge of Socialist With Honor

The full text of the new Seattle city council member’s inauguration speech.

By Kshama Sawant

Editor’s note: At a ceremonial swearing-in on Monday, Kshama Sawant became Seattle’s first socialist city council member in almost a century. The full text of her inauguration speech is below.

My brothers and sisters,

Thank you for your presence here today.

This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape. At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and healthcare become inaccessible.

This is not unique to Seattle. Shamefully, in this, the richest country in human history, fifty million of our people—one in six—live in poverty. Around the world, billions do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation and children die every day from malnutrition.

This is the reality of international capitalism. This is the product of the gigantic casino of speculation created by the highway robbers on Wall Street. In this system the market is God, and everything is sacrificed on the altar of profit. Capitalism has failed the 99%.

Despite recent talk of economic growth, it has only been a recovery for the richest 1%, while the rest of us are falling ever farther behind.

Continue reading I Wear the Badge of Socialist With Honor

Healthcare Reform: What Would Jesus Do?

By Lou Kavar

“There was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5: 25-26).

Their web site describes their mission. They “provide free medical care to people in remote areas around the world…” They’ve sponsored expeditions with doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care professionals to provide care in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, East Africa, India, Nepal and many other countries – serving those with no other option for health care. In Guyana, they have established a permanent base of operations. Remote Area Medical has pioneered no cost medical care, touching the lives of people who have no hope for other treatment.

While it is understandable that Remote Area Medical provides free health care to people in under-developed, impoverished countries, Americans should be scandalized to know that Remote Area Medical has a year round schedule to provide care to people in the United States. Yes, in the richest country in the world, in the country which brags of having the “best” healthcare in the world, American citizens line up and wait for free medical care because they have no other option.

From August 11 to 18, 2009, Remote Area Medical held clinic hours in the “remote” area of Los Angeles County. People slept in the streets overnight, lining up for health care services which they longed to receive for years. Various newspaper and TV reports recounted stories of people waiting in line to receive treatment from chronic and severe conditions. One woman stated that if her child did not receive eye glasses from Remote Area Medical, the child would have had none.

While people waited in the streets of Inglewood, Calif. for medical care, vocal, angry, and hate-filled debates ensued in other parts of the United States over health care reform. A public health care option for those in need was labeled as socialism, communism, and Nazism – often by the same commentators.

“She came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak, saying to herself, ‘If I only touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (Mark 5:2-29).

Like the woman two millennia ago, people are pushing through crowds hoping to find help and healing for serious medical conditions. While Jesus was a willing conduit for this woman’s healing, many of the followers of Jesus today actively work to block access of those in need to health care. What’s even more scandalous is that many of these same people insist that America was founded as a “Christian nation” yet they vigorously oppose helping those in need through a public option for health care.

Continue reading Healthcare Reform: What Would Jesus Do?

India Worst Country for Women, Canada the Best

U.S. Ranks No. 6 in Best And Worst Countries For Women

By: Anushay Hossain

Canada is the best place to be a woman, and India is the worst according to a new poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation. The legal news service launched a global poll of experts this week ranking countries for women in the G20, putting the US, which “polarised opinion due to issues surrounding reproductive rights and affordable healthcare,” in sixth place.

Access to healthcare and policies that advocate gender equality are amongst the factors that places Canada at the top of the poll, while issues such as child marriage and female infanticide drag India down to the very bottom. Germany, Britain, Australia and France joined Canada in the top five. Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico led by India rounded up nations at the bottom of the list. Released on the heals of the G20 Summit in Mexico on June 18, the survey analyzes how women are faring in G20 countries, the largest economies in the world. ….

Read more  » Forbes

In Unstable Fields

Comment by Omar Ali

The writer is a former Secretary of the Indian intelligence agency RAW (an agency no more capable than other arms of the Indian government, but thought in Pakistan to possess superhuman powers and very beautiful female agents who trap Pakistani patriots, or so we hope).  His views on things to come..

To read the article » In unstable fields by Vikram Sood » CLICK HERE

Via » Brown Pundits

Vanishing Sindhis!

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

I share the following appeal from Mr. Mekan Vandiyar on “Vanishing Sindhis!”. Please share your comments and suggestions to mekan39@yahoo.com

My own comment is that Sindhis in Sindh, Sindhis in India and Sindhis living elsewhere should not be disheartened as there are encouraging signs that Sindhis all over the world can even say today “here is a Sindhi girl / boy from the Globe”. I do not have much insight into the notion that Sindhis in India can win a separate province, however, I feel that the harsh barriers that have kept Sindhis in India and Sindhis in Sindh, Pakistan away from each other will soon vanish and all Sindhis will also be be able to say “”here is a Sindhi girl / boy who loves Sindh as much as their new homeland“.

A recent announcement by the Indian and Pakistani government that they are normalizing business and economic relations and giving each other the “most favorite trading partner” status is one of those signs. The Sindhis from all over the world should not only encourage but also organize and participate in events that welcome every Sindhi regardless of where they live now. For example, the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) whose members predominantly consist of those who migrated from Sindh (Pakistan) into the USA has been in the forefront of inviting prominent educationalists, political leaders, and writers who now live in India. It is time that all other Sindhi associations also follow this practice to bridge the gaps that may exist between various Sindhi communities.

Lastly, I assure Mr. Vandiyar that Sindhis in Sindh are more than ever determined to protect and advance Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture of peace, and Sindhi identity. They are and will continue provide all their support to Sindhis in India or elsewhere in the world in their efforts to protect their and advance their Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture, and Sindhi identity.

Continue reading Vanishing Sindhis!

Clinton: U.S. must put economics at center of foreign policy

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

(CNN) — The United States must position itself to lead in a world “where security is shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors — as well as on battlefields,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will say Friday in a major economics and foreign policy speech in New York.

Economic forces, Clinton will say, are transforming foreign policy realities around the globe.

“We have seen governments toppled by economic crisis,” a text of the Secretary’s remarks released by the State Department on the eve of the speech reads. “Revolutions born in a Tunisian marketplace have swept across an entire region. Europe faces its strongest test in a generation, thanks to recession and debt. And everywhere I travel, I see countries gaining influence not because of the size of their armies, but because of the growth of their economies.”

Clinton will say she is updating U.S. foreign policy priorities to include economics “every step of the way,” suggesting the United States should take a cue from the leaders of emerging powers like India and Brazil who put economics at the center of their foreign policies.

“When their leaders approach a foreign policy challenge — just as when they approach a domestic challenge — one of the first questions they ask is, ‘how will this affect our economic growth?'” the text of the speech says. “We need to be asking the same question — not because the answer will dictate our foreign policy choices, but because it must be a significant part of the equation.”

In the address before the Economic Club of New York, the fourth in a series of speeches Secretary Clinton is giving on economics and foreign policy, she will say the world’s “strategic and economic center of gravity is shifting east” and the United States is focusing more on the Asia-Pacific region.

“One of America’s great successes of the past century was to build a strong network of relationships and institutions across the Atlantic,” she says. “One of our great projects in this century will be to do the same across the Pacific.”

The United States should help other countries find economic solutions to strategic challenges, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, she says. “We need a sophisticated effort to integrate the region’s economies, promote investment and assist in economic modernization. The Arab political Awakening must also be an economic awakening.”

Clinton takes aim at Americans who would turn inward, arguing “you can’t call ‘time out’ in the global economy. Our competitors aren’t taking a time out, and neither can we.”

Increasingly, the United States is focusing on “tracking and thwarting” the financiers of terrorism, using sanctions and other economic tools to cut repressive regimes off from insurance, banking and shipping, Clinton says.

Finally, Clinton says, the United States is “modernizing (its) agenda on trade, investment and commercial diplomacy to deliver jobs and growth for the American people.”

But the United States cannot compete, she says, if it is frozen in domestic political fights.

“Washington has to end the culture of political brinksmanship — which, I can tell you, is raising questions around the world about our leadership.”

Courtesy: CNN

Journalist from Lahore killed like Wali Khan Baber – Target killing to silence the dissenting voice

– London Post journalist’s mutilated body found in Lahore

By Asad Kharal

LAHORE: The mutilated body of 28-year-old Faisal Qureshi, web editor of The London Post, was discovered by his brother Zahid and Johar Town police from his residence in Lahore at around 2am on Friday.

The FIR regarding the incident states that the body bore torture marks and that the deceased journalist’s throat was slit open. The police have taken the body into custody to conduct further investigations.

The London Post recently published a story regarding Muttahid Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s alleged escape to South Africa. Zahid Qureshi claims that his brother had been receiving death threats in the past week from men who said they were from the MQM.

Zahid told The Express Tribune that he immediately became suspicious when he called his brother late last night but was unable to get through to him as his mobile was switched off.

He proceeded to go to his brother’s house in Johar Town, to find that the gate had traces of blood on it. Zahid notified the police, who arrived at the scene and entered the house to find Faisal dead.

Zahid claims that this was a target killing and that his brother was murdered because of the news he had published regarding the MQM. ….

Read more → The Express Tribune

Permanent revolution

by John Reiman

There will be no breaking the power of the “feudals” in Pakistan, no equality for women in Afghanistan, no establishment of stable democracy in Egypt, no resolving the tribal conflicts in Africa, and no salvation for the 15 million children who die of hunger every year on the basis of capitalism

As they did in the 1950s, once again, the winds of revolution are sweeping the former colonial world. This time, however, these winds are mixed with those of counter-revolution also, and this complication is partly a result of the failure of the previous period to resolve the problems in that part of the world. ….

Read more → ViewPoint

MQM Chief caught escaping to South Africa?

Altaf Hussain with Imran Farooq's father. Photo courtesy goes to Opinion Maker.

He was escaping to South Africa?

By Special Correspondent

London: The London Post has reported Altaf Hussain self exiled leader of MQM-A caught escaping to South Africa by the authorities. According to sources, ‘Altaf Hussain was hiding in the Wrexham area close to Slough in Berkshire for the past few days. He was stopped when was going to Heathrow Airport in a private taxi. Interestingly the taxi driver was a Pakistani whom Mr Hussain thought as an English man due to his appearance.

According to sources Altaf Hussain told the authorities that, ‘he is leaving UK and going to South Africa for security reasons and personal protection’. According to sources he was told that, ‘security can be provided to him in the UK’. It is not yet clear if Mr Hussain detained or taken in protective custody. Mr Altaf Hussain is a British Citizen and living in self imposed exile since 1992. He is never been to Pakistan since 1992, not a registered voter now and never voted in any elections ever since.

Earlier yesterday it was reported that British police raided two addresses including an office of MQM-A in London in connection with the on going murder investigation of Dr Imran Farooq. It is reported that police took the crucial evidence in custody including the carpets for forensic investigation. According to reports 35 well trained officers of the Scotland Yard took part in the operation on Thursday 24th August 2011”.

It is reported that those MQM-A terrorists arrested in Karachi were actually coming from Colombo Sri Lanka and had connections with the murder of Dr Imran Farooq. The arrests took place as result of tip off from British authorities.

According to reports both Khalid Shamim and another MQM-A terrorists who were arrested in Karachi while arriving from Colombo actually called in to be eliminated in Karachi by their own party MQM-A. They had crucial information related to Dr Imran Farooq’s murder as well as target killing cells in various countries including South Africa. They knew too much about the MQM-A illegal and terrorist activities and needed to be eliminated that is why they were called in Karachi. They are lucky to be alive in the custody of Pakistani authorities than killed by their own death squad.

Courtesy: → Opinion Maker → The L0ndon Post

http://www.opinion-maker.org/2011/08/altaf-hussain-caught/

http://www.thelondonpost.net/

MQM Target Killer Shahnawaz ( aka Shah Rukh ) Interrogation Video

Terrorist and Target Killer of MQM Shahnawaz And Ajmal Pahari arrested while trying to flee from Karachi to South Africa. This footage is taken in hospital by agencies during interrogation. He was involved in target killing and attacks on political workers in Karachi and killed innocent poor citizens on the roads, in buses, taxis, and rickshaw drivers. He was also involved in serial killing of many innocent Pashtoon & Baloch citizens and attacks on political offices of different political parties. His accomplices were organizing criminal gangs by recruiting children in different areas of Karachi under patronage of MQM Leadership in London.

Courtesy: → YouTube

South Sudan – World witnesses the Birth of a nation

A new flag raised: South Sudan celebrates birth

South Sudan raised the flag of its new nation for the first time Saturday, as thousands of South Sudanese citizens and dozens of international dignitaries swarmed the new country capital of Juba to celebrate the country’s birth.

Read more → Globe And Mail

Conference on Partition – Past and Present

Conference on Partition – Past and Present, on Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sub topics: 1947 Indian Subcontinent Partition, past and present; Partitions of Bengal; Partitions of Punjab, Kashmir and Assam; Partition studies in the Indian Subcontinent; Effects of partition on Assam, Tripura and Sindh; Bangladesh War of Independence; Reconciliation and forgiveness; Unity; Identity; History; Divided peoples of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Former Soviet Union; Narratives of refugees, survivors and protectors; Division’s long-term effect; Effects of displaced peoples on host population; Minority issues in divided lands; Indigenous peoples, their language, culture and religion; Longing for home. Date: Saturday, October 15, 2011, Time: 8:30 AM, Place: Politics, Economics & Law Department, State University of New York, Old Westbury, Long Island, New York 11568.

Continue reading Conference on Partition – Past and Present

Arab uprising: What to do with dictators?

By the Monitor’s Editorial Board

Immunity or prosecution for dictators? That tough question hovers over the Arab uprising, just as it has in Latin America, parts of Asia, postcommunist Europe and other places.

In Yemen, international negotiators have reportedly offered amnesty to President Ali Abdullah Saleh as a way to entice him to resign after 32 years in power. Western leaders have hoped, too, that an exit could be found for Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, perhaps by letting him go to Venezuela or places in Africa.

And yet, Egyptian authorities are detaining the deposed Hosni Mubarak for questioning in a military hospital. They want to ask about his role in corruption and the deaths of hundreds of protesters who sought his ouster.

Tunisia’s justice minister, meanwhile, seeks the extradition of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia when youthful demonstrators forced him from his 23-year rule in January. Tunis wants him to answer to more than a dozen charges, including murder and drug trafficking. …

Read more: Yahoo New

Mercenaries for the Middle East – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh.

Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals”. — The Revolution Betrayed, Leon Trotsky

In his 1983 masterpiece, Can Pakistan survive? The death of a state, Tariq Ali opens the section on Pakistan’s foreign policy during the Z A Bhutto days with the above quote from Trotsky. After duly recognising the limitations of generalising this aphorism, Tariq Ali had noted that many third-world capitals pursue a foreign policy closely mirroring their domestic economic and political policies but perhaps none has done so more grotesquely than Islamabad. Tariq Ali had written:

One of the commodities exported was labour, and the remittances sent back by migrant workers provided nearly 20 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It was also reported that 10,000 Pakistani prostitutes had been dispatched to the Gulf states by the United Bank Limited (UBL), to strengthen its reserves of foreign currency. Soldiers and officers were also leased out as mercenaries to a number of states in that region. In some ways it was telling indictment of the Pakistani state that it can only survive by selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs.”

The Pakistani military establishment’s cooperation with Arab dictators obviously dates back to the Ayub Khan era and the UK and US-sponsored Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) or Baghdad Pact of 1955. However, the surge in the export of mercenaries that Tariq Ali was alluding to was not because of the western sponsorship of such legions but because Pakistan, in 1971, had declared a moratorium on repayment of its foreign debt and had to look for financial aid elsewhere while the IMF would again agree to a loan (which it eventually did). While one cannot confirm the veracity of the claim about the UBL’s venture, the events of the last several months show that somehow the grotesque mediocrity of the Pakistani establishment keeps repeating its antics, as far as the export of the mercenaries goes.

The Arab spring has created unique geopolitical scenarios where old alliances are falling apart — or at least are no longer trustworthy — while new realities are taking shape much to the discontent of regional autocrats. I have repeatedly stated that Barack Obama’s instinct is to side with the democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa, without intervening directly, even though cliques within his administration have been able to drag him into the Libyan morass. Obama’s handling of Hosni Mubarak’s fall did not go well with Saudi king Abdullah and the bitter exchange between the two, during a phone conversation, is rather well known. The wily Saudi monarch subsequently concluded that if there were to be an uprising in his courtyard, the Americans would not come to his rescue. And unless a smoking gun can be traced to Tehran, Abdullah is right. With Obama getting re-elected — yes I said it — in 2012, the Saudis have chosen to exercise other options that they have heavily invested in, for decades, to protect their courtyard and backyard.

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh. But they also know that the democratic contagion can spread at the periphery of the Kingdom, with the oil-rich Eastern province slipping out of control quickly or the disquiet at the Yemeni border keeping Riyadh distracted (the latter was tested by both Gamal Nasser and Iran). The Saudi plan, just as in the 1969 bombing of Yemen by Pakistani pilots flying Saudi planes, is to use the trusted Pakistani troops to bolster the defence of not only the Saudi regime but of its client states like Bahrain.

It is not a surprise then that before Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain on March 13, 2011, the chief of Saudi Land Forces, General Abdul Rahman Murshid visited Pakistan and before that, on March 9, met General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Bahrain had already requested and received assurance for military help from Pakistan in late February 2011. In fact, a leading Urdu paper carried an advertisement from the Fauji Foundation Pakistan on February 25 and March 1, seeking men for recruitment to the Bahrain National Guard. The qualifications sought were the following: age 20-25, height of six-feet or taller and military/security service background especially in riot control, which suggest that enrolment was not exactly for the Manama Red Crescent Society.

After the Saudi army brutally crushed the uprising in Bahrain, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the State Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. While the Bahraini media splashed pictures of the handshake between Ms Khar and Sheikh Khalid, announcing Pakistani support to Bahrain, the actual backing had been pledged by the Chief of General Staff, General Khalid Shamim Wayne, whom the Bahraini minster met on March 29.

In her article titled ‘Bahrain or bust?’, Miranda Husain writes: “Chomsky believes Pakistani presence in Bahrain can be seen as part of a US-backed alliance to safeguard western access to the region’s oil …The US has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations… Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world.” Ms Husain and the American Baba-e-Socialism (Father of Socialism), Chomsky, conclude with the hope that Pakistan should not meddle in the Middle East.

I believe that Chomsky’s reading of the situation in the Persian Gulf is dead wrong. It is the divergence — not confluence — of US-Saudi-Pakistani interests that is the trigger for potential Pakistani involvement there. The Pakistani brass’ handling of the Raymond Davis affair and now its insistence — through bravado, not subtlety — on redefining the redlines with the US indicates that just like the 1971 situation, an alternative funding source to the IMF has been secured. The Pasha-Panetta meeting has raised more issues than it has solved. Pakistani-Saudi interests are at odds with the US and are confluent with each other.

From the Kerry-Lugar Bill to the Raymond Davis saga, the mullahs have been deployed swiftly to create an impression of public support for the establishment’s designs. Last Friday’s mobilisation of the religious parties in favour of the Saudis is the establishment’s standard drill and will be repeated as needed. The Pakistani deep state apparently has decided to keep selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs. The domestic policy of coercion and chaos will be continued in foreign lands too.

Courtesy: Daily Times

Somali pirate offers to release Danish family in exchange for hand of daughter, 13

By Daily Mail Reporter

Life can be lonely on the high seas and one pirate has decided enough is enough, it’s about time he got himself a wife.

But the Somali pirate chief has taken a fancy to his 13-year-old Danish hostage – and he is so besotted with her he’s willing to let the rest of her family go free, and even forget the $5 million dollar ransom his pirate colleagues demanded.

According to The Times, the pirate made the bizarre proposal during a conversation with a Danish reporter, who visited the African nation to track down the Johansen family who were taken hostage in the Indian Ocean more than a month ago.

Read more : Mail Online

Obama’s White House: on-the-fly zone – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The US and the allies may call the military campaign what they want but the no-fly zone, for all practical purposes, is an act of war and the fact of the matter is that Qaddafi himself is the endpoint in this war that cannot be circumvented

Geostrategic planning and global leadership has been likened by the old grandmasters of US foreign policy to a grand chessboard, where the strategy is contemplated several moves in advance, with an eye on the endgame. But the knee-jerk responses of Barack Obama’s administration to the rapidly unravelling situation in the Middle East and North Africa give an impression that he and his team are playing chequers, albeit in a manner as erratic as Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, if not more. From dithering on the US role in Egypt to weeks of waffling about Libya before actually jumping on the no-fly zone bandwagon, it seems like the White House is literally an on-the-fly zone, making up policy as it goes along.

As the western intervention in Libya entered its fourth day, it appears that President Obama may have allowed himself and the US to get sucked into a very messy situation in yet another Muslim country. Mr Obama had stated a couple of weeks ago that Qaddafi must “step down from power and leave”. Just when the Tomahawk missiles were being unleashed on Libya, Vice Admiral William E Gortney said at the Pentagon that Qaddafi himself is not a target, but his safety could not be guaranteed. Speaking on Sunday morning talk shows, Admiral Mike Mullen took the line that the Libyan dictator must “make decisions regarding his future in the country” but reiterated that the goal of the attacks was not to oust him. Taken at face value, these comments appear somewhat innocuous and are designed to placate the war-weary American public but they also reflect the confusion and bickering within the various factions of the Obama administration. …

Read more : Daily Times

Robert Fisk: First it was Saddam. Then Gaddafi. Now there’s a vacancy for the West’s favourite crackpot tyrant

Gaddafi is completely bonkers, a crackpot

So we are going to take “all necessary measures” to protect the civilians of Libya, are we? Pity we didn’t think of that 42 years ago. Or 41 years ago. Or… well, you know the rest. And let’s not be fooled by what the UN resolution really means. Yet again, it’s going to be regime-change. And just as in Iraq – to use one of Tom Friedman’s only memorable phrases of the time – when the latest dictator goes, who knows what kind of bats will come flying out of the box?

And after Tunisia, after Egypt, it’s got to be Libya, hasn’t it? The Arabs of North Africa are demanding freedom, democracy, liberation from oppression. Yes, that’s what they have in common. But what these nations also have in common is that it was us, the West, that nurtured their dictatorships decade after decade after decade. The French cuddled up to Ben Ali, the Americans stroked Mubarak, while the Italians groomed Gaddafi until our own glorious leader went to resurrect him from the political dead. …

Read more : The Independent.co.uk

Let’s give Sindh a helping hand

Gulf News Editorial: Humanitarian bodies must ensure food and medical aid reach those affected by floods

Time has stopped for the hapless survivors in Sindh whose lives were turned upside down by the severe floods that hit the Pakistani province last year.

Surveys carried out in the wake of that disaster have revealed the extent of acute malnutrition in the region. The issue has been highlighted only recently due to prevailing social conditions and the lack of contact between the people and medical experts. Poverty levels have been at an all-time high for decades as a result of which the lives of thousands of children are also at risk.

Unicef has found that the percentage of those hit by the problem is higher than the 15 per cent emergency threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and on par with the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It has also been noted that women form a larger part of the overall figure.

While efforts are being made to address this problem, humanitarian organisations must galvanise themselves to ensure that the thousands who have been affected can obtain food and medical relief. …

Read more : Gulfnews

Freedom is ‘God’s gift to humanity’

By SALIM MANSUR, QMI Agency

As people’s insurrections spread in the Arab world, it might be useful for those watching the mayhem gather pace to take time out from television and reach for some historical perspective.

There is no substitute for such perspective to put in context the Arab drama unfolding before our eyes. And like a play of several acts, it will have many scene changes before the curtain eventually comes down.

From North Africa to the Persian Gulf, Arab regimes are trembling. Some will fall and others will change colours to barely survive.

The Libyan thug Moammar Gadhafi did not imagine his thugocracy could so quickly unravel. He might meet the fate of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, executed by his rebellious soldiers, or that of Saddam Hussein, with a noose around his neck.

But as the drama unfolds, three things will increasingly stand out.

First, former president George W. Bush, despite those who ridiculed him, was right in insisting, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to all humanity.” …

Read more : TORONTO SUN

Libya protests: Death toll mounts as unrest spreads

Rights groups say there is a rising death toll from clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Libya.

Amnesty said 43 people had died in protests on Thursday, while other reports suggested dozens more were killed on Friday. The government has blocked websites and shut off electricity in some areas. State media outlets have warned of retaliation against anyone criticising Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The mainstay of the unrest is in regional towns and cities, where many people live in poverty.

Foreign journalists operate under restrictions in Libya, so it has been difficult to independently verify much of the information coming out of the country.

But the BBC has confirmed that several websites – including Facebook and al-Jazeera Arabic – have been blocked.

And the airport in Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, has been closed, amid reports that protesters have taken it over. …

Read more : BBC

Democracy, the god of our age

by Razib Khan

I have a post up at Secular Right which expresses some cynical skepticism about the popular revolutions in North Africa. I’m especially skeptical of Egypt, though I would be happy to be proven wrong by history. Democratic governance is better than the alternatives, all things equal, but all things are not equal. Tunisia is in many ways a more “Western” society than Egypt, so I have more hope that a conventional Western form of governance in liberal democratic form will emerge there. Additionally, unlike Egypt Tunisia has no minorities to oppress.

Because of the power of democratically in the American mind we often can’t conceive of the possibility that populism abroad may not shake out in a direction conducive to our own “national interests.” Or, further other values which we putatively cherish, such as individual liberty and tolerance of dissent and diversity. But it is no coincidence that we were founded a republic, and not a democracy.

Courtesy: http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/01/28/democracy-the-god-of-our-age/

Malnutrition in Sindh is worse than the famine in Ethiopia, Darfur and Chad – UN says

Pakistan flood crisis as bad as African famines, UN says

Survey shows almost a quarter of children under five are malnourished in Sindh province, six months after floods

Declan Walsh in Islamabad

A “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions” is unfolding in flood-hit areas of southern Pakistan where malnutrition rates rival those of African countries affected by famine, according to the United Nations.

In Sindh province, where some villages are still under water six months after the floods, almost one quarter of children under five are malnourished while 6% are severely underfed, a Floods Assessment Needs survey has found.

I haven’t seen malnutrition this bad since the worst of the famine in Ethiopia, Darfur and Chad. It’s shockingly bad,” said Karen Allen, deputy head of Unicef in Pakistan. …

Read more : Guardian.co.uk

Is this Pakistan or a brutal occupation of Sindh? Cancel the contracts for F16s, submarines and bombs and feed the people!

. Pakistan’s Sindh province faces acute hunger: UNICEF

By Chris Allbritton

(Reuters) – Pakistan’s Sindh province, hit hard by last year’s floods, is suffering levels of malnutrition almost as critical as Chad and Niger, with hundreds of thousands of children at risk, UNICEF said on Wednesday.

A survey conducted by the provincial government and the U.N. Children’s Fund revealed malnutrition rates of 23.1 percent in northern Sindh and 21.2 percent in the south.

Those rates are above the 15 percent emergency threshold set by the World Health Organization and are on a par with some of the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Northern Sindh also had a 6.1 percent severe acute malnutrition rate and southern Sindh had 2.9 percent, both far above the WHO thresholds.

“We are looking at hundreds of thousands of children at risk,” UNICEF chief of communication Kristen Elsby told Reuters.

A full report would be released Friday by the Sindh government, she said, along with the province’s response plan. …

Read more : REUTERSDAWNBBC urdu

Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq was particularly concerned about Pakistan, and India. Both were well down in his index, below even Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. South Asia, he wrote in 1995, is sinking “into a quagmire of human deprivation and despair”. He was shocked that it had fallen behind sub-Saharan Africa, to become the most deprived region in the world.

Mahbub ul Haq, a heretic among economists, died on July 16th 1998, aged 64.

…… Mr Haq said he was not sure whether the countries of South Asia had the political will to cut their arms bills and finance their “essential human goals”. In what he called his “intellectual journey” he had moved from idea to idea. In his World Bank days he had on his desk a notice which said, “It is too late to agree with me: I’ve changed my mind.” Critics said it showed his lack of judgment; admirers praised his flexibility. It was probably just a sign of his charm.

To read full article : Economist

Basket case: Pakistan or Bangladesh?

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

No government in Pakistan can dare to undo the constitutional provisions that make the country a religious state. As a matter of fact, democratic and military governments compete with each other to make it more religious. Presently, no political force or institution exists that can usher in modernity and enlightenment in Pakistan

An article titled ‘Bangladesh, “Basket case” no more: Pakistan could learn about economic growth and confronting terrorism from its former eastern province’ appeared in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (September 29, 2010). During the same period, President Barack Obama specially congratulated Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed when she came to receive the prestigious United Nations (UN) award. Bangladesh was one of the six countries from Asia and Africa who were honoured for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Why have the US media and President Obama started pampering Bangladesh? Has Bangladesh bypassed Pakistan in economic development or is it about to do so in the near future? …

Read more >> WICHAAR