30 January 2008

Front page of the Metro

No comment from me. But I'm sure you have something to add.

A violent and extreme fanatic plotted to behead a British Muslim soldier "like a pig" and film the killing in a lock-up garage, a court was told yesterday.
Parviz Khan then planned to broadcast footage of "the ghastly death" in an attempt to spread panic among the armed forces and the public. [story here]

28 January 2008

George Habash dies

"When we hijack a plane it has more effect than if we kill a hundred Israelis in battle," he said in a 1970 interview with Der Stern. "For decades, world public opinion has been neither for nor against the Palestinians. It simply ignored us. At least the world is talking about us now."

George Habash, the Palestinian leader and a long-time rival of Yasser Arafat died in Jordan, aged 80. Habash founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which became notorious for the hijackings of several aircraft in the 1970s.

"He had a severe heart attack and he died instantly," Leila Khaled, a member of the Palestine National Council and a leading member of the PLFP, said from the hospital in Jordan. In Damascus, Maher al-Taher, the PFLP's spokesman, confirmed Habash's death. Habash had been living in Amman since 1992, he said.

The office of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has declared a three-day mourning period for Habash. In Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader, said Habash "spent his life defending Palestine".

He first achieved political prominence at the head of the Arab Nationalist Movement, a socialist movement that promoted pan-Arab unity, in 1952. His PFLP movement favoured armed struggle to establish a Palestinian state and opposed Arafat, breaking completely with him over the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993

Habash founded the PFLP, which promoted armed resistance, in December 1967 - six months after the war in which Israel seize east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The group was responsible for the hijacking four Western airliners over the US, Europe, the Far East and the Persian Gulf in 1970. The aircraft were blown up in the Middle East after their passengers and crews had disembarked.

The group also fired at Israeli aircraft and their crew, carried out bombings, and took hostages including, on one occasion, Opec leaders meeting in Vienna.

Born into a wealthy Christian Arab family, Habash became a refugee after the 1948 creation of Israel. He graduated in 1951 from the American University of Beirut, going on to become a paediatrician.

He was a Christian, and became a medical student, who espoused the cause of secular Arab nationalism. The group designated itself a Marxist-Leninist movement and became the second largest partner in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.

It carried out more and more audacious attacks in the 1960s, throwing the Palestinian issue into the international spotlight. It opposed Arab-Israeli peace negotiations and any talk of a two-state solution - Habash often criticised PLO leader Yasser Arafat for negotiating with Israel.

Israeli tried for years to capture Habash, even intercepting a commercial airliner in 1973 and forcing it to land, mistakenly believing he was on board. Habash stepped down as leader of the PFLP in 2000, by which time the group had been marginalised by the growing power of Islamist movements like Hamas.

Mr Abbas called Habash a "historic leader" and ordered Palestinian flags to fly at half-mast. The current deputy secretary-general of the PFLP, Abdel Raheem Mallouh, called Habash a "distinguished leader... who struggled for more than 60 years without a stop for the rights and the interests of his people".

He was married, with two daughters. His wife, Hilda, said: "We will all carry the banner of Habash and the Arab nation he dearly cherished. Habash always believed Palestine would be liberated. He lived for his people and died for his people."
(Al Jazeera, Reuters, Google news)

update: **It has been brought to my attention that the quote above may not be authentic- however, the key messages raised here still apply. For an excellent obituary to this historic leader visit this site.**

10 January 2008

Capital suggestion

Twenty-five thousand years ago, haplogroup R2 characterized by genetic marker M124 arose in southern Central Asia. Then began a major wave of human migration whereby members migrated southward to present-day India and Pakistan (Genographic Project by the National Geographic Society; http://www.nationalgeographic.com). Indians and Pakistanis have the same ancestry and share the same DNA sequence.

Here's what is happening in India:
The two Ambani brothers can buy 100 percent of every company listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and would still be left with $30 billion to spare. The four richest Indians can buy up all goods and services produced over a year by 169 million Pakistanis and still be left with $60 billion to spare. The four richest Indians are now richer than the forty richest Chinese.

In November, Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark Sensex flirted with 20,000 points. As a consequence, Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries became a $100 billion company (the entire KSE is capitalized at $65 billion). Mukesh owns 48 percent of Reliance.

In November, comes Neeta's birthday. Neeta turned forty-four three weeks ago. Look what she got from her husband as her birthday present: A sixty-million dollar jet with a custom fitted master bedroom, bathroom with mood lighting, a sky bar, entertainment cabins, satellite television, wireless communication and a separate cabin with game consoles. Neeta is Mukesh Ambani's wife, and Mukesh is not India's richest but the second richest.
Mukesh is now building his new home, Residence Antillia (after a mythical, phantom island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean). At a cost of $1 billion this would be the most expensive home on the face of the planet. At 173 meters tall Mukesh's new family residence, for a family of six, will be the equivalent of a 60-storeyed building. The first six floors are reserved for parking. The seventh floor is for car servicing and maintenance. The eighth floor houses a mini-theatre. Then there's a health club, a gym and a swimming pool. Two floors are reserved for Ambani family's guests. Four floors above the guest floors are family floors all with a superb view of the Arabian Sea. On top of everything are three helipads. A staff of 600 is expected to care for the family and their family home.

In 2004, India became the 3rd most attractive foreign direct investment destination. Pakistan wasn't even in the top 25 countries. In 2004, the United Nations, the representative body of 192 sovereign member states, had requested the Election Commission of India to assist the UN in the holding elections in Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah and Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan. Why the Election Commission of India and not the Election Commission of Pakistan? After all, Islamabad is closer to Kabul than is Delhi.

Imagine, 12 percent of all American scientists are of Indian origin; 38 percent of doctors in America are Indian; 36 percent of NASA scientists are Indians; 34 percent of Microsoft employees are Indians; and 28 percent of IBM employees are Indians.

For the record: Sabeer Bhatia created and founded Hotmail. Sun Microsystems was founded by Vinod Khosla. The Intel Pentium processor, that runs 90 percent of all computers, was fathered by Vinod Dham. Rajiv Gupta co-invented Hewlett Packard's E-speak project. Four out of ten Silicon Valley start-ups are run by Indians. Bollywood produces 800 movies per year and six Indian ladies have won Miss Universe/Miss World titles over the past 10 years.
For the record: Azim Premji, the richest Muslim entrepreneur on the face of the planet, was born in Bombay and now lives in Bangalore.India now has more than three dozen billionaires; Pakistan has none (not a single dollar billionaire).

The other amazing aspect is the rapid pace at which India is creating wealth. In 2002, Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh and Anil Ambani's father, left his two sons a fortune worth $2.8 billion. In 2007, their combined wealth stood at $94 billion. On 29 October 2007, as a result of the stock market rally and the appreciation of the Indian rupee, Mukesh became the richest person in the world, with net worth climbing to US$63.2 billion (Bill Gates, the richest American, stands at around $56 billion).

Indians and Pakistanis have the same Y-chromosome haplogroup. We have the same genetic sequence and the same genetic marker (namely: M124). We have the same DNA molecule, the same DNA sequence. Our culture, our traditions and our cuisine are all the same. We watch the same movies and sing the same songs. What is it that Indians have and we don't?

Indians elect their leaders.

Capital suggestion By Dr Farrukh Saleem 12/9/2007