Wednesday, March 31, 2010

dr vijaya re modi and NDTV's biases

mar 31st, 2010

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Vijay

Dr.Prannoy Roy

Dear Dr. Roy,

I watched 3 programs on NDTV on the SIT questioning of
Mr. Narendra Modi and was impressed by their range and
general good quality.

Before I proceed let me thank you and Mr.Kawaljit of NDTV
for taking prompt and quick action to set right the Transmission
problem on the programs.

Vikram Chandra one of the anchors did a fine job in asking the
right questions. He was the only one present who mentioned
the  G word. He called it a tragedy.

Manish Tiwari was at his deafening loudest and seems to be a male
equivalent of Teesta Setalwad's loud shouting down of opponents,
although at this session she was relatively restrained. But between
the two of them, one to his left and one to the right, Swapan Das
Gupta, whose style is well modulated, though firm, could barely
make his voice heard. He managed to make one important point:
that despite all the progress that Gujarat has achieved, both develop
mentally and in social justice, liberal commentators always bring up
the question of the 2002 killing of Muslims.

Siddharth Varadarajan early on said that he has no dog in the fight.
But, ofcourse he does. He is the Left's roving ambassador. And in true
myopic style the Left does not see anything useful in any of the good
points of the other parties. One of the reasons it does not gain ground.

His stats. seemed flawed. The official count is about 1,000 people were
killed in 2002, of which 800 approximately were Muslims and 200 were
Hindus. This does not include the Hindus who were roasted alive in the
train in Godhra.

I recall reading that SIT had indicted Teesta Setalwad for being guilty
of tutoring witnesses and exaggerations. Hence it was surprising to see
her at the program, as if nothing had happened.

In one of the 3 programs that I watched ,Vinod Mehta was present and
as per usual he introduced a note of sanity into the question : whatever
the question of guilt or no guilt, Mr. Modi should be congratulated on
subjecting himself to a gruelling 10 hour questioning by the SIT.

It is my opinion that the bias against Mr.Modi is motivated not only by
a political agenda but also a class bias. I understand that he comes from
humble beginnings. So does Sonia Gandhi,I believe, until she met and married
Rajiv Gandhi. Neverthless, both Manish Tiwari and Mrs. Gandhi speak in an
unrestrained fashion about him (Manish calling him a mass murderer, even
when nothing has been established in a court of law, only accusations and
allegations swirling around) and Mrs. Gandhi uninhibitedly calling him names
even though it was under her husband's watch that thousands of Sikhs
were murdered in the capital, after Indira Gandhi's assasination by a Sikh.

I thought that Mr. Modi spoke with class and dignity both before and after
the SIT proceedings. He has repeatedly spoken about the majesty of the
law and that no one is above it. Yesterday he reiterated this by a moving
statement on the Indian Constitution.

A true patriot.

But the person who impressed me most in the program was the lady who
acted as the spokesperson for the BJP. In an extremely provocative
situation, with Manish Tiwari shouting out his provocations, she remained
calm and repeatedly referred to the need to let the due processes of law
take their course, rather than create atmospherics that would impede those

As Vinod Mehta said correctly : the Criminal Justice system is working.

Once again I want to thank you and NDTV for fine programs that keep
Indian viewers abroad well informed about the debates and discussionss
that are taking place in the old country.


Dr. Vijaya 

Should the Pope be arrested?

mar 31st, 2010

why not? "let the law take its course". there is the international criminal court at the hague. let them try him for crimes against humanity.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <info

Should the Pope be arrested?

For a moment, let's set aside the question as to whether Pope Benedict XVI should resign from position as the head of the Catholic church. The chances of that happening are nil, as the church would likely never recover from such an admission of moral failure. More compelling is whether or not the Pope should be arrested whenever he sets foot outside the confines of Vatican City.

Christopher Hitchens and Sinead O'Connor (now there's a dynamic duo) are arguing for just that. Their thinking is fairly straight forward: by not reporting the serial crimes of priests, allowing them to continue with their church duties, and, as a result, commit further crimes, Mr. Ratzinger aided and abetted child molesters. It may yet also be shown beyond all reasonable doubt that the Pope knowingly covered up the despicable acts of these men.

Writing today at True/Slant, Matt Taibbi destroys the church defense that, hey, the church wasn't the only place where molestation was prevalent. But by that argument, those accused of abusing and covering up the abuse of children should face precisely the same legal consequences as those who work at public schools or in boy scout troops, etc.

To believe that the Pope should be above the laws of every country on Earth (save for the magical one nestled inside of Rome) when it comes to dealing with those who abuse children relies on the assumption that those who serve the church are exceptional beings, different from normal mortals. Of course, the Pope is but the most extreme case, for he is the one who has been chosen above all others to commune with God.

But before he was anointed Christ's vicar (by that robed jury of his peers), Ratzinger was in charge of deciding what to do with those priests who did harm children. In fact, to hear the church itself tell it, that was no small part of his job description. And so Ratzinger's office was alerted of pedophile priests, but, according to those who worked with the Pope, he never saw those specific memos.

These are serious allegations. But rather than leave journalists and bloggers to make them, why aren't world governments stepping forward to write up an arrest warrant? If the Pope is found innocent, so be it. But why should he be treated any differently that you or I? Why? Because the moral authority of the church is not to be questioned despite all the evidence indicating the serious lack of moral judgment among some members of the establishment.

The Pope is a man, who has made more than a few mistakes in his time, and continues to make them. We must stop this silly nonsense of treating him as though he is incapable of error. As though he and he alone has the authority to say what is right and what is wrong. He is not a God, he's just an ambitious, powerful guy who is squirming at the realization that the world is on to him. Were he a politician, a bus driver, an airline pilot or a janitor  who stood accused of knowingly protecting child molesters, he'd have been arrested by now.

Fwd: Pope Benedict wants ‘wiggle room’ for ‘rape and torture of children’

mar 31st, 2010

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ravi 

Hitchens: Pope Benedict wants 'wiggle room' for 'rape and torture of children'

popebenedict strangehat Hitchens: Pope Benedict wants  wiggle room for rape and torture of children

The Catholic Church is in serious trouble and may have nowhere to run, depending   on who you ask.

"I warned them about all of this," declared author Christopher Hitchens, appearing on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night. "Nothing good can come of a church that has as its' slogan, 'Leave no child's behind.' And then they went and chose as pope the man who was personally responsible, in his dioceses, and institutionally responsible for the cover-up. So now, there's no escape."

The child rape scandals that have savaged Catholic ranks for years starting in the United States, then flaring up in Ireland, Germany, Italy and other locations around the world, have finally come to implicate Pope Benedict XVI, according to recent reports.

At time of this writing, the most recent scandal flare-up involved a school for the deaf in Wisconsin, where up to 200 boys were molested by a man whom Hitchens said "was allowed to walk free and was buried with full honors as a priest."

Even with his role in covering-up child molestations at his former dioceses in Munich, Pope Benedict offered an apology for the sexual abuse so rampant in the church, but did not call for any law enforcement action.hierarchy of crimes," said Maher. "The child molesters are the ones who even hardened criminals shun, or actually kill.

Hitchens called the pope's apology a request for "wiggle room" on the "rape and torture of children."

"It's funny because in this society... Even in prisons, there is a hierarchy of crimes," said Maher. "The child molesters are the ones who even hardened criminals shun, or actually kill."

"This is the one crime no one can think about without vomiting, that the once great, moral church wants wiggle room for," Hitchens summarized.

"This present pope is the head of a state, a political state, as well as the church. So, it's not just that the spiritual leader of a big cult is a proven protector of child molesters, but the head of a government is, with- has an embassy in Washington. Well, can he land here from now on? Shouldn't Congress become seized with the matter? Shouldn't the European Union be asking, 'Can this guy travel freely?' Isn't he wanted for the foulest crime of all? These are questions that, I promise you, are going to continue being asked."

This video was published to YouTube on March 26, 2010, as snipped from HBO by Mediaite.


i am picturing ratzy being hauled out of the vatican, kicking and screaming

mar 31st, 2010

no, he won't resign, and he can't be impeached.

i used to imagine bill clinton being carried by a few burly men, carried out of the white house, kicking and screaming, and grabbing onto furniture and foliage desperately. this is at the time it looked likely that he'd be impeached. i figured he was so drunk on power that he'd refuse to leave the white house even if, like in 'dreyfus', they dishonorably discharged him, snipped the buttons off his suit in full public view on the north lawn, broke his sword, punched a hole in his dolmen hat, etc.

actually this scenario of great entertainment may be enacted with ratzy. god knows he has enough robes and hats and stuff that can be ceremoniously destroyed!

and btw, notice the utter and complete silence from the burqas, the sardesais, the genocide suzies, and the prannoy james roys about the entire sorry spectacle. it is as though it's all happening on some other planet.

i am reminded of musharraf saying, "mohammedanism is the most tolerant religion". i wanted to ask him, "on which planet? surely not on god's green earth".

ratzy hangs on to power for dear life. resign, ratzy, do the decent thing!

mar 31st, 2010

run, ratzy, run. hide, ratzy, hide. repent, ratzy, repent, for all your sins.

but then there's very little chance of that happening.

does he have no shame? i guess not. typically, he's hoping this will blow over, just like the bishop "vampire of cochin" thattunkal scandal, and innumerable others in the vatican hierarchy.

  1. RajeevSrinivasa 
    let's compare swami nityananda and the pope. the former resigned when found out; latter hangs on to power. what moral standing can he have?
  2. rajeev srinivasanRajeevSrinivasa  maureen dowd in NYT: should there be an inquisition for the pope? yes, after all, he was Grand Inquisitor himself.

the messiah syndrome

mar 31st, 2010

i have written about this in the past.

truly hilarious messiah syndrome. westerners desperate for spiritual messiahs. alas, indians for 'leader' messiahs.

Benedict XIV: Papal Infallibility to Moral Frailty -Sandhya Jain -31 March 2010

mar 31st, 2010

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Radha Rajan

Benedict XIV: Papal Infallibility to Moral Frailty

Sandhya Jain

31 March 2010


The Promised Land is a far horizon; what beckons is a treacherous infamy. The imperious Pope Benedict XIV, once the awesome Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and head of Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (read Inquisition, 1981-2005), is at the receiving end of an Inquisitorial Flock demanding his Shepherd's baton.


Perhaps the alleged Nostradamus Prophecy is coming true, and the end of the Catholic Church is nigh.


And not a day too soon, in my opinion, as the wrack and ruin accompanying the rise and spread of the Roman Catholic Church over two millennia in Europe, the Americas, Canada, Australia, Africa, is now creeping dangerously into the Asian landmass, home to the world's great ancient and living civilisations.


Given the intimate relationship between church, empire/kingdom and trade/monopoly, the historical timing of the demand for the Pope's resignation (read virtual defrock by outraged public opinion) is apt.


It accompanies the decline of American post-Second World War global hegemony, the irreversible economic decline of the West despite all manoeuvres to stave off the coming collapse, and America's military inability to control a Stone Age people like the Afghans despite its shock and awe armoury. [The Fall seems likely to adversely affect all of Abraham's offspring, their being too inextricably intertwined with each other to disengage safely, but that need not detain us here].


Cannibals of the Creation


In just the last two decades, the Catholic Church's (and other church denominations) history of sexual abuse of men, women, minor boys, minor girls, married women, youth, even the physically challenged, have been spilling out of the cupboard, shattering its carefully constructed visage as an army of Christ dedicated to the mission of taking the Word and the Light to the dark corners of the world (read Asia).


As every continent and country, virtually every parish, shudders with anguished screams of victims of priestly lust, what has unravelled is an edifice of Apostolic continuity in perpetuating crime and cover-up. At the epicenter of the conspiracy of silence is the Vatican itself, and its crimes are millennia-old. The Soviet Gulags may look like a teddy bear's picnic once Vatican Archives are opened for public scrutiny; that may happen in this very century. Bliss will it be in that dawn to be alive…  


It's ironic but apt that the Abrahamic Civilisation – where the God of the Creation made everything in creation a consumable for Man's enjoyment, and forgot to forbid Man from eating his own kind like some of the lower animals – is falling prey to its own cannibalistic tendency! Priests and Bishops with 'power' over their flock literally feasted on the lambs, using their minds and bodies as consumable delicacies and raping, abusing, sodomising with impunity any and all who took their fancy. The institution of Confession – far from aiding the spiritual evolution of the faithful, proved a potent instrument of blackmail of the isolated and atomized individual, and perpetuated the most horrendous traumas a religion can impose upon its own folk – and for no real or imagined crime(s).


With hindsight, it is easy to see why Sigmund Freud, father of modern psychology, viewed every psychological problem of his patients as evidence of a repressed sexual fantasy. What he meant but could not openly say in that era, was that they were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of those they dared not accuse in public. He must have helped them come to terms with the abuse and have closure or at least some solace in their personal lives.


That Western psychology has more or less stuck to this path with minor modifications vindicates my view that Freud invented psychology as a method of helping Church victims of sexual abuse to speak to non-priests about their traumas. It is not surprising that when victims of the church began to go public about their anguish in recent decades, the method by which they established their claims in court was via the psychiatric clinic – through childhood regression, hypnosis, counselling, and so on.


What a denouement – the church is the Original Revolution that has devoured its own children! Her other victims she cares little about, but now, with Biblical precision, her own children shall rise and call her wretched, the flesh-devouring witch of a childhood tale…


The Pope must go


Pope Benedict is up to his holy ears in the sex scam hush-up policy; hence the rising chorus for his resignation. The scandal gets murkier by the day. Even the rape of the patriarch Noah by his own son, or the rape of Lot by his own daughters, indigestible as those Biblical truths were, cannot match the dimensions of the current problem.


Only last week, three separate stories suggested Benedict's direct role in the conspiracy of silence. Father Lawrence Murphy of Wisconsin abused nearly 200 boys at a Milwaukee school for the deaf. Arthur Budzinski, a victim, went public with accusations against the pontiff. His daughter Gigi, said: "The pope knew about this. He was the one who handled the sex abuse cases. So, I think he should be accountable, because he did nothing" [Mike Whitney,, March 29, 2010]


For years now, reams have been written about how the Vatican moved sexual predators from parish to parish, refusing to call the police and give justice to the victims, refusing the defrock the guilty and spare the innocent, and using its doctrinal superiority to perpetuate what must be the worst mass crime in history. It's a fit case for the Criminal Tribunal at The Hague – if it can be persuaded to prosecute white Christians, that is.


Throughout its long history of sexual abuse, the prime concern of church authorities has been to avoid litigation, specifically, to avoid paying for its crimes by handing over the guilty to the law and giving compensation and therapy to its victims.


In 2009, 67 former students of the Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Verona signed a statement describing the sexual abuse, pedophilia and corporal punishment they suffered from the 1950s to the 1980s – yes, 30 years, a lifetime! They named 24 priests, brothers and lay religious men. ("Sex abuse scandal in US, Italy taints papacy," Nicole Winfield, AP)


As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge of the escalating crisis, and his response was to silence priests who might talk. He wrote to the Bishops in 2001 to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication of both the accused priests and the victims of sex crimes; he demanded "a perpetual silence." (Washington Post)


[Is this is the Cross – or dagger – that he wants to plant in Asia?!]


Benedict has been implicated in the case of Munich priest Father Peter Hullermann, who was suspended in 1979 and rehabilitated in 1980 'without restrictions' even after a psychiatrist described him as a potential danger [the Pope was then the Archbishop of Munich!]. In 1986, Hullermann was convicted of molesting boys in Bavaria.

Recently the Pope apologised to Catholics in Ireland for decades of cruelty and abuse. But the fact is that Benedict knew about the abuse, and let it happen. Worse, even as Vatican faces the gravest crises of its modern history, he declared he would not be intimidated by critics, petty gossip, or dominant opinion, and shrugged off calls for his resignation.


An anguished Barbara Blaine, president, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), asserted: we are men, women and children who are in deep pain, having been raped, sodomized and assaulted by Catholic clergy and often betrayed by Catholic officials. Our trauma - past and present - should never be trivialized by anyone, much less by those who profess to be caring shepherds.


Talk of 'petty gossip' really hurt because it came from the Pope himself. She said the thousands of victims were doing a public service by courageously speaking out and thus making the church, and society, safer for children by exposing predators and long-hidden secrets and corruption. The Catholic hierarchy can't pretend to care about victims and also attack them.


Undaunted Church


Many demand the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Irish Church. The stories of child abuse by priests are particularly ghastly, with accounts about victims bashed up for pleasure who later simply 'disappeared.' The religion itself protects these sadistic priestly perverts, charges Eamonn McCann [Belfast Telegraph, 25 March 2010]


The complete dimensions of the scandal are unknown. Cardinal Sean Brady personally knew of the abuse of at least two children and instead of calling the police, forced the victims to keep quiet about the crime [standard church protocol]. His predecessor, Cahal Daly, was informed in writing about the horrific abuse of an 8-year-old girl, who lost her mind because of the trauma; his response was to promise to pray for the family, and that's it.


The religion of love!!!


Truly unforgivable is the fact that the night before the rapist arrived in the parish, a senior official of the diocese visited the parochial house where he was to stay and warned the priests there to 'keep an eye on him' and try to ensure he never visited homes with children alone. In other words, his history was known (to at least two Bishops), and yet children were wantonly endangered.


In Ontario, Canada, pedophile priest Monsignor Bernard Prince was appointed secretary general of Vatican's Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith in 1991, despite knowledge of the allegations against him. He retired in 2004. In 2008, he was convicted of molesting 13 young boys between 1964 and 1984; he was defrocked in 2009.


Such stories are now coming out of every parish across the globe. Within India, Dr. Sister Jesme Raphael shattered the conspiracy of silence by speaking out against the sexual abuse and moral depravity in the Kerala Catholic church. In an autobiographical account of her own knowledge and experiences, "Amen" [Malayalam], Sister Jesme bore witness to what happened to her and to other nuns who entered the church in good faith, expecting to lead lives of virtue and service to god and society. What happened behind closed convent doors was rampant exploitation of nuns by priests and same sex relations [Mote and the beam, Sandhya Jain, 3 March 2009,]


Her story confirmed allegations that church authorities made use of a notorious institution called the Divine Life institution to declare recalcitrant nuns insane. Her frontal assault upon the misdeeds of the church closely followed the arrest of two nuns in the Sister Abhaya rape-cum-murder case, which the Catholic Church struggled to suppress for 16 long years; the suicide of Sister Anupama Mary in Kollam and the allegations by Mary's father of sex abuse by convent superiors.

The History


Whether or not Sex is Man's Original Sin, it seems to be the oldest and most chronic activity encountered, and forbidden, by the Catholic Church – that too, in vain. This is the suppressed truth of the church, scrupulously documented by three priests in "Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes. The Catholic Church's 2000-year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse," [Thomas P. Doyle, A.W. Richard Sipe and Patrick J. Wall, Volt Press, Los Angeles, 2006].

Written after scandals and lawsuits began to rock America, the book demonstrates that sexual abuse of minor boys, girls, women, by priests can be traced back to the time records were kept! A conspiracy of silence was institutionalized, and this allowed the sexual abuse to prosper. Only the recent pressure of exorbitant lawsuits and settlements that endangered church assets triggered church concern about rampaging sexual predators in its ranks. 


-        The oldest known instruction to Church officials, the Didache, dates from the second century AD and commands, 'Thou shalt not seduce young boys'. [What an interesting Commandment]


-        The Council of Elvira, 309 AD, the earliest recorded gathering of bishops, spelt out 81 Canons; 38 dealt with sex. It excluded from receiving communion 'bishops, presbyters, and deacons committing a sexual sin', 'those who sexually abuse boys', and 'people who bring charges against bishops and presbyters without proving their cases'.  


-        St. Peter Damian's Book of Gomorrah (1051 AD) attacked the sexual immorality of the clergy of his time and the lax superiors who failed to curb it. He condemned priests who defiled men or boys coming for confession, and priests who gave the sacrament of penance to their own victims. He urged Pope Leo IX to act to redress the damage caused by offending clerics – the response was a model of inaction, a prelude to the experience of our own era.


-        Why would the early Church mention such things if they were not rampant?


-        After his elevation as Pope, the first US prelate granted a personal audience with Benedict was Cardinal Bernard Law, who three years previously had resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston following revelations that he had systematically moved predator priests from parish to parish, never alerting parents to the danger in which their children were being put. Yet Benedict chose to honour him just 12 days into his papacy.


-        The same attitude was on display in his response to the report three years ago on abuse of children in Ferns, Wexford. In a 271-page document, retired US Supreme Court judge Frank Murphy identified more than 100 allegations against 26 priests. The judge found that the diocese was silencing the victims and protecting the abusers from the law in conformity to standard instructions from Rome. Benedict claimed horror at the behaviour of the priests but made no comment, or apology, at the finding against the Vatican.


If an institution is found by its own people to protect and nurture rotten apples, can it be permitted to function with impunity in the public domain? With what face does the church talk of the Spirit when the sons of the church are smitten with the sins of the flesh? How can any country permit church officials to operate freely amongst potential victims? The public debate on the future of the church must be truly international for a correct picture to emerge.


The author is Editor,

why the US healthcare budget is now almost 20% of GDP and rising much faster than inflation

mar 31st, 2010

pharma and doctor greed, overprescription.

they are turning people into pill-poppers. 

true reform would reward doctors for *results*, not *procedures*. the current incentive -- and the same is true for obamacare -- is to run more tests, give more medication, so that they get more money for each procedure, regardless of whether the patient gets better. for instance, a doctor who tells a potential diabetic to improve diet and exercise regimen gets no payment; but if the patient gets diabetes and has to have his leg amputated, he'll get money. 

so what do you think the doctor does? no prizes for guessing it's not advice on diet and exercise.

actually there's one more culprit, the agri industry, pushing high-fructose corn syrup down everybody's throats because of corn overproduction which they get paid to do because of government subsidies.

i think the US healthcare system is not going to improve. it's doomed, unless it's radically reoriented towards health outcomes. the US spends far more on healthcare and gets much worse results than many other nations.

tangentially pepsi is trying to now sell 'healthy' junk food.

To that end, on March 22nd she unveiled a series of targets to improve the healthiness of Pepsi's wares. By 2015 the firm aims to reduce the salt in some of its biggest brands by 25%; by 2020, it hopes to reduce the amount of added sugar in its drinks by 25% and the amount of saturated fat in certain snacks by 15%. Pepsi also recently announced that it would be removing all its sugary drinks from schools around the world by 2012.

Although Ms Nooyi talks about the need to "cherish" employees, and once wrote to the parents of her senior managers thanking them for bringing up such wonderful offspring, she rejects the notion that these goals are soft-headed or decorative. She argues that they are necessary to prevent food companies from going the way of tobacco firms, which are perennially held responsible by governments for the health problems associated with their products, and penalised accordingly. As it is, several countries in Europe and various localities in America have banned trans fats, a particularly unhealthy ingredient in much junk food.

indians should stop drinking colas and eating mcaloocheeseburgers or whatever other monstrosities these guys sell.

'Stench of death' in Congo confirms resurgence of Christian terrorists (Lord's Resistance Army)

mar 31st, 2010

christists doing their usual thing to children. 

the child-molesters in the vatican may well approve of the 'methods' of these guys. 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ravi

'Stench of death' in Congo confirms resurgence of Lord's Resistance Army

A rebel group thought to be spent has butchered 321 people – and exposed an international failure

Xan Rice

The Observer, Sunday 28 March 2010
Lords Resistance Army fighters arrive at an assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul

LRA fighters arrive at an assembly point in Sudan in 2006 as part of a truce. Photograph: JAMES AKENA/REUTERS

Fighters from Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army have hacked or beaten to death at least 321 Congolese villagers in one of the worst single atrocities of their 23-year insurgency.

The attacks occurred in a remote part of northern Democratic Republic of Congo between 14 and 17 December last year, but their scale has only now been made public. Human Rights Watch, which today releases a report on the mass killings, says that most of the dead were men who had been tied up and then cut with machetes, or had their skulls crushed with axes or clubs. Family members later found many of the battered bodies still bound to trees.

More than 250 civilians, including 80 children, were seized during the raid that left a "stench of death" in the Makombo area of Haut Uele district, the report said. The attacks were allegedly ordered by General Dominic Ongwen, a fugitive from the International Criminal Court. United Nations human rights officials in Congo, who this month reached part of the heavily forested area where the attacks occurred, corroborated the account. They recorded the names of 100 victims and 150 abductees. But Todd Howland, director of the UN's joint human rights office in Congo, said the Red Cross had reported burying 250 people and the death toll was likely to be higher. "A figure of 321 does not sound exaggerated," he said. "It could be more than that."

The massacre is a reminder of the threat posed by the LRA rebels, who became notorious for kidnapping children and their brutal killing methods during the 18 years they terrorised Uganda before moving to Congo. It also highlights the chronic failure of governments in the region and the international community to protect civilians.

LRA rebels have killed 1,600 Congolese civilians and abducted more than 2,500 since September 2008, after peace talks broke down. Yet the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as Monuc, has only established three bases in Haut Uele and Bas Uele – an area the size of Belgium – with about 1,000 troops. Congo has tried to play down the LRA presence, as has the Ugandan military.

The Human Rights Watch report, A Trail of Death: Ongoing LRA Atrocities in Northern Congo, said the rebels used similar tactics in each village on their 65-mile journey. Pretending to be soldiers, they told villagers not to be afraid. Once people had gathered, they were seized.

"LRA combatants specifically searched out areas where people might gather – such as markets, churches and water points – and repeatedly asked those they encountered about the location of schools, indicating that one of their objectives was to abduct children," the report said. "Those who were abducted, including many children aged 10 to 15 years old, were tied with ropes or metal wire at the waist, often in human chains of five to 15 people. They were made to carry the goods the LRA had pillaged and then forced to march off with them. Anyone who refused, or walked too slowly, or who tried to escape, was killed. Children were not spared."

... deleted

from a pakistani's blog post

mar 30th, 2010

two comments on this pakistani's blog. a meta-comment -- he may be one of the affluent folks there, perhaps from one of the 22 ruling families who own the place. 

1. this fellow seems to be one of the PLUs ('people like us') that wagah-candle-holders just love. but how come he seems to have happily gone all over india, based on his photos and descriptions? is nobody keeping track of pakistanis who waltz around india?

2. look at what they teach pakistanis about indians, specifically hindus. if this isn't demonizing, i don't know what is.

Our national textbooks feed the divide, coax the fear and encourage the hatred. In a study commissioned by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad, titledThe Subtle Subversion:The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan, the authors identify a long list of what can only be called hate material taught to high school children in Pakistan. Most of it still remains in print. These Social Studies and Pakistan Studies textbooks reflect the broader dismissive, suspicious and denigrating cultural and social prejudice against all things 'Hindu'. The deviousness of the Hindu, the pettiness of their beliefs, their moral depravity, their designs against all things 'Muslim' and 'Islamic', their innate hatred of 'Muslims', their unjust social and cultural values, their exploitation of women and lower castes, their underhanded and criminal attempts to scuttle the creation of Pakistan, their continuing single-minded determination to destroy Pakistan and other such simplistic, reductive and frankly racist generalizations pervade the pages of Pakistani schoolchildren's textbooks.

Secular Qatar. moderate, too. just right for mf husain

mar 31st, 2010

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Girish

The Qatari government has forced out the moderate leadership of a popular Islamic Web site and plans to reshape it into a more religiously conservative outlet, former employees of the site said Thursday.

james "i love pak" astill wants india to abolish death penalty? because the terrorists are paks?

mar 31st, 2010

this man's bigotry and idiocy know no bounds. 

he wants all the terrorist paks captured by india to be let go. of course, that's what the UPA wants too. no wonder UPA and astill get along so well -- he's always sniffing their bums saying how wonderful they are.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Avatar अवतार: Two-Stage-to-Orbit Vehicle

India is moving closer to its plans to build a Two-Stage-to-Orbit launch system called AVATAR (Aerobic Vehicle for Hypersonic Aerospace Transportation)

So the developmental path involves testing a hypersonic upper stage boosted to hypersonic speed by a rocket. That's to test the basic principles and gain the necessary data for further development.

But the ultimate goal is to develop a TSTO as shown above, where the lower stage uses hypersonic propulsion, and the upper/forward stage is rocket-powered for final ascent to orbit. Presumably the stage separation would occur just beyond the upper atmosphere, with a mating section (shown in red) being discarded, allowing a more streamlined nose for the hypersonic stage to now glide back to earth.

dhume in wsj says modi not PM material

mar 30th, 2010

then who is, pray? 

to take the most-often-touted example of the nehru dynasty scion, are the nehru dynasty's hands free of blood? 1984 sikh pogrom? emergency? nellie? doda 2006 massacre? kulgam 2006 massacre? 

China-Pakistan-Iran axis: comrades, please, please take the iran-pak pipeline!

mar 30th, 2010

it's like they say: "my wife -- please take her!"

india should invest nothing in a pipeline from iran unless it runs along the seabed, avoiding pakistani territory. are we nuts to entrust an oil pipeline to the tender mercies of pakistan? if it works well, then every rupee we give them in transit fees will go towards buying AK-47s. if it doesn't work, that means the pipeline will be blown up periodically and indian customers will be held hostage.

the IPI is one of the more brain-dead ideas that have come up for some time. let the chinese deal with the ISI.

and, oh, incidentally, china is proliferating more nuke stuff to pakistan. i suppose obama will certify that there is no proliferation, year after year, as clinton (and bush?) used to do.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

China keen to replace India in Peace Pipeline deal
Press TV, 29/3/2010
China is showing keen interest in investing $2.5 billion in Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project in order to meet the country's energy demands.
Islamabad has started negotiations with Beijing over the purchase of technical equipment to be used for extending the gas pipeline to China, Mehr News Agency quoted informed sources in Pakistan's oil ministry as saying.
China's interest in the extension of the pipeline came after Islamabad's reluctance to cooperate with New Delhi on the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) project allegedly due to India's delay in developing the Peace Pipeline project.
Based on the incoming reports, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said it was possible to change the name of the project from Iran-Pakistan-India to Iran-Pakistan-China project.
The Pakistani foreign minister said Islamabad always welcomed New Delhi's presence in the project but ruled any further chance for India to delay its presence in IPI plans, the reports suggest.
Islamabad made a significant effort to involve Beijing after India declined to attend Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.
The initial agreement of the project was signed in Tehran in May 2009 between Iran and Pakistan.
Around 1,100 kilometers of the pipeline would be built in Iran and Pakistan will receive 750 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from Iran through the pipeline, as part of a 25-year deal.
Pakistan in 'civil nuclear deal' with China
Daily Times, 30/3/2010
* Two plants with a capacity of 640 megawatts to be set up in Chashma 

* China to provide 82% of total $1.912bn financing

By Sajid Chaudhry 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has entered a civil nuclear deal with China for the establishment of two nuclear power projects of 640 megawatts in Chashma, Daily Times has learnt. 

The breakthrough deal – under which Pakistan would be provided a loan, technology and installation facilities – was finalised ahead of the latest round of the Pak-US strategic dialogue, as the federal cabinet granted financial approval at a meeting on March 24. 

Sources privy to the deal said the federal cabinet had approved an inter-government framework agreement on the financing of 'Chashma Nuclear Power Project 3' and 'Chashma Nuclear Power Project 4' with China. 

The sources said under the agreement, China would provide 82 percent of the total $1.912 billion financing to Pakistan as a 20-year soft loan, with an eight-year grace period. 

In a bid to guarantee financing for the two plants, the inter-government framework agreement requires both countries to enter three loan agreements. Under the first loan agreement, Pakistan would be provided $104 million with an annual interest rate of 1 percent, management fee of 0.2 percent and a commitment fee of 0.2 percent. Under the second preferential buyer credit agreement, Pakistan would get $1 billion with an annual interest rate of 2 percent, a management fee of 0.2 percent and a commitment fee of 0.2 percent – while the third buyers credit agreement would provide Pakistan $474 million with an annual interest rate of 6 percent, a management fee of 0.75 percent, a commitment fee of 0.5 percent and an insurance rate of 7 percent. 

However, according to the inter-government framework agreement, the annual composite interest rate would not exceed three percent in any case. 

The sources said that frequent visits by President Asif Ali Zardar and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani helped secure the deal. They said the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) had already approved the two projects. 

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission would be the executing agency for the establishment of the two plants – which would be completed in eight years. 

The sources said each 320-megawatt unit would contain a nuclear steam supply system, a turbine-generator set and the associated auxiliary equipment and installations.

onward christist soldiers: First the moonies, now the loonies

mar 20th, 2010

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: K

....merely the latest in a "glorious tradition"...

stratfor paints a pretty grim picture of how the US can devastate china's economy

mar 30th, 2010

there *is* something to the idea that the japanese -- remember how they looked like world conquerors in the 1980s -- were brought to grief by american economic warfare, and that this could be repeated with china.

well, i hope the americans do do this. it would be nice to see how the chinese will be forced to eat all their own dog food, so to speak. the collateral damage will be felt most by our favorite neighbor, pakistan, as well as other chinese proxies. 

india probably will benefit from this, if the yanks set out to hurt china specifically. but there will be collateral damage. best for india to keep a low profile when the 800 pound gorillas fight it out.

maleeha lodhi: Disappointment over US-Pak dialogue....

mar 30th, 2010

oh, so pakistan didn't get *everything* their little hearts desired?

one must thank god for small mercies.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

THE NEWS, 30/3/2010

How strategic was the Washington dialogue?

Dr Maleeha Lodhi

The writer is a former envoy to the US and the UK.

Aimed at setting a new strategic direction for Pakistan-US relations and overcoming mutual mistrust, the recent talks in Washington were more significant for their atmospherics than any tangible outcome. Dialogue, of course, is a process, not an event. But the expectations raised by both sides about the fourth round had exceeded what was achieved in the two-day talks.

What emerged from the Washington encounter was already committed assistance for some development projects and a pledge to fast-track delivery of military hardware for Pakistan. Important, however, were the assurances conveyed to the Pakistani delegation that America's long-term strategic interests were consistent with Pakistan's security, and that these lay east of Afghanistan.

But despite the well-orchestrated pageantry, the strategic dialogue made little, if any, visible progress on the big-ticket issues that topped Pakistan's priorities: preferential trade, addressing the troubled Pakistan-India equation and securing access to civilian nuclear technology. While the US didn't want to say no to Pakistan's requests, it didn't say yes either.

The high-powered engagement was driven principally by US compulsions to secure Pakistan's cooperation as the Afghan endgame approaches and for the continuing fight against Al Qaeda. While the effort in the dialogue was to accord primacy to bilateral relations, Afghanistan remained the most pressing concern.

The dialogue nevertheless sought to broaden the relationship beyond a focus on security. But the agenda's expansion to ten "sectoral tracks" raised doubts about the wisdom of adding to a "strategic" dialogue multiple issues that are already the subject of ongoing discussions. This risks scattering the focus and detracting from pivotal matters.

The anodyne joint statement issued at the end of the talks was more important for what it did not say than for what it did. Absent, despite Islamabad's efforts, was any reference to US support for the resumption of formal peace talks, or composite dialogue, between Pakistan and India or the need to resolve disputes – Kashmir and water among them.

There was silence on further engagement on civilian nuclear energy. American officials told the Pakistani delegation that this was not the time to press the issue. Pakistan's minimum expectation to secure in the communiqué some kind of formal recognition of its status as a nuclear-weapons power did not materialise.

As for trade, the vague US assurance to "work towards enhanced market access" fell short of a firm commitment on trade concessions, much less hold out any prospect of a future free-trade agreement. Considering Washington has for years been unable to deliver the modest trade access under the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones initiative, Pakistani expectations of preferential trade access will have to be squared with this reality.

Nevertheless, the Pakistani delegation saw a marked change in the mood in Washington. Even though the foreign minister overstated the point by describing this as a "180-degree turn" the environment for the talks was no doubt very positive. Pakistan's army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani read this as acknowledgement of the fact that "Pakistan had as a nation stood up to terrorism."

Certainly Washington made a special effort to roll out its top national security team for the dialogue and shower praise on Pakistan for its anti-militancy efforts. This improvement in tenor helped to restore a semblance of normalcy to a relationship that has recently been under much strain.

A new willingness to listen to Pakistan's concerns and priorities was evident. These had been earlier conveyed in a 56-page document handed over to US national security adviser Gen James Jones during his February visit to Islamabad. This had, according to American officials, been carefully read in Washington.

The really substantive – and strategic – exchanges took place outside the formal dialogue process in unpublicised meetings. They included a dinner hosted by the chairman of the joint staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and attended by Gen Kayani, as well as the unannounced meeting between the top members of the Pakistani delegation and Vice President Joseph Biden. Pakistan's economic needs, India and Afghanistan apparently figured in these meetings.

Although the content of these parleys and earlier meetings at the Pentagon and Centcom headquarters have not been revealed, it is believed they focused on an immediate priority: how to manage the Afghan endgame. Views were also reportedly exchanged on how a post-war Afghanistan could be stabilised. The two sides are believed to have attained a better understanding of each other's perspectives so as to align their policy on the next steps forward.

For President Obama, whose re-election prospects hinge considerably on "success" in Afghanistan, it is critical to secure Pakistan's cooperation – militarily in implementing his surge strategy, and politically, once the ground shifts to negotiations with the Taliban. The exchanges on the sidelines of the strategic dialogue sought to determine the parameters of such cooperation.

Washington has not yet come around to seek a political settlement in Afghanistan. For now it wants to weaken, not talk to Taliban leaders. Efforts are being ratcheted up for a full-scale military offensive in Kandahar in coming weeks. The US has adopted a public posture of distancing itself from President Hamid Karzai's reconciliation efforts but has pointedly not signalled disapproval.

In congressional testimony last week Defence Secretary Robert Gates described the present US position in this way: "The shift of momentum is not yet strong enough to convince Taliban leaders they are going to lose…. It's when they have doubts whether they can be successful that they may be willing to make a deal…. I don't think we're there yet."

Washington's shoot-first-to-talk-later strategy is therefore predicated on the assumption that its military campaign will be able to weaken the Taliban. The specifics of a reconciliation strategy would then be fashioned as the situation changes on the ground.

In the light of this strategy it is unlikely that the Pakistani delegation would have heard any specifics about the timing and modalities of talks with the Afghan insurgents, even though it is apparent that they will eventually be pursued. The discussions left little doubt in the minds of Pakistani officials that Washington was looking for a way to "exit" from the Afghan war.

As for Pakistan's stance, Gen Kayani reiterated this at various forums: once a political framework for political reconciliation had been fashioned in what must be an Afghan-led initiative, Pakistan was willing to play a role. Without such a framework peace efforts would not succeed. He also reaffirmed Pakistan's interest in seeing a stable, peaceful and friendly Afghanistan.

While the talks helped both sides better understand each other's thinking, the delicate dance that lies ahead will pose many challenges. How far the Washington talks have paved the way for closer coordination will only emerge later. Islamabad will certainly expect Washington to deliver on specific assurances given to its delegation about addressing its concerns over India's military role in Afghanistan.

The future of Pakistan-US relations will hinge as much on how the Afghan endgame is played out as on other strategic issues. On the other security issues, Washington has listened to Pakistan's case but chosen to be noncommittal, even as it has tried to show more "understanding." These issues will not disappear just because Washington is unable to help address them: the unstable Pakistan-India relationship, the strategic challenges posed by the destabilising effects of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, the festering Kashmir dispute, and the complexities of the water issue. Public views of the US in Pakistan will also be determined by what didn't figure in the strategic dialogue: US policies towards the Muslim world.

Pakistan's decision-makers should draw an important lesson from the talks. Given the limits on Washington's capacity to address Pakistan's concerns – just as there are constraints on Pakistan's ability to support all of America's geo-strategic interests – Islamabad needs to change its US-centric mindset, learn to mobilise its own resources, rather than look to Washington to solve all its problems and fashion a foreign policy that is in sync with the multipolar world we live in.

UPA muffs the af-pak end game; pak triumphant

mar 30th, 2010

sad but true. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Should we bail them out? ie. failing western universities

mar 29th, 2010

probably not. let them eat cake. i also just listened to a podcast about asian-american enrollment in elite universities in the US (both public and private) -- this is falling as they are putting an informal cap on asian-american enrollment. 

the good professor has a point. the IITs/IIMs etc allowed the koi-hai middle classes to thrive, while the boxwallahs and their progeny have been suffering. this is a pre-emptive strike against that. future nehru dynasty scions won't even have to go to cambridge, uk or cambridge, ma. they can get their brand-name degrees in india itself. 

there is a certain valid criticism that instead of focusing on universal primary education so that everyone is literate and can have a basic level of functioning, the indian state put its money into tertiary education for the benefit of the middle classes. i suspect this influx of foreign universities may be more of the same: taxpayer funded education subsidies for the middle classes.

on the other hand, this will open up opportunities for faculty. i suspect there will be a huge outflux of faculty from the IIMs and IITs to NoNameYankUniv's campus in jhumri talaiya. the IIMs and IITs will wither away, which is a bad thing from the brand perspective, but a good thing from the perspective of the government getting out of mass education and merely funding (and leaving alone) research entities. 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Vaidyanathan R

Should we bail them out?

R Vaidyanathan

Monday, March 29, 2010 2:30 IST

The government has decided to open up the education sector, particularly of the higher education variety, to foreign universities and a bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament in the current session. It is a continuation of our decision earlier to provide more than Rs50 crore to Cambridge and Harvard universities.
For Cambridge it was to honor the entry of Nehru. In Harvard it was to commemorate the 75th birthday of Amartya Sen.

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