February 16, 2013

CIA Now Accepts Email FOIA Requests




From: "Tom"
To: intelforum[at]lists101.his.com
Subject: CIA enters 21st Century on FOIA submissions

Apparently starting last Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, the CIA has begun accepting Freedom of Information Act requests via email.

Accessing the CIA's form for FOIA requests takes a bit of patience. The forms are located way inside the CIA website (www.cia.gov), inside the Library, Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room, and then third entry down (marked by dots) under the title

"What is electronic reading room?"

There is then a link to take you to the procedure format: FOIA requests can now be made online

The designer of this wounderous new procedure has also included one of those marvey captcha things - a puzzle that might drive you a bit nuts since it is verbal rather than a group of fancified letters you are supposed to view and type . . .

Good luck - but just think that this might actually save some time.... The big snafu that remains is that the CIA will only respond to FOIA requests using snailmail... Maybe they have an obligation to help the postal service stay in business.

Tom McNiff

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ESPIONAGE :Case Summaries from 1975 to 2008

 And Other Compromises of National Security  


Since its first publication in 1985 as Recent Espionage Cases, this product has offered the  security educator easy-to-find factual information about espionage-related cases for use in briefings, newsletters, and other educational media. This new edition, issued by the Defense Personnel Security Research Center (PERSEREC), supplements the collection of case summaries with 20 new entries, and updates and expands previous accounts for which we now have more complete information. With this July 2009 edition, we have changed the title to Espionage and Other Compromises of National Security: Case Summaries from 1975 to 2008 in order to more accurately reflect the range and type of events summarized here.

China lands in Greece

Le Monde diplomatique

The Chinese takeover of two-thirds of the port of Piraeus, which predates the Greek debt crisis, delights the Greek ship owners, and the European Commission. It's a miserable augury of the future.

by Pierre Rimbert

Britain used gunboats to gain access to Chinese ports in the 1840s, since China had closed Canton, in part to block the British-run opium trade. After the first opium war, British warships forced the Emperor Daoguang to sign the Treaty of Nanking on 29 August 1842, under which five ports were opened and Hong Kong ceded to the British crown. After a second opium war (1856-1860), the opium trade was legalised and Chinese sovereignty further eroded. The agreements that concluded these wars are still known as "unequal treaties".

"Cosco go home!" was the slogan on banners carried by Greek dockers from Piraeus on 28 November 2008, when they marched through Athens in protest against a contract that gave China's biggest ship owner, the state-run China Ocean Shipping Company (Cosco), partial control of Greece's largest port. The agreement, signed in the presence of Chinese president Hu Jintao, granted Cosco a 35-year lease on two of the port's three container piers. Cosco undertook to modernise the terminals and make annual payments that will total €832m ($1.1bn) to the state-run Piraeus Port Authority, which retains control of one terminal.

The Greek parliament, then dominated by the rightwing New Democracy, ratified the Cosco agreement at the height of the global financial crisis in March 2009, granting the Chinese company tax reductions and social security exemptions. These measures "raised some eyebrows, particularly since OLP [the Piraeus port authority which still runs terminal no 1] itself was not subject to these provisions. One could therefore wonder if competition between the two entities would be fair" (1). In less diplomatic language, the port employees accused the government of granting Cosco "colonial-style tax exemptions" ("Piraeus Faces Dock Strikes", The Journal of Commerce, 18 February 2009).

Though Chinese investors have proved less disruptive than English gunboats, China's arrival in Europe is a historical turnaround, a fact not lost on trade unionists. Piraeus, on the Asia-Europe maritime highway and near the Suez Canal, the route taken by giant container ships, is strategically important to transport infrastructure: it gives Chinese products a new entry point into Europe and offers an ideal transhipment hub for Asian goods bound for Turkey and other Black Sea nations. Since Cosco's arrival, Piraeus has also become a laboratory for social experimentation.

The Cosco terminal, operational since 2010, has charmed the press with its productivity as well as the personality of its media-friendly managing director, Fu Cheng Qiu. Having handled a million containers in 2011, the company has overtaken pre-crisis output levels and, when the second pier becomes operational, volumes should more than triple between 2013 and 2015. Achieving such productivity requires a constant battle against the workers' vices that Fu believes are the result of corruption by the welfare state: "They wanted a good life, more holidays and less work" ("Under Chinese, a Greek Port Thrives", The New York Times, 10 October 2012).

Cosco is accused of replacing unionised dockers by workers without job security and paid half as much, disregard for collective agreements, pension cuts, lack of professional training, shorter breaks, dismissal of workers who complain about lack of job security, reduction of gantry-crane crews from nine to four people, and demands for unpaid overtime. The Cosco terminal now operates with 270 permanent workers, seven of whom are Chinese, plus a temporary workforce of several hundred, many of whom are poorly trained and recruited by a subcontractor who gives just a few hours' notice via text message of the day's labour requirements. As for unions... "Let's not talk about them," said Fu. "It's best not to venture into that territory ... our employees are happy" (2).

The state-owned terminal and its 1,300 regular employees, just a few metres away, face competition from this outpost of social modernity. Their immediate juxtaposition offers an observation point for the effects of domestic delocalisation: why relocate industries to Asia when you can import their practices?

It would be wrong to believe that China has imposed its will on a reluctant Europe. In Piraeus, the Cosco management has not gone far beyond the ambitions of the two major players in the Greek political drama: the powerful ship-owning lobby and the troika (the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF). "The arrival of China with its social model suits the Greek government perfectly, and that in turn suits the troika perfectly," said Tony Hautbois, secretary general of the National Federation of Ports and Docks (part of France's CGT union federation). "It's the troika that is insisting that Athens privatises and attracts Chinese industrialists." In 2003 and 2005 two planned liberalisations of port activities intended to bypass the dockers were postponed by the European Parliament after large-scale protests. Commission vice-president and commissioner for transport, Siim Kallas, who is against "restrictive labour regulations and non-competitive regimes" (3), is preparing a third package of measures for ports. In Portugal, a port law passed in 2012 under pressure from the troika grants his wish by removing some dockers' rights.

Captain Fu has formed another useful alliance — with the Greek ship owners, masters of the world's biggest commercial fleet and specialists in the transport of minerals and petroleum. They share some common interests with the Chinese. Their ships supply the Chinese industrial machine with raw materials and energy, while the shipyards at Dalian, Shanghai and Guangzhou build more and more Greek ships. Stimulated by China's growth, Greek ship owners' profit margins soon recovered after the crisis. When the Greek government asked it to support the local economy, the ship-owning oligarchy found in the Commission and Captain Fu solid supporters for its deregulation plans. As TheWall Street Journal noted with enthusiasm on 7 December 2012, "Persuading the shipping magnates to invest in other Greek enterprises — in hotels, ports or energy — will require assuring them that the domestic market will be transformed into the kind of place they thrive: open to competition and free of strangling regulation." Cosco is on the case. While Athens, urged on by the troika, prepares to privatise the rest of the port, it's worth remembering that the opium wars and their unequal treaties provoked the Taiping rebellion in China (1861-64), a powerful popular uprising with egalitarian ambitions.

  
(1) Harilaos N Psaraftis and Athanasios A Pallis, "Concession of the Piraeus container terminal: turbulent times and the quest for competitiveness", Maritime Policy & Management, vol 39, no 1, February 2012.

(2) Magali Serre, Quand la Chine délocalise en Europe, Arte France, 2012.

(3) Conference on policy on European ports, Brussels, 25 September 2012.

Elite won’t share power and wealth

Le Monde diplomatique

After the Arab spring

The ruling Al-Khalifa family of Bahrain has offered hope of democratisation to the nation, but repeatedly failed to deliver, and intensified its dictatorship, certain that it will not be censured internationally.

by Marc Pellas

Twice in a decade Bahrain's ruling Al-Khalifa family allowed the tiny archipelago nation a brief hope of democratic change, only to dash those hopes with a return to absolutism. More than 98% of the population ratified a National Action Charter in February 2001, which set out terms (some of them negotiated) for establishing a democratic framework for the political system, the separation of powers and the supremacy of popular sovereignty. The new emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, seemed to have ended 25 leaden years of political exile, torture and repression.

The way appeared clear for the election of a representative parliament with full powers. But a year on, the emir quashed those hopes by declaring himself king and (unconstitutionally) imposing a new constitution, under which parliament had almost no powers and half of its 80 members were appointed by the monarch (1).

Gradually Bahrainis faced ever-greater political, social, professional, media and online controls. More and more people disapproved of the government, for allowing corruption to go unchecked and granting known torturers impunity; encouraging discrimination against the Shia majority; and fast-tracking the naturalisation of Pakistanis, Yemenis and Jordanians — all Sunnis, like the ruling dynasty — including many recruits to the police, intelligence service, army and the submissive judiciary.

Split opposition

Over time, after successive denials of democracy by a government most of whose ministers are from the Al-Khalifa family, a more radical alternative opposition with a republican agenda developed alongside the "legal" opposition, which allows its activities to be circumscribed within the framework of constitutional monarchy.

This split weakens the opposition by giving greater room for manoeuvre for the Al-Khalifa family and the Sunni community, which still believes it has more to gain by defending privilege and sectarian discrimination (2) than by embracing compromise. But it also highlights just what a tiny minority the regime represents, since the only major "legally declared" opposition party, Al Wefaq, won 64% of the popular vote in the last elections in October 2010, despite the registration of newly naturalised citizens and Saudi Sunnis who had rediscovered their Bahraini roots. This overwhelming victory translated into just 18 out of 40 seats because of gerrymandering, which Al Wefaq says obliges its candidates to secure up to six times more votes to be elected than a representative from the southern Sunni regions.

On 14 February 2011, the pro-democracy movement marked the tenth anniversary of the National Charter by joining the Arab Spring. The response was brutal: police and mercenaries fired live rounds at demonstrators and resumed torture. The deaths of seven demonstrators, the increase in republican slogans, the permanent rallying-point set up by demonstrators in Pearl Square, the New York Times (3) that blamed both oppressors and oppressed.  It provided a useful chronology of events and described how detainees were hooded, whipped, beaten, raped (and threatened with rape), tortured with electricity and forced to sign confessions. It condemned the demolition of 30 Shia mosques and places of prayer and identified "at least" five deaths as a result of torture. It also concluded there was no evidence of Iranian interference.

After the Commission presented its findings in November 2011, King Hamad undertook to follow its recommendations. A year later, an assessment by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and the NGO Project on Middle East Democracy found only three out of 26 had been carried through (4).

This January the Court of Appeal rejected appeals by 13 imprisoned protestors, including Aldulhadi al-Khawaja and Ibrahim Sharif, the Sunni secretary general of the legal leftwing Waad Party, who had been sentenced by military courts to between five and 25 years for "belonging to terrorist groups which aim to overthrow the system of government".

'Dialogue' without negotiation

Press releases sent to the media and foreign embassies by the government and its representatives have claimed that the current regime is the lesser evil and is not opposed to change, even if it is moving slowly. But every option put forward to the majority opposition continues the repressive status quo: there are offers of "dialogue" in which nothing is up for negotiation; "peace", understood to mean a ban on all peaceful demonstrations except in poor Shia districts, so as not to "damage the country's image abroad". "Stability", claimed to be a prerequisite for progress, remains the permanent mask behind which absolutism continues to hide.

Bahrain's monarchy is able to ignore the 176 human rights recommendations presented by the UN in Geneva last September without worrying the Security Council will impose any binding resolutions. Bahrain's rulers enjoy exceptional indulgence from the three permanent western members of the Security Council. The UK praises the king's efforts to democratise (he was invited to the queen's jubilee); France discreetly receives him (he has bought the most expensive private residence in Paris (5)) and seems reluctant to end a cooperation policy which includes "French savoir-faire" in maintaining order. In the Obama era, the US alternates between declaring support for the democratisation process and wholeheartedly backing a regime that hosts the forward headquarters of Centcom (US Central Command) and the general staff of the Fifth Fleet. The State Department, which insists that the opposition participate in "dialogue", also welcomed the Declaration of Principles of Non-Violence signed by the six main legal political organisations last November.

This declaration builds on the Manama Document, adopted a year earlier, and sketches a political platform based on the democratic principles in the National Charter of 2001. These impose a strict separation of powers, end religious segregation, and seek to guarantee the rule of law (including the right to demonstrate, and freedom of expression and of the press) as well as fair electoral divisions that would create both government and a single-chamber parliament.

The authorities project the conflict as a clash between Shia and Sunnis, a vision largely propagated by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. In Bahrain, Sheikh Abdelatif al-Mahmud, leader of the Sunni National Unity Bloc, regards calls for democracy as a Shia plot with "hysterical proposals" that go beyond material demands into "the constitution, the organisation of the state and other political areas" (6), ambitions tantamount to a coup. He believes Bahrain's Shia can be divided into the hostile who "want to destroy, or at least weaken the Sunnis in order to usurp their citizenship"; a small fringe of opportunists who are waiting to see who wins; and the remaining 20%, who are "loyal to the sovereign". This has been used to justify the creation of citizens' associations of those who "fear for their wealth and honour", who have mobilised to "spread civil peace and cooperation and avoid disorder".

Hardline policies are the response of most of Bahrain's ruling families (and the privileged classes who support them) to the spread and radicalisation of demands for democracy. They can only worsen political tensions within the Gulf monarchies.

  
More by Marc Pellas

Marc Pellas is a Gulf and Arabian peninsula security specialist.

(1) See "Bahrain: the royals rule", Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, March 2005.

(2) A very full assessment, Bahrain's sectarian challenge, was produced in May 2005 by the International Crisis Group,

(3) "Protests in Bahrain Become Test of Wills] report on 100,000 demonstrators "in a nation of only 500,000 citizens": all these convinced King Hamad to release some demonstrators who had been arrested, deplore "the death of precious sons" and give Crown Prince Salman, who has a reputation as a moderate, the task of dialogue with the legalised opposition.

On 3 March the palace and "civil society representatives" agreed to a dialogue, whose procedures and outcomes the opposition wanted to be subject to international guarantees. Prince Salman published a "dialogue agenda" on 13 March, including an elected parliament with full powers, a government that represented the will of the people, fair constituency boundaries, a fight against corruption, a complete overhaul of naturalisation policy and the use of state assets, and a search for ways of easing sectarian tensions. But the crucial issue remained the opposition's wish that dialogue should lead to the appointment of an interim government, the election of a constituent assembly and a democratic constitution.

A 'Gulf shield'

At this point, an order from Saudi Arabia, infuriated by democratic unrest on its doorstep, and the Sunni elite's outright rejection of any challenge to their position of dominance, came together. A state of emergency was suddenly declared, and on 14 March police and military forces were reinforced by long columns of Saudi-Emirati armoured vehicles and 4,000 soldiers, supposed to be a "Gulf shield" intervention force against a so-called "Iranian plot".

Since then, human rights violations have increased: in November the opposition reported 82 deaths, including nine children, as a result of shootings, beatings and torture. It also reported protestors being suffocated in their homes during night raids. For the first time, women have been detained, tortured, condemned, sexually abused and even killed.

Serious allegations of torture have been made against King Hamad's fourth and fifth sons, Nasser and Khaled Al-Khalifa. Nasser is president of the Bahrain Olympic Committee and was appointed commander of the royal guard at 24. He warned on television: "Bahrain is an island. There's nowhere to run. And everyone will be called to account." He is accused of having hung prisoners by their feet, and torturing at least three opposition figures.

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Middle East director of Front Line Defenders, is a prominent international symbol of resistance to Bahraini absolutism. Cherif Bassiouni, the president appointed by the king to lead the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), classes Al-Khawaja as a prisoner of conscience. Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahraini Centre for Human Rights, was also arrested in July 2012 and jailed for two years on 12 December.

The BICI, which has been criticised by the opposition, produced a detailed report [[ «Report of the Bahrain independent commission of inquiry» (PDF), december 2011

(4) On the Pomed site, November 2012.

(5) In Paris's seventh arrondissement for €66m ($88m).

(6) On Asharq Alawsat online, 20 March 2011, quoted by the BBC.

Masters of the Internet


Le Monde diplomatique

The US calls loudly for ‘Internet freedom’, but it is Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon that have built up the dotcom services used by people all over the world. Is that now about to change?
by Dan Schiller

The geopolitics of the Internet broke open during the first half of December at an international conference in Dubai convened by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN affiliate agency with 193 national members. At these meetings, states (thronged by corporate advisors) forge agreements to enable international communications via cables and satellites. These gatherings, however boring and bureaucratic, are crucial because of the enormous importance of networks in the operation of the transnational political economy.

The December 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai produced a major controversy: should ITU members vest the agency with oversight responsibilities for the Internet, responsibilities comparable to those it has exercised for decades for other forms of international communication?

The United States said no, and the US position won out: the new ITU treaty document did not grant the agency a formal role in what has come to be called “global Internet governance”. However, a majority of countries voted to attach a resolution “invit[ing] member states to elaborate on their respective position on international Internet-related technical, development and public policy issues within the mandate of the ITU at various ITU fora.” Objecting to “even symbolic global oversight”, as a New York Times writer put it (1), the US refused to sign the treaty and walked away. So did France, Germany, Japan, India, Kenya, Colombia, Canada, Britain and other nations. However, more than two-thirds of the attending countries — 89 all told — endorsed the document. (And some of the nations that did not sign may accept the treaty later.)

To understand what is at stake we need to make our way through the rhetorical smog. For months prior to the WCIT, the Euro-American press trumpeted warnings that this was to be an epochal clash between upholders of an open Internet and would-be government usurpers, led by authoritarian states like Russia, Iran and China. The terms of reference were set so rigidly that one European telecom company executive called it a campaign of “propaganda warfare” (2).

Freedom of expression is no trifling issue. No matter where we live, there is reason for worry that the Internet’s relative openness is being usurped, corroded or canalised. This does not necessarily imply armies of state censors or “great firewalls”. The US National Security Agency, for example, sifts wholesale through electronic transmissions transiting satellite and cable networks, through its extensive “listening posts” and its gigantic new data centre at Bluffdale Utah (3); and the US government has gone after a true proponent of freedom of expression — WikiLeaks — in deadly earnest. US Internet companies such as Facebook and Google have transformed the Web into a “surveillance engine” to vacuum up commercially profitable data about users’ behaviour.

Interests concealed

Even during the 1970s, the rhetoric of “free flow of information” had long functioned as a central tenet of US foreign policy. During the era of decolonisation and cold war the doctrine purported to be a shining beacon, lighting the world’s way to emancipation from imperialism and state repression. Today it continues to paint deep-seated economic and strategic interests in an appealing language of universal human rights. “Internet freedom”, “freedom to connect”, “net freedom” — terms circulated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Google executives together in the run-up to the WCIT — are today’s version of the longstanding “free flow” precept. But just as before, “Internet freedom” is a red herring. Calculatingly manipulative, it tells us to entrust a fundamental human right to a pair of powerfully self-interested social actors: corporations and states.

The deliberations at the WCIT were multifaceted, and encompassed crosscutting issues. One was the terms of trade between Internet services like Google and the companies that transport their voluminous data streams — network operators and ISPs like Verizon, Deutsche Telekom or Free. This business fight harbours implications for a more general and important policy issue: who should pay for the continual modernisations of network infrastructure on which recurrent augmentations and enhancements of Internet service depend. Xavier Niel’s bold attack on Google’s French revenues, when he implemented an ad-blocker as his Free network’s default setting, placed this issue in bold relief before the public. But the terms of trade in the global Internet industry are also important because any general edict that content providers must pay network operators — Niel’s goal, similar to that of other telecom companies — would carry grave consequences for the Net Neutrality policies which have been so vital for Internet users.

Until now, this power has been wielded disproportionately by the US (4). During the 1990s, when the web-centric Internet exploded onto the world stage, the US made intense efforts to institutionalise its management role. Domain names led by dotcom, and numerical web addresses and network identifiers, need to be unique for the system to operate; and the ability to assign them in turn establishes a point from which institutional power may be projected over the extraterritorial Internet. Management of these critical Internet resources is exercised by a US agency, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), under contract to the US Department of Commerce. The IANA operates ostensibly as a unit of a separate, and seemingly more accountable, California-based non-profit called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Technical standards for the Internet are developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) within another non-profit corporation, the Internet Society. The composition and funding of these organisations render them more responsive to US preferences than to users’ demands (5).

The leading global commercial Internet sites are not operated by Chinese or Russian, let alone by Kenyan or Mexican capital. As everyone knows, it is Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon that have built up the dotcom services used by people all over the world. And a widening array of commodification projects and corporate commodity chains continues to be predicated on cross-border flows of Internet data; today’s ongoing transition to “cloud computing” services will further widen this dependence. The Internet’s unbalanced control structure provides an essential basis for US corporate and military supremacy in cyberspace. While the US government exercises an outsized role, other states possess scant opportunity — individually or collectively — to regulate the system. By instituting various technical and legal measures, of course, they may exercise sovereignty over their domestic Internets; but even when they stake out these merely national jurisdictions, they are assailed by US policymakers. Milton Mueller aptly captures this asymmetry in observing that, as it is presently constituted, the Internet embodies a US policy of “unilateral globalism” (6).

Property logic

Exercising this management function has permitted the US to instil property-logic at the heart of Internet system development — through ICANN. Although it is a complex, semi-autonomous institution, ICANN’s power over the Domain Name System was deployed to confer extraterritorial advantages on corporate trademark owners and other property interests — over the protests of non-commercial organisations which, despite being represented within ICANN, found themselves unable to prevail over Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and other big companies. And ICANN used private contract law to bind to its rules the far-flung organisations which administer generic and country code top-level domains worldwide. National providers of various Internet applications control their domestic markets in a number of countries, including Russia, China and the Republic of Korea. Yet the transnational Internet services — the most profitable and strategic points in this extraterritorial system — are citadels built by US capital and state power.

Nearly from the outset, other nations have resisted their subordinate status. As signs that the US was not about to relinquish its control grew, so did opposition. It helped prompt a series of high-profile meetings — the World Summit on the Information Society, organised by the ITU and held in Geneva and Tunis between 2003 and 2005.

This World Summit was an explicit precursor of the 2012 clash in Dubai, in that it established at least a small beachhead for states (beside that of the US) in global Internet governance. ICANN’s “Government Advisory Committee”, charged with providing input to the organisation’s “multi-stakeholder” process, grants governments the same formal status as corporations and civil society groups. Many states actually might have been content with this curious arrangement, but for one glaring fact. For all the crowing about bottom-up diversity and multi-stakeholderism, global Internet governance was not an egalitarian, or even a pluralist, enterprise. It was patent that stakeholder number one was the US Executive Branch.

The demise of the unipolar moment, followed by the plunge into what has become a long world depression, greatly accentuated and widened interstate conflict over the political economy of cyberspace. Other governments continued to look for a point of leverage, from which they could attempt to open up global Internet coordination and management. In 2010-11 they even appealed directly to the US Department of Commerce, when it began a proceeding to evaluate its contract renewal with IANA for the management of Internet addresses. Quite extraordinarily, several countries and one international organisation — the ITU — submitted formal comments. The government of Kenya proposed a “transition” away from management of the IANA functions by the US Department of Commerce, and toward a multilateral government-centred regime. US control should be modified by globalising the arrangements for the entire institutional superstructure that had been built up around Internet names and addresses. India, Mexico, Egypt and China made strikingly similar submissions.

The US responded by ratcheting up the rhetoric of “Internet freedom” as an attempt to repel the escalating threat to its management control. No doubt it has intensified its bilateral lobbying to induce some of the dissenting states to come back into the fold. The effects became evident at the WCIT, when India and Kenya joined the US in rejecting the treaty.

What will happen now? It’s certain that US government agencies and leading units of Internet capital such as Google will continue to project all the power at their disposal to strengthen the US-centric Internet, and to discredit its opponents. The political challenge to the US’s “global unilateralism”, however, now has broken into the open — where it is certain to remain. A Wall Street Journal editorialist did not hesitate to call Dubai “America’s first big digital defeat” (7).

 
(1) Eric Pfanner, “Message, if murky, from U.S. to world”, The New York Times, 15 December 2012.

(2) Rachel Sanderson and Daniel Thomas, “US under fire after telecoms treaty talks fail”, Financial Times, London, 17 December 2012.

(3) James Bamford, “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center”, Wired, San Francisco, April 2012.

(4) Dwayne Winseck, “Big New Global Threat to the Internet or Paper Tiger? The ITU and Global Internet Regulation”, 10 June 2012; dwmw.wordpress.com

(5) Harold Kwalwasser, “Internet Governance”, Cyberpower and National Security, National Defense University Press-Potomac Press, Washington-Dulles, 2009.

(6) Milton L Mueller, Networks and States: the Global Politics of Internet Governance, MIT Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 2010.

(7) L Gordon Crovitz, “America’s first big digital defeat”,The Wall Street Journal, New York, 17 December 2012.

East Asia’s lost opportunity


The region has yet to recognise its potential role in global governance, writes Ross Buckley. To do that, China needs to change tack


SIXTY years ago, it might have made some sense for East Asia to play only a minor role in global economic and financial governance. Today, though, it doesn't. East Asia – China, Japan, Korea and the ten ASEAN countries – produces 26.5 per cent of global GDP, more than the United States and as much as the European Union. China is the second largest economy in the world and holds about 30 per cent of worldwide official foreign currency reserves; Japan holds about another 15 per cent. For decades, China and Japan have been the principal buyers of US Treasury bonds; the two countries have saved and lent so that Americans can borrow and spend.

Traditionally, global economic governance was the preserve of the G7 nations. But during the global financial crisis it quickly became apparent that this select group – France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States – didn't have the moral authority to craft a credible response to the crisis. So the G7 passed on its role on to the G20, a meeting of finance ministers that was promptly upgraded to a heads of government meeting.

The G20 is the only institution of global economic or financial governance at which East Asia's representation roughly equals its contribution to global GDP. (For reasons of history, the region is very poorly represented in the governance of the International Monetary Fund, the Bank for International Settlements and the Financial Stability Board.) Yet the region has had little impact at the G20 because it doesn't speak with one voice. Typically, Japan and Korea will oppose China's initiatives, and vice versa. If East Asia is going to be able to exercise influence – the influence it should have given its foreign exchange reserves and its contribution to global GDP growth – then China, Japan and Korea need to cooperate and essentially speak with one voice.

The three countries' economies have much in common. Their public finances are healthy, their banking systems and corporate balance sheets less stressed than most Western countries, and their huge foreign exchange reserves serve as potent insurance against external shocks. Their domestic economic policy settings are strongly pro-business, their social safety nets relatively meagre, and their policies generally favour domestic businesses over consumers through a mix of low interest rates and high tariffs. Although all three nations have relied on export-led growth, regional trade has been growing rapidly and is at an all-time high. And they share a common perspective on the appropriate role of governments in directing economic activities: Japan and Korea will say they follow a Western model, and China will say it is busy crafting an alternative development model, but what unites these countries on economic issues is far more than what divides them.

This relative economic strength and stability should give the region considerable economic clout in G20 deliberations. What is stopping that from happening is concern about security. Both Korea and Japan are worried by China's military rise and its increasing bellicosity, and so they rarely agree with, or support, China in the G20.

FOR twenty years China's foreign relations policies were, in the main, a model of the subtle but effective pursuit of national self-interest. Teaching studets about the region, I would contrast how Japan and China used aid funds to secure influence. Japan was heavily outspending China on regional aid but achieving far less bang for their yen. It funded worthy projects that gave its neighbours what Japan believed they needed, and what they often did need. China, on the other hand, gave what recipient governments wanted.

It was as if Japan was the parent who knew best and China the grandparent who bought soft toys and ice cream. Japan behaved like a stern parent. As the sole "developed" nation in East Asia, it acted as if it had earned the right to solve other nations' problems. China behaved like a good friend who listens first, and then helps. Unsurprisingly, China won friends and influenced nations, whereas Japan spent a lot of money and did a lot of good, with not much gain for itself.

In those years there were tensions that diminished other nations' trust in China: its "integration" of Tibet and desire to do the same to Taiwan, its unsettled land boundary with India. But it is fair to say that China's star was in the ascendant as a potential regional leader. All this has started to change in the past few years with the rise of Chinese bellicosity.
Today we have China pushing its claim to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea vigorously against the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei – all of whom maintain claims to at least some of the islands. We have China establishing a military garrison in mid 2012 on the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by Vietnam, in what was described by one of Australia's most perspicacious commentators as "an extraordinary act of provocation." We have similar disputes over the Daioyu Islands, with Japan and China sending its fishing vessels into waters in the East China Sea claimed by Japan.

A quick look at a map shows the validity of the claim by the Philippines's, and perhaps Vietnam's, claim to the Spratlys and the vast oil and gas reserves beneath them. Any map also shows the fatuousness of China's claim to the Spratlys, which is based entirely on history because geography cannot support it. Yet in July 2012 China resolved to garrison troops on one of the islands, and appointed forty-five legislators to govern them.

Formerly China would have sought oil and gas exploration rights over the Spratlys by offering the Philippines and Vietnam production-sharing agreements plus large amounts of aid and large, cheap loans. Today China bases its claims not on persuasion and largesse but on military might. China military strength will prevail, but at what cost to its longer term ambitions to be a genuine regional and global leader, and to begin shaping the global system so that it serves China's, and East Asia's, ends? Likewise for the Daioyu Islands, where China also relies on historical claims, even though the islands have been under Japanese control since 1895.

George W. Bush's administration fixated on the Middle East and ignored East Asia. On coming to power in 2009 the Obama administration sought to rectify this oversight. But the conventional wisdom was that America had become so resented in the region that reclaiming its former influence would probably be impossible.

Yet, of late, China's aggressive postures have so scared regional nations that they have been lining up to ask America to re-engage. So we see the Philippines asking America to re-open Clark Air Base and Subic Bay, military bases the Filipinos ordered closed over twenty years ago. We see Washington announcing it will move the bulk of its navy to the Pacific so that 60 per cent of its fleet, including six aircraft carrier groups, will be based in the Pacific by 2020. And we see Indonesia taking the unprecedented step of sending its newest Sukhoi fighter aircraft offshore for the first time ever – to Australia for joint training exercises in July this year. America has gone from being the resented imperialist to every regional nation's new best friend.

Australia has recent first-hand experience of this new Chinese approach to diplomacy. In June 2012, a former senior Chinese army officer said that "Australia has to find a godfather sooner or later. Australia always has to depend on somebody else, whether it is to be the 'son' of the US or 'son' of China." This far from random comment coincided with the Chinese foreign minister's telling Bob Carr, our foreign minister, that its dependence on the United States for security was a relic of the Cold War.

International messages are usually couched in words of exquisite politeness. Yet China's two messages to Australia had the subtlety of a school yard bully. Words like "godfather" convey a palpable sense of threat.
How can China imagine that threatening Australia will cause it to trust them in security matters? How can threats to Australia, and threats to its neighbours, do anything but cause these nations to cleave ever closer to the United States?
The answer lies not in what China expects the results of its actions to be, but in what is motivating its actions. In the decades when China's foreign relations policies were a model of the subtle but effective pursuit of national self-interest, China was seeking regional influence and supporters in global fora. It was not, however, dealing with issues of territoriality. While the idea of Asia or East Asia is not particularly strong, the idea of China is both powerful and resonant for Chinese people. And so, once territory comes into the equation, the idea of China becomes very important. China becomes aggressive and assertive in ways that do not serve its wider interests.

What is at stake for China is not just some small collection of islands, even with massive oil and gas reserves. What is at stake is part of the historical idea of China. It is the idea of China as the central kingdom, China as mother of the world's most populous people, China as the "moral guardian," in Confucian terms, of her people. This is part of the reason why China treats as its nationals people who were born there but have migrated here, renounced their Chinese citizenship and assumed Australian citizenship. It is part of the reason why, when China first opened up to foreign investors, the investment that was most welcomed by provincial and national governments, and was most likely to succeed, was investment by overseas Chinese. It is an idea at once larger, more influential and more powerful than the ideas that underpin most nations. Ironically, perhaps the only other nation in the world that is as defined and influenced by its founding ideas is the other member of the G2, the United States.

The power and resonance of this idea of China is why the nation is behaving so counter-productively over the territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas. And any resolution of these conflicts is going to have to accommodate the present-day reality and influence of this idea. China will need to be assisted to see its interests through a lens that is larger than one merely of sovereignty and preserving the idea of China. It would be well served by being helped to see clearly its pivotal role in a world of two superpowers, a role that is so much bigger, and has more far-reaching consequences for China and others, than the historical idea of China and its geographical ambit.

China is the regional superpower. It now has real muscles to flex. Perhaps doing so provides some sort of steroidal satisfaction or perhaps all this bellicosity is for domestic consumption. In a time of transition in the leadership in Beijing, it may be, in the words of Kishore Mahbubani, the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore, that the leaders in Beijing, "have to be seen domestically as strong and tough in the next few months." The problem with this interpretation is that the aggressive posturing in the South China and East China Seas was occurring well before 2012 (although it has ramped up during 2012). And there is a clear pattern here – when China is seeking to gain access to resources or influence with other nations it behaves adroitly and subtly, but when the issue at stake touches on China's territorial sovereignty the subtlety gives way entirely to bellicosity. This regional aggression is distinctly at the expense of China's national interests. China's former course of building its soft power and trustworthiness was far better calculated to advance its own interests. Its current behavior has seen American influence rise in the region far more than anyone believed possible three years ago.

FOR now, China's new aggressive posture on security issues effectively derails any possibility of a unified voice on economic governance issues. By driving Japan and Korea ever more strongly under the American military umbrella, China inevitably gives the United States the power to shape the Japanese and Korean positions on economic issues to an extent that would not otherwise be possible, and therefore derails opportunities for a cohesive voice in the G20.

This is to everybody's detriment. The G20 would be a more effective institution of global economic governance if it received strong and unified policy input from East Asia. After all, the region that is consistently posting the highest growth rates in the world undoubtedly has useful perspectives to contribute to global economic deliberations and deserves to be listened to carefully. The capacity to bring this about lies in China's hands, but it is going to require years of careful, considerate behaviour as China convinces its East Asian neighbours it has the region's best interests at heart and can be trusted to deliver prosperity and security to the region.

For as long as China pursues power through threats and military intimidation security tensions will irreparably undermine any convergence of the region's economic voice. China is thus paying a huge price in lost international influence for taking its utterly uncompromising stance on territorial issues. This is a real loss for the G20, the agenda of which is impoverished by the lack of a real East Asian contribution. It is a real loss for the region, which is destabilised and spends much more than it would otherwise need to do on military expenditures. It is tragedy for China, Japan and Korea, which spend their energy squabbling among themselves rather than shaping international agendas in ways that would serve them and the region.

Since opening up to foreign investment under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, China's strategies have been characterised by subtle, astute, long-term thinking – three elements missing from its current approach. A return by China to its former policies of seeking regional leadership and influence through soft power and the strategic use of aid funds and largesse will probably require China to share the oil and gas resources in the South China and East China Seas. But the cost to China of sharing these resources would be far less than the cost to China of the loss of the opportunity to shape the global economic and regulatory agenda.

Ross Buckley is Professor of International Finance Law at the University of New South Wales.

Best (overlooked) books 2012

Inside Story contributors nominate the books from 2012 (or, in a few cases cases, late 2011) that didn't get the attention they deserved

Nicholas Gruen's nomination:

Jonathan Haidt is an American academic psychologist whose research has focused on uncovering deep patterns common to the ethical framework of all human societies. In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Penguin, $39.95), he likens the five or six basic themes of all cultures' ethical systems — avoidance of harm, protection of the weak, reciprocity, respect for authority, purity and loyalty — to "moral tastebuds" with which different societies build the sociological cuisines that constitute their moral codes. It's a compelling perspective that enables him to explain how, as a liberal (what Australians would call a "left liberal"), he came to have more empathy for the concerns of those on the right, whom he calls "conservatives." Liberals, he argues, deploy only two or three of the fundamental five or six foundations of the ethical repertoire, while conservatives' palate extends to all of them. This doesn't make Haidt a conservative, but does help him empathise and, so, understand conservatives better. The book is simply and compelling written and I strongly recommend it.

CHINA: Food and water security most significant national challenge


John Boulter | Future Directions International (FDI)
8 February 2013


 China faces a significant challenge in maintaining food and water security over the next 30 years. With less than ten per cent of the world's arable land and only seven per cent of its potable water, China must feed 20 per cent of the world's population.

China is presently 95 per cent self-sufficient in food. Demand, however, will rise until at least 2030, when China's population will peak. Demand will also be influenced by a rising middle class, who will demand more nutritious food. From a supply perspective, China will face a number of challenges, including the need for greater access to fresh water and a decline in the availability of arable land. Food production will have to be more efficient and place greater reliance on research, science, technology, innovation and education. China will also require greater access to food imports, at a time when other parts of the world will also be vying for this potentially declining commodity.

Key findings:
  • Food and water security will be China's most significant national challenge over the next 30 years.
  • The combined effects of an increasing population, more people living longer and increasing individual food consumption will require the production of considerably more food than is presently available.
  • Improvements will be needed in food and water availability, usage and supply chains.
  • Additional resources will be needed to increase research and development and improve education and training.
  • Better farming practices, increased mechanisation, reduced wastage and improved environmental management must continue to be implemented and sustained.
  • Sourcing food offshore, whether by investment in agriculture or via the global food market, will be necessary to ensure food security in China

At Shahbagh, Bangladesh’s fourth awakening


HAROON HABIB 16F13  
 

APBangladesh's largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists participate in a demonstration in Dhaka on Feb 4, 2013  

The protests in Dhaka against attempts to subvert justice in the war crimes trials show that the new generation is alive to the horrific acts committed by anti-liberation forces
The younger generation of Bangladeshis has made history by not keeping silent when fundamentalist and communalist forces who had opposed the nation's independence from Pakistan openly challenged the state. Since February 5, Dhaka's Shahbagh Square has been the site of a mass protest in which young people have demanded capital punishment for all who committed crimes against humanity during the national liberation war in 1971. These young people have achieved what political parties locked in acrimonious feuding could not do.

Led through social networking

The new Gano Jagaran Mancha (Mass awakening platform) is almost a national reawakening; it could be the greatest social revolution Bangladesh has seen in four decades, and sends a clear signal to the Islamists, who seem determined to stage a comeback. At a rally on February 8, Bangladesh also saw the biggest mass mobilisation in recent memory. Hundreds of thousands of men and women, boys and girls from all walks of life, carrying national flags, banners and placards, demanded the death sentence for all war criminals and showed their determination to resist the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, the Islami Chhatra Shibir.
The movement had started on February 5, soon after a war crimes tribunal had sentenced Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah to life. The verdict shocked the nation; there had been widespread demands for the hanging of Mollah, who, in 1971, had led a local cohort of the Pakistan Army which killed several hundred people and carried out mass rape. Using social networks, young bloggers quickly occupied Shahbagh Square, and their peaceful sit-in became a people's movement.
Counter-attacks

In the preceding months, the Jamaat-e-Islami had carried out terrorist attacks in an attempt to stop war crimes trials, on a scale which even suggested that the movement was challenging the Bangladeshi state, the independence of which it had violently opposed four decades earlier. With support from the main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), between November 2012 and January 2013, the Jamaat organised violent demonstrations against the war crimes tribunals, and sent hundreds of party cadres on hit-and-run attacks on the police. The new operatives are well trained, and their attacks revived memories of August 2005, when nearly simultaneous explosions occurred one morning in 63 of the country's 64 districts.

Seven Jamaat leaders were in prison awaiting trial for crimes against humanity during the war of liberation, but the Jamaat warned of "civil war" if the trials were not cancelled and its leaders freed. The war crimes trials are a long-standing national demand; in the 2008 election, the Sheikh Hasina government was mandated to hold them, and Parliament has unanimously approved them.

Therefore, citizens irrespective of age and faith joined the Gano Jagaran Mancha in Shahbagh Square. "Hang all the war criminals" is not their only demand; they vow to boycott all businesses, banks, media outlets, and social and cultural entities connected to the Jamaat. "We pledge that we will continue our movement from Teknaf to Tetulia under the leadership of general people until highest punishment is given to Razakars-Al-Badrs who committed crimes against humanity like genocide and rape in 1971," said the oath administered by Imran H. Sarkar, the young convener of the Bloggers and Online Activist Network.
Focus on media

The Mancha announced boycotting business and educational institutions run by "war criminals" including the Islami Bank and Ibn Sina trust, and sharply criticised some of the western media for "motivated coverage" of the war crimes trial. They added that they would maintain their demand that the Jamaat and Shibir be severely punished for sedition, and that they would use video and news pictures to identify members of those groups.
The current mass awakening could mean a new beginning in Bangladesh. It already constitutes a challenge to religious orthodoxy and extreme Islamism, and has reawakened secular nationalism of the kind that led the nation to rebel against religio-military subjugation by the then West Pakistan. The Opposition BNP under Khaleda Zia, a staunch ally of the Jamaat's, has been taken aback by the movement's success.

The young people who have reignited the flame of conviction did not march under any one political banner. They are united in their calls for justice against genocide and rape, and against fundamentalist resurgence. After they submitted to the Speaker of Parliament a list of demands including banning the Jamaat, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised in Parliament that her government would act on the oath thousands of protesters had taken. The cabinet promptly decided to move against the Quader Mollah verdict by amending the war crimes legislation, which had lacked provision for prosecution appeals.
Bangladesh's history has always been made by the young, by students — in the language movement of 1952, the mass upsurge of 1969, and the armed struggle for national independence in 1971. There was an impression that the younger generation had forgotten the horrific acts committed by forces that were ranged against the country's liberation, but the new generation has disproved that.

(Haroon Habib, a Bangladesh liberation war veteran, is a journalist and writer. E-mail:hh1971@gmail.com)

Telangana Songs - Golla mallamma Kodala

February 11, 2013

US Student Loans Going the Way of Housing



By Douglas French

Colleges are good at getting people enrolled. They get kids lined up with education loans. The money goes to pay exorbitant prices on textbooks. It pays for meal cards. Tuition is crazy high. Parents go along and shell out until their bank accounts are barren. 

What colleges are not good at is getting the kids degrees. And those without those degrees have a hard time getting a good job to pay back a student loan. Instead, they fall into delinquency, starting off life saddled with an unpayable debt. 

According to Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO), delinquencies on student loans made in the last two years have reached 15%. The pool of loans made between 2005-2007 is almost as bad, with 12.4% past due. Bloomberg reports that "almost 60% of bank managers surveyed in December expect delinquencies to worsen in six months, FICO said." 

The analogy with housing is unavoidable. Do you remember 2007? The peak in the price of housing had come and gone. But the leverage of the major investment banks was peaking at over 30 times at Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. 

Freddie Mac announced it wouldn't buy risky subprime mortgages and mortgage-related securities. Subprime lender New Century failed. Bear Stearns liquidated two hedge funds that invested in mortgage- backed securities. The interbank market froze completely. A deal to take Sallie Mae private fell apart. 

And in the middle of 2007, subprime delinquencies reached 15%. Catch that number? It's the same as the student loan delinquency rate today. 

Of course, when the subprime delinquencies hit 15%, that market was circling the drain, but few people realized it. In contrast, more and more people are realizing that there is a serious problem with student loan debt

"This situation is simply unsustainable, and we're already suffering the consequences," stated FICO analyst Andrew Jennings. "When wage growth is slow and jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, it is impossible for individuals to continue taking out ever larger student loans without greatly increasing the risk of default." 

Curiously, Sallie Mae stock (SLM) rose on the delinquency news. But then again, the company would appear to be very much a going concern. Core earnings for 2012 were more than $1 billion, benefiting from the lowering of loan loss reserves and operating expenses. 

Charge-offs increased to 4.19% of loans in repayment. Not to worry, says Sallie Mae: It expects that to decline in 2013. The company pays a 50 cent annual dividend, so it sure beats money market rates. And SLM says it will make $2.30 a share this year. 

What could go wrong? 


"You're starting to see delinquencies pick up, and that trend is going to continue," Compass Point Research & Trading's Michael Tarkan told Bloomberg. "That's the reality that we live with in student loans." 

The day after Bloomberg spilled the news from Fair Isaac, TransUnion made public that according to their work, "more than half of student loan accounts are in deferred status, where the repayment of the principal and interest of the loan is temporarily delayed. Deferred loans now represent 43.5% of all student loan balances."

TransUnion points out that "more than half of college graduates under 25 are unemployed or underemployed — the highest rate in 11 years." This makes going back to school and racking up debt a reasonable option. 

"With the economy either in recession or slowly coming out of it during the study period, we had expected that student loan balances might increase as consumers frustrated with the job market went back to school to work toward a different career path," said Ezra Becker of TransUnion. "However, the rate of growth we observed was truly eye-opening," he added.

What kind of lender would be lending money to permanent students with bad prospects? The government, of course. "Between 2007-2012, federal loan balances jumped 97%, while private loan balances only rose 4%," writes TransUnion. 

There is a wide difference in delinquency rates between student loans backed by the government and private student loans. "From 2007-2012, federal student loan delinquencies rose 27%, while private loan delinquency rates actually dropped 2% in that same time frame," claims TransUnion. "The 90-plus-day delinquency rate for federal loans was 12.31% as of March 2012, compared to 5.33% for private loans." 

The idea of students actually graduating from college is starting to get some attention. The New York Times reports:
"'This is the first time in the history of modern higher education in which all the communities have come together — community colleges, research institutions, public universities, and small liberal arts colleges — and reached agreement that completion needs to be our most important priority,' said E. Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State University and chairman of the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment."

The Times points out that 80% of students think they'll graduate. Well, statistics show only half that number actually get the job done. So a report coming out this week calls for colleges to:
"find ways to give students credit for previous learning, through exams like the College Board's College-Level Examination program, portfolio assessments, or other college equivalency evaluations. It also calls for more services and flexibility for nontraditional students, suggesting innovations like midnight classes, easier credit transfers, and more efficient course delivery, including online classes."

Another idea gaining attention: a $10,000 degree, a so-called 10K- B.A. The extremely smart head of the American Enterprise Institute writes that this is what he obtained. "It is true that I am no Harvard man," he writes. "But I can say with full confidence that my 10K-B.A. is what made higher education possible for me, and it changed the course of my life." 

While traditional colleges wrestle with the quandary of passing out degrees, you might wonder if Sallie Mae's dividend is safe. Everything looks peachy over there. But one should remember Sallie's sister, Fannie, that paid $1.18 in dividends in 2006 and $1.50 in 2007. The stock traded just below $66 a share in August 2007. 

Today, it fetches less than 28 cents, and dividends are a distant memory. Get ready: We could be on the precipice of a wild ride in the student loan market. How it will play out in real life will be as surprising as the wreckage of the housing crash. 

Sincerely, 

Doug French
for The Daily Reckoning

Sanskrit & Computers


I have been studing and focusing on Sanskrit Computational Linguistics for the past 6 months. Linguistics here means the scientific structural study of a language. Why Sanskrit?? 

Some details below: - this wil be a concise introduction for those who don't know and want to know "how Sanskrit is the most suitable language for Computing". Rest of the pundits and my teachers who are copied in this mail - please correct if there is anything wrong in the content and also add what ever I missed specific to this topic of Linguistics

When I first heard - Sanskrit is the most ideally suited language for Computing - i wanted to know How  ? - then later I found out in my own research that - Dr. Leonard Bloomfield and Dr. Zellig Harris - these 2 early 20th Century linguists first came out with English Linguistics theories  and they came out with lot of theories on Structural Linguistics - which later got adopted in Computer programing languages in early computer. - later Naom Chomsky developed Generative Grammar (Naom Chomsky is the student of Zellig Harris - the Sanskrit Vyakarana scholar)

"From Wikipedia - page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backus%25E2%2580%2593Naur_Form
The idea of describing the structure of language with rewriting rules can be traced back to at least the work of Pāṇini(about the 4th century BC), who used it in his description of Sanskrit word structure. American linguists such asLeonard Bloomfield and Zellig Harris took this idea a step further by attempting to formalize language and its study in terms of formal definitions and procedures (around 1920–60)
"

for IAL (Intelligent Application Language) the first Computer Programming Language - from IAL born ALGOL-58 the first-generation popular programming language - John Backus a programmar in IBM labs developed the first BNF Notation (Backus-Norm Form) based on Sanskrit Grammar methods. Later when Peter Naur developed the original ALGOL (58) to ALGOL-60 - it become a success and brought in major develoments to the computer field.

From Wikipedia page - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backus%25E2%2580%2593Naur_Form
"Further development of ALGOL led to ALGOL 60; in its report (1963), Peter Naur named Backus's notation Backus Normal Form, and simplified it to minimize the character set used. However, Donald Knuth argued that BNF should rather be read as Backus–Naur Form, as it is "not a normal form in any sense" unlike, for instance, Chomsky Normal Form. The name Pāṇini Backus form has also been suggested in view of the facts that the expansion Backus Normal Form may not be accurate, and that Pāṇini had independently discovered a similar notation earlier"


Later when I was reading about these 2 Linguists - Leonard Bloomfield and Zellig Harris, I found that both of them went Germany during late 19th century /early 20th century and studied both Vedic Grammar (Pratisakyam) and Paninian system - for 7 years !. in their post Doctoral research /studies. The both studied in details the works of Otto von Böhtlingk - a German Indologist and Sanskrit Scholar - specializing in Vyakarana

"From Wikipedia - page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_von_B%25C3%25B6htlingkBöhtlingk was one of the most distinguished scholars of the nineteenth century, and his works are of pre-eminent value in the field of Indian and comparative philology. His first great work was an edition of the Sanskrit grammar of PaniniAṣṭādhyāyī, with a Germancommentary, under the title Acht Bücher grammatischer Regeln (Bonn, 1839–1840)."

Thus it is very clear Maharishi Panini not only helped the Structure of Sanskrit being protected all these years - he also helped create Computer Programming languages.

When did Maharishi Panini live - in my view must be 4000 years back or more - in the begining of Kaliyuga. An not 2500 years back as western indologies say - how please read my blog and I have given scientific reasons for my claim

http://sanskritlinguistics.blogspot.in/

There are more original articles on Sanskrit Computational Lingustics in my blog - which I keep posting every week. - Though i wish to write in Sanskrit, I'm writing in English so that it reaches more audiance.

I also request your comments and contributions in this topic - which I shall upload in your name - please make sure it is Original article of yours - for others articles that you've seen /read - you may forward links.

Warm regards
CG Krishnamurthi

AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS ROADMAP TO 2015: INTERNAL SECURITY NIGHTMARE FOR INDIA?




 
A four page document titled the 'Peace Process Roadmap to 2015' seems to be scripting events and future developments in AfPak. Reportedly drafted by the Afghan President Karzai and his inner circle, the document's western 'tone and tenor' has led some analyst to suspect a foreign linkage. The 'roadmap to 2015' on the letter head of the Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) and datelined November 2012 enumerates a five step process; each step with its objectives and superimposed on a timeline. The plan was presented to Pakistan and the US during visits in November 2012 by the HPC Chairman Salauddin Rabbani. The roadmap 2015 is not without its grey areas, and opens itself to varying interpretations and implications. 
 
The Afghan peace process envisions that "by 2015, Taliban and other armed groups will have given up armed opposition, transformed from military entities into political parties…and participated in national elections." And more significantly "NATO/ISAF forces will have departed from Afghanistan, leaving the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) as the only legitimate armed forces…" The roadmap, however, seeks to preserve Afghanistan as a parliamentary democracy, denying the militants the Islamic rule. 
 
The first step of the process includes an end to cross-border shelling, the transfer of Taliban prisoners by Pakistan to Afghanistan or a third country, and pressure on the Taliban to sever ties with al-Qaeda. Step two (slotted for the first half of 2013) includes amongst other issues, agreement on the terms of direct peace talks. The third step slated for the second half of 2013, envisages a ceasefire. Recent events indicate that the first step of the roadmap has largely been implemented despite glitches such as the Taliban's refusal to talk directly to the Karzai government, seek changes to the Afghan constitution and insistence on withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.
 
A key factor in the peace process has been how the US has 'reconciled' its objectives in AfPak. US now believes that the reason it is in Afghanistan is al-Qaeda; an objective that has either been met or is on the verge of being met substantially. The success of the drone campaign and killing of Osama bin Laden are supportive of the notion. The nation building efforts in Afghanistan and the conflict with the Taliban were only means to an end- eliminating al-Qaeda in the region, which paradoxically was mainly in Pakistan. Hence, further engagement of Taliban or nation building are not worthy of more efforts .The primary U.S. national security interests in the region are ( and have been) to quell terrorism against the US and this  will determine its future posture in the region including exercising a 'zero option' on residual force levels in Afghanistan post 2014. The 'zero option' incidentally is viewed by some analysts as supportive of the
'Roadmap to 2015' as it addresses a key Taliban demand.
 
The importance of Pakistan to the peace process comes from two aspects .One, Taliban's refusal to talk to the government in Kabul and two, the failure of the Afghan government to prevail on the Taliban and lead the peace talks. Of course, the third unstated reason is that Pakistan refuses to allow any initiative to proceed unless it has a major role in it. Therefore under the roadmap 2015, Pakistan gets to bring Taliban to the negotiating table and in turn leverage this position to garner whatever strategic advantage it can for itself.
 
A significant aspect of the roadmap is that (in the third step) it offers the Taliban non-elected positions at various levels in the government which when seen along with the elected positions virtually gives the Taliban complete control of the pashtun-dominated areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border after the elections in 2014. The roadmap, according to some observers, appears to back a two-state solution (or a variant of it) that splits the country into two blocs, a non-Pashtun north and west and the Pashtun south and east, under a weak central government in Kabul. This leaves Pakistan with an extended Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Or if the Taliban, instead of the ISI calls the shots in the region, there will be a talibanistan/pashtunistan straddling the Durand line. This region would hold the 'good' Taliban (Quetta Shura), 'bad' Taliban (TTP) and the 'ugly' Haqqanis, Uighurs and the IMU. The supersized FATA would hand
Pakistan its 'strategic depth', while in the latter case (Talibanistan) Pakistan will have a Tiger by its tail. Either way it is bad news for India. 
 
In accordance with the first step of the roadmap both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been releasing Taliban detainees in exchange for renouncing violence and coaxing Taliban into peace talks. The Afghan government has freed more than 250 Taliban prisoners formerly held by the U.S. and plans on releasing an additional 150 soon. Prisoners were released on January 4, 2013 from the Bagram military prison, north of Kabul, and other jails across the country. An Afghan Defense Ministry official, Jalaluddin Dehati said a total of 1,200 prisoners will be set free in the coming weeks. In neighboring Pakistan, 26 Taliban have been freed in recent months and there are reports that Kabul had presented a 40-man list of detainees to Islamabad. Pakistan's foreign secretary has recently said that Pakistan plans to release all Afghan Taliban prisoners still in its custody. 
 
Deputy Commander of the US Forces in Afghanistan, Lt Gen. James Terry,recently referred to an estimate of around 20,000 militants still operating along the Pak-Afghan border. With reports of as many as 5000 Taliban having relocated to Karachi and the recent attacks on the Pakistan army and the levy in the Khyber area, the ISI will have its task cut out. The convergence of interest of the ISI and the militants can be sensed by the fact that, coinciding with the Indo-Pak tension along the LoC, the TTP announced that it would cease attacking the Pakistan army and focus instead on the NATO forces. With some analysts already prophesying that the roadmap 2015 will lead to pre-9/11 situation in the region, one of the options with the ISI to engage the militants would be to present them with a fresh jihad- India.

Peace at a cost



 by Kamal Siddiqui in Express Tribune 11/2/13 

It is an offer that is too hard to resist. At a time when the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is busy attacking key installations and playing havoc with our country's fragile peace, the militia has also talked of ending it all and making up. The TTP has made it clear that the institution it wants to talk to is the army, which it calls the "real power" in Pakistan. The ball is now in the government's court.

However, instead of welcoming the offer, the government has remained somewhat silent. Even the otherwise very vocal Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has said little on the offer. There is a debate, it seems, within the government on how to proceed here.

The TTP has named three people to act as guarantors to the talks. The names are quite telling. All three have welcomed their nomination but have expressed their inability to make guarantees on behalf of the government. In other words, the problem is with the government. The TTP, in their eyes, is very much on the ball.

In contrast, there has been little debate on this offer in the public domain. Most religious parties are in favour of the talks. The Tehreek-e-Insaf has distanced itself from this, possibly because the TTP does not consider it worthy of being a guarantor. To every cloud, there is a silver lining.

Most Pakistanis are confused. The government tells them of the violence that the TTP have wreaked. Many don't believe this, saying that Muslims cannot do this to another Muslims. This is also the stance that is taken by the Jamaat-e-Islami, which says that if a truce is signed, the real face of those who are abusing the Taliban's name would be exposed.

For the parties named by the TTP, it is a political shot in the arm, ahead of the 2013 elections. Their candidatures have been endorsed. This is most welcome for JUI-F, which has to regain its lost seats in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

As we talk of talks, the issue is larger. If we talk to the militia, we are also talking about the entry of the TTP into mainstream society and politics. Should we be welcoming this? These are questions that play heavily on our mind. Already, our society has welcomed extremist mindsets.

The government seems to have been put on the defensive with many quarters saying that by not talking to the TTP, it is not serious in its desire for peace. What is strange is that, while many were quick to attack the government, no one seems to question the motives of the TTP.

The TTP for its part has adopted a two-pronged strategy under which the militia wants to talk while at the same time, it continues to inflict damage. One day prior to their offer, the TTP had attacked security forces in Serai Naurang and Lakki Marwat, which left 13 security personnel dead. The attack followed a series of high-profile targeted operations carried out over the past few weeks. Observers say that they want to talk from a position of strength.

Others argue that the military operation has rendered the militia weak. That is why it is coming to the negotiation table. This is something that cannot be independently verified. In fact, the TTP now seems to have spread itself to as far as Karachi and many predict that the militia has grown financially and is now in the process of improving its functioning.

Should we talk to the TTP? Memories are not short. One recalls how a woman was mercilessly beaten in Swat for some misdemeanour. Do we want that to happen again?

Some say that it is not the TTP that breaks the agreement but the military. For the army, the move by the Taliban comes at a time when it is involved in a bloody, expensive and somewhat unending operation in the tribal areas. But there is reluctance to make up. What we do know is that over the past decade, the militants and different governments have made many attempts to clinch a truce. Every such effort has resulted in more bloodshed. We need to think this through.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2013.

February 10, 2013

BALOCHISTAN: Baloch people to Protest in front of the White House.


A peaceful protest rally is being organized by the Baloch community in North America in front of the White House to draw the attention of the Obama Administration towards the ongoing military operations, human right violations, arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings, disappearances and genocide in Balochistan.

The Obama Administration must also take note of the brazen and unmindful exploitation of Baloch resources by Pakistan and Iran to fill their coffers and strengthen their might and unleash a reign of terror on the poor Baloch people, with the help of China.

Balochistan is going through the most critical time in its history. The Pakistani aggression is at its peak. The occupying forces of Pakistan have recently intensified their military operations in Balochistan. Target killings, arrests,kidnappings and raids on Baloch houses have increased manifold. Ironically, they are doing it in the name of responding to the sectarian killings orchestrated by jihadi/sectarian groups transplanted in Balochistan to spread Islamic radicalism as a counter to Baloch nationalism!! Over the past two years hundreds of bodies of "Baloch missing persons" detained without charge by Pakistan security forces have been found across Balochistan.

The Baloch people have now come together to resist the Pakistani attempts to crush their will, aspirations and resolve to 'free' their homeland from illegal occupation by Pakistan. We want to re-emphasize the point that Balochistan is an independent sovereign state, under illegal occupation by the Pakistan army since 1948.
 
Moreover, Pakistan has no right to make any deal against the Baloch wishes because it is their land. Only Baloch people must be allowed to exercise such right.


We stage this protest to demand that the Obama Administration must intervene to save innocent Baloch people from being butchered by Pakistan forces and to ensure that China does not use Baloch land to strengthen itself and use its might against the larger interests of the international community. A free and independent Balochistan would rather welcome US control of Gwadar port in case the US helps the Baloch in their struggle for independence. The US has championed the values of freedom and dignity all throughout history and its support for the Baloch struggle will reinforce its commitment to these eternal values once again.

We strongly believe that a FREE, United, Democratic and Independent Balochistan is the answer to all the problems that the US and the world community is facing today, especially in light of the threats emanating from the extended region of Middle East and South Asia. It will not only protect the US interests in the region, but will also help to secure the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian threats, help stabilize Afghanistan by eliminating and eradicating terrorists safe heavens in Balochistan (provided to Taliban and Al-Qaida by the Pakistan's army) and it will help build peace and stability in the entire region spanning from the Mediterranean to the Bay of Bengal and beyond.

Pakistan is a terrorist State and should be declared as such. It has misused the billions dollars of aid  provided to it by the USA and built nuclear weapons, instead of feeding its hungry people. American aid has strengthened its military power with which it has massacred the Baloch people— the natural friends of the US. It has also used the US aid to train, equip and enable Taliban and Al-Qaida as Pakistan's strategic assets, who have killed many American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. It is well known now that Pakistan military and its ISI were involved in the US embassy attack in Kabul and not to mention they hid our most wanted enemy, Mr. Bin Laden next to their military academy not very far off from Islamabad. The US should tie its aid to stopping genocide against the Baloch people, scraping of nuclear weapons, and withdrawing its support from Islamic extremists and terrorists.

In order to defeat the Islamic Extremism and Terrorism in Pakistan, and counter the strategies of countries like China and Iran in the region, the US, instead of sending billions of dollars to Pakistan, should extend a helping hand to the secular Baloch people, in Balochistan, in their struggle for freedom and justice, who are the best friends for the US in the region against the Islamic extremists and terrorists.

We invite all the peace and freedom loving people in the US to come and join us and show their support to the oppressed Baloch people in their quest for freedom and justice against the Illegal occupation of their land and the genocidal policies of Pakistan and Iran, and Chinese involvement in Balochistan.

WHAT: A Protest Rally to draw the attention of Obama Administration against the Genocidal Policies of Pakistan and Iran, increased Chinese involvement in Balochistan and Pakistani misuse of American aid to conduct genocide in Balochistan.

WHEN: March 6th, 2013  TIME: 12:00PM  to 3:00PM

WHERE:  In front of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, (South West corner of Lafayette Park) Washington, DC. 20500

Recently, Pakistan sold Balochistan's strategic Gwadar port to China bypassing the Baloch will and mandate. We strongly condemn and oppose this unilateral decision to bring in China. China must leave Balochistan immediately. Its presence in a strategic place like Gwadar does not bode well for the region and the world, given the Chinese ambition to be a world power and dominate the politics of the region. Balochistan does not want to be a theater of super-power rivalry and politics.

Nearest Transit Station:

Farragut West Metro Station (Blue, Orange)
Farragut North Metro Station (Red)
Mcpherson Sq Metro Station (Blue, Orange)


For more info, please contact: Dr. Wahid Baloch
                                                  
Tel:              (202) 349-1682          
                                                   

Organized by:
Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA) and Balochistan National Congress (BNC), Washington, D.C. 20036


_____________________________________________________ 

Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA)
1629 K Street NW, Suit 300
Washington D.C., 20036
Tel:             (202) 349-1682      
Fax: (202) 331-3759