Posts Tagged ‘Conspiracies’

EU bans on Burqa, Minaret may be overturned

STRASBOURG, France: A Council of Europe commission is opposing a blanket ban on full-face coverings such as the burqa and niqab.

The commission issued a statement Tuesday saying a Muslim veil ban – now being considered by lawmakers in France and Belgium – would rob women of their freedom of expression and could violate their religious freedoms.

The panel also urged Switzerland to end its ban on the construction of Islam minarets as soon as possible.

The Council of Europe is a 47-nation human rights institution that will discuss the burqa issue at its plenary next month.

It is a separate organization from the European Union and is the region’s primary human rights watchdog whose rulings are binding on all Council of Europe member states.

France’s opposition Socialists also challenged the plan to ban full Islamic veils in all public places, proposing a milder bill based on practicality rather than values.

The government is expected to present legislation next week to outlaw face-covering veils on the grounds that they are demeaning to women, even though legal experts have warned that such a prohibition could violate religious freedom.

“What we want is efficiency rather than symbolism,” Jean-Marc Ayrault, head of the Socialists’ group in parliament, told reporters.

The Socialist draft says that everyone must keep their face uncovered when using public services to permit identification.

In practice, this could mean women would have to remove face veils to pick up their children from school, or during wedding ceremonies at town halls.

Several human rights organizations have spoken out against a general prohibition on veils such as the burqa and the niqab.

A committee of the Council of Europe – a European human rights body based in Strasbourg – also said on Tuesday it opposed such a ban, which is being discussed in France as well as Belgium.

The Socialist proposal could circumvent concerns over religious discrimination by focusing on security and pragmatism.

“We believe that banning it from the public sphere… risks stigmatising people and above all being totally ineffective because it would be unenforceable,” Socialist leader Martine Aubry told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Francois Fillon to discuss the issue.

But she stressed the Socialists opposed full Islamic veils and did not want them in France.

The Council of Europe committee said full veils “could be a threat to women’s dignity,” but women should be free to wear them if they wanted to.

However, the committee said legal restrictions might be justified for security purposes and in certain situations where the wearer’s face had to be seen.

The idea of a ban was first floated last year by French mayors who said more and more women were turning up fully veiled at schools and in town halls, and refusing to show their faces even for the purpose of identification.

The Missile Gap and the Indian Myth of “Indigenous” Technology


A Times of India report last year claimed that ” Pakistan has surged well ahead of India in the missile arena”. It also lamented that “the only nuclear-capable ballistic missile in India’s arsenal which can be said to be 100% operational as of now is the short-range Prithvi missile”.

Along with raising the alarm, the Indian report offered the usual excuse for the alleged missile gap by boasting that “unlike Pakistan, our program is indigenous”.

Let’s explore the reality of the “indigenous” claim repeated ad infintum by Indian government and New Delhi’s defense establishment.

US-European Origins of Indian Missile Program

APJ Abul Kalam is credited with designing India’s first satellite launcher SLV3. Its design is virtually identical to the American Scout rocket used in the 1960s. According to the details published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Abul Kalam spent four months in training in the United States in 1963-1964. He visited NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, where the US Scout rocket was conceived, and the Wallops Island Flight Center on the Virginia coast, where the Scout was being flown. Soon after Abul Kalam’s visit, India requested and received detailed technical reports on the Scout’s design, which was unclassified.

US Scout and India’s SLV3 are both 23 meters long, use four similar solid-fuel stages and “open loop” guidance, and lift a 40-kilogram payload into low earth orbit. The SLV’s 30-foot first stage later became the first stage of the Agni.

The United States was followed by others. Between 1963 and 1975, more than 350 US, French, Soviet, and British sounding rockets were launched from India’s Thumba Range, which the United States helped design. Thumba’s first group of Indian engineers had learned rocket launching and range operation in the United States.

India’s other missile, the “Prithvi” (earth), which uses a liquid-propelled motor to carry a one-ton payload 150 miles, resembles the widely sold Soviet Scud-B. Indian sources say that the Agni’s second stage is a shortened version of the Prithvi, according to Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project.

France also launched sounding rockets from India, and in the late 1960s allowed India to begin building “Centaure” sounding rockets under license from Sud Aviation.

The aid of the United States and France, however, was quickly surpassed by substantial West German help in the 1970s and 1980s. Germany assisted India in three key missile technologies: guidance, rocket testing, and the use of composite materials. All were supposed to be for the space program, but all were also used for military missiles.

The cryogenic stage used in a recent failed satellite launch by India was a copy of the Russian cryogenic rocket engine and the cryogenic technology transferred to India in the 1990s. According to Non-proliferation review of 1997, it has emerged that Russia continued transferring rocket engine technology to India in 1993 after its agreements with the United States to stop such transfer under MTCR. This reportedly resulted in the completion of 60 to 80 percent of the transfers to India.

North American Origins of India’s Nuclear Bomb

India’s nuclear program would not have advanced without a lot of help from the Canadians that resulted in Indian copies of Canadian reactors to produce plutonium for its nuclear bombs.

India conducted its first atomic bomb test in 1974. The Indians used the 40 MW Canadian Cirus reactor and US heavy water both imported under guarantees of peaceful use and used them openly to make plutonium for its 1974 nuclear blast.

In 1972, the Canadian-built 100 MWe Rajasthan-1 nuclear power reactor became operational, serving as a model for the later unsafeguarded reactors. Another Rajasthan unit started operating in 1980 and two units in 2000. In 1983, India’s 170 MW Madras-1, a copy of Canadian Rajhastan-1 reactor, became operational. A second Madras unit followed in 1985.

According to the Risk Report Volume 11 Number 6 (November-December 2005), the heavy water and other advanced materials and equipment for these plants were smuggled into India from a number of countries, including the USSR, China and Norway. Some of the firms, such as the West German firm Degussa, were caught and fined by the United States for re-exporting to India 95 kg of US-origin beryllium, usable as a neutron reflector in fission bombs.

In May 1998, India conducted two rounds of nuclear weapon tests. Last year, the media reports indicated that Kasturiranga Santhanam, the coordinator of India’s 1998 nuclear tests, went public with allegations that India’s Pokhran II test of a thermonuclear bomb in 1998 was actually a fizzle. The device, designed to generate 45 kilotons, yielded an explosion equivalent to only 15 to 20 kilotons of TNT.


There is plenty of evidence and documentation from sources such as the Wisconsin Project to show that the Indian missiles and bombs are no more indigenous than Pakistan’s. The fact is that neither India nor Pakistan was first to split the atom, or to develop modern rocket science. The Industrial Revolution didn’t exactly start in India or Pakistan or even in Asia; it began in Europe and the rest of the world learned from it, even copied it.

The differences between India and Pakistan in terms of the technology know-how and the knowledge base are often highly exaggerated to portray India as a “technology power house” and Pakistan as a backwater. Some of these analyses by Indian Brahman pundits and commentators have racial and religious overtones implying that somehow Brahmin or Hindu minds are superior to those of the people of other religions or castes in South Asia.

What is often ignored by such Indian analysts is the fact that neither of the two Indian pioneers, nuclear scientist Homi Bahbha and rocket scientist Abul Kalam, belong to the Hindu faith or the Brahmin caste. The false sense of Indian superiority is pushed by self-serving Indian and some Western analysts to justify their own biased conclusions.

These analysts have fed what George Perkovich described in his book “India’s Nuclear Bomb” on page 410 as “general Indian contempt for Pakistan’s technical capabilities” and may cause serious miscalculations by the Indian security establishment about Pakistan’s defense capabilities. Indian chauvinistic analyses have been put in perspective by another piece in Newsday (Friday, May 15, 1998; Page A5: “India Errs Nuclear Power Isn’t Real Power”), in which George Perkovich talked about the rise in India of a radicalized, ultra-nationalistic BJP for the “glory of the Hindu race and rashtra (nation)”. Perkovich added that “the Bharatiya Janata Party, has long felt that nuclear weapons offer a quicker ride to the top. Like atavistic nationalists elsewhere, they believe that pure explosive power will somehow earn respect and build pride.”

The extreme right-wing influence on South Asian analysts has the potential for serious miscalculations by either India or Pakistan in the nuclear and the missile arena, and it does not augur well for the future of the Indo-Pak region and the world at large.

R Haq

Drone Strikes Continue To Fuel Anti-US Sentiment In Pakistan

Drone Strikes Continue To Fuel Anti-US Sentiment In Pakistan

Jason Ditz

US Claims Massive ‘Militant’ Deaths and Almost No Civilian Casualties

The CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, something which has become an enormous issue over the past year and a half, have been an enormous source of controversy, both legal and practical.

The US, for its part, maintains that the drone strikes have caused no more than 30 civilian casualties, while killing over 500 militants. The claims seem common among US officials, in keeping with the narrative of precision drone strikes.

But they are tough to swallow for children killed and maimed in the almost constant bombardment. And for villagers the claims that friends and relatives are “suspected militants” are tough to reconcile with reality, as are the claims of US precision.

They also don’t jibe with figures from Pakistan’s own intelligence agencies, which estimate that the US actually killed 700 civilians in 2009 alone, while killing only a handful of confirmed militants. The number of civilians wounded in all these attacks is unknown, but significant.

It is unsurprising, then, that the strikes continue to inflame anti-US sentiment across Pakistan, and US claims that the victims are almost universally “militants” is likely only making matters worse, in the face of enormous evidence to the contrary.

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