Pakistan Cricketers Found Guilty of Fixing

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-11-01T131231Z_16785135_GM1E68S1I0H01_RTRMADP_3_CRICKET-PAKISTAN-TRIAL

Pakistan’s Mohammad Asif fields the ball during the fourth cricket test match against England at Lord’s cricket ground in London in this August 28, 2010 file photo. Pakistan cricketers Asif and Salman Butt were found guilty on Tuesday of fixing part of a test match against England last year. Former captain Butt and opening bowler Asif were convicted of conspiracy to cheat at London’s Southwark Crown Court, the Press Association reported.     

REUTERS/Philip Brown/Files

Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were found guilty by a London jury of spot-fixing. They were found guilty, by a unanimous decision, on the charge of “conspiracy to cheat” and guilty by a 10-2 majority decision on the charge of “conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments.” The sentences will be pronounced by the judge, Justice Cooke, on Wednesday and Thursday; both players will remain on bail until then. The convictions, reached by the jury of the Southwark Crown Court in London after 16 hours and 56 minutes of deliberation, carry jail terms: a maximum prison sentence for the acceptance of corrupt payments is seven years in jail, while “conspiracy to cheat” carries a maximum two-year sentence.

This particular case focused on the Lord’s Test match in August of 2010, when Butt and Asif conspired with teammates Majeed, Amir and other unknown bowlers to bowl pre-determined no-balls during England’s innings. They were exposed by the now defunct British tabloid the News of the World in an undercover sting operation. Majeed was filmed revealing when no-balls would be delivered by the bowlers, video footage of which was played to the jury early in the trial.

The verdicts were handed down almost four weeks after the trial started, on October 4. Butt, wearing a velvet jacket and shirt without a tie, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out and stared at the jury stony-faced. An hour earlier, in a bitter twist of fate, his wife Gul Hassan was understood to have given birth to a second son back in Pakistan. Asif, wearing a grey winter coat in the dock, was equally unmoved and neither player said a word or made any obvious facial expression.

The jury were unable to reach a verdict on the “accepting corrupt payments” charge against Asif, and Justice Cooke immediately retired them to deliberate some more in case they could reach a verdict on that fourth charge, which they did after more than three hours.

The unambiguous nature of the verdict was welcomed by the Metropolitan Police. “All I want to say that this is cheating pure and simple,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Horne. “They let down everyone that bought a ticket and they let down children when they were role models to those very children who are playing such a special game. I think we all look forward to this game being played in its truest spirit as we go forward from these types of issues. I also acknowledge the role that investigative journalism has played in this case.”

Sally Walsh, Senior Lawyer in the Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism Division of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif deliberately and knowingly perverted the course of a cricket match for financial gain… This prosecution shows that match fixing is not just unsportsmanlike but is a serious criminal act.

“People who had paid good money to see a professional and exciting game of cricket on the famous ground at Lord’s had no idea that what they were watching was not a true game but one where part of the game had been pre-determined for cash…the jury has decided after hearing all the evidence that what happened on the crease that day was criminal in the true sense of the word.”

The players have already been punished by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after a disciplinary hearing in Doha, Qatar, earlier this year. Each was banned from the sport for at least five years. Butt received a further suspended five-year ban and Asif was handed a further two-year suspended sanction. Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said after the London verdicts were announced that the jury’s decisions, as well as Mohammad Amir’s own guilty plea, will “have no impact” on the length of the suspensions its own tribunal handed out. All three players have filed appeals against their bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

There was further ignominy for the sport of cricket on this day as fellow Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Amir, the teenage Pakistani fast bowler, had pleaded guilty to the same two charges before the trial began. He is now scheduled for what is termed a “Newton Hearing” to decide the quantum of punishment. There is no jury officially present at this type of hearing, but a group of jurors is given permission to sit in and watch if they wish. In addition, it was revealed that there are plans to investigate further matches on Pakistan’s 2010 tour of England.

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The Quiet Corner of the Mideast (Surprise)

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Helene Cooper

Washington — In the Arab democracy movement, there is a dog that has not yet barked. And whether or not it does — and how loudly — is causing a lot of heartburn among American policy makers.

Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans and Syrians gathered in their respective city squares and neighborhood streets to demand democratic rights, and the Western world cheered, if with varying degrees of diplomatic or military support. But by and large, so far, the Palestinians in the West Bank, who see Israel as the source of their grievances, have not.

Yet.

In part, this is because the Palestinians’ own leaders — elected, but weak — have another timetable in place, for a diplomatic campaign against Israel in the fall that turmoil on the ground could complicate. But some other prominent Palestinians are beginning to say that the moment of the Arab Spring offers a more urgent opportunity to join fellow Arabs in the streets. And that worries policy makers and experts here, as well as the political leaders in Hamas and Fatah, whose own authority could be undermined.

“If you’re looking for a game-changer, that would be it,” says Robert Malley, the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group. “At a time when the entire world, including President Obama, is applauding nonviolent popular protests from Cairo to Tehran, it would put Israel in an acute dilemma about how to react if tens of thousands of Palestinians started organizing protests in the West Bank, or marching on Israeli settlements or on Jerusalem demanding an end to the Israeli military occupation.”

Even more significantly, Mr. Malley said, “it would put the United States in an equally acute dilemma about how to react to Israel’s reaction.”

And it would box President Obama into a corner, penned in by his own words: on one side, that the democratic aspirations of people in the region must be heeded and that Palestinians deserve their own state, and on the other side, 44 years of American national policy that strongly sides with Israel on issues involving its security.

The biggest worry for Mr. Obama is that Israel would react with violence toward nonviolent Palestinian protesters in the West Bank. Last Sunday, Israeli forces fired at pro-Palestinian protesters on the Syrian frontier as they tried to breach the border for the second time in three weeks. The Syrian news agency SANA reported that 22 protesters were killed and more than 350 wounded; Israeli officials said that they had no information on casualties, but suggested that the Syrian figures were exaggerated.

Israeli and American officials both said those protests were instigated by Syria, in a move to draw attention away from the violent crackdown on its own democracy movement. By and large, there was not a huge outcry over Israel’s decision to fire on the protests, in part because of the role that Syria is believed to have played, and partly because the march on the border was viewed as a hostile and provocative action on a sovereign country with which Syria is still legally at war.But the West Bank is a whole different ballgame. This is the disputed territory captured in 1967, the land occupied by Israel after its three southern and eastern Arab neighbors united to fight it 44 years ago. It is the land that Israeli settlement blocks have since sprouted throughout, in an ever-growing reminder that the longer a peace deal remains elusive, the more the facts change on the ground. And now, Palestinians there have started to draw a direct line between the Arab Spring movement and their own push for an end to the Israeli occupation.

“You will see waves,” Mustafa Barghouti, a former Palestinian Authority presidential candidate and independent member of Parliament who has been critical in the past of the Fatah leadership, said in a telephone interview. “It’s already happening. We, the Palestinians, have inspired Arabs many times in the past, and now we’re getting inspired by them.”

On Sunday, a few hundred Palestinians in the West Bank tried to organize marches around the territory, but were stymied by the forces of both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, neither of which are eager to see widespread Palestinian democracy protests. That is in part because leaders of both Hamas, the militant Islamist organization that controls Gaza, and Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority, fear that a popular Palestinian uprising could upend their own authority in the West Bank and Gaza.

“We have been talking to the youth movement in Tunisia,” said a Palestinian activist in Ramallah who asked to be identified only by his initials, F. A., because he said he has been threatened by both the Palestinian Authority and by Israeli officials. “They are telling us how they did it, and when we tell them our situation, they say, ‘Wow, your situation is much more complicated.” ’ He said his house, in Ramallah, had had no running water this month, but he could see Israeli settlers in a nearby settlement enjoying the summer in their swimming pool. Because of such daily indignities, he said: “We will do this. Our time will come.”

In Israel, the political discourse in the past two weeks has centered on the increased fear that the Palestinians in the West Bank will join the Arab Spring movement. On Sunday, Aluf Benn, the influential Israeli editor at large for Haaretz wrote: “The nightmare scenario Israel has feared since its inception became real — that Palestinian refugees would simply start walking from their camps toward the border and would try to exercise their ‘right of return.’ ” Mr. Benn was referring to the Syrian border episodes, but many Middle East experts say that a West Bank uprising would actually be more seismic, for both Israel and the United States.

In Washington, Obama administration officials have been fretting about how the United States would respond. In many ways, Mr. Obama’s decision to come out in favor of Palestinian statehood based on Israel’s pre-1967 lines, with land swaps, stemmed from a desire at the White House to give both Palestinians and the world at large a place to park their grievances. That, they felt, might help forestall both a United Nations resolution in September recognizing a state of Palestine within the 1967 boundaries, and a popular uprising among Palestinians in the West Bank.

That such an uprising hasn’t happened yet, Mr. Barghouti and other Palestinians say, goes beyond the simple Hamas-and-Fatah-won’t-allow-it reasons. Palestinians in different West Bank cities are disconnected from each other, separated by Israeli checkpoints that don’t allow freedom of movement even within the territory. Israel’s security fence also inhibits movement among Palestinians.
Beyond that, Palestinians may be exhausted from the two intifadas — the second one, in the last decade, extremely violent — that ended with the Israeli construction of the security fence and the imposition of increasingly strict restrictions on movement throughout the West Bank.

But exhaustion from the violence may feed more nonviolent uprisings. “There is now a growing belief,” Mr. Barghouti said, “that nonviolence is the only form of struggle we should use. Or, at least, that it is the most effective form of struggle we should use.”

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Secret History of the Libyan Uprising

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Barry Lando

2011-04-13T174823Z_1957980168_GM1E74E056Z01_RTRMADP_3_LIBYA

A boy with a Kingdom of Libya flag painted on his face attends a demonstration against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi April 13, 2011. International powers meeting on Libya’s future called for the first time on Wednesday for Gaddafi to step aside, but NATO countries squabbled publicly over stepping up air strikes to help topple him.

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

What you’re probably going to read someday: U.N. Resolution 1973 authorized action to create a no-fly zone in Libya. It did not authorize the use of foreign troops on the ground. President Barack Obama seemed to accept that limitation when he made his famous “no U.S. boots on the ground” declaration—a statement that has been repeated by every U.S. spokesman since. Since Obama’s declaration however, it has been learned that, in fact, for several weeks CIA operatives have been active in Libya. They are there supposedly to find targets for the missile and rocket attacks of the U.S. and its allies, as well as to get some idea of who the opposition is that Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy et al. have chosen to support.

The joke was those CIA types are not wearing boots, but sneakers.

Recently we learned, via Al-Jazeera English, that there is a secret training site in eastern Libya where U.S. and Egyptian special forces are giving basic weapons training to selected rebels. Those rebels are also now receiving more sophisticated weapons. You can be sure those U.S. advisers are wearing boots.

That report was long expected. For when the secret history of this current struggle is written (there are already several books in the works), we will almost certainly learn that, despite Obama’s public protestations, he was advised before launching his Libyan adventure that U.S. “advisers” would more than likely also be needed.

Revelations will probably also make it clear that President Obama was told that those U.S. advisers could not just be limited to instructing the rebels how to fire their weapons, but would also have to train them and give them basic military skills. And it probably won’t stop there.

Those advisers are probably also—behind the scenes—already filling key command roles: advising the rebels when and how to advance, either directly or in liaison with special forces from other countries with boots on the ground in Libya, everyone doing his best to maintain the fiction that those “advisers” aren’t there. And that the rebels are calling their own shots.

For those American spooks and troops are not alone.

According to other reports, special “Smash Squads” from Britain’s famed SAS have also been on the ground in Libya for several weeks now pursuing similar missions.

Perhaps they’re the same SAS teams that Britain supposedly dispatched to train Moammar Gadhafi’s special forces a year or so back—part of the warming of relations between the two countries.

And considering the determination of Sarkozy to push for the original attacks, reports that elite French troops are also on the ground in Libya are almost certainly true as well.

The above would mesh with an unconfirmed report from a Pakistani newspaper claiming: “According to an exclusive report confirmed by a Libyan diplomat in the region, the three Western states have landed their special forces troops in Cyrinacia and are now setting up their bases and training centres to reinforce the rebel forces who are resisting pro-Gadhafi forces in several adjoining areas.

“A Libyan official who requested not to be identified said that the U.S. and British military gurus were sent on Feb. 23 and 24 through American and French warships and small naval boats off Libyan ports of Benghazi and Tobruk.”

Which brings us to the declaration of an American military official briefing the press. When he was asked whether the coalition forces communicate with the rebels in Libya, he said no. “Regarding coordination with rebel forces, nothing. Our mission is to protect civilians,” said the official. “It’s not about the rebels, this is about protection of civilians,” he added.

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Tunnel

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

tufail-tunnel

A tunnel is an underground passageway. The definition of what constitutes a tunnel is not universally agreed upon. However, in general tunnels are at least twice as long as they are wide. In addition, they should be completely enclosed on all sides, save for the openings at each end. Some civic planners define a tunnel as 0.1 miles (0.16 km) in length or longer, while anything shorter than this should be called an underpass or a chute. For example, the underpass beneath Yahata Station in Kitakyushu, Japan is only 0.08 miles (0.13 km) long and therefore should not be considered a tunnel.

A tunnel may be for pedestrians or cyclists, for general road traffic, for motor vehicles only, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some are aqueducts, constructed purely for carrying water — for consumption, for hydroelectric purposes or as sewers — while others carry other services such as telecommunications cables. There are even tunnels designed as wildlife crossings for European badgers and other endangered species. Some secret tunnels have also been made as a method of entrance or escape from an area, such as the Cu Chi Tunnels or the tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip to Egypt. Some tunnels are not for transport at all but are fortifications, for example Mittelwerk and Cheyenne Mountain.

In the United Kingdom a pedestrian tunnel or other underpass beneath a road is called a subway. This term was used in the past in the United States, but now refers to underground rapid transit systems.

The central part of a rapid transit network is usually built in tunnels. To allow non-level crossings, some lines run in deeper tunnels than others. Rail stations with much traffic usually provide pedestrian tunnels from one platform to another, though others use bridges.

It is essential that any tunnel project starts with a comprehensive investigation of ground conditions. The results of the investigation will allow proper choice of machinery and methods for excavation and ground support, and will reduce the risk of encountering unforeseen ground conditions. In the early stages, the horizontal and vertical alignment will be optimized to make use of the best ground and water conditions.

In some cases, conventional desk and site studies will not produce sufficient information to assess, for example, the blocky nature of rocks, the exact location of fault zones, or stand-up times of softer ground. This may be a particular concern in large diameter tunnels. To overcome these problems, a pilot tunnel, or drift, may be driven ahead of the main drive. This smaller diameter tunnel will be easier to support when unexpected conditions occur, and will be incorporated in the final tunnel. Alternatively, horizontal boreholes may sometimes be used ahead of the advancing tunnel face.

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The Drone Wars

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Tom Engelhardt

Almost every day, reports come back from the CIA’s “secret” battlefield in the Pakistani tribal borderlands. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles—that is, pilot-less drones—shoot missiles (18 of them in a single attack on a tiny village last week) or drop bombs and then the news comes in: a certain number of al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders or suspected Arab or Uzbek or Afghan “militants” have died. The numbers are often remarkably precise. Sometimes they are attributed to U.S. sources, sometimes to the Pakistanis; sometimes, it’s hard to tell where the information comes from. In the Pakistani press, on the other hand, the numbers that come back are usually of civilian dead. They, too, tend to be precise.

Don’t let that precision fool you. Here’s the reality: There are no reporters on the ground and none of these figures can be taken as accurate. Let’s just consider the CIA side of things. Any information that comes from American sources (i.e. the CIA) has to be looked at with great wariness. As a start, the CIA’s history is one of deception. There’s no reason to take anything its sources say at face value. They will report just what they think it’s in their interest to report—and the ongoing “success” of their drone strikes is distinctly in their interest.

Then, there’s history. In the present drone wars, as in the CIA’s bloody Phoenix Program in the Vietnam era, the Agency’s operatives, working in distinctly alien terrain, must rely on local sources (or possibly official Pakistani ones) for targeting intelligence. In Vietnam in the 1960s, the Agency’s Phoenix Program—reportedly responsible for the assassination of 20,000 Vietnamese—became, according to historian Marilyn Young, “an extortionist’s paradise, with payoffs as available for denunciation as for protection.” Once again, the CIA is reportedly passing out bags of money and anyone on the ground with a grudge, or the desire to eliminate an enemy, or simply the desire to make some of that money can undoubtedly feed information into the system, watch the drones do their damnedest, and then report back that more “terrorists” are dead. Just assume that at least some of those “militants” dying in Pakistan, and possibly many of them, aren’t who the CIA hopes they are.

Think of it as a foolproof situation, with an emphasis on the “fool.” And then keep in mind that, in December, the CIA’s local brain trust, undoubtedly the same people who were leaking precise news of “successes” in Pakistan, mistook a jihadist double agent from Jordan for an agent of theirs, gathered at an Agency base in Khost, Afghanistan, and let him wipe them out with a suicide bomb. Seven CIA operatives died, including the base chief. This should give us a grim clue as to the accuracy of the CIA’s insights into what’s happening on the ground in Pakistan, or into the real effects of their 24/7 robotic assassination program.

But there’s a deeper, more dangerous level of deception in Washington’s widening war in the region: self-deception. The CIA drone program, which the Agency’s Director Leon Panetta has called “the only game in town” when it comes to dismantling al-Qaeda, is just symptomatic of such self-deception. While the CIA and the U.S. military have been expending enormous effort studying the Afghan and Pakistani situations and consulting experts, and while the White House has conducted an extensive series of seminars-cum-policy-debates on both countries, you can count on one thing: none of them have spent significant time studying or thinking about us.

As a result, the seeming cleanliness and effectiveness of the drone-war solution undoubtedly only reinforces a sense in Washington that the world’s last great military power can still control this war—that it can organize, order, prod, wheedle, and bribe both the Afghans and Pakistanis into doing what’s best, and if that doesn’t work, simply continue raining down the missiles and bombs. Beware Washington’s deep-seated belief that it controls events; that it is, however precariously, in the saddle; that, as Afghan War commander General Stanley McChrystal recently put it, there is a “corner” to “turn” out there, even if we haven’t quite turned it yet.

In fact, Washington is not in the saddle and that corner, if there, if turned, will have its own unpleasant surprises. Washington is, in this sense, as oblivious as those CIA operatives were as they waited for “their” Jordanian agent to give them supposedly vital information on the al-Qaeda leadership in the Pakistani tribal areas. Like their drones, the Americans in charge of this war are desperately far from the ground, and they don’t even seem to know it.

It’s time for Washington to examine not what we know about them, but what we don’t know about ourselves.

Tom Engelhardt runs the Nation Institute’s Tomdispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture and coeditor of History Wars, the Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past.

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Community News (V11-I35)

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Obituary:  Ali Safaeinili, NASA Engineer

Dr. Ali Safaeinili, a long-time and respected member of the Radar Science and Engineering team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), passed away on Wednesday, July 29, from complications due to cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer. Safaeinili was 45 years old. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Lisa; two daughters, Nadia, 17, and Roya, 10; his parents, siblings, and many, many friends and colleagues.

Born in Sari, Iran, Safaeinili always wanted to pursue his higher education in science and engineering in the United States and enrolled at Iowa State University in 1985 to study electrical engineering and computer science. He completed his undergraduate studies in two-and-a-half years by testing out of all the required math classes and finished his post-doctorate work in 1995. At JPL for more than a decade, Safaeinili pursued radar as a means to study ice on Earth and the planets. An energetic and innovative scientist, he participated in the design, development, testing, and operation of the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) still operating on Mars Express.

He also participated in the design and operation of the Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARAD) currently orbiting Mars on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Active in the analysis of radar data, Safaeinili served as the Investigation Scientist for the radar investigations on both projects. In addition to earlier work on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), he led and contributed to efforts to develop new VHF and HF radars for Earth observations and potential applications to Europa and other icy bodies.

Safaeinili often expressed his gratitude for being given the opportunity to do what he loved most in his work at JPL. He also enjoyed giving back to the community, and volunteered with the Westminster Free Clinic, which provides medical care to the uninsured. He was appreciated by all for his warmth, good sense of humor, and generous spirit, and he will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.

Portland mosque agreement reached

PORTLAND, OR–The City of Portland has reached an agreement with the Portland Masjid and Islamic center that will allow the latter to use a building as a mosque.

Earlier the Maine Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit on behalf of the mosque alleging the city’s zoining ordinances violate religious freedom.

Under the interim agreement, the Islamic Center can use the former TV repair shop on Washington Avenue for religious purposes while the MCLU’s lawsuit moves forward.

A spokesperson says the city hopes to continue to talk with the group, and to consider amendments to zoning ordinances.

Meatpacking plans taking steps to prevent prayer disputes

LINCOLN, NB–Officials at a Grand Island meatpacking plant said they are taking steps to prevent a repeat of last year’s Muslim Prayer disputes.

It led to disruption at JBS Swift and company, also mass firings.

The Muslim Holy month of Ramadan begins Saturday.

Swift officials, along with Muslim Somali advocates and Union representatives said they are trying to accommodate workers who want to pray at sunset.
Last September, hundreds were involved in protests and counter protests at the plant during Ramadan.

New Jersey ‘Halal’  firm recalls beef products

VINELAND, August 18, 2009 (News Agencies)– Pasha Halal Poultry, doing business as Marcacci Meatsin Vineland, New Jersey, is recalling approximately 128 pounds of ground beef contiminated with ecoli.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced the products subject to this recall include:

* Various sizes of plastic-wrapped packages of “MARCACCI MEATS, GROUND BEEF.”

* 10-pound boxes of “MARCACCI MEATS, GROUND BEEF.”

The ground beef products were packed in foam containers and bear a package code of “8.12.09” as well as the establishment number “EST. 5913” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

These ground beef products were produced on Aug. 12, 2009, and were distributed to a consumer at the wholesale level in the Atlantic City, N.J., area, and packaged for sale to consumers at the retail level in Vineland, N.J.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall should contact company Owner Mehmet Silpagar at (856) 691-4848.

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