Your Creativity Needed Below

By: on 25 Jul 2006

Organizing against the Lebanon invasion is underway and proliferating in New York. It really is inspiring because so many ordinary folks have come together and are working on this while trying to transcend some of the usual activist squabbling:

"No, you should do this! You sellout!"
"No, you should do this! You don't understand how the world works!"
\ end Movement.

Anyway, lovelily, there's a desire to do some cultural work on this to help spread the message in small ways like wearing a t-shirt or making pins.

Dotbuster In The Fam

By: on 22 Jul 2006

The NJ police are saying that the person responsible for terrorizing an Indian Hindu family in NJ is not a Dotbuster or a NeoNazi but...the 17 year old son in the family.

Here's an excerpt from the original story in the June 1st Bergen Record, "Bigots Target Hindu Family,":

We Kill U.
We will Fire your house.
Watch Your Kids.

Those threats and other profanities -- spray-painted on a two-story house in black and orange and neon green -- are terrorizing a Wayne family of five who police say have been singled out for their Hindu beliefs and Asian Indian roots.

Just Say No! to Cease Fires and Yes! to More Bombs

By: on 22 Jul 2006

This is the July 21, 2006 front page of The Independent that illustrates the Middle Eastern foreign policy of the US and its junior partner the UK in a nutshell:


The Independent July 21, 20061.jpg

The US and t

Update on Lebanon and Gaza

By: on 21 Jul 2006

While the Pass the Roti Posse dishes it out on the smoldering events in the Middle East, concrete realities are continuing to unfold. To update my earlier blog, here are today's developments.

The New York Times reports that the US is opposed to a ceasefire, though Lebanon, the UN, and Syria have called for one:

The United States held the line Thursday against a quick cease-fire deal in the Middle East, increasingly isolated as world powers and the United Nations demanded an immediate end to fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants [Link].

Astonishingly, rather than condemn Israeli actions for what other countries and institutions are describing as violations of international law, the US takes the opposite stand, in increasing isolation from the rest of the world:

Great Indian Blog-Out Explained?

By: on 19 Jul 2006

A statement from A.R.

Lebanon and Gaza in Flames

By: on 19 Jul 2006

I'm going to try and make sense of the events unfolding in Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine, so bear with me if the facts I've provided here are a bit shuffled and are in an incoherent order.

The "hottest spot on the globe" is engulfed by furious flames. Within two weeks, Israel has "re-occupied" Gaza and bombed Lebanon:

In the last seven days, the Israelis have carried out about 2,000 sorties by warplanes and attack helicopters and hit 650 targets, the Israeli Army said [Link].

Israeli tanks have re-entered Gaza as well, targeting the Mughazi refugee camp this time around. As global attention is focused on Lebanon, the situation in Gaza is rapidly deteriorating:

106 Palestinians...have died in the Gaza offensive, which began on June 28, and another 300 have been wounded, according to Jomaa al-Saqaa, of al-Shifa Hospital. The Israelis have made multiple incursions and airstrikes in an effort to rescue Corporal Gilad Schalit, who was abducted three weeks ago by Hamas in an attack that left two soldiers dead. Last night an Israeli armoured column clashed with militants near the Maghazi refugee camp.

An Israeli airstrike destroyed Gaza’s main power plant, leaving 1.4 million people dependent on Israel for electricity. The supply is erratic. Israeli aircraft have also bombed the Palestinian Prime Minister’s office and the Interior, Foreign and Economy ministries [Link].

Switzerland has condemned the invasion of Gaza as a violation of international law:

Switzerland said Monday that Israel has been violating international law in its Gaza offensive by heavy destruction and endangering civilians in acts of collective punishment banned under the Geneva conventions on the conduct of warfare.

"A number of actions by the Israel Defense Forces in their offensive against the Gaza Strip have violated the principle of proportionality and are to be seen as forms of collective punishment, which is forbidden," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"There is no doubt that Israel has not taken the precautions required of it in international law to protect the civilian population and infrastructure," it said. The statement did not name the Geneva Conventions, but it referred to provisions of the 1949 treaty, which is regarded as the cornerstone of international law on the obligations of warring and occupying powers. [Link]

As for the Lebanese, 254 Lebanese have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, mostly civilians. Furthermore, Lebanon is experiencing

the heaviest destruction in the country for two decades, with attacks on ports, roads, bridges, factories and petrol stations [Link]

According to the UN, some 500,000 Lebanese have fled from their homes [Link].

That's not all. Israel today has just entertained the idea of actually sending Israeli troops into Lebanon, a move which is eerily reminiscent of Israel's 18 year occupation of Lebanon which "ended" in 2000:

Do We Care About The Middle East?

By: on 19 Jul 2006

A friend, half Arab and half South Asian, IMed me the following question today:

how come the [south asian] blogs haven't written anything about the lebanon thing?

i mean, there's a point at which i think the blogs are so tunnel-visioned about what is south asian

After some defensiveness and smartassishness on my part (I said "I feel like sort of a zionist"), she mentioned that she has family in Lebanon right now. That it's not just an argument for her. That there are people she loves that might be in danger of dying while we're writing.

Please feel free to indulge in your perception of me right now, because I'm not far from it, I think. As penance and with a sense of kinship and responsibility to my friend, I thought I would write a little bit about my (imperfect) reaction to the current bombing of Lebanon and rocket attacks in Israel, because, clearly, that's the least I can do.

"Who's the moron who banned us?"

By: on 17 Jul 2006

The post title is ripped off from, which is a pro-democracy Internetwork in Nepal and around the world. However, it might be time for many bloggers who write about desi topics to adopt it as a slogan because a lot of us are currently not available in India.

Boing Boing and many others report that the Indian government has censored, through ISPs, a few blogs--namely, everything with a .blogspot, .typepad or address. As far as we know, PTR has been spared The Great Indian Blackout because we don't use blogspot but as someone who used Blogger for several years, I'm personally annoyed.

I'm sure ample blogging resources will be mobilized to remedy this tremendous injustice, but I want to bring attention to a comment that Number Six made on Sepia Mutiny which raised the incongruence of bloggers who take this move by the government of India as the beginning of repressive tactics.

I am not going to sit here and say that American bloggers don't often ignore most of the problems in the world except insofar as they're personally afflicted by them or they feed into predominant cultural memes (Clash of Civilizations, Bush is a Fascist, blah blah blah). It's well known--among people inclined to pay attention--that the Indian government and the social forces that make it up have any number of sins on its hands, from Gujarat to the massacres of Punjabis that Number Six points to the regular harrassment of arrests of LGBT people to the displacement of poor people.

However, I think it is important to understand that this is an opportunity for those of us who are a little sinister in how we pass the roti to learn from and engage people who are personally affected by this type of state repression even if many of them are not inclined to draw any links to other issues. The reason I have a little hope on this one: Already in the Sepia Mutiny thread on this, people are drawing connections between the Bush Administration's "agenda" (New York Times's word, not mine ;) and the Indian government's tactic here. They're pointing out the links in how both states have used political violence on their soil to engage in steps that curb government oppression. Because this is personal.

Consequences of speculation

By: on 15 Jul 2006

It's been four days since the Mumbai blasts, and much of the early assumptions now stand in question.

Immediately after the blasts, most media outlets reported that the explosive agent involved was RDX, a hard-to-come-by explosive which led authorities immediately to suspect outside (Lashkar-e-Toiba and therefore Pakistan ISI) involvement.

The Raging Waters of the Mediterranean Sea

By: on 15 Jul 2006

When it's summertime, don't you feel like going to an island where the water is a sparkling, crystal, see-through blue, the sand is white and fine, and the air is balmy? Lampedusa is one such place, a Italian island that is the closest to the North African coast. A perfect summer destination for tourists who want to relax and have some fun in the sun.

Unfortunately, not everyone who goes there is a tourist. Every spring and summer when the sky is blue and the weather is pleasant, make shift boats carrying migrants sail towards Lampedusa in desperation almost everyday. Thousands of "illegal immigrants" depart from the coasts of Northern Africa, often meeting a tragic end:

Lampedusa is the first Italian territory to be reached by boats from Tunisia or Libya and thousands of migrants attempt the journey each year.

Just last month [May 2006], some 500 immigrants arrived on Lampedusa in one of the largest such landings the island has experienced.

More than 10,000 illegal immigrants landed on Lampedusa in 2004.

Many of those who make the journey are believed to pay as much as $1,000 (791 euros, £543) each for the chance to reach Europe, but the journeys are often in rickety and overcrowded boats, and many perish on the way [Link]


Just today, more than 300 arrived:

(AGI) - Agrigento, 14 Jul - Three boats landed at Lampedusa in the early hours of this morning: in total 300 immigrants reached the island, the first 251, including 7 women and 6 children having been spotted last night at around 23.00 around 20 miles south of Lampedusa on board an 18m long wooden boat [Link]

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