More detentions

Sometimes it’s easier to accept torture by thinking, “oh they aren’t U.S. citizens so it doesn’t matter as much.” Human Rights Watch this week focused attention on the case of two Pakistani-American brothers who “disappeared” while in Pakistan. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:


An international human rights watchdog has slammed the United States for allegedly allowing FBI and Pakistani intelligence officials to illegally detain and torture two brothers claiming to be U.S. citizens of Pakistani descent.

The two men say they were held for several months and harshly interrogated by Pakistani intelligence and U.S. FBI agents on suspicion of Islamic militant links. They claim they were later abandoned, blindfolded, on a street in the southern city of Karachi.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that Zain Afzal, 23, and Kashan Afzal, 25, were detained in a raid on their Karachi home on Aug. 13, 2004, and freed on April 22.

“It is outrageous that Pakistan abducts people from their homes in the middle of the night and tortures them in secret prisons to extract confessions,” said Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, Brad Adams.

“The United States should be condemning this, but instead it either directed this activity or turned a blind eye in the hopes of gaining information in the war on terror,” Adams said in a statement.

The Human Rights Watch website has more on the two:

When queried about the status of the brothers and the role of the FBI, the U.S. Consul in Karachi in March replied: “We are aware of the reports indicating two American citizens are missing, or ‘disappeared’ in Pakistan, and we are looking into them. Due to Privacy Act considerations, we are unable to provide additional information on these two individuals. The safety and security of Americans overseas is of paramount importance to us, and we continue to work both here and abroad to provide all possible assistance to our citizens. I refer you to the FBI for any information on their involvement.”

“While U.S. officials say the safety and security of Americans overseas is paramount, the U.S. government didn’t lift a finger to help the Afzal brothers until their cases were reported in the international press,” said Adams. “The U.S. knew exactly where the brothers were all along, while their family was scared stiff, not knowing whether they were dead or alive. This is profoundly wrong and should send a chill up the spine of every U.S. citizen living overseas.”

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‘Dr. Death’ probably not a good doctor

Unless you’re a physician who moonlights in a heavy metal band, the nickname “Dr. Death” should tell you that you’re doing a poor job of practicing medicine. Dr. Jayant Patel, a surgeon in the Australian state of Queensland, is not in a heavy metal band:

A doctor turned off a woman’s life support ventilator in an Australian hospital because the director of surgery, dubbed "Dr Death," wanted her bed to operate on another patient, an inquiry has heard. The government-sanctioned inquiry in the Australian state of Queensland is examining the deaths of 87 patients treated by Indian-trained Dr Jayant Patel. [Reuters/Yahoo!]

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Movin’ on up

Promotions in the news (biz): The new editor of the Wall Street Journal’s European edition is desi (via SAJA). Raju Narisetti, who’s sporting an official Editor Goatee, has been with the WSJ for 11 years:

Raju Narisetti has been named editor of the Wall Street Journal Europe, moving up to the top job from managing editor – making him the first South Asian to run an edition of the Journal

BBC reader-stud Riz Khan joins the control room for the Fox of the Middle East:

Riz Khan, former CNN and BBC anchor, joins Al-Jazeera as an anchor…

Tech geeks have long drooled over Berkeley grad Sumi Das’ gadget reviews. She’s now at CNN in DC:

Sumi Das has joined CNN Newsource’s Washington, D.C. bureau as a national correspondent. Previously, Das was a correspondent for MSNBC, where she covered the Scott Peterson trial in Modesto; and before that, she was host of “Fresh Gear” on TechTV.

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The 2012 Olympic battle

Conventional wisdom says that NYC isn’t going to succeed in its bid to land the 2012 Olympic Games. The world hates Americans too much to award them such an honor. Therefore, our fine Parisian friends are the supposed frontrunners. All of a sudden the Frenchies have problems as well it seems. The Guardian reports:

Sikh leaders in Britain have written to all 117 International Olympic Committee members urging them not to vote for the favourites Paris when they meet to elect a host city to stage the 2012 games next month.

They claim that the controversial French law banning the Sikh dastar (turban) along with other religious articles of faith in schools is discriminatory and that Paris does not deserve to be awarded the Olympics.

“We publicly stated that, if the law in France was implemented to deny Sikh children the right to wear the turban, we would have little choice but to lobby against the Paris bid for 2012,” wrote the Sikh Federation of UK chairman Amrik Singh in a letter to each of the IOC members.

The New York Times today chimes in with its humorous headline, “Poll Finds Support for Paris Games in 2012 (Margin of Error, 100 Percent):”

On Sunday, French voters will participate in a referendum on whether to ratify a new European constitution. Polls indicate that they will reject the constitutional treaty, and Lamour said yesterday that the result would have no bearing on Paris’s Olympics bid. “A negative vote will not have any impact on our ability to organize the Games,” he said.

Opposition in France to the charter for the European Union seems based, to a large extent, on the fear of or the resistance to an expansion of Europe, and a potential loss of jobs. Such an opening up is precisely what the Olympic Games are: an opening up to the world. If a country is afraid to open up, how can it hold the Olympics?

“It’s a paradox,” Lamour said. “We want the Games, but we say no to Europe.”

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Sampling chutney

Punjabi Boy points us to samples of chutney music from the Caribbean. Listen here.

It’s my first time listening in on this genre, and it’s wild. Sometimes it sets well-known Hindi songs (‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’) rendered in English to hyperkinetic calypso beats. Other times it’s creole music with snippets of Hindi lyrics and desi instruments. ‘Rum Shop‘ by Dil-e-Nadan reminds me of Karmacy’s harmonium-infused rap track, ‘Euphoria.’ Other tracks remind me of the Bollywood hits redone as Broadway / West End songs in Bombay Dreams and Fourteen Songs, Two Weddings and a Funeral.

Rajendra Saywack dissertates:

Chutney was the name given to the pop/folk music of the East Indians that lived in the Caribbean region… In the summer of 1996, the dance hit, “Calcutta Woman” [by Sharlene Boodram] made its debut on the North American & European pop charts… its Wine Yuh Waist lyrics were constantly being sampled by American [DJs]…

… Sundar Popo lept to fame with the song “Nana & Nani.” The song, almost comical in nature described the affairs of a grandfather and grandmother, perhaps his own… Sundar’s lyrics of “Nana drinkin white rum and Nani drinkin wine,” were heard just about everywhere…

The traditional West Indian Calypso was being merged into a new form of music called Soca… Chutney music was caught up in this change, which would later evolve it into a new style called Indian Soca… it was almost solidly dominated by Afro West Indians during its early days. Songs such as Baron’s “Raja Rani”, Mighty Trini’s “Curry Tabanca,” Sugar Aloe’s “Roti & Dhalpourie” & Sparrow’s “Marajin” dominated the Indian Soca scene…

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I want to be the three-wheeled scooter

One of my fondest memories from childhood is of playing Monopoly and crushing my friends. I was a ruthless landlord. I’d shoot the dog with the revolver from Clue if he couldn’t pay. Now there is Desi-opoly, UK Desi-opoly to be precise. From the Yorkshire Post Today:


Called Monopoly UK “Desi” – the Asian term for homeland – it will feature Indian icons such as the Taj Mahal and Bollywood, as well as British streets famous for Asian culture, such as London’s Brick Lane and Manchester’s Wilmslow Road.

The traditional counters of top hat, dog, racing car and boot are to be replaced with three-wheeled scooters, tigers, cricket bats and Indian sweets.

Creator Gurdip Ahluwalia, who came up with the idea while working for games manufacturer Hasbro, is still seeking street names and landmarks to replace Mayfair, Park Lane and Old Kent Road.

One of the playing pieces is an Indian sweet? Somehow I can’t picture demanding money from a gulab jamun. Then again I could never understand the purpose of the iron in regular Monopoly. After “Punjabi Boy” (the frequent Brit commenter on SM)plays this we’ll get a full report.

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Policing even farther South of the Border?

Earlier this week Vinod pointed to a StrategyPage item that he referred to as “a minor bombshell.” The bombshell in question was that “American agents have been interrogating terrorism suspects held in Pakistani jails. This cooperation has been kept ‘secret’ because so many Pakistanis find it distasteful.” Yeah, but everyone suspected this, even though he was correct in labeling it a bombshell. Well, if you think that was provocative then what about this one? Al-Jazeerah reports:

The huge haul of sophisticated arms and ammunition worth 10 million rupees from a container at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in New Bombay, last Saturday by Bombay police and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), has led to the US taking a serious view of the situation and also a possible joining of forces by deploying security officials at the port.

The US is wary of the modus operandi of the shipment of arms, suspected for use in terror activities, and will now deploy its security official at this largest port of India. They also want the port to join the list of 30 other worldwide ports covered under the Container Security Initiative (CSI). A top police official said that the Jawaharlal Nehru port ranks among one of the top ten ports from were maximum containers are shipped to the United States.

U.S. agents on Indian soil, doing policing work? Ooooh, if it happens then the Indian nationalists are so going to be pissed when they find out they have something in common with Pakistan.

The deployment of the US security personnel…would result in rapid cargo clearances, as the procedures would be in line with US government requirements.

Meanwhile Indian intelligence agencies and customs authorities have strongly objected to permission being granted to US Customs and Border Patrol personnel being posted at Indian port.

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Jersey Guys apologize (updated)

Lester Gesteland quotes an Asian Media Watchdog email saying the Jersey Guys will apologize on air:

… 101.5FM agreed in writing to the following.
  • Issue an on air, formal & blanket apology by the “Jersey Guys,”
  • Invite Jun Choi (the KoreanAm candidate who was attacked) to be a guest by “Jersey Guys…”

… Comcast and Verizon agreed to suspend their radio ads…. “Kick The Jersey Guys Off The Air!” collected the largest amount of signatures in the shortest amount of time, even more so than our last major campaign, Hot 97

Gesteland, who’s got three hapa kids, says:

This evening my wife was listening to the infamous Carton & Rossi show when she heard Jun Choi being interviewed…

Choi is running for mayor of the desi haven of Edison, NJ. Now that’s consumer power. Well done.

Update: Carton apologized, and Choi raked him on air, telling him why his comments were offensive. Listen here: part 1, part 2

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For 39 years, “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”

coat of armsWe’ve been accused of a lack of lowe for Guyana, so I thought I’d point out that serendipitously enough, today is Guyanese Independence Day. Wikipedia says so on its main page, under selected Anniversaries. By the by, did you know that Guyana is half desi?

the three major groups are the (East) Indians or Indo-Guyanese (50%) who have remained predominantly rural, the Africans or Afro-Guyanese (36%) who constitute the majority urban population, and the Amerindians (7%) who live in the country’s interior…

Guyanese flag

Christianity (50%), Hinduism (35%), and Islam (10%) are the dominant religions in Guyana, with the latter two concentrated in the Indo-Guyanese community.

Word. SM is down with ALL brown, y’hear? :)

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