Category Archives: From The Editors

Aljazeera Arabic Presenters Quit over row over Clothing


Five female presenters at Al Jazeera Arabic channel have resigned over conflicts with management over “delicate issue”, including their looks and dresses.

Jumana Nammour (Lebanon), Luna Al Shibl (Syria), Lina Zahr Al Deen  (Lebanon), Jullinar Mousa (Lebanon) and Nawfar Afli (Tunisia) were among a group of eight women working for the Doha-based pan-Arab channel who had filed a complaint to protest against “repeated offensive public remarks” by an official from Al Jazeera about “clothes and decency.”

The other three female presenters, Khadija Bin Qenna (Algeria), Laila Al Shaikhli and Eman Bannoura did not hand in their resignations, Saudi paper Al Hayat reported on Sunday.

Sources that the paper did not name said that Al Jazeera formed an investigation committee to look into the unprecedented mass resignations.

The panel, chaired by Khalid Abudullah Al Mulla, concluded that Al Jazeera had legal rights over the looks and appearances of its presenters and that the channel was entitled to “set conditions and criteria for its employees’ physical aspects in line with the spirit, values and images it wants to disseminate,” Al Hayat said.

The probe committee dismissed the harassment complaint levelled against Ayman Jaballah, the deputy editor-in-chief, saying that his attitudes and behaviour were within his prerogatives and that he did not make any remarks that could harm the presenters’ reputation. His observations were not personal and were purely professional and related to the general appearance of the presenters, the panel said.

A similar complaint about the behaviour of the head of the make-up section was also dismissed.

“Arguments with the head of the make-up section were the result of different professional approaches and linguistic and cultural differences,” the committee said. However, it called for the drafting of a guidebook stating the presenters’ looks and clothes and recommended the appointment of a clothing adviser to offer expertise.

The panel said that all remarks on the presenters’ looks and clothes should be given in writing to avoid embarrassment.

Al Jazeera, established in 1996 as a news channel modelled after the BBC, quickly became the most popular media in the Arab world, mainly thanks to its talk shows, live reporting and analyses. It has often incurred the anger of Arab countries and was singularly targeted by the Bush administration.

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Israeli forces storm Gaza aid ship


The Israeli navy has stormed at least one of a convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip, amid reports of casualties on board.

Organisers of the aid flotilla say 30 people were hurt in the confrontation. Israel has made no comment.

The interception reportedly took place in international waters, more than 150km (90 miles) off the coast of Gaza.

The ships are carrying 10,000 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip in an effort to break an Israeli blockade.

Turkish TV pictures taken on board the ship show Israeli soldiers fighting to control passengers.

Some reports suggest two people were killed in the clashes.

The footage showed a number of people, apparently injured, lying on the ground. The sound of gunshots could be heard. It is not clear whether the fighting is ongoing.

“Provocation’

The six-ship flotilla left international waters off the coast of Cyprus on Sunday and was expected to arrive in Gaza later on Monday.

Israel has said it would stop the boats, calling the campaign a “provocation intended to delegitimise Israel”.

An economic blockade was imposed by Israel after the Islamist movement Hamas took power in Gaza.

Israel says it allows about 15,000 tones of humanitarian aid into Gaza every week.

But the United Nations says this is less than a quarter of what is needed.

Hamas, a militant palestinian group that controls the Gaza strip, has fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past decade.

Army seems to have upper hand in Bangkok


The Thai army looks to have taken the initiative in the battle with thousands of anti-government protesters who have occupied central Bangkok.

The heaviest fighting is in the Bon Kai area of the city, leading to the main business district.

More than 20 have died over the last three days and scores have been injured.

The government has rejected protesters’ calls for UN-supervised talks to end the crisis.

A state of emergency has been extended to a further five rural provinces, curbing activity in the protesters’ stronghold.

The military now say a curfew will not be imposed in flashpoint areas of Bangkok, as it is not yet needed.

And officials have asked the Red Cross to help evacuate the red-shirts fortified camp in Ratchasprong by a Monday deadline.

Some children, women and the elderly have reportedly already begun to shelter in a temple inside the camp.

Those outside the camp’s barricades can only watch and wait.

On the Road to Destruction? Athens, Greece during time of financial crisis.


 

Athens, Greece Injured from fire-bombed back

Commentary from http://www.ekathimerini.com May 6, 2010

Can a society self-destruct? Yes, it most definitely can and the way Greece is headed right now it is a very real possibility that it will.

Here we have a state and a society that allow a handful of nihilistic hooligans to torch the city and cause the deaths of three citizens.

We have the leadership of the country’s second biggest political party opting for a populist line of rhetoric and failing to answer a simple question on whether or not it will support the government’s economic recovery plan.

We see a society that is mad, and justifiably so, and we see it going down an ill-advised path.

Then we see the government, caught in the grips of panic, contributing to the populist fever and pouring more oil over the fire.

Greece is at the most crucial point of its post-1974 history and whether we destroy ourselves or not, whether we go bankrupt or not, depends not just on our political leadership, but also on every single one of us individually and collectively.

Thoughts from Vicki

I wanted to share the above commentary from the English language portion of the Greek newspaper, ekathimerini.com (Kathimerini), because of the drama with which it is written as well as some of the cultural points it brings up which we can explore together.

15 hooligans who label themselves anarchists in order to give themselves feelings of justification for their acts of vandalism . . . and now murder.  . . were filmed by security cameras attacking a bank.

In the USA, citizens have shown up at talks given by President Obama with guns casually slung over their shoulders.  In the streets of Athens during times of protest the unions of public worker unions find themselves next to a few young men and women with kerchief-covered faces and backpacks stuffed with Molotov cocktail ingredients.

A CNN International reporter interviewed different segments of the protestors on the street but avoided the self-proclaimed anarchists.  I’m sure they seem quite threatening particularly to Americans.  Unfortunately, when questioned, the “anarchists” are not able to speak logically about their “movement” or what they are trying to accomplish by their actions.  There seems to be an attitude that protest is the means and the end.

The police are in the same position as others in dealing with the austerity measures yet they are they receive the primary attacks from the anarchists.

ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) at banks are the second favorite target.  I have a personal experience in wanting to pay the mother of one of the vandals of bank ATMs.  She was quite anxious to have some money from me, and I would have helped her out . . . but the ATMs at the banks had been destroyed.  It was the weekend and I was unable to give her the cash she wanted.  Whether it registered to her 20-something son that he was hurting his own family by he and his friends’ actions was not clear.  Another of their contradictory acts is to protest that they want jobs yet these hooligans don their kerchiefs and backpacks to protest against private universities that could give them and college graduates of their generation very good jobs at home in Greece.

And the group that was caught by the cameras tossing firebombs into the bank have used this same method before targeting banks.

20,000 to 40,000 citizens on the streets during a demonstration is few for Athens where strikes by labor unions of both working class and professional groups are quite common.  A handful of the ragtag vandals following behind the legitimate protestors have been given credit by much of the foreign news media for causing a panic on Wall Street; exactly the wrong kind of social reinforcement needed by this immature group.

PASOK is the name of the party which won the recent elections and inherited all many shocking surprises of a country badly in debt.   They won against the second large political party in Greece, the New Democracy Party, and the party which Barnaby Phillips, the AJE Athens correspondent, rightly reported has almost thoroughly discredited itself with the populace.

Although the majority of the citizens understand that the austerity measures are the only choice and support Prime Minister Papandreou and the PASOK party; New Democracy is playing along with the foreign media and voting against the austerity plan. Or is it possibly the speculators who gave loans and have been betting for a Greek default who are being supported?

The commentary from ekathimerini was written after three innocent people died in a bankwhenr a fire bomb came crashing through the office window.  They died of asphyxiation.

I don’t agree that the government has been in a panic.  The Prime Minister and the Ministers of Economy and Finance have been articulate and soft spoken each time they’ve been questioned on the decisions they have been making.

Will the Greek society self-destruct? An unlikely scenario given the history of Greek survival against all odds.

Will the Greek government go bankrupt?  The European Union is young and a mechanism has not been established for members of the European Union to go bankrupt (The Brief, CNNI).

The modern democracy of Greece is young and far more inclusive than the ancient Greek democracy.  (Perhaps you recall the USA government/Kissinger-backed dictators who ruled Greece in the early 1970’s?)

I do agree with the last sentence of the commentary which is the reality we face in Greece.  “Greece is at the most crucial point of its post-1974 history and whether we destroy ourselves or not,  . . . depends not just on our political leadership, but also on every single one of us individually and collectively.”

Vicki Nikolaidis Leaves Asnycnow


Asnycnow Europe Affairs Editor Vicki Nikolaidis , who also fronts the Asnycnow Radio 1 sunday afternoon program ”The Conversation w/ Vicki Nikolaidis” and has served as an Editor to the  ”Environment” Page has left Asnycnow Network for a ne w job in her hometown in  Greece.

Vicki joined Asnycnow in 2009 as part of a restructure of Asnycnow Radio and hosted the second hour of the  Asnycnow Radio 1 Show ”The World Today” until the second hour of ”TWT” became ”The Interview” which was renamed ”The Conversation” in April 2010. ”The Conversation” will be on hiatus until Further Notice.

Vicki who was also the European Affairs Editor for Asnycnow Network , was scheduled to Host the May 2nd Edition of ”The Conversation”  and to Front a new program based on the Environment Column, has accepted a new job offer and notified me via Email :

“Hi Andy, So happy to have had the opportunity to work with you on Asnycnow Radio! I’ve accepted a job that will require a lot of work. I’m fortunate given the state of the economy in Greece so couldn’t turn it down. You and I had so many laughs! Remember when Shelley was on the show? You had us in stitches. But also you bring up lots of interesting, serious subjects – that reminds me our talk with Raul, which was nice, too. So I have to move on to new projects. Thanks, Boss man, for my internship, I learned a lot. Best wishes for your continued success in the world of Internet Radio! your friend, Vicki”

on behalf of Asnycnow Network, we wish Vicki the best in her future Endeavors!!!

OpEd from Alan Hart: Zionism’s Dark Forces Don’t Want the Lights On


By Alan Hart

March 22, 2010 “Information Clearing House” – – At the opening of AIPAC’s annual foreign policy conference its new president, Lee Rosenberg, was not a happy man. As he put it, “In recent days we have witnessed something (the Obama administration’s initial public anger with Netanyahu and his government) very unfortunate.”

The Biden “incident”, Rosenberg said, was “regrettable”, but Netanyahu had apologized “four separate times” and said “the announcement” (of more Jewish construction in occupied Arab East Jerusalem) was “hurtful and should not have been made.” Quite so, Mr. Rosenberg. It would have been much better from Zionism’s point of view if the announcement had not been made and Israel had just got on with the business of de-Arabizing East Jerusalem.

In any relationship even the best of friends were going to disagree, Rosenberg said, but it was “how friends disagree, how they react when missteps occur, that can determine the nature of the relationship.”

Then he made his three key points:

“Number one, the people of Israel and the democratically elected government of Israel passionately believe in peace. And Israel is committed to its alliance with America.

“Number two, the United States and Israel both have a responsibility to work with one another and achieve that peace. That is what allies do.

“And three, allies should work out their differences privately.”

That brought AIPAC’s new president one of three standing ovations.

Why should disagreements between American administrations and Israeli governments be kept from the public?

Rosenberg’s answer was: “History shows that when America pressures Israel publicly, it provides an opportunity for those who wish to derail the peace process to have their way.”

Ah, so it’s not Israel that is making peace impossible?

Rosenberg could not have been more explicit with AIPAC’s take on that aspect of the matter.

“Ladies and gentlemen, let us be clear, the reluctant partner in this peace process is not Israel’s elected leader Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Another standing ovation).

“The recalcitrant partner is the Palestinians and their leader – President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The Palestinians are bitterly divided between Hamas and Fatah – that is a problem. The failure of President Abbas to end his nay-saying and come to the table for direct talks which Prime Minister Netanyahu has been committed to from the start – that is a problem. The failure of the Arab world to begin normalizing its relationships with Israel – that is a problem.

“Israel is not the problem. Israel is America’s partner. (The third standing ovation).

When I was a child my father often said to me, “Boy, there are none so blind as those who don’t want to see.”

But blind though AIPAC is for that reason, it’s not completely out of touch with reality. It knows that the more Zionism’s on-going colonisation is exposed to the light, the more the world understands that Israel is the obstacle to peace. (The world now includes some of the U.S.’s top military men who are going on the public record with their view that support for Israel right or wrong is not in the best interests of America).

If you are a Zionist, the case for keeping the lights off is a very strong one.

At the time of writing, I’m waiting, as no doubt many others are, to see if President Obama returns to his surrender mode when he meets with Netanyahu tomorrow.

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, and, along the way, another great turning against the Jews – for nearly 40 years.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25048.htm

What economic crisis? Greece focuses on porn movie by pop star Julia Alexandratou.


By Iason Athanasiadis — Special to GlobalPost

Published: March 19, 2010 06:31 ET
Greek porn sensation Julia Alexandratou at a nightspot in Athens, March 2010. (Iason Athanasiadis/GlobalPost)

ATHENS, Greece — A peroxided blonde mounted on high heels stalks into an uptown bar in northern Athens, turning every customer’s head.

Swathed in a leopard-print fur, she is instantly recognizable as Greece’s scandalous new “it girl.”

Julia Alexandratou, a 23-year-old minor Greek-British celebrity, attained Paris Hilton-esque infamy overnight when a controversial porn film starring her went on sale across Greece this month.

In the bar, she sat down with me. Beside her was her ever-present, chain-smoking metrosexual manager, Menior Fourthiotis. Alexandratou had agreed to give her first interview since triggering a nationwide sensation with her porn performance. All eyes in the bar were on our table.

The controversy even reached the hallowed debating chamber of the Greek Parliament when far-right wing politician George Karatzaferis pointed out that “3,500 people came out to protest the harsh and cruel measures of the prime minister while 150,000 sped to buy the DVD of Julia Alexandratou.”

The publicity-hungry starlet has titillated the nation’s males for years with provocative appearances in fashionable nightspots and naked photo shoots for Greek magazines.
Her anthemic 2007 single, “The Target is Cash,” defined gold-digging during the freespending, credit-fuelled first decade of the 21st century. It features her writhing over an overweight, cigar-puffing man against a succession of exotic backdrops.

Sitting with Alexandratou is an unsettling experience. Her seemingly airbrushed face is sprinkled with glitter, frizzled blonde hair hangs over high cheekbones, framing vacant green eyes and supersized lips. Her leopard-print coat does little to hide her curves.

When I photograph her, she picks up a chess piece from the table, turns it over in her hands then nuzzles it against her lips. All the while she eyes the lens with the hollow seductiveness of a professional poser. I resist the temptation to suggest a game of chess.

Alexandratou’s video was released around the same time that Prime Minister George Papandreou announced harsh new measures aimed at cutting back on state expenditures. Some Greeks are divining a conspiracy aimed at distracting the people from the country’s financial woes.

“Can it be a coincidence that this film was released on the same day as the most important policy speech of our financial holocaust so far?” asked Savvas Karavidas, an unemployed engineer who started driving a taxi a month ago to make ends meet.

At times Alexandratou plays up her notoriety. “It wasn’t just the bedroom, it was the bathroom, the living room, the floor,” she was reported telling the Greek media about the locations of her acting debut.

But then a penitent Alexandratou issued a statement requesting that the Greek media “desist from reproducing science fiction scenarios around my stolen private moments that were partly shot with my knowledge but circulated without it.”

Plagued by allegations of substance abuse and extensive plastic surgery, Alexandratou seems more tragic personae than diva. Her naked shenanigans captured the national

imagination by breaking a long-standing taboo in which mainstream celebrities would balk at performing in anything spicier than a Penthouse centerfold. In a belt-tightening era for Greeks, Alexandratou single-handedly created a mini consumer boom as stocks of her porn flick sold out.

“Despite her youth, Miss Alexandratou plays an entire society on her dextrous fingers,” noted the venerable To Vima newspaper, in a reference to the star’s sexual manipulation of a champagne bottle, one of the video’s most notable moments.

Suddenly our interview is interrupted as television lights flood the scene. A camera crew from Star TV, a Greek celebrity channel, has been tipped off by Alexandratou’s manager that “foreign journalists” have traveled to Greece to do a cover story about her. When they discover I am Greek and am not planning a cover story, they are livid with Fourthiotis, describing him as a “nothing.”

Alexandratou is still being watched by the entire room, but she appears to inhabit another sphere. Glued to her mobile phone, she ignores everyone, even me when I ask her questions. Her answers are slow in coming but, when they do, they seem guileless.

In the 30-minute video, Alexandratou pairs up with an anonymous priapic male torso, variously said to belong to a French boyfriend or a Paris-based porn star.

“I met a French guy without knowing who he really is and we met at a club and went out to eat a few times,” said Alexandratou. “We had a nice time together and of course we ended up in a hotel,” she added laughing, then said coyly, “I can’t say anything else, you understand, aside from that we decided to video it.”

“You’re saying too much,” interjected manager Fourthiotis, removing the microphone and taking over.
 “My lawyer is the largest and best in Greece and knows very well the moves needed to be taken to recover the injury done to my reputation,” he continued, cutting off Alexandratou. “The people are supporting me, they love me, and they are always next to me.”

Later Alexandratou said, “I never thought that this guy would put out all his personal things to earn money. He took advantage of the situation. I tried to find him but failed.”

Alexandratou has continued exhibiting her talent for self-promotion. Just as her story was disappearing from the front pages, her manager announced that she will be wedding a mystery businessman who “loves, respects and has supported her.” The groom’s identity? It won’t be revealed until the carefully selected guests are standing inside the church on the day of the wedding.

As our interview comes to an end, Alexandratou lifts her head from the screen of her phone to deny the rumor that there is a sequel in the works.

“I’ve learned my lesson and won’t do it again,” she said, and let out a short toneless chuckle.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/greece/100313/julia-alexandratou-sex-tape?page=0,0

Analysis: Pakistan tells the USA, that it is time to pay up.


Pakistan is likely to bring a laundry list of demands to talks with the US today, as the two sides reassess their frayed relationship.

By Nicolas Brulliard – GlobalPost

Published: March 24, 2010 06:48 ET
Pakistani supporters of hardline pro-Taliban party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Nazaryati torch a U.S. flag in Quetta on Feb. 4, 2010, to protest a U.S. court verdict against Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui, found guilty in the United States of trying to kill a U.S. serviceman. (Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — When Pakistani officials sit down with their American counterparts for a round of high-level talks in Washington today, they’ll be a demanding bunch.

They’ll say that their armed forces have paid a heavy price to fight what many here see as America’s war, and they’ll argue that their country continues to bear the brunt of the war on terror with bomb blasts claiming the lives of Pakistanis nearly every week.

“We have already done too much,” Foreign Minister Shah here last week. “Pakistan has done its bit, we have delivered; now it’s your turn. Start delivering.”

The United States government has already taken steps to address Pakistan’s grievances. U.S. officials have markedly increased the frequency of their visits to Islamabad in recent months, and America is helping fund the country’s recent military offensives. In addition, Congress has passed legislation that provides for $7.5 billion of economic and development assistance to Pakistan over a five-year period.

Despite all these gestures of goodwill, deep mistrust subsists between the two strategic allies. Pakistan remembers that Americans were quick to leave the region once their objectives were attained at the end of the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and the widely held view is that the same will happen when American troops depart from Pakistan’s neighbor.

U.S. efforts to improve its image have often turned into public-relations disasters, and anti-Americanism seems to be on the rise among the general Pakistani population.

“Ultimately, they want to change the tone of this relationship,” said Moeed Yusuf, South Asia adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “This is a realization on both sides that the relationship has failed to deliver.”

Qureshi, who will officially lead Pakistan’s delegation, intends to bring an exhaustive list of demands when he meets with his counterpart Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today. He has identified no less than 10 “sectoral engagements” that go much beyond military cooperation and include everything from energy and education to health and agriculture.

Pakistan, a country of 175 million people — half of them illiterate — with an economy crippled by corruption and chronic power outages, has proved particularly fertile ground for fundamentalist ideologies and militant groups.

As a result, U.S. officials have increasingly emphasized economic development as a key component of their relationship with Pakistan, and the $7.5 billion aid package passed by Congress late last year was meant as a substantial move in that direction.

But the Kerry-Lugar bill, as the piece of legislation is known here, is a symbol of the dangers the United States faces when trying to woo the country’s population.

Instead of focusing on the bill’s potential benefits to Pakistan, local politicians and media preferred to turn their attention to the conditions of good governance the bill carried and labeled them as yet another infringement on Pakistan’s sovereignty.

More recently, a U.S. tour of Pakistani legislators also turned into a PR fiasco when the tour members suddenly decided to return to Pakistan after experiencing what they saw as excessively intrusive body screening at Washington’s Ronald Reagan Airport.

Perceived American favoritism in favor of India, Pakistan’s historical enemy, has also proved to be a major stumbling block in U.S.-Pakistan relations.

“Washington’s heavy tilt in favor of India and its helplessness in nudging India to seriously address Kashmir and other issues is another source of friction,” wrote Talat Masood, a retired lieutenant general, in The News, a local newspaper. “Pakistan also cannot kowtow America’s Afghanistan policy either unless it takes into account Pakistan’s security and strategic concerns.”

Pakistan has always sought to ensure a friendly Afghan regime would allow it to focus the bulk of its military might on its eastern border. The involvement of India in the training of Afghan armed forces is therefore seen as a strategic menace to Pakistan’s interests, said Imtiaz Gul, the executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank.

“We do not want an army operating in our backyard … that has been trained by our archrival,” he said.

Gul said a recalibration of the U.S.-India relationship that would take into account Pakistan’s interests would go a long way toward mending fences between America and Pakistan.

He said the upcoming talks between the United States and Pakistan are unlikely to yield guarantees besides agreements related to the energy sector. Nonetheless, he said he views the intensification of the dialogue between the two countries as a major opportunity.

“I think they’re developing into a much more positive relationship,” Gul said. “Pakistan stands a very good chance to benefit from it.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/pakistan/100323/pakistan-us-talks?page=0,0

“hayethim I am just nothing …” Celebrating Dassehra


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Have you found yet this great blog from a young man in Pakistan? Let’s show we are friends – not enemies -visit him at http://hayethim.blogspot.com to get to know his world.

Dassehra was celebrated with great pomp and show, epitomising the victory of Good over Evil. Effigies of demon king Ravan, his brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghnad waited to meet their nemesis.
Demons could be seen across the country’s capital. Many people burnt their inner evils alongwith the effigies. There were, however, few exceptions.
In the Ramayan-reversal of sort, Ravana was the first one to go- apparaently by mistake. Asardar Sonia Gandhi was here with Sardar Manmohan Singh. With the spectre of elections looming large on Haryanvi and Maharashtrian horizons, the duo must have thought to uproot their biggest enemy first- the way Ravana went up in flames first.

Kumbhkaran ate flames and slept- forever.

Meghnad followed his father and uncle. The crowd cheered.
In another Ramlilla, just a few days before the third anniversary of complete ban on child labour, these kids could be seen making human chain, protecting any intrusion or suspicious people.
The kid in blue, guard-like uniform is not participating in any fancy dress competition as I first thought seeing him. When I spoke to him, I got to know he has never been to school and has seen very little of Ramlilla performance as most of the time his back is turned towards the stage. Reminds me of a story, masons build our big houses but themselves live in shanties.

Dilli 6 looked nice, even as Allah and Ramleela coexisted.
Ram must have smiled as the exile he started on December 6, ended in Delhi 6.
Happy Dassehra to you all.

Posted by Hayethim at 3:18 AM

http://hayethim.blogspot.com/2009/09/dassehra.html

Discussion pros and cons about Goldman Sachs


Discussion pros and cons about Goldman Sachs