Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan in Turmoil: Roots of the Crisis

Pakistan in Turmoil: Roots of the Crisis

from The Associated Press

NPR.org, December 27, 2007 · It's a country that plays a central role in fighting the war on terror even as the world's most feared terrorism network calls it home. A place that's embroiled in internal conflict over notions of democracy, modernity and the role of Islam in society.

The Pakistan where former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday is a nation with a complex history and an uneasy relationship with the world community — and, often, with its own people.

Here's some of what you need to know to understand the confusing circumstances surrounding the attack on a Bhutto campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
———
TERRORISM
Pakistan is one of the most important U.S. allies in the fight against al-Qaida and other extremists, including the Taliban.

It also may well be the country where Osama bin Laden spent most of his time in hiding since Sept. 11, 2001.

The presence of al-Qaida militants in the country's northwest is, of course, the very reason Pakistan is so important to the war on terror — breaking up a terrorism network centered in the lawless, mountainous region near the Afghan border would likely be impossible without Pakistan's cooperation.

Pakistan's army frequently clashes with Islamic militants in northern parts of the country, where the militants have been blamed for numerous suicide bombings and other attacks. But the country's intelligence agency also has supported Islamic radicals in Pakistan and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan in an effort to gain political influence in both countries.

On Thursday, President Pervez Musharraf blamed Islamic extremists for Bhutto's assassination and said he would redouble his efforts to fight them.

———
ISLAM
Nearly all of Pakistan's 160 million people are Muslims. And a bitter conflict swirls around exactly what role Islam will play in how the nation is ruled.

Pakistan has generally been ruled by secular leaders, including Musharraf. But the Islamic religious right shot to prominence after Musharraf's rise to power in a 1999 military coup — and was further boosted by a wave of anti-American sentiment after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Islamic parties gained new influence after winning dozens of seats in parliamentary elections in 2002.

Ever since, emboldened religious groups have been pushing for Islamic law, which dictates everything from women's clothing and participation in sports to how rape prosecutions are pursued. They've fought to enforce such rules on the local level and tried to pressure the national government to institute Islamic law more broadly.

———
DEMOCRACY
Musharraf argues that Pakistan's security and prosperity demand forceful actions against terrorist groups and Islamic extremists.

His critics' response: At what cost to democracy?
Musharraf recently declared six weeks of emergency rule, which he said was necessary to combat rising Islamic extremism. But many saw the move as an effort to prolong his presidency — specifically, to try to control the results of parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 8.

The state of emergency ended on Dec. 15, but observers remained doubtful that the elections would be free and fair.

Under emergency rule, police cracked down on rallies by opposition parties. And Bhutto and fellow former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — the leading opposition figures — only recently returned to campaign after extended periods in exile.

Musharraf also rounded up thousands of his opponents and fired Supreme Court justices, replacing them with his hand-picked successors. The government has also been accused of clamping down on the media.

With Bhutto's assassination — and Sharif's announcement Thursday that his party would boycott the Jan. 8 elections — the future of democracy in Pakistan has become even more uncertain.
———
NUCLEAR NEIGHBORS
In 1948, mere months after India and Pakistan both gained their independence from Britain, the two young nations went to war over the divided region of Kashmir — a conflict that's continued to this day, fluctuating between a war of words and all-out fighting in the border region.

Tensions between the countries escalated — and the world watched nervously — when India and Pakistan tested nuclear bombs in 1998.

India and Pakistan reached a breakthrough in 2003, declaring a cease-fire in Kashmir. An ongoing peace process between the countries has lessened global concerns about the nuclear situation — though Pakistan is still seen as a prime target for terrorists trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons.

———
KEY PLAYERS
Here are some of Pakistan's key political figures:
— Pervez Musharraf: The former army chief has ruled Pakistan since leading a 1999 coup.

— Benazir Bhutto: The two-time former prime minister led Pakistan's biggest opposition party before her assassination Thursday.

— Nawaz Sharif: The premier ousted in Musharraf's coup is among Pakistan's most popular leaders.

— Qazi Hussain Ahmed: The leader of Pakistan's main Islamist party and a critic of Musharraf's role in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

— Fazlur Rehman: The head of a pro-Taliban party with strong support among the ethnic Pashtuns living along the Afghan border.

— Imran Khan: A former star cricket player who used his fame to elbow his way into Pakistan's political elite. An eloquent and outspoken critic of Musharraf.

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 3:36 PM   0 comments links to this post

How secure are Pakistan's Nukes?




















Considering this morning news about the assination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto we may want to ask, how secure are Pakistan's Nukes?



Before we can seek to answer the question about security let's look at Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons:



The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that Pakistan has built 24-48 HEU-based nuclear warheads, and Carnegie reports that they have produced 585-800 kg of HEU, enough for 30-55 weapons. Pakistan's nuclear warheads are based on an implosion design that uses a solid core of highly enriched uranium and requires an estimated 15-20 kg of material per warhead. According to Carnegie, Pakistan has also produced a small but unknown quantity of weapons grade plutonium, which is sufficient for an estimated 3-5 nuclear weapons.



You can read the entire report at: Pakistan Nuclear Weapons





















To read a report on Pakistan's Present Capabilities follow this link: Pakistan


Now how safe are these weapons now?

I found the following article at:
http://www.metafilter.com/67746/Securing-Pakistans-Nukes

Given this morning's news, I figured we could all do with a primer on the state of security regarding Pakistan's nuclear weapons. It's a very murky situation, but here's a collection of some of the best available data & analysis. I won't even try to summarize or characterize the various articles, I think any attempt I'd make would reduce their information past usefulness. So here you go, make of it what you will:

U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms (NYT),

Inside Pakistan's Drive To Guard Its A-Bombs (WSJ),

Pakistan Nuclear Security Questioned (WP),

The Stand-off (New Yorker),

The Times’s Three-Year Silence on Pakistan’s Nukes (CJR),

Securing Pakistan's Nukes (Danger Room),

Pak nukes already under US control (Stratfor Report)

& finally a Permissive Action Link Primer.




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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 12:46 PM   0 comments links to this post

ASSASSINATION IN PAKISTAN
















Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto is dead after gunfire and a suicide bomber targeted her vehicle as she left a campaign rally. At least 20 other people were killed when the bomb detonated near the capital.

This story is being covered by thousands of web-site and of course all the TV news channels. I want to try to bring all the important information here. This will allow readers to follow this situation in one place instead of having to search for information.

Let's begin our coverage by asking the most important question:

Who was Benazir Bhutto?

Bhutto: A Brief Bio


Born June 21, 1953, into a wealthy landowning family in southern Pakistan
Daughter of Pakistan's founding father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was executed in 1979 after being deposed in a military coup


Studied politics and government


Two-time prime minister


Left country in 1999 to avoid corruption charges


Eight years of self-imposed exile


Recent return was targeted by suicide bombing that killed more than 140 people


First woman to lead a modern Muslim nation


Hoped to lead pro-Western, democratic government against Islamic militants


Had talked with President Musharraf of a possible power-sharing deal


Brother Murtaza died in a gunbattle with police in Karachi in 1996


Youngest brother, Shahnawaz, died under mysterious circumstances in France a decade earlier


— from The Associated Press

Benazir Bhutto - Wikipedia

Benazir Bhutto - Women's International Center

The Assassination:

Benazir Bhutto killed in attack

Pakistan's Bhutto killed in attack

The question many may have is, Who killed her?

Who killed Benazir Bhutto? The main suspects

A very important question to consider is what does this mean?

For America

For Pakistan

I will continue to monitor the story and post links to the most important information.

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 12:12 PM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A GREAT ALBUM


















I came across the new Teddy P album last week and all I can say is wow! It is amazing, I think I have listened to it about a 100 times already.

Here are some excerpts from a review of the album:

Reviewed by Benton Logan

On December 1st, Christmas came early as Teddy P dropped a full instrumental album, “My Life Complete” and it was FREE. As excited as I was, I was sure these were going to be beats that didn’t “make the cut” as most would think from a free album but ohhhh how I was wrong. Teddy P has 13 top notch beats on this album.

My Life Complete” has a very diverse set of beats, ranging from slow/laid back (The Foundation – Track 1 and My Life Complete – Track 12) to head banging (Next To You – Track 3 and Amped Soul – Track 6) to everything in between. Teddy P shows us his creativity in songs like “Wrongs & Rights” (Track 9), everything about this song is creative, “Down In Georgia” (Track 4), the samples and the organ in the background and “Gotta Move” (Track 10), with its colorful array of samples and dirty snares. “1st Love 2nd Time”, can also be found on “I Got It 4 Free, the Remix”. Of all the tracks on the album, my favorites would have to be, (and this was hard), “Next to You” (Track 3), “Down in Georgia” (Track 4) and “Thank you Jesus” (Track 8).

Teddy P moved onto my top producers list when I first heard him on E-Pistle’s album, but “My Life Complete” sealed the deal, FOREVER. Please understand, this album review does the album no justice, so stop reading, download it and check it out yourself at:
http://www.mediafire.com/?cgjdf1fgfuz

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 2:42 PM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 24, 2007

THE GREATEST SONG EVER WRITTEN!

There are times when from the very first note of a song you know that you are hearing something very special. The first time I heard Cannonball by Damien Rice I was literally stopped in my tracks. From the first note I could not move I was captured and transported to the world of the song. I felt the emotion and the longing the songs describes. It has been a few years since I first heard the song and even today the song is still as powerful to me as it was the first time I heard it. below you will find a video of the song and the lyrics. I hope the song affects you like it still does me.





cannonball

there's still a little bit of your taste in my mouth
there's still a little bit of you laced with my doubt
it's still a little hard to say what's going on
there's still a little bit of your ghost your witness
there's still a little piece of your face i haven't kissed
you step a little closer to me
still i can't see what's going on
stones taught me to fly
love taught me to lie
life taught me to die
so it's not hard to fall
when you float like a cannonball
there's still a little bit of your song in my ear
there's still a little bit of your words i long to hear
you step a little closer each day
so close that i can't see what's going on
stones taught me to fly
love taught me to lie
life taught me to die
so it's not hard to fall
when you float like a cannon
stones taught me to fly
love taught me to cry
so come on courage
teach me to be shy
'cause it's not hard to fall
and i don't want to scare her
it's not hard to fall
and i don't wanna lose
it's not hard to grow
when you know that you just don't know

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 10:26 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Doctors baffled by green sweat

Doctors in China admit they are baffled after a man began to perspire green sweat.

Cheng Shunguo, 52, of Wuhan city, says his sweat turned green in the middle of November.
"I noticed that my underwear and bed sheets were all green, and even the water in the shower," he told the Chutian Metropolis News.
Cheng says he feels no discomfort, but went to hospital because he was worried about his condition.
Doctors thoroughly cleaned his armpits but it took only 10 minutes for his sweat to turn a piece of white gauze green again.
They have carried out blood tests on Cheng, but found everything to be normal.
"We can't find the cause," admitted a spokesman for the hospital which reported the case to the media in the hope of finding a solution.


To see a picture and the article follow this link: Green

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 2:33 PM   0 comments links to this post

Map that named America is a puzzle for researchers














The 1507 Waldseemuller map in an image courtesy of the Library of Congress. The only surviving copy of the 500-year-old map that first used the name America goes on permanent display this month at the Library of Congress, but even as it prepares for its debut, the map remains a puzzle for researchers
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
The only surviving copy of the 500-year-old map that first used the name America goes on permanent display this month at the Library of Congress, but even as it prepares for its debut, the 1507 Waldseemuller map remains a puzzle for researchers.

Why did the mapmaker name the territory America and then change his mind later? How was he able to draw South America so accurately? Why did he put a huge ocean west of America years before European explorers discovered the Pacific?

"That's the kind of conundrum, the question, that is still out there," said John Hebert, chief of the geography and map division of the Library of Congress.

The 12 sheets that make up the map, purchased from German Prince Johannes Waldburg-Wolfegg for $10 million in 2003, were mounted on Monday in a huge 6-foot by 9.5-foot (1.85 meter by 2.95 meter) display case machined from a single block of aluminum.

The case will be flooded with inert argon gas to prevent deterioration when it goes on public display December 13.

Researchers are hopeful that putting the rarely shown map on permanent display for the first time since it was discovered in the Waldburg-Wolfegg castle archives in 1901 may stimulate interest in finding out more about the documents used to produce it.

The map was created by the German monk Martin Waldseemuller. Thirteen years after Christopher Columbus first landed in the Western Hemisphere, the Duke of Lorraine brought Waldseemuller and a group of scholars together at a monastery in Saint-Die in France to create a new map of the world.

The result, published two years later, is stunningly accurate and surprisingly modern.
"The actual shape of South America is correct," said Hebert. "The width of South America at certain key points is correct within 70 miles of accuracy."

Given what Europeans are believed to have known about the world at the time, it should not have been possible for the mapmakers to produce it, he said.

The map gives a reasonably correct depiction of the west coast of South America. But according to history, Vasco Nunez de Balboa did not reach the Pacific by land until 1513, and Ferdinand Magellan did not round the southern tip of the continent until 1520.

"So this is a rather compelling map to say, 'How did they come to that conclusion,"' Hebert said.
The mapmakers say they based it on the 1,300-year-old works of the Egyptian geographer Ptolemy as well as letters Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci wrote describing his voyages to the new world. But Hebert said there must have been something more.

"From the writings of Vespucci you couldn't have prepared the map," Hebert said. "There had to be something cartographic with it."

MISGIVINGS ABOUT AMERICA
Waldseemuller made it clear he was naming the new land after Vespucci, describing how he came up with the name America based on the navigator's first name.

But he soon had misgivings about what he had done. An atlas Waldseemuller produced six years later shows only part of the east coast of the Americas, and refers to it as Terra Incognita -- unknown land.

"America has gone out of his lexicon," Hebert said. "(No) place in the atlas -- in the text or in the maps -- does the name America appear."

His 1516 mariner's map, on the same scale as the 1507 map, steps back even further, showing only parts of the new continents and reconnecting the north to Asia. South America is labeled Terra Nova -- New World -- and North America is labeled Terra de Cuba -- Land of Cuba.

"Essentially he's reconnecting North America to the Asian mainland, suggesting a continual world of land mass rather than separated by those bodies of water that separate us from Europe and Asia," Hebert said.

Why the rollback? No one knows.

In writings accompanying the 1516 map, Waldseemuller comes across as if he "has seen the better of his error and is now correcting it," Hebert said.

He speculated that power politics played a role. Spain and Portugal divided the globe between them in 1494, two years after Columbus, with territory to the east going to Portugal and land to the west to Spain.

That demarcation line is oddly absent from the 1507 Waldseemuller map, and flags marking territorial claims in South America suggest Portugal controls the region's southernmost land, even though it is in Spain's area of influence. On the later map, the southernmost flag is Spanish, Hebert said.

"It is possible one could say the 1507 map is influenced strongly by Portuguese sources and conceivably the 1516 map may be influenced more by Spanish sources," he said.

Although the map conceals many mysteries, one thing is clear: it represents a revolutionary shift in the way Europe viewed the world.

"This is ... essentially the beginning or first map of the modern age, and it's one that everything builds on from that point forward," Hebert said. "It becomes a keystone map."

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 10:32 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 10, 2007

Aphorism






















What is an Aporism?

Main Entry:
aph·o·rism

Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle French aphorisme, from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos definition, aphorism, from aphorizein to define, from apo- + horizein to bound —
Date:
1528
1 : a concise statement of a principle
2 : a terse formulation of a truth or sentiment : adage


Wikipedia has this article about Aphorisms:

Article



A new book explores the use of an aphorism:

Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists (Hardcover)
by James Geary (Author)

Book Description
Bestselling expert James Geary’s enlightening, entertaining compendium of wit and wisdom, from Sun Tzu to Desmond Tutu—and 350 aphorists in between.

Both an expert and a collector, James Geary has devoted his life to aphorisms—and the last few years to organizing, indexing, and even translating them.

The result is Geary’s Guide, featuring classic writers like Voltaire, Twain, Shakespeare, and Nietzsche, but also more surprising figures, such as Woody Allen, Muhammad Ali, Emily Dickinson, and Mae West.

Some of the aphorists appear in English for the first time.

But it is more than just a conventional anthology.

It is also an encyclopedia, containing brief biographies of each author in addition to a selection of his or her aphorisms.

The book is a field guide, too, with aphorists organized into eight different “species,” such as Comics, Critics & Satirists; Icons & Iconoclasts; and Painters & Poets.

The book’s two indexes—by author and by subject—make it easily searchable, while its unique organizational structure and Geary’s lively biographical entries make it different from all previous reference works.

Geary’s Guide is eminently suitable for browsing or for sustained reading. A comprehensive guide to our most intimate, idiosyncratic literary form, the book is an indispensable tool for writers and public speakers as well as essential reading for all language lovers.

You can listen to a great interview with the author at the following link:

Listener Amused by Guide to Aphorisms

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 1:02 PM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 08, 2007

1968















1968 with Tom Brokaw
I believe these times are Eastern
Sunday, December 09 09:00 PM
Monday, December 10 01:00 AM


In 1968, the fury and violence of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago propelled us toward a tipping point in politics. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated, America suffered its bloodiest year in Vietnam and drugs seduced us. Yet idealism--and hope--flourished. Explore the significance of that turbulent year and the way it continues to affect the American landscape. Tom Brokaw offers his perspective on the era and shares the rich personal odysseys of some of the people who lived through that chaotic time, along with the stories of younger people now experiencing its aftershocks. Includes archival footage and interviews with former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who was talking to King when he was assassinated and rushed to his side to try to staunch the wound; Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, who wrestled RFKs' assassin to the ground; and Arlo Guthrie, best known for his song "Alice's Restaurant.

Rating: TVPG
Running Time: 120 minutes


NPR did a great interview about the special:

Tom Brokaw Surveys Significance of 1968

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 9:51 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 07, 2007

BEST ALBUM OF 2007
















October 2007, In Rainbows by Radiohead was released. From the first note I was blown away. Here is an album that does not sound like anything else and the band does not care!

The album can be listened to over and over and each time there is something new to discover. There are times I listen and I focus on the music and other times I focus on the lyrics.


All I Need
I'm the next act waiting in the wings
I'm an animalTrapped in your hot car
I am all the days that you choose to ignore

You are all I need
You are all I need
I'm in the middle of your picture
Lying in the reeds

I am a moth who just wants to share your light
I'm just an insect trying to get out of the night
I only stick with you because there are no others

You are all I need
You are all I need
I'm in the middle of your picture
Lying in the reeds
It's all wrongI
t's all right
It's all wrong

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 9:31 AM   0 comments links to this post