As Fears Grow Over Pakistani President, U.S. Woos Rival

This paragraph is the only real background on NS in the article, and could at best be called counterproductive or misleading:

Mr. Sharif, 59, represents the Pakistan Muslim League-N, a coalition that includes a number of Islamist groups. He was prime minister twice during the 1990s, and received hero status in Pakistan for ordering nuclear weapons tests in 1998.

(Either my headache is more severe than I thought or they changed that in the last twenty minutes from “Muslim League of Pakistan” to PML (N)—there goes 25% of my rant!)

Anyway PML (N) is not a coalition, though presumably they are referring to the APDM which was made up of every party—Islamist, secularist, feudalist, opportunist—which actually wanted Musharraf out at the end of his reign.

His ties to Islamists are nothing but pure political calculation. The PPP and PML have each taken their turns flirting with the religious parties or the military or the West or the Saudis, and neither party has ever had even the slightest hint of an ideology beyond their own political survival, the humiliation of their rivals, and the advancement of the material well being of every hoodlum willing to rob the country blind under their banner. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rumor of violence spreads through schools — themorningcall.com

Sometime in late November rumors began circulating in Bethlehem schools and on Myspace.com of a Columbine-style attack by members of the 229 Brigade and Pink Army P.A. On April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in suburban Denver, two students murdered 12 others and a teacher before killing themselves.

Ellen Gerber of Easton said in an e-mail that her son Randy created the Pink Army P.A. site as harmless, artistic peace movement. Gerber said media should not fan the rumors.

”I have pink army men all over my house, attacking a snowman, sitting on my hutch and even being attacked by my cat,” Gerber said. ”I know what the actual meaning behind the whole ‘movement’ was because it happened in my house. What it turned into is another thing.”

Randy Gerber has not responded to phone calls or e-mails.

People who claim to be members of these organizations have contacted a reporter and said they are peace activists and there will be no violence. However, these members have declined to meet with the reporter. At least one apparent member, though, found time to protest outside The Morning Call offices Monday afternoon, handing out bright pink fliers decrying ”fear mongering.”

At this point it seems like this may turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. As far as I know, neither of the original “groups” ever even mentioned violence, but if some other kid already had intentions of that sort, it seems almost certain that they might appropriate the day. What a mess.

Ubuntu in the Top Ten

February 27, 2008

The New York Times included Ubuntu in its list of the top ten new…

…restaurants in the US outside of NYC. That would be Ubuntu the vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio in Napa, CA. (The web site does have a background reminiscent of Edgy’s default artwork, though.)
Coast to Coast, Restaurants That Count – New York Times

More meaningless statements written by presumably intelligent people make it past the presumably watchful eyes of presumably well-informed editors:

The three men being questioned were picked up in Punjab province, where several major Pakistani militant groups are based.

<sarcasm>I have also learned through my sources that in the United Kingdom the region known as England is the main center of Islamic militancy, while in the US most Islamist organizations seem to be based in the near-lawless frontier which stretches from the Mississippi River East to the Atlantic.</sarcasm>

Perhaps the author meant to make some point about the very real regional issues behind all of this. Maybe they realized it was impossible to actually provide the amount of background needed to bring the average reader up to speed in an article like this. Maybe they wanted to just drop a hint. My advice for the future – just leave it out. It looks ridiculous, and it can only serve to confuse and mislead people.

3 men detained in Karachi bombing – Los Angeles Times

Absurdities of law enforcement

September 23, 2007

The Morning Call reports on police and prosecutors in Lehigh County using civilians undercover to investigate prostitution rings. These civilians are allowed (encouraged?) to engage in sex. The latest case – in North Whitehall – involved a man who himself approached police to volunteer to investigate a local massage parlor where he was “offended” by an apparent offer of sex for money. The man went on to pay for sex with taxpayer money four times.
Of course vice is not the only area of law enforcement where this sort of mentality took over long ago. But – as far as I know – this is the only one which potentially offers otherwise uninvolved “informants” the opportunity to engage in illegal activity frequently and with the full sanction and financing of the law. (As opposed to informants already embedded within criminal enterprises and those who assist on investigations solely for financial gain. Both of which are themselves a far cry from those upright citizens who aid police out of a sense of civic duty.)
In addition to implicitly ridiculing this thoroughly corrupt and corrupting parody of real police work, the article also makes some points about the real societal problems which are attached to prostitution:

Mary Anne Layden, a clinical psychologist with the University of Pennsylvania Health System who served as an expert witness at the Shiatsu hearing, said the debate over how prostitution investigations are conducted obscures a far more serious issue: the exploitation of women whose backgrounds, research shows, almost always include sexual and physical trauma.
Most prostitutes are forced into the lifestyle when they are little more than children and about 70 percent suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result — a higher percentage than researchers have found among soldiers at war, she said.
Layden said the most effective way to stem prostitution and related crimes such as human trafficking is to ”flip” the standard approach by treating prostitutes as victims — giving them psychotherapy and job training instead of jail — and targeting johns as criminals.
In Sweden, this approach was been credited with reducing prostitution by 50 percent within a decade. Conversely, Germany and Australia saw massive increases in prostitution after legalizing the practice, with increasing numbers of children forced into the lifestyle to meet the demand.

If I’m reading this correctly, the logic here is the opposite of what one frequently hears from pro-legalization people. That legalizing the act of prostitution is not an effective way to curb human trafficking, and that prosecuting those who purchase the services provided by traffickers – for which the trafficked are only the means of provision – is proven to be more effective. This corresponds to what many people have been trying to say for a very long time about drugs, immigration, and a number of other social ills. And yet – as with nearly every other social ill – it seems that common sense, reason, and statistical validity have no power against conventional wisdom and the politically convenient.

OK, I don’t really get it. But I did notice today that 70% of the links I end up clicking on from the Times of India’s feed are by Gurcharan Das. It must be because he has the best titles.
Lalu is our Ronald Reagan