This is the personal web log of Jishi Samuel. The views expressed here are his personal views. Click here for comments.

Friday, March 2, 2007

"No Patent" low cost drug for Malaria proposed

A low priced drug for malaria has been produced by a paris based drug company Sanofi-Aventis. The world's fourth largest drug company has decided not to seek any patents so the pills can be freely copied by generic companies like those in India. The company proposes to sell the drug at no profit at less than $1 to very poor customers and $3 to $4 to wealthier ones. The pill is designed primarily for Africa, where a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

UN incited Bangladesh's army take over

The UN warned the Bangladesh Army chief that if it supported the forthcoming elections, which the UN feared would be violent, it might lose several peacekeeping contracts. UN peacekeeping contracts bring in $300 million a year to Bangladesh which is significant for the poverty ridden country. The next day, the Army chief walked into the office of Bangladesh's president and ordered him to declare a state of emergency, cancel the election, and install a military-backed caretaker government.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Novartis throttling AIDS relief operations in developing countries

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis is challenging the Indian Governments decision to put peoples health before patents and profits. Until 2005, India was able to produce affordable versions of medicines which was pateneted elsewhere, since the country did not grant pharmaceutical patents.

Indian drugs constitute one quarter of the drugs brought by over 30 developing countries worldwide. 80% of medicines used for the treatment of AIDS in the developing countries come from India. Novartis is effectively trying to shut down the pharmacy of the developing world.

India has 5.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the United Nations, which is the world's highest caseload. But the prevalence rate is much lower than in most of Africa.

India complied to the The World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement in 2005. But this agreement includes provisions to safeguard public health and India has included only these in its patent laws.

The Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health signed in 2001 reinforced the right of individual countries to implement these safeguards.

Challenging the public health safeguards in the Indian Law by Novartis will affect the access to medicines in developing countries when the TRIPS agreement by itself has made it difficult for India to produce affordable medicines.

The Indian Network for People with HIV/AIDS (INP+), the People's Health Movement, the Centre for Trade and Development (Centad), the international medical humanitarian organisation Mèdecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) have all expressed their protest on the lawsuit. They have opposed patent applications for crucial AIDS drugs that they need to be able to access at affordable prices. The survival of these organizations and their effort to fight AIDS all depend greatly on winning these patent oppositions.

Widespread protests forced the Novartis to abandon a similar legal action agains the South African government in 2001.

Please join these efforts to get Novartis to back off from India.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Killing innocents for promotion and rewards

In the 17 year old insurgency in Kashmir, more than 60,000 people have been killed. Recently a new trend has been observed in these killings. Police officers have been conducting "false encounters" and killing innocent people to claim rewards and promotions.

The word "encounter" has until now been used principally to mean skirmishes between militants and the police or the military. For each new murder, the police invoke self-defence and insist that the miscreants opened fire first. Not surprisingly, since the law allows the police to use arms against anyone charged with an offence for which the punishment is death. In their affidavits, the police always say that the criminals had sophisticated weapons, imported or smuggled into the country.

It is said that the stand of human rights activists is demoralising for the police: The government says that it has neither ordered the encounters nor will it ask the police to stop the same. In fact, this isn’t an action taken against criminals, it’s a fight between two groups of criminals.

In the eyes of the public, law and order are breaking down. The prestige of the police is damaged and it needs to do something to limit the damage. "Encounters" are part of that damage control strategy. Police depend on informers to discover who pulled the trigger, not who instigated the murder. These known criminals are then tracked down and shot. The police version is that the criminals opened fire on them and they were killed in self-defence. There are no witnesses to corroborate the story. But public opinion is satisfied and police prestige is restored.

Police and politicians create an impermeable web of corruption and concealment..

In effect, there is a sustained effort by politicians and police to discredit the judiciary. Their story is that the judiciary is too liberal, too inefficient, cases take too long to come to court and too many criminals are released on bail on technicalities. The campaign to tarnish the judiciary is part of the apologia for the extra-judicial killings.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Rape and ye shall marry? In India, Yes.

Rapists in India has an option now - Marry and you may get away scot free.

Last year, a Delhi court asked a rape victim to consider a marriage proposal from her rapist in a bid to escape conviction. Women's groups, including the National Commission for Women had criticised the court for even entertaining such a proposal.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Indians offered cash prizes for marrying beneath their caste

The Indian Government is offering 50,000 rupees to higher-caste people who marry spouses from the lowest castes in its latest controversial effort to dismantle the ancient Hindu social hierarchy.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

India's national carrier dishonours Indian Currency

Air India flights accepts only US Dollars or Dirhams on it's flights to UAE for in-flight purchases. If being in international territory is the reason for this, why would the tea vendor in the departure lounge (after emigration) accept Indian Rupees?

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

High priest sacked on allegations of sexual harassment

The preliminary police investigations showed that the priest had visited a flat in Kochi and spent time with a woman. There is a case of immoral trafficking pending against the woman in question whom the priest had gone to meet.

This is believed to be part of the same master plan that propagated the desecration story since the priest had opposed the move for corrective rituals and had alleged that the story was fabricated.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Actress breached security and touched idol at Sabarimala Temple

Controversy erupted at Sabarimala when a film actress admitted to have entered the sanctum sanctorum and touched the celibate idol. Earlier an astrologer had discovered that a woman had entered the temple which was out of bounds for females between the ages of ten to fifty and hence desecrated it.

The chief priest at the temple denied the allegations and maintained that it is part of a master plan to derogate the sanctity and popularity of the temple. It is also alleged that the astrologer is involved in this master plan and the whole set of discoveries by the astrologer and the ensuing revelation by the actress was fabricated.

It is believed that as part of the master plan, the presence of "Lord Ram" was discovered in the devaprasnam. The corrective action proposed was to instate Lord Ram also in Sabarimala to eventually make the believers chant "Jai Ram", the infamous slogan that preceded the destruction of Babri Masjid.

The relevance of Sabarimala in the context of multi-religious fabric of Kerala is the glorious camaraderie of Lord Ayyappa and Vavaru Swami. A muslim shine that co-exists in Sabarimala for centuries and where the hindu pilgrims paid a customary visit was also targeted in the master plan, threatening the centuries old secular tradition of the temple.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

No skirts for girls in the campus

The women's commission of a state in India is considering a ban on skirts for girls and to enforce strict dress codes for women to prevent crimes against them.

The mindset prevails in these societies that it is the fundamental right of a man to misbehave with a woman and it is a woman's responsibility to protect herself.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Girl child labourer tortured and murdered

The 10 year old girl who was caught trying on her mistress's lipstick was tortured and killed by an educated urban mother of three.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rapist escapes jail by marrying victim

A 25-year old man charged with raping a young hearing and speech impaired woman in Chennai has escaped conviction by marrying the victim after striking a compromise with her family.

This shocked women rights activists who feel this could be a precedent-setting verdict.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Spammers win the battle once again

In a disheartening development in the ongoing battle against spam by computers users, a computer security company waved a virtual white flag of surrender and closed down its operations.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Idealist politics humbles mafia rule

Former minister and prime accused in the infamous ice-cream parlour sex scandal, IUML leader Mr. P.K Kunhalikutty was defeated in a historic electoral reverse by his former aide Mr. K.T.Jaleel who was earlier expelled from the party since he began questioning the style of functioning of the party.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Police torture boy in custody

A 13-year-old boy taken into custody by police for alleged theft was tortured in a police station in Kerala.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Show cause notices issued to hostile witnesses

In a landmark judgment an Indian judge awarded life imprisonment to the Best Bakery case accused but also accused perjury on the witnesses giving a clear warning message to several other similar cases around the country where witnesses have been forced to change their statements owing to life threats.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Parents of peace activits killed by Israeli bulldozers sue Caterpillar

Parents of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American peace activist who was crushed and killed by an army-driven Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza are suing Caterpillar for violating the Geneva Convention and American torture laws in allowing its equipment to be used against the Palestinian people and their homes.

There is a boycott of Caterpillar, the company that makes the bulldozers Israel uses to knock down Palestinian homes.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Rigorous imprisonment for sexual harassment

A court in Kerala has issued a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for sexually harassing a Calicut University employee in a bus.

P.E. Usha, the mother of a 12 year old girl, received little help from the state. For pursuing the case, even her daughter was not left out. She was threatened over the phone that her daughter would be kidnapped, raped and killed. The State Women's Commission had refused to intervene since it is a police case. Though the entire state had been talking about Usha's case, there were few organisations willing to support Usha.

Sunday, September 4, 2005

"This is wrong. This is the United States of America."

Law and order is gone, gunmen are roaming at will, raping and looting, as people die of heat and thirst, bodies lie rotting in the street, with no medicine and now there are thousands of people defecating in the streets. This is wrong. This is the United States of America.

Front-page photos of the dead and desperate in New Orleans, devastated by the Hurricane Katrina , almost all of them poor and black have shaken assumptions about American might.

The issue is being studied closely by American ethicists and social psychologists who opines that rules of human behavior including respect for others' property and for social order itself dissolve quickly in desperate circumstances like the storm's aftermath. Ethicists call it state of nature -- an atmosphere without rules or infrastructure, where the needs are so great that anything goes.

It is under extreme distress that the true character of a person emerges. This reflects the culture of the person and as a whole of the society he belongs.

The looting and chaos in New Orleans reflect a culture of violence. In South Asia, where the tsunami killed more than 30,000 not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged or raped.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Parallel religious courts under scrutiny

The Supreme Court of India has issued notices to the Islamic Seminary, Darul-ul-Uloom & the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on a petition accusing the two most important Muslim bodies of trying to interfere with the country's legal system and introduce parallel Islamic laws in violation of the Constitution.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Cleric's power too large a challenge for the Indian Government

The 'culture' of rape that exists in India and Pakistan arises from profound social anomalies in their moral code, which is based on concepts of honour and shame. In honour-and-shame cultures like those of India and Pakistan, male honour resides in the sexual probity of women, and the 'shaming' of women dishonours all men. Any country claiming to be a democracy must secularise and unify its legal system, and take away power exercised by medievalist religious institutions that teaches the most fundamentalist, narrow, puritan, rigid, oppressive version of religion.

Ever since the Indian Government caved in and passed an act that nullified the Supreme Court's judgment in the Shah Bano case, denying alimony to divorced Muslim women, Indian politicians have not dared to challenge Islamist clerics' power.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Another honor rape in Pakistan

Another woman has been "honour raped" (read gang-raped) by five men in Pakistan's Central Punjab province where another high-profile gang-rape of a woman, Mukhtaran Mai, on the orders of a village council had triggered an international outcry.

Violence against women is common in rural Pakistan where tribal and feudal customs hold sway. Hundreds of women are raped or killed every year by men intent on restoring honour after behaviour by the woman or a male relative deemed inappropriate in the male-dominated society.

An Islamic Critique of the Rape Laws of Pakistan from a Woman-Sensitive Perspective.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Muslim council "finds" that the rape never occured....and hence the matter is closed?

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board which sent a team on a fact-finding mission says it is unlikely that Imrana was raped. They "support their finding" on the argument that her house did not offer sufficient privacy for a rape to have occured.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Protest against India rape fatwa

A ruling by a Muslim seminary in India that a woman allegedly raped by her father-in law must separate from her husband has been met with wide protests.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mediapersons are the prostitutes of the governments?

Several top journalists who have covered the UAE say the country has a long way to go in respect of providing functional freedom to the media, while at least one top journalist in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region feels, “My colleagues and I are prostitutes of the government.”

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Rape victim ordered to marry rapist

Police in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have arrested a man accused of raping his daughter-in-law. But a Muslim council of community elders has ordered that she marry her father-in-law and change her relationship with her husband to that between a mother and son.

It also ordered her to leave her home and stay away for seven month and 10 days to become "pure".

Friday, May 6, 2005

A village council in Kerala in India has lost its legal battle against the corporate giant Coca Cola Company.

The struggle by the villagers against the exploitation and pollution of water of Coca Cola Company at Plachimada completed three years on 22 April 2005.

In addition to depleting the water resource in the otherwise drought prone village, the company also dumped its waste sludge in the fields and banks of the irrigation canals, heralding it as free fertilizer. Aside from stinking so badly it made old folk and children sick, people coming in contact with it got rashes and kindred infections and the crops which it was supposed to nourish died.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Clamp down on Ladies Bars

Maharashtra government has ordered closure of ladies bars to protect the morals of the youth. The government should not be in the job of policing the morals of citizens. The states task is to regulate and ensure that people who do not want to be disturbed by such adult entertainment are isolated in time and space from such joints.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

35 rapists acquitted

The High Court of Kerala has acquitted all but one of the 36 accused in the Suryanelly sex scandal. The prosecution failed to adduce adequate evidence before the court to ensure proper punishment showing how infirm the legal system was when it came to protecting women. The verdict points to the gender bias inherent in the Indian legal system, and the need to overhaul it to ensure that women received as much legal protection as men.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Minister bows to public demand; tenders resignation

Bowing to public outcry, controversial Kerala Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty, facing charges in the infamous ice-cream parlour sex scandal, tendered his resignation from the Cabinet.

Kunhalikutty, also the General Secretary of the Indian Union Muslim League, the second largest constituent in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), submitted his resignation to party supremo Panakkad Syed Mohammedali Shihab Thangal at his residence.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

An early-warning system could have saved thousands of lives

The 26 December earthquake was the largest anywhere in the world in the last 40 years, with a magnitude of 9.0. It was caused by the sudden collision of two tectonic plates under the floor of the Indian Ocean.

A monitoring station that could have provided early warning of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunamis lacked the telephone connection needed to relay news of the impending disaster.

Countries such as Sri Lanka and India, which suffered thousands of casualties, could potentially have been warned some two hours before the waves completed the 1,500-kilometre journey from the earthquake's epicentre off Indonesia.

India and Sri Lanka, which were devastated by killer waves, are not even part of the The Pacific Tsunami Warning System.

Scientists at the PTWS centre in Hawaii desperately tried to warn Asian nations by calling the US embassies in their capitals.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Prisoner starved to death

In an Indian Jail a prisoner was starved to death because the jailor and the fellow prisoners were scared to share food with him since he was suffering from AIDS.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Hindu seer confesses to murder

A top Hindu cleric has confessed to murdering a worker at his temple in India's southern Tamil Nadu state.

The murdered worker was reportedly writing anonymous letters charging the seer with various misdemeanours.

"In a moment of weakness I ordered his murder," the counsel quoted the cleric as saying.

The charges levelled against the cleric, Mr Saraswati included embezzlement of gold procured for making a temple chariot and providing lavish lifestyles for the seer's relatives.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Victim Girl Arrested

The victim girl was arrested today by the Kerala state police in connection with her attempt to commit suicide in the year 2000. The police explained that she was in hiding all these years and hence the delay in her arrest.

This was in fact a contradiction of facts since she was under police protection all these days and the police had arrested her from her house which was under police protection.

The incident was reportedly planned by the accused minister and she was threatened during her arrest by the police that she reverted from her statement saying a social activist had compelled her to level the charges against the minister.

Regina's case has striking similarities with that of Zahira Sheikh of the Best Bakery Case, who said she had made accusations against those who allegedly killed her father and 14 others in Gujarat in 2002 at the instance of social activist Teesta Setalvad.

Any way the harm has been done as the government spokesmen have started saying that someone who keeps changing her statement cannot be believed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

No plans to resign

Kunhalikutty has ruled out his resignation from the UDF ministry in Kerala saying that there is no question of his resignation as minister or a reinvestigation into the case which had been dismissed even by the Supreme Court.

The government of Kerala continues to support and protect the accused minister saying that the allegations are yet to be proved in the court of law.

The media and the public demands the minister to be ousted from power so as to pave the way for an impartial probe into the allegation.

The minister who is said to run a mafia gang in the state has reacted massively to the situation using muscle power and political power to threaten and suppress his opponents.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Cable TV services disrupted

Cable TV services were disrupted at key locations in Kerala due to severing of optical fibre and coaxial cables reportedly by the supporters of the accused minister who wanted to prevent the reach of news bulletins containing adverse comments against him.

Monday, November 1, 2004

Journalists stoned and beaten

Journalists including women were stoned and beaten by the supporters of Kerala Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty, who was last week accused of sexually abusing a 22-year-old woman thrice in 1996 when she was 14.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

News person manhandled

The Kozhikode bureau chief of The New Indian Express M.P. Prashanth was manhandled by a group of men, while covering the march taken out by the Youth League and IUML cadre in the city in protest against the recent media coverage linking Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty in the ice cream parlour sex scandal.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Minister abuses minor girl

Regina, the girl who was involved in the infamous ice cream sex scandal, revealed that she was sexually exploited by Industries Minister and IUML general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty three times at separate places in 1996.

She told mediapersons that Kunhalikutty's co-brother Raoof had given her Rs 2.25 lakh to retract from her earlier statement before the court naming Kunhalikutty.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Mobile phones in Kashmir

An increasing number of people in Kashmir are reported to be using Pakistan's national anthem as the ring tone on their mobile phones. Mobile phone services were not launched in Kashmir until last year due to security concerns raised by Indian security agencies.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Guantanamo Bay. What can you do about this?

More than 80% of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were captured by Pakistan. They were handed over by Pakistan directly to the US authorities without following any due legal process. Many of the prisoners were stripped naked, fun made of their naked bodies, had their money taken and were tortured by Pakistani Intelligence agents, before being sent to Guantanamo Bay. What can you do about this?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners

Thousands of Palestinians began a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons demanding that Israeli prison authorities desist from practising sinister methods of humiliation and torture, including the recurrent beating of inmates, forced stripping, surprise midnight searches, extended solitary confinements which often last for months, as well as protracted handcuffing and leg-fettering.

"Let them starve to death" is the Israeli state's policy toward all Palestinians--those now in prison, and those yet to be put in prison.

Israeli officials call this nonviolent activism "terrorism".

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

HIV positive siblings denied education in Kerala

A government-aided school in Kerala, under a Congress led Government slammed its doors on two HIV positive siblings. This is when Congress president Sonia Gandhi is addressing AIDS 2004 - XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok.

Ananthu, 6, and his sister Akshara, 8, returned empty-handed from Sree Narayana School in the northern Kannur district after a group of parents mounted a resistance, fearing that their children would also get infected by mingling with the two HIV positive kids.

This is not the first instance of HIV positive siblings being sent out or denied admission in Kerala. Benson and Benzy, who had lost their parents to AIDS, had to wage a protracted battle last year to gain admission to a regular school last year. The setting was similar. The villagers who learnt that the kids were HIV positive in fact prevented their children from attending classes.

In most of the civilized world, an individual's HIV status is a confidential matter between patient and doctor, and schools are accordingly unentitled to inquire about their pupils' HIV status.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Remembering the great Bohemian of our times

John Abraham who had become a living myth even during the short span of his nomadic existence due to his constant rebellion against all establishments and social conventions, was killed in a tragic mishap in Calicut on 30 May 1987.

He belongs to the glorious group of artists who were part of a tradition of Bohemian "experiments in living". Despite all the hardships, his life was a celebration. The intensity of the friendship, fun, colour and above all the freedom of life which he brought to the simplest details of his life made it worthwhile and memorable.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation suggests Israeli culpability for Iraqi prisoner abuses

On the May 4 broadcast of CBC TV's National News correspondent Neil Macdonald made a shift from Iraq to turn his report against Israel, proposing to viewers that Israeli intelligence might be linked in some way to the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Later, the CBC apologized for this statement by saying that in fact, there is no evidence that Israel was involved in what happened in the Iraqi prison.

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Prisoner abuse: A regular occurrence in US Prisons

Horrific abuses, some similar to those revealed in Iraq, regularly occur in U.S. prisons with little national attention or public outrage, human rights activists says.

All over the world, prisoners of war are abused. Its just that when it comes to the so called 'Civilized, Fair and Just' nations that it is not normally expected or acknowledged. It is simply demanded that the prisoners are dealt with in a humanitarian way.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Pakistani council approves rapes to avenge honour

A village council in Pakistan permitted a landlord to rape the sister and sister-in-law of a man he accused of an illicit relationship with his daughter.

The council members, all of them landlords themselves, ruled that the influential landlord could avenge his honour by having sex with the farmer's daughter, who is 16, and daughter-in-law, who is 22.

Later the girls were locked in a room and raped by the landlord while two of his male relatives stood guard and the three-member council waited outside.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Pay woman drug addicts not to have children says Drugs Expert

Women drug addicts should be paid to take contraception to stop them from having children, according to a drugs expert Professor Neil McKeganey of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research.He suggested that in many instances, female drug users are becoming pregnant not because they want to but because of the sheer chaos of their lifestyle.

His research suggests that more than 50,000 children in Scotland have been exposed to drug addiction at home.

It found a number had even woken up to find their parents had died from an overdose while others had had their Christmas presents sold to pay for drugs.

The Catholic Church is against the idea. They say: "If you are going to sterilise drug-addicted women, why stop there? Why not sterilise alcoholics?

"This is social engineering on a massive scale and it's completely unacceptable."

Friday, February 27, 2004

4,392 Priests Accused of Sex Abuse

A survey compiled by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and overseen by the National Review Board documenting sex abuse by U.S. Roman Catholic clergy found that 4,392 clerics have been accused of molesting minors since 1950 and blame bishops' "moral laxity" in disciplining offenders for letting the problem worsen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Indian Army uses civilians as human shield to launch attacks on terrorists

More than ten thousand people took to the streets in Bandipore town in north Kashmir, protesting against the killing of five civilians who had been used as "human shield" by the soldiers from JAK Rifles in an operation to flush out militants in Argam forests.

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Pesticide in soft drinks

In India, a parliamentary inquiry has found that soft drinks sold in India by US companies Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain high levels of pesticide that they could lead to cancer and other diseases.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee has also held the US soft drinks majors Coca Cola and PepsiCo's plants in Palakkad district of Kerala responsible for "causing pollution of water, depleting ground water and reducing crop yields besides causing ailments to human beings".

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Kerala Government prosecutes Rationalist Association leader for writing against God Woman

Owing to protests by a group of writers and social activists and the ensuing international attention, the government had relented and halted its steps in March 2003 to facilitate the prosecution of the author for his book on the God Woman. These attempts have been resumed again. Please protest against this.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Marital Rape in India

A rape accused in India has been acquitted after he proved in court that the woman he was accused of raping was his wife. He said she filed the case against him under pressure. The accused produced a marriage certificate to prove his claim.

Marital rape is still legal in India while the neighbouring Nepal has long back outlawed it.

Friday, January 2, 2004

Militant political party encourages "Big Families" to counter "Population Bomb"

Counter to the Indian government's policy of controlling the country's burgeoning population by promoting family planning, a radical Hindu political party in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, which is a key ally of the country's ruling party, is encouraging Hindus to have more children because of fears of a Muslim population explosion.

Thursday, January 1, 2004

Campaigning for Democracy in China

An American and a New Zealander were jailed in Beijing on New Years eve on charges of plotting to explode balloons by remote control above Tiananmen Square and scatter pro-democracy leaflets.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

US legislators legalizes spamming

Against the advice of all anti-spam organizations, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the CAN-SPAM Act, a bill backed overwhelmingly by spammers and dubbed the 'YOU-CAN-SPAM' Act because it legalizes spamming instead of banning it.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Deaths in Police Custody

A record 104 people died in the United kingdom while in police custody or in accidents involving police cars last year, according to British Home Office figures.

Ministers said the increase from 70 fatalities in 2001-02 to 104 last year was partly due to a new system of recording which meant every fatality that followed even limited contact with the police was now included.

Three people died in police shootings. Forty were the result of traffic accidents during police chases. A further 40 died in custody or soon after being released, including eight in police stations. These included people who became unwell or took their own lives. The remaining 21 fatalities took place during other types of contact.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Its getting trendy in Britain for women to marry younger men

More and more British women are marrying younger men than ever before as per the Office for National Statistics.

In 1963, when most couples married in their 20s and cohabitation rates were low, 15% of brides were older than their grooms. But by 1998, when more women followed a career first and wed later, 26% chose a husband younger than themselves.

More than a quarter of these older women married a partner at least six years younger. There were about 18,700 such marriages in 1998, compared with 10,500 in 1963.

There were also more "sugar daddy" marriages - women marrying men at least six years older - which had increased from 21% of weddings in 1963, to 25% in 1998.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Improved technology may make long distance telephony free

Care to call home from across the world FREE? VOIP might do the trick!

The basic idea is simple: turn voice into a stream of bits, just like email, and send it on the Internet rather than the telephone company’s lines.

Very soon, Voice Over Internet Protocol will end up being so small a part of the data stream that it alone will not be worth metering.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Internet Community in India demands justice in the murder of IIT engineer Satyendra Dubey

Please sign this petition demanding full inquiry and justice in the murder of IIT engineer Satyendra Dubey.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which is guilty of leaking Dubey’s name to the very crooked contractors that he had complained against seems unaware about the groundswell of public anger.

The next time a promising young engineer sees corruption and mismanagement in a Government project he’s working on, chances are he will think twice, thrice, several times, before complaining to the political and bureaucratic establishment.

For, the 31-year-old Satyendra Kumar Dubey did that, he sent his letter to the Prime Minister’s Office—and now he’s dead, killed by ‘‘unidentified assailants’’ in Gaya, Bihar last week.

Monday, December 8, 2003

Internet Connectivity in India: Are you getting what you paid for?

Despite strict parameters on quality of service (QoS) laid down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), a vast majority of the Internet subscribers continue to remain dissatisfied.

With approximately 45 million people using the internet through the dial-up or fixed lines across the country, the average speed for a user is around 10 kbps on 33.6 kbps modem at a cost of Rs 35 per hour, while through a dedicated always on connection, a user can have an access speed up to 100 kbps at Rs 500 per month.

Many subscribers did not know what speeds they were getting. Click Here to find out your internet connection speed.

Even as the TRAI's quality of service report finds that the ISPs have managed to reach these standards, many of the subscribers continue to be dissatisfied. More than 62 per cent of the overall respondents believe that cyber cafes are better and easier means of Internet access.

Saturday, December 6, 2003

Loss of jobs due to outsourcing, half to India, sparks anger in the US

The dramatic loss of jobs in the United States, an estimated 1.3 million that would be moved offshore by the end of the decade, half to India has sparked anger in the US.

A two-day conference instructing companies on moving technology work and other jobs overseas drew picketers, in one of the first demonstrations protesting the practice to hit the San Francisco Bay Area.

Faced with an electoral backlash, some U.S. states have legislated to ban government agencies from moving tech services overseas and unions are fighting what they see as an alarming trend.

The outsourcing of jobs to China and India is not new, but lately it has earned a chilling new adjective: professional. Advances in communications technology have enabled white-collar jobs to be shipped from the United States and Europe as never before, and the outcry from workers who once considered themselves invulnerable is creating a potent political force.

But the NASSCOM study by New York-based business research consultancy Evalueserve said a combination of skilled immigration and "offshoring" of jobs was vital to head off a looming labour shortfall of 5.6 million by 2010 that would undermine the U.S. economy.

Thursday, December 4, 2003

Arrested for circulating anti government email messages

Fourteen people have been arrested in Zimbabwe for circulating an e-mail calling for protests to oust President Robert Mugabe, state media reports.

In the neighbouring Rwanda, the editor and senior journalists from the independent newspaper, Umuseso, have been taken into custody following the publication of articles critical of the government.

It may be recalled that a few weeks back there was a similar attack on the freedom of press in India which prides in being the biggest democracy in the world.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Spam menace drives man to issue death threats

A Silicon Valley computer programmer got so fed up with the daily dose of spam that landed in his inbox and almost rendered his computer unusable for about two months that he threatened to send a "package full of Anthrax spores" to the company he blames for bombarding his computer.

Charles Booker was arrested on Thursday and released on $75000 bond for making threats to the staff of a Canadian company.

He threatened to torture and kill the employees, disable an employee with a bullet and torture him with a power drill and an ice pick, to hunt down and castrate the employees unless they removed him from their email list.

Mr. Booker acknowledged that he had behaved badly but said he had been receiving a barrage of advertising and email for the past two months promising to enlarge his sexual organ.

Whether it offers the chance to enlarge or reduce parts of the body in improbable ways or amazing opportunities to make money without doing any work, spam is now part of a computer user's daily life. It is thought to account for about half of all emails sent over the internet.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Three Indian Air Force Officials have been booked for spying

The CBI has filed two separate complaints under Official Secrets Act against three Indian Air Force officials for indulging in anti-national activities.

Retired Air Vice-Marshal J S Kumar, Sergeant K C Saini and retired Wing Commander Y S Tomar are the three officers.

The CBI conducted a thorough investigation, which revealed that the accused people were allegedly giving out secret and sensitive information from the Air Force headquarters connected with various air force contracts and other vital information.

The complaint alleged that Kumar, with the active support and help of Saini working in the purchase section (foreign purchase) of the air head-quarters, obtained classified information pertaining to IAF from a serving Squadron leader (decoy of Indian Air Force) whom he had paid Rs 50,000 for collecting the information.

The accused persons were caught red-handed while accepting the classified documents.

Tomar collected classified information pertaining to air headquarters and MoD in respect of crash fire tenders and secret contracts between India and Russia.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

National Human Rights Commission Chief urges the need to legalize prostitution

Former CBI director and NHRC director-general D R Karthikeyan has stressed the need to legalise prostitution to improve the quality of life of sex workers whom he described as ‘the most exploited section of society.’

It was social and economic pressures that forced women into prostitution. Prostitution would continue to exist and the best that the State could do was to regulate it. Prostitutes live in inhuman conditions without access to basic services, particularly medical facilities.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Supreme Court transfers Jayalalithaa cases to Karnataka fearing failure of justice

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today suffered a major setback with the Supreme Court directing transfer of the disproportionate assets case against her from a special court in Chennai to a Special Court in Bangalore. Supreme court said that the manner in which the trial was conducted in Chennai would have amounted to failure of justice undermining the public confidence in fair trial.

Besides Ms. Jayalalithaa, others accused in the Rs.66.65-crore wealth case are N. Sasikala, her erstwhile foster son, V. N. Sudhakaran, and Ilavarasi.

Allowing a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazaghan, seeking transfer of the case outside Tamil Nadu, a Bench comprising Justice S N Variava and Justice H K Sema took strong exception to the fact that Jayalalithaa though an accused in the case had never appeared before the trial Court at Chennai and that a questionnaire was sent to her Poes Garden residence for the purpose of questioning her.

Referring to recalling of over 70 witnesses of whom more than 60 resiled from their earlier statements without any cross-examination from the Public Prosecutor after Jayalalithaa became the Chief Minister, the Bench said the petitioner has made out a case that the public confidence in the fairness of the trial was being seriously undermined.

"As revealed from the facts, great prejudice appear to have been caused to the prosecution which could culminate in grave miscarriage of justice. The witnesses who had been examined and cross-examined earlier should on such a flimsy ground never have been recalled for cross-examination," Justice Sema, writing for the Bench, said.

He said the fact that it was done after Jayalalithaa assumed the power as the Chief Minister of the State and the Public Prosecutor appointed by her Government did not oppose and/or give consent to application for recall of witnesses were indicative of how judicial process was being subverted.

The Apex Court said "if the criminal trial is not free and fair and not free from bias, judicial fairness and criminal justice system would be at stake shaking the confidence of the public in the system and woe would be the rule of law.

"In the present case, the circumstances as recited above are such as to create reasonable apprehension in the minds of the public at large in general and the petitioner in particular that there is every likelihood of failure of justice," it said.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Furniture Package for divorced men

A Belgian furniture shop is offering special packages for divorced men who hate shopping in a country where half of all marriages end in a divorce after five years.

The packages include a living room, a complete bedroom, a dining room and a television set, including a DVD player.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Jayalalithaa forced to comply with the Supreme Court directive

The Hindu today withdrew its request for Central security, in the light of the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's assurance that the State Police was fully complying with and implementing the orders of the Supreme Court.

This acceptance of the power of judicial review over matters of legislative privilege is institutionally important. This is perhaps the first time that a Chief Minister of a State where the Legislative Assembly has punished anyone for breach of privilege has publicly acknowledged the supremacy of the Constitution and the Supreme Court as the final interpreter and adjudicator of legislative privileges when they come into conflict with Constitutional provisions, especially fundamental rights.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Wary of an erring Chief Minister, Centre offers to guard The Hindu

The Central Industrial Security Force will provide security to The Hindu office and guard residences of five of its journalists, who were awarded 15 days simple imprisonment by the Tamil Nadu Assembly last for breach of privilege.

Sunday, November 9, 2003

Freedom of Indian Press under attack from a mis- adventurous Legislature

The Indian Press is reputed to be one that enjoys the highest freedom in the world. This is especially significant when viewed in the backdrop of the blatant media misuse by the US government during the Iraq conflict.

Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees this freedom and judicial interpretation has strengthened this. This freedom was shamefully violated on November 7 by a decision by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, in the name of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
The police sought to enforce the decision in a blatantly illegal and offensive manner by raiding the offices of the newspaper as well as the homes of four of its five senior management and editorial representatives whom the Assembly had sentenced to 15 days simple imprisonment.
The persons targeted were S. Rangarajan, Publisher; N. Ravi, Editor; Malini Parthasarathy, Executive Editor; V. Jayanth, Associate Editor and Chief of the Tamil Nadu Bureau; and Radha Venkatesan, Special Correspondent.

About 30 minutes after the Assembly passed its order this evening, police jeeps carrying about two dozen policemen, some of them in riot gear, arrived at the head office of The Hindu here to arrest the journalists.

When Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, N Ram asked the police on what authority they entered the premises, and if they had any papers, they turned tail. The half a dozen jeeps also rolled out as silently as they had come in, while the uniformed personnel melted away. Television crews had started arriving at the scene, hearing of the police entry into the offices of The Hindu and Mr. Ram made a statement condemning the police action as an assault on the freedom of the press.
Well after the Supreme Court's dusk deadline on arresting women, two male police officers landed at The Hindu office here to arrest the Executive Editor, Malini Parthasarathy. After 8-30 p.m., they searched the room of Ms. Parthasarathy.

This ran contrary to the statement of the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, that the then Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi had no alternative but to arrest her in the morning in December 1996. "The laws of this land are very clear that no woman should be arrested and kept in police custody between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m."

Late in the evening, Mr. Ram spoke to the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and apprised him of the day's happenings. Mr. Vajpayee expressed his concern over the developments.
All this was done in the name of protecting the privileges of the Legislative Assembly.

The Hindu, determined to expose the Jayalalithaa dispensation's grave misadventure factually and truthfully and to face the latest challenge to its freedom and independence and to the fundamental rights and personal liberties of five of its senior and valued representatives with every resource at its command, has decided immediately to take the matter to court.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly based its action on a total misreading of the Constitution. The power of legislative privilege was aimed at strengthening the independent functioning of the legislature; it was certainly not meant to intimidate and stifle criticism and to create a `chilling effect' on the freedom of the press.

The articles that earned the wrath of the Tamil Nadu Assembly's Privileges Committee, dominated by the AIADMK, were three news reports and an editorial titled " " published in April this year. Quite extraordinarily, the allegedly offensive portions in the reports were descriptive words such as "fumed", "incensed", "stinging", "diatribe", and "high-pitched tone" employed to give a feel of Ms. Jayalalithaa's speeches on a few occasions.

The editorial was a well-reasoned and upstanding response to the decision to refer these reports to the Assembly's Privileges Committee. It made the important point that privilege must be invoked only when there is a material obstruction of the functioning of a legislature and that the power must not be used to insulate legislators against comments or criticism.

The Privileges Committee's decision comes against the disturbing backdrop of a systematic attempt by the Jayalalithaa Government to harass and browbeat the independent press. Since the AIADMK came to power in May 2001, the Tamil Nadu Government has filed a large number of defamation cases, criminal and civil, against an array of publications. The Hindu faces 16 criminal defamation cases and one civil defamation suit, all of them completely baseless.
As Mr. Ram escorted the police to their car after the search, about 200 employees mobbed them, shouting slogans, "Down with police high-handedness," "Down with Jayalalithaa" and "Long live the press".

Pacifying the crowd, Mr. Ram said: "The authors of this outrageous misadventure will pay heavily for this."

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Microsoft declares a price of 5 million dollars for hackers' heads

In a most unusual step, Microsoft Corporation has created a $5-million (U.S.) fund to track down malicious hackers that target the software giant's popular Windows operating systems.

Microsoft offered two $250,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the Blaster worm and the SoBig.F e-mail virus, which infected more than half a million computers, crashed thousands of systems, and snarled Internet traffic across the globe in August and September.

The world's largest software company - which last month admitted that security concerns have begun to affect its bottom line - also said it had earmarked an additional $4.5 million for future rewards.

The announcement was made in Washington by Microsoft representatives, flanked by agents of the cybercrime divisions of the federal bureau of investigations, secret service and interpol.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The U.S. develops a lethal new virus through genetic engineering

A scientist funded by the US government has deliberately created an extremely deadly form of mousepox, a relative of the smallpox virus, through genetic engineering.

The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them.

The work has not stopped there. The cowpox virus, which infects a range of animals including humans, has been genetically altered in a similar way.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Gender discrimination in Air India and Indian Airlines

An epitome of beauty, she is full of grace, radiates warmth and keeps you comfortable in every way. She is indeed Air India's hostess - which distinguishes her from her counterparts in other jobs.

A typical Air-India hostess is warm with a pleasing personality. A keen interest in people and places along with being dedicated and conscientious is what makes her unique. She is intelligent, committed, enthusiastic and creative. Her traditional welcome is like no other's and for her it is a pleasure more than a duty to serve you as a special guest aboard Air-India.

The above is from below is from the Civil Aviation Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

Presentability and physical appearance of candidates aspiring to become air hostesses at Air-India (AI) and Indian Airlines (IA) is more important than written tests.A memorandum sent out by the Ministry of Civil Aviation directs future recruitment of air hostesses is primarily on the basis of looks and personality, rather than academics or intelligence.

The Supreme Court has ordered that air hostesses, once they cross 50, should only be assigned ground duties.

"This is blatant gender discrimination," said Maldeep Sidhu, a former Air-India air hostess and now a practising lawyer.

Air-India has 753 air hostesses and as many as 600 have put their signatures on a petition protesting the Supreme Court order. The signatories are from all age groups — between 29 and 50.

The apex court judgment has a string of negative implications for the 50-plus air hostesses.

Their earnings will be reduced by 75 per cent as they will not be paid flight allowances.

In principle, everyone agrees there should be gender equality. But, in practice, they continue to face the bias and are humiliated on every single flight.

• Air-India’s air-hostesses are considered junior to all male cabin crew, irrespective of the number of years they have served in the airline.
• Air-hostesses are not eligible for the top crew position of Flight Supervisors though they are trained in training schools.
• All air-hostesses, from age 35 on, are required to undergo a biennial medical examination while there is no such requirement for men. Recently, an internal gynaecological check-up has been included which women staff say has no bearing on ‘‘in-flight fitness.’’
• While men and women are required to have regular weight checks, only the women are grounded on account of excessive weight. There have been instances when men have been allowed to fly despite being as much as 40 kg overweight.
• Only men are eligible for the monthly bar loss allowance of 30 pounds a month. This allowance is a compensation for what the AI management assumes are losses arising out of non-payment by passengers buying liquor on flight. Assistant flight pursers and Supervisors who don’t handle the cash also get the allowance.

The normal duties of an air hostess in any airline include:

They serve refreshmentsLook after passengers
Take special care of those unwell
Keep an eye on possible breaches of securityAdminister first aid in an emergency
Ensure the safety of passengers in the event of a hijack or terrorist threat

These are tasks air hostesses of IA and AI have performed with courage and distinction. Exactly which part of their job description places a premium on physical appearance?Protecting passengers should be the primary concern of any airline in the event of increasing risks such as terrorist attacks or hijacks.Equally important are concerns such as air rage. These could affect other passengers and such situations need to be handled with tact and patience.

It would be wrong and unsafe if the Civil Aviation Ministry ignored such vital issues and confined itself to superficial and chauvinistic jargon — about market feedback showing air hostesses having to be young and pretty for IA and AI to compete effectively.

No doubt, in a service industry like air travel, presentability of the crew has to be ensured. But by no logic can this justify different criteria for men and women, allowing men to continue to fly till the age of 58 but grounding women at 50.

The truth is IA and AI are unable to compete effectively because they have an ageing fleet; their aircraft need to replaced.

They are unable to compete effectively because the Civil Aviation Ministry bears the burden of cross-subsidy of petrol and diesel, leading to a very high cost of aviation turbine fuel.

They are unable to compete effectively because rather than being managed professionally, they are run by a constantly changing stream of IAS officers. These officers learn about the aviation industry after being appointed and are transferred before they get a feel for its intricacies.

It was Rajiv Gandhi who first attempted to remove the degrading and discriminatory service conditions of air hostesses by issuing a directive restoring male-female parity. This directive was subsequently watered down by the ministry.

The Air-India Air Hostesses’ Union is going to seek a review of the Supreme Court judgment grounding air hostesses when they reach 50 years of age.

Former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani, who had argued the case on behalf of the air hostesses in the apex court last week, met civil aviation minister Rajiv Pratap Rudi to urge the government to intervene in the matter.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Sainthood to the Saint of the Gutter for "Miracle Healing" after death!

Nobody would disagree that Mother Teresa, who spent her life caring for the destitute, was a noble soul. For the "Saint of the Gutter", who never in her life assumed holiness by herself, sainthood was conferred upon her not by any religious institution, but the gratitude, appreciation and affection of the millions whom she served. Unfortunately, religious institutions make use of such social acceptance to propagate superstitions and in the process damages the integrity of the person involved on a whole.

At least one proven after-death-miracle is a must for any saint. Teresa’s managers have offered the "Healing of Monica Besra" for this purpose and the Vatican has officially accepted it as a suitable ticket to sainthood.

But unexpectedly the miracle has met with a tough challenge.

The medical records prove that it was sheer conventional medical treatment that rescued her life. "In the 21st century how can you talk about miracle healing?" says West Bengal health minister Suyrya Kanta Nishra. The miracle documentation claims that several doctors have certified that the healing was "scientifically inexplicable", but not a single of these anonymous witnesses could so far be traced. The former health minister of West Bengal, Partho De, revealed that he had been approached by the Vatican agents and asked to name a doctor, who would certify that Monica Besra’s healing was a miracle. He declined support. After ordering the medical records of the case in February 2000 for scrutiny to the Kolkata (Calcutta) health department, he was convinced that there was nothing unusual about the disappearance of the tumor after prolonged medical treatment.

Dr. Manju Murshed, superintendent of the government hospital in Balurghat, informed that Monica Besra was admitted in the hospital with severe pain. She suffered from tubercular meningitis and from an ovarian tumor, which was discovered during an ultra-sound investigation. She was subsequently treated by Dr.Tarun Kumar Biwas and the gynecologist Dr. Ranjan Mustafi. After she left the hospital, the treatment was continued in the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital and ended successfully in March 1999. A final ultra-sound investigation showed that the tumor had disappeared.

Vatican’s "proof" is a statement of crown witness Monica Besra. It leaked, despite utmost secrecy, to the press. In this statement, Besra describes that she was suffering from terrible pain from a giant tumor in her stomach and nearly lost all hope. She left her family to seek help with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata. On 5 October, 1998, Mother Teresa’s first death anniversary, she prayed to her ardently. Two nuns, sister Bartholomea and sister Ann Sevika, took a silver medallion with Mother’s picture from the wall and tied it on Monica’s body with a black thread, right on the tumor. The pain vanished the same night and never came back. Her stomach became smaller and smaller and in the morning she felt that the tumor had vanished. She was miraculously healed!

Monica Besra is a 30-year-old tribal woman from Dulidnapur village. She is illiterate and speaks her tribal mother tongue only, laced with a few words of broken Bengali. Until recently she has not been a Christian. The statement is written in fluent English and shows familiarity with details of Catholic belief. It is obvious that the text has not been written or dictated by her. But Monica Besra was not available to bring light into the murky story: she had vanished. She must have been “under the protection of the church”, suspected those close to her. She was not seen, since her name, despite all efforts of secrecy, became public.

And the nuns involved in the miracle kept their lips sealed. "An objective miracle has happened", explains archbishop D’Souza of Kolkata. "The sisters don’t want to give different versions as that would spoil things."

Some of the doctors who treated Monica Besra, for example, say that there is no evidence of a miracle. They say that her tumour was not fully grown and that her condition responded to medical treatment.

"This miracle claim is absolute nonsense and should be condemned by everyone," Dr Ranjan Kumar Mustafi, of Balurghat Hospital in West Bengal, said. "She had a medium-sized tumour in her lower abdomen caused by tuberculosis. The drugs she was given eventually reduced the cystic mass and it disappeared after a year's treatment."

Her husband initially shared this scepticism. "This miracle is a hoax," he told an interviewer last year. "It is much ado about nothing. My wife was cured by the doctors."

Their children are being educated with the help of the nuns and he has been able to buy a small piece of land. "Everything has changed for the better", says Selku Murmu.

Now, he is full of praise for Mother Teresa and her order. "It was her miracle healing that cured my wife," says Selku Murmu, whose family has converted to Christianity. "Our situation was terrible and we didn't know what to do."

Mother Teresa's elevation has also been criticised for its speed. After a Vatican commission recognised Monica Besra's healing as a miracle, the Pope personally intervened to "fast track" the nun's beatification, making it the swiftest in the Church's history.

Under normal Church rules, at least five years must pass after a person dies before the procedure for sainthood can begin, first with beatification and later with canonisation. The process started in 1999, less than two years after Mother Teresa's death, aged 87.

Her canonisation could follow within a year or two, bestowing upon her the Catholic Church's highest honour, though a second miracle would be needed for her sainthood.

If the idea of miraculous healings gets credence, it will have dangerous consequences for the uneducated and the poor. Confidence in modern medicine and science has to be developed and strengthened and people have to be encouraged to use available medical facilities for treatment instead of taking to superstition and miracle belief. The efforts should be to expand the outreach of the modern medicine to all strata of the society.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Month long peoples revolt ends as the President of Bolivia steps down

Bolivia's President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned in a letter to Congress following a month long deadly popular revolt in South America's poorest nation in which more than 70 people were killed.

The decision came after tens of thousands of people had marched and blockaded the capital for weeks to reject Sanchez de Lozada's pro-U.S., free-market economic policies.

Hordes of miners, farmers and Indian women had marched to the center of the capital, shouting ''quit, quit'' and exploded dynamite sticks two blocks from a government palace guarded by troops and assault vehicles. Food is scarce in the capital.

The protestors were seen dancing and clapping in the streets and singing the national anthem. Lozada had to step down for having massacred the people, for lying and trying to hang on to power by all means necessary. Now, vigilant and festive in the streets, the Bolivian people are the live expression of a democracy constructed from below.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

6 months after US and British forces ousted former President Saddam Hussein in the name of freedom and human rights the future of Iraqi women is bleak

The U.S. occupation of Iraq has caused over 20,000 pointless civilian injuries. In addition, more than 1,500 people have died in Baghdad alone. The Pentagon's own numbers admit massive death rates. Women are threatened with rape when they leave their homes. Suicide and car bombs, civil unrest, and riots rock the nation daily. The U.S. has admitted to holding upwards of 10,000 Iraqi prisoners.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Censorship resistance in India: Indian govt blocks Yahoo! groups on security grounds

Along with the notion of free speech, the right to online freedom of association and peaceful assembly needs much greater emphasis. You shouldn't eliminate the right of all to assemble online via YahooGroups because one group is thought to be using the service for non-peaceful assembly. (YahooGroups and Hotmail are probably the world's two most significant contributions to low cost democratic involvement around the world - why? they are free and people actually use them on a consistent basis to communicate and organize.)

Express your protest. Beat the ban. Write your views to

Mr Arun Shourie Minister of Communications & Information Technology & Disinvestment Ist Floor, Electronics Niketan, Lodhi Road, New Delhi Email :
Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad Minister of Information and Broadcasting E-Mail: Phone: +91-11-23384340, 23384782 Fax : +91-11-23782118
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

You can also read messages posted to the discussion forum at the Ministry of Information Technology’s Website and post your views there.

In the meantime, users in India wanting to urgently access the domain-based sites despite this unofficial ban should attempt to beat the ban by browsing via: or may want to visit The second option may involve changing some of your PC settings.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Bolivian police clashed with protesters demanding the removal of President

More than 45 people have been killed in a month-long wave of protests by thousands of workers and peasant farmers against Sanchez de Lozada, a U.S. ally, for his free market economic policies and his failure to tackle endemic poverty.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Scientists prove that the pain of rejection is for real

The pain of rejection is more than mere metaphor. A team of scientists have found that to the brain, a social snub is just like stubbing a toe. More>>

Vatican says AIDS has grown so fast because of the availability of condoms

Contrary to scientific advise, the Vatican is urging people world over not to use condoms, claiming that they do not help protect against the deadly virus.

Thursday, October 9, 2003

HIV hitting young at the rate of one every 14 seconds

A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report says that about 6,000 youngsters become infected with the HIV virus every day, the equivalent of one every 14 seconds. The majority of them are female.

Sunday, October 5, 2003

The government of Qatar was forced by the United States to censor Al Jazeera.

Freedom of the press becomes difficult when a country is too powerful in the world.

A young female lawyer chose to become the next human bomb; kills 19 in Haifa

A Palestinian woman wrapped in explosives blew herself up yesterday inside a seaside restaurant popular with both Arabs and Jews, killing 19 bystanders, including four children.
The lunchtime attack ended nearly a month of relative calm. One of the deadliest in three years of renewed violence, the bombing came on the Jewish Sabbath and a day before the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The blast inside the Maxim restaurant went off shortly after 2 p.m., shattering windows and leaving the white walls cracked and charred. Most of the ceiling collapsed, with lights and wires dangling. Broken plates, glass, chairs and human remains covered the floor of the one-story building. Outside, the body of the restaurant's security guard lay broken and bloody on the steps.

Police said the bomber and 19 bystanders were killed, including four Arabs. The four dead children included a 1-year-old and two others ages 5 and 6, emergency officials said.

The group Islamic Jihad said it organized the bombing. It identified the bomber as Hanadi Jaradat, 27, a law school graduate from the West Bank town of Jenin. Her brother and a cousin, an Islamic Jihad member, were killed in an Israeli military raid in June, the group said.

The explosion brought to 103 the number of Palestinian suicide bombings in the past three years of fighting. At least 432 persons have been killed in the attacks. The suicide bomber whose attack in Haifa left 19 people dead did not fit the usual profile of an unemployed young man throwing in his lot with the terror groups. Hanadi Jaradat, was a professional woman who was due to qualify as a lawyer in a few weeks, with every chance of a successful career. She left her home in the West Bank city of lenin at 7.30 a.m. local time on Saturday without breathing a word about her intentions.

Instead of going to the law firm where she was a trainee, she went to Haifa, where she set off her bomb in a crowded restaurant. Among the dead were four Israeli children and three Arabs. Jaradat carried out the attack for Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian terrorist group. Her family said her prime motive was revenge.

In June Israeli forces killed her cousin, Salih, and her brother, Fadi (23), in Jenin. Both were accused of being Islamic Jihad operatives. "Do not expect her not to be influenced by those killings," said her sister, Bisan (21). "She saw her brother slaughtered like a sheep." Jaradat had done well enough at school to win a place at Yarmuk University in neighbouring Jordan. She had always been a devout Muslim, but after her brother’s death she completed the task of memorising every verse of the Koran.

Saturday, October 4, 2003

Madhumita case: CBI grills Anuj

A day after Madhumita Shukla's mother and sister were brought face-to-face with murder suspect Amarmani Tripathi, the Central Bureau of Investigation has interrogated a student in the case.According to the CBI, Amaramani Tripathi tried to frame Anuj Mishra, an IIT student, in the murder case. Madhumita's ex-servant planted the story of her marriage with Anuj and a priest claimed he had performed the rituals. Since she was pregnant, it was alleged that Anuj had killed her. The police had a lead that the suspect had initials 'A.M.' and Anuj Mishra came under the needle of suspicion. His friends in IIT were questioned and his house was raided. His family too went through a traumatic period. Anuj has denied any relation with Madhumita and said he had only met her at her house on October 27 last year in connection with a poetry competition in IIT Kanpur. Now with Amarmani in CBI custody and most of the puzzle falling into place, Anuj confronted the former minister and tried to debunk the marriage theory. However, Mishra's testimony does not have a direct bearing on the murder investigation. Though Madhumita's family is helping the agency in collecting more information and important evidence, the CBI is still to get its hands on the man who actually committed the murder.

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Family swaps toddler for colour TV

A poverty stricken Albanian couple has admitted handing over one of their five children to a gang of human traffickers in return for a colour television, Italian media reports said on Tuesday.

The gang subsequently sold the three-year-old boy to an elderly Italian couple for 5000 euro ($8520), according to the Italian news agency ANSA citing judicial sources.
According to the report, the boy's father, knowing that the traffickers were dangerous, agreed to the deal.

The gang was broken up by Italian police several months ago and when the arrest of leader Besim Metani was announced, the boy's mother came forward, the report said.

Italian and Albanian investigators finally traced the boy to the town of Sersale in the south of the country, where he had been living since 1999 with Angelo Borelli, 69, and his wife Iole Rodio, 57, under the name of Michele.

The child, now aged 7, was put into the care of Italian social services until the legal authorities make a decision on whether to send him back to Albania.

The trafficking gang is alleged to have brought about 60 children into Italy by similar means.
Police spokesman Pierpaolo Maraffa said his officers were still trying to trace around 30 children in and around the town of Pescara on the Adriatic coast facing Albania.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

French schools say 'non!' to thongs

French schools are cracking down on a craze among teenage girls to flash their midriffs and wear skimpy G-strings that peek brazenly out from above their low-cut trousers.

A number of head teachers in France -- where school uniforms are practically unheard of -- have slapped a ban on showing off thongs and tummies, the French daily Le Parisien said on Friday.

"In the eyes of boys, thongs reduce girls to bottoms," former junior education minister Segolene Royal said.

"These adolescents are, sadly, a reflection of the society they are sold -- a society where women's bodies are shown off like vulgar merchandise," she told the newspaper.

Teenage girls the world over are sporting ever-lower hipster jeans, pierced navels and tattoos, and have been yanking up their barely-there thongs to show above their trousers.

Underwear makers in France report soaring sales of such garments to girls as young as 10.
"The thong has become a fashion accessory like a handbag or a belt. You let it show above your hipster jeans just like you let your bra-strap show," Le Parisien quoted a spokeswoman for the Dim underwear company as saying.

Teachers are having none of it, however, despite squeals of protest from students."I am quite happy to accept girls showing their navels -- but not in a high school," said Claudine Wendling-Brickert, headmistress at the Ribeauville High School in Haut-Rhin.