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 1.Jewish Temples Existed at Al Aqsa Site 2. When foreigners are told to leave Canada 3. Use of Cell Phone during Thunderstorms is dangerous 4. Sexual orientation of men determined before birth 5.Pneumonia fear grips HongKong 6.Drug trafficking increases in Indo-Pak Border 7.China plans fines for breaking bad news 8.Computers could soon read your mind 9.Pakistan to support every step for stability in Iraq 10.Bangladeshi government officials graduate in disaster management 11.Pakistan may bar media from National Assembly committees 12.Stars Line up for Master of Fine Arts Courses in China 13.The unending mania of superiority 14.All Koreans Urged to Hold Higher Banner of Independence 15.Where's our conscience? 16.Kuwaiti women excited to vote 17.We come, we work, we go 18.Music is the food of love

 

Fired Al Aqsa Leader: 

Jewish Temples Existed at Al Aqsa Site

Dr. Richard L. Benkin writes from USA                                                    

 

 

A senior leader of the Muslim Waqf at Al Aqsa in Jerusalem was fired after admitting that the ancient Jewish Temples stood upon the current location of the mosque and pre-dated it.  In an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily (WND), he said that for centuries, Al Aqsa custodians passed down stories that the mosque was built at the site of the former Jewish temples. He also said that the Muslim world's current denial of the the Jewish temples’ existence is political in nature and not accurate.  The well-known former Waqf leader spoke with WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein on condition his name be withheld, claiming an on-the-record interview would endanger his life.

"Prophet Solomon built his famous Temple at the same place that later the Al Aqsa Mosque was built. It cannot be a coincidence that these different holy sites were built at the same place,” he said from an obscure alley in Jerusalem’s Old City.  “The Jewish Temple Mount existed.”

The admission—and Waqf reaction to it—confirm the historical patterns documented in a six-part series on the Temple Mount, published in Weekly Blitz earlier this year.  The series is available in Weekly Blitz archives and scheduled to come out in book form later this year.  The series demonstrated that Muslim denial of the Jewish Temples on the same spot as Al Aqsa is of very recent vintage.  Since the seventh century Arab conquest of Jerusalem, various Arab sources document that upon conquering the city, one of the first acts of the Caliph Umar was to ask the conquered Byzantine Christians to show him the location of the ancient Jewish Temples.  Byzantine Patriarch Sophronios took him atop of the Temple Mount and pointed out the spot where the Temples had stood saying, “Here is that appalling abomination.”  Umar was incensed that the Byzantines were using the site as a garbage dump and ordered it cleaned.  Later, his successor, Ibn Marwan built Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock on that very spot.  This remained accepted belief among Arabs and Muslims well into the 20th century.  Palestinian historian Araf al-Araf, for instance, wrote that “Haram al-Sharif is on Mount Moriah” which King David purchased from the Jebusites, and where “his son Solomon” built the Temple in the year 1007 BCE. Al-Araf also added that the remains of the structures “underneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque” date to the period of Solomon. And in 1930, Jerusalem’s supreme Moslem authority in its official “Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif” stated: "Its identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute." The historical record is replete with like statements by Arab leaders, yet all from a time before the Arab world became obsessed with the State of Israel and before its ongoing failed attempts to eradicate Israel from the nations of the world.  Since then, it has deemed political expediency more important than historical truth.

So obsessed and insecure are they that the Waqf official was fired after only “quietly” making his statement.  Additionally, he was fired even though he said that nothing in his remarks “forfeit what he calls "Islamic rights" to the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque,” according to WND.  “Yes, the temple existed. But now it is the place of the mosque of the religious who came to complete the divine religion [that started with Judaism] and to improve humanity”  But, he added with regard to his statements about the Jewish Temples, “I am mentioning historical facts.  I know that the traditional denial about the temple existing at the same place as Al Aqsa is more a political denial. Unfortunately our religious and political leaders chose the option of denial to fight the Jewish position and demands regarding Al Aqsa and taking back the Temple Mount compound. In my opinion we should admit the truth and abandon our traditional position."

Over the past several years, the Waqf has been trying to destroy any archeological evidence of the Jewish Temples, but those attempts have led to numerous discoveries of historical evidence for the Temples in the artifacts the Waqf attempted—and failed—to destroy.

 


When foreigners are told to leave Canada

Guidy Mamann from Canada                                                                                                    

                                                                                       

Foreigners who have overstayed their status can come to the attention of immigration authorities through many ways.

Sometimes, it’s a routine traffic stop by the local police. Other times, a lover’s quarrel leads to a rash decision to get even. Other times, it’s a heartless employer who tips the immigration authorities so they can deport someone he/she owes back wages to. Sometimes the tip comes from a once close friend or relative.

Once alerted, immigration officials will arrest the foreigner and either release them on terms and conditions or detain them. If detained, the foreigner will be brought before an immigration judge within 48 hours to determine if he/she poses a danger to the public or is a flight risk.

If not, he/she can be released upon the posting of a cash bond by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and/or upon the execution of an undertaking promising to make a payment to the Crown in the event of non-compliance.

An immigration officer can usually make a removal order very quickly against a detained person. Accordingly, those wishing to make a refugee claim should do so immediately since they will be barred from doing so after the removal order is made.

If a refugee claim is made, the foreigner cannot usually be removed from Canada until the claim has been finally determined. A refugee claim, and any appeal, can take several months or more to hear. Refugee claimants who have been in Canada for several years should consider making a simultaneous humanitarian application in the event that the refugee claim is ultimately denied.

If they delay in making a humanitarian application until the refugee claim is decided, they risk being removed from Canada before the humanitarian case can be considered. A humanitarian application will not prevent immigration authorities from proceeding with a removal.

If a refugee claim is rejected or is not made, an expulsions officer will be assigned to make the foreigner "removal ready". The officer will either call the foreigner or send a letter asking them to bring in any passport, travel document, social insurance number, and work permit, etc.

Once this contact has been made, a person can still be sponsored by a spouse or common law partner from within inside Canada but they will not be entitled to a decision prior to their removal from Canada.

Guidy Mamann is the senior lawyer at Mamann & Associates


Use of Cell Phone during Thunderstorms is dangerous

 

Blitz Desk                                                                                                     

 

You know about the distraction of using a cell phone while driving. You may have heard rumors about not using one of the devices while filling up at a gas station.

But now it appears those who like to talk on the go have something else to add to their list of things to worry about.

British researchers have released a study warning consumers not to talk on their portable devices if they get caught outside during a thunderstorm.

The British Medical Journal cites the case of a 15-year-old girl who was talking on her cell phone in a park when she was struck by lightning. The impact of such an event would be bad enough. But in most cases, the high resistance of the skin conducts the jolt over the body in what's called a 'flashover'.

But doctors claim the teen's injuries were made far worse because the metal in her device disrupted that process and sent the bolt from the blue straight through the unsuspecting young girl.

Although she survived, her injuries were serious and even a year later, she's still in a wheelchair.

"This rare phenomenon is a public health issue, and education is necessary to highlight the risk of using mobile phones outdoors during stormy weather to prevent future fatal consequences from lighting strike injuries," warns Dr. Swinda Esprit of Northwick Park Hospital in England.

Physicians admit the chances of getting hit by lightning while using a cell aren't high, but it's not as uncommon as you might think. They note separate cases where it's happened in China, South Korea and Malaysia.

And a few experts say it's not even safe to carry the metallic objects in your pocket when there's electricity in the air.

The bottom line? Don't become preoccupied with this stuff, but don't take chances either. If there's violent weather, remember it's not something to necessarily phone home about. Especially if you're outside when it comes.

 

 


Sexual orientation of men determined before birth

Blitz Desk                                                                                         

 

 

A man's sexual orientation appears to be determined in the womb, a new study suggests.

Past research by Dr. Anthony F. Bogaert of Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario and colleagues has shown that the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. But it has not been clear if this is a prenatal effect or a psychosocial effect, related to growing up with older male siblings.

To investigate, Bogaert studied 944 gay and straight men, including several who were raised with adopted, half- or step-siblings or were themselves adopted. He reasoned that if the relationship between having older male siblings and homosexuality was due to family environment or child-rearing practices, it would be seen whether or not a man's older brothers were biological or adopted.

Bogaert found that the link between having older brothers and homosexuality was present only if the siblings were biologically related -- this relationship was seen between biological brothers who were not raised together. The amount of time that a man was reared with older brothers had no association with sexual orientation.

"These results support a prenatal origin to sexual orientation development in men and indicate that the fraternal birth-order effect is probably the result of a maternal 'memory' for male gestations or births," Bogaert writes in his report in PNAS Early Edition.

A woman's body may see a male fetus as "foreign," Bogaert explains, and her immune response to subsequent male fetuses may grow progressively stronger.

"If this immune theory were correct, then the link between the mother's immune reaction and the child's future sexual orientation would probably be some effect of maternal anti-male antibodies on the sexual differentiation of the brain," he suggests.

 


Pneumonia fear grips HongKong

Blitz Desk                                                                                         

 

The killer respiratory illness gripping Hong Kong is sowing a climate of fear which is driving away tourists, emptying restaurants and prompting many people to wear protective masks. The morning commuter crowd on Tuesday was peppered with people sporting white surgical facemasks in an attempt to fend off the virus which has so far claimed 10 lives in the former British colony and infected 260 other people. The health authorities have been battling to contain the illness - being called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) - for nearly three weeks but the number of infections and deaths have been steadily rising. Fears were raised a notch after the territory’s health chief Yeoh Eng-kiong Monday urged anybody with flu-like symptoms to stay at home, and the government issued television warnings telling people to avoid public places. "It's getting more and more worrying," said businessman Eugene Cheng as he rode the tram to work, gesturing to the many passengers wearing masks or covering their mouths. "I feel uncomfortable, as if people are getting suspicious of each other," he said. "I'm very concerned," said officer worker Nila Yip through her mask as she bought a take-away lunch box so as to avoid eating in a restaurant. "It is better to take precautions to prevent having the disease," she said. Public concern over the illness, which often causes an atypical pneumonia, has not been helped by news Hospital Authority chief executive William Ho was stuck down after showing symptoms. Four schools were also closed for a week from Monday after five students, a teacher and a school bus driver were found to have SARS. And the popular Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament, due to be held March 28-30, has also suffered after Argentina joined France and Italy in saying they would not be taking part because of the health scare. William Mark, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Restaurant Owners, said the outbreak had already caused business in the restaurant sector slump by 20 percent.


Drug trafficking increases in Indo-Pak Border

Blitz Desk                                                                             

 

In the wake of increased trans-border civilian movement between India and Pakistan, smuggling of drugs into India has shown a significant rise.

Figures available with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) reveal that 30 per cent of the drugs seized in the country during the last three years were produced in the remote areas of Afghanistan and reached here through the Indo-Pak border.

Anti-narcotics squads in the country seized over 1000 kilograms of Afghan-origin heroin and other drugs since 2002 as compared to around 50 kilograms recovered during the height of Indo-Pak tensions in the preceding years, a senior UN official said here today.

"The Confidence Building Measures (CBM) adopted by India and Pakistan have led to movement of more people across the border and this can be one reason for the increase," said Gary Lewis, the South Asia representative of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Officials say drug addiction among youngsters in Punjab was on a rise and pointed out that that this was due to the flow of heroin and other drugs into the state from Pakistan for distribution across the country.

According to UN figures, opium cultivation in Afghanistan has gone up in the recent years and the war-torn nation has produced a whopping 11,900 metric tons of opium in the last three years.

Pakistan also cultivates opium, though in a smaller scale, and produced around 180 metric tons of the drug in the last three years, the figures show.


China plans fines for breaking bad news

Venkatesan Vembu from India                                                                 

 

A draft law on emergency management, now being considered by China’s top legislative body, seeks to impose hefty fines on the media in China if they break news reports on mining disasters, health crises and natural catastrophes without “authorization”.

The move is being seen as an attempt to rein in the “watchdog press”, which has in recent years exposed health crises (like HIV/AIDS, SARS  and bird flu) and called mining companies to account with their coverage of recurring mining disasters, despite attempts by provincial-level officials to keep bad news out of the newspapers.

“It’s only a draft law — it hasn’t been passed yet — but it has worrisome implications for the Chinese news media,” China Media Project research associate David Bandurski told DNA in Hong Kong. Under the draft law, media outlets would face fines from 50,000 to 100,000 yuan (about Rs4-8 lakh) if they break news on emergencies without authorization, report on the handling of such emergencies without authorization, or publish “false” reports.

Cao Kangtai, director of the Legislative Affairs Office under the State Council told the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the highest legislative body in China, that the bill was intended to improve disaster responsiveness and ensure administrative responsibility. It was drawn up after a study of emergency management experiences in many developed countries, including the US, and based on the findings from a field study around China.

The bill stipulates penalties that local government officials face if they fail to handle emergencies or do not take precaution measures or delay emergency declaration or attempt to cover up the disaster. “On the one hand, there is a sense that there has to be better administrative control — in a positive way — in the way such disasters are handled,” says Bandurski. “On the other hand, the priority is to control information flow.”

Officials involved in disaster relief are required to release information in a timely manner and “manage” the media, but not if making the news public would hamper relief operations. In particular, Bandurski notes, the ambiguity that existed earlier about media regulations of disasters and crises had meant that reporters and editors could make use of loopholes to get their story out.

The proposal to fine breaking news has already come in for stinging criticism in an editorial in the Southern Metropolis Daily, written under the pseudonym of Zhang Ping, a veteran Chinese journalist who was among the senior editors sacked from the investigative Southern Weekend in 2001. It had in 2004 been disciplined for its investigative reporting on the SARS epidemic; the cover-up of SARS in China — which was later exposed — proved profoundly embarrassing for China’s leaders.


Computers could soon read your mind

Blitz Desk                                                                                         

 

A raised eyebrow, quizzical look or a nod of the head is just a few of the facial expressions computers could soon be using to read people’s minds.

An “emotionally aware” computer being developed by British and American scientists will be able to read an individual’s thoughts by analyzing a combination of facial movements that represent underlying feelings.

“The system we have developed allows a wide range of mental states to be identified just by pointing a video camera at someone,” said Professor Peter Robinson, of the University of Cambridge in England.

He and his collaborators believe the mind-reading computer’s applications could range from improving people’s driving skills to helping companies tailor advertising to people’s moods.

“Imagine a computer that could pick the right emotional moment to try to sell you something, a future where mobile phones, cars and Web sites could read our mind and react to our moods,” he added.

The technology is already programmed to recognize different facial expressions generated by actors. Robinson hopes to get more data to determine whether someone is bored, interested, confused, or agrees or disagrees when it is unveiled at a science exhibition in London on Monday.

People visiting the four-day exhibition organized by the Royal Society, Britain’s academy of leading scientists, will be invited to take part in a study to hone the program’s abilities.

The scientists, who are developing the technology in collaboration with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, also hope to get it to accept other inputs such as posture and gesture.

“Our research could enable websites to tailor advertising or products to your mood,” Robinson told Reuters. “For example, a web cam linked with our software could process your image, encode the correct emotional state and transmit information to a Web site.”

It could also be useful in online teaching to show whether someone understands what is being explained and in improving road safety by determining if a driver is confused, bored or tired.

“We are working with a big car company and they envision this being employed in cars within five years,” Robinson said, adding that a camera could be built into the dashboard.

Anyone who does not want to give away too much information about what they are feeling, he said, can just cover up the camera.

 


Pakistan to support every step for stability in Iraq

Blitz Desk                                                                                                     

 

 

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said, Pakistan will support every step aims at bringing political stability in Iraq.
In an interview to Pakistan Television (PTV), national TV network of
Pakistan she said, Pakistan wanted early peace and stability in Iraq so that the Iraqi people are able to establish their own rule in the country.
She said
Pakistan was against the military action in Iraq adding "we wish for an earlier normalization of situation there".
While asked to comment on National Reconciliation Plan of the Iraqi Prime Minister the spokesperson said,
Pakistan supported each and every step which aims at uniting the people of Iraq and the end of unrest in the country.
To a question she said,
Pakistan wanted a stable and progressing Afghanistan adding "we have been extending all possible cooperation in this connection".
She said the situation in
Afghanistan had direct links with Pakistan and peace and stability in the region is in mutual interest of both the countries.
There exists great potential for the expansion of trade ties between
Pakistan and Central Asian states which can only be explored when there is peace and stability in Afghanistan, she said.
Similarly the proposed energy pipeline project can only be executed when there is peace in
Afghanistan, she added.
So a peaceful and politically stable
Afghanistan is in Pakistan's own interest she said adding, the country is doing all what it can in this regard.


Bangladeshi government officials graduate in disaster management 
 
Blitz Desk                                                                                                        
After three months of extensive disaster management training in Victoria, twenty Bangladeshi officials will graduate from Swinburne and head home to lead the way in stepping up the natural-disaster stricken country's relief efforts. 
The graduation, to be held at Hawthorn Town at 2.30pm on Friday 23 June, will be extra colourful with the formal regalia coupled with traditional Bangladeshi attire. 
Bangladesh is considered one of the worse affected countries in the world for natural disasters and is making moves to establish itself as a leading centre for disaster management and training in the Asian subcontinent. 
The students, from the Bangladesh Government Ministry of Food and Disaster Management, are the first of three groups to undertake the specialized training over the few years.  
According to one of the graduates Md. Monowar Hossain the Swinburne course in Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management will pave the way for the change that is needed to move from traditional relief and rehabilitation efforts towards a new approach to disaster management in Bangladesh.
"As a result of the training we are hoping this will be a step forward from our current way of handling natural disasters to the style used in Australia and New Zealand. 
"The shift to this model of disaster management has given us a different approach and will help us reduce the risks of living in a country proned to natural disasters.    
Course coordinator Bernhard Liedtke said "the model and theory the group were taught are adopted by Victoria's emergency services and a number of visits to the State Emergency Coordination Centre, and a local fire brigade showed the students how it is used in Australia," he said. 
One of the field trips was a visit to Benalla where the group learnt how the municipality managed the effects from the disastrous floods in the Spring of 1993.  "Hearing how they improved and maintained the water flow through a town at a local level was a good way of seeing the theory put into practice," said Md. Monowar Hossain.
Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Mr Douglas Foskett said Australia was pleased to provide the scholarships which will assist Bangladesh to develop its human resource capacity, particularly in the important sector of disaster risk management. Press Release.

Pakistan may bar media from National Assembly committees

Shahzad Raza from Pakistan                                                

 

Top government officials and members of the military establishment in Pakistan have been so irked by press coverage of National Assembly (NA) standing committees that they have proposed barring journalists from attending them, official sources said.

They said that NA speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain had recently held talks with chairpersons of standing committees open to the media to draw up a strategy to deal with the ‘problem’. The NA speaker, they stressed, had acted on directives from the top political leadership, which believed that instead of attending sessions, the press should simply be given a handout of proceedings.
According to sources, government officials had repeatedly warned Hussein as well as committee chairpersons that press reporting of proceedings routinely jeopardized the ‘national interest’.
Currently, five of the 35 NA standing committees remain open to the media: Public Accounts Committee (PAC), standing committees on local government, population welfare, food and agriculture and interior.
The NA standing committee on water and power had previously been open to the press. Its new chairperson, however, has barred journalists from attending its proceedings.
Under NA rules, committee chairpersons are authorized to allow journalists to sit in on proceedings to ensure the system’s transparency and to hold relevant officials directly accountable to the people.
Sources said that during Hussain’s talks with committee chairpersons, the idea of establishing a ‘Code of Ethics’ had been floated to regulate press coverage of proceedings. Also discussed was the idea of chairpersons declaring sensitive parts of the proceedings ‘off-the-record’. Government officials, however, made it clear that committee chairpersons would bear responsibility for any controversy created through media reports.
Sources said that the NA speaker specifically expressed concern over reporting of PAC proceedings, noting that opposition members often leveled serious allegations against the government, which were subsequently reported by the press.
The government had, until last year, kept secret PAC proceedings.
Sources noted that a PAC treasury member had recently demanded that its proceedings be held in-camera, saying that opposition members regularly leveled sensational charges against the government to secure column inches.

Neither the government not the opposition have so far issued a formal response to these claims.


Stars Line up for Master of Fine Arts Courses in China

Blitz Desk                                                                                                     

 

A line-up of stars and celebrities has been enrolled for China's first Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree courses beginning in September, with the second intake to be recruited in July. ¡¡¡¡

A total of 4,138 people applied for the entrance examinations for the first MFA intake, with 1,095 enrolled, including actors Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming, television news anchor Chai Jing and folk singer Wang Lida, said deputy director of the National Educational Guidance Committee for the Master's Degree of Fine Arts Wang Cizhao.

Approved by the State Council in March 2005, the MFA was established on the Chinese mainland to place more emphasis on the education of the creative visual and performing arts.

The 32 universities and colleges across the country qualified to confer such degrees planned to enroll a total of 1,390 students in the second intake, Wang said.

"We'll aim to maintain the educational quality by capping the number of students and degree-casting schools in the second intake," Wang told Xinhua. "People from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign countries are excluded from applying for the time being."

Prospective applicants must present their bachelor's degree certificate and examples of their work, he added.

 Like the Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Administration degrees, the MFA is a professional degree already conferred in the United States, the Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and in Taiwan and Hong Kong regions.

MFA degree courses are to be offered by 32 mainland schools, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University, the Central Drama Institute, the Communication University of China, Beijing Film Academy, Beijing Institute of Dance, Shanghai Drama Institute, Nanjing University and Xiamen University in eight fields: music, drama, traditional Chinese opera, film, radio and television, design, dance and painting.

Previously graduates majoring in art could only earn degrees in literature since art is a second-class discipline under literature on the mainland, a tradition broken by the MFA degree, said Zhou Xing, another deputy director of the committee.

The MFA would also provide its holders with a more specific qualification when they begin looking for jobs, he added.

"The MFA exam will be distinct from other master's course entrance exams and will take in artistic talent and skills.


The unending mania of superiority

Prof. Ziaullah Gondal writes from Pakistan                                           

 

Since the beginning of the incredible drama of life, war has been the ultimate result of the human urge to rule over fellow beings on the face of this planet. The war for dominance among humans reached its culmination with the support of knowledge. Halaku and Hitler are dreadful and destructive examples of thrusting the concept of superiority on their friends and foes. However, fortune favored the rest of the world.
The two World Wars are considered symbols of victory in the eyes of the powers that be of recent days, i.e. the anti-Hitler forces. Yet the question about the nature of defensive war style of the allies in both the great wars is strong enough to disclose the true intentions and targets of the then think tanks of the US and Britain. The superpower of the West acquired a commanding position when two Japanese cities were destroyed. Was the destructive aspect of the philosophy of war preferred deliberately over the constructive aspect by the victors in those great wars, or was it the only option to resolve the destiny of the masses left in their hands? The answer is hard to arrive at.
This war of superiority gave fruitful results to people who were the target of the prejudiced and dogmatic mentality of Hitler’s army. The West started making decisions for the rest of the developing world and is still busy in projecting itself as the paragon of civilization.
The war of superiority should have ended there. Unfortunately, it became more intense with the passage of time. Its present pace is quite horrific as observed by the East, especially the Muslims. Is the irrational involvement of the West in
Iraq and Afghanistan not the continuity of the very concept of superiority evolved by Hitler and Halaku? If it is reactionary in its essence, the reaction should be against the Nazis, who are probably not active anymore.
One wonders how the annihilation of Muslim population in oil rich Arab states can propagate a positive and neutral approach of the ‘civilized’ Western invaders.
The Muslim eye is closely observing inconceivable atrocities of the Western knights in
Mesopotamia and Afghanistan. It would be interesting to carefully analyze the basic question agitating the minds of the Muslim Ummah.
Wealth and power are not enough to crush the wounded pride of the people of the war-ridden Islamic countries. Why is the reflex action of the West driven by ego and anger, excluding even a small prospect of negotiations? Why is the epicenter of terrorism declared to be located in the areas of front-line states without judging the consequences of the successive series of accusations while ignoring the root causes?
Whether this war imposed by the West is defensive in nature or it is driven by the concept of perceived superiority, as the Muslim majority perceives it to be, is still an ambiguity. The impact of this war is projecting a draconian image of the West on the Muslim world at large, even in remote areas.
It is crystal clear that the poor people are always ignorant and poverty is mainly the consequence of defective laws and faulty government; and is never the characteristic of a nation that is well governed.
The West is insistent on supporting impotent governments, whose incapacity to get the required results within the given time period is still an enigma, even after the unspeakable experience of two decades. Such an artificial approach must be abandoned if the West is interested in uprooting this menace eternally from the face of the earth. Yet the most important task at hand is a careful analysis of the state of affairs to which the world is exposed in the present era.
For ages, the routine of powerful nations has been to envelop their agendas in the cover of legal provisions of international and humanitarian law. Mighty people defeat others with the power of morality and respect for law. On the other hand, to be a superior nation is a natural phenomenon that demands a durable dominance.
A number of logical arguments are given by the contemporary intelligentsia of the West in favor of the destruction of two crowded cities of
Japan. In his column, ‘Exploring the moral thesis of Hiroshima bombings’, Max Hastings says that the aim at that moment was to stop the war, once and for all, and the atom bomb, worth $ 2 billion, was the only powerful weapon left in the hands of the allies for this purpose. And it did work.
Is such a justification not a tempting precedent for the present atomic powers to use in the future? The extraction of moral aspects out of destruction for the sake of strengthening one’s stance is a laborious struggle, but it cannot be an excuse for not giving a rational or moral chance to negotiations.
Aggressiveness is the antonym of rationalism and principality. Why is it getting more room in the current situation of the world affairs? Perhaps the graph of tolerance is going down and the concept of superiority has got sufficient space in the policies of powerful states in an atmosphere where statecraft and diplomacy have nothing to do with morality.


All Koreans Urged to Hold Higher Banner of Independence

Blitz Desk                                                                                                     

   

In order to give steady momentum to the cause of national reunification, the Koreans should confidently advance along the road of independent reunification, holding higher the banner of national independence. Rodong Sinmun Tuesday says this in a signed article. It goes on:
Only when the Koreans firmly adhere to the principle of independence in the struggle to terminate the division of the country and pave the way for the development of the nation can they protect the rights and interests of the nation and settle the issue of reunification according to the will and requirements of the nation.
The Korean nation was divided by the foreign forces which sought the partition of the
Korean Peninsula and domination over it. The movement for national reunification is a struggle to protect national sovereignty from foreign domination and interference and exalt the national dignity.
National reunification is a patriotic cause of the Korean nation which can never be accomplished by others. The Koreans should be responsible for national reunification, an issue related to their destiny and a matter related to the national dignity and sovereignty, and play such role. They should settle the issue of reunification by their concerted efforts according to the desire and wishes of the nation.
Independence is the intrinsic nature of the cause of national reunification and keeps the nation alive. National reunification and future and prosperity of the nation would be unthinkable without independence. National independence serves as a patriotic banner to be always held aloft by the Koreans engaged in the movement for reunification, desirous of national reunification and the common prosperity of the nation.
The
U.S. imperialists are a basic obstacle to national reunification. The Koreans have not yet achieved reunification despite their strong desire for unity and reunification entirely because of the persistent and vicious moves of the U.S. imperialists to block the reunification of Korea.
They should not tolerate even the slightest manifestation of foreign interference in the internal affairs of the nation but categorically reject it and independently settle the issue of national reunification through their negotiations.
Without a resolute struggle against flunkeyism and dependence on foreign forces the Koreans can neither prevent foreign forces from meddling and obstructing the cause of reunification nor develop the inter-Korean relations.
The Korean nation armed with the spirit of national independence alone can put an end to flunkeyism and dependence on foreign forces, an obstacle to reunification.
With no desperate efforts can the U.S. and pro-U.S. conservative forces hold in check the dynamic advance of the June 15 era if all Koreans strengthen in every way the driving force for national reunification, guided by the strong spirit of national independence, and switch the movement for national reunification to a struggle for independent reunification through national cooperation, the article concludes.


Where's our conscience?

Irfan Husain writes from Pakistan                                                           

 

When 250 police officers and intelligence service personnel raided a London suburb recently on a tip-off, they had visions of evil ‘terrorists’ working to make a chemical bomb in the basement. In the event, they came across two sleepy brothers, and shot one while arresting them.

But this process of creating stereotypes is not a recent one: by demonising the ‘other’, we make it easier to kill and maim him. What do American soldiers in Iraq, Israelis in Palestine, Russians in Chechnya have in common? We could also ask the same question about Americans during the Vietnam War, Pakistanis during the East Pakistan civil war and Serbs in Bosnia a decade ago.

In each case, soldiers went into battle convinced that they were fighting an enemy who was not only inferior to them, but also represented a threat to their families and countries. Hatred and fear drive otherwise decent human beings to commit horrors on a scale they would be incapable of normally.

How do ordinary people reach such a state of brutality? Their brainwashing starts long before they enter military academies and training camps. Subtly and incessantly, the media as well as school textbooks drum in the message that their country, their civilization and their particular faith are superior to all others.

More importantly, the establishment keeps its population in ignorance about a potential adversary. Travel is made difficult, and the import of newspapers, books and magazines from the opposing country is restricted. News in the home media is heavily slanted in order to distort reality. The perception of threat is magnified, and the common elements blurred over.

In this situation, hatred is easy to generate. The ‘other’ is shown as somehow less than human. Pejorative names are routinely applied: thus, ‘gooks’, ‘ragheads’, ‘sand niggers’, and ‘bingos’ become part of everyday vocabulary. Even when a soldier kills an innocent civilian in enemy territory, this act is somehow not a crime because after all, one ‘haji’ (the American nickname for Iraqis) looks like another.

This de-humanising of the adversary goes a long way to explaining horrors like Abu Ghraib, Haditha and Mai Lai. If you torture or slaughter mere ‘ragheads’, what’s the big deal? When Pakistani officers boasted their army would ‘improve the race’ through rape when fighting against the Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan in 1971, they were expressing their contempt for the enemy. From hatred to violence is a very short step. In Russia today, violence against non-Europeans and non-Slavs is common. This racism is widespread and goes largely unpunished. In America after 9/11, anybody who appeared like a Muslim was fair game for rednecks.

These attitudes and prejudices are shaped by culture and history, and are given currency by the reactionary media as well as by a populist establishment seeking to gain support from the lowest common denominator. TV channels like Fox News whip up the crudest form of patriotism to gain market share, and politicians use the flag shamelessly to garner votes.

So when instructors receive raw young recruits in military training establishments, half their work is already done. All that remains is to erase a soldier’s individuality, and drum instant, unquestioning obedience into him. This is done through systematic and savage bullying, made innocuous by harmless-seeming terms such as ‘hazing’ or ‘ragging’.

Thus when a young man of twenty is sent to do battle in a faraway land, he has a lifetime of indoctrination behind him. He truly believes he has God on his side. He has also been totally convinced that he is fighting to protect his country and his family, never mind that they are often thousands of miles away.

The point of military instruction, apart from imparting weapons training and so forth, is to alter the moral framework of the individual soldier. In this new world he has entered, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ lose all meaning. To carry out his superior’s orders immediately and without question is ‘right’, and to question them or refuse to carry them out is ‘wrong’. Punishment for ‘wrongdoing’ is swift and severe. In this unambiguous world, the greatest sin is to let the regiment down. When an officer says, "Jump!", you don’t ask "Why?". You jump as high as you can. Clearly, without this kind of mindless discipline, soldiers would not charge a machine gun position over open ground. Or sit in a trench as artillery shells explode around them.

But the downside of this behaviour is that it makes a soldier suspend his sense of judgment, and his sense of right and wrong. However, this training works well only in a clearly defined battlefield where the enemy is wearing a different uniform and fighting under a different flag. The problem arises when the foe is elusive and usually dressed as a civilian.

In such a theatre, everybody not wearing a uniform like yours is a potential enemy. A woman in a burqa could conceal a weapon, and a young boy could be carrying ammunition for a militant. All men are, of course, immediately suspect. On patrol, with a heightened sense of danger and with adrenaline coursing through the system, the first instinct is to shoot first at any sign of possible danger. ‘Better safe than sorry’ becomes the battlefield maxim.

So when we read that American soldiers recently shot a pregnant Iraqi woman dead as she was being rushed to a nearby hospital, we can guess at what went through their minds as they manned a checkpoint. On average, seven Iraqi civilians are killed in similar incidents every week.

In this battle against invisible foes, atrocities become the norm, not aberrations. For generals, fighting against irregular forces that fade away into the population poses a major dilemma. Maintaining discipline while being aggressive at the same time is a huge problem. This is especially true for countries where policy is often shaped through a democratic process. It seems increasingly likely that Americans, fed up of Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq, will punish the Republicans at the mid-term congressional elections in November. In Britain, Blair is hugely unpopular for leading his country into an unnecessary war.

More and more, warfare will be an asymmetrical affair, conducted between regular armies and irregular forces. Soldiers trained to shoot clearly identifiable enemies are ill-equipped to fight the shadow war that is the ‘war on terror’.

But as a generation of Vietnam veterans learned after they returned home, you do not just walk away after burying the dead. For many, committing nameless horrors because you are ordered to leaves deep psychological scars that you carry your whole life. The ultimate axis of evil is the one between ignorance, fear, hatred and violence.

 


Kuwaiti women excited to vote

Blitz Desk                                                                                         

 

With Kuwaiti women being allowed to engage in political life after a long struggle, many Kuwaitis are expecting women to play an important role in the coming era.

Kuwaiti women were granted their political rights in an historic move last year. Soon after the Kuwaiti Emir dissolved Parliament last May and announced the date for the new elections, with scores of women registering their names as candidates.

Meanwhile, citizens are in discussions over how women voters and candidates may change society.

Nabila Al Anjeri is one candidate who keeps stressing to her voters that "victory is closer than ever to her."

However, many people believe it will be hard for women to break into politics.

"I don't think women will bring any surprises in this election," said Jenan Bousheri, former candidate for the municipality elections. Bousheri came second in the election with a male candidate scooping top place. But as a woman in a male-dominated society this was a victory for her and many others.

Many people are still suspicious of women's ability to bring any noticeable change to political life.

"I will vote only for the person my husband chooses because I have difficulty in choosing among such a large number of candidates," said Mariam Al Obedi, a housewife.

Earlier, Nawal Al Bader, one of the female candidates, told the Al Watan newspaper that she was not using all her energy in this election because she sees it as a preparation for the next election in 2010.

"I will not be surprised to see all the female candidates lose because most women are still influenced by their spouses or family members," said Nora Salem, an attorney.

Nahed Al Eisa, a college student said she would be happy to see any female candidates win.


We come, we work, we go

Nicholas Coates, Associate Editor, GulfNews                                        

 

Regardless of how many years I will end up living in the UAE, of one thing I am certain. It is that I shall always look upon myself as a guest in this country.
I live and work in the UAE by the grace and favour of the laws of the land and the courtesy of my employer.
Should any, or all, of these circumstances change then I will be required to leave the country and make my own way in life.

I learnt this lesson soon after arriving in the UAE about 30 years ago. I was told that as a temporary worker, it was best not to form any long-term attachments to the place since at any time I could find myself on the next plane home.
As, indeed, many people unexpectedly did, much to their alarm. (I shall leave aside the very many expatriates who ran off, owing large sums of money to banks that's another story and one that does not show expatriates in a good light at all.)

So, as a "temporary worker" even one of so many years standing it was no surprise to me that the Ministry of Labour recently won its argument in Geneva to redefine immigrant labour as that very category: temporary workers.

I know there are many expatriates who will argue they have worked "long years in difficult conditions helping to bring the country to where it is", but, I argue, it was quid pro quo.

Legal recourse:

We gave our labour and in return we got paid. That means a contract of exchange (money for services) was signed, sealed and delivered. If we did not get paid, there was legal recourse to seek redress.
If we did not like the company we worked for, the alternative was to find another job, and if we were unable to find one in the UAE, because of the various government or contractual restrictions then in force, the alternative was to go back to our own country.

The point is, no one is forcing anyone to work in the UAE. Expatriates come to work in the hope of improving their lifestyle.
If it does not prove to be so, then the answer lies in our own hands, no one else. There is no automatic right to employment in the UAE or any other Gulf country, come to that regardless of how many years a person has worked in the country.

Naturalisation, or changing one's citizenship is out of the question for expatriates, again, regardless of how many years a person has lived here (which is why we are now referred to as temporary workers) so it is no good thinking of the UAE as "our country".
That is your place of birth or, in the case of expatriates who have been born in the UAE, ones parents' place of birth. If you find that situation unlivable, then don't live here.

It is wise to remember that as an employee, you do not have any allegiance to your employer beyond the conditions and terms of employment you have agreed to and signed up to.
Employers rarely have regard or concern for their employees for they will, if necessary, "retrench" and gladly sack any number of people so as to keep the company afloat or more profitable.
If an employer thinks like that, why shouldn't an employee think as selfishly? After all, if we are not selfish and "look after No 1" no one else will.

It is natural for a young and developing country to want to use the talents of more experienced or labour-intensive nations to assist in its development.
Equally, it is natural for expatriates seeking better opportunities to seek work in a country with vast employment prospects.
But it does not mean the expatriates should expect any additional entitlements beyond that which have been negotiated and agree upon with their employer.

So, with this in mind, and that in due course of time UAE nationals will want and expect to be employed in their own country, certain measures have to be taken, voluntarily or imposed, to ensure the expanding national population can get jobs, rather than continue to employ workers from foreign countries.

From the outset I used to argue with those who expected more from their "contribution to society".
Then, and still now, I point out that if, in your own country, you were outnumbered 3:1 by foreign nationals, you would feel disgruntled with government policy.
Even more so if the foreigners were employed and you weren't. So perhaps, for a change, expatriates should pause for reflection before making calls for "rights" that do not exist and never have existed.


Music is the food of love

Blitz Desk                                                                                                     

 

With less than five months to go, the wedding is on shaky ground. She’s chosen a wedding dress, and was talking about going for a fitting. “Don’t forget you’ll probably have lost weight by the wedding,” I said, referring to her self-professed aim to, well, lose weight before the wedding.

It didn’t go down well. In fact, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I’m not entitled to an opinion on anything matrimonial. Not only did I lose the battle over Paco and Rey, the flamenco guitarists, they are now to be joined by a harpist, who has promised us ‘an eclectic mix of light classical, popular, jazz and Arabic songs’.

The plan is this: she will walk down the aisle to the delicate strains of the harp. Then, during the service, the hymns will be accompanied by an organist. Then, the harpist takes up the tune again as we walk out of the church. At the reception it’s over to the flamenco guitarists, who will strum away as our guests enjoy their lunch.

So far that’s four musicians. Given that we’re only inviting 50 people, that means nearly five per cent of our guests will be carrying some form of instrument. I’m not sure if I’m going to a wedding or a hippie convention.

And of course it’s only a matter of time before she manages to squeeze in some more music. Perhaps a violinist could provide some atmosphere during the speeches. And who’s going to entertain guests when they’re on the toilet? In fact, why not hire an entire orchestra? That way each guest can take one home with them, rather like a musical goody bag.

Fortunately the cast of ‘Chicago’ have now left town, although at least people would be able to sit in our seats without losing all feeling in their legs for the next three weeks.

What really intrigues me though is how the harpist is going to deliver. I won’t give away the exact figures, but she’s charging more than dhs1,000 for her services. The aisle is perhaps 20 metres long. Even if you shuffle, it still works out at more than dhs10 per step. And then there’s the amount of songs she’s promised. Now unless my fiancée walks incredibly slowly, or the harpist plays incredibly quickly, I’m not sure how she’s going to fit in an eclectic mix of anything.

She’s promised four genres of music, so that’s a minimum of two songs up the aisle and two songs back down again.  I get the feeling we might be about to witness the birth of a new Olympic sport: The slow walk. I think I’ll bring a book.


 

 

Posted on 29 Jun 2006
 Music is the food of love:We come, we work, we go:Kuwaiti women excited to vote:Where's our conscience?:All Koreans Urged to Hold Higher Banner of Independence:The unending mania of superiority:Stars Line up for Master of Fine Arts Courses in China:Pakistan may bar media from National Assembly committees:Bangladeshi government officials graduate in disaster management:Pakistan to support every step for stability in Iraq:

Music is the food of love

Blitz Desk     

         

Withless than five months to go, the wedding is on shaky ground. She’s chosen awedding dress, and was talking about going for a fitting. “Don’t forget you’llprobably have lost weight by the wedding,” I said, referring to herself-professed aim to, well, lose weight before thewedding.

Itdidn’t go down well. In fact, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I’mnot entitled to an opinion on anything matrimonial. Not only did I lose thebattle over Paco and Rey, the flamenco guitarists, they are now to be joined bya harpist, who has promised us ‘an eclectic mix of light classical, popular,jazz and Arabic songs’.

Theplan is this: she will walk down the aisle to the delicate strains of the harp.Then, during the service, the hymns will be accompanied by an organist. Then,the harpist takes up the tune again as we walk out of the church. At thereception it’s over to the flamenco guitarists, who will strum away as ourguests enjoy their lunch.

Sofar that’s four musicians. Given that we’re only inviting 50 people, that meansnearly five per cent of our guests will be carrying some form of instrument. I’mnot sure if I’m going to a wedding or a hippie convention.

Andof course it’s only a matter of time before she manages to squeeze in some moremusic. Perhaps a violinist could provide some atmosphere during the speeches.And who’s going to entertain guests when they’re on the toilet? In fact, why nothire an entire orchestra? That way each guest can take one home with them,rather like a musical goody bag.

Fortunatelythe cast of ‘Chicago’have now left town, although at least people would be able to sit in our seatswithout losing all feeling in their legs for the next threeweeks.

Whatreally intrigues me though is how the harpist is going to deliver. I won’t giveaway the exact figures, but she’s charging more than dhs1,000 for her services.The aisle is perhaps 20 metres long. Even if you shuffle, it still works out atmore than dhs10 per step. And then there’s the amount of songs she’s promised.Now unless my fiancée walks incredibly slowly, or the harpist plays incrediblyquickly, I’m not sure how she’s going to fit in an eclectic mix ofanything.

She’spromised four genres of music, so that’s a minimum of two songs up the aisle andtwo songs back down again. I get the feeling we might be about to witness thebirth of a new Olympic sport: The slow walk. I think I’ll bring abook.


 

We come, we work, we go

Nicholas Coates, Associate Editor, GulfNews

Regardless of how many years I will end up living in the UAE, of one thing I am certain. It is that I shall always look upon myself as a guest in this country.
I live and work in the UAE by the grace and favour of the laws of the land and the courtesy of my employer.
Should any, or all, of these circumstances change then I will be required to leave the country and make my own way in life.

I learnt this lesson soon after arriving in the UAE about 30 years ago. I was told that as a temporary worker, it was best not to form any long-term attachments to the place since at any time I could find myself on the next plane home.
As, indeed, many people unexpectedly did, much to their alarm. (I shall leave aside the very many expatriates who ran off, owing large sums of money to banks that's another story and one that does not show expatriates in a good light at all.)

So, as a "temporary worker" even one of so many years standing it was no surprise to me that the Ministry of Labour recently won its argument in Geneva to redefine immigrant labour as that very category: temporary workers.

I know there are many expatriates who will argue they have worked "long years in difficult conditions helping to bring the country to where it is", but, I argue, it was quid pro quo.

Legal recourse:

We gave our labour and in return we got paid. That means a contract of exchange (money for services) was signed, sealed and delivered. If we did not get paid, there was legal recourse to seek redress.
If we did not like the company we worked for, the alternative was to find another job, and if we were unable to find one in the UAE, because of the various government or contractual restrictions then in force, the alternative was to go back to our own country.

The point is, no one is forcing anyone to work in the UAE. Expatriates come to work in the hope of improving their lifestyle.
If it does not prove to be so, then the answer lies in our own hands, no one else. There is no automatic right to employment in the UAE or any other Gulf country, come to that regardless of how many years a person has worked in the country.

Naturalisation, or changing one's citizenship is out of the question for expatriates, again, regardless of how many years a person has lived here (which is why we are now referred to as temporary workers) so it is no good thinking of the UAE as "our country".
That is your place of birth or, in the case of expatriates who have been born in the UAE, ones parents' place of birth. If you find that situation unliveable, then don't live here.

It is wise to remember that as an employee, you do not have any allegiance to your employer beyond the conditions and terms of employment you have agreed to and signed up to.
Employers rarely have regard or concern for their employees for they will, if necessary, "retrench" and gladly sack any number of people so as to keep the company afloat or more profitable.
If an employer thinks like that, why shouldn't an employee think as selfishly? After all, if we are not selfish and "look after No 1" no one else will.

It is natural for a young and developing country to want to use the talents of more experienced or labour-intensive nations to assist in its development.
Equally, it is natural for expatriates seeking better opportunities to seek work in a country with vast employment prospects.
But it does not mean the expatriates should expect any additional entitlements beyond that which have been negotiated and agree upon with their employer.

So, with this in mind, and that in due course of time UAE nationals will want and expect to be employed in their own country, certain measures have to be taken, voluntarily or imposed, to ensure the expanding national population can get jobs, rather than continue to employ workers from foreign countries.

From the outset I used to argue with those who expected more from their "contribution to society".
Then, and still now, I point out that if, in your own country, you were outnumbered 3:1 by foreign nationals, you would feel disgruntled with government policy.
Even more so if the foreigners were employed and you weren't. So perhaps, for a change, expatriates should pause for reflection before making calls for "rights" that do not exist and never have existed.

 

Kuwaiti women excited to vote

Blitz Desk     

         

With Kuwaiti women being allowed toengage in political life after a long struggle, many Kuwaitis are expectingwomen to play an important role in the coming era.

Kuwaiti women were granted theirpolitical rights in an historic move last year. Soon after the Kuwaiti Emirdissolved Parliament last May and announced the date for the new elections, withscores of women registering their names as candidates.

Meanwhile, citizens are indiscussions over how women voters and candidates may changesociety.

Nabila Al Anjeri is one candidatewho keeps stressing to her voters that "victory is closer than ever toher."

However, many people believe itwill be hard for women to break into politics.

"I don't think women will bring anysurprises in this election," said Jenan Bousheri, former candidate for themunicipality elections. Bousheri came second in the election with a malecandidate scooping top place. But as a woman in a male-dominated society thiswas a victory for her and many others.

Many people are still suspicious ofwomen's ability to bring any noticeable change to political life.

"I will vote only for the person myhusband chooses because I have difficulty in choosing among such a large numberof candidates," said Mariam Al Obedi, a housewife.

Earlier, Nawal Al Bader, one of thefemale candidates, told the Al Watan newspaper that she was not using all herenergy in this election because she sees it as a preparation for the nextelection in 2010.

"I will not be surprised to see allthe female candidates lose because most women are still influenced by theirspouses or family members," said Nora Salem, an attorney.

Nahed Al Eisa, a college studentsaid she would be happy to see any female candidates win.


 

Where's our conscience?

Irfan Husain writes from Pakistan           

         

When 250 police officers andintelligence service personnel raided aLondonsuburb recently on a tip-off, theyhad visions of evil ‘terrorists’ working to make a chemical bomb in thebasement. In the event, they came across two sleepy brothers, and shot one whilearresting them.

But thisprocess of creating stereotypes is not a recent one: by demonising the ‘other’,we make it easier to kill and maim him. What do American soldiers inIraq,Israelis inPalestine,Russians inChechnyahave incommon? We could also ask the same question about Americans during the VietnamWar, Pakistanis during theEastPakistancivilwar, and Serbs inBosniaa decadeago.

In eachcase, soldiers went into battle convinced that they were fighting an enemy whowas not only inferior to them, but also represented a threat to their familiesand countries. Hatred and fear drive otherwise decent human beings to commithorrors on a scale they would be incapable of normally.

How doordinary people reach such a state of brutality? Their brainwashing starts longbefore they enter military academies and training camps. Subtly and incessantly,the media as well as school textbooks drum in the message that their country,their civilization and their particular faith are superior to allothers.

Moreimportantly, the establishment keeps its population in ignorance about apotential adversary. Travel is made difficult, and the import of newspapers,books and magazines from the opposing country is restricted. News in the homemedia is heavily slanted in order to distort reality. The perception of threatis magnified, and the common elements blurred over.

In thissituation, hatred is easy to generate. The ‘other’ is shown as somehow less thanhuman. Pejorative names are routinely applied: thus, ‘gooks’, ‘ragheads’, ‘sandniggers’, and ‘bingos’ become part of everyday vocabulary. Even when a soldierkills an innocent civilian in enemy territory, this act is somehow not a crimebecause after all, one ‘haji’ (the American nickname for Iraqis) looks likeanother.

Thisde-humanising of the adversary goes a long way to explaining horrors like AbuGhraib, Haditha and Mai Lai. If you torture or slaughter mere ‘ragheads’, what’sthe big deal? When Pakistani officers boasted their army would ‘improve therace’ through rape when fighting against the Mukti Bahini inEastPakistanin 1971,they were expressing their contempt for the enemy. From hatred to violence is avery short step. InRussiatoday,violence against non-Europeans and non-Slavs is common. This racism iswidespread and goes largely unpunished. InAmericaafter9/11, anybody who appeared like a Muslim was fair game for rednecks.

Theseattitudes and prejudices are shaped by culture and history, and are givencurrency by the reactionary media as well as by a populist establishment seekingto gain support from the lowest common denominator. TV channels like Fox Newswhip up the crudest form of patriotism to gain market share, and politicians usethe flag shamelessly to garner votes.

So wheninstructors receive raw young recruits in military training establishments, halftheir work is already done. All that remains is to erase a soldier’sindividuality, and drum instant, unquestioning obedience into him. This is donethrough systematic and savage bullying, made innocuous by harmless-seeming termssuch as ‘hazing’ or ‘ragging’.

Thus whena young man of twenty is sent to do battle in a faraway land, he has a lifetimeof indoctrination behind him. He truly believes he has God on his side. He hasalso been totally convinced that he is fighting to protect his country and hisfamily, never mind that they are often thousands of miles away.

The pointof military instruction, apart from imparting weapons training and so forth, isto alter the moral framework of the individual soldier. In this new world he hasentered, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ lose all meaning. To carry out his superior’sorders immediately and without question is ‘right’, and to question them orrefuse to carry them out is ‘wrong’. Punishment for ‘wrongdoing’ is swift andsevere. In this unambiguous world, the greatest sin is to let the regiment down.When an officer says, "Jump!", you don’t ask "Why?". You jump as high as youcan. Clearly, without this kind of mindless discipline, soldiers would notcharge a machine gun position over open ground. Or sit in a trench as artilleryshells explode around them.

But thedownside of this behaviour is that it makes a soldier suspend his sense ofjudgment, and his sense of right and wrong. However, this training works wellonly in a clearly defined battlefield where the enemy is wearing a differentuniform and fighting under a different flag. The problem arises when the foe iselusive and usually dressed as a civilian.

In such atheatre, everybody not wearing a uniform like yours is a potential enemy. Awoman in a burqa could conceal a weapon, and a young boy could be carryingammunition for a militant. All men are, of course, immediately suspect. Onpatrol, with a heightened sense of danger and with adrenaline coursing throughthe system, the first instinct is to shoot first at any sign of possible danger.‘Better safe than sorry’ becomes the battlefield maxim.

So whenwe read that American soldiers recently shot a pregnant Iraqi woman dead as shewas being rushed to a nearby hospital, we can guess at what went through theirminds as they manned a checkpoint. On average, seven Iraqi civilians are killedin similar incidents every week.

In thisbattle against invisible foes, atrocities become the norm, not aberrations. Forgenerals, fighting against irregular forces that fade away into the populationposes a major dilemma. Maintaining discipline while being aggressive at the sametime is a huge problem. This is especially true for countries where policy isoften shaped through a democratic process. It seems increasingly likely thatAmericans, fed up of Bush’s conduct of the war inIraq, willpunish the Republicans at the mid-term congressional elections in November. InBritain, Blairis hugely unpopular for leading his country into an unnecessary war.

More andmore, warfare will be an asymmetrical affair, conducted between regular armiesand irregular forces. Soldiers trained to shoot clearly identifiable enemies areill-equipped to fight the shadow war that is the ‘war on terror’.

Butas a generation ofVietnamveterans learned after they returned home, you do not just walk away afterburying the dead. For many, committing nameless horrors because you are orderedto leaves deep psychological scars that you carry your whole life. The ultimateaxis of evil is the one between ignorance, fear, hatred andviolence.

 


All Koreans Urged to Hold Higher Banner of Independence

Blitz Desk                 

                  

Inorder to give steady momentum to the cause of national reunification, theKoreans should confidently advance along the road of independent reunification,holding higher the banner of national independence. Rodong Sinmun Tuesday saysthis in a signed article. It goes on:
Only when the Koreans firmly adhere tothe principle of independence in the struggle to terminate the division of thecountry and pave the way for the development of the nation can they protect therights and interests of the nation and settle the issue of reunificationaccording to the will and requirements of the nation.
The Korean nation wasdivided by the foreign forces which sought the partition of theKoreanPeninsulaanddomination over it. The movement for national reunification is a struggle toprotect national sovereignty from foreign domination and interference and exaltthe national dignity.
National reunification is a patriotic cause of theKorean nation which can never be accomplished by others. The Koreans should beresponsible for national reunification, an issue related to their destiny and amatter related to the national dignity and sovereignty, and play such role. Theyshould settle the issue of reunification by their concerted efforts according tothe desire and wishes of the nation.
Independenceis theintrinsic nature of the cause of national reunification and keeps the nationalive. National reunification and future and prosperity of the nation would beunthinkable without independence. National independence serves as a patrioticbanner to be always held aloft by the Koreans engaged in the movement forreunification, desirous of national reunification and the common prosperity ofthe nation.
TheU.S.imperialists are a basic obstacle to national reunification. The Koreans havenot yet achieved reunification despite their strong desire for unity andreunification entirely because of the persistent and vicious moves of theU.S.imperialists to block the reunification ofKorea
.
They should not tolerate even the slightest manifestation of foreigninterference in the internal affairs of the nation but categorically reject itand independently settle the issue of national reunification through theirnegotiations.
Without a resolute struggle against flunkeyism and dependenceon foreign forces the Koreans can neither prevent foreign forces from meddlingand obstructing the cause of reunification nor develop the inter-Koreanrelations.
The Korean nation armed with the spirit of national independencealone can put an end to flunkeyism and dependence on foreign forces, an obstacleto reunification.
With no desperate efforts can the
U.S. and pro-U.S.conservative forces hold in check the dynamic advance of the June 15 era if allKoreans strengthen in every way the driving force for national reunification,guided by the strong spirit of national independence, and switch the movementfor national reunification to a struggle for independent reunification throughnational cooperation, the article concludes.


 

The unending mania of superiority

Prof. Ziaullah Gondal writes from Pakistan       

         

Since the beginningof the incredible drama of life, war has been the ultimate result of the humanurge to rule over fellow beings on the face of this planet. The war fordominance among humans reached its culmination with the support of knowledge.Halaku and Hitler are dreadful and destructive examples of thrusting the conceptof superiority on their friends and foes. However, fortune favored the rest ofthe world.
The two World Wars are considered symbols of victory in the eyesof the powers that be of recent days, i.e. the anti-Hitler forces. Yet thequestion about the nature of defensive war style of the allies in both the greatwars is strong enough to disclose the true intentions and targets of the thenthink tanks of the
US and Britain
. The superpower of the West acquired acommanding position when two Japanese cities were destroyed. Was the destructiveaspect of the philosophy of war preferred deliberately over the constructiveaspect by the victors in those great wars, or was it the only option to resolvethe destiny of the masses left in their hands? The answer is hard to arriveat.
This war of superiority gave fruitful results to people who were thetarget of the prejudiced and dogmatic mentality of Hitler’s army. The Weststarted making decisions for the rest of the developing world and is still busyin projecting itself as the paragon of civilization.
The war of superiorityshould have ended there. Unfortunately, it became more intense with the passageof time. Its present pace is quite horrific as observed by the East, especiallythe Muslims. Is the irrational involvement of the West inIraqandAfghanistannot the continuityof the very concept of superiority evolved by Hitler and Halaku? If it isreactionary in its essence, the reaction should be against the Nazis, who areprobably not active anymore.
One wonders how the annihilation of Muslimpopulation in oil rich Arab states can propagate a positive and neutral approachof the ‘civilized’ Western invaders.
The Muslim eye is closely observinginconceivable atrocities of the Western knights inMesopotamiaandAfghanistan. It would beinteresting to carefully analyze the basic question agitating the minds of theMuslim Ummah.
Wealth and power are not enough to crush the wounded pride ofthe people of the war-ridden Islamic countries. Why is the reflex action of theWest driven by ego and anger, excluding even a small prospect of negotiations?Why is the epicenter of terrorism declared to be located in the areas offront-line states without judging the consequences of the successive series ofaccusations while ignoring the root causes?
Whether this war imposed by theWest is defensive in nature or it is driven by the concept of perceivedsuperiority, as the Muslim majority perceives it to be, is still an ambiguity.The impact of this war is projecting a draconian image of the West on the Muslimworld at large, even in remote areas.
It is crystal clear that the poorpeople are always ignorant and poverty is mainly the consequence of defectivelaws and faulty government; and is never the characteristic of a nation that iswell governed.
The West is insistent on supporting impotent governments,whose incapacity to get the required results within the given time period isstill an enigma, even after the unspeakable experience of two decades. Such anartificial approach must be abandoned if the West is interested in uprootingthis menace eternally from the face of the earth. Yet the most important task athand is a careful analysis of the state of affairs to which the world is exposedin the present era.
For ages, the routine of powerful nations has been toenvelop their agendas in the cover of legal provisions of international andhumanitarian law. Mighty people defeat others with the power of morality andrespect for law. On the other hand, to be a superior nation is a naturalphenomenon that demands a durable dominance.
A number of logical argumentsare given by the contemporary intelligentsia of the West in favor of thedestruction of two crowded cities ofJapan
.In his column, ‘Exploring the moral thesis of Hiroshima bombings’, Max Hastingssays that the aim at that moment was to stop the war, once and for all, and theatom bomb, worth $ 2 billion, was the only powerful weapon left in the hands ofthe allies for this purpose. And it did work.
Is such a justification not atempting precedent for the present atomic powers to use in the future? Theextraction of moral aspects out of destruction for the sake of strengtheningone’s stance is a laborious struggle, but it cannot be an excuse for not givinga rational or moral chance to negotiations.
Aggressiveness is the antonym ofrationalism and principality. Why is it getting more room in the currentsituation of the world affairs? Perhaps the graph of tolerance is going down andthe concept of superiority has got sufficient space in the policies of powerfulstates in an atmosphere where statecraft and diplomacy have nothing to do withmorality.




 

Stars Line up for Master of Fine Arts Courses in China

Blitz Desk

A line-up of stars and celebrities has been enrolled for China's first Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree courses beginning in September, with the second intake to be recruited in July. ¡¡¡¡

A total of 4,138 people applied for the entrance examinations for the first MFA intake, with 1,095 enrolled, including actors Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming, television news anchor Chai Jing and folk singer Wang Lida, said deputy director of the National Educational Guidance Committee for the Master's Degree of Fine Arts Wang Cizhao.

Approved by the State Council in March 2005, the MFA was established on the Chinese mainland to place more emphasis on the education of the creative visual and performing arts.

The 32 universities and colleges across the country qualified to confer such degrees planned to enroll a total of 1,390 students in the second intake, Wang said.

"We'll aim to maintain the educational quality by capping the number of students and degree-casting schools in the second intake," Wang told Xinhua. "People from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and foreign countries are excluded from applying for the time being."

Prospective applicants must present their bachelor's degree certificate and examples of their work, he added.

 Like the Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Administration degrees, the MFA is a professional degree already conferred in the United States, the Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and in Taiwan and Hong Kong regions.

MFA degree courses are to be offered by 32 mainland schools, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University, the Central Drama Institute, the Communication University of China, Beijing Film Academy, Beijing Institute of Dance, Shanghai Drama Institute, Nanjing University and Xiamen University in eight fields: music, drama, traditional Chinese opera, film, radio and television, design, dance and painting.

Previously graduates majoring in art could only earn degrees in literature since art is a second-class discipline under literature on the mainland, a tradition broken by the MFA degree, said Zhou Xing, another deputy director of the committee.

The MFA would also provide its holders with a more specific qualification when they begin looking for jobs, he added.

"The MFA exam will be distinct from other master's course entrance exams and will take in artistic talent and skills.

 


Pakistan may bar media from National Assembly committees

Shahzad Raza from Pakistan      

     

Top government officials and members of the military establishment inPakistanhave been so irked bypress coverage of National Assembly (NA) standing committees that they haveproposed barring journalists from attending them, official sourcessaid.

They said that NA speaker ChaudhryAmir Hussain had recently held talks with chairpersons of standing committeesopen to the media to draw up a strategy to deal with the ‘problem’. The NAspeaker, they stressed, had acted on directives from the top politicalleadership, which believed that instead of attending sessions, the press shouldsimply be given a handout of proceedings.
According to sources, governmentofficials had repeatedly warned Hussein as well as committee chairpersons thatpress reporting of proceedings routinely jeopardized the ‘national interest’.
Currently, five of the 35 NA standing committees remain open to the media:Public Accounts Committee (PAC), standing committees on local government,population welfare, food and agriculture and interior.
The NA standingcommittee on water and power had previously been open to the press. Its newchairperson, however, has barred journalists from attending its proceedings.
Under NA rules, committee chairpersons are authorized to allow journaliststo sit in on proceedings to ensure the system’s transparency and to holdrelevant officials directly accountable to the people.
Sources said thatduring Hussain’s talks with committee chairpersons, the idea of establishing a‘Code of Ethics’ had been floated to regulate press coverage of proceedings.Also discussed was the idea of chairpersons declaring sensitive parts of theproceedings ‘off-the-record’. Government officials, however, made it clear thatcommittee chairpersons would bear responsibility for any controversy createdthrough media reports.
Sources said that the NA speaker specificallyexpressed concern over reporting of PAC proceedings, noting that oppositionmembers often leveled serious allegations against the government, which weresubsequently reported by the press.
The government had, until last year,kept secret PAC proceedings.
Sources noted that a PAC treasury member hadrecently demanded that its proceedings be held in-camera, saying that oppositionmembers regularly leveled sensational charges against the government to securecolumn inches.

Neither the government not theopposition have so far issued a formal response to theseclaims.


Pakistan to support every step for stability in Iraq

Blitz Desk

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said, Pakistan will support every step aims at bringing political stability in Iraq.
In an interview to Pakistan Television (PTV), national TV network of
Pakistan she said, Pakistan wanted early peace and stability in Iraq so that the Iraqi people are able to establish their own rule in the country.
She said
Pakistan was against the military action in Iraq adding "we wish for an earlier normalization of situation there".
While asked to comment on National Reconciliation Plan of the Iraqi Prime Minister the spokesperson said,
Pakistan supported each and every step which aims at uniting the people of Iraq and the end of unrest in the country.
To a question she said,
Pakistan wanted a stable and progressing Afghanistan adding "we have been extending all possible cooperation in this connection".
She said the situation in
Afghanistan had direct links with Pakistan and peace and stability in the region is in mutual interest of both the countries.
There exists great potential for the expansion of trade ties between
Pakistan and Central Asian states which can only be explored when there is peace and stability in Afghanistan, she said.
Similarly the proposed energy pipeline project can only be executed when there is peace in
Afghanistan, she added.
So a peaceful and politically stable
Afghanistan is in Pakistan's own interest she said adding, the country is doing all what it can in this regard.


 

 

Posted on 29 Jun 2006
 
 
 
 
 

 


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