Jun 30, 2007

WWE’s chairman Mr Mcmahon calls Benoit a ‘monster’

WWE’s chairman Mr Mcmahon calls Benoit a ‘monster’

In an exclusive interview on TODAY, WWE chairman Vince McMahon backed off claims by his organization that steroids had nothing to do with the murder-suicide of wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and 7-year-old son.

“Steroids may or may not have had anything to do with this,” McMahon told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira. “It’s all speculation until the toxicology reports come back.”

That was a retreat from a statement World Wrestling Entertainment, based in Stamford, Conn., had put out earlier, in which the organization said “steroids were not and could not be related” to the deaths.

Confronted with that statement by Vieira, McMahon said, “We didn’t say that. Our reaction was reacting to the hysteria of the media.”

McMahon explained that he and the WWE were reacting to suggestions that the phenomenon known as “'roid rage” may have led to the killings. Among the potential side effects of steroid use are depression, paranoia and episodes of rage.

The slayings of Benoit’s wife, Nancy, and their child were carried out last weekend. Authorities say that Benoit may have remained in the house with the bodies as long as another day before hanging himself, using the rope and pulleys from a weight machine. His wife had been strangled. Sometime after she was killed, the couple’s son was smothered. Bibles were placed next to the bodies.

‘This man was a monster’
“This is not an act of rage,” McMahon said. “This is an act of deliberation.” He added that investigators also found prescription medications in the house that may have played a role.

“This is a horrific tragedy,” he said. “It happened in pro wrestling. There’s a rush to judgment. There’s almost a hysteria around us.”

McMahon said that Benoit was known to the organization as “a mild-mannered individual,” adding, “there was no way of telling this man was a monster.”

Benoit married Nancy, who also worked for WWE, in 2000. Three years later, she filed for divorce, claiming that her husband “lost his temper and threatened to strike the petitioner and cause extensive damage to the home.”

They reconciled three months later. But there have been reports that the marriage had been under pressure recently, and Nancy had demanded that Benoit spend more time at home helping to care for their son, who was developmentally disabled.

McMahon built the WWE into a thriving force in entertainment, creating characters and building story lines that ran like violent soap operas from one big pay-per-view show to the next. The outcomes of the matches are scripted, but the wrestlers travel as much as 300 days a year, putting on shows in cities across the country on an almost nightly basis.

While the action may be staged, the wrestlers take a pounding in the ring and injuries are frequent. So is the use of pain medications. In an earlier taped interview with NBC News, former wrestler Lex Lugar, who battled addiction to prescription drugs, said that drug use is rampant in the sport.

Benoit, known as the “Canadian Crippler,” had failed to show up for two WWE events. When WWE employees reported receiving puzzling text messages from Benoit early Sunday morning and were unable to contact Benoit in his suburban Atlanta home, WWE officials called law-enforcement authorities, who entered the house on Monday and found the bodies.

Police reported finding anabolic steroids in the home along with prescription drugs. Sports columnists and commentators have attacked McMahon and professional wrestling for failing to control the use of drugs, which have been implicated in a number of deaths. After Benoit's suicide and the slaying of his family, those criticisms intensified.

On Monday, WWE replaced its “Monday Night Raw” television show with a three-hour tribute to Benoit. Shortly afterward, when it became public knowledge that he had killed his wife and child, it pulled a tribute to him from its Web site. The organization also released the statement in which it said steroids were not to blame for the tragedy.

McMahon’s steroid charge
Vieira cited statistics showing that 60 wrestlers have died before the age of 65 since 1985 and said, “It seems like early death is almost an occupational hazard.”

McMahon questioned that number and said that he can speak only to five wrestlers who have died while under contract to the WWE or its predecessor, the WWF.

Among those who have died were Eddie Guerrero, who succumbed in 2005 to heart failure linked to steroid use. Curt “Mr. Perfect” Henning died of a drug overdose in 2003, and Davey Boy Smith, the “British Bulldog,” died in 2002 of heart failure, also linked to steroids.

McMahon referred several times to the WWE’s “wellness program,” which the organization began in February. The WWE claims to test its athletes for steroids and other drugs and says that Benoit was last tested in April. The results were negative, the WWE says.

Two weeks ago, McMahon had staged his own death in a spectacular car explosion and had not been seen since. WWE publicists claimed that the FBI was working on the case. But when Benoit and his family were found, McMahon re-emerged to fight off the attacks on his business.

Born Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the 61-year-old got involved in professional wrestling through his father, Vincent J. McMahon, a wrestling promoter, whom McMahon did not meet until he was 12 years old. The family business was originally called the World Wide Wrestling Federation. McMahon later changed that to the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF, but when the World Wildlife Fund objected in court to McMahon's use of those initials, he changed the name again to World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE.

Under McMahon, professional wrestling underwent a renaissance during the 1980s that saw the creation of the "Wrestlemania" pay-per-view extravaganzas that began in 1985.

In 1994, McMahon stood trial on charges of providing his wrestlers with steroids. He admitted to taking the drugs himself during the 1980s but denied providing them to his wrestlers or ordering them to take them. He was acquitted of the charges.

Mr. McMahon ‘presumed dead’
In WWE shows, McMahon plays a character called “Mr. McMahon” who is seen as an evil overlord. Donald Trump once joined the antics, participating in a staged feud with McMahon.

But on June 11, after a Monday Night Raw broadcast, cameras followed “Mr. McMahon” out of the arena and into his limousine, which was then shown exploding. The WWE said that Mr. McMahon was “presumed dead,” and claimed that the FBI was investigating.

Monday night’s edition of “Raw” was supposed to include a tribute to “Mr. McMahon,” but when news broke that day that Benoit was dead, Vince McMahon reappeared and a tribute to Benoit aired.

“Everybody in this organization, to my knowledge, is well-adjusted family people,” McMahon said. “They go to work like everybody else. They’re performers. We put smiles on faces. That’s our job description, not to be tainted and smeared by this.”

From: Msnbc

Jun 29, 2007

Musharraf drops objection to court hearing case of suspended judge

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has dropped his objection to a court hearing charges against Pakistan’s chief justice — a concession in a case that has fueled opposition to his military rule.

Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry on March 9, triggering mass demonstrations by lawyers and opposition activists, and a bruising legal battle.

The president, who said he suspended Chaudhry because of evidence of misconduct, asked a judicial complaints tribunal to investigate the charges, which include nepotism.

But Chaudhry, who denies wrongdoing, has argued that the tribunal is biased against him and that only the Supreme Court can examine allegations against its top judge. He also insists his suspension was illegal.

In a Supreme Court hearing Thursday on Chaudhry’s appeal, a government lawyer said he had instructions “from the highest authority” that the court could take over the case.

“I am giving an offer,” Malik Mohammed Qayyum said. “Whatever finding you give, we will accept it.”

The court made no decision on Qayyum’s proposal. But the presiding judge warned him that, if it accepted, proceedings would have to start from scratch.

“There is inherent danger in your submissions,” Justice Khalil-ur-Rahman Ramday said.

Chaudhry’s lead counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, said that would mean quashing the orders suspending the chief justice — a victory for his side.

“The government has a very weak case, it’s obvious, and is trying to cut its losses,” Ahsan told The Associated Press after the court adjourned.

Musharraf insists the case against Chaudhry has no political motive.

However, opponents accuse him of trying to remove a judge who might have upheld objections to him continuing as president and chief of Pakistan’s powerful military.

Musharraf, a key US ally who seized power in a 1999 coup, has said he will ask lawmakers for a new five-year mandate this fall.

However, opposition parties say the current assemblies lack legitimacy and that he should seek a fresh mandate only after general elections due by January.

The crisis has fueled speculation that Musharraf will shore up his support by reaching a power-sharing deal with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, leader of the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party.

Bhutto echoes Musharraf’s moderate, pro-US line, but insists he must give up his military role and restore a fully civilian government if he wants to remain president

Jun 27, 2007

Iran To Launch Nuclear Plant in Oct

Iran's energy minister said Monday the country would launch its first nuclear power plant in October, state-run television reported.A Russian company leading construction of the plant near Iran's southern port of Bushehr, earlier this year delayed its launch, which had been set for September, saying Teheran was behind schedule on payments.But Atomstroiexport said in April that it had agreed on a financing plan with Teheran, setting the stage for Monday's announcement."Bushehr nuclear power plant will be launched in October, according to schedule," Iranian television quoted Energy Minister Parviz Fattah as saying. "Power substations and lines for supplying electricity, which would be produced by the plant, are ready to use."The international community fears Iran could be seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Teheran insists its nuclear development is meant only for electricity production.Iranian officials had earlier denied any payment delays, and accused Russia of caving in to Western pressure.Moscow has cultivated close ties with Iran, but has supported limited UN sanctions against Teheran, while warding off US efforts to level harsher punishments.But Iran has irritated Moscow by turning a cold shoulder to its efforts to resolve the persistent confrontation over its nuclear program, including an offer to enrich uranium for Iranian plants in Russia, which could provide Iran with nuclear fuel while easing concerns it might develop weapons.Construction of the Bushehr plant began in 1974 with help from then-West Germany. Work was then interrupted during the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the pro-Western Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power. Iraq also bombed the plant during its 1980-88 war with Iran.When Iran tried to resume the project after the war, the Germans refused to help. Iran turned to Russia, signing a US $1 billion contract to build the 1,000-megawatt Bushehr plant in 1995. It was first scheduled to open in 1999, but has suffered many delays.Any one who has close eye on internatonal relations and affairs can expect what we analyse.That is , either the USA or Israel is going to take it out before it gets functional. Maybe after it. But one thing is for sure, expect high quality diplomatic and military darama plus action.

Jun 26, 2007

More than 220 people killed and chaos in Karachi

Storms and torrential rain have killed more than 200 people in Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, a provincial minister said on Sunday, and left angry residents without power.

"Now the total number of those killed because of rain is 228," provincial Health Minister Sardar Ahmed told Reuters. "These deaths are caused by electrocution, falling trees, house collapses and road accidents."

More bad weather is forecast for Pakistan and neighbouring India, where dozens have died after prolonged downpours across the country in the last few days. Aid workers and military helicopters in India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh were battling on Sunday to provide food for 200,000 people displaced by monsoon floods.

Karachi residents hurled stones at passing cars and power company vehicles and burned tyres in protest at the power outage affecting most of the country's commercial hub. Low-lying neighbourhoods were submerged after 17.7 millimetres (0.7 inches) fell on the city from Saturday.

The rains were followed by a strong storm which uprooted trees and signboards and cut electricity wires. Pakistani officials said hospitals in the sprawling city had reported 43 deaths, while a private welfare organisation, Edhi Trust, had received the bodies of another 185 people.

Weather officials predicted more rains. "There is a strong low pressure in the Arabian Sea, and we are expecting that it will now move along the coast and will intensify further," said Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, Director General of Pakistan's Meteorological Service. "If it happens as we have predicted, it can cause heavy rainfall and gusty winds in the coastal areas of Sindh and Baluchistan over the next two days."

Unusually severe

Karachi residents said they had experienced prolonged power cuts for several weeks but that such severe weather was unusual. "I have never seen such heavy winds blowing in Karachi before. It was very unusual and it was scary," said Saima Qureshi, a resident of the Clifton area near the Arabian Sea.

Karachi's power utility said it would restore the city's electricity as quickly as possible. "We are doing our best to restore the power supply, but ... the situation is very bad," said spokesman Syed Sultan Hasan.

Thousands of people are killed across South Asia every year, and hundreds of thousands made homeless, by months of monsoon rains which are vital for farmers and the economy but which leave a trail of destruction in their wake.

In Andhra Pradesh, southern India, officials revised down the death toll from this weekend's rains to 35, but said 24,000 houses had collapsed and 200,000 people were left homeless.

"Soldiers and naval helicopters have taken up rescue operations in Kurnool and Guntur districts ... where people are stranded on rooftops and up trees," said Preeti Sudan, the state's disaster management commissioner. Heavy monsoon rains flooded homes and streets in India's financial capital, Mumbai, where the century-old British-built drainage system failed to cope with the storm water. Media reports said about 50 people had died in the rains in the western state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, over the past three days.

In the southwestern tourist state of Kerala about 20 people have been killed since Friday, many electrocuted by falling power lines or swept away by landslides. In northern areas of Bangladesh, about 30 people have died of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases over the past week after the Brahmaputra river flooded.

Photo From : Associated Press

Socialite Paris Hilton Released From California Jail

Socialite Paris Hilton Released From California Jail

Hotel heiress and socialite Paris Hilton has been freed from jail after serving 23 days for defying a court order that had suspended her driver's license for drunken driving.

The celebrity left the Los Angeles County jail at about 15 minutes after midnight (0715 UTC) Tuesday, and walked through an enormous gauntlet of photographers and television cameras to a car, where her mother, Cathy Hilton, waited.

Her original 45-day sentence was reduced for good behavior, as is customary.

The Hilton case has sparked controversy in America over whether the rich and famous get favorable treatment by law-enforcement officials.

In a statement released by her attorney soon after her detention, Hilton said being in jail is by far the hardest thing she has ever done.

Hilton's driver's license was suspended after she failed a sobriety test in September and pleaded no contest to reckless driving. She was penalized after police twice caught her driving this year while the license was still suspended.

Hilton's great-grandfather, Conrad Hilton, founded the global Hilton Hotel empire. She is perhaps best known for her role in a Fox television reality show, "The Simple Life," although critics say her fame is due simply to her public image as a rich, high-living socialite.

Photo From :Associated Press

Aisam-ul-Haq Creates History

Aisam-ul-Haq Creates History,Qualifies for 2nd Round in Wimbledon

Pakistan’s tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq has created history in the Wimbledon Tennis Championship when he qualified for the second round by defeating Lee Childs of Britain in the first round.

In grand slam being played in London, Aisam-ul-Haq beat his British opponent in straight sets. He easily won the first two sets but the third set was quite sensational which finally ended in Aisam’s favour on tie breaker.

Thus, Aisam-ul-Haq won the match 6-3, 6-4 abd 7-6.

In the second round, he will meet former world number one Marat Safin of Russia.

Jun 25, 2007

Pakistan is building a new Nuclear reactor

Pakistan is building a new Nuclear reactor

Satellite images show that Pakistan is building a nuclear reactor that could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, a US watchdog says.

It has warned that its construction could contribute to another nuclear arms race with neighbouring India.

The Institute of Science for International Security (Isis) says photos taken earlier this month show work is "rapidly progressing".

But Pakistani officials say there is nothing untoward about the work.

Isis says the reactor is being built at Khusab, 160km south-west of Islamabad.

It says that its construction and other nuclear-related activities "imply" that Pakistan has opted to "increase significantly its production of plutonium for nuclear weapons".

Pakistan's Shaheen 2 missile
Both Pakistan and India have a nuclear weapons capability

The Washington-based group said that evidence from recent photos suggests that almost all the work at the site has taken place in the last 10 months.

The first reactor at Khusab started operations in 1998, the Isis report said, while construction on a second was underway in July 2006.

It says that work on a third reactor is several hundred metres away from the second and appears to be a "replica".

Isis reported earlier this year that Pakistan had also resumed construction of its second plutonium separation facility at Chashma, around 80km away from Khusab.

It said this was "likely related" to Khusab's expansion.

'More destructive'

The report - co-authored by former UN arms inspector David Albright - said that neither the reactors nor the separation plant were monitored by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

It said that Pakistan may have decided to produce a "new generation of plutonium-based weapons" to make lighter warheads for cruise missiles, or to upgrade weapons aimed at Indian cities.

The report states that most Pakistani nuclear weapons use highly enriched uranium.

Mr Albright said that plutonium-based weapons carry more explosive power into smaller, lighter missiles than those made with uranium, which Pakistan has used for years.

"By going plutonium... we have to interpret that as an attempt to make smaller, more powerful weapons that are going to be more destructive in India," Mr Albright said in a interview with AP.

The Isis report also accused the US of not complaining about work on the reactor for fear of antagonising a key ally in its "war against terror".

Pakistan nuclear missile supporters
Pakistan's nuclear weapons are a source of national pride

"The bottom line for us is that the US isn't doing enough to stop these countries from expanding their nuclear arsenals. They're turning a blind eye," said Mr Albright.

But Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said that it "shouldn't be a surprise" that Pakistan is working on its nuclear programme.

"We are a nuclear weapons state. We have facilities at Khushab, so this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone," she said.

Ms Aslam denied suggestions the work could trigger a new arms race.

"We were not the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the region or test them," she said.

"We have no intention of entering into a nuclear arms race with India whether nuclear or conventional."

Pakistan conducted its first and nuclear tests in May 1998 after Indian tests earlier that month. India detonated its first nuclear bomb in 1974.

The two countries came close to war in 2002, prompting fears of a full nuclear exchange.

Jun 20, 2007

Pakistan & Iran protest Salman Rushdie award

Pakistan & Iran protest Salman Rushdie award

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan and Iran have summoned their British ambassadors to protest that author Salman Rushdie, accused of insulting Islam in his novel "The Satanic Verses," was to be honored with a knighthood.

Iranian Foreign Ministry official Ebrahim Rahimpour told the British ambassador to Tehran, Geoffrey Adams, that the decision was a "provocative act" that has angered Muslims, the state Islamic Republic News Agency reported Wednesday.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, called in British High Commissioner Robert Brinkley on Tuesday to formally protest London's "utter lack of sensitivity," ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

Brinkley has defended Britain's decision to honor Rushdie, one of the most prominent novelists of the late 20th century whose 13 books have won numerous awards, including the Booker Prize for "Midnight's Children" in 1981.

Britain announced the knighthood on Saturday in an honors list timed for the official celebration of the queen's 81st birthday.

Iran's late supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because "The Satanic Verses" insulted Islam. The threat forced Rushdie, who resides in Britain, to live in hiding for a decade.

On Tuesday, Brinkley was told Rushdie was "a controversial figure who is known less for his literary contributions and more for his offensive and insulting writings which have deeply hurt the sentiments of Muslims all over the world," Aslam said.

She said the award could "unnecessarily incite feelings" and that it was surprising given Britain's own large Muslim population.

Brinkley in turn delivered a complaint of his own, relating to comments by Pakistan's religious affairs minister.

The minister, Ejaz ul-Haq, told lawmakers on Monday that "if someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws the 'sir' title."

"The high commissioner made clear the British government's deep concern at what the minister for religious affairs was reported to have said," Britain's Foreign Office said in a written statement.

"The British government is very clear that nothing can justify suicide bomb attacks," the statement said.

Ul-Haq insisted Tuesday that he had said only that the award could be used by extremists as a justification for suicide attacks.

Small protests against Rushdie's knighthood have taken place in the cities of Lahore and Karachi.

From: Yahoo

Geoff Lawson eager for Pakistan Coaching chance

Geoff Lawson eager for Pakistan Coaching chance

Former Australia fast bowler Geoff Lawson has described coaching Pakistan as "one of the most important jobs in world cricket".

Lawson is one of three candidates to succeed the late Bob Woolmer and was interviewed in Bhurban on Monday.

"Pakistan are impressive when they play well, and are frustrating when they play bad. But they are a good group of men who can be motivated," he said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board hope to make an appointment next week.

Rival candidate Richard Done met PCB officials last weekend and Dav Whatmore, the former coach of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, will do so on Wednesday.

Lawson, meanwhile, admitted that he was initially reluctant to accept an invitation to attend while Woolmer's death in Jamaica during the recent World Cup was still being investigated.

"It is fair to say I changed my mind after it was announced Woolmer died of natural causes," he said.

The 49-year-old paid tribute to the former Pakistan coach, adding: "We crossed paths nine months ago and apart from his coaching abilities, which were superior, he was a good human being and the world of cricket will miss him."

Lawson took 180 wickets in 46 Tests during the 1980s and has coaching experience with state side New South Wales.

"I am honoured and feel great pride to be among the candidates. Pakistan have a bright future and that's what brought me here," he added.

From: BBC

Rani Mukherjee gets engaged to Aditya Chopra

Rani Mukherjee gets engaged to Aditya Chopra

After the much-hyped shaadi of Ash-Abhi, it’s time for another celeb wedding — Rani Mukherjee and Aditya Chopra. The duo had a hush-hush engagement on Monday and is planning to tie the knot soon.

According to a source close to the family, “The roka took place at the same Chopra bungalow where Chandni was shot. Around 60 people (family and friends) attended the ceremony that included Rani’s parents Ram and Krishna Mukherjee, brother Raja and his wife. Present from the Chopra clan were brother Uday, dad Yash Chopra and mum Pamela Chopra.”

Jugal Hansraj (Uday’s close pal), Anupam and Kirron Kher also attended the ceremony. Adds our source, “Rani wore a maroon saari with silver embroidery and Aditya wore a kurta-pyjama, both designed by designer Pallavi Jaikishan. Pam aunty didn’t seem very happy, as she has a soft corner for Adi’s ex-wife, Payal. Another function will take place at Rani’s house next week.”

Also buzz is that after marriage Rani is not going to live in the Chopra house. Instead Aditya will live in the house, Rani has recently bought. We sure will bring you more on this!

Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Review)

Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis
Direction: Tim Story

The superheroes are back and what a homecoming! In a post 9/11 world, when all our superheroes — Batman, Superman, Spiderman — are becoming philosophical, introspective and moody about their magical powers, the Fantastic Four are still fun-loving and untroubled by existential woes.

Thank God for that! To be or not to be: no Hamletian dilemmas for this foursome that knows it has to save the world from the inimical Dr Doom with its special powers of stretchy limbs (Reed), electrical force fields (Storm), human torch infernos (Johnny) or just sheer power (Ben). And no cerebral debates on good versus evil or the evil within in this high octane drama, laced with state-of-the-art special effects. Enough to give the kid in you chills, thrills and marvels.

This time, the threat is doubled. On the one hand, there is old foe, Dr Doom (Julian McMahon) who is desperate to unleash his reign of evil; and on the other hand, there is the bigger enemy, Galactus, an intergalactic force that wants to gobble up the planets. Weird changes in weather patterns and radioactive fields around the earth cause a flutter, the world over. They even manage to disrupt the wedding of the century between super scientist Mr Fantastic (Gruffudd) and the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba).

When the world begins to fall apart, the couple have no option but to postpone their wedding and get down to the business of saving the world. Their only hope: the silver surfer who has actually been sent to destroy it. They must bring out the man in him and appeal to his humaneness. Do we see a tear on his cold, steely cheeks?

Grab your popcorn, round up your neighbourhood kids and gatecrash for your share of gape-and-gawk gizmology.

Jun 19, 2007

Pakistan deplores knighthood for Salman Rushdie

Pakistan condemns Knighthood of Salman Rushdie

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s parliament yesterday unanimously condemned Britain’s award of a knighthood to author Salman Rushdie and called for the title to be withdrawn on the grounds that it offends Muslims.

Indian-born Rushdie, 59, was forced to go into hiding for a decade after Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 issued a death sentence over his book ‘The Satanic Verses,’ claiming it insulted Islam.
Rushdie was awarded the knighthood by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday.
“This house strongly condemns the title of Sir awarded to Salman Rushdie,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan said, reading the resolution passed by Pakistan’s lower house, the national assembly.
“We demand from Britain to refrain from such acts which hurt the sentiments of Muslims and take back the title of Sir given to Rushdie,” Afgan said.
The resolution added that the award would encourage “contempt” for the Prophet Mohammed.
Iran on Saturday accused British leaders of “Islamophobia” for knighting Rushdie. An Irani foreign ministry spokesman said honouring the “hated apostate” was part of a Western campaign against Muslims.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office said it would send a protest to London, adding that the British honour would harm efforts to promote understanding between Muslim nations and the West.
“We deplore the decision of the British government to knight him. This, we feel, is insensitive and we would convey our sentiments to the British government,” spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.
“Certainly Salman Rushdie has tried to insult and malign Muslims.”
Five people died in the Pakistani capital Islamabad in 1989 in riots against Rushdie’s book. Pakistan is an Islamic republic, like neighbouring Iran, and its 160mn population is overwhelmingly Muslim.
“Western countries call for inter-faith harmony but let no chance pass to hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world,” said Liaquat Baloch, the parliamentary leader of Pakistan’s main alliance of Islamic parties.
Baloch asked the government of President Pervez Musharraf, a key Western ally, to lodge a “strong protest” with the British government over the honour for Rushdie.
Opposition lawmakers brought up Pakistan’s role in the “war on terror,” saying that Britain and the US had no regard for Islamabad despite its help in fighting extremism.
“Those who are awarding the title of Sir to Rushdie are allies of our government, but look at the steps they are taking,” said Khawaja Asif, the parliamentary leader of exiled premier Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League.
The British High Commission (embassy) in Islamabad defended the decision to bestow the knighthood on Rushdie.

Jun 17, 2007

Dick Cheney Pushing For Strike On Iran

WASHINGTON, June 15 — A year after President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a new strategy toward Iran, a behind-the-scenes debate has broken out within the administration over whether the approach has any hope of reining in Iran’s nuclear program, according to senior administration officials.

The debate has pitted Ms. Rice and her deputies, who appear to be winning so far, against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office who, according to some people familiar with the discussions, are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

In the year since Ms. Rice announced the new strategy for the United States to join forces with Europe, Russia and China to press Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, Iran has installed more than a thousand centrifuges to enrich uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency predicts that 8,000 or so could be spinning by the end of the year, if Iran surmounts its technical problems.

Those hard numbers are at the core of the debate within the administration over whether Mr. Bush should warn Iran’s leaders that he will not allow them to get beyond some yet-undefined milestones, leaving the implication that a military strike on the country’s facilities is still an option.

Even beyond its nuclear program, Iran is emerging as an increasing source of trouble for the Bush administration by inflaming the insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and in Gaza, where it has provided military and financial support to the militant Islamic group Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip.

Even so, friends and associates of Ms. Rice who have talked with her recently say she has increasingly moved toward the European position that the diplomatic path she has laid out is the only real option for Mr. Bush, even though it has so far failed to deter Iran from enriching uranium, and that a military strike would be disastrous.

The accounts were provided by officials at the State Department, White House and the Pentagon who are on both sides of the debate, as well as people who have spoken with members of Mr. Cheney’s staff and with Ms. Rice. The officials said they were willing to explain the thinking behind their positions, but would do so only on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Bush has publicly vowed that he would never “tolerate” a nuclear Iran, and the question at the core of the debate within the administration is when and whether it makes sense to shift course.

The issue was raised at a closed-door White House meeting recently when the departing deputy national security adviser, J. D. Crouch, told senior officials that President Bush needed an assessment of how the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program was likely to play out over the next 18 months, said officials briefed on the meeting.

In response, R. Nicholas Burns, an under secretary of state who is the chief American strategist on Iran, told the group that negotiations with Tehran could still be going on when Mr. Bush leaves office in January 2009. The hawks in the room reported later that they were deeply unhappy — but not surprised — by Mr. Burns’s assessment, which they interpreted as a tacit acknowledgment that the Bush administration had no “red line” beyond which Iran would not be permitted to step.

But conservatives inside the administration have continued in private to press for a tougher line, making arguments that their allies outside government are voicing publicly. “Regime change or the use of force are the only available options to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability, if they want it,” said John R. Bolton, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Only a few weeks ago, one of Mr. Cheney’s top aides, David Wurmser, told conservative research groups and consulting firms in Washington that Mr. Cheney believed that Ms. Rice’s diplomatic strategy was failing, and that by next spring Mr. Bush might have to decide whether to take military action.

The vice president’s office has declined to talk about Mr. Wurmser’s statements, and says Mr. Cheney is fully on board with the president’s strategy. In a June 1 article for Commentary magazine, the neoconservative editor Norman Podhoretz laid out what a headline described as “The Case for Bombing Iran.”

“In short, the plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force — any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938,” Mr. Podhoretz wrote.

Mr. Burns and officials from the Treasury Department have been trying to use the mounting conservative calls for a military strike to press Europe and Russia to expand economic sanctions against Iran. Just last week, Israel’s transportation minister and former defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, visited Washington and told Ms. Rice that sanctions must be strong enough to get the Iranians to stop enriching uranium by the end of 2007.

While Mr. Mofaz did not threaten a military strike, Israeli officials said he told Ms. Rice that by the end of the year, Israel “would have to reassess where we are.”

The State Department and Treasury officials are pushing for a stronger set of United Nations Security Council sanctions against members of Iran’s government, including an extensive travel ban and further moves to restrict the ability of Iran’s financial institutions to do business outside of Iran. Beyond that, American officials have been trying to get European and Asian banks to take additional steps, outside of the Security Council, against Iran.

“We’re saying to them, ‘Look, you need to help us make the diplomacy succeed, and you guys need to stop business as usual with Iran,’ ” an administration official said. “We’re not just sitting here ignoring reality.”

But the fallout from the Iraq war has severely limited the Bush administration’s ability to maneuver on the Iran nuclear issue and has left many in the administration, and certainly America’s allies and critics in Europe, firmly against military strikes on Iran. On Thursday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the international nuclear watchdog agency, warned anew that military action against Iran would “be an act of madness.”

The debate over “red lines” is a familiar one inside the Bush White House that last arose in 2002 over North Korea. When the North Koreans threw out international inspectors on the last day of that year and soon declared that they planned to reprocess 8,000 rods of spent fuel into weapons-grade plutonium, President Bush had to decide whether to declare that if North Korea moved toward weapons, it could face a military strike on its facilities.

The Pentagon had drawn up an extensive plan for taking out those facilities, though with little enthusiasm, because it feared it could not control North Korea’s response, and the administration chose not to delivery any ultimatum. North Korea tested a nuclear weapon last October, and American intelligence officials estimate it now has the fuel for eight or more weapons.

Iran is far behind the North Koreans; it is believed to be three to eight years away from its first weapon, American intelligence officials have told Congress. Conservatives argue that if the administration fails to establish a line over which Iran must not step, the enrichment of uranium will go ahead, eventually giving the Iranians fuel that, with additional enrichment out of the sight of inspectors, it could use for weapons.

To date, however, the administration has been hesitant about saying that it will not permit Iran to produce more than a given amount of fuel, out of concern that Iran’s hard-liners would simply see that figure as a goal.

In the year since the United States made its last offer to Iran, the Iranians have gone from having a few dozen centrifuges in operation to building a facility that at last count, a month ago, had more than 1,300. “The pace of negotiations have lagged behind the pace of the Iranian nuclear program,” said Robert Joseph, the former under secretary of state for international security, who left his post partly over his opposition to the administration’s recent deal with North Korea.

John Bipasha split?

Even though the split between Bipasha Basu and John Abraham is not yet official, rumour mills are having a field day talking about who is going to replace John in Bipasha's life.

It seems that Saif Ali Khan and Dino Morea are both vying for the actress's attention and are looking to take John's place in her life. The actress got very close to Saif during the shoot of Abbas-Mustan's Race. The actor is very keen to date her. As for Dino, the actress was spotted making an appearance with him at a fashion store recently.

Bipasha is apparently waiting for John to return from Hyderabad, where he is shooting for a film. She has already given an ultimatum asking him to behave himself. Bipasha is leaving no stone unturned in trying to make her relationship with John work and has given herself a certain period of time to work things out. If they don't, she will move on. But not into any relationship for sure. She wants to take her time and not rush into anything.

YouTube launches online editing tool

YouTube has begun offering a Web-based editing tool that is apparently provided by Adobe Systems.

The "remixer," which is branded with an Adobe logo, enables users to create more professional-looking videos by splicing together media such as video clips, photos, music, graphics and other effects, according to information found on the site.

Representatives of YouTube and Adobe could not be reached for comment Saturday morning.

YouTube follows such competitors as Photobucket and Yahoo Video, which offer similar tools. Photobucket, for instance, launched an Adobe-branded editor in February, and Yahoo acquired Jumpcut, a pioneer in Internet-based editing tools, last September.

Online editing tools are just one of the software applications designed to tap into the public's growing fascination with Web video.

To use the service, media is stored in a digital bin, where it can be dragged and dropped into a timeline. Playback controls enable a user to make cuts.

The finished product can be posted directly to YouTube with a touch of a button.

'Censors end' drag Begum Nawazish Ali Show

Pakistan's first and only television chat show hosted by a transvestite is being taken off air after falling foul of the state censor, the host says.

Ali Saleem, who dresses up as Begum Nawazish Ali for the show, said its last broadcast will be on 1 July.

The popular late night programme features politicians and celebrities in frank conversations.

It is believed to have aggravated feelings in the army with its remarks about the military.

Referring to pressure from the censors, Ali Saleem told the BBC: "My show was being slaughtered and the channel was helpless to do anything about it."

He said that some members of the army were particularly offended that the character of Begum Nawazish Ali is supposed to be the widow of an army colonel.

Jun 16, 2007

View Point from London Imran Khan & Dr.Imran Farooq

View Point from London special with Imran Khan & Dr. Imran Farooq as Guests & Aamir Ghauri as a Host.Nice discussion on recent events in Pakistan politics.A must watch for everyone interested in Pakistan Politics.
Complete Show is posted under.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Mush Feeling The Heat

Pakistan should "move back to democratic elections and civilian rule," a senior U.S. official said Friday, while indicating Washington would not join the pressure on President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to drop his dual role as army chief before he seeks a new term.

The Pakistani president, who seized power in a 1999 coup and became a key U.S. ally against terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has said he will ask Pakistani lawmakers for a new five-year term as president this fall.

However, his plans are threatened by a growing protest movement at home triggered by his March 9 suspension of the chief justice and efforts to clamp down on the media.

Critics are calling for him to give up his military post and seek another presidential term only after year-end parliamentary elections in which opposition parties hope to make gains.

Remarks by some U.S. officials have suggested that Washington is pressing Musharraf harder for democratic change. However, others — including President Bush — have made clear that securing Pakistan's cooperation against al-Qaida and the Taliban is a more pressing concern.

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, interviewed by several Pakistani television channels Friday, said Washington felt that "it's time for Pakistan to move back to democratic elections and civilian rule."

However, he said "the issue of a free and fair election in much more fundamental" than how Musharraf deals with the issue of his occupying both the presidency and the powerful army leadership.

"That particular question needs to be answered but I think we have a bit of patience in seeing it answered at whatever is the appropriate time," Boucher said, according to excerpts of the interviews released by the U.S. Embassy.

Some influential U.S. lawmakers have called for the Bush administration to reduce its support for Pakistan because of its perceived failings in dealing with the Taliban and in restoring democracy.

Boucher lauded the "enormous" achievements and sacrifices made by Pakistan, which has captured hundreds of al-Qaida suspects, including several leaders, and lost hundreds of soldiers battling militants near the Afghan border.

However, he said more had to be done in both Pakistan and Afghanistan to eliminate "spaces where terrorists can plot and plan," including in Pakistan's wild border region, which is considered a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

Boucher, who has been in Pakistan since Tuesday, was joined Friday by both Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. Central Command.

A Pakistani foreign ministry official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity, insisted the timing was a coincidence and that all three visits were of a "routine nature."

During a meeting with Negroponte, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri "reaffirmed Pakistan's resolve to fight extremism and terrorism" and expressed thanks for U.S. funding for development projects in the border region that the government says will provide a long-term answer to militancy there.


Bush administration attacks 'shield' for bloggers

WASHINGTON--The Bush administration on Thursday blasted a congressional proposal that would shield a broad swath of news gatherers, including some bloggers, from revealing their confidential sources.

The latest draft of the Free Flow of Information Act would pose a grave threat to national security and federal criminal investigations by protecting far too large a segment of the population, a U.S. Department of Justice official told Congress.

"The definition is just so broad that it really includes anyone who wants to post something to the Web," Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing here. She also argued it would protect "a terrorist operative who videotaped a message from a terrorist leader threatening attacks on Americans."

Justice Department opposition has bedeviled Congress throughout its numerous attempts in recent years to enact federal shield laws. Supporters say such legislation is needed in light of high-profile cases involving New York Times reporter Judith Miller and what free-press advocacy groups characterize as a sharp rise in subpoenas to reporters in recent years.

Laws recognizing some form of "reporter's privilege" already exist in 49 states and the District of Columbia--but, crucially, do not shield journalists from federal prosecutors. The Bush Administration claims there's no evidence that source-related subpoenas to reporters are on the rise and argues that it already has robust internal guidelines, including a requirement that the attorney general personally approve such subpoenas and provide an appropriate balance between press freedom and investigative needs.

"I'd say anyone who didn't want to face legal action would immediately try to put up a blog and try to get journalistic protection."
--Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)

This year's Free Flow of Information Act, which has been introduced in both the House and Senate, proposes a protection for a broader swath of people than earlier versions. It covers anyone engaged in journalism, which is defined as "gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public."

Even those covered individuals could be forced to give up their sources under certain circumstances, including when it's clear that crimes have been committed, when "imminent and actual harm" to national security could occur, or when trade secrets, nonpublic personal information or health records are compromised in violation of existing laws.

The hearing, which lasted about three hours, highlighted again the tensions that have arisen as the traditional mainstream media continues to overlap and collide with Internet-based upstarts.

On several occasions, politicians from both parties questioned whether the bill should be so expansive as to include bloggers. Some bristled at the notion that the ease of publishing online could provide cover for those who want to leak sensitive information and get away with it.

"I'd say anyone who didn't want to face legal action would immediately try to put up a blog and try to get journalistic protection," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), adding that he hoped to work with his colleagues to refine that definition.

But even one of the bill's opponents, George Washington University Law School professor Randall Eliason, said, "anything narrower is going to run into severe First Amendment problems."

William Safire, a longtime New York Times columnist and former Nixon administration speech writer, praised the bill's current definition because he said it focuses on the actions characteristic of journalists, not their affiliations.

"Whether you're a blogger or whether you're The New York Times or CBS or The Wall Street Journal, if what you are doing is aimed at informing the public, then you're a journalist, whether you get paid for it or not," he said. (The New York Times, the National Association of Broadcasters and other journalism groups have endorsed the latest bill, according to its sponsors.)

At Thursday's hearing, the bill's chief sponsors, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.), never directly addressed the issue of the journalist definition they crafted. Boucher told CNET News.com in an interview earlier this year that they intended to include bloggers "who are regularly involved in newsgathering and reporting." Any refinement of that definition would be left up to the courts.

Instead, the bill's sponsors continued to tout the necessity of passing their measure as soon as possible. The measure, Pence said, "is not about protecting reporters, it's about protecting the public's right to know."

Some Republicans said they opposed the bill more broadly because they believed it would give undue protection to anyone who publishes false or irresponsible information. Former Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) cited a New York Times story last year about a government computer system to track money laundering by terrorists as an example of a situation in which a news outlet harmed American national security interests.

"I don't see very much responsibility there," he said. "It seems to me the burden of proof in showing a press shield will be used responsibly should be on the news media."

Jun 15, 2007

Paris Hilton Transferred to Los Angeles Jail

Paris Hilton has already served more time behind bars than most people for similar probation offenses, a Los Angeles Times investigation concluded on Thursday, as authorities announced yet another move for the jailed socialite.
The newspaper's findings came as detractors accused the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department of giving preferential treatment to Hilton, who has become a symbol of privilege and the excesses of America's celebrity culture.

Five days after being returned to jail from a 24-hour stint under house arrest, the blond, willowy hotel heiress was transferred late on Wednesday from a county jail's medical ward back to the detention center where her incarceration began 12 days ago.
Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said on Thursday that Hilton's "medical condition is stable" and that she would be housed for now at the health clinic of the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, a Los Angeles suburb.
"Her condition will continue to be monitored," Whitmore told a brief news conference, adding she might be moved back into her original jail unit if her condition warranted it.
Hilton, 26, was expected to be released on June 25, Whitmore said.
Whitmore declined to discuss her condition. But celebrity Web site TMZ.com cited law enforcement sources as saying that Hilton suffers panic attacks when confined to a small space.
Hilton originally was sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating probation in a drunken-driving case by driving on a suspended license. But her term was cut to 23 days under a standard credit applied for time served on good behavior.
A Los Angeles Times analysis found that 80 percent of Los Angeles County inmates sentenced for similar offenses since July 2002 have served less time than Hilton will end up doing. She already has served more time than at least 60 percent of those prisoners, it said.
Hilton originally was booked into the Lynwood facility on June 2 and spent three full days there before Sheriff Lee Baca, who oversees the jail system, reassigned her last Thursday to home detention under electronic monitoring.
Baca cited unspecified psychological problems affecting Hilton's medical condition as the reason for his decision, which drew immediate fire from prosecutors, the judge who presided over Hilton's case and angry members of the public.
The judge, Michael Sauer, ordered a distraught Hilton back to jail last Friday to complete her term.
Rather than returning her to the Lynwood facility, Baca had her sent to the medical unit of another detention site in Los Angeles where she could get more sophisticated care.
Whitmore said she was moved back to Lynwood on Wednesday night after Baca determined Hilton's condition had improved.

Abbas sacks Hamas-led government

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed the Hamas-led coalition government and declared a state of emergency.

Aides to Mr Abbas said the president would call elections as soon as possible in an effort to end fighting between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza.

A Hamas spokesman immediately dismissed the president's decision.

Hamas fighters have overrun much of Gaza, capturing key security buildings and hailing Gaza's "liberation".

More than 100 people have died during a week of violent battles on the streets of Gaza.

Mr Abbas will now rule by presidential decree.

Aides to Mr Abbas said he dismissed the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, and was preparing to appoint an independent as prime minister.

The BBC's Matthew Price in Jerusalem says that once the decree is signed, the West Bank and Gaza Strip will effectively be split from one another - Gaza run by Hamas and the West Bank by Fatah.


An aide to Mr Abbas, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, announced the president's decision in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

In practical terms these decisions are worthless
Sami Abu Zuhri
Hamas spokesman

Rivals: Fatah and Hamas
Q&A: Gaza chaos
"I [Abbas] have issued the following decree: the sacking of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya," AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

"Second, the proclamation of the state of emergency in all the Palestinian territories because of the criminal war in the Gaza Strip, the taking over of the security services of the Palestinian Authority, the military coup and the armed rebellion by outlaws."

Mr Abbas was determined to "go back to the people" to hold elections as soon as the situation was calm and allowed arrangements to be made, Mr Rahim added.

He was also open to the idea of an international peacekeeping force being deployed in the region, his aide said.

But Hamas swiftly rejected Mr Abbas' decision.

"In practical terms these decisions are worthless," said spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

"Prime Minister Haniya remains the head of the government even if it was dissolved by the president," he told Reuters news agency.

Hamas won a surprise victory in Palestinian elections in early 2006, but has since been engaged in a violent power struggle with Mr Abbas' Fatah faction.

Hamas 'takeover'

Earlier, Hamas fighters swept through the Gaza Strip, winning control of key Fatah power bases in pitched gunbattles.

Fatah's Preventative Security building and the intelligence service headquarters in Gaza City fell to Hamas.

Hamas gunmen also overran the town of Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border.

At least 20 Palestinians died throughout Gaza in the course of the day.

Hamas, an Islamic organisation, rose to prominence in Gaza during two Palestinian uprisings, and refuses to recognise or negotiate with Israel.

Fatah, a secular political grouping headed by Mr Abbas, ran the Palestinian Authority until 2006 and officially recognises the Jewish state.

The two groups were nominally working together in a three-month-old government of national unity.

From: BBC

George Galloway on Altaf "Bhai" (Address to the House of Commons)

Address to the House of Commons of the UK Parliament - Monday, 11 June 2007


I have an interest in Pakistan. I hold the highest civil award that the country can bestow, the Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam, given to me at the end of the 1980s for my work for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan at the end of an earlier bout of military dictatorship supported at the time by the then British Government. I also hold the second highest civil award in Pakistan, the Hilal-i-Pakistan, given to me for my work on behalf of the rights of the people of Kashmir. Until the military overthrow of democracy in Pakistan, I worked closely with all the democratic parties in the country.

It is worth establishing a time line. General [Pervez] Musharraf, as we used to call him when he seized power in a military coup in 1999 - before we began to call him “President” Musharraf, an office to which he appointed himself - came to power having imprisoned and then exiled the democratic political leaders in the country. In 2002, he held a referendum, an extraordinary one even by the standards of eastern potentates, in which he ‘won’ 97 percent of the vote. The referendum was described by Transparency International as blatantly rigged, and the accompanying parliamentary elections in 2002 were described in the same way by all international and disinterested observers. At that time Musharraf made a promise that he would cease to be Chief of the Army general staff, a promise on which he has reneged.

In September 2006, Amnesty International issued a detailed report on human rights abuses in Pakistan, alleging that the Musharraf Government were responsible for violating “a wide array of human rights.”

The alleged violations included torture, unlawful detention, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial execution, unlawful transfer of persons to the United States and other countries, and arbitrary arrests.

That date, September 2006, is important. Two months later, in November 2006 - just over six months ago - the British Prime Minister [Tony Blair] visited “President” Musharraf, and this is what he said. He paid tribute to General Musharraf for “symbolising the future for Muslim countries the world over.”

I want the House to keep those words in its mind. The Prime Minister praised Musharraf, the military dictator of Pakistan, for “symbolising the future for Muslim countries the world over.”

Let us see what has happened in Pakistan since the Prime Minister uttered those words. The [Pakistan Supreme Court] Chief Justice, Iftikhar [Muhammad] Chaudhry, insisted on hearing cases of “missing persons” and objecting to the privatisation of a steel mill.

I think we know who may have taken over; perhaps new Labour’s biggest donor, Mr. [Lakshmi N.] Mittal, who has given millions of pounds to the Labour party. The Chief Justice would have none of it and was told by “President” Musharraf that he must resign. He refused to resign and, on 16 March, just three months after Prime Minister Blair held Musharraf as symbolising the future for Muslim countries, the Chief Justice was supported by demonstrations throughout the country by lawyers, civil society groups and Opposition parties, which were savagely assailed by General Musharraf’s armed forces. That included the first of many attacks on independent television stations.

On 26 April, the Chief Justice made a 26-hour journey by car from Islamabad to Lahore and was welcomed by vast crowds along the way. On 12 May, the Government of Sindh, a coalition Government of Musharraf’s king’s party and the Muttahida Quami Movement [MQM], led from London by a British citizen, Altaf Hussain, to whom I shall return, laid siege to the city. The main thoroughfares were blocked, lawyers and their supporters were attacked outside the Karachi Bar with batons and the MQM militants fired bullets indiscriminately into the peaceful demonstrators.

Eleven members of the Pakistan Peoples Party [PPP] were killed, 10 members of the Justice Movement [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)] of Imran Khan, with whom I met today and who is meeting the Leader of the Opposition tomorrow - I am not sure whether the Minister will find time in his busy schedule to meet Imran Khan - were wounded, as were scores of others. Last week, just seven months after the Prime Minister said that Musharraf symbolised the future for Muslim countries around the world, all independent television stations were closed down and a draconian ordinance [Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Ordinance] on the press was introduced.

Human Rights Watch [HRW], an organisation often quoted approvingly by Her Majesty’s Government, says that “As President, Musharraf has arbitrarily amended the Pakistani Constitution to strengthen the power of the presidency, marginalized elected representatives and formalized the role of the Army in government” and claimed military impunity for abuses. It goes on: “These abuses include extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests.”

In The Guardian today, there is a story about how those independent television stations have been taken off the air and journalists fired upon. One television station, Aaj TV, was attacked for six hours in Karachi during the unrest accompanying the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s visit to the city [on Saturday, 12 May 2007]. The report states that a large demonstration was tear-gassed, bullets were fired, batons and rubber bullets were used, television stations were taken off the air and 52 bullets were fired into the television studio of Aaj TV.

The U.S. State Department - I quote it because the United States Government often acts in synchronicity with our own - says that the MQM, which is the power in Karachi, “has been widely accused of human rights abuses since its foundation two decades ago” and it goes on:

“In the mid-1990s, the MQM-A was heavily involved” - not alleged to be heavily involved - “in the widespread political violence that wracked Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.”

Three Members of Congress, led by Joseph Biden, another man close to new Labour, wrote the following letter just a few days ago to Condoleezza Rice:

“Dear Secretary Rice…we have witnessed the spiral of civil unrest and harshly-suppressed protest in Pakistan…We ask that you publicly call for an immediate end to the violence, and urge the government of Pakistan to commit to holding free and fair elections by the year’s end.”

Nothing less will be acceptable from the Minister this evening.

Joe Biden and his fellow Senators say that “President” Musharraf’s dismissal of the Chief Justice has sparked protests from tens of thousands, “spearheaded by bar associations, and supported by moderate political parties and civil society organizations.”

They say: “The violence in Karachi appears to show disturbing signs of collusion between MQM and government forces” leading to the deaths and wounding of opposition party militants and other protestors - and they go on, and on.

They say in the final paragraph: “The national interests of the United States and of Pakistan are both served by a speedy restoration of full democracy to Pakistan, and by an end to state-sponsored intimidation - often violent - of Pakistani citizens protesting government actions in a legal and peaceful manner. We urge you to make a public appeal to this end, and to raise these matters forcefully in your interactions with Pakistani government officials.”

Again, nothing less will be acceptable from the Minister when he addresses the House this evening.

Following my discussions today with Imran Khan, I want to emphasise that my primary concern, and that of most Pakistanis living in Britain, is this: Why is Altaf Hussain being allowed to conduct from a sofa in Edgware a terrorist campaign and a campaign of extortion of businesses and citizens in Sindh, and why was he given British citizenship? I would like the Minister to answer the following question tonight, and if he does not have the answer to hand I would like him to write to me to inform me of it: Was Altaf Hussain ever refused British citizenship, and if he was, what changed between that refusal and the granting of citizenship to him?

It is extraordinary that in the middle of a so-called ‘war on terror’ there is such a bloody reign of terror in a major Pakistani city - and there are millions of Pakistanis who are citizens of our country. A terrorist cell is operating from Edgware in the form of the MQM. Every day, Altaf Hussain, a British citizen, addresses his puppets in Karachi, giving them instructions on how they should govern, including how they should handle peaceful demonstrations.

The Minister smiles smugly. He might think that this is a small matter, but if this man, instead of being a stooge of General - sorry, “President” - Musharraf and of a Government allied to his own, were a hook-handed, glass-eyed ranting mullah, he would at best already be in Belmarsh and at worst he would be on a plane being deported to the country from where he absconded from murder charges.

This man is the godfather of Sindh - he is the godfather of Karachi - and he is living high on the hog from the extortion of the citizens of Karachi. I really do not know why the Minister finds this funny. It is a serious matter. The question that must be answered is this: How long will the British Government tolerate this situation that is occurring under their noses? Citizenship was given to [Altaf] Hussain under this Government in 1999, and it is my belief that he was refused citizenship under the previous Administration. I want to know why he was given citizenship, and why he is being allowed to operate with impunity.

Far from symbolising the future for the Muslim countries around the world, General Musharraf crystallises the problem which Western governments have in those countries. We tell people that we are invading countries in order to defend democracy and liberty, but we support dictators who crush democracy and liberty as long as they do so in concordance with Western policy on other matters.

The slogan, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” is a deeply flawed one, but the Government do not seem to have learned that. They did not read the novel “Frankenstein” to the end. Dr. Frankenstein created a monster, but he lost control of it because we cannot control monsters. Across the border in Afghanistan, we helped to create the monster of jihadism and Islamist fundamentalism that became bin Laden and became the Taliban, on the principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. However, Madam Deputy Speaker, as we are finding in Iraq and to some extent in Palestine, our enemy’s enemy is not always our friend. Sometimes, our enemy’s enemy is worse than our enemy, and by allying ourselves with the former, making him our friend, we become complicit in the crimes that he commits.

Nobody in the Muslim World can believe that this Government are really interested in democracy and liberty in the Muslim World, so long as they are kissing Colonel [Muammar Abu Minyar] Gaddafi in the tent at Sirte - the same Colonel Gaddafi who brought down the Lockerbie airliner, we were told, with the deaths of hundreds of people; the same Colonel Gaddafi whom we said funded the IRA’s bombing campaign in Britain through the 1970s and 1980s; the same Colonel Gaddafi whom we said shot down an English policewoman in a London square. Nobody can believe that Colonel Gaddafi deserves the kisses of the British Prime Minister. Nobody believes that Colonel Gaddafi has changed - just that he has changed sides.

Nobody believes that General Musharraf really is the President of Pakistan, and to treat him as if he is - is an insult to the hundreds of millions of Pakistanis living under the iron heel of his dictatorship, not to mention the Pakistanis living as citizens in Britain, many of whom have traditionally voted for the Minister’s party. So I hope that the Minister will bear that in mind when he answers this debate. General Musharraf is a tyrant who is about to fall. I urge this Minister not to do as the now Lord Owen did in backing the tyrant Shah of Persia until the last moments before he fell. It was because of Western support for tyrants such as the Shah [of Iran] until the last moments that the radicalisation of such as the Islamic revolution in Iran took place.

My last words are these. Pakistan is a nuclear power. After Musharraf falls, no one knows who will replace him. Whose finger will be on the nuclear trigger in Pakistan once Musharraf falls? The Government would be doing Britain the favour that Biden and others are doing America by intervening now to distance themselves from this tyrant and to help the democratic forces come back to power in Pakistan.

Mr. George Galloway is the Respect Member of UK Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow.

From: (InformPress.com)

Jun 14, 2007

British princes still haunted by Diana's death

Britain's Prince Harry says he will 'never stop wondering' about the truth behind his mother Diana's death, in a joint interview with his brother William, who spoke of the emotional 'baggage' they carry as royals.In excerpts released Tuesday of an interview the princes gave to NBC News, both sons of Diana and Prince Charles said her death in a car accident nearly 10 years had cast a permanent shadow over their lives.Diana was killed when her speeding limousine, pursued by paparazzi, crashed in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997."Whatever happened in that tunnel, you know no one will ever know," Harry, 22, told NBC anchor Matt Lauer, according to advance excerpts reported by People Magazine"And I'm sure people will always think about that ... I'll never stop wondering about that," he said.William, 24 and second-in-line to the British throne, said the memory of his mother's death had failed to dwindle with time."There's not a day goes by I don't think about it," he said.The interview, recorded at the princes' official residence in London, will be broadcast June 18 on the US network.William was 15 and Harry 12 when their mother died. She had separated from Charles, heir to the British throne, in 1992 and they had divorced in 1996."Over the last ten years I personally feel as though she's always there," said Harry.The two princes are now officers in the British army. Their own colourful social lives -- including William's female companions and Harry's antics at night clubs and parties -- draw intense media scrutiny in Britain.Both acknowledged it was not possible to lead an entirely "normal" life."Within our private life and within certain other parts of our life we want to be as normal as possible," Harry said. "It's hard, because to a certain respect we never will be normal."William, whose break-up with girlfriend Kate Middleton made front page news in Britain, said forging relationships was difficult because of his royal status."I don't want to be liked by someone just because of who I am. I don't want the sycophantic people hanging around," William said."It's just as hard for our friends as it is for us," Harry added. "The reason I say that is because our friends have to put up with a lot -- when it comes to us." William agreed, saying: "There's a lot of baggage that comes with us, trust me -- a lot of baggage."Asked about their dream jobs if they were not British royals, William said he would like to be a helicopter pilot or work for the United Nations. Harry opted for life as a safari guide in Africa.The princes have organised a "Concert for Diana" on July 1, which would have been Diana's 46th birthday, with top stars to perform at London's Wembley Stadium.Meanwhile Tina Brown, whose biography of the British princess, "The Diana Chronicles," was just released in the United States, told CNN Tuesday that Diana was about to turn a corner in her life when the tragedy struck.Brown, who had lunched with Diana just weeks before her death, said she was near to emerging from her troubled post-divorce period and fully taking on her nascent role as a global human rights campaigner.There was "a sense that she was moving into a new act," Brown said of Diana, who had already carved out a place in AIDS and land mine awareness campaigns."I think she would have built on that," Brown said, calling Diana a model for celebrities now campaigning for human rights issues like Angelina Jolie.

Hilton says she'll no longer 'act dumb'

Paris Hilton says she is locking up her 'dumb' act and throwing away the key. Hilton revealed her new outlook in a weekend phone call to Barbara Walters from a county jail medical ward where she is serving out a 45-day sentence for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case.

"I used to act dumb. It was an act. I am 26 years old, and that act is no longer cute," Hilton said during the call, according to an account posted by Walters on ABC's Web site.

"It is not who I am, nor do I want to be that person for the young girls who looked up to me."

After spending three days in jail last week, Hilton was briefly released to electronically monitored home confinement Thursday for an undisclosed medical condition. An outraged judge sent her back to jail Friday.

According to ABC News, the call came after Hilton's mother, Kathy, phoned Walters. During the conversation, Paris Hilton called her mother on another line, found out her mother was talking to Walters, and then called Walters collect. All jail inmates are required to call collect.

Hilton reiterated assertions that jail has changed her: "Now, I would like to make a difference. ... God has given me this new chance."

In a related development, the Rev. Al Sharpton met with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on Monday and told reporters afterward that Hilton's situation exemplified an unfair legal system.

"People who cannot afford the best lawyers, people who cannot afford the best doctors are not going to get an early release," Sharpton said.

Baca has denied giving any special treatment to Hilton by reassigning her to home detention.

Also on Monday, a claim against the county was announced by a black woman who has a prosthetic leg and was recently an inmate at the same jail where Hilton was held last week.

Her attorney, Gloria Allred, said Pamela Richardson, 51, also "had serious medical issues" but was treated much worse than Hilton. A claim against a government entity is a precursor to a lawsuit.

Jun 13, 2007

Musharraf's Second Term In Doubt

The embattled Musharraf regime in Pakistan seems to be "buckling" under the weight of the growing unrest in the country after the suspension of the top Supreme Court judge, putting in question the General's "ability to win the next presidential election," a US-based think tank has said.

There are "significant doubts" now about President Pervez Musharraf's ability to secure a second term in the presidential election due in the second half of September, said the online news intelligence portal Stratfor.

Referring to the president's dressing down his team for not standing up for him in the ongoing domestic crisis, the Texas-based think tank said, "These comments.....show that the Musharraf regime is buckling under the weight of the crisis, which has created serious fissures within the civilian side of the hybrid Musharrafian political system."

"Infighting among his allies upon whom he depends to secure a second presidential term and the rapidly intensifying unrest in the country raise serious doubts about Musharraf's ability to win the next presidential election," the 'Daily Times' of Pakistan reported Stratfor as saying in its commentary.

"If the president cannot win re-election, he could try to impose an emergency rule of sorts, but that would only exacerbate matters," the online news intelligence portal said.

Sketching a post-Musharraf scenario, Stratfor says, "The military is unlikely to continue to directly run the country." "Moreover, because of the assertiveness of the judiciary and the media, and an increasingly vibrant civil society, the military will have to give the civilian setup more freedom than it did in 1988, when military rule came to an end after military-chief-cum-president Zia-ul-Haq died in a mysterious plane crash," it said.

From: Times Now

Jun 12, 2007

Police confirm Woolmer not murdered

Jamaica police have confirmed that Bob Woolmer died of natural causes and was not murdered.

As expected, police commissioner Lucius Thomas read out a statement confirming that three independent reviews of the post mortem and pathology reports had all rejected the original findings of Dr Ere Seshaiah, which had led to the launch of a murder investigation.

"The JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) accepts these findings," he said, "and has now closed its investigation into the death of Mr Bob Woolmer."

Foreign pathologists "concur with the view that Mr Woolmer died of natural causes", he said, while in further toxicology tests, "no substance was found to indicate that Bob Woolmer was poisoned."

Mark Shields, the deputy police commissioner who led the case, said: "We have conducted a thorough, professional examination. We had to conduct an investigation. There is no alternative. Our job is to keep an open mind. We said from the very beginning that we would keep an open mind. Ultimately, of course, it will be a decision for the coroner."

The JCF will now submit a report to the coroner to gain an official ruling that his death was of heart failure and not "manual strangulation" as the original autopsy suggested.

Commenting on allegations of match-fixing, Thomas added that "neither the ICC nor the JCF have found any evidence of any impropriety by players, match officials nor management during the investigation of Mr Bob Woolmer's death."

Thomas thanked the Pakistan players for their assistance. "The whole team were treated with respect throughout the investigation and it is to their credit that we were able to fulfil all of our investigations. I would like to thank the other teams for the support they gave."

And he offered his condolences to the family. "My hope is that despite the trauma of the last two and half months, Mrs Woolmer and her sons will be confident that the JCF has done all it can to establish the truth surrounding the death of her husband ... and she may be able to find some closure."

Gill Woolmer released this statement: "My sons and I are relieved to be officially informed that Bob died of natural causes. We realise that this investigation has been problematical given the circumstances and the media spotlight. We hope this matter will now be closed and that our family will be left to grieve in peace."

The fallout from the embarrassing about-turn by police, however, will rumble on. Already, Shields and Reneto Adams, the senior superintendent, have crossed swords.

Adams called for Shields to resign on national TV last week, but Shields fired back demanding that Adams step down for his part in other cases. The pair are old adversaries, stemming from Shields's investigation into a bungled police raid spearheaded by Adams.

From: CricInfo