Jun 30
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Workers at Swansea auto parts plant vote to strike

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Workers at the Linamar automobile parts factory in Swansea, Wales voted by a wide margin today to strike, after an dispute over the firing of one of the worker’s union organisers remained unresolved.

An 88% turnout resulted in a vote of 139 in favor of striking to 19 against.

Canada-based Linamar took over the plant from Visteon in July 2008. Shortly after the takeover, Linamar offered 208 of the plant’s 360 workers voluntary redundancy, hoping to transfer work to Mexico; 140 accepted. Linamar claims to have no long-term plans to close the plant. On April 28, however, Linamar fired political activist and union convener Rob Williams. Upon Williams’ firing, he refused to leave the Visteon plant. The police escorted him from the building as the day shift workers at the plant staged a spontaneous walkout. Williams was temporarily reinstated after emergency negotiations between Unite and Visteon management, but his dismissal was made permanent a week later.

Unite, Williams’s trade union, describe Williams’s firing as an “illegal” “attack on the union” and has brought the matter to the attention of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Williams himself told left-wing newspaper Socialist Worker: “They have sacked me because they want to weaken the union and intimidate the shop floor.”

Workers at the plant also say Linamar is breaking a promise made to the union when the plant was taken over to keep Visteon’s terms and conditions, particularly to establish a final pension scheme for workers who were part of the company before its 2000 spin-off from Ford.

Linamar has not given comment to the press on the dispute as of this writing.

Rallies in support of Williams, who is also running for European Parliament on the No2EU ticket, and of the union have drawn sizeable crowds, with about 90 at the most recent rally include three Members of the Welsh Assembly representing the ruling coalition of the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru as well as the Liberal Democrats, on May 17 outside the Visteon plant in Swansea.

Linamar Swansea has close ties with Visteon factories in Enfield, Belfast and Basildon. Workers at those three factories recently won a victory against Visteon by occupying their plants and locking management out when redundancies were announced in April.

Jun 30
Basic Tips For Custom Website Design

byAlma Abell

Building a custom website is a great idea for business owners that are interested in launching their services online. Rather than purchasing a pre-designed template and setting up a simple website, you should consider hiring a designer and building a custom website. However, there are numerous things that you need to keep in mind about building a custom website. The design of the website plays an important role in determining whether the website will grow or fail, so it’s important that you follow a few tips for custom website design.

Color Combination

What colors have you chosen for your website? The color combination that you choose for your website could play a major role in traffic retention and website growth. You might have noticed that most popular websites simply use a basic color combination, such as a white background with blue or any other dark color. Blue is a popular choice because it’s easy on the eyes, allowing people to browse a website for longer periods of time. Choosing the right color combination is one of the basic parts of your custom website design.

Navigation

Navigability is an essential part of your custom website design. You have to make sure that you provide links on the page so that visitors can move from one page to another without too much difficulty. Creating a website design that is functional and easy to navigate through is crucial if you want your website to succeed. It’s better if you hire a reputable designer for creating your website. Most companies that specialize in creating custom website designs also offer web hosting and other services. You can get in touch with USA Local Media, a reputable company that offers a range of services related to designing websites and managing them. You can also visit them on Twitterfor more information.

Jun 30
Migrant workers in Dominos Pizza ‘slavery’
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Migrant workers in Dominos Pizza ‘slavery’

Friday, August 10, 2007

Eight Hungarian migrant workers sacked from a Domino’s Pizza franchise in Derby, England are said to have taken home virtually no pay for months because of illegal deductions.

The claim is refuted by the company who said in a statement “We have begun a thorough investigation during which we have scrutinised the franchisee’s employment practices. This took place with his full co-operation. The franchisee concerned is confident that he possesses the evidence required to refute these allegations. To the extent that we have been informed of all allegations and have reviewed all available evidence, we also believe this to be the case.”

The sacked workers are being supported in their claim by the workers union Unite. The union say the “there appeared to be a deliberate strategy of keeping the workers in debt to the company through a series of crippling deductions. The deductions included payments to cover the contract purchase of a car from their employer, insurance for the vehicle provided through their employer, and exorbitant rent for substandard accommodation, again provided through their employer. In addition, some workers had to pay fees of up to £180 for an “introduction” to the company. One worker earned just £5 in four months because of the constant and hefty deductions out of his wage packet. When the workers protested they were sacked.”

Jun 29
Leader of South Korea requests foreign involvement in decommissioning of nuclear test site
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Leader of South Korea requests foreign involvement in decommissioning of nuclear test site

Friday, May 4, 2018

On Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in contacted the United Nations and requested U.N. supervision of the decommissioning of Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, a subterranean tunnel network beneath Mount Mantap where all six of North Korea’s nuclear tests took place. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly said during April 27’s session of the 2018 Inter-korea summit he would invite journalists and other experts from other countries to witness the site’s closure.

A statement issued by the Blue House, the South Korean presidential residence, said President Moon phoned U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to request the United Nations confirm the shutdown, and Guterres responded, while that specific request had to go through the Security Council he would assign someone at the U.N. to work with South Korea. Moon’s office also reported Kim Jong Un saying he would invite experts from the United States and other countries to view the site as it was closed.

On April 27, Kim and Moon met at a border village called Panmunjom to discuss relations between their two countries. They emerged with the Panmunjom Declaration, calling for removal of all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula. According to Moon’s spokesperson, Kim told Moon, “If we maintain frequent meetings and build trust with the United States and receive promises for an end to the war and a non-aggression treaty, then why would be need to live in difficulty by keeping our nuclear weapons?”International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials, in remarks to NBC News, said the IAEA is willing to assist with the decommissioning of Punggye-ri.

Director Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies described the closure as “of limited value, but it’s not meaningless. […] I would compare it to the blowing up of the cooling tower at Yongbyon in 2008.”

Last week, Chinese geologists published a report saying the tunnels of Punggye-ri are likely to have partially collapsed after last September’s nuclear test, itself of seismic magnitude 6.3 and triggering subsequent earthquakes. Kim said this was not the case: “Some say that we are terminating facilities that are not functioning, but you will see that we have two more tunnels that are bigger than the existing ones and that they are in good condition,” again reported through Moon’s spokesperson.

“This is a small but welcome step. But, as always, we must take North Korea’s actions with appropriate caution,” said former United States diplomat Mintaro Oba. “We can’t rule out that Kim Jong Un wants to be seen as a maverick. He has a clear taste for bold moves that surprise the international community, something that sets him apart from his father.”

“If reports are true that the tunnels have collapsed,” said Duyeon Kim of the Korean Peninsula Future Forum think tank, “then the test site would be useless for future nuclear tests anyway, so it would just be a symbolic gesture to close it down[…] It’s not a serious or sincere gesture to denuclearize.” He also observed, “Advanced nuclear states don’t need to conduct explosive tests after a certain point, so Pyongyang might be trying to show it is a part of that nuclear club.”

Officially, the Korean War, which began in 1950, never ended. There was a cease-fire in 1953 but no formal peace treaty. At the April 27 summit, the leaders discussed nuclear disarmament, the reuniting of families separated by the partition, and general relations between the two countries.

Kim also announced plans to reverse a 2015 change to North Korea’s time zone. The country’s clocks are currently set 30 minutes ahead of South Korea’s. “I feel sad to see that there are two clocks hung on the wall of the Peace House, one for Seoul time and the other for Pyongyang time,” Moon’s spokesperson reported Kim said during the talks. “Since it is us who changed the time standard, we will return to the original one.”

Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump have spoken of meeting in a few weeks, but no date or location has been firmly announced. President Moon plans to visit Pyongyang in person in the fall.

Jun 29
New fossils from 10 million year old ape found in Ethiopia
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New fossils from 10 million year old ape found in Ethiopia

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Researchers say that new, ten million-year-old fossils found in Ethiopia, prove that the theory that humans may have evolved from a species of great apes eight million years ago, may not be true, but that humans may have split from apes as long as 10.5 million years ago.

At least nine fossilized teeth, one canine tooth and eight molars, of a previously unknown species of apes found in Africa were discovered by a team of researchers from Ethiopia and Japan who then compared the 3-D make up of the teeth to other fossils that date back as far as 8 million years and found that the fossils are likely a “direct ancestor” of apes currently living in Africa and that the new ape fossils were that of a species of gorilla who ate mostly plants high in fiber.

Current fossils and research say that the evolutionary split from apes to humans occurred at least eight million years ago. The new fossils say that the split may have happened as long as 10.5 million years ago.

“Based on this fossil, that means the split is much earlier than has been anticipated by the molecular evidence. That means everything has to be put back,” said researcher at the Rift Valley Research Service in Ethiopia and a co-author of the study, Berhane Asfaw.

Despite the finds, other researchers are not convinced that the findings are correct.

“It is stretching the evidence to base a time scale for the evolution of the great apes on this new fossil. These structures appear on at least three independent lineages of apes, including gorillas, and they could relate to a dietary shift rather than indicating a new genetic trait,” said a Professor at the London Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom, Peter Andrews who also added, “but the fossil evidence for the evolution of our closest living relatives, the great apes, is almost non-existent.

Researchers have named the newly discovered species Cororapithecus abyssinicus whose remains were found in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, the same place where the remains of Lucy were discovered in 1974.

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Jun 28
Four coalition soldiers die in Kandahar helicopter crash
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Four coalition soldiers die in Kandahar helicopter crash

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

File:Australian SF Afghanistan Oct 2009.jpg

Less than two weeks after two Australian soldiers (Diggers) died in the explosion of a roadside bomb, three more Diggers and a US soldier were killed early yesterday morning in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, while seven other soldiers are being treated for injuries.

Australian Defence Force Chief Angus Houston said in a statement this afternoon that two of the crash survivors are in a serious condition and will be moved with the other survivors to the US military hospital in Begram.

The crash occurred at 03:39 yesterday local time (23:09 on Sunday, UTC) in the north of Kandahar province. Although the cause is still unknown, Houston said “the terrain is rugged, the helicopters are often heavily loaded, it’s at high altitude and it was three o’clock in the morning. All of these factors will no doubt be considered”. Houston confirmed that enemy fire was not to blame for the crash.

These new casualties in the Afghan War brings Australia’s death toll to sixteen, while that of the US comes to 1128 since the war began in 2001.

Despite this, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, remains firm on the issue: “We work beside our allies […] to avoid Afghanistan once again becoming a breeding ground for terrorists who can then strike at innocent Australians both at home and abroad” and continued by saying that all Australians owe the soldiers a debt of gratitude for making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Although the names of the soldiers have yet to be released, the tragedy follows last week’s casualties where Australian combat engineers Darren Smith, age 26, and Jacob Moerland, age 21, were killed along side their bomb sniffer dog, Herbie in a roadside blast.

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Jun 28
Che Guevara’s ”Motorcycle Diaries” companion dies
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Che Guevara’s ”Motorcycle Diaries” companion dies

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alberto Granado Jiménez, the Argentinian biochemist who was Che Guevara’s companion on his transformative motorcycle trip through South America, died in Havana on Saturday, reported Cuban state television. He was 88 and died of natural causes.

The politically active Jiménez met Ernesto “Che” Guevara, then a medical student, in Hernando, Argentina where Guevara had gone to play rugby. Both were intellectually curious and interested in exploration. In 1951 they set out on an eight-month motorcycle trip through South American that exposed them to the poverty in which most South Americans lived. The pair worked in a leprosy colony and met wtih destitute miners and indigenous people. Both men kept diaries which served as the basis for the 2004 film, The Motorcycle Diaries, produced by Robert Redford and directed by Walter Salles.

According to the Guardian, “Their road trip awoke in Guevara a social consciousness and political convictions that would turn him into one of the iconic revolutionaries of the 20th century.” The trip is widely believed to have inspired Guevara to go to Cuba and join Fidel Castro in his 1959 revolt against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

By the time the two men met again eight years later, Guevara was a revolutionary hero and chief of Cuba’s central bank. Jiménez, who had remained in Argentina working in a clinic, accepted Guevara’s invitation to move to Cuba in 1961 and founded a medical facility in Santiago. Later he moved to Havana where he continued his medical work. The two remained friends although they did not always agree. Jiménez rejected Guevara’s belief that social reform in Latin America had to be accomplished through guerrilla warfare.

The book The Motorcycle Diaries was published in the 1990’s. Jiménez said of the book that it inspired the image of the young Che as a romantic figure.

Jiménez authored the book Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary, published in 2003.

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Jun 26
Eric Bogosian on writing and the creative urge
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Eric Bogosian on writing and the creative urge

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Eric Bogosian is one of America’s great multi-dimensional talents. “There’s sort of three different careers, and any one of them could exist by itself, on its own two feet. There was that solo stuff, and then I started writing plays in the late seventies.” Although his work has spanned genres, most readers will recognize Bogosian for his acting, which has included a memorable performance in Woody Allen‘s Deconstructing Harry to co-writing and starring in the Oliver Stone movie Talk Radio (based upon his Pulitzer Prize-nominated play) to playing the bad guy in Under Siege 2 to his current role in Law & Order: Criminal Intent as Captain Danny Ross. They may not know, however, that he had collaborated with Frank Zappa on a album, worked with Sonic Youth, and was a voice on Mike Judge‘s Beavis & Butthead Do America. He started one of New York City’s largest dance companies, The Kitchen, which is still in existence. He starred alongside Val Kilmer in Wonderland and his play Talk Radio was recently revived on Broadway with Liev Schreiber in the role Bogosian wrote and made famous.

Currently at work on his third novel, tentatively titled The Artist, Bogosian spoke with David Shankbone about the craft of writing and his life as a creative.

Contents

  • 1 Bogosian’s view of his work
  • 2 How Bogosian approaches his writing
  • 3 How Bogosian works himself into his writing
  • 4 The future of the narrative
  • 5 Collaborations with Steven Spielberg and Frank Zappa
  • 6 Source
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Jun 26
Deadly illegal sexual enhancement products appear on the Singaporean market
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Deadly illegal sexual enhancement products appear on the Singaporean market

Friday, April 11, 2008

New ‘deadly’ sexual enhancement products have been found in Singaporean markets and can cause serious side effects on users.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) announced the presence of the illegal drugs, known as Power 1 Walnut, Santi bovine penis erecting capsule, Zhong Hua Niu Bian and fake Cialis, which have been discovered over the past 3 months. Santi bovine penis erecting capsule has been found to contain high amounts of glibenclamide, a potent drug used to treat diabetes. The tablets also contain sildenafil and tadalafil – potent western medicines used to treat erectile dysfunction. Zhong Hua Niu Bian also contains sildenafil and glibenclamide.

High consumption of the tablets can be potentially deadly as the glibenclamide in the capsules can lead to drastically reduced blood sugar levels which can lead to seizures, stroke, coma or death. Consuming half of a Power 1 Walnut capsule has led to unconsciousness and frothing at the mouth.

Consumption of Power 1 Walnut has led to the death of a middle age man last week who fell into a coma. Currently, one death and two cases of coma have been reported from the total of 89 hospitalised cases linked with the consumption of the illegal drugs. It has been revealed that patients obtained the drugs by purchasing them from illegal peddlers located in various parts of Singapore.

The HSA has advised people to stop consuming the drugs and to report on any cases of consumption to them.

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Jun 25
Taliban resurgent in Pakistan on enforcement of Sharia law
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Taliban resurgent in Pakistan on enforcement of Sharia law

Friday, May 4, 2007

“Pakistan was un-affected by Talibans and al-Qaeda (in my opinion) until the US flushed them out of Afghanistan. So 9/11 and WTC and the post WTC attacks by the ISAF (read American, for the locals) forces have led to the present condition in NWFP. At least that is the way the people there see it,” wrote Riaz A Hakeem in one of a series of email exchanges with Wikinews.

Mr. Hakeem, 58, left the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) at the age of 25 and became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. Now a businessman who is active in Texas politics, he shares some views as a person who is in touch with his family and friends who remain in the region. He travelled throughout portions of Pakistan at the end of last year.

What is the current situation in the NWFP?

The Pashtun people are or were renowned for their hospitality. Many westerners commented on it. Some with suspicion NOT willing to believe some people so poor could be so generous. It was almost a character flaw. One could travel without fear of personal danger as long as you followed local protocols.

That was the sort of mind set among the people. An ageless paradigm of self satisfaction: this is enshrined in the code of the Pashtuns way of life.

The Islamic radicalism is in reality nothing but the Taliban movement. Not all Pashtuns are Taliban (obviously), but most Taliban are Pashtun. Of these, most belong to the FATA. Of these, most were affected by their cousins from Afghanistan coming over. Mingled with them were Arab-Afghans, Uzbeks and some Tajiks and even Chechens. Some of these married within the tribes and formed a bond with the locals. Marriage bonds go back in history.

This Talibanization shows itself in the content of the Friday sermons at the mosque. Now it shows in the popularity of growing beards, especially since the MMA – the coalition of religious political party’s – won power. More recently in their showdown with the Pakistan army in North and South Waziristan – where according to my sources, people prefer going to the Taliban for justice rather than the older system of Maliks and Political Agents. The latter are known as corrupt. In Pakistan, in general, people are sick of the amount of corruption.

Bannu, from where hails the Chief Minister of the NWFP, Mr. Durrani, is now in Taliban control in the sense that there is a parallel government that they have established which is functioning quite well and is popular among the people.

Has Taliban influence caused a stricter intrepretation of Sharia law in the NWFP?

Yes. The Maliks, or tribal elders, consider themselves quite conservatively religious. Even so, they had a laid back attitude towards enforcement of religious doctrine.

The Taliban emulated the Saudi system of having a department concerned with citizens’ morals (even the name is the same: the department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) and this department has, as in Saudi Arabia, an enforcement police, called mutawwa’in, a morals law-enforcement agency.

Is there a shift from tribal elders to clerics, as the main interpreters of law?

There has been a movement in that direction, but it has started a power struggle between the clerics who traditionally have been at the lowest strata of the social structure. Now when they have seen a bigger role for themselves, first from the Taliban in Afghanistan – but also the government of the MMA in the NWFP, who are nothing more than glorified clerics themselves, only a little smarter in exploiting religion politically.

The MMA is largely non-Pashtun, which is a source of discontent in that they stand in the way of Pashtun nationalism, such as it is, because it only rears its head when non-Pashtuns start to usurp power over what the Pashtun consider their turf.

The deal made between Pakistan’s central government and the North and South Waziristan provinces, where tribal leadership was given the pivotal role in dealing with militants, has been criticized as a failure. What caused this initiative to fail?

First off, I don’t agree with the premise of the question, that the “deal” is a “failure” – for the following reasons:

  1. In the first place the Pakistan army (govt – same difference) did not have many options. This was the least worst option they had.
  2. And most importantly, I have said this before, this area is literally in a time warp – which means they proceed at (what seems to us in the west) a glacial pace. I will give an example from the folklore:

    The story goes that a Pashtun had to repay (badal) an enemy for a crime against his family and he waited patiently for 20 years (some say 50 years), after this time, he exacted his revenge – but soon after was depressed because he wondered “Did I act too hastily?”

    So one part of Pashtunwali is to “pay back” – (Badal: literally to exchange) which most people translate as revenge. Yes that is the form that is most visible, but badal is also played out in the exchange of gifts at wedding and other celebrations, and in the exchange of favors like in politics. The rules can be arcane, unwritten and hard to follow — who did what to whom, when, and so on, and what is the proper recompense — this same give and take would occur in a peace process pursued by the Tribal Maliks, who rule by consensus. There is no actual leader in the western sense, because all the Maliks, in fact all the others are de facto, so many co-equals is a mind set, a paradigm foreign to the uninitiated, as the concept of consensual gay sex is to the Wazir in Waziristan.

  3. The agreement has not failed, because it has not been given enough time, in Wazir time reference, not American time presidential election cycle controlled. I do not have a crystal ball, but if I did, I would see NATO troops in Afghanistan long after Iraq is over. Afghanistan can be a success ONLY if we accept one thing, the time warp these people live in — by my reckoning its still 1700 CE over there.

Is the Talibanization of Pakistan partly due to a perception of corruption among the system of Maliks and Political Agents?

The corruption is in the ISI, the Pak army and the Pak system of Political Agents (PA) assigned to these tribal zones (FATA & PATA).

These PA have budgets that are much like the CIA in that they are a single line item in the national budget, there is no accountability of where or how the PA spends the money. If one followed the IRS rules and looked at the lifestyles of the PA and compared them with their income, you would soon understand what was going on.

Musharraf critics are a larger issue. Republicans have coddled Pakistan with the belief that “as long as they are pro America” then democracy in Pakistan will come in due course. Democrats have, I think, insisted Democracy first, and then we can discuss the other issues later.

The Talibanization of Pakistan has more to do with graduates of “Raiwind“, a place near Lahore, where the “Tablighi Jamaat” conducts brainwashing camps. It was graduates of this place, in my opinion, that are responsible for Britain’s 7/7 attacks as an example.

Corruption amongst the Maliks is self limiting because of the egalitarian society they live in and because of Pashtunwali.

What is your view on Musharraf suspending judge Iftikhar Chaudhry?

I believe, and this is widely held belief, that Musharraf has no constituency of his own for his power base. He wanted legitimization from the Supreme Court, and Mr Choudhry as Chief Justice (their system is not like ours) would not give it.

So Musharraf has had to hang on to his Army Chief of Staff position to get his power from the Army. If some one else were Chief of Staff, that person could refuse to support Musharraf.

The Justice favorable to the general is Justice Iqbal, who was not the next in line for Chief Justice. The next in line is a Hindu. That presented problems of its own for Musharraf. So when the Hindu judge went for a trip to India, Iqbal became the “available” senior most Supreme Court judge, and hence the haste and lack of decorum with which Justice Chaudhry was removed.

What is the prevailing sentiment regarding Pakistani government efforts in the provinces and the international effort in Afghanistan to combat Taliban and affiliated militants?

In my dealings and inquires, one thing stood out like a sore thumb – the conspiracy theories vis-à-vis anything having to do with America. I mentioned to one of my close friends that events that were previously ascribed as acts of God were now considered acts of the CIA. Some even believed that the Earthquake in the northern areas was because of some sort of underground secret “bomb” used by the CIA. Lack of evidence is further proof that the CIA did it. I was flabbergasted, and started to give this kind of thinking as an example in speaking to “educated” Pakistani’s – and among these, those that did agree that the earthquake was NOT the work of the CIA, they would start giving other examples, notably the Blow up of the plane carrying Zia ul Haq an ex President of Pakistan, in which the US Ambassador also perished. When I would point this out, the response would be that that is the sort of thing they do to take away suspicion from themselves.

In a nutshell, the impression I came away with is, there is NO war of civilizations going on. What is going on is a war between literacy and illiteracy.

Taliban are not visible in the areas I visited, but the militants handiwork clearly is – as elsewhere, the common criminals are taking advantage of this situation, and crime is up significantly. One new crime is Cell phone “snatching” – it’s easy and nobody wants to pursue it. If some one is using a Razr phone, he can expect to be hit soon if he uses it in public. So people have two cell phones, one fancy to show off, and one for use in public places.

Insofar as “foreign” militants are captured and identified, that is to say non-Pashtun (including non Afghan Pashtun or Pak Pashtun) – then the people are obviously in agreement with the government that these people don’t belong here and need to go.

The problem is this: the foreigners are usually in the FATA and have been there since the Soviet war times. Many of them have taken local wives and now have a family. The local have accepted them into their family. Now for the Pak govt to ask them to kick them out, the locals are thinking what am I doing to my grandchildren’s father, etc. Again the edicts of Pashtunwali also play a role.

What is the relationship, if any, between the Taliban and Al Qaeda?

Al Qaeda is mostly composed of Arabs, they do not trust any one else. While they might use others as couriers or in lowly position as servants, for second rate Al Qaeda officials, the Top guys ONLY deal with Arabs and are served by Arabs.

The Taliban are mostly Pashtun tribesmen. Mostly they are graduates of madrassa’s. Mostly illiterate by any world standards. The better educated among them will know how to speak a few words of English, such as their Information minister. There might be one or two notable exceptions of which I am not aware.

However, while Al Qaeda does not trust the Taliban, the Taliban look up to Al Qaeda top leadership. We saw this situation in Iraq where initially Al Zarqawi had no direct link with Qaeda but was keen to form one. It would be conjecture on my part to state that in the end he did indeed succeed in forming that connection. In the press at least that impression was prevalent.

So the lines of interest proceed ONE way, like one way traffic. Extremist want to be affiliated with Qaeda, in my opinion, while the latter does not, so as to maintain its hideout.

The Qaeda supply lines are hampered, new recruits would have to be Arabs, and they would have to travel a long way through tight Pakistani security to reach here, or suffer hardship over a long and arduous land route through Balochistan and the Tribal area’s – NOT all of which are accommodating.

So as is becoming clear, Qaeda is having trouble replacing people they loose meaning those that were captured or died. They only trust Arabs, and that also a certain type of Arabs, (not all Arabs are the same, not all Arabic is the same – for example they would never trust a Syrian, in fact Qaeda folks consider Syrian brand of Islam an apostasy – but that is another story).

Whatever remains of the Qaeda, are not in a position to set up training camps, since they are in a survival mode. The Taliban resurgence helps them get a little warm and fuzzy in this survival mode, since they feel a little bit more secure with their partners-in-arms doing some evil stuff, blowing up people and causing mayhem.

What makes the North-West Frontier Province competent to administer money sent as foreign aid?

This is the central question. Much like California has taken a separate initiative on stem cell research – as an analogy – the NWFP is central to the war on terror, not Pakistan.

The NWFP was central to the fight and aid to the Afghans during the Soviet occupation, not Pakistan.

This small distinction is lost on Washington, and it is the main reason, in my opinion, why so much of the Aid was “lost in transit” was because the Punjabi army officers could not bring themselves to dispense such large sums to an ethnic group which it considers anti-Pakistani.

All the FATA is contiguous to the NWFP. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda are holed up somewhere either in the FATA, or across the Durand Line in Afghanistan; the Durand Line has never been recognized by the locals as an international boundary. Even today, the Pashtun travel from Peshawar to Kabul by road with out a passport or visa, and it has been like that for eons.

The present governor of the NWFP belongs to the Orakzai tribe (he spells his name Aorakzai) and it is my opinion that that he was picked partly because he belongs to one of the FATA as well as he is a retired General of the Pak Army.

The Frontier Constabulary (FC) is a force which primarily recruits from the FATA. All or most of its forces are from the various tribes. In the eyes of the tribes this is a bona fide force and service with the FC is considered an honorable thing. The US has already allocated some funds for increasing recruitment, but far less than what it would take to counter the Taliban and far less than what the economic need is. The US spends a thousand times more on a battalions sent to monitor activity over there. Plus why endanger the lives of our troops and spread our forces thin when a more effective job can be done by the FC. The FC has over history shown that they will attack and use force against the tribes that create trouble. There have been no instances of insubordination or mutiny.

Even the US Embassy is protected by a contingent of the FC! That goes to show their trustworthiness and discipline.

The “tribal” Pashtuns in the FATA are not educated or trained and hence not employable right now. I propose that we fund directly the Director of Emigrants, Mr. Azhar Arbab in Islamabad, to set up training facilities in Concrete laying, iron work, pipe work, welding etc, which would then qualify these tribesmen to obtain jobs in the Gulf. As such we would remove them from the scene altogether. They would not be available in the labor pool to the Taliban or anyone else. I might add here, that a number of these individuals have very high innate intelligence, which is one reason they make formidable foes.

Now the central reason why the NWFP ought to do this is because they are themselves most affected by the scourge of Talibanization. They are highly motivated in carrying out these policies because it is to their own benefit.

How many men does the FC field currently?

The FC currently has about 23,000 men in total.

How much do they get paid?

They are paid the equivalent of $60 per month per person -Pak Rupees 3665, where Rs61= $1. They do have some fringe benefits but life is very spartan for these soldiers.

What the US could get in return is a huge bang for a buck, no pun intended.

I think we ought to double the number of these soldiers with one proviso that the FC maintains its high standards of recruits.

Compare this with our costs in the War against Terror; just Halliburton’s bills will have you reeling. I think that it would be foolish, NOT to do this.

The Frontier Constabulary is an Institution with a long and glorious history within the Frontier Province.

The recruits come strictly from the tribes of the various FATA and so they are very familiar with the people, the bad guys the terrain.

They speak the Pashto dialect of the locals. The Pashto language has many dialects, and you can tell where someone is from based on which dialect he speaks. So if you do not speak the correct dialect, you are immediately identified as an outsider. This is one reason why these tribes are impossible to penetrate, there are other reasons as well, that are beyond the scope of the current discussion.

How can the FC help prevent attacks like the suicide bombing attempt on Sherpao in Charsadda last weekend?

In essence your question is how can anyone prevent a suicide attack? And frankly if I knew the answer to that I think the US military – and several other groups – would be knocking on my door. I think the Israeli Army has had the most experience with this sort of thing. The suicide bombing as a tactical weapon was invented by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, and even today in terms of statistics they use it in far greater numbers.

So to summarize neither the FC nor anyone else can prevent a suicide bombing. We could attempt to improve our intelligence to find out about an imminent attack, but so far these have not been very successful in Pakistan.

In the Lal Masjid Case the government avoided a suicide killing by negotiating with those two Mullah brothers – but I don’t know if that counts. But it does make for an interesting story. Both Washington, DC and Islamabad now have Madams threatening to publish the list of their clients unless they are given protection. Who would have thunk?

Going back to your question: In my opinion what ought to be done is to make a Policy change, and address the issues that are producing these suicide bombers, that is the only way to stop this phenomenon.

In this part of the world this is relatively new because prior to 9/11, suicide bombing was unheard of. Moreover it is not the FC’s job to provide security to the Minister of the Interior, that is the job of the Police force, because this Ministry is equivalent to the Department of Homeland Security.

You don’t expect Border patrol to provide body guard duty to the Secretary of the department of Homeland Security.

I am making these analogies so the American readers would relate to what is happening, and understand the difference in nomenclature. –RHakeem 20:13, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

This interview consists of excerpts taken from the full content and context of Mr. Hakeem’s replies. The complete and uneditted version is found on the Interview archive page.
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