Tag Archives: annual

U.S falls to 47th in press freedom rankings after Occupy crackdown

By Ellen Connolly

Sweeping protests around the world made it an extremely difficult year for the media, and tested journalists as never before, the annual report into press freedom reveals.

The annual report by Reporters Without Borders has been released, showing the United States fell 27 points on the list due to the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests.

The slide in the United States places it just behind Comoros and Taiwan in a group with Argentina and Romania.

Reporters Without Borders said the heightened unrest around the world resulted in a significant shake-up of the group’s annual Press Freedom Index, which assesses governments’ commitment to protecting media freedoms.

The Paris-based non-governmental Reporters Without Borders has named “crackdown” the word of 2011 in an assessment of global media freedom during a year in which journalists covering sweeping protests were tested as never before.

The non-governmental organisation seeks to defend journalists’ freedom to work and combat censorship internationally. ….

Read more » daily Mail. co. uk

US Afghan war review — Dr Mohammad Taqi

The word victory has never featured in Mr Obama’s speeches in the Afghan context and is unlikely to pop up now. We will hear a lot from him about the build-hold-clear-stabilise-handover process and the long term US ‘commitment’, but there will be hardly any reference to nation-building or even sustained counterinsurgency

US president Barack Obama will announce his annual review of the Afghan war today (December 16, 2010). A successful legal challenge to Mr Obama’s healthcare plan and hectic congressional activity to extend the Bush-era income tax cuts had pushed this review off the US media radar, but the death of the Special Representative Richard Holbrooke has managed to put it back in the news-cycle, at least for the time being. What was expected to be a low key affair will still remain a whimper but more questions are being asked about the shape of the things to come as a larger-than-life member of Mr Obama’s Pak-Afghan team made his exit from the diplomatic and world stage.

The Washington Post has reported that Mr Holbrooke’s last words, spoken to his surgeon, were: “You have got to stop this war in Afghanistan.” Incidentally, Mr Holbrooke’s surgeon happened to be a King Edward Medical College-educated Pakistani. Of course, neither the surgeon nor the common Pakistanis have much to do with the war in Afghanistan but given the Pakistani establishment’s massive involvement in favour of the Taliban, Mr Holbrooke’s last words seem almost surreal.

Mr Holbrooke, however, was not the only one calling for ending the war in Afghanistan. On the eve of the Afghan war review, a 25-member group of experts on Afghanistan, which includes respected names like Ahmed Rashid and Professor Antonio Giustozzi, has published an open letter to Mr Obama, calling on him to authorise a formal negotiation with the Afghan Taliban and seek a political settlement. However, buried in the text of the 1,030-word long plea to talk to the Taliban is the key sentence: “With Pakistan’s active support for the Taliban, it is not realistic to bet on a military solution.” …

Read more : Daily Times

When ritual becomes religion — Ishtiaq Ahmed

Would it be heretical to suggest that instead of sacrificing animals and overeating meat for several days, pious Muslims should donate money to help poor people undergo some simple eye operations that will save or restore their sight, or do some other good deed that will bring joy to the lives of those who are deprived of decent living conditions?

Long years ago, I went to see a feature film in my native Lahore but it turned out to be a documentary mainly about the hajj (annual Islamic pilgrimage). In those days, I had a very idealistic faith and used to attend all public meetings by leading ulema who visited Lahore. So, a chance to see the whole hajj onscreen thrilled me quite a lot.

Among the rituals shown was the sacrifice of animals at the time of the Eid-ul-Adha to commemorate the tradition of Prophet Abraham. To my great horror, men with long knives cut open the throats of goats, sheep and other animals, and, while they were writhing in excruciating pain, threw them into long ditches. As soon as one ditch was filled, the bulldozer would cover it up with dust and sand and then more animals where cut up and thrown the same way into another ditch. One could see rows and rows of ditches and lots of blood splattered all over.

I must confess, I could not find any sense in God wanting animals to be killed in such a grotesque manner and thrown into ditches. The explanation we had been given at home was that the meat of the sacrificed animal was to be shared with the poor, relatives, neighbours, and indeed by the family that offered the animal for sacrifice. In Saudi Arabia, it was nothing of the sort.

Even when we would offer a goat on Eid-ul-Adha, the actual act of slaughter always saddened me. We bought that animal and took care of it for weeks if not months, taking it to the park to graze grass. Naturally, as children we began to love it. Then the butcher would come with his knives and slit its throat before our eyes. I remember always feeling bad when eating its meat. …

Read more : Daily Times