Sunday, 7 June 2009

To all you millions reading my Blog, I have now moved to WordPress! << click to get re-directed!

The features and powerful customisation opportunities offered by Wordpress make it very appealing for someone who wants to take their blog “to the next level”. awaits you!

Saturday, 6 June 2009


I just hate it when it takes me so long to fill in applications-- its not me being slow, its all these silly questions asking the same thing in different ways! anyhow, I am working on getting this ISOC ambassadorship application..

As part of the ISOC Internet Leaders programme, the Ambassador programme is designed to involve members in ISOC's global engagement activities while providing valuable expertise and know-how to IGF meetings - read more on ISOC's Ambassadors help to explain and promote ISOC's positions on public policy issues related to the themes of the IGF. Ambassadors add their significant local and regional experience and insight to discussions and interventions during the sessions and workshops. The Ambassadors are also expected to take home first-hand experience of the IGF and to continue to drive local ISOC activities, particularly as they relate to Internet governance issues. The objective is also for them to continue participating in global discussions on Internet governance.

ISOC has participated at all stages of WSIS and the follow-on IGF. In this process we have succeeded in gaining significant recognition for our positions which support an open and globally accessible Internet. Much of this has been achieved through cooperation with our Chapters, members, and partner organizations from around the world. We believe that the IGF provides a very useful platform for open dialogue on the challenges and opportunities that face the Internet, its governance and the role it will play in empowering individuals and contributing to social and economic development around the globe.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Things will never change!

An official decree by Saudi Arabia has banned all forms of entertainment at women's charity events, according to press reports Thursday.

The Ministry of Social Affairs issued an urgent decree banning music, dancing, singing, and fashion shows at events held by women's charitable organizations, which make up 16 percent of the kingdom's 500 organizations, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported.

The decree came on the heels of the first fashion show, part of a designer contest for women, held in the kingdom last week.

Besides entertainment, the decree stipulates that all activities that contradict customs and traditions are banned. Fashion shows are only allowed if the clothes are displayed on mannequins, but no human models.

The ministry assigned its officials in each of the kingdom's 13 provinces the task of reviewing and authorizing all events organized by charitable associations and making sure the program does not include any banned activities.

Sharq Alawsat

Friday, 20 March 2009

Muslims offer to guard synagogue after attack

Scottish Muslim leaders have offered to stand guard at a synagogue in the capital city of Edinburgh following an attack by vandals who smashed up the Jewish place of worship's windows last week, press reports said on Friday.

The chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation voiced "revulsion and horror" at the attack in a letter to Rabbi David Rose of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, Scotlands national newspaper, the Scotsman, reported.

"We wish you to know that the Muslim community stand full square with you in revulsion and horror at this vandalism. To violently damage any building is wrong. That this is a respected place of worship, faith and spirituality makes the crime even more heinous," chairman Ken Imrie said in the letter.

" We wish you to know that the Muslim community stand full square with you in revulsion and horror at this vandalism. To violently damage any building is wrong. That this is a respected place of worship, faith and spirituality makes the crime even more heinous "
Chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation

"We trust you have adequate security arrangements in place, in line with places of worship across the country. If not, such is our strength of feeling on this matter, we would wish to physically guard the synagogue ourselves," Imrie continued.

Imrie said Scottish Imans would address the matter in their sermons during Jumaa (Friday) prayer and would warn against attacks on places of worship.

The attack, believed to be carried out by two Muslim youths, comes amid a reported increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks across the United Kingdom following the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians dead in 22 days.

Two men, aged 22 and 17, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in connection with the attack and were charged with "malicious mischief aggravated by religious prejudice," the Scotsman reported, adding both men pled not guilty.

Jewish reaction
" This statement and others like it around the UK will hopefully encourage both communities to regard each other as allies in the face of racism and extremism "
Jewish spokesperson

The paper said Rabbi Rose could not be reached for comment but said other Jewish leaders welcomed the Muslim offer.

"This was a disturbing incident. Scottish Jews do not expect to experience the relatively high level of anti-Semitism that has occurred during and since the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza at the turn of the year," Mark Gardner, spokesman for an organisation that protects British Jews against anti-Semitic attacks, told the paper.

"This statement and others like it around the UK will hopefully encourage both communities to regard each other as allies in the face of racism and extremism," he added.

This is the second time the synagogue, which serves an estimated 700 memebers of the Jewish community in Edinburgh, has come under attack in seven years.

Muslims are the second largest religious group in Scotland, which has thirty mosques, catering to more than 50,000 Muslims.

To be honest, I don't know what loney thinks attacking another man place of worship is acceptable? Have they not read the book they preach from?

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Supporters of the new US president refuse to admit that the "man of change" is, in fact, changing very little. It's time the Obama lovers grew up

Growing up in an Antipodean society proud of its rich variety of expletives, I never heard the word b*ll*cks. It was only on arrival in England that I understood its magisterial power. All classes used it. Judges grunted it; an editor of the Daily Mirror used it as noun, adjective and verb. Certainly, the resonance of a double vowel saw off its closest American contender. It had authority.

A high official with the Gilbertian title of Lord West of Spithead used it to great effect on 27 January. The former admiral, who is a security adviser to Gordon Brown, was referring to Tony Blair's assertion that invading countries and killing innocent people did not increase the threat of terrorism at home.

"That was clearly b*ll*cks," said his lordship, who warned of a perceived "linkage between the US, Israel and the UK" in the horrors inflicted on Gaza and the effect on the recruitment of terrorists in Britain. In other words, he was stating the obvious: that state terrorism begets individual or group terrorism at source. Just as Blair was the prime mover of the London bombings of 7 July 2005, so Brown, having pursued the same cynical crusades in Muslim countries and having armed and disported himself before the criminal regime in Tel Aviv, will share responsibility for related atrocities at home.

There is a lot of b*ll*cks about at the moment.

The BBC's explanation for banning an appeal on behalf of the stricken people of Gaza is a vivid example. Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, cited the corporation's legal requirement to be "impartial . . . because Gaza remains a major ongoing news story in which humanitarian issues . . . are both at the heart of the story and contentious".

In a letter to Thompson, David Bracewell, a licence-fee payer, illuminated the deceit behind this. He pointed to previous BBC appeals for the Disasters Emergency Committee that were not only made in the midst of "an ongoing news story" in which humanitarian issues were "contentious", but also demonstrated how the corporation took sides.

In 1999, at the height of the illegal Nato bombing of Serbia and Kosovo, the TV presenter Jill Dando made an appeal on behalf of Kosovar refugees. The BBC web page for that appeal was linked to numerous articles meant to stress the gravity of the humanitarian issue. These included quotations from Blair himself, such as: "This will be a daily pounding until he [Slobodan Milosevic] comes into line with the terms that Nato has laid down." There was no significant balance of view from the Yugoslav side, and not a single mention that the flight of Kosovar refugees began only after Nato had started bombing.

Similarly, in an appeal for victims of the civil war in the Congo, the BBC favoured the regime led by Joseph Kabila by not referring to Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and other reports accusing his forces of atrocities. In contrast, the rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was "accused of committing atrocities" and ordained the bad guy by the BBC. Kabila, who represented western interests, was clearly the good guy - just like Nato in the Balkans and Israel in the Middle East.

While Mark Thompson and his satraps richly deserve the Lord West of Spithead B*ll*cks Blue Ribbon, that honour goes to the cheer squad of President Barack Obama, whose cult-like obeisance goes on and on.

On 23 January, the Guardian's front page declared, "Obama shuts network of CIA 'ghost prisons'". The "wholesale deconstruction [sic] of George Bush's war on terror", said the report, had been ordered by the new president, who would be "shutting down the CIA's secret prison network, banning torture and rendition . . ."

The b*ll*cks quotient on this was so high that it read like the press release it was, citing "officials briefing reporters at the White House yesterday". Obama's orders, according to a group of 16 retired generals and admirals who attended a presidential signing ceremony, "would restore America's moral standing in the world". What moral standing? It never ceases to astonish that experienced reporters can transmit PR stunts like this, bearing in mind the moving belt of lies from the same source under only nominally different management.

Far from "deconstructing the war on terror", Obama is clearly pursuing it with the same vigour, ideological backing and deception as the previous administration. George W Bush's first war, in Afghanistan, and last war, in Pakistan, are now Obama's wars - with thousands more US troops to be deployed, more bombing and more slaughter of civilians. Last month, on the day he described Afghanistan and Pakistan as "the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism", 22 Afghan civilians died beneath Obama's bombs in a hamlet populated mainly by shepherds and which, by all accounts, had not laid eyes on the Taliban. Women and children were among the dead, which is normal.

Far from “shutting down the CIA’s secret prison network”, Obama’s executive orders actually give the CIA authority to carry out renditions, abductions and transfers of prisoners in secret without threat of legal obstruction. As the Los Angeles Times disclosed, “current and former US intelligence officials said that the rendition programme might be poised to play an expanded role”. A semantic sleight of hand is that “long-term prisons” are changed to “short-term prisons”; and while Americans are now banned from directly torturing people, foreigners working for the US are not. This means that America’s numerous “covert actions” will operate as they did under previous presidents, with proxy regimes, such as Augusto Pinochet’s in Chile, doing the dirtiest work.

Bush's open support for torture, and Donald Rumsfeld's extraordinary personal overseeing of certain torture techniques, upset many in America's "secret army" of subversive military and intelligence operators because it exposed how the system worked. Obama's newly confirmed director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, has said the Army Field Manual may include new forms of "harsh interrogation" which will be kept secret.

Obama has chosen not to stop any of this. Neither do his ballyhooed executive orders put an end to Bush's assault on constitutional and international law. He has retained Bush's "right" to imprison anyone, without trial or charge. No "ghost prisoners" are being released or are due to be tried before a civilian court. His nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, has endorsed an extension of Bush's totalitarian USA Patriot Act, which allows federal agents to demand Americans' library and bookshop records. The man of "change" is changing little. That ought to be front-page news from Washington.

The Lord West of Spithead B*ll*cks Prize (Runner-Up) is shared. On 28 January, a nationally run Greenpeace advertisement opposing a third runway at Heathrow Airport in London summed up the almost wilful naivety that has obstructed informed analysis of the Obama administration.

"Fortunately," declared Greenpeace beneath a Godlike picture of Obama, "the White House has a new occupant, and he has asked us all to roll back the spectre of a warming planet." This was followed by Obama's rhetorical flourish about "putting off unpleasant decisions". In fact, the president has made no commitment to curtail America's infamous responsibility for the causes of global warming. As with George W Bush and most other modern-era presidents, it is oil, not stemming carbon emissions, that informs his administration. His national security adviser, General Jim Jones, a former Nato supreme commander, made his name planning US military control over the exploitation of oil and gas reserves from the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea to the Gulf of Guinea off Africa.

Sharing the B*ll*cks Runner-Up Prize is the Observer, which on 25 January published a major news report headlined, "How Obama set the tone for a new US revolution". This was reminiscent of the Observer almost a dozen years ago when liberalism's other great white hope, Tony Blair, came to power. "Goodbye xenophobia" was the Observer's post-election front page in 1997 and "The Foreign Office says 'Hello World, remember us?'". The government, said the breathless text, would push for "new worldwide rules on human rights and the environment" and implement "tough new limits" on arms sales. The opposite happened. Last year, Britain was the biggest arms dealer in the world; currently, it is second only to the United States.

In the Blair mould, the Obama White House "sprang into action" with its "radical plans". The president's first phone call was to that Palestinian quisling, the unelected and deeply unpopular Mahmoud Abbas. There was a "hot pace" and a "new era", in which a notorious name from an ancien régime, Richard Holbrooke, was despatched to Pakistan. In 1978, Holbrooke betrayed a promise to normalise relations with the Vietnamese on the eve of a vicious embargo ruined the lives of countless Vietnamese children. Under Obama, the "sense of a new era abroad", declared the Observer, "was reinforced by the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state". Clinton has threatened to "entirely obliterate Iran" on behalf of Israel.

What the childish fawning over Obama obscures is the dark power assembled under cover of America’s first “post-racial president”. Apart from the US, the world’s most dangerous state is demonstrably Israel, having recently killed and maimed some 4,000 people in Gaza with impunity. On 10 February, a bellicose Israeli electorate is likely to put Binyamin Netanyahu into power. Netanyahu is a fanatic’s fanatic who has made clear his intention of attacking Iran. In the Wall Street Journal of 24 January, he described Iran as the “terrorist mother base” and justified the murder of civilians in Gaza because “Israel cannot accept an Iranian terror base [Gaza] next to its major cities”. On 31 January, unaware he was being filmed, Tel Aviv’s ambassador to Australia described the massacres in Gaza as a “pre-introduction” – a dress rehearsal – for an attack on Iran.

For Netanyahu, the reassuring news is that the new US administration is the most Zionist in living memory, a truth that has struggled to be told from beneath the soggy layers of Obama-love. Not a single member of the president's team demurred from his support for Israel's barbaric actions in Gaza. Obama himself likened the safety of his two young daughters with that of Israeli children but made not a single reference to the thousands of Palestinian children killed with American weapons - a violation of both international and US law. He did, however, demand that the people of Gaza be denied "smuggled" small arms with which to defend themselves against the world's fourth-largest military power. And he paid tribute to the Arab dictatorships, such as Egypt, which are bribed by the US treasury to help the United States and Israel enforce policies described by the UN special rapporteur Richard Falk, a Jew, as "genocidal".

It is time the Obama lovers grew up. It is time those paid to keep the record straight gave us the opportunity to debate informatively. In the 21st century, people power remains a huge and exciting and largely untapped force for change, but it is nothing without truth. "In the time of universal deceit," wrote George Orwell, "telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Biden’s speech not reassuring

THE early reaction to US Vice President Joe Biden’s Munich foreign policy speech has been one of mild disappointment. This was the first opportunity for the new Obama administration to set out its stall before a high-powered international audience. Much was expected — even an announcement that Bush’s provocative missile defense shield was to be scrapped. In the event, as one commentator noted, the Biden speech could very well have been delivered word for word by the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

All the talk of a “new tone” was fine as far as it went but in one particular area the tone was anything but new. Biden parroted the old carrot-and-stick Bush approach to the Iranians. Being willing to talk, as Obama said in his campaign for the White House is a start, but it is how Washington chooses to talk to Tehran that is important. If as Biden also said, the new administration is pressing the reset button on foreign policy, then that reset ought to apply across the piece. Moderate opinion in Iran, according to some US observers, has become concerned at the militant and uncompromising approach of the Ahmadinejad administration. They also claim the Iranian president’s widespread economic failures have added to discontent. Now that former President Mohammad Khatami has announced he will run again this June, there is a chance that Obama will have a less strident Iranian leader to deal with in five months’ time. It, therefore, might seem foolish to give Ahmadinejad the same belligerent Bush rhetoric for the Iranian president to push back against. Biden was equally disappointing on Gaza. Obama intends to keep the Bush policy of excluding Hamas from talks. Indeed Biden even echoed Bush ignorance when he stated blithely “Hamas represents a small — and I believe a very small — number of violent extremists (who) are beyond the call of reason”. Does he not know that just over three years ago, Hamas won an outright majority in a free and fair election throughout the Palestinian territories? Despite this disappointingly tentative start elsewhere, Biden’s speech clearly did chime with the Russians. The warmth with which Biden and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov greeted each other yesterday seemed testimony to this.

Maybe too much was expected of this first exposure of White House foreign policy intentions. Of considerable interest, however, is the fact that it was the vice president, not the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who came to Europe to deliver the message. Biden is clearly not going to be a sleeping partner in the administration. Clinton, meanwhile, has yet to define her role. Obama has appointed George Mitchell as his special Middle East envoy and Richard Holbrooke has the same job with Pakistan and Afghanistan. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is reportedly fighting to maintain his department’s long-standing control of Chinese relations. The US foreign policy portfolio does not, therefore, rest entirely with Clinton. Given Clinton’s views on Israel (or Palestinians) and Iran, the people in the Middle East may welcome this. But a softer version of Dick Cheney is not going to reassure them.

West’s next move in Zimbabwe

THE West should do what it can to hasten the success of Zimbabwe’s unity government, said the Christian Science Monitor in an editorial yesterday. Excerpts:

A sliver of light is shining in Zimbabwe, once a star nation in Africa that’s been brutally mismanaged by dictator Robert Mugabe. This week, Mugabe’s rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, is expected to become prime minister in a new power-sharing government. Few give the deal much hope, yet it must be given the opportunity to succeed.

How big an opportunity? Africa’s leaders, as voiced by the 53-member African Union, say the new unity government is cause for the international community to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe. Now’s the time, it argues, to help to its feet a country staggering under hyperinflation and near-total joblessness, hunger and severe health problems — including a cholera epidemic. Not so fast, caution the United States and European Union. They’re lukewarm to the new political arrangement, and want to see proof of power-sharing and effective governance before they’ll ease sanctions. But doing nothing also leaves Tsvangirai with nothing — no leverage to succeed.

What the West can and should do is publicly offer limited humanitarian assistance to Tsvangirai, channeled through the ministries that the opposition in theory will control. Food, medical assistance, and temporary shelter could be funneled through the Health Ministry, for instance. The West should demand accountability along with this help, then be willing to pull the plug if the aid is blocked by Mugabe and his supporters, or diverted to them — as it has been in the past.

With such a strategy, Tsvangirai has something to work with, and, if he can deliver, perhaps show even Mugabe’s supporters that he’s the one to back.

A unity government in Zimbabwe may last only weeks. But the West should do what it can to hasten success — not failure.

Arab News

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The all-seeing eye of state surveillance

The all-seeing eye of state surveillance
Comments (75)

* Editorial
* The Guardian, Friday 6 February 2009
* Article history

It is not any one cigarette or one extra drink that is ruinous to the health. The damage is done over the years, almost imperceptibly. Grave threats to the health of democracy can also accrue so incrementally that they draw little attention. A committee of peers diagnose one such danger today in a report on the steady creep of surveillance. The charge of hysteria is routinely used to sweep aside such talk when it comes from crusading journalists and pressure groups. The Lords constitutional affairs committee, however, cannot be dismissed the same way. A more dignified band of dignitaries would be hard to imagine - it includes a former attorney general who is a conservative champion of that antiquated role, a Tory expert on the constitution, and a founder of that force of militant moderation that was called the SDP.

Their insistence that mundane data collection "risks undermining the fundamental relationship between the state and the citizen" may be dramatic, but it is rooted in careful argument. Privacy is not only a precondition to a life of any quality, it is part of the meaning of liberty. The rule of law in Britain is not codified in a constitution, but underpinned by shared support for the twin ideals of executive restraint and individual freedom. Under the gaze of 4 million CCTV cameras, and in the face of the burgeoning electronic tabs being kept on citizens, both ideals are strained. Bit by bit the state - and private firms - cease to believe that the courtroom is the place to hold individuals to account, and instead grow used to monitoring them in all sorts of contexts in the name of convenience. Bit by bit, meanwhile, individuals learn to live with the ubiquitous prying eye.

Technical change rather than political choice explains much of this drift. As collecting information gets cheaper and easier, it starts being collated in ways that no one would have dreamed up in the past. The committee does not dispute that this can bring gains, from cracking crimes to ensuring patients receive consistent treatment. As with complex derivatives in the City, however, the great problem has been that regulation has not kept pace with innovation. The peers suggest sensible steps to redress the balance - for instance, a new requirement on public bodies and firms to encrypt the personal data they hold to cut the risk of it falling into the wrong hands. An independent review of the proclaimed but largely unproven benefits of CCTV could help ensure it is used only where it really does make a difference. Automatic assessment of what government announcements mean for privacy - something already required for race equality and red tape - would build a prompt into the system so that Whitehall would get into the habit of considering the issue, a prompt that could help to turn the tide.

Failure to think is not always the problem - sometimes it is bad deliberate decisions. The peers rightly insist that it is just not acceptable for the state to hang on to the DNA of individuals never convicted of a crime, purely on the arbitrary basis that they once came under suspicion. Strasbourg recently said the same thing, in a ruling that must now be given effect. The wide powers to snoop that council officers have been handed need to be trimmed. Judicial oversight is part of the answer; another part is making sure the powers are used proportionately. Following someone suspected of a violent crime is one thing; following a parent suspected of fibbing about their address to get their child into the right school is quite another.

One of the few shortcomings of the Lords report is its silence on those threats to privacy that ministers are currently pushing, notably the super-database on mobile communications. That silence may be the price for achieving all-party consensus. Even after that price has been paid, however, the committee has done invaluable work. It has nailed the age-old lie on surveillance - by asserting that those with nothing to hide can still have a great deal to fear.

The Guardian Editorial