Archive for ‘Asia’

May 24, 2011

Shocking BBC Report, Indian authorities turn a blind eye to the killing of millions of female babies

[Ciara O’Neill, Human Rights News Contributor]

[Tinaki Roy, Asia News Contributor]

BBC News:  The latest data from the Indian National Census have shown gender discrimination in India to have gone horrifically off the rails as it seems that in the past ten years, more that eight million female babies have been killed by their parents under the noses and apparent consent of the Indian authorities.

The recent Indian census figures show a sharp decline in the number of girls under seven which cannot be explained in any other way than by mass abortions of female fetuses and/or manslaughter of female babies.  Compared to 1961, the proportion of 975 girls on 1000 boys has dropped to around a small 913 on 1000.

However, for those who might think that a difference by less than a hundred  might be caused by certain non-violent factors, here are some facts.

As stated in the recent National Census report data, ‘out of 133,738 births, in families where the first child was a girl, the ratio of girls to boys among second children was 759 girls per 1,000 boys’. Furthermore, according to a UNICEF case study in 1984 in Bombay, ‘7,999 out of 8,000 of the aborted fetuses were females.’  Understandably therefore, the female abortion business seems to have long roots in modern India, and for a reason.

According to professor Shirish Sheth of Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai: “Daughters are regarded as a liability…Because she will eventually belong to the family of her future husband, expenditure on her will benefit others. In some communities where the custom of dowry prevails, the cost of her dowry could be phenomenal.”

Kulwant, a middle-aged Indian housewife, is one of the many who can testify that due to the development of ultrasound technology which enables the early identification of the sex of fetuses, female babies’ abortions have become quite a normal event in any Indian woman’s life.  The costs of the abortion varies from a couple of hundred US dollars in the best Delhi clinics, up to four dollars in increasingly shabby legal and illegal institutions that enable the majority to afford it at decreasing prices, but steadily growing health risks. Effectively, she had to abort three daughters in order to avoid divorce.

Before her fourth child – a son- was born, she had to suffer regular beatings from her husband and once, she says, even his family tried to burn her alive for ‘bringing financial girl-related trouble upon the house’.

May 7, 2011

UK Muslims angry over death of Bin Laden

[Joan Tollings, Politics Contributor]

UK MailOnline: The US Embassy  in London was in uproar yesterday as hundreds of  Muslim activists surrounded the buildings in theatrical mourning of the Al’ Qaeda leader’s death. Placards and slogans like ‘Islam will dominate the world’ were abound and direct terrorist attack threats to the US were voiced.

The central figure in the mass protest action was a scandalous priest Anjem Choudary, a former (now dismissed) UK solicitor and a fierce supporter of the Islamic movement in the United Kingdom, who has publicly announced his approval of the September 11 attacks and July 7 London bombings.

The capital is on full alert now, as protestors’ are threatening that it is only a matter of time’ before a new terrorist attack takes place and that the ‘West is the enemy’.

May 6, 2011

Obama in trouble with ‘deathers’ as controversy abounds over the death of Bin Laden

[Joan Tollings, Politics Contributor]

According to BBC News, it seems that since the announcement of the death of the Al’Quaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, Pakistani police has not had a lot to do as there have been few protests and demonstrations. However, all is not that well, as negative opinions about the assassination have widely been voiced within the country as well as outward threats have come from the most radical Muslim ranks.

Many Pakistanis believe the whole operation was just a cunning move in order to rubbish Pakistan’s image worldwide. “We don’t know whether Osama was there – we never saw their bodies or the bodies of the others killed in the attack,” said during the interview Shaista Bukhari, a Pakistani housewife, and by far she is not the only one thinking along these lines.  While ordinary Pakistanis are voicing disbelief in the authenticity of the story, some radical Muslims have expressed outward anger with the US.  Mohammad Younis, a young Taliban member who has fought in Ghazni, Helmand and Kandahar, says Bin Laden was ‘like my father. We will make all those responsible for his death pay – in Afghanistan and across the world’. In the meantime, the prime minister of Britain James Cameron has warned the country of the necessity to ‘stay more vigilant than ever‘.

The journalist, Paul Craig Roberts in ‘Osama Bin Laden’s Useful Death’  published in Rense.com yesterday, comments that the Obama administration’s publication of the death of Osama Bin Laden is a: “..propaganda piece reeking of US Triumphalism”. That is because, he says, the two alleged journalists, Adam Goldman and Chris Brummitt of the Associated Press had originally published a White House or CIA press release saying that: “Osama bin Laden, the terror mastermind killed by Navy SEALs in an intense firefight, was hunted down based on information first gleaned years ago (emphasis added) from detainees at secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe, officials disclosed on Monday.”  However, the ‘firefight’ part has now been debunked also the ‘detainees information’ part. He considers this to be suspect.

Mr. Roberts claims that this report was meant to justify CIA prisons and torture as the implications are that without secret prisons and torture “the terror mastermind” would still be running free, despite via widely accepted reports that he had died from renal failure in 2001.

He comments: “…. how many Americans will have the wits to wonder why the “terror mastermind” ­ who defeated not merely the CIA and the FBI, but all 16 US intelligence agencies along with Israel’s Mossad and the intelligence services of NATO, who defeated NORAD, the National Security Council, the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US Air Force, and Air Traffic Control, who caused security procedures to fail four times in US airports in one hour on the same day, who caused the state-of-the-art Pentagon air defenses to fail, and who managed to fly three airliners into three buildings with pilots who did not know how to fly ­ has not pulled off any other attack in almost ten years? Do Americans really believe that a government’s security system that can so totally fail when confronted with a few Saudi Arabians with box cutters can renew itself to perfection overnight?”

Mr. Roberts’ view is that as the Guardian and European newspapers have now confirmed that the photo of the dead Bin Laden is a fake and as the alleged body has been buried at sea according to the word of the US government, which had lied to the American people about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, about Iranian nuclear bombs, the US administration simply cannot be believed on the matter.

He says that the logical interpretation of the faked bin Laden death was that Mr. Obama needed  good excuse to bring the Afghan war to an official end in order to address the problems with the huge US budget deficit and also his lagging popularity. It also justifies the utilisation of the US’s rendition and secret prisons/ Gitmo program as well as giving all Americans (which it certainly has) a feeling of ‘payback’ for the 911 attack.

My own view is that on the balance of evidence available, the ‘deathers’ have it. But even if they are right, Americans had deserved some rest from the bogeyman-like story of Bin Laden and in that regard, Mr. Obama, I think, was courageous to attempt to bring closure to this issue which had started before him and which had committed the USA to battles on foreign soil which has so far cost each American taxpayers thousands of dollars to fund and the loss of lives of American service personnel.

April 30, 2011

Two hundred and thirty nine earthquakes struck the world today with most intense (M4-M6) in Japan and South America

[Edwin Crowel, Natural Disaster Contributor]

According to the US Geological Survey, two hundred and thirty nine earthquakes shook the world on Saturday 30th April 2011.

The most intense of them, between M4 and M6 – indicated in blue on the picture, struck Japan, the Pacific area, the USA and South America. No tsunamis, or damage reports have yet been made.

Earthquake in Japan

In the past few days, Japan was struck by more than 12 earthquakes at intensity M4-M5. Most occurred in proximity of the Fukushima prefecture. The area, and Japan in particular are notoriously unstable parts of the world for earthquakes which strike on more, or less, a daily basis – some earthquakes being more intense than others.

Analysts are commenting that having regard to Japan’s geological instability, it was a supreme act of recklessness for the nuclear facility in Fukushima with its known vulnerabilities to this kind of natural disaster, to have ever been commissioned.

April 28, 2011

For ‘rocking’ Japan, its business as usual as 7 earthquakes at M4.4 to M5.8 strike in the past two days

[Jana Tinaki, Earthquake Japan Contributor]

The US Geological Survey reports that the following earthquakes struck Japan over the past two days. No damage, or Tsunami has been reported.

In the preceding Easter holiday weekend, Japan had been struck by not less than 9 earthquakes of the same magnitude.

MAG     UTC DATE-TIME          LAT          LON          DEPTH    REGION

4.6     2011/04/28 14:04:41        37.237     142.658      30.4       OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
5.8     2011/04/28 09:27:48        37.492     141.652      48.9       NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
4.9     2011/04/28 01:44:46        38.663     141.789      35.8       NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
4.9     2011/04/28 00:02:25        36.787     142.501      34.1       OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
5.1     2011/04/27 21:45:03        38.170     141.778      53.3       NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
5.1     2011/04/27 21:42:50        36.738     142.685      31.9       OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU
4.9     2011/04/27 16:03:29        26.685     143.680      10.0       BONIN ISLANDS

April 17, 2011

China imprisons 2500 Tibetan monks pending their ‘patriotic re-education’

[Shon Connery, China News Contributor]

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, is warning the international community that the present stand-off between monks and armed police at a monastery in western China is likely to result in a serious conflict situation with many fatalities. He is asking the international community to prevail upon China to show restraint at the Kirti monastery in Sichuan where the police have imprisoned over 2500 monks.

The International Campaign for Tibet , a website promoting Tibetan causes, reports that several Tibetans had attended the vicinity of the monastery in Aba county, fearing that the police would take the monks by force and imprison them elsewhere for “patriotic education”.  Observers are saying that the Chinese police had beaten up attendees and residents and had sought to control them with dogs. Two elderly women were seriously injured by the police.

It seems that the Chinese authorities are keen to re-educate the monks following a recent incident when a junior monk in the area died from setting fire to himself as a gesture of defiance against the rule of the Chinese.

The Dalia Lama,who lives in exile in India is accused by the Chinese of trying to divide Tibet from China, but he has always said that he only seeks ‘meaningful autonomy’ for Tibet.   Guardian.co.uk reports him as saying yesterday: “I am very concerned that this situation if allowed to go on may become explosive with catastrophic consequences for the Tibetans in Ngaba…I urge both the monks and the lay Tibetans of the area not to do anything that might be used as a pretext by the local authorities to massively crack down on them.. I also strongly urge the international community, the governments around the world, and the international non-governmental organisations to persuade the Chinese leadership to exercise restraint in handling this situation.”

April 15, 2011

Why France’s stance on the Burka is to be applauded

[Selena Hills, Women’s Rights Contributor]

This week, France became the first country in the world to outlaw the Burka.  As from now, it is illegal to wear a full-face veil in public in the country.

Whilst the law has provoked much controversy in the country, many western nations are considering making similar laws and are being urged by human rights groups to do so.  The main reason for that is because the burka is widely accepted in the Muslim world and outside it, to be a symbol of a man’s domination over a woman. As such the practice which is not supported by any religious norms, is considered to be repulsive and concerning to women in western societies who cherish their equality with men.

Female Genital Mutilation

Another powerful symbol of men’s domination over women, female genital cutting (FGC) is practised in most of Northeast Africa, the far east and southeast Asia  (includes: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Cambodia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, East Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore).

In these countries most of the victim’s genitals are cut away to make her more attractive to her future husband. The procedure is savage and causes much distress to the women, most of whom never recover psychologically as well as physically from the ordeal.

Guardian.co.uk reports that Lancashire midwife Cath Holland  had first went to Kenya back in 1998 as a midwifery tutor at a nursing school in Pokot.  Soon upon her arrival, she discovered that Pokot practised the most extreme form of female genital mutilation (FGM) whereby the entire outer genitalia, including the clitoris, are literally hacked off whilst the woman is still conscious.

Later on, in her professional duties, she witnessed the effects of the brutal practice when women suffered horribly when giving birth as their vaginal openings, due to the mutilations, were too narrow to let their babies out.

She comments: “In that area, they say there are three sorrows of womanhood. The first is when a girl has her genitalia removed, usually in her teens. The second is when she gets married, and has to have her vagina opened so she can have penetrative sex, which is usually done using an animal’s horn. And the third is when she gives birth, and has to be cut again so the baby can be born”.

After witnessing a FGM procedure for herself, she was so traumatized by the event that she became a committed advocate against the practice.

Women’s rights groups worldwide consider France’s move on the burka to be the right one for women and want it to go even further so that FGM/ FGC too can also be criminalised as they have no place in any civilised society based on equal rights for all.

April 15, 2011

World Bank says current high food prices have taken 44 million into the acute poverty zone

[John Stills, International Economy News Contributor]

BBC News: According to a recent World Bank report, food prices worldwide are approaching dangerously high levels – they are 36 per cent higher than last year’s now.

According the World Bank, the main blame for such such a soar upwards is down to the problems in the Middle East and North Africa, where political shifts, civil unrest and economic problems have contributed to a dramatic fuel cost rise and 44 million more people being driven into poverty since June 2010.

If the prices grow by another 10 per cent, another 10 million will have to say goodbye to normal living standards – their income will drop to one-and-a-half dollar a day, the amount comparable to the average income of the poorest in African and South-East Asian countries.

In total, 1,2 billion people in the world are below the poverty threshold of 1.25$ a day, which, according to various reports, is due to high food prices as well as to the enormous  gap between the rich and the poor in developing countries such as India, Thailand and others.

“More poor people are suffering and more people could become poor because of high and volatile food prices,”  World Bank president Robert opined. We have to put food first and protect the poor and vulnerable, who spend most of their money on food.”

To ease the problem, social help programs, including  food distributing among the poor, as well as various agricultural technology projects are currently under consideration by the World Bank.

Related Articles

April 13, 2011

Leading investor, Joichi Ito, says: ‘If you put a lot into your idea, you cannot fail’

[Anna Sergijenko, MCIoJ, Business News Contributor]

Joichi Ito, a serial investor, businessman and the founder of Creative Commons, the  internationally known non-profit organization which issues  free-of-claims  copyrights to creative individuals and companies. He recently shared his experience with BBC News.

According to Mr. Ito, the key to success is a non-standard idea coupled with tenacity and dedication.

“Every single company I did failed,” he said about his first decade as an entrepreneur. However, Mr. Ito’s  innovative ideas lead him to great success:  he has  invested  into many widely known social networking and software businesses such as Flickr, Six Apart and Twitter. An outspoken supporter of sharing economy and the important role of the Internet in shaping democratic processes, he was chosen by the World Economic Forum in 2001 as one of the “Global Leaders for Tomorrow’.

In general, his investor’s choice is in favour of online businesses. Unlike any others, which are encumbered by financial and other copyright-related issues, internet businesses according to Mr. Ito ‘are based on these open standards that allow interoperability and people to participate without asking permission, people to innovate without asking permission.’

Joichi Ito is generally known to be a man of wide interests and and a sharp eye for non-material things as such. The idea to develop social networking came to him, while observing young people in Chicago nightclubs where he worked as a DJ.

“People and communities and networks are what I’m interested in,’ he says. ‘I realised that in the sort of working-class community of the nightclubs there was a lot of very interesting stuff going on… The communities, people caring for each other.’

April 7, 2011

Japan in yet another earthquake/ tsunami scare

Japan Earthquake 2011

News & Photo: AP/The Huffington Post

[Peter Hoffman, Japan News Contributor]

  Huffington Post: The Japanese meteorological agency said today that a 7.4 rated earthquake shook the northeastern coast of Japan. No damage, or tsunami has been reported.