Saturday, October 5, 2013

Obama Open To Redskins Name Change
President Barack Obama says that if he owned the Washington Redskins, he would "think about changing" the team name, wading into the controversy over a football nickname that many people deem offensive to Native Americans. Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press, said team names like the Redskins offend "a sizable group of people." He said that while fans get attached to the nicknames, nostalgia may not be a good enough reason to keep them in place. "I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things," he said in the interview, which was conducted Friday.An avid sports fan, Obama said he doesn't think Washington football fans are purposely trying to offend American Indians. "I don't want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so," he said. But the president appeared to come down on the side of those who have sharply criticized the football team's name, noting that Indians "feel pretty strongly" about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage. Other professional sports teams have Indian nicknames, including football's Kansas City Chiefs and baseball's Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. Numerous colleges and universities have changed names that reference Native Americans. St. John's changed its mascot from the Redmen to the Red Storm, Marquette is now the Golden Eagles instead of the Warriors and Stanford switched from the Indians to the Cardinal. The Redskins' nickname has attracted a fresh round of controversy in recent months, with local leaders in Washington calling for a name change and some media outlets refraining from using the name. The name is the subject of a long-running legal challenge from a group of American Indians seeking to block the team from having federal trademark protection. Congressional lawmakers have introduced a bill seeking the same goal, though it appears unlikely to pass. Opponents of the Redskins nickname also plan to hold a protest Monday outside the NFL's fall meeting in Washington. Team owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never abandon the name. But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that the league should pay attention to those offended by the nickname -- a subtle change in position for Goodell, who had more strongly supported the nickname in his previous statements this year. Despite the controversy, an AP-GfK poll conducted in April showed that nationally, "Redskins" still enjoys wide support. Nearly four in five Americans don't think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren't sure and 2 percent didn't answer. Obama said he doesn't have a direct stake in the Redskins debate since he's not a team owner. But he hinted that might be part of his post-White House plans. "Maybe after I leave the presidency," he joked. "I think it would be a lot of fun." He added: "I'd probably look at a basketball team before I looked at a football team. I know more about basketball than I do about football."

President Obama's Weekly Address: End This Government Shutdown...10/05/2013

VIDEO: President Obama talks about the shutdown at lunch

Bangladesh: Wali Khan: He rallied for Mujib, against Yahya

At the war crimes trials, some of the accused Jamaat-e-Islami leaders justified siding with the Pakistani military during Bangladesh’s war of independence, saying they had done that to save the unity of Pakistan. But then there were some West Pakistanis who tried to save that unity not by siding with the military, but by trying to stop its bullets.
Khan Abdul Wali Khan, former president of the National Awami Party (NAP) and son of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (known as the Frontier Gandhi), was one of them. A staunch believer in democracy in Pakistan, he faced persecution by the ruling military junta for opposing the General Yahya Khan's decision to ignore the people’s verdict in the 1970 elections, where Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Awami League won a landslide victory.Together, Wali Khan and Sheikh Mujib formed the Democratic Action Committee to restore democracy in Ayub Khan-dictated Pakistan. Wali Khan received the “Friends of Liberation War Honour” during the seventh phase of the award-giving ceremony on Tuesday. His son Senator Asfandyar Wali Khan, current president of the party now known as the ANP, received the award on his behalf. In a conversation with The Daily Star on the same day, Asfandyar reminiscedx about the contributions of his father to the independence of Bangladesh. He had arrived at the lobby of the Sonargaon Pan Pacific Hotel for the interview, after a visit to the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum. “Being here is difficult for me,” he said in English. “I am here for the first time since independence, and I had to see how a man was assassinated by the very people he had liberated. Sheikh Mujib was very close to my father. After every meeting, the two would spend the evening together.” Asfandyar told this correspondent that the ANP always thought that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had rightfully earned his place as the prime minister of Pakistan, after pulling the Awami League through the landslide victory in its first democratic elections.“My father warned that if they opposed Sheikh Mujib, Pakistan would be divided. But the junta did not pay heed. He used to quip through quoting an Urdu saying, ‘You are trying to earn love with bullets, washing the land with blood. You think you are reaching the goal, but you do not know when you lost it,’” he recalled. Right before the crackdown on March 25, 1971, Abdul Wali Khan had gone to General Yahya Khan to negotiate with him about handing over power to Sheikh Mujib. “Yahya told my father to get out of the country because he planned to shoot. My father replied, ‘Shoot a Pakistani chest with a Pakistani bullet?’ But Yahya was unmoved,” said Asfandyar.He recollected that throughout April and May of the year, NAP workers were persecuted and its top leaders arrested. “We were enraged. I was a part of the student wing. We went and vandalised Yahya Khan’s mansion. I am not proud of having done that, but when our constitutional methods of dissent are taken away, we often react unconstitutionally. Our liberties were taken away, similar to East Pakistan.” Their hostels were raided that night, and they were placed under arrest, Asfandyar said. “The 1970 election was the first chance for the oppressed Baloch, Pashtun and Bengalis to protest. The West Pakistani politicians did not care about us. None of them even visited East Pakistan during the 1970 cyclone, the worst storm in the history of the land.” However, Asfandyar believes that the bloodshed during the Liberation War of Bangladesh could have been averted if the West Pakistani top brass had paid heed to the people’s verdict. He went on: “We have a lot more in common than what we have in contrast, and a functioning democracy that protects the rights of the oppressed Bengalis and the minorities could have been formed, if only the junta gave up power. It was a flawed political decision, but the flaw did not show up until now. Now we are trying to establish cooperation among two nations that have bred nothing but hate for each other for the last 42 years.” Many people were not happy that he was coming to Bangladesh to receive the award, he noted. “However, I believe that we would only have been eligible for gratitude from Bangladesh, if we could have persuaded the junta not to go to war against its own people.”

Pakistan: A theatre of war turning on itself
By Aamer Ahmed Khan
Three attacks within 10 days killing nearly 150 people in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar is an escalation even by Pakistani standards — an escalation in a war that has killed 45,000 civilians over the last 10 years in attacks as random as they were brutal. Coming in the backdrop of the government’s efforts to initiate peace negotiations with Taliban militants, a hugely controversial initiative which seems to have divided Pakistani opinion makers along seemingly irreconcilable lines, these attacks have thrown up questions that go beyond the obvious and all-encompassing label of terror.
None more so than the deadly suicide attack on a Sunday mass in one of the oldest churches in the city which killed more than 80, left thousands mourning and a nation stunned at its own inability to stop the bloodbath. Never before has the country’s Christian minority been targeted with such deadly intent. Always a discriminated minority, they have been a silent witness to the country’s steady retreat against hardline Islamist ideologies espoused by a mushrooming array of militant groups. At times, they have fallen victim to Pakistan’s contentious blasphemy laws, but by and large they have gone about their business even as the sphere of social, cultural and religious tolerance around them has continued to shrink. But on September 22, as two suicide bombers positioned themselves among the 400-odd worshippers at the conclusion of the ceremony, this under-2 per cent minority suddenly found itself on the frontline. As Pakistan mourned its latest tragedy analysts went into overdrive, with some arguing there was no reason why the Christian community had been singled out for this outrage. Like their 180 million fellow Pakistanis, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion, they were just caught up in a war that seems to be pushing its boundaries with every passing day. Confirmation of the feeling that anyone and everyone could be a target came with an attack on a bus carrying civil servants a few days later, followed by an attack in the city’s oldest bazaar whose inhabitants shared everything with their attackers — religion, ethnicity and nationality. This is a theatre of war turning on itself. For years, Pakistan has bet on the Taliban as the glue that could bind a fractious Afghanistan together once international troops withdraw from the country. It has sat by and watched the Taliban’s ideological merger with Al Qaida in the hope that the latter would melt away once Afghanistan stabilises, with the Taliban as part of the ruling mix.

Pakistan bottom of the barrel on net freedom: Report

Pakistan is among the bottom ten countries in the Freedom on the Net 2013 report, which measures the level of internet and digital media freedom in 60 countries. The annual report is carried out by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization.In the new report, each country received a numerical score from 0 (the most free) to 100 (the least free), which serves as the basis for internet freedom status. Pakistan received a score of 67 and status ‘not free’, whereas Iceland was at the top with a score of just 6.The Pakistan section of the report was conducted just after the elections held on May 11, 2013 and covered the developments regarding internet freedom between the time period May 2012 – April 2013. It was researched and compiled by Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan along with research analysts of Freedom House. “Pakistan remains one of the worst countries when it comes to online freedom of speech, user rights and citizens’ privacy”, commented Digital Rights Foundation Executive Director, Nighat Dad. “In the past year, state has been rigorously trying to implement the best of surveillance set-ups to create a kind of watchdog upon activists, journalists and a common citizen on the name of war against terrorism. Pakistan’ civil society, despite being faced with threats and vicious consequences, is strongly fighting against the state-employed policies and technologies that can hurt Pakistani citizen”.Even though the number of internet users in the country is increasing, the Pakistan report states that there have been various political and social obstacles by successive governments that came into power, in the name of fighting terrorism and preserving Islam. This has caused problems for many civil rights activists, students and other such personnel who want to engage in intensive multimedia training, the report concluded. According to the report: “Legal measures also threatened digital rights, particularly over sensitive religious issues. At least two of the 23 criminal investigations launched in 2012 under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws—which carry the death penalty—involved content sent by mobile phone. A Twitter spat escalated into a defamation suit after a political website accused a religious leader of inciting hatred”.
Obstacles to access
According to the report, “Low literacy, difficult economic conditions, and cultural resistance have limited the proliferation of ICTs in Pakistan. Poor copper wire infrastructure and inadequate monitoring of service quality by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) have historically stymied the expansion of broadband internet.” Only urban cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar have access to better quality broadband services, the report found. Additionally, the report cited “bureaucratic hurdles” as having caused a problem for development of 3G or 4G networks. Access to the internet has been deliberately obstructed by the Pakistani authorities in Balochistan where there has been persistent conflict between the Baloch nationalists and the security forces, the report stated.
Limits on content
Some of the major developments by the government in 2012 and 2013 included creating and installing new equipment to systemise website blocking and filtering, the report found. Despite such blocking, the report concluded that Pakistanis have relatively open access to international news organizations and other independent media, as well as a range of websites representing Pakistani political parties, local civil society groups, and international human rights organizations. “Nevertheless, most online commentators exercise a degree of self-censorship when writing on topics such as religion, blasphemy, separatist movements, and women’s and LGBT rights,” it added.
Ordinary internet users as well as activists, bloggers, and media representatives in Balochistan are concerned about government surveillance as they feel restricted to openly talk about their religious beliefs, particularly atheists. In February 2013, the upper house of parliament passed the Fair Trial Act 2012 allows security agencies to seek a judicial warrant to monitor private communications “to neutralize and prevent threat or any attempt to carry out scheduled offenses;” and covers information sent from or received in Pakistan or between Pakistani citizens whether they are resident in the country or not. Under the law, service providers face a one-year jail term or a fine of up to PKR 10 million for failing to cooperate with the warrant. According to the report, “Pakistan is also reported to be a long-time customer of Narus, a US-based firm known for designing technology that allows for monitoring of traffic flows and deep-packet inspection of internet communications, and some media reports say Pakistani authorities have also acquired surveillance technology from China.”

Malala Wins a Rights Award

The Pakistani schoolgirl who survived a Taliban assassination attempt received a human rights award on Friday. The girl, Malala Yousafzai, an education activist, was shot as she traveled to school in northwest Pakistan last October. On Friday in London she was declared the winner of the Anna Politkovskaya Award. Ms. Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and Kremlin critic who worked to uncover abuses in Chechnya, was killed in 2006. The award is given annually by the group RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War) to a woman who defends human rights. The group said Ms. Yousafzai, 16, had been chosen “for her courage to speak out when nobody else dared,” for giving a voice to many women and girls and for promoting education for girls.

Malala Yousafzai Named as Top Nobel Peace Prize Contender
Much like Oscar season, the period before the announcement of each year’s Nobel Prize recipients is marked with speculation: Who will win?
The much-anticipated news of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner won’t be revealed until Friday, October 11—but one organization, the International Peace Research Institute, has released its short list of favorites for the honor. Topping the list is Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani activist who rose to international fame when she took on the Taliban and demanded access to school for girls. “Malala would not only be timely and fitting with a line of awards to champions of human rights and democracy, but also sets both children and education on the peace and conflict agenda,” Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the International Peace Research Institute, said in a statement. Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban assassins last October, and has since staged a miraculous recovery. “It feels like this life is not my life. It’s a second life,” she writes in her autobiography I Am Malala, excerpted exclusively in this Sunday’s Parade. “People have prayed to God to spare me and I was spared for a reason—to use my life for helping people.” If Yousafzai is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she’ll be one of only 15 female recipients and the youngest winner by far (the average age of the previous laureates is 62, and the youngest winner so far is Yemeni journalist Tawakkol Karman, who won the honor at age 32 in 2011). Other top contenders for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, according to the Oslo-based organization that predicts laureates every year, include: Uganda peace advocate Sister Mary Tarcisia Lakot; Russian activists Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Svetlana Gannushkina and Lilya Shibanova; Guatemalan attorney general Claudia Paz y Paz; and Congolese gynecologist and anti-sexual violence activist Denis Mukwege. The Nobel Prize, selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, has been awarded since 1901. Previous winners of the peace honor include Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and President Barack Obama

Assad: Turkey will pay for backing rebels

Syrian president tells Turkish TV station that "terrorists" will turn on their hosts "like a scorpion".
The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, has said Turkey will pay a heavy price for backing rebels fighting against him, and accused it of harbouring "terrorists" who, he claimed, would soon turn on their hosts.In an interview with Turkey's Halk TV due to be broadcast on Friday, Assad called the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, "bigoted" and said Ankara was allowing terrorists to cross into Syria to attack his army and civilians. "It is not possible to put terrorism in your pocket and use it as a card. It is like a scorpion which won't hesitate to sting you at the first opportunity," Assad said, according to a transcript from Halk TV. "In the near future, these terrorists will have an impact and Turkey will pay a heavy price for it." Turkey shelters about a quarter of the two million people who have fled Syria and has allowed rebel fighters to cross in and out of Syria. Last month, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized Azaz, about 5km from the border with Turkey, and has repeatedly clashed with the local rebel FSA brigades since then. 'Sectarian agenda' Assad accused Erdogan, whose AK Party has its roots in conservative Islamist politics, of having a sectarian agenda. "Before the crisis, Erdogan had never mentioned reforms or democracy, he was never interested in these issues. Erdogan only wanted the Muslim Brotherhood to return to Syria, that was his main and core aim," he said. Assad again denied his forces had used chemical weapons and blamed such attacks on the rebels. Asked whether he expected the Geneva process to accelerate if Syria handed over its chemical weapons, Assad said he saw no link. "Practically these issues are not related. Geneva II is about Syria's own domestic political process and cutting neighbouring countries' weapons and financial support to terrorists," he said.

What is Postpartum Depression ?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in a woman after giving birth. According to the DSM IV, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, PPD is a form of major depression that has its onset within four weeks after delivery. The diagnosis of postpartum depression is based not only on the length of time between delivery and onset, but also on the severity of the depression
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes associated with having a baby. The term describes a range of physical and emotional changes that many new mothers experience. The good news is postpartum depression can be treated with medication and counseling. The chemical changes involve a rapid drop in hormones after delivery. The actual link between this drop and depression is still not clear. But what is known is that the levels of estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones, increase tenfold during pregnancy. Then, they drop sharply after delivery. By three days after a woman gives birth, the levels of these hormones drop back to what they were before she got pregnant. In addition to these chemical changes, social and psychological changes associated with having a baby create an increased risk of depression.
What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
Symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to what happens normally following childbirth. They include lack of sleep, appetite changes, excessive fatigue, decreased libido, and frequent mood changes. However, these are also accompanied by other symptoms of major depression, which may include depressed mood; loss of pleasure; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness; and thoughts of death or suicide.
What Are the Risk Factors for Getting Postpartum Depression?
A number of factors can increase the risk of postpartum depression, including:
a history of depression during pregnancy age at time of pregnancy -- the younger you are, the higher the risk ambivalence about the pregnancy children -- the more you have, the more likely you are to be depressed in a subsequent pregnancy having a history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) limited social support living alone marital conflict
Who Is at Risk for Postpartum Depression?
Most new mothers experience the "baby blues" after delivery. About one out of every 10 of these women will develop a more severe and longer-lasting depression after delivery. About one in 1,000 women develops a more serious condition called postpartum psychosis.