Tag Archives: catastrophe

Hyper nationalism can wait, Kashmiris need succour first

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A natural disaster of apocalyptic proportions has hit Kashmir. It is unprecedented in recent memory across three generations and has left tens of thousands marooned besides destroying vital infrastructure. The extent of the human toll is unclear. Reports of floating bodies and those trapped inside collapsed houses makes it a frightening scenario. Almost all major hospitals have been affected and practically dysfunctional. The ones which worked were fast running out of life-saving drugs, painkillers, food and water. Near total power and communications breakdown has complicated relief work. Even after the water recedes, Kashmir would suffer physical, economic and psychological consequences of the disaster for years to come.

Yet it seems to business as usual – dehumanizing Kashmiris — for certain people even in the midst of the catastrophe that has directly affected an estimated 60% people. It is the same old ‘good us’ versus ‘evil them’ subtext — based on chronic disinformation — that is playing out even in the sections of the mainstream media. It is been much worse on the social media. Nauseating trolling has become even more vicious in the name of exclusivist nationalism, which has no place for the monolithic other like Kashmiris. Abuse and sadistic pleasure being drawn from the colossal damage to human life and property has been very distressing particularly for non-resident Kashmiris, who have relied on social media to find out the fate of their loved ones caught in killer flood waters.

Continue reading Hyper nationalism can wait, Kashmiris need succour first

Noam Chomsky: We’re no longer a functioning democracy, we’re really a plutocracy

By Travis Gettys

The world faces two potentially existential threats, according to the linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky.

“There are two major dark shadows that hover over everything, and they’re getting more and more serious,” Chomsky said. “The one is the continuing threat of nuclear war that has not ended. It’s very serious, and another is the crisis of ecological, environmental catastrophe, which is getting more and more serious.”

Chomsky appeared Friday on the last episode of NPR’s “Smiley and West” program to discuss his education, his views on current affairs and how he manages to spread his message without much help from the mainstream media.

He told the hosts that the world was racing toward an environmental disaster with potentially lethal consequence, which the world’s most developed nations were doing nothing to prevent – and in fact were speeding up the process.

“If there ever is future historians, they’re going to look back at this period of history with some astonishment,” Chomsky said. “The danger, the threat, is evident to anyone who has eyes open and pays attention at all to the scientific literature, and there are attempts to retard it, there are also at the other end attempts to accelerate the disaster, and if you look who’s involved it’s pretty shocking.”

Chomsky noted efforts to halt environmental damage by indigenous people in countries all over the world – from Canada’s First Nations to tribal people in Latin America and India to aboriginal people in Australia—but the nation’s richest, most advanced and most powerful countries, such as the United States, were doing nothing to forestall disaster.

“When people here talk enthusiastically about a hundred years of energy independence, what they’re saying is, ‘Let’s try to get every drop of fossil fuel out of the ground so as to accelerate the disaster that we’re racing towards,’” Chomsky said. “These are problems that overlie all of the domestic problems of oppression, of poverty, of attacks on the education system (and) massive inequality, huge unemployment.”

He blamed the “financialization” of the U.S. economy for income inequality and unemployment, saying that banks that were “too big to fail” skimmed enormous wealth from the market.

“In fact, there was a recent (International Monetary Fund) study that estimated that virtually all the profits of the big banks can be traced back to this government insurance policy, and in general they’re quite harmful, I think, quite harmful to the economy,” Chomsky said.

Those harmful effects can be easily observed by looking at unemployment numbers and stock market gains, he said.

“There are tens of millions of people unemployed, looking for work, wanting to work (and) there are huge resources available,” Chomsky said. “Corporate profits are going through the roof, there’s endless amounts of work to be done – just drive through a city and see all sorts of things that have to be done – infrastructure is collapsing, the schools have to be revived. We have a situation in which huge numbers of people want to work, there are plenty, huge resources available, an enormous amount to be done, and the system is so rotten they can’t put them together.”

The reason for this is simple, Chomsky said.

“There is plenty of profit being made by those who pretty much dominate and control the system,” he said. “We’ve moved from the days where there was some kind of functioning democracy. It’s by now really a plutocracy.”

Chomsky strongly disagreed with Smiley and West that he had been marginalized for his views, saying that he regretfully turned down dozens of invitations to speak on a daily basis because he was otherwise engaged.

He also disagreed that a platform in the mainstream media was necessary to influence the debate.

“If you take a look at the progressive changes that have taken place in the country, say, just in the last 50 years – the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, opposition to aggression, the women’s movement, the environmental movement and so on – they’re not led by any debate in the media,” Chomsky said. “No, they were led by popular organizations, by activists on the ground.”

He recalled the earliest days of the antiwar movement, in the early 1960s, when he spoke in living rooms and church basements to just a handful of other activists and they were harassed – even in liberal Boston – by the authorities and media.

But that movement eventually grew and helped hasten the end of the Vietnam War, and Chomsky said it’s grown and become so mainstream that antiwar activists can limit wars before they even begin.

He said President Ronald Reagan was unable to launch a full-scale war in Central America during the 1980s because of the antiwar movement, and he bitterly disputed the idea that antiwar activists had no impact on the Iraq War.

“I don’t agree; it had a big effect,” Chomsky said. “It sharply limited the means that were available to the government to try to carry out the invasion and subdue the population. In fact, it’s one reason why the U.S. ended up really defeated in Iraq, seriously had to give up all of its war aims. The major victor in Iraq turns out to be Iran.”

Despite these limitations, he said the Iraq War had been one of the new millennium’s worst atrocities and had provoked a violent schism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that had sparked regional conflicts throughout the Middle East.

“The United States is now involved in a global terror campaign largely against the tribal people of the world, mostly Muslim tribes, and it’s all over. The intention is to go on and on,” Chomsky said. “These are all terrible consequences, but nevertheless they’re not as bad as they would be if there weren’t public opposition.”

Courtesy: The Raw Story
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/27/noam-chomsky-were-no-longer-a-functioning-democracy-were-really-a-plutocracy/

BBC – How Gilani turned contempt case from catastrophe to triumph

By M Ilyas Khan, BBC News, Islamabad

Excerpts;

Slogans of triumph

….. For today’s hearing, the prime minister wore the Pakistani national dress — shalwar trousers, kameez shirt and shervani, a Nehru-collared black long coat.

Accompanied by his cabinet colleagues and allied party leaders, he drove up to the outer precincts of the Supreme Court building from where he walked to Courtroom No 4 where the trial was held.

He appeared in a relaxed mood as he waved to dozens of sympathisers who had gathered outside the court.

Within the court, after the guilty verdict had been read out to him, he completed his custodial term within the space of a single four-word sentence uttered three times over; “A submission, my lord.”

The rising bench paid him no heed.

Moments later, he walked out a free man, greeted by women activists of his PPP party with loud slogans of triumph.

So in a way, the high drama that surrounded the early stages of this trial ended in a whimper.

But did this come as a surprise?

For those who have kept an eye on the overall political, economic and security situation of the country, it didn’t really.

Scandal subsided

Over the past couple of years, a perception has been growing that the country’s top judiciary has been selective in its judgements, dealing harshly with the PPP leadership but being soft on the military and some opposition politicians.

The PPP, which has traditionally been mistrusted by the country’s powerful security establishment, bided its first three years in office lying low, trying to survive.

It decided to strike back in December when the memo scandal broke out.

This revolved around a controversial memo which a former Pakistani ambassador to the US was accused of having initiated, allegedly at the behest of President Asif Zardari, to invite US intervention to prevent a possible military coup.

When the Supreme Court took up the case, questions were raised over the role the military had played in bringing that scandal to the fore.

Subsequently, Prime Minister Gilani, in unprecedented remarks in late December, told the parliament that while the civilian government had stood side by side with the military in difficult times, “they (the military) can’t be a state within the state“.

Given the PPP’s potential to ignite protests across large parts of the country, the army apparently backed down, allowing the memo scandal to subside.

The contempt of court case against Mr Gilani appears to have met the same fate.

It came at the height of the PPP’s tension with the military and the judiciary.

It was centred on an earlier judgment of the court that asked the government to write a letter to the Swiss government to re-open a corruption case against President Zardari which had been closed.

The prime minister was charged with contempt for failing to write that letter.

Prolonged trial

As the memo case went on the backburner, the contempt case also began to lose steam.

From the early expectations of a quick and harsh judgment, the case eased into a prolonged trial that has stretched over three months.

Many believe that through its order today, the court has tried to put an end to an increasingly difficult situation and has left the matter of Mr Gilani’s disqualification to others, whoever they might be – the parliament, the media, the political opposition.

Continue reading BBC – How Gilani turned contempt case from catastrophe to triumph

The True Cost of 9/11 – Trillions and trillions wasted on wars, a fiscal catastrophe, a weaker America.

– By Joseph E. Stiglitz

The Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by al-Qaida were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama Bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

Indeed, when Linda Bilmes and I calculated America’s war costs three years ago, the conservative tally was $3 trillion to $5 trillion. Since then, the costs have mounted further. With almost 50 percent of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment, and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans’ medical facilities, we now estimate that future disability payments and health care costs will total $600 billion to $900 billion. The social costs, reflected in veteran suicides (which have topped 18 per day in recent years) and family breakups, are incalculable.

Even if Bush could be forgiven for taking America, and much of the rest of the world, to war on false pretenses, and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture, there is no excuse for how he chose to finance it. His was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit. As America went into battle, with deficits already soaring from his 2001 tax cut, Bush decided to plunge ahead with yet another round of tax “relief” for the wealthy.

Today, America is focused on unemployment and the deficit. Both threats to America’s future can, in no small measure, be traced to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Increased defense spending, together with the Bush tax cuts, is a key reason why America went from a fiscal surplus of 2 percent of GDP when Bush was elected to its parlous deficit and debt position today. Direct government spending on those wars so far amounts to roughly $2 trillion—$17,000 for every U.S. household—with bills yet to be received increasing this amount by more than 50 percent. ….

Read more → slate

Attack on GHQ & Now On PNS Mehran: Alas, No One Sees the Writing On the Wall!

‘Deep State’, aka the ‘Pakistani military establishment’, created two monsters, one in the North & the other in the South to serve its twin objectives of achieving ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan and to fight the democratic & progressive forces in the country. The creators will never fight their creation as they need them for their well-known objectives but what about the people?

Even the masses still have soft corner for the two! One of them is engaged in an open war on the state and the people while the other is engaged only in ‘exercises’ for now testing weapons & keeping the personnel fighting fit! Wait for the day when the second monster would declare an open war from the South. Look forward to nothing else but death, destruction, murder & mayhem.

And remember, the responsibility for the eventual catastrophe will not lie only on the shoulders of the so-called military establishment. All the citizens will be equally responsible for their timidity and their silence. They are accomplices in all this.

Courtesy: Indus Herald

The Long Overdue Palestinian State

By MAHMOUD ABBAS

Ramallah, West Bank:SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria. He took up shelter in a canvas tent provided to all the arriving refugees. Though he and his family wished for decades to return to their home and homeland, they were denied that most basic of human rights. That child’s story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine.

This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.

Many are questioning what value there is to such recognition while the Israeli occupation continues. Others have accused us of imperiling the peace process. We believe, however, that there is tremendous value for all Palestinians — those living in the homeland, in exile and under occupation. …

Read more : The New York Times

Nuclear CAN means catastrophe, especially in corruption prone countries like India and Pakistan

Nuclear power as the “shark attacks” of energy

I was at a coffee shop recently and a SWPL couple (woman had dreads to boot!) a number of tables away were reading a newspaper, and the husband expressed worry about the Fukushima disaster. The wife responded that “now other people will understand how dangerous nuclear power is,” with a sage nod. They then launched into twenty minutes of loud righteous gibberish about chemicals (I had a hard time making sense of it, despite the fact that I learned a lot about chemicals in the past due to my biochemistry background). Because they’d irritated me I was curious and I tailed them as they left. Naturally they had driven to get coffee in a S.U.V. of some sort (albeit, a modestly sized one which looked like it was more outfitted for the outdoors’ activities common in the Pacific Northwest; they’d probably done their cost vs. benefit about those chemicals!).

In terms of radiation fears, I suspect that if more people just automatically knew …

Read more : Discorver Magazine

Pity Pakistan is close to imploding?

Jesters and destinies —Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Whenever armies become unanswerable to the state and become a ‘deep state’, the irreversible rot sets in and results in the disintegration of the state they are supposedly safeguarding and protecting.

In his book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) tells about a Roman emperor who, angered by the actions of his favourite jester, orders that he be put to death. The jester, hearing this, mournfully shakes his head and says that a wish of his would remain unfulfilled. Inquisitive, the emperor inquires and after some persuasion the jester tells that he has the knowledge and the ability to teach the emperor’s favourite black stallion to speak.

The emperor asks how long would it take and is told a year is enough. The death sentence is temporarily waived and the condemned jester allowed to fulfil his promise. The jester’s well-wishers tell him that he has committed a great folly as there was no way that he could make the stallion speak. He replies, “There is a possibility that in the intervening time I may die a natural death or maybe even the emperor could die and I would be free. Moreover, a year is long enough a period; who knows, the black stallion may learn to speak.”

Sixty-three years are a long enough period to change destinies but it seems the jesters here who took up the task were incompetent, corrupt and dishonest to the core, whose concept of a tryst with destiny remained limited to accumulating power and pelf for their dynasties. They neither had compassion for the people nor the wisdom to understand that they were establishing the groundwork for the eventual catastrophe. They felt if they could muster the support of their various masters and mentors for undisputed authority and power to rule, then for all intents and purposes the masses and their problems were irrelevant. They simply ensured by deceit and fraud that loans would continue to pour in to make their lives luxurious even if that meant burdening the people with irredeemable debts. These jesters have brought this place to this pass and the only route open is the way down. …

Read more : Daily Times

Pakistan nears bankruptcy, yet its Army poaches most of the resources of the nation

As Pakistan nears bankruptcy, patience of foreign lenders wears thin

BY GRAEME SMITH

ISLAMABAD — A terrifying kind of mathematics has become popular among aid workers, analysts and others who spend their lives tracking the fate of Pakistan. It’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation about how the country will get through the coming years without declaring bankruptcy: take the country’s foreign debt ($53-billion), add interest, subtract the $1.8-billion that won’t arrive as scheduled on Jan. 1 from the International Monetary Fund because Islamabad failed to meet loan conditions. Add the staggering cost, perhaps $10-billion, of rebuilding after summer floods.

The numbers seem bleak. The government floated the possibility last week of running a deficit for the coming year of $15-billion.

Islamabad’s latest plan to raise revenue, a reformed tax law, has become bogged down by stubborn opposition parties, front-page criticism and street protests. The cabinet’s economic team is threatening to quit.

Pakistan needs a bailout. But is the country still a good investment?

“That’s the conversation people are having now, about whether you’d be throwing good money after bad,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, a development expert and policy analyst based in Islamabad.

The international community has accused Pakistan of poor financial management for years. Cables recently posted by the website WikiLeaks show a U.S. intelligence official complaining in 2008 about the country’s preference for spending money on strategic military hardware instead of development: “Despite pending economic catastrophe, Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world.” …

READ MORE : Globe and Mail

Christian, Jewish and Muslim Fundamentalists Agree that Natural Disasters Are God’s Revenge on the Modern World

Their religions vary, but the fundies agree that the punitive but righteous hand of God is responsible for catastrophe.

When a Shiite prayer leader blames earthquakes in Iran on immodestly dressed and promiscuous women, neocons like Michael Ledeen snicker.

When a prominent ultra-orthodox Israeli spiritual and political leader agrees with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyehthat the fire destroying Israel’s Carmel Forest is a punishment from God, there’s silence.

Ovadia Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, who remains a prominent spiritual and political leader of the Shas party, and Palestinian Prime Minister elect Haniyeh agree that the Deity has been venting His fury by means of  the destructive blaze in Israel, but disagree about why.

Read more : Alternet.org

Peace in Karachi!??!

by Aziz Narejo, Tx

This scribe has been writing on the alarming situation in Karachi-Sindh for sometime. The city has become a powder keg, which may blast anytime resulting in a catastrophe the people have not seen in the country yet. It will be even worse than what we saw in 1971. Certain elements have accumulated huge piles of arms and ammunition and have ‘armies’ of trained ‘soldiers’ to fight and terrorize.
Peace in Karachi cannot be achieved through mischievous ‘operations’ in selected areas of the city – selected by one or more of the major cancerous terrorist groups, which are problems in themselves. There is a need of a large-scale neutral effort to tackle the violence and free the city of all kinds of arms and ammunition.
Also the people have to stand up to the political groups who claim to represent a linguist group but actually they hold the city hostage through torture, murder, extortion, kidnapping, land grabbing and political maneuvering/blackmailing. Not much could change until courageous members of their own communities challenge such groups.
All the people in Sindh, irrespective of what language they speak, have to stand up, have to show courage and have to come together to end this vicious cycle of violence. They should say no to the groups and the leaders who thrive on blood, violence, rhetoric and the crime.
The alternative is collective suicide. People have to make the choice.
October 21, 2010