Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Silencing the Blogs; Cover Story in Spider Magazine

Spider magazine's April 2006 edition is finally online as well as in print. It has as it's "cover package" (not just one story), "Silencing the Blogs", which includes a column from yours truly. But notice that the editorial itself takes a very strong position:

[By way of background, in case you missed this before, Spider is the "Internet Magazine" of the Dawn Group, one of the largest media houses in Pakistan and publishers of the "Paper of Record", so to speak, Dawn.]

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X-Files on Faqeers (fakirs)?

Interesting episode of X-Files was just on. It tied together Indian fakirs with a chemical accident an industrial plant in India (a slightly fictionalized version of the Bhopal accident) with some of the special Dana Scully magic...

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Regime Change in Historical Perspective

Not to say that the US is the only country or government that does this kind of thing. In fact, the exact opposite. But here's an NPR program about an interesting book about the history of the US government's track record on the matter:

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Frank Wills

Watching this movie on HBO that is really odd in its premise and story, but it brought up a very interesting concept; the concept of Frank Wills.

Frank Wills was the security guard who busted, so to speak, the Watergate burglars. And while all the other players--none of them non-White--went on to have successful lives, the one man who actually did the right thing died desitute at 52.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Buchanan: "Corporations, Parties Betray American People" and on Insults to Islam

I just heard Pat Buchanan say the following on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews":

"The American people are being sold out by the transnational corporations--and both parties."

For some reason, I keep going back to Buchanan...

And to get completely caught up on Buchanan, if you haven't already done so, read his op ed the of the other day titled "US must not Condone insults to Islam".

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Pakistan Blocks Wikipedia

This press release came out Friday and I should have put it up here right then. But then, I have a day job...


31st March 2006

For Further Information:

Dr. Awab Alvi (Pakistan)
Cell: 92-333-2373493

Omar Alvie (UAE)
Cell: 00971-50-6268410



Today, 31 March 2006, at around 13:00 Pakistan Standard Time, it has come to our attention that another important website was added to the blacklisted domains from Pakistan: that is the entire domain of Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia, was likely blocked because one article of the massive 3.5 million topics covered on the website contained information pertaining to the controversial cartoons on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). While the block appeared to be limited in duration, having been lifted at 20:00 (PST) seven hours after the initiation, the real issues remain about the future censorship of education and knowledge in Pakistan.

We request the international print and electronic media to bring this issue to light in order to ensure that the concerned Pakistani authorities and ISPs understand the importance of free access to the Internet.

A month back, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked access to upwards of 10 million websites being hosted on the domain, following a Supreme Court order issued on March 3rd condemning the controversial cartoons. The judicial order instructed the PTA to regulate only twelve offending websites which were promoting the blasphemous cartoons on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). One of the offending websites happened to be hosted on the domain The PTA, as the supreme controlling body of internet access in Pakistan, entirely blocked access to upwards of 10 millions websites.

Wikipedia is the world's largest online encyclopaedia and is considered as the single largest online storehouse of knowledge having over 3.5 million articles on every imaginable topic conceivable in the world. These articles are gradually improved by contributors and then the topics are stored safely to then be freely shared with the entire world. The wikipedia project is translated into over 200 languages with over one million pages written in the English language, and it even contains hundreds of topics specifically written in the Urdu language. It should be important to point out that the largest printable encyclopaedia Britannica can only cover 65,000 topics which is easily dwarfed by the 3.5 million topics on Wikipedia. Simultaneously the printed version of the Britannica Encyclopaedia can cost upwards of $1400 to purchase but on the other hand each and every article on Wikipedia is free to read by anyone having an internet connection.

The DON'T BLOCK THE BLOG campaign ( ) was launched on 3rd March, 2006 in order to highlight and protest the issue of the blockage of blogs in Pakistan. We now extend our campaign to protest any blockage of Wikipedia in Pakistan. Both these issues are important to a developing nation such as Pakistan. What began as censorship of simple freedom of speech appears to have the real possibility of being extended to censorship of education and knowledge in Pakistan.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Buchanan on Deep Throat

Okay, so this post is not timely, but of late, I have often had occasion to say that hate him or disagree with him, Pat Buchanan is the only one keeping it real about Iraq in terms of saying frankly and openly what he believes--and addressing some of the real issues.

But more of that in the next post or two. Here's a link I tucked away in a draft post when "Deep Throat"s true identity came out last year. It is interesting to see how often something that a lot of people take for granted, is often not the only take on a historical event even years later.It's a video segment on CSPAN:


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Saturday, April 01, 2006

My Party Too ... part 3

The last time we were covering this was when Christie Whitman was on her book tour. (See this post, this one and this one. The last one addresses an interesting points about building majorities, something that goes beyond party politics to activism, I believe.)

I am not sure why, but she was on the Tavis Smiley show again this week:

Might this have to do with the presidential race for '08 getting underway, perchance? Even if she doesn't run herself, several of the people on the Board/Steering Committee/whatever it is of her Political Action Committe (PAC) are potential candidates.

And in the spirit of catching up on this issue, also, here are some notes from her appearance on Dennis Miller's show a little while back:
  • An interesting point: Dennis asked "What is it coming out the White House that makes you have to say this?" and her her reply was "Not out of the White House, but out of other parts of the Republican Party." She says she's talking about "my way or the highway Social Fundamentatists" not the old-fashioned conservatives. Barry Goldwater would not meet the litmus test that these guys are about, she shays.
  • And then Dennis gave voice to a very interesting thought: are we headed for 4 parties? That's something I have been thinking about--what a multi-party situation in the US, given the constitution, would look like. It's worth exploring a bit further at some point.
  • One thing I noted was that Dennis kept going on and on about Condi. What was that about? Something they had discussed offscreen or something? Is this an undercurrent?
  • And on New Jersey governor McGreevey--Christie Whitman pointed out that DM was one of very few people saying it was never about his being gay--it was about his being crooked.
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Progressives, Right-Wingers, and Moderates

I was complaining about the conflation of "progressive" and "moderate" in a statement from a Progressive Muslim set up and someone challanged me on it, so I offered to try to unpack my comment. Here's what I said:

On the one hand, I was saying that I agree with most of what the statement says.

But efforts like this need to make a distinction between what is a progressive position and what is a moderate position. Right wing positions and progressive positions are both sold as being "moderate", and that confusion between the two makes it very difficult to have a proper conversation. Right wing, Progressive, and Moderate are three different things and they all have something to bring to the discussion, but the clear discussion can only take place if we are clear about what is what. As long as any and all participants do not cross lines of legality, morality, decency and, in this case, Islamic principles, they should all be part of the discussion.

And in terms of full disclosure, personally, I consider myself as coming from a moderate-to-traditional (not Maududist/Qutbist) background but who is increasingly finding that the folks I agree with and can work with are progressive. I am part of several organizations that are progressive and have called myself progressive. We should be honest about that; it would help us all have real conversations instead of haranguing/demagoging each other.


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