Monday, June 28, 2004

Book Club Bullies

Book club bullies

The point that I found absorbing from this article is the last two lines: "... we need to have a greater appreciation of why bullies become bullies. Fundamentalism can only be defeated if we understand it."

Can fundamentalism be defeated? What is the positive approach of understanding fundamentalism so that it can be defeated? The writer correctly points out that in most cases, fundamentalism resides in places with low literacy, "For all their emphasis on the sacred text, fundamentalists are generally unfamiliar with the culture of books." -- if only they could delve into the richness of world literature, perhaps there wouldn't be any fundamentalism.

"Fundamentalism flourishes in places of instability and social vulnerability. It is the desire for solid foundations in a world in which the vulnerable are tossed about like flies to wanton boys. Often this is associated with poverty, but not always. Students I see arriving at Oxford for the first time are pitched into a new and uncertain world. In such circumstances students commonly find refuge in a church that gives them the security of a singular message believed with absolute and unquestioning certainty. For those at the rough end of global capitalism or American imperialism, the instinct is considerably more urgent." -- absolute certainty, absolute belief that mortality does not mean the end of human beings, there is an afterlife, perhaps this fear of death drives us to hold on a religious belief system, for comfort, for reassurance of not becoming non-existent "hereafter", and men cling to it, like the last shred of straw clutched by a drowning man in a stormy ocean.

Exactly at this precise place, at this place of perpetual vulnerability that is intensified in a place of abject poverty, unemployment, and lowest literacy where fundamentalism, the other F word takes its iron clad hold. Perhaps the stubborn head on collision between fundamentalism and modernity would only tilt the balance toward the fundamentalists, it would only place more explosive causes to further their inflexible ideologies among the poor, dispossessed and grievously dismayed. With long term approach in eradicating poverty, creating jobs, curbing violence and human rights violations, and giving the desperate folks voice in the political process would slowly, but surely loosen fundamentalist's strong grip from any given society. War could only produce but war and more fundamentalism in the end.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Cones, Curves, Shells, Towers: He Made Paper Jump to Life

Cones, Curves, Shells, Towers: He Made Paper Jump to Life

Mathematics and art, how far are they from each other? Dr. Huffman's following quotation is profound:

"I don't claim to be an artist. I'm not even sure how to define art," he said. "But I find it natural that the elegant mathematical theorems associated with paper surfaces should lead to visual elegance as well."

Here is a brief information on origamy:

"Derived from the Japanese ori, to fold, and gami, paper, origami has come a long way from cute little birds and decorative boxes. Mathematicians and scientists like Dr. Huffman have begun mapping the laws that underlie folding, converting words and concepts into algebraic rules. Computational origami, also known as technical folding, or origami sekkei, draws on fields that include computational geometry, number theory, coding theory and linear algebra."

Full article is shown below.

Cones, Curves, Shells, Towers: He Made Paper Jump to Life

ANTA CRUZ, Calif. - On the mantel of a quiet suburban home here stands a curious object resembling a small set of organ pipes nestled into a neat, white case. At first glance it does not seem possible that such a complex, curving form could have been folded from a single sheet of paper, and yet it was.

The construction is one of an astonishing collection of paper objects folded by Dr. David Huffman, a former professor of computer science at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a pioneer in computational origami, an emerging field with an improbable name but surprisingly practical applications.

Dr. Huffman died in 1999, but on a recent afternoon his daughter Elise Huffman showed a visitor a sampling of her father's enigmatic models. In contrast to traditional origami, where all folds are straight, Dr. Huffman developed structures based around curved folds, many calling to mind seedpods and seashells. It is as if paper has been imbued with life.

In another innovative approach, Dr. Huffman explored structures composed of repeating three-dimensional units - chains of cubes and rhomboids, and complex tesselations of triangular, pentagonal and star-shaped blocks. From the outside, one model appears to be just a rolled-up sheet of paper, but looking down the tube reveals a miniature spiral staircase. All this has been achieved with no cuts or glue, the one classic origami rule that Dr. Huffman seemed inclined to obey.

Derived from the Japanese ori, to fold, and gami, paper, origami has come a long way from cute little birds and decorative boxes. Mathematicians and scientists like Dr. Huffman have begun mapping the laws that underlie folding, converting words and concepts into algebraic rules. Computational origami, also known as technical folding, or origami sekkei, draws on fields that include computational geometry, number theory, coding theory and linear algebra. This weekend, paper folders from around the nation will gather at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for the annual convention of Origami USA. At an adjacent conference on origami and education, Dr. Robert Lang, a leading computational origamist, will give a talk on mathematics and its application to origami design, including such real-world problems as folding airbags and space-based telescopes.

Dr. Lang, a laser physicist in Alamo, Calif., who trained at the California Institute of Technology, gave up that career 18 months ago to become a full-time folder. "Some people are peculiarly susceptible to the charms of origami," he said, "and somewhere along the way the ranks of the infected were joined by mathematicians." Dr. Lang is the author of a recent book on technical folding, "Origami Design Secrets: Mathematical Methods for an Ancient Art."

Most computational origamists are driven by sheer curiosity and the aesthetic pleasure of these structures, but their work is also finding application in fields like astronomy and protein folding, and even automobile safety. These days when Dr. Lang is not inventing new models using a specialized origami software package he has developed, he acts as an origami consultant. He has helped a German manufacturer design folding patterns for airbags and advised astronomers on how to fold up a huge flat-screen lens for a telescope based in space.

Dr. Lang has been studying Dr. Huffman's models and research notes, and is amazed at what he has found. Although Dr. Huffman is a legend in the tiny world of origami sekkei, few people have seen his work. During his life he published only one paper on the subject. Dr. Huffman worked on his foldings from the early 1970's, and over the years, said Dr. Lang, "he anticipated a great deal of what other people have since rediscovered or are only now discovering. At least half of what he did is unlike anything I've seen."

One of Dr. Huffman's main interests was to calculate precisely what structures could be folded to avoid putting strain on the paper. Through his mathematics, he was trying to understand "when you have multiple folds coming into a point, what is the relationship of the angles so the paper won't stretch or tear,'' said Dr. Michael Tanner, a former computer science colleague of Dr. Huffman who is now provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

What fascinated him above all else, Dr. Tanner said, "was how the mathematics could become manifest in the paper. You'd think paper can't do that, but he'd say you just don't know paper well enough."

One of Dr. Huffman's discoveries was the critical "pi condition." This says that if you have a point, or vertex, surrounded by four creases and you want the form to fold flat, then opposite angles around the vertex must sum to 180 degrees - or using the measure that mathematicians prefer, to pi radians. Others have rediscovered that condition, Dr. Lang said, and it has now generalized for more than four creases. In this case, whatever the number of creases, all alternate angles must sum to pi. How and under what conditions things can fold flat is a major concern in computational origami.

Dr. Huffman's folding was a private activity. Professionally he worked in the field of coding and information theory. As a student at M.I.T. in the 1950's, he discovered a minimal way of encoding information known as Huffman Codes, which are now used to help compress MP3 music files and JPEG images. Dr. Peter Newman of the Computer Science Laboratory at the Stanford Research Institute said that in everything Dr. Huffman did, he was obsessed with elegance and simplicity. "He had an ability to visualize problems and to see things that nobody had seen before," Dr. Newman said.

Like Mr. Resch, Dr. Huffman seemed innately attracted to elegant forms. Before he took up paper folding, he was interested in what are called "minimal surfaces," the shapes that soap bubbles make. He carried this theme into origami, experimenting with ways that pleated patterns of straight folds can give rise to curving three-dimensional surfaces. Dr. Erik Demaine of M.I.T.'s Laboratory for Computer Science, who is now pursuing similar research, described Dr. Huffman's work in this area as "awesome."

Finally, Dr. Huffman moved into studying models in which the folds themselves were curved. "We know almost nothing about curved creases," said Dr. Demaine, who is using computer software to simulate the behavior of paper under the influence of curving folds. Much of Dr. Huffman's research was based on curves derived from conic sections, such as the hyperbola and the ellipse.

His marriage of aesthetics and science has grown into a field that goes well beyond paper. Dr. Tanner noted that his research is relevant to real-world problems where you want to know how sheets of material will behave under stress. Pressing sheet metal for car bodies is one example. "Understanding what's going to happen to the metal,'' which will stretch, "is related to the question of how far it is from the case of paper," which will not, Dr. Tanner said.

The mathematician G. H. Hardy wrote that "there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics." Dr. Huffman, who gave concrete form to beautiful mathematical relations, would no doubt have agreed. In a talk he gave at U.C. Santa Cruz in 1979 to an audience of artists and scientists, he noted that it was rare for the two groups to communicate with one another.

"I don't claim to be an artist. I'm not even sure how to define art," he said. "But I find it natural that the elegant mathematical theorems associated with paper surfaces should lead to visual elegance as well."

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Dare We Call It Genocide?

Dare We Call It Genocide?

A 'Moderation' of Freedom

A 'Moderation' of Freedom

A 'Moderation' of Freedom
Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf Isn't Practicing What He Preaches

By Samina Ahmed and John Norris

Tuesday, June 15, 2004; Page A23

Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, recently made a broad and seemingly heartfelt call for Muslims to raise themselves up through what he terms "enlightened moderation" [op-ed, June 1]. Decrying the influence of militants, extremists and terrorists, Musharraf insisted that political injustice lay at the heart of the vast suffering of Muslims around the globe. His path forward is for Muslims to disavow extremism in favor of socioeconomic progress and for the United States to take on a much bolder role in resolving political disputes in the Muslim world, particularly in places such as Palestine and Kashmir.

The words sound good, and such language from the leader of a nuclear nation on the front lines of the war against terrorism should be reassuring. But sadly, to most people who follow Pakistan closely, Musharraf's comments come across as dangerously close to farce. While advocating enlightened moderation abroad, Pakistan's leader is content to practice enlightenment in extreme moderation at home.

First and foremost, he continues to avoid handing real power back to democratically elected officials. While the Bush administration repeatedly holds up Iraq as a nation that could serve as a shining example of Islamic democracy in action, it continues to offer a blank check to a Pakistani government in which all power resides in the military. Curbs on democratic freedoms in Pakistan remain draconian. To discourage domestic dissent, the government has sentenced Javed Hashmi, leader of Musharraf's main political opposition, to 23 years in prison for daring to offer criticism. And it deported an exiled opposition leader, Shahbaz Sharif, when he had the temerity to attempt to return home after the Supreme Court confirmed the right of all citizens to actually reside in Pakistan.

In the same vein, Musharraf's domestic reforms are primarily aimed at strengthening military rule. For example, he promoted a recent plan for a devolution of power to local officials as a means to "empower the impoverished" and strengthen local government. Instead, it has undercut mainstream moderate political parties, left widespread corruption unchecked and shifted power away from the provinces as a means to bolster military rule.

U.S. officials are rightly beginning to grumble that they are not getting what they are paying for with billions of dollars of economic and military aid. In high-profile pledges two years ago, Musharraf vowed to crack down on madrassas, the religious schools where many Pakistani children receive their education and which have often been a wellspring of extremism. Pakistan has failed to deliver on those pledges; most madrassas remain unregistered, their finances unregulated, and the government has yet to remove the jihadist and sectarian content in their curricula.

The Pakistani government has taken a similar approach to jihadist organizations. The growth of jihadist networks continues to threaten both domestic and international security. After declaring that no group would be allowed to engage in terrorist activities in Indian-controlled Kashmir, the government ordered a number of extremist groups to do little more than change their name. One extremist leader was allowed to run for parliament, and won, even though he had been charged with more than 20 violent crimes. The leaders of other banned groups, designated as terrorist organizations by the United States, continue to preach freely their sectarian and anti-Western jihad. Pakistan has also notably failed to adequately address important issues such as terrorist financing, including money laundering, making the country a favorite base of operation for all too many extremist organizations.

Indeed, escalating sectarian violence in Karachi, deplored by the U.N. secretary general, painfully underscores the government's failure to tackle extremists within its own borders. This failure was also shown in the government's halting and contradictory statements after cordon and search operations in northwest Pakistan designed to apprehend al Qaeda operatives and Taliban militants. After initially trumpeting that the arrest of "high value" suspects was imminent, the government sheepishly had to admit that any such suspects had escaped as it engaged in negotiations with local tribesmen to free a number of captured Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan could serve as the force of moderation and enlightenment espoused by Musharraf, but it will require enlightened leadership on his part. Pakistan's military needs to return to the sidelines of political life and give its moderate political parties -- which have always done reasonably well in keeping a lid on extremism -- a chance to function. While the military has done a good job in using the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to strengthen its position, military governments across the globe have demonstrated that they usually do not stand the test of time or enlightenment.

Samina Ahmed is South Asia project director and John Norris is special adviser to the president of the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit organization that specializes in conflict resolution.

Rock blasts UN on Sudan crisis

Rock blasts UN on Sudan crisis

This may roll the wheel, effective initiatives may be undertaken now that Canadian UN ambassador said the following:

"The Security Council has failed miserably in its responsibility to protect the people of the Sudanese region of Darfur, who are being displaced and slaughtered in a civil war." The Globe and Mail reports the following:

In an open debate at the council, ambassador Allan Rock accused the 15-member body of ignoring long-standing pleas to intervene and push both sides to end attacks on civilians.

Mr. Rock said the council failed for months to heed warnings from aid groups and from its own human-rights commission about the looming humanitarian disaster in Darfur, finally responding just three weeks ago.

"Such inexcusable delays put at risk the lives of those that this council is charged with protecting," he said. "The Security Council's moral authority is underpinned by its willingness to respond effectively and promptly to threats to international peace and security, and it must demonstrate greater resolve in addressing even sensitive and politically challenging situations."

Mr. Rock spoke as the council held a full-day open debate on how the world body should respond to the plight of civilians caught in war zones where their governments either cannot protect them or actively target them.

However, Alan Rock stopped short labeling the Darfur crisis as "genocide" that could automatically activate immediate international responses since there are clear international law for outside intervention in the case of "genocide". When all the neutral groups like human rights ortanizations, UN's own human rights groups and many other relief organizations are calling this as "genocide in making", shouldn't the UN take more active role? Why is it that till now UN's security council is playing timid in handling this worsening situation in Sudan?

Read the following excerpts:
But activists are urging the council to declare the Darfur situation a genocide in the making, since such a finding would require intervention under international law. On the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington is investigating whether that is the case.

In Khartoum on Sunday, UN special representative Asma Janahjir said she was "disturbed and alarmed by the gravity of human-rights abuses perpetrated" in Sudan. But her greatest concerns were saved for Darfur, where two rebel groups have been fighting the Sudanese government since early last year.

UN agencies and relief organizations estimate that at least one million people have fled their homes and become internally displaced since fighting broke out, while another 150,000 refugees have escaped across the border into Chad.

"I am deeply concerned," Ms. Janahjir said. "The crisis is not over and the right to life of [millions of] people is seriously threatened."

Saturday, June 12, 2004

What is a kidney worth?

What is a kidney worth?

Trial by News Conference? No Justice in That (

Trial by News Conference? No Justice in That

The Netherworld of Nonproliferation

The Netherworld of Nonproliferation

From Buddha to Beckham

From Buddha to Beckham

Dear Readers,

Celebrities and “stars” take the majority timeshare of small to large silver screen. We buy our favorite singers’ CDs. We hung their life size posters on the wall of our cozy rooms. We smile with their smile. We cry during the time of their distress and mourn when they die as if the closest friends or relatives have passed away.

Is their anything wrong with this? Some may find this perfectly valuable in our journey through life’s various intricacies. And some may find it the troubling aspect of our evolving perception, which has modified from the time of antiquity, when the hunters risked their lives for the betterment of their community, to feed their weak and hungry. There are still Bono and Nelson Mandela in our own time. There is Shirin Ebadi and indeed Jimmy Carter. There are men and women, many of them bring the aura of unmistakable celebrity wherever they go, they bring their “star” power in devoting their resources in worthy causes like the global AIDS problem, or the land mines tragedy in war ravaged world.

But there are also men and women, “celebrity” whose contributions back to the community, to the world from which they have received wealth and abundance and unfathomable fame, are either non-existent or negligible.

Karen Armstrong writes, the following: “It is easy to blame the media for our unhealthy obsession with celebrity. But we get the kind of heroes we deserve. Our celebrities reflect our values and desires. The photographers would not have chased Diana down that Parisian tunnel if the public had not been avid for pictures of the princess. Our cult of a fame that is not accompanied by the requirement of heroic altruism may symbolize a chronic selfishness and triviality in western culture that are symptomatic of cultural decline and also politically dangerous.”

But she does not mention that this “obsession with celebrity” is not the Western “ailment” only, the East, South and the North, the modern heavens and the earth worship the “stars”, photographers chase other local stars, “prince and princess”. Worshipping celebrity is no one nation’s or “civilization’s” sole gift back to the dumbfounded humanity. We are all involved in our own narcissistic obsession.

Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
June 12, 2004
From Buddha to Beckham

Throughout the ages we have had the heroes we deserve

Karen Armstrong
Saturday June 12, 2004
The Guardian

Posh and Becks are having problems; Tom and Nicole are getting married again; Michael Jackson stands accused of child abuse; a new batch of celebrity wannabes seeks fame and fortune in the Big Brother house; and we are regularly regaled with reality TV programmes that scrutinise the behaviour of minor celebrities in jungles and kitchens.

For many, these events are of more immediate interest than the catastrophically unfolding drama in Iraq. Is this simply harmless fun, a light-hearted diversion from the grim headlines? Or does it reveal a serious flaw in our culture?

Celebrity has political importance in the west. With immense pomp and pageantry, the United States has just mourned Ronald Reagan, a B-movie actor who became the most powerful man in the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose film career exalted the values of brawn over brains, has become governor of California.

The upward political mobility of the popular hero of stage and screen is an interesting, if slightly disturbing democratic development. Increasingly, politicians have to display the kind of charisma that we associate with show business if they want to be successful in the polls. John Kerry is likely to be as much impeded by his lack of star quality in his race to the White House as by his political programme.

The fact that we call people "stars" is itself significant. A star sheds light in darkness. Travellers once used the constellations to help them to find the right path. We have always looked to exemplary human beings for guidance and inspiration. Throughout history, heroes and sages have become paradigmatic figures. They show us what humanity can be, they define our values, and fill us with profound emotion, because they touch an inchoate but powerful yearning for human excellence.

Thus Socrates, who taught his pupils to question everything until they became dizzy with confusion and who was finally able to look death in the face with calm, loving equanimity, evoked a kind of rapture in his contemporaries. His disciple Alcibiades spoke of the "extraordinary effect his words have had on me ... For the moment I hear him speak I am smitten with a kind of sacred frenzy ... and my heart jumps into my mouth and the tears start into my eyes - oh, and not only me, but lots of other men."

This sounds familiar: it reminds us of the ecstasy of fans today who weep, shriek and swoon in the presence of their idols. But there is a crucial difference. Alcibiades continued: Socrates "has often left me in such a state of mind that I've felt that I simply couldn't go on living the way I did ... He makes me admit that while I'm spending my time on politics, I am neglecting all the things that are crying out for attention in myself." A celebrity like Socrates demanded that his pupils fundamentally transform their lives for the better. It is unlikely that Will Young or Geri Halliwell do the same.

Hero worship is one of the oldest enthusiasms in the world; it probably dates back to the Palaeolithic period, when the hunter left his tribe, went out into the forest, and risked his life to bring food back to the community. The myth of the hero has followed the same basic pattern in all cultures, and expresses a universal ideal. The hero is motivated by a disinterested desire to fill a lack that he sees in his society; he turns his back on the familiar and sets forth on a lonely, frightening quest. But eventually, at great personal cost, he brings something of immense value back to his people.

Stories about Prometheus, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed all conform to this paradigm. They were essentially calls to action, designed to show followers how to awaken the heroic potential within themselves. People have emulated recent heroes, such as Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela, in this way. But our modern cult of celebrity is different; because it degenerates all too frequently into self-indulgent adulation that is an end in itself. Few of the thousands who mourned Princess Diana so extravagantly felt impelled to visit Aids patients or to give a regular portion of their income to her favourite charities.

We no longer require our celebrities to go out into the wilderness to bring spiritual benefit to others. The long arduous quest of the hero is alien to those who seek immediate fame with minimum effort on Pop Idol. You can become a star, a luminary of our time, simply by appearing in a soap opera. We do not expect our celebrities to challenge us, as Socrates did, or, like Buddha, to shock us out of our habitual selfishness by making us aware of the ubiquity of human suffering. We want our stars to distract us from these uncomfortable realities.

Notoriety has become an end in itself. An increasing number of people simply want to be famous. A questionnaire recently circulated in a New York high school, asked its students: "What do you hope to be?" Two thirds replied: "A celebrity." But this blatantly sterile narcissism, especially when fanned by massive and intrusive media coverage, is spiritually and psychologically damaging to the celebrities themselves.

The heroic myth was not popular simply because it sounded good, but because experience showed that this was the best way for human beings to live. Anthropologists have also argued that human society is impossible without a measure of altruism. Celebrities such as Bob Geldof and Bono appear to have learned this, and have taken up good works. The difficult ordeal of modern celebrity may have taught them the validity of the ancient ideal of the hero who heals himself by giving something back to society.

It is easy to blame the media for our unhealthy obsession with celebrity. But we get the kind of heroes we deserve. Our celebrities reflect our values and desires. The photographers would not have chased Diana down that Parisian tunnel if the public had not been avid for pictures of the princess. Our cult of a fame that is not accompanied by the requirement of heroic altruism may symbolise a chronic selfishness and triviality in western culture that are symptomatic of cultural decline and also politically dangerous.

The wealthy lifestyle of our celebrities, proudly flaunted on websites and in Hello magazine, must seem cruel and insulting in countries where people lack the basic necessities of life. And the cult of celebrity will not help the battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East. Our pop singers and film stars are among our most visible exports, and the sordid scandals of their personal lives may well convince Muslims who are already suspicious of the west that liberal democracy is indeed spiritually bankrupt.

Our democratically elected politicians, who reflect the mores of society, sometimes behave like celebrities. Some of them have actually been celebrities. They should recall the myth of the hero. In this time of unprecedented danger, heroic leadership must question old certainties and chauvinisms. Instead of pursuing cold war policies, governments must find new solutions. Like celebrity, national prosperity cannot be an end in itself. In a global world, our best security lies in a creative and courageous altruism.

· Karen Armstrong is the author of The Spiral Staircase: A Memoir, published by HarperCollins

Source Link:,3604,1237114,00.html

Friday, June 11, 2004

`The farmer's success is our strength' - Interview with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

`The farmer's success is our strength' - Interview with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Missing member of G-8

Missing member of G-8

The Group of Eight should expand to include China, a country poised to emerge as a key player in the global economy,

When the Group of Eight industrial nations began their meet in Sea Island, Georgia, on 8 June, they wrestled with the usual agenda of global trade, finance, and poverty. What is startling about the group’s deliberations, however, is which countries weren’t around the decision-making table. Exhibit A is China, without which the world’s big economic issues can no longer be effectively addressed.

China has become far more important to the global economy than most other G-8 members such as Italy, Canada and even France. Over the past 20 years, it has been growing faster – 9-10 per cent per year – than any major economy. It is now the fourth largest trading nation, and in this decade alone it will surpass Germany to become the world’s third largest economy (behind the USA and Japan.) It produces 20 times more steel than the European Union; it is the second largest importer of petroleum; it is mounting the largest building programme of new nuclear power plants in the world; it has the world’s third largest car market; it consumes about 40 per cent of all the world’s cement.

China has become a major player in international finance. It receives more direct foreign investment than any nation but the USA. It possesses more foreign exchange reserves than any country besides Japan. Beijing has become a critical creditor to Uncle Sam, holding hundreds of billions of dollars of US government securities. How it uses this leverage ought to be of major concern to Washington and Wall Street, and to anyone – such as home owners, car purchasers, or average investors – who is affected by interest rates or the value of the dollar.

Next to the USA, China has more impact on global supply and demand than any other country. Indeed, China is becoming as central to global manufacturing as Saudi Arabia is to oil. Want to know why prices of everything from steel to copper are up? Look at soaring demand from Chinese companies and consumers. Want to know why manufacturers from GE to Hitachi are having difficulty raising prices? Look at how efficient and low-paid Chinese workers are keeping production costs down.

China is crucial to economic growth throughout all of booming Asia and the propelling force behind the long-awaited Pacific century that is finally emerging. Last year, it accounted for a third of the growth of South Korean and Japanese exports to all destinations around the world and two-thirds of the growth of Taiwan’s exports. It is now weaving a China-centric web of trade arrangements throughout the region, leading to a potential Asian economic bloc that could de facto exclude the USA and the EU.

It’s not just Asia where China is responsible for an extraordinary burst of economic dynamism. Latin America is another case, where commodity prices in countries such as Brazil and Argentina are soaring on the back of Chinese demand. A recent trade delegation from Brazil reinforced the importance of China to the hemisphere. Led by the Brazilian president, it included more than 300 Brazilian business leaders.

Hard as it is for Americans to fathom, the Chinese economic model could also become an attractive alternative to the free market fundamentalism that the USA is so fond of trying to push onto other countries. It hasn’t gone unnoticed in Asia that the more highly controlled Chinese economic system survived the late-1990s financial crisis in the region while US disciples such as Thailand and South Korea imploded. Nor has it gone unnoticed that the democracies in countries like the Philippines and Indonesia have not produced sound economic policies, or that democracies such as India have extreme difficulty staying on a steady economic course. When countries as diverse as Iran and Uzbekistan wrestle with how to move up the economic ladder, they may well find the authoritarian, slow-as-she-goes approach to modernisation that Beijing pursues as more relevant than the deregulatory policies of Uncle Sam.

China’s ties to other emerging markets such as Brazil and India may also alter the course of global politics. A political bloc of big developing countries could have enormous influence in the World Trade Organization, for example. There is a good chance that such a group will emerge, and under Chinese leadership.

There is also the looming problem of surplus Chinese labour – hundreds of millions of young, energetic workers who will be entering the world market in the years ahead. This phenomenon will change the face of global production and trade, and create massive dislocations in the West. Millions of American workers will have to make wrenching adjustments, but given our flexible markets I believe it will happen – painfully but ultimately successfully. Europe, with its overregulated systems and inflexible ageing populations, will have a much harder time, and may turn deeply protectionist. No one can know how these labour problems will play out, but what is certain is that close collaboration between the USA, the EU, and Beijing on global trade policies would be highly beneficial.

China also has great vulnerabilities, as its current overheated state shows. Were its growth to slow precipitously – as it very well might – the rest of the world would have to work with Beijing to contain the global fallout. Indeed, a big global economic problem may be brewing right now as both the USA and China prepare to raise interest rates, potentially cooling growth not just in their own economies but around the world.
Given all this, it is ludicrous for China to be on the periphery of the insider’s club. There is no major global economic issue that will not involve the Middle Kingdom or require its cooperation.

But getting China into the G-8 won’t be easy. Several European countries may object to a new member that is stronger and more influential. Japan may resent bringing in an Asian rival. China itself may not want the responsibility, preferring to be seen as a poor developing country that needs help from others as opposed to assuming the responsibilities of its own power. But these hurdles should not stop Washington from trying.
In the 1980s, there was an expectation among global leaders that economic power would be shared among the USA, the EU and Japan. This trilateral framework never materialised because Europe and Japan proved far too weak. In the 1990s, a new management model emerged: a super strong USA would alone be the maestro and backbone of the whole system. But America can’t forever hold the global economy on its shoulders, as the soaring deficits and sinking currency show.

My guess is that sometime in the next decade, the USA and China will emerge as the two managing partners in the global economy. As host of the G-8 summit, Washington has the chance to start the transition. It should seize it.

Common Collie or Uberpooch?

Common Collie or Uberpooch?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

In search of a daughter in Africa

A gripping tale.......

In search of a daughter in Africa

In this gripping tale Daily Star Special Correspondent MORSHED ALI KHAN traces his journey back to a small village in Rwanda to find the little baby girl he had saved amidst the worst genocide imaginable; and made her his daughter.

AFter returning home I first heard from my friend Maleri Elie in Kigali about eight years ago. Maleri and Kabanda Dieudonne, also a great friend, signed the simple letter that brought me the news I had so eagerly waited since 1994. "Do you remember the beautiful baby girl Aougny? She is doing fine with her now mother…..," the hand written letter said.

I indeed remembered the tiny baby girl vividly. So vividly that over the years the little girl, who I always considered to be my own daughter, made me long to see her. For me she was a gift from the gods in a country that made history amid an unprecedented bloodbath.

To visit her, I knew it would not be easy for an ordinary person like me for we were separated by thousands of miles across the continents.

It had all happened in April, 1994 when I was at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali working with the Bangladeshi soldiers in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) as a translator. From April 6, 1994 Rwanda plunged into a bloody civil war that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. The majority Hutus of the eight million Rwandans started killing minority Tutsis indiscriminately. Piles of mutilated dead bodies littered the streets of Kigali. Roaming with machetes, automatic weapons and bows with poisonous arrows, government backed hoodlums known as interahamwe killed every Tutsi they found on their way. Age, gender and looks did not matter. The goal was to annihilate the whole Tutsi race who were easily distinguishable from their features and slender, tall physique.

From the first day of the massacres a stream of Tutsis and some moderate Hutus started arriving at the Amahoro stadium for shelter. Within two days thousands of men, women and children, many with horrendous wounds crammed every corner of the modern stadium. While the 300 Bangladeshi soldiers occupied a part of the oval shaped arena with comparative ease, the remainder of Amahoro was packed to the brim.

It was in this chaotic situation that I initiated a centre for treating the victims, which later became known as the Amahoro Red Cross-centre. Maleri Elie, a fine Tutsi gentleman helped eagerly and soon we were having volunteers from among the refugees to work at the centre.

On the morning of April 9, 1994 the air smelt foul with corpses rotting everywhere. The night before we had received scores of Tutsis fleeing the massacre. Sanitation problem at the stadium became so acute that we had to look for a site to set up makeshift latrines. Just as I walked within the perimeter fence of the stadium looking for a safe site, I saw a few corpses of children and babies strewn on the ground near the fence. Under the large concrete water reservoir, lay on the ground a tiny newborn baby. She was completely still. Her body was stained with dried out blood with an unusually long umbilical cord torn apart from her dead mother. As I closely examined for signs of life in that lump of flesh, I could not believe my eyes when she slightly moved her hand and feet.

I named her Aougny. And Aougny brought joy to the volunteers of the centre. I wondered how a sign of life could bring so much joy to a group of people surviving a massacre of such huge proportions around them. Maleri promised to find her a mother and also told me that he would look after Aougny as long as it takes for me to return to Rwanda.

This was a long ten years ago. I left Kigali for Dhaka at the end of April. But never did I forget Aougny for a day. I was told she lived with Beatha, her foster mother. I narrated her story again and again to my family and friends and was determined to visit her one-day.

On my return from the killing fields of Rwanda I slipped into deep trauma. I woke in the middle of the night with nightmares of the massacres I had witnessed. Hardship gripped our family of three children. UNAMIR never fulfilled its commitment and did not pay me any salary for the three months in Rwanda.

IT was in November 1994, nearly six months after my return from Rwanda, I joined The Daily Star. A new dimension away from nightmares and suffering suddenly opened up for me. Although five of us at home still felt the burden of life in Dhaka, we stood determined to overcome the difficulties. We knew only hard work could get us going.

Over the years I attempted to visit Aougny several times. Just over a year ago I planned my 'Journey for a Daughter' to Rwanda on a motorbike. To my utter disappointment the plan was marred due to growing disturbances in the Middle East.

About five months ago a telephone call from London revived my hopes. Linda Pressly, a senior producer at the BBC Radio-4 rang to tell me that the BBC had just commissioned my story. I had known Linda while working together on a story in Dhaka about four years ago and had mentioned to her the story of my finding Aougny and my desire to return to Rwanda to find her. Linda, a dedicated journalist, never forgot the scoop. To my surprise, four years after, Linda told me that the BBC would be interested in following me up to Rwanda to document my story to meet my daughter. The story would be aired under the title "It's My Story".

It was all I needed. Now I had to trace Aougny. A couple of telephone calls to the Genocide Memorial Office at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali put me in touch with Mr Ouvimana, who told me that he knew Kabanda Dieudonne and gave me his number. As I tried in vein to reach Kabanda over his mobile phone, Linda rang to tell me that Elva Uwineza, a Rwandan journalist would be helping the BBC as a fixer. With the help of Kabanda and Elva, Aougny was quickly traced in a small village twenty kilometres away from Kigali, living with Beatha.

"Morshed," said Linda one evening on the phone from London," We know where Aougny is but I am afraid I do not have good news. Your good friend Maleri Elie passed away last year."

A rush of memories passed through my head choking me with emotions. I had waited for so long to see Maleri …. and now from so close being there, he was no more.

For Linda Pressly it was a story involving a country that had just been the focus of world media on the tenth commemoration of the start of the genocide. A story not directly related to war and killings of Rwanda but one that talked about love and bonds that bridged a few people together separated by continents and cultures. She so meticulously planned the whole programme that as a print journalist from Bangladesh working in a national daily it made me ponder over our ways of planning for a story. At home we hardly made such elaborate preparations no matter how big the story is.

IN the morning of April 27 as soon as we stepped on the tarmac of Kigali international airport from a Kenyan Airlines plane, Linda was ready with her equipment to stir my memories of the airport back in 1994. She had told me the day's schedule and that we would be going to see Aougny the following day after we had visited Maleri's family and his eternal resting place and the Amahoro Stadium where I had found Aougny in those turbulent days of 1994.

My good friend Kabanda had not changed much in ten years. We hugged each other and sat in my room at the Garnet de Centre, a hill top hotel overlooking the green valleys of Kigali. We shared our memories of 1994 and looked at the pictures and documents I had preserved for a decade. He told me he had gone to see Aougny with Elva two days ago. "I can tell you she is a beautiful, intelligent child," said Kabanda. I felt a twinge of guilt inside me. Circumstances back home had never permitted me to help her over the last ten years. Now I was back suddenly with the BBC making a fuss with her life…

Through a narrow alleyway in a poor suburb of Kigali live Maleri's two daughters, two sons and a sister in a mud hut. They said their father often talked about me and that he loved Aougny so much that he had bought her a small piece of land at Musave where she is living with her foster mother.

The family agreed to walk us to the graveyard where Maleri was buried. Amid colourful wild flowers and bushes, overlooking the green valley of Kigali lay Maleri in an unmarked grave. I stood by the grave in silence and gratitude. 'Rest in peace my friend, may be one day we shall meet again', I murmured.

Amahoro stadium looked exactly the same except that now it houses the Sports and Youth Ministry and some other offices including that of the Genocide Memorial Office. Male and female athletes practised on the neatly maintained red tracks. Some women carrying their babies on their backs walked leisurely across the green football pitch. Absent were thousands of helpless men, women and children crammed inside the small corridors and rooms. Absent were the gunshots and cries of the wounded and the sick. Absent were the billowing smoke from makeshift cookers lit by some refugees; and the typical smell of African spices that hung in the air. I stood under the concrete overhead water reservoir near the fence and recalled how ten years ago on that spot lay a newborn baby girl, abandoned by her parents. There was no trace of any blood inside the room where we had set up the Red Cross centre. The room was instead a place where the authorities dumped sports materials.

The young athletes practising nearby looked on as we walked passed. The first floor room where I had my accommodation with other UNAMIR officials, is now the office room for the minister for sports and youth. Just near the entrance Kabanda pointed at a middle-aged man and asked if I recognised him. He was Felicia, the man in-charge of electricity in the stadium. During the months of February and March, 1994, my first two months in Rwanda, Felicia lived in a small room inside the stadium where I often passed my time chatting with him.

It was Felicia who had first told me of the notorious Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines, the Hutu radio station that spat venom of hatred 24 hours a day towards the minority Tutsis. How shameful was it to learn that media provocation played such a role. I remember Felicia telling me one day sometime in March 1994 about a programme that urged the Hutus to take revenge on Tutsis. The narrator of the text in Kenyarwanda tried to justify destroying the Tutsis saying, " Before you kill an insect biting you, do you ever examine whether it is a baby or pregnant insect, male or female, elderly or young, sick or healthy?" That day Felicia warned of a possible genocide in his country saying, " it is on the cooking."

IN the morning of April 28, 2004 we were ready to meet Aougny in the village of Musave under the district of Casavo, about twenty kilometres from Kigali. Linda, Elva, Kabanda, our driver Yahya and me boarded the four-wheel drive from our hotel and drove past the airport. About eight kilometres from Kigali we arrived at a petrol pump and turned left on an earthen mountainous road. My heart pounded with excitement as we climbed up the green mountains towards Musave. Elva pointed at some children in blue uniform saying those children were walking to the same school where Aougny reads. All along the road to Musave thick vegetation amid wild flowers adorned the landscape. As we entered Musave, several hundred noisy children had just finished their morning shift. They gathered around our vehicle and waved. Amid so many children I was looking for a single face, that of Aougny. We drove past the school and fifty yards down the mountain overlooking lush green valleys a small mud hut stood in the middle of a farmland. "This is Aougny's house," whispered Kabanda.

I walked inside the house and there was the little girl, now ten years of age in a white frock. She came rushing towards me and we were soon locked in a long hug. I had found my lost daughter in an African village thousands of miles away from home. It was a reunion of two souls separated by destiny for years. Aougny told me she had heard about me from Maleri. She looked at her picture I had taken on the day she was born ten years and twenty-three days ago but smilingly said she could not recognise herself. She sat by me on the small bench and looked on. Beatha sat nearby and gazed at me. Kabanda at the entrance of the small room wiped away the tears from his eyes. Aougny attended grade-3 at the local primary school. She said she would have to go to school to attend the second shift. She soon changed herself into her blue school uniform and invited me to accompany her. I held her hand and walked the fifty yards to her classroom. Murekatete Justine, a young teacher of Aougny’s class said out of 35 students in class-3 she was happy with Aougny's performance. Aougny's classmates sang two songs as Justine asked them to greet us. According to Beatha, at school Aougny was known as Ishimwe Solange Aougni, meaning 'gifted by the God', a name later given by Maleri.

Beatha said she had also adopted a four-year old girl, Kitcheme, whose mother was working somewhere in the country. She said Aougny and Kitcheme were like sisters. But the bad news was Beatha was HIV positive. She said she was tested positive in 1903 but received no treatment for it. Beatha grew maize, potatoes and bananas on the small plot of farming land around their house and now she waited for the harvest time so that she could have some money for her treatment. She said she had been involved with Maleri and it was from him that she had contracted the disease.

"Before he died of AIDS I asked him why he was losing weight," said Beatha, " Maleri replied that he had diabetes."

It was time to return to Kigali for the day. For the next few days the more closely I saw Aougny, the more fatherly affection I had for her. I now have four children --- two sons aged 18 and 15, a ten-year old daughter in Bangladesh and a ten-year old daughter in Rwanda. I know it is a big responsibility but I will do what I can to support Aougny. May be one day we shall all live together as a family.

Only outsiders can halt genocide in Sudan

Only outsiders can halt genocide in Sudan

Only outsiders can halt genocide in Sudan

The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, June 9:

In 1994, Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, head of the U.N. peacekeeping troops in Rwanda, warned his U.N. superiors that a genocide was about to occur and begged for more troops to stop it. He was ignored. And 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered by Hutus in a matter of days.

Never again, the civilized world has said since the Holocaust, but we don't mean it, not really. Speaking recently on National Public Radio about the near-genocidal situation now in Darfur, a western province of Sudan, Gen. Dallaire mused bleakly that if African gorillas were threatened with extinction, the world would be more concerned than it is about the potential deaths of a million human beings.

What's causing this crisis? The Sudanese government and the death-squad militias it supports in Darfur.

The government and the death squads are Arab Muslims. Their victims are also Muslims, but are black, and seen as racially inferior by their persecutors, who are trying to kill them or drive them off the land so Arabs can seize it - exactly as the government has been doing to black Christians and animists in the country's southern provinces.

That blood-soaked conflict appears close to resolution thanks to aggressive Western diplomacy - the same sort of strategy that must be deployed for Darfur's sake now. The U.N. Security Council should pass a resolution calling for full humanitarian access to Darfur, which the Sudanese government has so far denied, and put together a peacekeeping force to restore order and secure food and medical assistance to the refugees.

The United States may not be able to spare troops for this mission, but surely European nations sitting out the Iraq conflict would be willing to send their soldiers in for this mission of mercy. They should be asked.

Arab countries, too, should be asked to help - unless it's the case that they don't mind seeing Muslims kill and displace fellow Muslims, as long as the victims are black. Where are African-American leaders? They should lift up their voices against this racial genocide in the making. Indeed, all of us who shook our heads over Rwanda a decade ago, and said "Never again," must understand that now is the time to make good on our word.

ScienCentral: Reagan Stem Cells

ScienCentral: Reagan Stem Cells

Saturday, June 05, 2004

In Sudan, Staring Genocide in the Face

In Sudan, Staring Genocide in the Face

When would we learn the lesson of Rwanda and other genocides? Another grim devastation of human lives are unfolding in front of our very eyes, and the world remain mysteriously indifferent, as if waiting patiently while hundreds of thousands perish in the desert for a sponsored afternote like they did after Rwandan massacre: "never again".
In Sudan, Staring Genocide in the Face

By Jerry Fowler

Sunday, June 6, 2004; Page B02

In the cool desert dawn on May 16, at the Touloum refugee camp in eastern Chad, 2-year-old Fatima put her hands on her stomach, groaned and died. Her mother, Toma Musa Suleiman, in describing the death to me the next day, said that Fatima had been sick for 10 days. By the time she died, her skin was pallid and felt like plastic -- the effects of malnutrition.

I was seeing with my own eyes what I had been hearing about for several months: Children are dying almost every day in refugee camps in eastern Chad, despite a vigorous international effort to get food, water and other essentials to the more than 100,000 who have fled in fear from the Darfur region of neighboring Sudan.

They are among the 1 million Darfurians who have been displaced from their homes, most of whom are still in Sudan , according to aid groups.

Abukar Adam Abukar, a member of a community health team organized by Doctors Without Borders in the Iridimi refugee camp, one of half a dozen such sites, told me that seven children had died there between May 3 and May 14. He took me to the dusty flat on the edge of the camp where some of them were buried, in a forlorn line of small mounds of earth.

Why did Toma and thousands like her leave their homes and walk for days through the desert, risking their own lives and those of their children? Their stories were remarkably consistent. Person after person in the camps told me that they had fled after attacks on their villages by Arab Janjaweed militias, who have burned hundreds of villages and killed thousands of civilians belonging to black African ethnic groups. To make matters worse, the Janjaweed are backed by the Sudanese government, which wants to put down rebels drawn from those tribes. Many of the refugees said that the Janjaweed had stolen their animals and other property and that relatives or neighbors, usually men and boys, had been killed before their eyes. The refugees fled with little more than the clothes on their backs and the few things they could load onto a donkey. Many also said they were attacked from the air by the Sudanese government's Antonov bombers, either in their villages or as they fled toward the border.

I went to Chad last month on behalf of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Committee on Conscience, which has issued a genocide warning for Sudan. Having now heard firsthand the refugees' accounts of the terror they faced in Sudan and of being driven into the desert, where their government is blocking assistance from the outside world, I have no doubt whatsoever that mass death will ensue in Darfur unless far more international assistance is immediately allowed to reach the displaced who are still there. In short, I fear the specter of genocide.

I interviewed refugees spread over hundreds of miles in eastern Chad. One woman, Hadiya Adam Ahmed, had crossed into Chad only two days before and was living under a tree near the remote border town of Bahai. Spread around her were her few remaining possessions: a blanket, some water jugs, a few bowls. She had left home without food and in two weeks of travel had depended on her fellow refugees for occasional handfuls of soaked sorghum for herself and her nine children. Hadiya had two bullet wounds in her right leg. She said she had been shot by a Sudanese soldier when she and a 17-year-old girl went to draw water from a well for themselves and others who were fleeing.

When asked why their villages were attacked and burned, most of the refugees said it was because of their black skin. They believe that the Khartoum-based government of President Omar Hassan Bashir wants to give their land to his Janjaweed allies who, like him, are Arab. Members of the Zaghawa, Masalit, Fur and other black African tribes will simply have to go. Like the Janjaweed, the Darfurians are Muslims. But culturally and ethnically they retain an African identity, of which they are proud. They also tend to be more settled than the nomadic Janjaweed. Racism undoubtedly does play a part in Bashir's support of the Janjaweed, as the blacks are seen as inferior.

Ironically, the prospects for peace in southern Sudan also contribute to the conflict. Fearing that an end to the generation-long rebellion in southern Sudan will divide access to the country's resources between the ruling elite in Khartoum and the southerners and condemn Darfur to permanent second-class status, some Darfurians launched an armed rebellion in early 2003. Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed and its own military on the black African civilian population. The result was what a team of U.N. investigators last month called a "reign of terror."

Those who have crossed into Chad are relatively lucky. An underfunded international relief effort by organizations such as Catholic Relief Services and Doctors Without Borders is providing some food, water, shelter and health care. For the displaced Darfurians who are still in Sudan, however, the situation is more dire. Khartoum has severely limited international access to them. And in the unforgiving desert, the stealing of food and animals, burning of homes and blockage of access to wells -- in short, the campaign of the Janjaweed and the government -- is tantamount to a death sentence. The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that 350,000 Darfurians will die in the coming months unless the government in Khartoum allows international aid groups dramatically better access to the region.

That raises the question of genocide. Under the U.N. Genocide Convention, adopted in 1948 in the shadow of the Holocaust, genocide is defined as certain actions undertaken "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." The actions include "killing members of the group," "causing serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group" and -- particularly relevant to Darfur -- "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part." The convention obliges parties to the treaty, including the United States and 130 other nations -- to "undertake to prevent and punish" the crime of genocide.

In cases like Darfur, there is always a great deal of hand wringing about what is and is not genocide. But such discussion misses the point: A key element of the Genocide Convention is prevention. It calls for action once it is apparent that genocide is threatened. There is no need for an absolute determination, which is inevitably elusive, that genocide is underway.

And in Darfur there can be no doubt that genocide is threatened. As former U.S. Ambassador David Scheffer once said of Kosovo, there are "indicators of genocide." Whatever the formulation, there is more than enough going on in Darfur to justify preventive action.

Time is of the essence. The rainy season will begin in the next few weeks, making access to Darfur -- where major roads become impassable with flooding -- difficult, if not impossible.

The government in Khartoum will do whatever it can to forestall any decisive international action. It is well practiced at giving the illusion of taking a step forward while really taking two steps backward. For example, it now is making a show of promising to streamline humanitarian access. But the record suggests that the government simply cannot be trusted. Even as it was claiming that the situation in Darfur was stable, its Janjaweed allies killed several dozen people on May 22. Allowing better access to aid groups will mean little if the militias continue to run rampant in the countryside.

What is needed now is a U.N. Security Council resolution mandating unrestricted humanitarian access to Darfur and laying the groundwork for the displaced Darfurians to return home safely. The Security Council should invoke the collective obligation to prevent genocide as well as its authority to maintain international peace and security, which is threatened by Janjaweed incursions into Chad and conflicts between the Chadian and Sudanese militaries. A statement issued by the Security Council on May 25, expressing "grave concern" about Darfur, is a step in the right direction. But it is no substitute for a formal resolution.

The United States has been lobbying in the Security Council, but it cannot do it alone. Darfur presents an opportunity for Secretary General Kofi Annan to avoid a repetition of the United Nations' failures during the Rwanda genocide of a decade ago, when warnings of mass murder were ignored. Indeed, in marking the 10th anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide on April 7, Annan said that reports from Darfur filled him "with a sense of deep foreboding."

Since then, however, he has said little in public other than to welcome Khartoum's promise to ease restrictions on international relief. His reticence is all the more remarkable because other U.N. officials, such as Mukesh Kapila, until recently the top U.N. humanitarian official in Sudan, have been outspoken in sounding the alarm.

Annan must say, simply, "This must stop" and use all his skill, energy and influence to forge an international consensus to back up that statement. To do otherwise, to welcome empty gestures from perpetrators of the gravest abuses, merely encourages them to continue to murder and pillage.

During both the Holocaust and the Rwanda genocide, warnings were received and ignored. Today we say "never again." The question now is whether we will ignore the warnings while the Africans of Darfur perish and then -- once again -- say "never again." Or will we act while lives can still be saved?

Jerry Fowler is staff director of the Committee on Conscience, which guides the genocide prevention activities of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Mr. Tenet's Exit

Mr. Tenet's Exit

Mr. Tenet's resignation took many by surprise. The Washington Post editorial says the following:
Calls for his resignation seemed sure to escalate in the coming weeks, with the release of reports by the Sept. 11 commission and the Senate intelligence committee that are expected to be highly critical.

It's not that a shamed resignation was entirely called for. In the course of seven years at the head of the CIA -- the second-longest tenure in history -- Mr. Tenet did much to improve the agency and the overall capacity of U.S. intelligence. He inherited an underfunded, directionless and demoralized organization; by most accounts, he greatly improved training and recruitment, obtained new resources, and refocused on fighting terrorism. Mr. Tenet recognized the threat posed by Osama bin Laden before Sept. 11, although the CIA, like the rest of the bureaucracy, did not respond with sufficient aggressiveness. Agency operatives played a major role in the successful campaign to overthrow the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and in the exposure of the rogue nuclear programs of Libya and Pakistan.

Yet Mr. Tenet's agency mishandled Iraq in ways that undoubtedly will shadow his legacy and may undo some of his success. While there is no proof that CIA reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons were falsified to please Bush administration hawks, the available facts suggest that crucial parts of them were, as postwar arms inspector David Kay put it, "almost all wrong." After months of prickly defensiveness, Mr. Tenet barely acknowledged that reality in a single speech last February; like the administration he serves, he has never fully accepted responsibility for what will surely be remembered as one of the most significant intelligence failures in U.S. history. The ongoing damage of that failure is only compounded by the conspicuous absence of accountability. Yes, Mr. Tenet is going, but Mr. Bush has yet to face up to the reasons why his departure was inevitable.

The New York Times editorial was direct in its criticism of Mr. Tenet:
It's true that Mr. Tenet has always demonstrated intense dedication to the nation and his job, but he presided over some of the most astonishing and costly failures of American espionage in recent history.

On Mr. Tenet's watch, the American intelligence community failed to comprehend the domestic threat from Al Qaeda before Sept. 11, 2001. It either bungled or hyped its analysis of Iraq to spin fanciful threats from chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, threats that President Bush used to justify the invasion. The C.I.A. itself apparently did not sign on to the more ludicrous visions offered by Mr. Rumsfeld's team, like the one of grateful Iraqis showering American soldiers with flowers. But it utterly missed the dismal state Iraq was in and the strength of the insurgency that Americans would face after the fall of Baghdad.

The intelligence community's shortcomings did not begin with 9/11 or Iraq. While Bill Clinton was president, Mr. Tenet's team was stunned when India, a close ally, conducted nuclear tests. American intelligence did spot Pakistan's undisguised preparations for testing its own bomb. But now we know that a Pakistani rocket scientist had been peddling nuclear technology all over the world for years, possibly with government sanction, without the C.I.A. noticing.

For the reasons of Mr. Tenet's resignation New York Times says,
Mr. Tenet's reasons for leaving were the subject of much speculation yesterday. The White House offered up the customary "personal reasons" and said Mr. Bush had not forced him out. Mr. Tenet said in a choked voice that he wanted to spare his family further exposure to the pressures of his job. It's easy to sympathize, considering the months of criticism that he and the intelligence agencies are about to endure — from a highly negative Senate Intelligence Committee report that Mr. Tenet received this week, from the 9/11 commission's report and from an update expected this summer from Mr. Tenet's own investigator in Iraq on the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.

Officially, Mr. Tenet resigned for personal reason, to spend more time with his family. However, The Washington Times published an artile, "For Personal Reasons, or Is He the Fall Guy?" asking the following:
Was Tenet finally being served up as a sacrificial lamb by an administration that loathes to admit a mistake?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Twilight Zone / End of the Rainbow

Twilight Zone / End of the Rainbow

Turkish PM: Israel treating Palestinians as they were treated

Turkish PM: Israel treating Palestinians as they were treated



‘Indian motel owner discriminated against Blacks’

‘Indian motel owner discriminated against Blacks’

WASHINGTON, JUNE 2: An Indian motel owner in a Florida town discriminated against Black customers by placing them in inferior rooms and preventing them from using the swimming pool, Florida’s Attorney General Charlie Christ charged in a civil rights lawsuit.

The Florida Inn owned by Raj Patel had ‘‘markedly less desirable, more poorly maintained and more unattractive’’ rooms for Blacks compared to rooms reserved for White customers, Christ told a court in Tallahassee.

The suit also claimed Patel told Black customers that they could not use the pool in his motel in the town of Perry. Patel denied the charge with his lawyer Earl Johnson saying the allegations were untrue. Johnson said several of the motel’s Black guests have written letters supporting Patel.

The probe began after a family reported last summer that he told them ‘‘coloureds were not allowed in the pool’’.

If found liable, Patel could face fines up to US $10,000 for each incident of discrimination. — (PTI)

Perhaps it is not that surprising. When power comes in hand, when once the struggling immigrants get economic status, in many cases, it corrupts their views, it lets them forget their own discrimination filled past while putting other less fortunates in the whim of racism. This is shocking, but not surprising.

How Long Before the First Step?

How Long Before the First Step?

Tradition Vs. Religion

Tradition Vs. Religion

Mr. Raid Qusti's name was mentioned in The New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman's recent article, "The ABC's of hatred". Here is an article of Mr. Qusti that was published in the Arab News on May 12, 2004. The struggle between the fundamentalists, the severely restricted minded orthodoxy led factions of Muslims and the liberal Muslims have been waged for many years, and the change would probably come from within, by people like Mr. Qusti and Dr. Laila Al-Ahdab's couregous columns.

Tradition Vs. Religion
Raid Qusti,

I would like to thank Dr. Laila Al-Ahdab from the bottom of my heart. I am grateful for her article which appeared in Al-Watan, “Which Is Right to Follow: Tradition or Religion?” It was an eye-opener for every Saudi — male or female — who wants to know the truth about how the current situation in the Kingdom regarding women has everything to do with our customs and traditions but very little with our religion.

In the article, Dr. Laila gave examples from Al-Bukhari and Muslim (the two most reliable sources of Hadith) of how there was no segregation between men and women in public life in early Islamic history and how women were a key factor in social development in almost every aspect of life. This is certainly not the case in our traditional society today. On the contrary, there are continuous calls from ultraconservative Saudis for Muslim women to take no part in public life and stay at home. The writer gave examples of various Hadiths narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, of how early Muslim women attended sermons in mosques (not allowed in most cases here), advised rulers (doesn’t happen here), sold goods in the market (forbidden here since the powers say it would amount to sinful mixing), nursed and cared for the wounded and sick (largely unacceptable here because it involves mixing, which is said to be sinful), and other examples.

Other Hadiths in Al-Bukhari narrate how some female companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) asked him to allow them to fight in battle and permission was granted. One Hadith even mentioned how several men and women publicly discussed a topic — proof that mixing was a fact but that modesty and respect prevailed in early Islamic society. The writer also mentioned how, in various Hadiths, the Prophet’s companions greeted women in public, during visits and at weddings and other public ceremonies. A valid point which Dr. Laila brought up was that many of the traditions which we cling to — and even force on others — are alien to our religion in the light of Islamic history. In fact, some of these traditions are now backfiring. Terrorists are taking advantage of them for their own perverted reasons.

What I am specifically talking about is the abaya and covering a woman’s face in public. This is the norm in Saudi Arabia. The terrorists in Riyadh, however, managed to flee all the way to Jeddah because they were wearing abayas and covering their faces. They were assumed to be women and, as women, were virtually unapproachable. One newspaper even published a photo of several abayas in the villa raided in Jeddah where the terrorists were hiding. When a female journalist asked Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal what the government could do to stop terrorists from using abayas, the minister said the question should be directed to the Ministry of the Interior.

Terrorists are not the only ones who take advantage of the abaya. The abaya is also used in banks or in court. Some women impersonate others in order to take their lands or property based on a forged letter of power of attorney.

Recently, Sheikh Saleh Al-Hussein told Arab News’ sister publication, Asharq Al-Awsat, that women visiting the Kingdom are not required to wear the abaya. He said the proof was that millions of Muslim women come for Haj, all wearing their traditional clothes. I wish the sheikh would emphasize that Muslim women are not required to cover their faces; during Haj and Umrah it is stated in the Hadith that it is a violation to do so but some of the men and women who work in the Grand Mosque in Makkah need to be reminded of this. And though it is well-known that women should not cover their faces during Haj or Umrah — a fact that our religious scholars cannot dispute — some people in the Grand Mosque harass women whose faces are uncovered. An American Muslim told me of her experience when she visited the Grand Mosque for the first time. She said that as she stood in front of the Kaaba, she was gripped by the spirituality of the moment. As she stood there, a bearded man began yelling at her, “Cover your face!” Then he hit her on the back with his stick. How sad indeed that such people are allowed to call themselves Muslims. What is equally sad is that most of them are ignorant of the truth and tolerance of Islam.

The ABC's of Hatred

The ABC's of Hatred

Dying Devotion to Young Cleric Springs From Poverty, Patriotism

Dying Devotion to Young Cleric Springs From Poverty, Patriotism

It's Not the American Way

It's Not the American Way

Poor people in poorer countries packing on the pounds

Poor people in poorer countries packing on the pounds

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

New Yorker Fiction, by the Numbers

New Yorker Fiction, by the Numbers

Interesting. Read the full article from here. A few portions of this article are shown below:
Katherine L. Milkman, 22, decided to turn rigorous mathematical analytics on an even more mystical topic: the selection of short fiction for The New Yorker.

Ms. Milkman, who has a minor in American studies, read 442 stories printed in The New Yorker from Oct. 5, 1992, to Sept. 17, 2001, and built a substantial database. She then constructed a series of rococo mathematical tests to discern, among other things, whether certain fiction editors at the magazine had a specific impact on the type of fiction that was published, the sex of authors and the race of characters. The study was long on statistics and short on epiphanies: one main conclusion was that male editors generally publish male authors who write about male characters who are supported by female characters.

In applying numerically based analysis to literary matters, Ms. Milkman's work was something of a micro-execution of the controversial text-free literary investigations of Prof. Franco Moretti of Stanford, in which he examined the broad scope of literary history by the numbers, tracking the birth and denouement of various genres based on statistics. Longtime adherents to canonical literary thought were appalled by Professor Moretti's by-the-numbers approach to the study of literature, something Ms. Milkman came to be familiar with.

Among Ms. Milkman's least shocking findings was that characters in New Yorker fiction tend to live in the same places New Yorker readers do, not the United States as a whole. (One could imagine if the same analytics were applied to New Yorker cartoons, where the Upper East Side is more robustly represented than all the middle places put together.)

In a conclusion that will probably cause few readers to spill their evening tea, she states that "quantitative analyses revealed that New Yorker characters are not representative of Americans or New York State residents in terms of their race."

The wrong fingerprints

The wrong fingerprints

Iraq's Interim Government

Iraq's Interim Government

Abolish the Penny

Abolish the Penny

In the Iraqi Interim

In the Iraqi Interim

Hopeful Omens in Iraq

Hopeful Omens in Iraq

In Warsaw, a 'Good War' Wasn't

In Warsaw, a 'Good War' Wasn't

A few days it was published in The Washington Post. The writer is Anne Applebaum. The conclusion of this well-written article is piercing:

In fact, for millions of people, World War II had no happy ending. It had no ending at all. The liberation of one half of the European continent coincided with a new occupation for the other half. The camps of Stalin, our ally, expanded just as the camps of Hitler, our enemy, were destroyed. Not that you would know it, listening to Americans reminisce about D-Day, or the children welcoming GIs in the streets, or the joyous return home. Perhaps there is no such thing as an entirely "good war" after all.

Please read the entire article, and if you get a chance read Anne Applebaum's Gulag: a History. Information can be found from the following location:
In Warsaw, a 'Good War' Wasn't

By Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, June 2, 2004; Page A25

The veterans have left town. The flags have been packed away for the Fourth of July. The memory of the Second World War, our Second World War, has been honored -- so now perhaps it's worth taking a moment to honor someone else's. An opportunity to do so will present itself this Sunday, when CNN broadcasts an unusual documentary called "Warsaw Rising." The timing of the broadcast is deliberate: the week after the dedication of the National World War II Memorial, the 60th anniversary of D-Day and -- soon -- the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising itself, which began on Aug. 1. As CNN puts it, here's a chance to listen while "the survivors of this little-known tragedy of the war finally tell their story."

Of course, the Warsaw uprising isn't as little known as all that: Survivors in Poland have been telling their stories for quite some time. But it is true that the story is little known in this country, and there are reasons for that: It wasn't a story our political leaders wanted to dwell on at the time, and it hasn't been one anyone in this wanted to talk much about since. Among other things, if we really absorbed its lessons, it would be difficult for Americans to feel quite so sentimental about World War II, and quite so nostalgic about the unshakable moral purpose for which it was supposedly fought.

For the story of the Warsaw uprising really is the story of the destruction of Poland's "greatest generation." The uprising began when the leaders of Warsaw's underground army launched a rebellion against the Nazis who had brutally occupied their city for nearly five years. Hearing the Soviet Red Army guns to the East, knowing of D-Day and the American entry into the European war, they assumed the fighting would last just a few days, until the Allies joined and the city was freed. "We believed so much in the West," one of the survivors wistfully told CNN.

But their assumption was incorrect. Stalin not only refused to send Red Army troops to help what he described as a "band of criminals," he also refused to allow British and American planes to refuel in the Soviet Union, making airlifts impossible. Neither the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, nor the American president, Franklin Roosevelt, thought it important enough to pressure the Soviet dictator. With the exception of one airlift, the planes never came.

The Poles were left to fight alone. In the battle, which lasted 63 days, more than 200,000 people died, among them most of the country's intellectual and leadership. The scale of the catastrophe, the psychological, physical and economic damage, is almost unimaginable. Original underground army footage, obtained by CNN reporter David Ensor, shows vast stretches of central Warsaw reduced to rubble, people living in ruins, teenagers building barricades out of the remains of homes. As Norman Davies, the historian of the rising, points out, more civilians died every day for those 63 days than died on Sept. 11. Others escaped through the sewer system, walking 20 hours through raw human waste.

When the Red army did finally "liberate" Warsaw the following winter, there was almost nothing left. Soviet secret police officers rounded up and arrested the remaining underground leaders, on the grounds that anyone brave enough to fight Germans would probably fight against the Soviet Union too. Again, Roosevelt and Churchill did not object: They had already consigned Poland to the Soviet "sphere of influence" during their conference with Stalin at Yalta, and had washed their hands of the country's fate.

For those tempted by the post-Vietnam nostalgia for the "good war" -- a nostalgia which seems to increase as things go badly in Iraq -- it's an unsettling story. But there are many such stories. No less terrible are the tales of the Allied troops who forced White Russians and Cossacks into trucks and returned them to the Soviet Union -- at Stalin's request -- where most were killed. Or the accounts of the mass arrests that accompanied the Soviet "liberation" of Central Europe, while we in the West officially looked away. One of the reasons the survivors in CNN's film speak such beautiful English is that they were all exiles, forced to live abroad after the war.

In fact, for millions of people, World War II had no happy ending. It had no ending at all. The liberation of one half of the European continent coincided with a new occupation for the other half. The camps of Stalin, our ally, expanded just as the camps of Hitler, our enemy, were destroyed. Not that you would know it, listening to Americans reminisce about D-Day, or the children welcoming GIs in the streets, or the joyous return home. Perhaps there is no such thing as an entirely "good war" after all.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Crime and complicity

Crime and complicity

Pervez Musharraf's "Plea for Enlightened Moderation"

Though Pervez Musharraf had attained his supreme status in Pakistan by undemocratic means, and still he retains Pakistan's main leadership position and uses military muscles in implementing "democracy" in Pakistan, the following article published in The Washington Post does touch the core issue of our days.
A Plea for Enlightened Moderation
Muslims must raise themselves up through individual achievement and socioeconomic emancipation.

By Pervez Musharraf

Tuesday, June 1, 2004; Page A23

The world has been going through a tumultuous period since the dawn of the 1990s, with no sign of relief in sight. The suffering of the innocents, particularly my brethren in faith -- the Muslims -- at the hands of militants, extremists and terrorists has made it all the more urgent to bring order to this troubled scene. In this spirit, I would like to set forth a strategy I call Enlightened Moderation.

The world has become an extremely dangerous place. The devastating power of plastic explosives, combined with high-tech remote-controlled devices, as well as a proliferation of suicide bombers, has created a lethal force that is all but impossible to counter. The unfortunate reality is that both the perpetrators of these crimes and most of the people who suffer from them are Muslims. This has caused many non-Muslims to believe wrongly that Islam is a religion of intolerance, militancy and terrorism. It has led increasing numbers of people to link Islam to fundamentalism; fundamentalism to extremism, and extremism to terrorism. Muslims can protest however vigorously they like against this kind of labeling, but the reality is that such arguments are not likely to prevail in the battle for minds. To make things even more difficult, Muslims are probably the poorest, most uneducated, most powerless and most disunited people in the world.

The stark challenge that faces anyone with compassion for the common heritage of mankind is determining what legacy we will leave for future generations. The special challenge that confronts Muslims is to drag ourselves out of the pit we find ourselves in, to raise ourselves up by individual achievement and collective socioeconomic emancipation. Something has to be done quickly to stop the carnage in the world and to stem the downward slide of Muslims.

My idea for untangling this knot is Enlightened Moderation, which I think is a win for all -- for both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. It is a two-pronged strategy. The first part is for the Muslim world to shun militancy and extremism and adopt the path of socioeconomic uplift. The second is for the West, and the United States in particular, to seek to resolve all political disputes with justice and to aid in the socioeconomic betterment of the deprived Muslim world.

We need to understand that the root cause of extremism and militancy lies in political injustice, denial and deprivation. Political injustice to a nation or a people, when combined with stark poverty and illiteracy, makes for an explosive mix. It produces an acute sense of hopelessness and powerlessness. A nation suffering from these lethal ills is easily available for the propagation of militancy and the perpetration of extremist, terrorist acts. It is cannon fodder in a war of terrorism.

I would be remiss if, in defense of the people of my faith, I did not trace the genesis of the Muslims' being labeled as extremists or terrorists. Before the anti-Soviet Afghan war, the sole cause of unrest and concern in the Muslim world was the Palestine dispute. It was this issue that led to a unity of Muslims -- in favor of Palestinians and against Israel. The Afghan war of the 1980s, supported and facilitated by the West as a proxy war against the Soviet Union, saw the emergence and nurturing of pan-Islamic militancy. Islam as a religion was used to harness worldwide Muslim support. Subsequently the atrocities and ethnic cleansing against Muslims in Bosnia, the Chechen uprising, the Kashmir freedom struggle and the invigorated Palestinian intifada all erupted in the '90s after the Soviet disintegration. To make matters worse, the militancy that was sparked in Afghanistan -- which should have been defused after the Cold War -- was instead allowed to fester for a decade.

During this time, hostility among fighters from the Muslim world turned multidirectional, seeking new conflict zones in places where Muslims were suffering. Enter the birth of al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the Palestinian intifada kept gathering momentum, uniting and angering Muslims across the globe. And then came the bombshell of Sept. 11, 2001, and the angry reaction of the United States against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. All subsequent reactions of the United States -- its domestic responses against Muslims, its attitude toward Palestine and the operation in Iraq -- led to total polarization of the Muslim masses against the United States. It is not Islam as a religion that has created militancy and extremism but rather political disputes that have led to antagonism among the Muslim masses.

This is all history now. What has been done cannot be undone. But this situation cannot be allowed to fester; a remedy must be found. I call on the West to help resolve these political disputes with justice, as part of a commitment to a strategy of Enlightened Moderation.

When I think of the role of Muslims in today's world, my heart weeps. What we need is introspection. Who are we, what do we as Muslims stand for, where are we going, where should we be headed and how can we reach it? The answers to these questions are the Muslim part of Enlightened Moderation.

We have a glorious past. Islam exploded on the world scene as the flag bearer of a just, lawful, tolerant and value-oriented society. We had faith in human exaltation through knowledge and enlightenment. We exemplified tolerance within ourselves and toward people of other faiths. The armies of Islam did not march forward to convert people by the sword, despite what the perceptions may be, but to deliver them from the darkness through the visible example of their virtues. What better projection can be found of these deeper values of Islam than the personal example of our Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.), who personified justice, compassion, tolerance of others, generosity of spirit, austerity with a spirit of sacrifice, and a burning desire to make a better world.

Today's Muslim world is distant from all these values. We have been left far behind in social, moral and economic development. We have remained in our own shell and refused to learn or acquire from others. We have reached the depths of despair and despondency. We need to face stark reality. Is the way ahead one of confrontation and militancy? Could this path really lead us back to our past glory while also showing the light of progress and development to the world?

I say to my brother Muslims: The time for renaissance has come. The way forward is through enlightenment. We must concentrate on human resource development through the alleviation of poverty and through education, health care and social justice. If this is our direction, it cannot be achieved through confrontation. We must adopt a path of moderation and a conciliatory approach to fight the common belief that Islam is a religion of militancy in conflict with modernization, democracy and secularism. All this must be done with a realization that, in the world we live in, fairness does not always rule.

The Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC) is our collective body. We need to infuse new life into it; it is now in a state of near impotence. The OIC must be restructured to meet the challenges of the 21st century, to fulfill the aspirations of the Muslim world and to take us toward emancipation. Forming a committee of luminaries to recommend a restructuring of the OIC is a big step in the right direction. We have to show resolve and rise above self-interest for our common good -- in the very spirit that Islam teaches us.

The world at large and the powers that be must realize that confrontation and force will never bring peace. Justice must be done and be seen to be done. Let it not be said by future generations that we, the leaders of today, took humanity toward the apocalypse.

Gen. Musharraf is president of Pakistan.