Tag Archives: generation

Schools need new science standards to make U.S. competitive: National Research Council

Science in U.S. schools needs to be more comprehensive, hands on and rigorous to produce more engineers, doctors and inventors to help the U.S. compete, according to groups that are promoting new education standards.

The Next Generation Science Standards, developed by organizations such as the National Research Council and the National Science Teachers Association, were released yesterday. Twenty-six states, including California, New York and New Jersey, took part in drafting the voluntary guidelines and will consider adopting them for state curriculums.

The science guidelines follow a similar effort to create uniform expectations in math, writing and reading, called Common Core State Standards, issued in 2010 and which have been adopted in 45 states. The science standards were devised in part by looking at what is taught in countries that lead international tests, such as Singapore, South Korea and Finland. The U.S. ranked 17th in science and 25th in math in a 2009 assessment, according to the Next Generation Science Standards website.

“The U.S. system of science and mathematics education is performing far below par and, if left unattended, will leave millions of young Americans unprepared to succeed in a global economy,” the group said.

Continue reading Schools need new science standards to make U.S. competitive: National Research Council

We lost our identity first and then we lost our faith. Does it matter now what we lost first? We know we have lost both.

by Anwar Iqbal

We don’t know how it happened but it did. Somehow our generation became a faceless generation. But before that we lost our faith. Or perhaps, we lost our identity first and then we lost our faith. Does it matter now what we lost first? We know we have lost both.

Like other people we too had names; names that showed we had parents who cared for us. Our names reflected our bound to a family, a community and above all to humanity. But first we adopted new idols, those that sipped blood and spat fire and brimstone.

Those were fearsome deities that loved suicide-bombings, beheadings, and firing-squads.

And all of this was not done in the name of religion alone. We had many idols, each named after a sect, an ethnic group, or a political cult. They had one common trait, an insatiable lust for power.

Soon after we adopted those new idols, we lost our identity, or we may have lost our identity first and then we took these new symbols of worship, abandoning the loving, merciful and benevolent God.

Yes, we still lived in cities, towns and villages. But living was our only distinction. We had nothing to be proud of. There was no bond, no love among us. We did not trust each other. But did it only happen to those living in our city? No. People in cities around us stopped trusting each other too. It was a strange disease that spread across the region and affected everybody.

Continue reading We lost our identity first and then we lost our faith. Does it matter now what we lost first? We know we have lost both.

Terror and Death at Home Are Caught in F.B.I. Tape

Hoping to hear evidence of terrorist activities, the Federal Bureau of Investigation planted listening devices in the tiny apartment of a Palestinian-American more than two years ago. What the F.B.I. taped were the screams of a teen-age girl being stabbed to death.

Now, a jury that heard the tape-recorded voice of the 16-year-old pleading in vain for her life has convicted her parents of murder and recommended that they be put to death.

The jury deliberated more than four hours Saturday before asking for the death penalty against Zein Isa and his wife, Maria. On Friday, the jurors had convicted them in the death of their daughter Tina, the father for stabbing her and the mother for holding her down.

The girl’s screams and moans as she begged her parents not to kill her were captured by devices secretly planted in the apartment by Federal agents who were looking into possible illegal activities by Mr. Isa on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Cultures and Generations Clash Instead of international intrigue, the tapes captured a sometimes chilling, sometimes heartbreaking family drama involving clashes of cultures — Mr. Isa was born in Palestine and his wife in Brazil — and the parents’ attempts to control their daughter who, it seems, wanted to be an American teen-ager. …

Read more » The New York Times

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

Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination

– The young people protesting in Wall Street and beyond reject this vain economic order. They have come to reclaim the future

• Police tactics attacked as officers pepper-spray women
• Occupy Wall Street: the protesters speak

by

Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down. ….

Read more → guardian.co.uk

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Pakistan: Taseer’s daughter in UK speaks out against political Islam

by Lizzy Millar

LONDON 20 May 2011 – Qur’an schools in Pakistan are raising a new generation of children to propagate hatred in the wake of bin Laden’s assassination.

Shehrbano Taseer, the daughter of Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab region who was assassinated by his bodyguard on 4 January for opposing blasphemy laws, blames Pakistan’s countless madrassas – or Qur’an schools – for using Islam as a ‘political tool’.

Taseer who was speaking at the Quilliam Foundation in London, the first UK-based Muslim think tank dedicated to challenging extremism, is calling on the international community to lobby her government to reform the madrassas and allow greater democracy in Pakistan.

She wants Pakistan to reform the madrassa syllabus so that children are taught viable skills for life and how to value religious freedom and rights.

Taseer, a journalist for Newsweek Pakistan, who describes herself as a civil society activist, has also warned that the death of bin Laden has stirred up extremist sentiment in the already troubled nation.

She said: ‘They are raising children to believe their only contribution to Islam is through jihad. They hail people like Osama bin Laden.’

Taseer said a lack of education coupled with a culture that discouraged any questioning of elders had allowed these radical clerics to spread their ‘poison’.

‘They are becoming more hardline by using Islam as a political tool and this mindset is exported all over the world,’ she added.

Taseer claims her country has been a victim in the war on terrorism after its leaders received direction and funding for schools and mosques from Wahhabis, ultra-conservative dollar-rich Muslims from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

She said this influx had brought with it a rise in the number of radical clerics who had a stronghold on their communities by running Qur’an schools and influencing popular opinion.

Asked by Lapido Media about action taken by Pakistani civil society against so-called hate preachers, she said: ‘Absolutely nothing, as there is an atmosphere of fear. The silent majority feel backed up against the wall.’

She gave the example of Mumtaz Qadri, her father’s killer who was showered with rose petals by a group of two hundred lawyers as he entered the court building. She also mentioned students writing articles that hailed his deeds and criticised her father for speaking up for Asia Bibi, the Christian mother-of-five sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.

‘Mumtaz Qadri represents a mindset that is prevalent in Pakistan. Murder is legitimised because it’s done in the name of God.

‘Repressive mindsets have been allowed to flourish. The state has abdicated its responsibility, and hatemongers have been given a platform.

‘My father’s death has highlighted how grave the situation is, but blasphemy cases are still on the rise.’

Taseer paid tribute to the ‘brave men and women’ who were speaking out in Pakistan as well as the silent majority who she said are looking for a more open society.

But she added that their voices would remain fragmented without the backing of central government.

In recent months Pakistan has come under increasing pressure to crack down on extremism in the wake of the assassination of Salman Taseer.

His murder came only a few months before the fatal shooting of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minorities minister and the only Christian member of the cabinet. He too had criticised his country’s blasphemy laws.

In May protests erupted in Pakistan after US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda, who had apparently been hiding in a compound near Islamabad for 10 years.

Continue reading Pakistan: Taseer’s daughter in UK speaks out against political Islam

“Burqa got a befitting French kiss” – by Marvi Sirmed

Before reading this argument on recent Burqa-ban by France, you need to know who I am. Raised in an orthodox Muslim Deobandi family, I’ve been educated in Pakistan’s Punjab where urban middle class used to be too sensitive about purdah in 1980s and 90s – the decades when I went to school and then university. Being first generation migrated out of the village in a big city, my father was a part of purdah sensitive educated middle class professional class. But my mother, raised and educated in a secular and Sufist Sindh, fought against Burqa throughout her life in order to save me from this ‘curse’ as she would put it.

Mom succeeded in this battle to the best of my luck and now no one expects her or me in Burqa or purdah in general. …

Read more : Let Us Build Pakistan

Were we really tolerant before the jihadis? – Dr Manzur Ejaz

Whether led by mature middle-class people or otherwise, the extremist religious movements draw most of their following from the new urbanite classes. In most cases, they have become the source of religious violence

Pakistanis must ask a central question: were we really tolerant people before Zia’s Islamisation or we were only naively indolent, prone to be violent at any moment? It is a common belief in Pakistan that when Zia, alongside the US, created violent jihadi organisations, they created hysteria in the public with narrow-mindedness ruling and people killing for frivolous reasons. Two questions come to mind about this explanation. One, were we really consciously ever a tolerant society for the jihadis to destroy? And two, how can we use this explanation to explain the parallel rise of extremist political Hinduism in India?

While talking about the killing fields that jihadis have created, we forget that the carnage of 1947 in Punjab cost more lives than the total number of people killed by jihadi violence in the last 20 years in Pakistan. Everyone blames the people of ‘other religions’ for the 1947 tragedy but, wherever Muslims were in overwhelming majority, they killed Sikhs and Hindus. Conversely, they faced the same treatment in areas where they were a minority. Amrita Pritam rightly said, “Aaj sabhay Kaidoo hu gaiy, husan ishaq de chor” (Today, everyone has turned into a villain, enemy of love). What happened in 1947 is closely linked to what is happening now and what occurred in east Punjab’s Khalistan Movement, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Most of the 1947 killings were concentrated in the rural areas; there were some in urban centres but they were limited. Most of the stories I have heard from Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs migrating from Pakistan indicate that the urban non-Muslims did not lose their family members while the stories from the rural areas are horror tales. One of my maternal uncles was killed in a village in Gurdaspur but at the same time none of the two neighbouring village’s Sikhs were spared — entire villages were murdered. How can so-called innocent rural people become murderous?

It can be argued that from the second to third centuries, the way the Gupta dynasty established self-sufficient but desolate and isolated village communities contributed to the religious violence of 1947, and even presently. When the Maurya Dynasty’s state ownership of entire land and manufacturing became unsustainable, it was replaced by self-sufficient village communities. Every community was required by the king’s law to have all kinds of artisans who were given a little land, residential and agricultural, and fixed shares of peasant produce. Consequently, the village communities had no need or desire to interact with other communities or reach beyond their own. Only a few traders and vendors were the link between the village and the rest of the world. The vendor, or vanjara in Punjabi, became a hero in folk songs because he was the only link with the outside world.

Due to the total absence of interaction and exchange of thought with the rest of the world, the village communities became lonesome entities. Mental horizons shrank and one generation of people was replaced with an identical next one. The village was considered a homeland or country whose honour was to be protected. This is why, during inter-village festivals, people would carry weapons as the possibility of war between the people of different villages was very real.

In eastern Punjab, some village communities were comprised of people of all religions but, when the British colonised western Punjab through an irrigation system, the village communities were established exclusively on religious basis. Therefore, another layer of separation was put in place where people of one religion became aliens for the other. The British education system did not mitigate such a separation because of the imposition of Urdu and denial of Punjabi identity. As a result, Sikhs limited themselves to the Gurmukhi script and Muslims to the Persian script. This was another fundamental divide created by the British. In Sindh, where Sindhi was made the official language and everyone used the same script, inter-religious hostility was a little less and did not lead to carnage in 1947. In the urban centres of Punjab where, despite furious religious political divides, the interaction between people was much better and the level of violence was also lower in 1947. ….

Read more : Wichaar

Let us strengthen Pakistan

Let us Unite to Uphold 18th Amendment including Devolution of HEC

By Khalid Hashmani

As more and more information comes out in the waning days of Higher Education Commission (HEC), most Sindhis are shocked to know that out of ten thousands (10,000) foreign and domestic scholarships that have been distributed by HEC so far, Sindh received only 892 (http://ejang.jang.com.pk/4-7-2011/Karachi/pic.asp?picname=99.gif). This amounts to about one third of the number that Sindh would have received even if the NFC award rules were applied. There is no province/ state or ethnic group anywhere in the world that has suffered as much as Sindhis have when it comes to scholarship opportunities in Pakistan. Instead of defending an institution that has denied Sindhis their due share in educational opportunities for so many years, we should be demanding trial of those officials who were responsible for denying Sindh its due share in scholarships. It is doubtful that an agency of such dreadful performance should even be given a role of standard setting and quality assurance. The Government of Pakistan should seriously consider creating a new agency with proper representation from each province/ state to oversee the jurisdictions that 18th Amendment allows at the federal level.

Continue reading Let us strengthen Pakistan

States formed on the basis of religion can never survive a peaceful future (Bertrand Russell) e.g; Pakistan and Israel!

Pakistan’s identity war — II

By Saleem H Ali

What does it mean to be an Islamic state? Was there ever such an entity? Can modernity, as it pertains to developing a functional society in a globalised world, be realised within the context of a theocracy? These are fundamental questions which Pakistanis need to resolve, within this generation, in order for Pakistan to develop and reach its potential.

Pakistan shares the distinction, along with Israel, as being one of only two states to have been crafted, in the post-colonial worlds, on the basis of religion. In both cases enormous migrations were involved with questionable legitimacy for the migrants. The ‘muhajir’ identity continues to be perpetuated, as such, on this basis. The creation of both Israel and Pakistan present a perplexing paradox: Created on the basis of religion, their champions were largely secular individuals. The founders of Zionism as a political force, such as Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, were secular. So too were Pakistan’s founders, most notably the Quaid-i-Azam. I would argue that Ben Gurion and Jinnah made a dangerous bargain when it came to conflating cultural identity on the basis of religious adherence.

Pakistan and Israel — two states which don’t recognise each other diplomatically — are facing a similar radicalisation because of that initial crisis of identity which was never fully resolved. Theocratic forces are gaining power in both countries. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

Bringing Punjabiyat Back

By Omar Ali

Excerpt:

…. 1. In the near future, the decline of Punjabi in Pakistan will continue since the state ideology is biased in favor of Urdu (vehicle of Islamism and the “two-nation theory”, as well as the first or second language of the educated elite), mainly since Punjabi is not taught in schools. Schools are the brain-washing institution of choice in modern society, so no surprises here.

2. But in the long run, it is Urdu which is in serious trouble in Pakistan. Its native speakers are a minority and have not been able to enlarge and grow a living breathing literary and musical culture…this is a controversial statement, but I have anecdotal evidence: The older generation of the Pakistani elite actually read Urdu poetry, knew hundreds of verses by heart, even read a few novels and many excellent short stories. The new generation is reading English or reading nothing. There are exceptions, but in the long run, the culture of Urdu is dying in Pakistan (i have no idea of its health in India). …

To read full article : Brownpundits

Unrest Spreads, Some Violently, in Middle East

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

……. The protests are a fire alarm that the promises are not going to work anymore, said Sawsan al-Shaer, a Bahraini columnist. But governments that have stuck around for 20 to 40 years are slow to realize that, she said.

“Now the sons are coming, the new generation, and they are saying, ‘I don’t care that my father agreed with you — I am asking for more, and I am asking for something else,’” Ms. Shaer said.

Most rulers have surrounded themselves with a tight coterie of advisers and security officers for so long that they believe the advice that just a few young people are knocking around outside and will tire in good time, she said, even after the fall of the presidents in Tunisia and Egypt.

“The rulers don’t realize there is a new generation who want a better job, who want to ask what is happening, where did you spend the money?” Ms. Shaer said. “My father did not ask. I want to ask.”

The growing population throughout the 3,175-mile zone from Tehran to Tangier, Morocco, has changed too much, analysts believe, for the old systems to work.

“There is a contradiction between educating a lot of your population and creating a white-collar middle class and then ruling with an iron hand,” said Juan R. Cole, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Michigan.

To read full article : The New York Times

 

Kashmir’s Fruits of Discord – By ARUNDHATI ROY

… For three years in a row now, Kashmiris have been in the streets, protesting what they see as India’s violent occupation. But the militant uprising against the Indian government that began with the support of Pakistan 20 years ago is in retreat. The Indian Army estimates that there are fewer than 500 militants operating in the Kashmir Valley today. The war has left 70,000 dead and tens of thousands debilitated by torture. Many, many thousands have “disappeared.” More than 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus have fled the valley. Though the number of militants has come down, the number of Indian soldiers deployed remains undiminished.

But India’s military domination ought not to be confused with a political victory. Ordinary people armed with nothing but their fury have risen up against the Indian security forces. A whole generation of young people who have grown up in a grid of checkpoints, bunkers, army camps and interrogation centers, whose childhood was spent witnessing “catch and kill” operations, whose imaginations are imbued with spies, informers, “unidentified gunmen,” intelligence operatives and rigged elections, has lost its patience as well as its fear. With an almost mad courage, Kashmir’s young have faced down armed soldiers and taken back their streets. …

Read more : THE NEW YORK TIMES