Friday, May 20, 2011

Another One Bites The Dust?

Another One Bites The Dust?


Another One Bites The Dust?

Posted: 20 May 2011 11:58 AM PDT

21st May 2011 is another day predicted by yet another Doomsday prophet to be humankind's date with destiny...the end of days. This heads up from Colonel Mike Naser of an article in The Guardian gives an interesting perspective. Please read:

It's not the end of the world when doomsday prophets get it wrong

Evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping is not the first to predict the Earth's demise

end of the world is nigh
In the wake of a failed prophecy, a leader can always deny that he made the prediction or it can conveniently be postponed to a later date. Photograph: Alamy

On Saturday at 6pm, something cataclysmic is set to happen – the world is going to experience "Rapture". That at least is what Harold Camping, an evangelical broadcaster based in California, has been telling everyone. At the appointed hour, we're informed, all true Christians will be snatched away and rapturously transported to heaven. Everyone else – presumably the followers of other religions and people like Richard Dawkins – will be left to suffer the prolonged agony of "tribulation" until the final destruction of the universe, which is set to take place on 21 October.

There are two tantalising psychological issues surrounding the predictions made by doomsday cults. One is why people become entranced by the idea of the end of times, and the other is how they make sense after the event, when the predictions of salvation and catastrophe have failed to materialise. A number of theories have been put forward to explain the periodic rise and fall of eschatological beliefs, the most persuasive being the notion that they are fostered by pervasive feelings of insecurity.

The first proper attempt to explain how people deal with discredited doomsday predictions was described by Leon Festinger and his colleagues in their book, When Prophecy Fails. In 1954 the authors gained access to a Michigan cult who believed that there would be a great flood on 21 December, leading to the destruction of everyone except the true believers, who would be whisked to safety in a flying saucer. Festinger and his colleagues interviewed members of the cult before and after the appointed day. They discovered that instead of abandoning their beliefs when the flood and the flying saucer failed to materialise, most cult members actually consolidated their beliefs and increased their attachment to the group. They explained this in terms of "cognitive dissonance" – the psychological discomfort that people experience when their beliefs come into conflict.

There have been other occasions when failed predictions have consolidated members' attachment to their group. When the Church of the True Word prophesied nuclear disaster in the early 60s, 100 followers hid in underground shelters for several weeks, only to emerge with their beliefs strengthened, not weakened, by the experience.

Intuitively, you'd expect to find that messianic leaders who get their predictions wrong are likely to become discredited and to be abandoned by their followers. But that's not necessarily what happens. Instead, it's been suggested that because followers need to reduce their feelings of dissonance, they may actually consolidate their initial beliefs and redouble their efforts to persuade other people of their validity.

In the wake of a failed prophecy, a leader can always deny that he ever made that prediction or insist that he said something else. In some instances these denials may be premeditated, while in others they may arise from genuine distortions of memory – including what psychologists call "hindsight bias". Believers may even insist that the prophecy has happened, not in our world, but in some spiritual sphere.

Alternatively, failed prophecies may conveniently be postponed to a later date. For example, the Millerites, a north American religious group, predicted that the Second Coming would take place in 1833, but when nothing happened they rescheduled the event for 1844. This deferred solution is similar to the one used by Camping, who initially predicted that the Rapture would occur during September 1994. When nothing happened he explained it away as an error in his calculations.

Although leaders of doomsday cults occasionally profit from their errors, as Camping appears to have done, there are recorded cases where botched predictions have actually reduced the appeal of religious movements. To be on the safe side, leaders like Camping should heed the advice of Casey Stengel, the baseball legend, who insisted that we should "never make predictions, especially about the future".

Peter Collett is a psychologist and the author of The Book of Tells


Belum tahu siapa yang setia dan siapa yang lari lintang pukang

Posted: 20 May 2011 11:07 AM PDT

Situasi kehidupan rakyat semakin hari semakin menyempit dengan kenaikan harga makanan dan barangan serta perkhidmatan 'essentials' naik dan tidak nampak akan turun atau setidak-tidaknya mendatar. Tidak ada siapa yang tidak bersungut dan mengeluh dengan kenaikan harga barang yang tidak ada hentinya ini.

Secara parallel kita akan berhadapan dengan pengurangan subsidi terhadap barang keperluan dan bahan bakar yang selama ini dikecapi rakyat. Tidak lama lagi kita akan membayar 'good and service tax' (GST) pula dan semuanya ini akan menambah beban kehidupan rakyat terutamanya kepada gulungan menengah dan gulungan miskin di bandar-bandar dan di 'sub-urban' di seluruh negara.

Kerajaan akan memberhentikan pemberian subsidi kepada rakyat secara beransur-ansur bagi mengurangkan defisit terhadap bujet negara dan segalanya ini datang dalam masa yang serentak dan dalam kadar yang mendadak.

Harga makanan telah naik dengan kadar 4.9 peratus dari Januari sehingga April 2011 ini dan ianya amat membimbangkan. Kalau dikaji angka-angka resmi yang dikeluarkan oleh kerajaan harga barang makanan telah naik melebihi 30 peratus dalam jangkan masa 4 tahun yang lepas berbanding dengan kenaikan gaji dan pendapatan rakyat yang tidak melebihi 3 peratus dalam tahun yang yang sama.

Kerajaan nampaknya tidak ada kudrat untuk menyelesaikan atau setidak tidaknya mengurangkan beban ini kerana apa yang mampu di lakukan hanyalah mengalih dan menganjak tangungjawab itu di kalangan rakyat sahaja dan tidak ada nampak sumber pendapatan 'secondary' bagi kerajaan. Semuanya diambil dari rakyat yang ramai semata-mata.

Tindakan kerajaan mengurangkan susidi dalam keadaan rakyat sedang 'sakit' sekarang ini, menunjukan yang kerajaan kita sudah kekeringan 'kantungnya' dan ini akan membawa kesan yang amat memeritkan rakyat dan merencatkan proses pembangunan negara.

Dari segi politiknya pula ungkapan-ungkapan pemimpin negara yang menyatakan yang negara sedang menuju kearah negara maju itu amat payah diterima oleh rakyat. Apabila sampai ketahap kesusahan yang kita semua hadapi ini naluri rakyat memberontak apabila mengetahui yang negara mengalami ketirisan sebanyak RM 28 billion setahun sebagaimana yang dilapurkan oleh Lapuran Ketua Audit Negara tahun 2008 dahulu. 28 billion ringgit ketirisan ini pastinya telah masuk ke dalam saku individu pemimpin yang tidak jujur.

Itulah sebabnya banyak pihak termasuklah blog yang kerdil ini telah puluhan kali menyebut yang penaikan subsidi bukanlah jalan yang pertama untuk dilakukan bagi menghadapi krisis kenaikan kos penghidupan ini. Usaha yang penting yang perlu dilakukan ialah untuk membenteras ketirisan wang negara melalui rasuah dan penyelengan yang dilakukan oleh penggubal dasar serta pelaksana dasar-dasar tersbut (penjawat awam).

Ketirisan sebanyak 28 billion ringgit setahun itu adalah bencana yang tidak mungkin dapat diatasi kerana ketirisan itu belaku dan dilakukan oleh pemimpin-pemimpin utama negara sekali. Ianya sudah menjadi budaya tegar dalam pentadbiran kerajaan Persekutuan dan Negeri-Negeri dan tidak ada siapa dan pihak yang serius untuk mengambil tindakan membetulkan keadaan. Pihak yang sepatutnya membetulkan keadaan ini juga terlibat dalam ketirisan yang begitu besar ini.

Itulah sebabnya rakyat terus sahaja memberikan keyakinan kepada kerajaan Negeri P Pinang yang telah jelas berjaya menyelesaikan ketirisan yang selama ini tidak dilakukan oleh kerajaan sebelumnya. Begitu juga dengan kerajaan negeri Selangor.

Dalam keadaan Negeri itu ditekan oleh kerajaan Persekutuan negeri itu tetap telah menunjukan prestasi yang jauh lebih baik secara relatifnya dari kerajaan sebelumnya walaupun kenyataan saya ini akan dibenci oleh pihak yang ingin membuktikan sebaliknya kerana kepentingan politik mereka.

Bagi saya itu tidak boleh dilayan kerana yang pentingnya ialah politik orang ramai, kehidupan rakyat yang melata dapat di perbaiki dan kalau boleh kita hendak menolak semua pihak yang menyebabkan ketirisan yang menggila besarnya ini. Rakyat tidak mahu lagi perkara buruk ini berulang terus menerus.

Menjaga harta benda kita adalah wajib di sisi agama. Kalau Ibrahim Ali ingin tahu ini juga adalah jihad. Jika pimpinan yang telah lama memerintah sudah hilang segala hidayahnya ada berkewajipan untuk mereka di tukar dan diganti…samada di tukar semua pimpinan yang ada kepada pimpinan baru parti yang memerintah ini atau pun menolak terus parti ini dari mentadbir negara kita lagi.

Pendeknya biarlah kuasa itu berada di tangan rakyat biasa kerana mereka telah lama bersabar menunggu pimpinan yang ada untuk berubah, tetpi tidak kunyung juga berubah. Kita mesti akui hakikat yang kesabaran itu ada hadnya dan rakyat telah melampaui batasan kesebaran mereka.

Kalau sesiapa yang hendak pandangan saya sebagai ahli UMNO, elok jika seluruh pimpinan UMNO berundur dan menukar pimpinan yang di terima oleh semua rakyat kerana keseluruhan yang ada pada hari ini tidak lagi diyakini rakyat. UMNO sememangnya parti yang sepatutnya menjadi tunjang pemerintahan, tetapi oleh kerana parti ini telah menyimpang sebegitu jauh pimpinan wajar ditukar sebelum pilihanraya ini.

Jika ini tidak juga dapat dilakukan, saya akan terus bersama UMO walaupun sudah menjadi parti pembangkang. Bukan untuk berjanji tetapi saya lebih rela membina kembali parti ini dari bawah. Mungin mereka yang garang-garang hari ini mempertahankan pimpinan yang ada, akan berkeliaran mencari perlindungan dan meninggalkan UMNO, biar lah saya dan beberpa orang yang capek politik ini membinanya semula jika diizin Tuhan.

Yang penting, dari saat ini, rakyat mesti di bebaskan dari tertipu dan tertipu terus-terusan dari pimpinan yang tidak setia kepada rakyat khususnya orang Melayu. Kalaulah keadaan ini berlaku, kita sama-sama lihat kemana perginya mereka yang garang-garang dan memaki hamun orang seperti saya ini sebagai tidak setia, gunting dalam lipatan dan berbagai-bagai lagi 'superlatives' yang diberikan kepada saya dan beberapa orang yang lain.

Kalaulah UMNO terpaksa turun saya akan tetap keluar membantu sesiapa yang memimpin parti ini walaupun telah menjadi parti pembangkang. Semasa itu nanti mari kita tengok; siapa yang setia dan siapa yang akan lari lintang pukang nanti.


Kanchivaram ~ A tragic silk weaver's story. Don't miss watching it!

Posted: 20 May 2011 11:14 AM PDT


A poignant story of a poor silk weaver father's love for his daughter that causes him to go all out to fulfill a promise he made when she was first born till the tragic climax which will leave us just shell-shocked at the ultimate ending.


In a sense, those of us who are fathers would do just anything for our children, even suffer in silence for umpteenth years and go through hell for them.


Unfortunately, some children just do not bother to reflect on whatever their parents had to undergo in order to make life a bit more better for them no matter what it takes?


I recommend this excellent movie to be watched by each and every one of us. 


It has an accurate English subtitling throughout the movie so those who don't speak Tamil can understand it. A family movie. Universal rated. 


This synopsis is from the You Tube account here.


Kanchivaram Tamil movie - Kanchivaram is a Tamil film directed and written by Priyadarshan. 


The movie stars Prakash Raj and Shriya Reddy in lead roles and has the musical score by M. G. Sreekumar, and art direction by Sabu Cyril. 


Film's story is set in the silk weavers' town of Kanchipuram, in post-independence India, though the film was shot mainly in Mysore.


The film was premiered and released at the Toronto International Film Festival on 12 September 2008.[2] It was also shown at the Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival in Pittsburgh. 

The film eventually went on to receive the Best Film Award while and film's lead actor Prakash Raj won the Best Actor Award, both at the National Film Awards.


“UNIVERSAL RIGHTS” AND OPPOSITION TO ” THE USE OF FORCE AND POLITICAL REPRESSION “ALL FAITHS MUST BE RESPECTED” AND SUGGESTED BRIDGES BE BUILT AMONG THEM.‬”.

Posted: 20 May 2011 09:28 AM PDT

Two of Malaysia's most outspoken Malay leaders found themselves in the doghouse after careless and insensitive speech against the other races in the country.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Aziz for underestimating the intelligence of the people by hiding behing "free speech" to avoid taking action against the other garrulous but pro-establishment leader Ibrahim Ali.
As for Ibrahim, an ultra-Malay rights rabble-rouser, he tried to douse the fire lit by his controversial call for a crusade against Christians in the country by insisting that he used the word jihad (or holy battle) for "shock" effect.
But his clumsy and half-hearted efforts to retract part of his extreme speech made last Saturday failed to appease, drawing even greater contempt from his non-Muslim peers.
"We are happy to note that Ibrahim Ali does not intend to kill the Christians in the country, but when did the Christians demean Islam. Only Utusan and the Umno bloggers said such a thing. For the record, DAP and the Christian leaders had already completely denied the report, yet Ibrahim Ali still used it to curry favor with the crowd even though it can incite hatred and spark riots," Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming told Malaysia Chronicle.
In his statement issued late on Thursday night, Ibrahim had sought a way out of the predicament he brought on himself and his self-styled ultra Malay-rights group Perkasa.
"Jihad does not only mean perang salib or crusade, it does not mean the killing of Christians and Muslims, but it includes acts of prevention using one's hands, mouth, writing and other means," said Ibrahim.
"Everyone lost their cool but they don't realise what they do sometimes also demean Islam, and when this happens no one is reprimanded."
There was no apology at all.
'Be careful what Nazri is actually saying'
Meawhile, as expected, Nazri has stood by his much criticised decision not to prosecute Ibrahim, citing freedom of speech as his rationale.
"But it has been days since he made the statement and yet, we do not see any riot on the streets. People are no longer as sensitive as they were before. Now, people just laugh at Ibrahim and call him a clown. So you cannot even say that Ibrahim's words have caused the Malays to rise against the Christians," Malaysian Insider reported Nazri as saying.
Nazri also pledged the same liberty for other Malaysians in similar situations in the future.
But his words and new-found affinity for new politics convinced no one or comforted anybody.
"Nzari and Umno are trying to take advantage of peaceful nature of the non-Malays who will think twice about any physical action because they are outnumbered. In this case, it is Ibrahim, a Malay, saying bad things about Christians. Of course, the Malays and the Muslims won't riot against him. The Christians also won't – their protest comes in the verbal form through letters, their leaders, in the social media and so forth. Just because Christians don't take to arms does not mean they don't feel as strongly as if they marched 10km and screamed and shouted," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
"Conversely, if a non-Malay and non-Muslim said bad things about the Malays and the Muslims, some of the Malays especially the Perkasa types will surely go haywire or pretend to go haywire to stir things up. They will protest and demonstarte. Will Nazri then turn around and say, this is different. It is different because the words of the non-Malay actually caused a physical reaction and that is jailable under the Sedition Act or the ISA. We have to be very careful because we are now dealing with Umno elite who twist and turn everything. They cannot be trusted at all."
As for Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, he opposes using draconian laws to charge Ibrahim Ali but insists that Ibrahim can and should be punished under laws other than the Sedition Act and the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial for indefinite periods of time.
"I do not condone the use of these laws even as a temporary measure.  But should a civilised country, after half a century of independence, condone these sorts of sentiments?" Malaysiakini reported Anwar as saying.
"There are (other) laws to investigate Ibrahim, but how do investigate when you know it is being promoted and supported by the ruling establishment?"
At a rally last Saturday, Ibrahim had attacked the Christian community, which forms 10 per cent of Malaysia's 28 million population versus the Muslims' 60 per cent.
Based on an unsustantianted news article in the Umno-owned Utusan daily that Christians wanted Christianity to replace Islam as the country's official religion, Ibrahim had threatened bloodshed against them.
"If they want a crusade, so be it. If they say that the peace that we enjoy is not good enough we shall take up the challenge. Don't take the silence of Muslims as a sign of fear," Ibrahim had boomed in his controversial speech.
"Before our followers fall in this battle, Perkasa leaders will first lay down their lives and die sprawling in blood.
Dear President Barack Obama,
Along with many American Muslims, my family and I listened to your speech today on the Middle East and North Africa. While I appreciate your encouraging statements to the people of the Muslim world — particularly to those who are currently fighting for dignity and civil rights in their own lands — I also couldn't help feeling that many Americans are not setting the example of which you spoke when it comes to our own Muslim citizens.
Currently, 20 states have introduced anti-Muslim legislation, with more pending. Some of our country's lawmakers and politicians have made very bigoted inflammatory commentsabout Muslims and Islam. Very recently, Tennessee, under extreme pressure, rewrote a bill that would have made it a crime punishable by 15 years in prison for Muslims to worship together in groups of two or more. Organized groups are staging hate rallies against Muslims building houses of worship around the country. Local municipalities are playing the zoning game by zoning Islamic schools and mosques out of the community. Mosque playgrounds are being torched. Muslim family homesproperty, and mosques are being vandalized. Children are being bullied and harassed because they are Muslim. Shockingly, last week the Editor of the Gainesville Times in Florida published a letter that called for the expulsion of all Muslims from America. Recently, several Muslim clerics, and also a young Muslim woman were pulled off airplanes for no other reason other than they were dressed in recognizable Muslim attire. This is all being seen through the modern technology's "window into the wider world" that you mentioned in your speech, but like all windows, you can also look from the world outside and see what's happening inside. What does it say to the world when our President speaks about rights for people in the Muslim world that "include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion" when our own people are being hindered from building mosques, and schools, and our right to worship freely is even being threatened?
Mr. President, Muslims in America know that you do not stand with this kind of bigotry and hatred. During your announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden you said,
Religious leaders are responding to President Barack Obama's ‬much-anticipated speech on the Middle East, in which the president said that "all faiths must be respected" and suggested "bridges be built among them.‬"
Much of the sweeping speech addressed political and economic issues in light of recent democratic movements in the majority-Muslim region. Obama promised U.S. support for democracy, human rights and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But Obama, who famously addressed the Muslim world from Cairo University in two years ago in a speech focused on Islam, also discussed religion several times in Thursday's comments.
"We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders — whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran," Obama said in the hour-long speech.
"It was very important for the president to call for the respect of religious minorities who are not Muslim. For me, as an imam, I'd like to see the [Muslim] community respond and take action to that," said Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America, who attended the speech in Washington, D.C.
In recent months, the plight of religious minorities in majority Muslim countries has made international headlines.
"I think his message was to the American Muslim Community, too. Religious tolerance and respect of women has to be the top priority of any democracy," said Magid.
"Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain," Obama said.
The Rev. Timotheus Soliman, a Coptic Christian priest in Miramar, Fl., said Obama made similar statements about religious tolerance in his Cairo speech that "went unnoticed."
"Didn't he talk about the Copts last time? There is a lot to pray for and things haven't gotten better back home," he said.
Obama's remarks on religion were significantly less pointed than those in his 2009 speech, when he said wanted to "seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world."
Eboo Patel, president of Chicago-based nonprofit Interfaith Youth Core, said he was "struck by Obama's comments on the tremendous resource represented by young people in the region, and how what we are witnessing over there traces the arc of American history, from revolution to sectarian conflict to the spreading of freedom and equality."
"Just as young people pushed for universal values here and built bridges of cooperation between different communities, so are they doing that there. That presents great opportunities for partnership," said Patel.
What will likely be the most controversial part of Obama's speech was his call for a restoration of pre-1967 borders between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, a significant shift in U.S. policy.
‪Reaction to the speech from Jewish leaders varied.
"I was most struck by the President's assertion that we don't need to accept how things are, but can work toward how they could be – with humility," said Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. "While I am not sure that such humility about the role of history and indigenous culture was a part of all that he suggested we could achieve or help others to achieve, I appreciate the President's commitment to what I would call hopeful realism."
Abraham H. Foxman, Anti-Defamation League national director, released a statement applauding Obama's support for "universal rights" and opposition to " the use of force and political repression."
Foxman also directly addressed Obama's comments on Israel and Palestine, saying, "The Palestinians must heed the President's warnings about imprudent and self-defeating actions."
"The economic reforms and economic modernization as proposed by President Obama cannot succeed without religious and cultural reforms in the Arab World," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. "Muslims must choose between moderation and militancy, tolerance and terrorism."
Obama's speech comes after a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center that foud the United States' popularity has declined within the last year in many Muslim majority nations.
The poll was conducted in March and April, before U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 in northern Pakistan. It surveyed about 1,000 people each in Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Turkey. Another 2,000 were polled in Pakistan.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.

We appreciated this statement, however, judging by the uptick in anti-Muslim incidents since the death of bin Laden, the words weren't enough to resonate with those in America who feel threatened by their Muslim neighbors.
Mr. President, Muslims need your leadership, your strong voice, and your support in this regard. You are a friend to the world's Muslims, especially those fighting for their freedom, but Muslims need your friendship here on our own soil. Anti-Islam bigotry is getting worse in America — not better.
In our home, we love and respect you as our President; will you show us the same love and respect as a patriotic American family by speaking out strongly against this growing trend of anti-Muslim bigotry?
Bill O'Reilly calculated that half of the world's Muslims want to "blow the hell" out of Muslims who want democracy and human rights.
O'Reilly–who has long maintained that there is a so-called "Muslim problem" in the world, something he said during the opening of his Thursday show–was speaking to two guests about President Obama's Middle East speech on Thursday. Towards the end of the discussion, one of them said that Obama needed to stress more that "there are Muslims who want liberty."
"For every Muslim in the world who wants democracy and human rights, there's one who doesn't," O'Reilly responded. "And the one who doesn't doesn't have any rules, and he'll blow the hell out of the one who does. So that silences the good Muslims who see the danger from the Muslim world."
WATCH: 
"It is impossible to distinguish between Muslims who are anti-American and just waiting for a chance to do us harm, and those who are merely pursuing their religious beliefs in this country. The only way to be sure and safe is to exclude them all." — Letter to the Editor, Gainesville Times, May 13
The sentiment expressed above reflects an Islamophobic mindset unable to distinguish between the vast majority of law-abiding American Muslims and the few who would do us harm.
While the American Muslim community cheered the death of Osama bin Laden, its celebration was tempered by an odd backlash of sorts. From Maine to California, the U.S. has suffered a rash of anti-Muslim bias incidents, including physical assaults, vandalism of personal property, humiliation in the classroom and the desecration of houses of worship.
The perpetrators of these crimes are clearly unaware of the results from a 2009 Pew Research Study finding that very few American Muslims hold a positive opinion of al Qaeda — only 5% gave the terrorist organization a favorable rating. Yet, too many Americans mistakenly associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorism.
What remains puzzling to me, however, are erroneous views that widespread anti-Muslim bias in America is lacking when in fact Islamophobia, understood as the hatred and fear of Muslims and exemplified in the excerpted letter above, pervades our society.
For instance, in a March 26th CNN.com opinion piece entitled "Don't Overstate Anti-Muslim Bias," William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn argue that the "larger story of anti-Islamic bias in America does not hold water."
They cite hate crime statistics compiled by the FBI depicting 72% of religious hate crimes in America were anti-Jewish and only 8.4% were anti-Muslim in 2009.
Leibsohn and Bennett buttress their argument by pointing to the ascension of President Barack Obama to the presidency notwithstanding his Arabic name and a Muslim born father. And, in another contest (albeit of a different import), a Muslim, Arab woman was chosen as Miss USA in 2010 — additional proof that anti-Muslim bias is lacking.
Leibsohn and Bennett's arguments are fatally flawed.
First, their reliance on FBI hate crime statistics is misplaced.
By way of background, the FBI has been collecting hate crime data from state and local law enforcement agencies since 1990 which it compiles in an annual report.
Most civil rights advocates will tell you that the FBI hate crimes report does not tell the whole story. Since hate crimes are often underreported to and by law enforcement, the data reflects the reporting of hate crimes to local police agencies, and even then, only those law enforcement agencies which actually report to the FBI. Having worked with the Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities for the past ten years, I have seen bias incidents go unreported to law enforcement agencies for a number of reasons. These reasons include the fear of compromising one's immigration status; lack of English-language and cultural proficiency; unfamiliarity with the criminal justice system; apathy towards recourse. Members of these communities may also distrust law enforcement, given past reports of abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, "extraordinary renditions" by the CIA of Muslims to third countries to be subjected to torture, the NSEERS Special Registration program targeting male nationals predominantly from Muslim-majority countries, to name a few. Recent immigrants may also carry cultural baggage from their native lands where law enforcement was not to be trusted and regarded as corrupt. In my view, this may account for the discrepancy between underreported hate crimes versus an increase in employment discrimination claims by American Muslims, which are at an all-time high. While hate crimes must be reported to the police and/or the FBI, employment discrimination complaints do not.
But, even when victims report an alleged hate crime, it may not make it into the FBI report for other reasons, including: the police may fail to record it as a hate crime; their departments may not report hate crime statistics to state officials; and those officials may not accurately report to the FBI.
For instance, following the September 11th terrorist attacks, as many as nineteen people were murdered in the backlash against the Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities including, Balbir Singh Sodhi, Waqar Hasan, Adel Karas, Saed Mujtahid, Jayantilal Patel, Surjit Singh Samra, Abdo Ali Ahmed, Abdullah Mohammed Nimer, and Vasudev Patel. Their stories were told in the national media including, USA Today and the Washington Post.
Yet, the FBI hate crime reports for 2001 and 2002 reflect that no anti-Islamic murders were committed in those years (see Table 4 in each report).
Next, it strikes me as peculiar that Leibsohn and Bennett chose the ascension of President Obama — a Christian who attends Church with his family on Sundays — to the Oval Office to make a larger point regarding an absence of anti-Muslim bias.
Never mind that the 2008 presidential campaign was wrought with Islamophobia, from those calling Obama a secret Muslim clearly seeing the term as a pejorative, to political rhetoric by Republican Presidential candidates. While Senator John McCain expressed his preference against Muslims assuming the U.S. presidency, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney disapproved of any Muslim appointments to the Cabinet. Islamophobia runs rampant in politics today.
Further, as elated as I was that a Muslim woman of Arab descent won Miss USA in 2010, I cannot help but reflect upon other types of contests of a different import. Pointedly, the number of actual Muslims running for political office in the U.S. is on the decline from its already small number. While in 2000, some 700 Muslims (out of 2-6 million American Muslims) ran for elected office in the U.S., that figure dropped by 90% to just 70 in 2002. By 2004, it was up to only 100 Muslims.
Finally, while Liebsohn and Bennett point to a CNN survey purportedly showing that 70% of Americans would not oppose construction of a mosque in their area, recent Pew Study Research from March 2011 depicts the American public as divided over whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. Indeed, 40% say the Islamic faith is more likely than others to encourage violence while 42% say it is not.
To place these figures in proper context, in March 2002, just 25% saw Islam as more likely to encourage violence while twice as many (51%) disagreed.
To be clear, I despise racism and prejudice against any groups, including Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, the disabled, etcetera. There is a danger when hate violence and animus against American Muslims is understood as a past phenomenon. We render no service to our country by idealizing ourselves, and ignoring pervasive prejudices as normal.
To overcome a problem, we must expose it, discuss it and then, address it effectively — together.


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GE13 Prediction: July 2011

Posted: 20 May 2011 08:10 AM PDT

That's according to Dr Dzul, at least. Why does he think so? In his blog, he states that:

This writer has been informed by reliable sources that the Election Commission has been told to be prepared for any eventuality. Local authorities have also been warned to be on the alert. Most telling is the fact that Umno and the BN have now gotten down to having polling and counting agents identified by name, in all streams in the Polling Districts throughout the country. That's the level of preparedness. This writer can vouch for that.

Najib very recently mooted the idea of having a mock election for Umno and the BN in July. While having a dry run is not unfamiliar especially for the ruling party, the announcement is odd and smacks of treachery. This fuels the notion of a well-contrived decoy.

That makes sense to me, actually. Add to the fact that the election commission is gearing itself up to allow more cheating by the ruling coalition:

Recent changes announced by the Election Commission do not contribute to free and fair elections

The Election Commission has refused to reform the currently flawed postal ballot system. To make matters worse, they now want to bar polling and counting agents from bring their mobile phones in.

During the previous election, these agents were able to double check procedures and validity/legitimacy of certain action or effectively feed information of any irregularities to their political parties.

This coming elections is going to be as dirty as it ever gets.


Protesters issue call: 'Defend Utusan at all costs'

Posted: 20 May 2011 03:05 AM PDT

Malay rights group Perkasa and Umno called on all Malays to unite and safeguard national daily Utusan Malaysia against opposition's belligerence. "Whenever anyone insults Utusan and the Malay community, Perkasa will be there. This is a warning to all... you have to cross our dead bodies first," decried a demonstrator.
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A NEW IMAGE FOR GRANDMAS

Posted: 20 May 2011 05:12 AM PDT

Today's grandmothers are a new breed altogether, nothing remotely close to the traditional image of how grandmothers should look and conduct themselves.

Hello to the 21st century grandma - attractive, spunky, feisty and fun-loving. Baby boomer grandmas (and grandpas too) are breaking the mold handed down by generations of grandparents who have lived through the WW1-2 era.

Grandma shows off a yoga posture.
As a kid growing up in the 1950s, I used to dread visiting my paternal grandma. She was a stern, forbidding woman who stood no nonsense from anyone, especially her grandchildren. To her, children should be seen and not heard. They were also not to be hugged or kissed.

Grandmas of yesteryears.
But that's probably the way she was brought up by her mother, my great grandmother. And she in turn by her own mother. I can never forget all those black-and-white portraits of elderly ancestors hanging in my grandma's sitting room. Their cold, steely gaze bore down on me no matter where I was standing. To a child, it was a terrifying experience to be left alone in that room.

Thank God, today's baby boomer grandmas have broken free of the oppressive expectations society and culture have placed on them. Why should grandmas be expected to wear only drab, funereal colors? Which rule book dictates that grandmas must look old and behave their age? Who says grandmas can't go out and have fun?


Drive Me Closer, I Want to Hit Them With My Sword

Posted: 20 May 2011 12:55 AM PDT

Yet another reason why Warhammer 40,000 rocks.

Drive Me Closer, I Want to Hit Them With My Sword

From Escapist Magazine forums.

It's an Ascended Meme – fans made the poster based on the game, and then the game designers put that poster quote into the latest game. Full circle.

Other Warhammer 40k relatedness:


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CHINESE MAN OFFERING TO SELL HIS ORGANS TO PAY THE BILLS,ORGAN TRAFFICKING: ‘HER HEART WAS MISSING’

Posted: 20 May 2011 03:40 AM PDT

Organ trafficking: 'Her heart was missing'
This Chinese man is offering to sell his organs to pay the bills, which is typical as poverty drives the shadowy trade worth an estimated $50m globally [GALLO/GETTY]
Trafficking accounts for up to ten per cent of transplants globally, but health advocates are fighting back.

The stories are grim and often impossible to confirm: illicit clinics, corrupt doctors and global networks dealing in human flesh.
International organ trafficking is a big business, with an estimated value of $50m in 2008, according to Michael Bos from the European Platform on Ethical Legal and Psychosocial Aspects of Organ Transplantation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated in 2007 that organ trafficking accounts for between five and 10 per cent of kidney transplants performed annually across the globe.
Antonio Medina, 23, a paperless Central American migrant moving through Mexico to the US, says he knows a fellow traveller who witnessed organ trafficking, after he and his wife were captured by a criminal gang.
"He was travelling with his wife and they [gangsters] took both of them," Medina told Al Jazeera during an interview in Mexico. "They [gangsters] put them in separate rooms. He heard his wife screaming. After he went in and saw her on a table with her chest wide open and without her heart or kidney."
Medina's friend said he was saved from the grisly house-turned-clinic by Mexican soldiers. The claims, like many aspects of the organ trafficking business, are impossible to independently verify.
The profit motive
"I have no doubt organs are being removed from bodies," says David Shirk, a professor of political science and director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego who has investigated trafficking. "But for the most part, organ trafficking occurs in hospitals, where there are corrupt medical practitioners."
"Maybe people are cutting organs out as a form of torture - a great way to torture someone would be to tie them to a chair and pull their guts out in front of their eyes – but it is not credible to me that bodies are being used for transplants, as the procedure requires very sanitary conditions and careful donor matching," he told Al Jazeera.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines organ trafficking as commercial transplantation, where there is profit, or transplantations occurring outside of national medical systems. Direct organ theft, including the case Medina described, represents only a small portion of global trafficking.
"There are criminal underground organisations providing kidney transplantations," says Luc Noel, coordinator of essential health technologies at the WHO. "But most cases involve the poor, the destitute and the vulnerable that are willing to part with an organ for money."
"The common denominator [with theft and "consensual" sales] is profiteering," he told Al Jazeera.

Poor people can reportedly earn between $3,000 to $15,000 for selling their organs, specifically kidneys, to middlemen who re-sell them to wealthy buyers for as much as $200,000
In a 2009 report on organ trafficking, the Council of Europe and the United Nations concluded that there was possibly "a high number of unreported cases", attributing this to the "huge profits and rather low risks for the perpetrators".
Mexico is not considered one of the worst countries for organ trafficking; the grisly practice is thought to be most prevalent in Israel, India, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil, Nepal, the Philippines, Kosovo, Iran, and former Soviet states in eastern Europe.
"Transplant tourisms flourishes in areas with weak authorities," says Noel from the WHO. "We do not want to see a society where the destitute become a store of organs for the wealthy and powerful."
Online buyers
Customers normally come from the US, Western Europe, the Arab Gulf states, Israel and wealthy enclaves in the developing world. "The patients are also vulnerable and often extremely sick," Noel says. "The solution is that each community should address its needs in organs. Public authorities need to increase awareness on the benefits of [volunteering] for transplants."
Most people are coerced into selling their organs through a combination of misinformation and poverty, says Debra Budiani, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania's Centre for Bioethics.

So, how does one go about buying an illicit organ? It's a bit more complicated than walking to a shady part of town and haggling with a guy carrying wads of kidneys in his trench coat.

"The procedure for American patients is to go online and look for these services," Budiani told Al Jazeera. "This has been the framework for transplant tourism."
China has been particularly sophisticated in using the internet to attract transplant tourists, she says. The nominally communist country has one of the world's highest execution rates, and dead convicts provide a ready supply of healthy young organs.
Once patients arrive in China and the deal is set up, organisers will often force them to compete for the organs in intense bidding wars, Budiani says. "They will get into a situation in the hospital where they are waiting to see who will get the first organ from an executed prisoner," and the highest bidder gets first pick, even though prices are normally negotiated before foreigners arrive in China.
"There is a lot of dirty business around these operations," she says. "And it started with a lot of coordination on the internet."
In a posting on a free announcements website in Tuxla Gutierrez, the capital of economically marginalised Chiapas state in southern Mexico, a user offers to pay $25,000 for an organ and promises to be "absolutely discrete and serious" with whoever responds to the add. The user leaves an e-mail address and says that the operation will be done in Houston, Texas. The proposed transaction is illegal, Budiani says.
New organising tools

In addition to her academic work at the University of Pennsylvania, Budiani directs the Coalition for Organ-Failure Solutions, a grassroots advocacy group.

The coalition is planning a trafficking hotline, to take calls from victims, so they can be linked to doctors and the appropriate authorities."We are establishing a virtual social network, with mobile phones as the common denominator," Budiani says. "Even if they are illiterate, they still have access to mobile phones."

A prototype of the plan will be tested in Egypt and India in the coming months. The hotline could also act as a resource for understanding the sources of this kind of crime, she says, adding that Egypt's recent revolution, and the political instability it has caused, creates a "vulnerable period where human trafficking could thrive".

Back in Mexico, Antonio Medina says his friend whose wife had her organs stolen just wants to forget the whole experience. "We keep in touch by email, he is back in Honduras."

As seems standard with trafficking victims, they fall back into the shadows, often irreparably physically and emotionally scarred, isolated and alone.
"Migrants are highly vulnerable to various forms of exploitation," says David Shirk. And that reality extends across the globe, from refugees of Sudan's internal conflicts facing organ trafficking in Egypt to Moldovans and Kazakhs who have had their kidneys illicitly removed in Kosovo.

Debra Budiani hopes the proposed anti-trafficking hotline will help prevent abuses, while providing solace to those who are missing organs, facing shame and sickness.

"We want to allow people to mobilise and share resources on how they have been abused," she says, "to put them in touch with other victims so they aren't so isolated."



What cock!

Posted: 20 May 2011 02:28 AM PDT

Together we'll tighten our grip on their gullibility. 
(The money for both their suits would feed a rural family of 4 for a couple of months. At least!)

We all know politicians tend to talk cock. Most of the time. But there are times when the cock they talk can really get on your goat la.  Like today in The Star, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that there are going to be "increase in prices on various products due to increase in oil prices and reduction in food supply caused by changes in the global climate." I especially like that last part. "......caused by changes in the global climate."  Phwaaar!!! Sounds damn terror, right? Changes in global climate. Of course, if you read on you will realise that part of what he was trying to do was to cushion the announcement that the government was going to cut subsidies on diesel among other things. Cuts in subsidies are inevitable I suppose but it was the DPM's next statement that really pissed me off.

He said "Malaysians should control their expenses and learn to increase their own food supply."

Doesn't that make you mad? Control expenses? Like how? Eat ONE meal a day instead of THREE? Tighten the belts some more? If we tighten belts any more like the DPM and last time the PM advised us to do we'd die of asphyxiation. Increase our own food supply? How? Plant rice in terrace house 4ftx6ft "gardens"?

And in the meantime the government has just spent money erecting all those 1Malaysia monuments to stupid extravagance all over the country, bought submarines that don't submerge to patrol ...... (actually to patrol what ah?), failed to explain YB's whose lifestyles are comparable or exceed those of the rich and famous, or YB children who can afford to even consider RM400million divorce settlements......you can continue the list as you wish. And you know you can make a long list.


NIAMAH!!!


Angkatan Muda Kecot

Posted: 20 May 2011 02:44 AM PDT


Ada orang tu jaguh kampung,
Lawan tempat sendiri menang
Kalah lawan di seberang

Ada orang tu jaguh dalam masjid
Tempat patut diam dia menjerit
Berentap di luar cabut

Susah orang selalu terkucil dalam seluar ....


Memorandum Against Lynas Handed Over To Aussie High Commission

Posted: 20 May 2011 04:11 AM PDT

Folks were at KLCC at 2:30pm. About 500 of them.

So were the police and FRU.

But somehow, the protesters managed to make their way to the Australian High Commission.

The High Commission asked the crowd to send representatives to hand over the memorandum.

At least that went well.

I hope Lynas takes our grievances seriously.


Umar Rizal dan tarikannya pada janggut Mahaguru58....

Posted: 20 May 2011 12:52 AM PDT

Baru baru ini saya dan isteri ke Restoran Nasi Dagang Ulik Mayang di Taman Melati, Hulu Kelang.


Kami kesana untuk menikmati Nasi Dagang Terengganu dan lain lain makanan Pantai Timur yang asli seperti Laksam dsbnya.


Dimeja depan kami sebuah keluarga sedang menikmati hidangan serupa. 


Ada seorang bayi lelaki yang sedang didukung ayahnya. 


Saya ni pantang jumpa 'baby' mesti nak dukung.


Bilamana ayahnya lalu dekat dengan saya, maka saya pun minta 'pinjam sekejap' sibayi comel ini. Namanya Umar Rizal.


Dari saat pertama saya mendukungnya si Umar Rizal dengan tidak membuang masa terus mencengkam janggut saya!


Hahahaha! Bukan sembarangan orang berani usik janggut Tok Mamu ni! :P


Si Umar Rizal tak peduli aku ni siapa?


Terus digenggam kuat kuat janggut Tok Mamu dan ditarik tarik, diuji samada janggut sebenar atau janggut Hollywood?


Hehehehe...begitulah naluri si anak kecil seperti Umar Rizal. 


Jiwa mereka bersih suci dari sebarang prasangka atau prejudis.


Dia peduli apa tentang siapa kita?


Yang dia tahu, dia minat nak periksa samada janggut asli atau tidak kerna ayahnya tak berjanggut seperti Atok Mamu ni!


Saya melayanlah si Umar Rizal ni sekejap sebelum memulangkan ia pada si ayah yang seronok melihat telatah anakandanya mencengkam janggut saya. :)


Semoga panjang umurnya dan dimurahkan rezeki, sihat membesar menjadi Mukmin yang berjaya dan berguna untuk masyarakat kita hendaknya.


Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.


BAHRAMI WAS FINALLY GRANTED A DECISION OF QISAS “AN EYE FOR AN EYE” –ADMINISTERED 20 DROPS OF ACID IN EACH OF HIS EYESBY BAHRAMI HERSELF

Posted: 20 May 2011 12:32 AM PDT


Ameneh Bahrami was 23 years old when an inhumane and possessive man destroyed her life. Having had his marriage proposal rejected by her, Majid Movahedi decided it was his right to pour a bucketful of sulfuric acid on her face as she was crossing a street in Tehran in 2004. Since that incident which has left her disfigured and completely blind, Bahrami has felt it was her right to seek retaliation for the crime against her. In the last seven years, following trials and appeals interspersed with tens of surgeries to restore her face and vision (unsuccessful), Bahrami was finally granted a decision of qisas. In Iran's legal system, there is a kind of justice called qisas – blood money, or retaliatory punishment, that pre-dates Islam (it can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible). It's more commonly understood as "an eye for an eye" — punishment that equals the crime, so to speak. Qisas has two basic components: the victim can either forgive the assailant (or in the case of a murder, the victim's family can be the forgivers) and therefore be compensated financially, or a punishment that fits the crime can be administered, i.e. capital punishment for murder. Bahrami, in a move that she hoped would draw attention to the gravity of the crime, opted for punishment. Her attacker had blinded her, so she decided it would only be fair to blind him back, thus ensuring that he not only receive the same treatment she received (minus the total disfiguration of the face, years of surgery, and indescribable pain), but that he would truly understand the depth of her suffering.
She was granted her wish and Movahedi was to be sedated in a Tehran hospital and administered 20 drops of acid in each of his eyes — by Bahrami herself. But the punishment, which was to happen this week, was postponed at the eleventh hour, perhaps due to international outcry, or perhaps due to domestic controversy — Iranians themselves are divided in their views on the matter.
Bahrami and the Iranian legal system are being portrayed by some as barbarians for allowing what is perceived to be archaic and cruel punishment (even though in the United States, Israel, China and elsewhere, retaliatory punishment also exists and is practiced in the form of capital punishment) but no one doubts Bahrami's reasons for wanting it. What some people doubt is whether qisas is effective in achieving more than the satisfaction of revenge: justice and the prevention of crime. The public prosecutor who defended Bahrami's wish for the punishment said that his hope was that it would deter such crimes in the future.
But can crimes be deterred through punishment when a society itself pays so little attention to the suffering of the victim?
While Movahedi has been vilified in many segments of Iranian society, it is well known that in countries with trends of acid attacks — such as India and Pakistan — the commonality of the crime has rendered it ordinary and therefore often ignored. Not only are a tiny percentage of the attacks reported, but a minuscule percentage of those reported are prosecuted, and an even less detectable figure of those prosecuted actually involve any kind of punishment. The deeper problem, then, is not only that these attackers are not made answerable for their crimes but also that they are too often accepted back in their societies when news of their crime is made known.
Some experts argue that the most effective deterrent against crimes — especially violent crimes — is the engendering of a culture of intolerance for them. For instance, if an acid attacker knew that he would be shunned by his society for such a crime, perhaps he would be less likely to do it.
With acid attacks in particular, this kind of reasoning makes some sense. Most of these crimes occur within the context of pride and honor so the prospect of societal rejection and dishonor would presumably be more of a deterrent than the mere personal affront of unrequited love. Ultimately, however, debates of qisas and the controversy surrounding Bahrami's wishes are really discussions of how far the law will allow a victim to go in determining her own justice. While it's easy to judge from a distance, only a victim can know what could possibly satisfy her need for justice following a life-altering crime. Just ask any member of the staff of Depilex beauty salon in Lahore, Pakistan — the salon is renowned for being staffed by young women who are victims of acid attacks.
It is human nature to contemplate retaliatory justice — Hollywood has banked trillions on the notion. But laws exist in order to siphon that instinct into something that is just and deters crime. The slow fix to problems of crimes such as acid attacks is to gradually — through laws, law enforcement, and education — change the attitudes in societies where these crimes have become so common as to be ignored.
The quick fix, as it has always been, is an eye for an eye. Mahatma Gandhi once famously said that "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" — and he was right, of course, but he had never been the victim of an acid attack.



Can’t Punch teh Internets

Posted: 19 May 2011 09:41 PM PDT

Can't Punch teh Internets

Click the image above to view the original full comic.

I've browsed forums and message boards trying to fix issues like game can't run, DVD burner error, fake Security Shield malware… Sometimes you just give up.



Literal Street Fighter

Posted: 19 May 2011 09:05 PM PDT

Literal Street Fighter

Click the image above to view the original full comic.

See also this other Street Fighter comic.



Gingrich vs The Sheep

Posted: 19 May 2011 08:58 PM PDT

Via AoSHQ, Unfinished did a short comic strip built entirely upon actual excerpts from Newt Gingrich's whiny, but epicly melodramatic press statement.

Newt Gingrich vs The Sheep

Click the image above or the Unfinished link to view the original full comic.



AT LAST WE INDIAN MUSLIM HAVE A LEADER THASLEEM MOHAMED IBRAHIM AL-HA WHO HAS GUT TO DEMAND MUHYIDDIN YASSIN TO RESIGN

Posted: 19 May 2011 09:59 PM PDT

Omar Ahmad, a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and the hardworking mayor of San Carlos, CA and a shining example of Muslims in public service, died suddenly at his home at the age of 46.

  In 2007, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Omar Ahmad had decided to take a stab at politics after working at a string of successful high-tech startups and companies. While charging up the San Carlos, California hills on his trusty Segway meeting potential voters, he came across a woman who struck up a conversation with him. After finding out about his Islamic faith, she replied that she could never vote for him because she didn't trust Muslims. Rather than take offense at the remark, Omar replied with his characteristic optimism that she should visit his website anyway and read about his positions.

His reaction left an impact on the woman, who sometime soon after approached him as he handed out flyers in front of the San Carlos CalTrain station. She told him that she had read his site, was impressed at his passion for improving the city, and promptly proceeded to join him in handing out flyers. Later, when Omar was elected to the San Carlos city council, she joined him at his victory party, and Omar would soon move on to serve as that city's mayor, as well as a board member of CalTrain and SamTrans, two regional mass transit districts.

As the mayor of San Carlos and a public servant in general, Omar put in as much energy as he did with his various startups, and he didn't stop until his body finally gave out. Omar Ahmad passed away suddenly on the morning of Tuesday, May 10th of a massive heart attack, after having worked late into the previous night serving his constituents at a city council meeting.

It's one thing to be a successful entrepreneur, as Omar was. He spent five years at the Discovery Channel helping to build its most signature programs and properties before feeling the lure of Silicon Valley just as the first dot-com boom started. He spent time at @Home, Grand Central (now Google Voice) and Netscape before moving on to serve as CTO of Napster, where he was the one who pulled the plug on the famed music-sharing network when the courts decided that it was time for it to go. He co-founded and/or served as CEO of a string of other startups – TrustedID, Logictier, and the ambitious SynCH Energy, which aimed to convert greenhouse gases from sewage treatment plants into unleaded fuel that you can put right in your car.

It's another thing entirely to devote that same passion towards your personal and philanthropic life. Omar went out of his way to serve the people around him in multiple ways, whether it was tutoring kids at National Youth Science Foundation camps, giving TED talks (in this one, he talks about how to influence elected officials, and a TED book on the topic is pending publication), and serving in leadership positions in community organizations (he served as director of the visionary Muslim organization AMILA). Before his untimely passing, he was working with me to bring one of his biggest dreams to life: a $5 million venture philanthropy fund driven by Islamic charitable values.

Even though he ventured into politics and business leadership, he never lost his love for programming. He was a hacker at heart – first with respect to software, but eventually (metaphorically) hacking everything he came across. He always sought to break molds, find new ways of helping people, looking for solutions in what seem to be no-win situations. After enduring annoying stints on Southwest's no-fly list, he penned a public letter to the company's CEO that managed to get under his skin and break the logjam. And as San Carlos mayor, he made some difficult decisions that made a lot of people happy but some people very upset. He told me wearily that he had to break the status quo in order to make positive change happen. This were the qualities that made him a true leader.

He lived life to its fullest – attending storytelling festivals, indulging in sports (he was a die-hard Gators fan and just last weekend had attended a SF Giants game), collecting guitars (he had dozens of them, each signed by a famous rock star), being a skilled aviator, and most of all climbing the tallest mountains in each of the seven continents (he managed to do 4 of the 7 at the time of his death). He was on a first-name basis with the folks at a Redwood City cigar lounge, where his locker with "Big Kahuna" etched on the door held his favorite stogies. Last November, Omar officiated my wedding in Washington DC, and not content with just delivering a typical speech, he created a whole new ceremony – entirely American, yet entirely Islamic – that showed everyone that Omar had already achieved that unified identity that too many of us still struggle for.

Today, hundreds of friends, family, and well-wishers will say goodbye to him as flags in San Carlos fly half mast, obituaries appear in Bay Area media, and the California State Assembly honors him before adjourning. And while the Muslim community loses one of its favorite sons, it also gains a role model for future generations of Muslim-Americans who have someone they can look at that shows them, definitively, how to be true to faith, country, and community while having a big smile on your face. And, if Mayor Ahmad has his way, while puffing away on a cigar.

MUHYIDDIN YASSIN SAYS NAJIB HAS HIRED NIAT CHAIRMAN THASLEEM MOHAMED IBRAHIM AL-HA TO DISCREDIT HIM AND FORCE HIM TO RESIGN AS THE EDUCATION MINISTER



KUALA LUMPUR, 17 Mei — Datuk Syed Ibrahim Kader, Presiden Kongres India Muslim Malaysia (Datuk Syed Ibrahim Kader), parti politik sahabat BN, dilantik sebagai ahli Dewan Negara dan dijangka akan mengangkat sumpah dalam beberapa hari.

The Malaysian Insider difahamkan, Syed Ibrahim (gambar), 57, telah menerima surat pelantikan sebagai senator minggu lalu.

"Saya diberitahu Syed Ibrahim telah menerima surat lantikan tersebut Khamis lalu dan tarikh bila akan sumpah akan diketahui esok.

"Syed Ibrahim menerima lantikan tersebut dengan hati terbuka, namun saya difahamkan beliau tidak mahu perkara ini didedahkan terlebih dahulu," kata sumber ketika dihubungi.

Syed Ibrahim ketika dihubungi The Malaysian Insider enggan mengulas sambil meminta agar menunggu sehingga tarikh angkat sumpah.

Jelas sumber itu, Syed Ibrahim hanya akan membuat kenyataan berhubung pelantikan itu selepas mengangkat sumpah.

Ini merupakan kali pertama wakil Kimma dilantik sebagai ahli Dewan Negara. Kimma ditubuhkan pada 1976.

Penghujung tahun lalu, Syed Ibrahim memohon kerajaan melantik seorang senator daripada kalangan anggota parti itu untuk mewakili kaum India Muslim negara ini.

Beliau berkata, ini kerana parti itu tidak mempunyai saluran untuk bersuara secara langsung terutama bagi menyuarakan masalah kaum India Muslim terus kepada kerajaan.

Selain itu Syed Ibrahim berkata, Kimma juga memohon kepada kerajaan agar wakil India Muslim ditempatkan di Majlis Kerajaan Negeri dan Majlis Kerajaan Tempatan supaya mereka dapat menyalurkan masalah kaum itu kepada pihak berwajib serta mendapat maklumat tentang peluang perniagaan dan perdagangan di dalam mahupun di luar negara.

Beliau juga menyarankan agar kerajaan mewujudkan satu dana khas perniagaan untuk industri kecil dan sederhana dan peniaga kecil India Muslim untuk memudahkan peniaga kecil itu mendapat dana pusingan modal bagi memulakan atau membesarkan perniagaan.

Kimma yang mendakwa ada 80,000 ahli negara telah menyatakan hasrat untuk menyertai BN semenjak 1984 tetapi gagal ekoran bantahan komponennya termasuk oleh MIC.

Ogos lepas, Umno bersetuju menerima Kimma sebagai anggota bergabung parti itu dengan beberapa keistimewaan seperti dijemput hadir sebagai pemerhati dalam perhimpunan agung dan persidangan di peringkat bahagian sekiranya parti itu mempunyai keanggotaan di kawasan berkenaan

Omar, you did it all, and you made it seem so easy.Shahed Amanullah is the founder of altmuslim.com

READ MORE BETWEEN BODEK KING KIMMA DATUK SYED IBRAHIM KADER AND NIAT CHAIRMAN THASLEEM MOHAMED IBRAHIM AL-HAJ WHO CAN FIGHT BETTER FOR THE INDIAN MUSLIM RIGHTS

Amma J Jayalalithaa brings change; but has she changed? THE FATE OF INDIAN MUSLIMS NARENDRA MODI WHO BURNED THE MUSLIMS ALIVE IS THE SPEACIAL GUEST The favourite colour of her sari has changed from green to pink, magenta and maroon, but has she really changed her colours? That was the question doing the rounds on …



An anomaly that defies logic

Posted: 19 May 2011 08:56 PM PDT

Chinese media have reported that there is an anomaly in the award of JPA scholarship this year.

For the non-Bumi, the good news is that there is  an increase in the number of scholarship awarded as part of the announcement by PM that all top students would be given JPA scholarship to further their studies. This is indeed good as many of the students would not be able to afford to continue their studies without these scholarship.

The bad news is in the award of the scholarship, someone is creating an anomaly that cannot be explained.

Many of the 10As were awarded scholarship to study in local universities in fields that are not their choice, while the 8As and 7As got to study overseas in well known universities in fields of their choice.

Why is it so? I cannot understand the logic, unless someone think that local universities are better than overseas reputable institutions, and the same 'someone' think that those who score all As do not deserve to study in fields of their choice.

To move the country forward , we need to have best brains. To have best brains, we need to give opportunities to top students to be tutored under the best teachers in fields of their choice, because studying in a field of a person's own choice would be a powerful motivation factor to excel and be an expert in that particular field.

Perhaps someone in the PSD think that this is the way to stop brain drain. Let the best brains stay behind , so that they have no chance to go abroad and they would have no choice but to remain.

If that is the reason, it is really pathetic. To become best brains, you need not only good results, you need good teachers.

Those who are 7As and 8As, by studying overseas, will no doubt become best brains too, if they are tutored under good teacher in good overseas universities. But then, by letting 10As staying behind, and letting 7 and 8As go abroad, we are creating a system that will discourage future students from doing well. If this is the trend, then the brightest students will no longer study as hard as now, since it would be pointless to get all As; it is in fact better to get 7As or 8As.

Now that  this has come about, I really don't know how the authority is going to solve this.

The only solution that i see is that we need to award more overseas scholarships to the 10As and let them study overseas in the fields of their choice.  The authority cannot take back the scholarship awarded to those 7As and 8As, who have already been given scholarships to study overseas; it would be unfair.

As usual, the component parties would not be able to do much, and the Youth chief of MCA already said that this needs the decision of the PM, who is currently overseas.

The component parties at best can only play the role of firemen, dousing small "fires" here and there created by the civil service; they have really no say in the formulation of a good "fire" policy, and that is what Malaysia needs.



WAS NAJIB CONNED LYNAS HID INFO ON KUANTAN PLANT BIGGEST INDUSTRIAL DISASTER IN THE WORLD IN WAITING

Posted: 19 May 2011 08:51 PM PDT

Saharnuma
A friend called up recently and said, 'Do you know, Ishrat Qadri sahab is ill, in fact critical'. I felt terribly short of words. I didn't even know that he had suffered a brainstroke.More disturbing was the fact that he was ailing was for a fortnight and was admitted in the general ward of Hamidia Hospital but there was no stir in the literary community, despite being aware of the family's modest means.Personally I had a strong sense of guilt that I hadn't been in touch with him for quite sometime. The octogenarian litterateur is probably the last poet in the region who has kept the glorious tradition of islaah* alive in this part of Central India.Qadri sahab has numerous disciples who learnt the nuances of 'shayri' from him. His 'library' in Budhwara locality of Walled City has been the hub of literary activity in Bhopal for decades.

I recalled that all these years whenever I had a query regarding literature or Urdu poetry, I would rush to him. Just to give an example. 'Yeh RKF ne umda ghazal likhi hai', I would say. Now Qadri Sahab instantly knew what I wanted.

'Shayar achche hain, falaan shahar inka watan hai, is akhbar se munsalik rahe, Maharashtra meN zindagi guzri, Jamaat-e-Islami se bhi vabasta rahe haiN', he would say, answering almost all my questions in one go.

More so, he gave an unbiased reply, which is rare quality among poets. Though he has been penning poetry for the last 67 years [since 1943-44, began writing short stories in 1943 and ghazals from 1944], he kept away from self-promotion and publicity. Rather, he promoted young writers by getting their articles and books published through his contacts.

Ishrat Qadri's personal library has always been open to research scholars and other bibliophiles. In the post-independence era, when Urdu was facing tough times, he published dozens of important books and fellow poets who couldn't afford to get their divans printed, through his own publication.

Ishrat Qadri

I have been an irregular participant to his evening 'mehfils'. Ironically, as he is lying in the hospital bed, among the first few persons to visit is a bureaucrat, Mr Srivastava, who directs the hospital authorities to shift the 'azeem shayar' to a private ward.

I push the door but his wife is praying, in sajda. The poet looks frail, his eyes are focused on the roof. I recall his ghazal that begins with the couplet:

yaad-e-maazi bohat sataatii hai
raat aaNkhoN meN beet jaatii hai

The overpowering voice is missing, he is so weak that it takes a couple of minutes before he manages to utter a word. His daughter-in-law tells me that he doesn't recognize me, eggs him to speak to me. 'Dekhiye aapse milne aaye hain'. I touch his face, hold him, it is an emotional moment.

'Sab bhool gaye', he repeats with great difficulty. His first collection of poetry, Saharnuma, has a ghazal:

The hospital room

'No one has forgotten you, everyone is concerned, the papers are publishing reports about your health', I tell him. 'Insha Allah, you will be alright, back from the hospital. Don't ever think that you are alone.

He takes my name, the way he always does. I am happy that at least he recognizes me. It's a brief conversation. With tears in his eyes, he stares at me.

Now I can see hope in  his eyes. I tell him that he has to finish his memoirs. Few remain of the generation that was old enough in the 30s and 40s to discern the changes in the pre-Independence era, and recollect them. He has also seen the gradutal transformation of Bhopal from the era of princely state to the present times.

After staying for a few minutes, I leave the hospital room, praying for the veteran poet's long life.

Ab tujh saa kahaaN koii wazadaar mile hai…

Opposition to the Lynas plant is continuing both in Malaysia and Australia. — file pic

Two Australian environmentalist groups have accused Lynas Corp of withholding critical information to push through its RM700 million refinery in Gebeng, touted to be the world's biggest rare earth processing plant once built.

The Bhopal gas tragedy that had caused 3,000 deaths instantly and nearly 25,000 deaths over the next couple years apart from incurable diseases, physical and mental disorders to over half-a-million people, is nearly a forgotten affair today.

It's India's shame not just because the main culprit, Warren Anderson, could never be arrested or extradited.

It's also our shame because the ministers and bureaucracy has done its best to absolve the culprits and suppress the voice of the victims. After a quarter century, none of the accused could be sentenced or jailed as cases drag on.

The apathy on part of Congress and BJP governments towards the fate of the survivors and whose children also suffer from disorders, is shocking. The pain and suffering is such that one might get insane just by a visit to any of these areas, and it's nearly impossible to write about it in a few pages.

But I must recount the events on the dark night of December 2 and 3, 1984:

Nearly 40 tonnes of lethal Methyl Isocyanate had escaped from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. The pesticide plant was shifted from America because it was 'too risky' for Americans. In third world country, it was 'welcome'. Nearly a 100 safety standards were cut down in Bhopal plant as per directives of the company from its US-based head office.

It was a strange night, which none of the citizens can forget. People woke up at night–coughing, vomiting and running–until they fell and died on the streets. Panic struck the entire city. The railway station was nearby and hundreds lay dead on the platforms as the killer gas spread across the capital city.

Railway officials steadfastly did their duty, doing their best to inform the officials from Mumbai to Jhansi, to stop train traffic and not let any train reach Bhopal.

There were no cell phones and no computerised signalling system. Most trains were stopped outside, except one [and most of the passengers onboard died]. But in the morning, 23 railway employees were found dead.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city hundreds died in sleep. Others lay dead on streets. Throughout the night doctors tried to find ways to treat but there was no medicine for such a deadly chemical. Union Carbide officials said there was no antidote to MIC gas.

Kids were dying in the arms of doctors. Those doctors who tried to resuscitate the children, themselves died as they came in contact with the gas. With the crack of dawn, the City was to come to terms with the gravity of the gas tragedy.

Funeral pyres kept burning for days, Fatwa for mass graves

In hospitals, there was nothing except bodies of men, women and children. The funeral pyres in shamshans kept on burning. Where were the qabristans for the thousands of dead? The specialfatwa was issued for mass burials, so that dozens of Muslims could be buried in each qabr. Men and women were identified on the basis of their religions and last rites were performed as everybody volunteered to help.

The Chief Minister Arjun Singh had already left Bhopal. Panic was further aggravated with the news that there is still gas in the tanks. Later there were statements that the remaining gas would be released. This led to greater panic and for weeks and months people kept leaving the city.

Mass exodus, frenzy and fear
Nearly 1,000 big buses were arranged by government to ferry people out. Others left on whatever vehicle they could and most ran on foot. This was one of the biggest mass exodus from a City in modern times, all because of absolute failure of government and administration.

Trains passing through Bhopal wouldn't stop for long in those days. The train passengers would keep the compartments shut from within even though it was a common sight to see families and their children cry, begging them to open the gates. This was a tragedy of such magnitude that had no parallel in modern world.

Then the legal battle began. A compensation was agreed upon. Contrary to perception, it was not at all sufficient. Suddenly dalaals [brokers] appeared. Whatever was the compensation given by Union Carbide, was not properly distributed.

The real victims' money was distributed in parts of City where the gas had little effect, because of political considerations.

Survivors, Victims sans medical care

The super-specialty hospitals built with the money meant for gas victims, are flush with funds, but don't provide treatment and medicines to the survivors.

Instead private patients are entertained. The victims live in extremely polluted slums where toxicity is so high that young ones look middle-aged, thousands of women suffer from gynaecological complications and the poor have nobody to turn.

The women widowed by the tragedy, live in the locality ironically named Vidhwa Colony, many of them barely getting barely a pension of Rs 150. Water is so toxic that none of us can imagine. Life remains the same for lakhs living in clusters like JP Nagar, Qainchi Chhola, Oriya Basti, Qazi Camp and numerous other slums-localities in the area around Union Carbide.

The compensation had to be distributed among around 1.5 lakh people who were gas affected in 1984-85. Them and their children together numbered nearly 2-3 lakh by the next decade.

However, to gain political mileage–the compensation that was meant only for the victims, was distributed in New City also, ahead of elections. Not many got compensation over Rs 1 lakh.

As a result the real victims got much less of what they would have otherwise got. Compensation was distributed among 5 lakh people. Though it was a pittance–just Rs 25,000. Had the 25,000-each given to 4 lakh-odd non-victims, kept for the gas victims, the real victims could have benefited.

But even this colossal human tragedy was communalised. In the aftermath of Babri Masjid-Ram Temple dispute, a campaign to get compensation to New Bhopal residents was launched. The hidden message was that it was the Muslim-majority Old Bhopal that had got money. Ironically, this was also untrue.

Though Walled City in Bhopal has a clear Muslim majority, the areas that were affected had a predominant Hindu population. Among the gas victims, over 62% were Hindus, who were migrant labourers and poor workers. But this ploy did work.

The Union Carbide was bought by Dow Chemicals. There was a large quantity of poisonous waste in factory, which remains to this day. The factory had to be cleaned up, as the waste is polluting groundwater in the entire area, causing deadly diseases and producing generations that are frail and always ailing.

Bureaucrats made money, then lost interest

Bureaucrats including many senior IAS officers were interested in Gas Relief ministry and its projects as long as funding was there. When hospitals were being built, they were happy as contracts were awarded for everything from construction to buying of equipments, and they got 'cut'. There was money in everything: even in calling companies to remove toxic waste remaining in factory.

When the hospitals were established, they lost interest–so what if doctors were not appointed and machines remained unused, even patients turned away, emergency and OPD kept shut at night–after all, there was no money for them now.

A strategy was devised to hush up each and every issue. Everytime a high-flying minister from Delhi would come, he would say that there was no waste, no pollutant and nothing needed. After all, the victims were mostly–poor, unable to fight cases, not like us–and could be ignored.

It was long back that governments had stopped medical studies. Those who died due to after-effects of the gas tragedy, were not counted after 1990. The true figure of deaths could be anything from 50,000-1 lakh and even more.

The reports that indicated governments and highlighted the presence of extremely toxic substances, were not 'accepted'. Bribe was paid, Carbide was let off and leave the country. The ugly corporate-bureaucrat-minister nexus worked wonderfully for the killers.

18,000 Metric Tonnes of Waste Vs 360 tonnes: Even Commission in Clean-up

They shouted from the rooftop that there was just 360 tonnes of toxic waste left. For decades carbide had functioned in Bhopal. The reality is that the premises–67 acres has nearly 8,000 Metric Tonnes of the most poisonous chemicals' concoction in the world, buried in the ground, that is killing the poor in the adjoining areas.

And a further, 10,000 Metric Tonnes, is buried in the nearby open land where the effluent was dumped for years. And nobody would talk about it. After all, the poor can be allowed to drink this poison. Who cares? They don't get treatment. Who cares? They die. Who cares? Of course, a few do. Next part tomorrow.

—-
[This is the first part of the series on Gas Tragedy. As a child I was witness to the horrors of the gas tragedy and as a journalist covered it to some extent. The aim is to provide a true account of the tragedy and its aftermath, which many weren't aware outside Bhopal because it was not a satellite-TV/internet era back in 1984. Read the second part 'Injustice with victims, Indifference towards Survivors'. ]

Australia's leading grassroots environmentalist organisation, Friends of the Earth Australia (FoE Australia), and the Conservation Council of Western Australia waded into the controversy as pressure continues to build up in Malaysia that is threatening to delay — if not derail — the Lynas project.
"There are a number of issues that the company must answer including release of a full environmental assessment for the site," FoE Australia spokesman Natalie Lowrey said in a joint statement.
"Lynas has not made this information publicly available before embarking on the construction of the Kuantan site which could indicate that they have something to hide," she added.
Lowrey and her counterpart in the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Mia Pepper, urged the Sydney-based miner to stop work on its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) until all details about the potentially hazardous waste management are known, especially the long-term effect of radioactive thorium on residents.
Pepper said "the secrecy is unacceptable and the dangers to health are all too familiar" in a pointed reminder of the Japanese-owned Asian Rare Earth (ARE) plant in Bukit Merah, Ipoh which was blamed for the rise in leukaemia cases in the late 1980s and was forced to fund a RM303 million site clean-up despite shutting down in 1992.
"We believe that the risks of this development could leave a toxic legacy for decades to come," she said.
Pepper claimed the Lynas rare earth concentrate will also be transported through Fremantle in hessian bags, which she said was the same method used by Magellan Metals to transport its lead export. These bags had leaked and caused contamination, forcing the iron miner to shut down.
"It's not good enough for WA and it's not good enough for Malaysia," she said, in a show of solidarity with the Kuantan residents' movement.
Lynas expects to receive a preliminary operating licence from the Atomic Energy Licensing Board before September, which will be renewed as a full licence within three years should the plant comply with agreed standards.
The company hopes to earn RM8 billion in annual revenue from 2013 based on current refined metals prices, when it will supply one-third of the world's demand outside of China

On the left is the photograph of Ghazala on Eid in 1984. Just a few months later, she lost her vision and the toxic gas turned this bubbly and beautiful girl into permanently ill individual.

Despite doing their best to get her treated and in process selling off whatever they had, her parents–who were also gas affected, died.

Ghazala is just one of the innumerable individuals who lost their dreams forever on gas tragedy. The irony is that there are similar stories in thousands of households in Bhopal.

 Death Toll in Chernobyl [Russia]: 56
 Death Toll in Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Over 25,000 until 1990
when govt stopped counting the deaths due to gas and its after-effects.

What is worse that even relief and rehabilitation was denied to majority of the survivors. Today, not just the after-affects linger, the diseases are passed on to next generations. More over, the huge toxic waste that hasn't been cleaned up in and around factory, has poisoned the soil and water. The contamination level is a whopping 60 times more in these areas.

Sick hospitals

On the left is the photograph of the super-specialty Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) that was established at a cost of Rs 175 crore, after the dollar 470 million dollar settlement between the Centre and multinational company, however, this sprawling hospital complex that is built over 150 acres is in a total mess.

Of the 16 departments, just nine could be established. Gas patients that ought to have been treated free for life, are not given free treatment and asked to go elsewhere, costly medicines aren't given, no patient howsoever critical he may be, is admitted.

On the contrary, private patients who can pay up are given benefits of this hospital. Besides, of the 133 posts of doctors, nearly 75 are vacant. All costly equipment that had been bought are getting rusted in this hospital. Strangely, neither state government nor the administration take any interest.

Reasons are not far to seek. Wherever the upper class and the vocal or connected middle class goes, things do remain at least in a working condition.

This is true for most govt hospitals in India, which are now frequented by poor, as the rest go to private nursing homes, which are well-maintained.

The gas victims are mostly from the poor stratum. Naturally moneyed and salaried class goes to private hospitals and the govt hospitals in Bhopal are in a really bad shape.

Activists and even journalists seem to have given up, as government doesn't bother. This is not just the tale of BMHRC. But conditions in the Indira Gandhi Hospital, Kamla Nehru Hospital, Shakir Ali Khan Hospital and Rasul Ahmad Siddiqui Pulmonary Centre that were all built specifically for the purpose, are even worse.

The last, RAS Pulmonary Centre, was built because gas victims suffer from diseases of lungs and there are few specialists. The cruel joke is that today, this hospital has 'dentists' posted instead of the specialists who were needed for curing the critically ill.

Even justice not just got delayed but was also denied. Whatever little compensation the victims got was too little and too late, obtained through 'dalaals'. When victims are poor, media also lose focus. Courts also go ahead only to an extent, as organisations fighting the case don't have money to hire the top lawyers.

There is no public outrage as in the case of lobbying done by the vocal middle-class in Jessica Lal case or similar other high-profile murders.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Compensation for death: Rs 1 lakh
Injured and gas-affected: Rs 25,000
Received after 8-20 yrs with out any interest paid

Uphaar Cinema Hall Fire
Compensation: Rs 15-18 lakh
Received after 6 years with 9% interest

World Trade Centre Attack
Compensation: Received within a year

Ruth Waterman and the story of Mamta

Mamta was just six when she got separated from her mother, who was running holding her youngest child.

The baby died in arms and and she also died. Mamta grew motherless. Also a gas victim, with no money for treatment let alone education. Ruth Waterman, who had lost her parents in Hitler's gas chambers, and herself as a minor girl survived Holocaust, had met Mamta.

It was Waterman who had created the sole monument ever made in the memory of gas victims. Her sculpture of universal mother with a baby in arms and Mamta [not visible in this view] clinging by the mother's dress, is symbol of gas tragedy.

For 25 years no state or central government thought that there was need for any memorial. Suddenly there was a proposal to earmark Rs 116 crore for the purpose this year. And the bureaucrats for whom gas tragedy was disinteresting, again came back like 'vultures' to feast on the funds.

Politicians, bigwigs lobbying for Dow Chemicals

In no other country, any public figure would have brazenly tried to speak against the interests of nearly half-a-million citizens and absolve the company  it of its responsibility. [Dow Chemicals had taken over Union Carbide Limited]. However, Congress leader and spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi pled the case for Dow.

Nost just Kamal Nath, Montek Singh Ahluvalia but also P Chidambaram lobbied for the same cause.The chemical company has been shrugging all its repsonsibility towards cleaning the huge contamination, factory effluent, and toxic waste lying over an area of 67 acres in Carbide and around.

Even though the case is sub-judice and despite the fact that it is well-known, the intense lobbying took place. It could shame everybody.

*Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the lawyer for Dow, gave opinion to Prime Minister's office that Dow can not be held responsible for cleanup

*Dow chairman Andrew Liveris wrote to Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen that Union ministry for chemicals and fertilisers should withdraw its application for remediation costs. Soon the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram wrote to Prime Minister over the issue.

*Montek Singh Ahluvwalia sent a letter to PMO explaining that it is not possible for DOW to come up with its proposed investment in India unless the liability issue is cleared.

*Kamal Nath wrote to PM that resolving the issue was necessary to give the right signal to Dow, which is exploring investment opportunities in India.

*Ratan Tata wrote to planning commission that it was critical for Dow to have the ministry withdraw the application for a financial deposit against the remediation cost.

*Most recently Jairam Ramesh came to Bhopal, visited Carbide factory and stunned everybody by declaring that there was no toxic waste left, here.

[This is the second part of the series on Gas Tragedy. As a child I was witness to the horrors of the gas tragedy and as a journalist covered it to some extent. The aim is to provide a true account of the tragedy and its aftermath, which many weren't aware outside Bhopal because it was not a satellite-TV/internet era back in 1984. ]

Middle-aged Laxmi Nirmala urgently required critical medical care and needed five injections, each of which costs Rs 25,000, but this wife of a mill worker had no means to arrange even Rs 5,000. She turned to the only man whom victims of gas tragedy approach.

Abdul Jabbar, himself a gas victim, has all alone fought the nexus of corrupt bureaucrats, corporate brokers and the politicians who have over the last 25 years tried to silence the voice of the victims of the industrial disaster.

Jabbar doesn't have money. But commands enormous respect because of his lifelong struggle. Perhaps, it is his extreme determination to fight for justice, that makes the bureaucrats work–either because they know that at least this man can't be 'managed'.

Laxmi Nirmala got the injections and was saved. Raja Ram was unable to move and no hospital was admitting him but he intervened. Or take the case of young, 28-year-old Aqeel, who need dialysis every three days but was thrown out of BMHRC hospital that ought to provide it free of cost for life, Jabbar tries every method, even going up to Justice Ahmedi, who is chairman of the hospital trust, to get the man treated.

In a society where people seldom speak for others, he has worked like a maniac. Today he suffers from various illnesses, is diabetic and is barely able to read even headlines of newspapers. He however has the moral authority that when he calls up–either the police chief or the minister–they do listen.

After all, at the bottom of the heart they know that when it comes to honesty, this man has no parallel. Unlike NGOs and activists who hardly care for victims but organise protests like 'candle light vigils' which sell outside India a couple of times a year, Jabbar doesn't care about such gimmicks. His organisation has no website. He doesn't ask for donations either. Read senior journalist Hartosh Singh Bal's article:

Guest Article 'Bhopal: The Other Story'


During my first year in Bhopal as state correspondent for The Indian Express I was left bemused by the hostility and suspicion with which victims of the gas tragedy greeted the annual deluge of visitors from Delhi and abroad on the December 3 anniversary. By the time I left Bhopal I had come to share this attitude.

It is not as if the victims do not need help. Each day more than 6,000 still seek medical aid for a host of respiratory ailments at designated medical centres. For them the process is an exercise in daily humiliation and there is almost none to help them out. The Monitoring Committee for Medical Rehabilitation of Bhopal Gas Victims set up by the Supreme Court in 2004, a full 20 years after the tragedy, has been without a chairperson for the last year and a half.

Bhopal itself has two prominent organisations working for the victims. While both have moved the court in several cases to seek relief and justice, on the ground they operate in very different fashions. The Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, led by Abdul Jabbar, focuses on helping the victims in their daily quest for medical help. The other, the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, led by Satinath Sarangi, focuses on efforts to inform the outside world of what is unfolding in Bhopal.

Abdul Jabbar is a man who speaks little or no English, his organisation has very little presence on the Web, yet for the victims, he is the only one who can help out with their daily struggle. Satinath Sarangi is fluent in English, hosts a website that provides detailed information on every aspect of the tragedy and is the link between Bhopal and the outside world. His work in Bhopal is limited to an ayurvedic dispensary.

When I first reached Bhopal, I thought the two were an ideal foil for each other. But as is now common knowledge among activists, the two detest each other. Over the years this has resulted in the erasure of Jabbar's role outside Bhopal simply because foreign correspondents, representatives of international NGOs as well as reporters from the English language Indian media reach Bhopal requiring pre-digested information. In the day or two they spend in the city they want their hands held by someone fluent in English who can mediate between them and the victims. Satinath fits this role perfectly, Jabbar doesn't.

In 2004, reporting on the twentieth anniversary for Tehelka, I wrote of my fear that the outside world would mistake Satinath's message for the reality of Jabbar's Bhopal. As if in confirmation a few years later, Indra Sinha published his book Animal's People that places a character clearly based on Satinath at the centre of the victims' struggle in a city based on Bhopal. A part of the proceeds from the sale of the book go to Satinath's organisation.

When I alluded to this problem in an earlier column, Indra Sinha weighed in with claims about the autonomy of fiction. But where events such as the Bhopal tragedy or the Gujarat riots are concerned, fiction loses its autonomy. No writer can claim he has the right to mould such material to his will.

However reasonable the intention, a half-truth in this setting is an abomination with unfortunate consequences. The victims themselves can hardly raise money to support the organisations working in Bhopal, funds flow in from outside and they do not flow equitably.

Thanks to patrons such as Greenpeace and Indra Sinha, Satinath is flush with funds, Jabbar has none. The money from the outside world goes mainly towards providing more information on Bhopal to the outside world while the man whose help the victims most need is left bereft.

No doubt I will hear from many indignant activists, but don't be fooled. The people who Jabbar helps have little or no access to the English media or the internet, they won't be writing in. If you want the truth, don't pay attention to those who parachute in for a day or two or those who claim to understand Bhopal from London, don't even take my word for any of this.

Go to Bhopal armed with a knowledge of Hindi and see for yourself. Allow yourself a month or two in the city to see how the victims who cannot obtain the medicine they need are helped by a story on the front page of the New York Times or a book on the Booker shortlist. Perhaps, you will also come to know why they remain sceptical of the hordes from outside who will descend to feast on another anniversary.

[Courtesy: The Open Magazine]

Also, read this article published in Tehelka a few years back:

For outsiders unfamiliar with the city, much of the focus of the work around the victims of the gas tragedy has been the efforts of international agencies and those working in collaboration with them. But for anyone who has actually lived in Bhopal, seen the smallest detail of painstaking relief and rehabilitation work being done there, the fact remains that the most effective work in the city is homegrown.

Without doubt, it centers around the remarkable figure of Abdul Jabbar, who on his own has done more work of lasting value here than several such bodies as Greenpeace put together.

It is a question often raised when such facts are brought up. But it is important to emphasise this over and over again. In this bid to put a united front on the work done in Bhopal, the contribution of Abdul Jabbar has been systematically overlooked or undervalued.

Jabbar is a Punjabi who was one-year -old when his father moved to Bhopal in 1958. In 1984, he had a successful tubewell boring business in the city when the gas tragedy took place. His family was among those affected, and he continues to suffer the after-effects.

Unable to devote himself to the business as he moved into the role of an activist, his business shut down. Ever since, he has been indefatigable. Through the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS), an organisation he set up in 1985, he has been involved with every important legal initiative taken up for the victims — from the compensation of victims to underwater contamination through the wastes lying at the Union Carbide site.
But to anyone who has attended the weekly BGPMUS meeting at the Yaadgar-e-Shahjahani Park in Bhopal, far more unforgettable has been his contribution in helping out individuals who have no one else to turn to. Throughout old Bhopal tales of widows who have no-where to go, victims who cannot transport themselves to the 'gas hospitals', the elderly who cannot manage to fight their case for compensation in the courts are common. And there is only one person they can turn to — Abdul Jabbar.

His obduracy, his willingness to take on anyone head on for such individual cases, has meant that the bureaucracy in the state, the unfeeling medical staff at the hospitals and the corrupt clerks who take their share of the compensation meant for the victims — they all know they should not take him on. It has meant that his name has become a byword for anyone seeking help in the city.

That his contribution is not better known stems from a simple fact: his inability to cater to the requirements of the outside world. For a man always busy in the hectic course of each day, he has not been able to build up a record of documentation that journalists and activists outside the city expect to be handed to them when they waft in for a day or two.

Neither does he have the fluency in English that seems a crucial requirement for most persons to be heard in Delhi or New York. And lastly, in the eyes of outsiders, he stands accused of the cardinal sin of self-respect. He does not kowtow to anyone and has always been far too involved in his own pursuit of justice to go out of his way to accommodate the ignorance of outsiders.

The price he has had to pay for this is heavy. He does not mind that international recognition has come the way of others who are far less deserving. But it has meant that the most important relief effort in the city, the only one that can really provide succour, has been underfunded, if funded at all.

For friends, it has been a common experience to chip in when Jabbar finds that the BGPMUS phone has been disconnected for non-payment of bills. For two decades his organisation has survived month to month, but it also speaks for his determination that of the nearly 50-odd workshops provided to ngos by the government after the tragedy only one continues to function and generate enough funds for itself. Again, no surprises: the workshop is run by the BGPMUS. The other workshops acquired in the name of ngos run by relatives and friends of those in power have long shut down.

Ask Jabbar and he will simply say, "I have never looked for funds. I am interested in the moral support that international organisations can provide, beyond that I have confined myself to my way of working.'' It is a way of working that the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy can't do without, but it is work that could benefit from money that comes to him from those who believe in the work he is doing.

[Courtesy Tehelka weekly]

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This post is a tribute to conscience-keeper like Abdul Jabbar, who devote themselves totally to a cause and live for others. There are several aspects of his personality. He hates self-projection. He also doesn't care about false and fat egos of journalists and has the moral strength to scold them without worrying that this might piss them off.

Ironically the man and his immense contribution has not been acknowledged in an era when marketing, self-glorification and publicity create public images and undeserving people get undue credit. Either it's pursuing ongoing cases in the courts whether about gas tragedy or regarding lack of treatment in hospitals, the voluminous petitions and revised petitions are filed with the meagre Rs 5 collected from the volunteers who come on their own at the weekly meetings of his Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan.

This was the third and the last post on Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Read the earlier posts 'Horrors of Bhopal Gas Tragedy 1984' and 'Injustice to victims, indifference towards survivors' on this blog.

[The murals on gas tragedy near the Union Carbide, the photos of which are seen in the post above, were made by Tiziana Stefanelli, Jennifer Spiegel, Yeshwant Sahu, Chunni Lal, Alizarin Menninga, Pragya, Corina, Nayan, Dede Minter, A Rehman, Madan Lal, Asif and Mausam]



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