Monday, September 2, 2019


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#LaborDay #LaborDay2019 - The beauty of Labor Day

It's an idea that seems particularly out of step with the glorification of long hours and hustle that has come from the Silicon Valley startup world. We're supposed to be working 80- to 100-hour weeks, coming into the office on weekends, dedicating ourselves exclusively to our careers or our businesses.
"Totally false," the investor Keith Rabois wrote on Twitter in reply to a fellow VC who had tried to argue that, "not hanging with friends and family because you're working isn't 'cool'" and that " your competition isn't beating you because they are working more hours than you. It's because they are working smarter." To Rabois, young people needed to embrace the grind, to succeed through extreme feats of discipline and commitment.
    Just look at the reaction to Andrew Luck, who shocked the football world by announcing his early retirement and an intention to add more balance to his life. To Doug Gottlieb, the Fox Sports Radio host, it was, sarcastically, "the most millennial thing ever."
    In fact, the relationship between work and leisure -- drive and rest, hobbies and occupations -- is essential and not explored often enough. We should start with the fact that most people don't even understand what the word "leisure" means, because it's certainly not as simple as lying in bed.
    In Greek, leisure is rendered as scholé -- that is, school. Leisure historically meant freedom from the work needed to survive. It was the freedom for intellectual or creative pursuits. It was learning and study and the pursuit of higher things.
    As society advanced and jobs became increasingly less physical, but more exhausting mentally and spiritually, it became common for leisure to include a diverse array of activities, from reading to woodwork or fishing or playing sports. Ultimately, that's what Labor Day was designed to help encourage and facilitate. A country is only as good as its workers, and those workers must be given time and space to rest their bodies as well as their minds.
    The impulse to celebrate work is a good one. Sloth is considered a vice for a reason. But it was Aristotle who believed that virtue was the result of balance, of finding a middle ground. It's probably not a coincidence that he also said, famously, that, "This is the main question, with what activity one's leisure is filled."
    Winston Churchill is a great example. Yes, he was a man who served in government for six and a half decades, wrote 43 books and gave roughly 2,300 speeches. We speak of his incredible efforts and tireless work ethic during World War II, which has been catalogued in reams of scholarship and celebrated in countless movies and documentaries. But casual students of history know far less about the hobbies and habits that made this possible -- because it wasn't simply sheer workaholism.
    As Paul Johnson, one of Churchill's best biographers, would write, "The balance he maintained between flat-out work and creative and restorative leisure is worth study by anyone holding a top position." In addition to his political legacy, Churchill also left behind some 500 paintings, which he created for fun while he took time off from work. He also left behind several cottages and outbuildings on his estate in the English countryside, which he built by hand. Churchill spent hundreds of hours in his life laying bricks. He rested from his labors ... through manual labor.
    This kind of respite is all the more crucial in a time when digital devices make work ubiquitous. Many ordinary people are, today, more reachable and more on call than heads of state like Churchill were even during world crises. Our phones are not lifelines, they are worklines. They keep us connected to our profession constantly and allow business to intrude regardless of the importance.
    Who has time for a day off? To read a book? To paint? To go for a three-hour bike ride? To hang out with friends and family?
    Work beckons. Responsibilities call. The office needs you for a meeting.
    But what kind of shape will we be in if we do this without respite? If we stigmatize and shame people who prioritize their long-term mental and physical health over the short-term gain of tasks completed, meetings attended, emails returned, conference calls joined?
    We need to insist on time away from our work and from our devices, so that we can recover and restore our minds. Culturally, we must understand that nobody succeeds when they are burned out. Bleary-eyed employees are a sign of a bad manager, not a good one. Sometimes the best way to move forward is through stillness. Sometimes the best way to rest is to do something that tires you out, as many voluntary hobbies illustrate.
    It's a paradox, but true to life.
    Labor Day is a beautiful holiday in that it enshrines at least one day of rest into federal law. It reminds us that as wonderful as work is (and the accomplishments which derive from it are), it is not sustainable unless balanced by rest.
      In a famous essay, the philosopher Josef Pieper wrotethat "the ability to be 'at leisure' is one of the basic powers of the human soul." It's also a human right. One that we celebrate today for good reason.
      It's one we need to protect and practice on more than one day a year.


      By Tufayel Ahmed
       The first Monday of September is Labor Day in the U.S. But have you ever wondered why we celebrate Labor Day?
      Labor Day, per the U.S. Department of Labor, celebrates the year-round efforts of American workers who diligently contribute to U.S. society and the economy. According to the Department of Labor, Labor Day is a "national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
      This year's Labor Day, on Monday, September 2, marks the 125th celebration of the federal holiday. The history of the annual tradition dates back to 1894, when U.S. President Grover Cleveland made the celebration a nationally recognized holiday.

      The history of Labor Day

      Though Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, it was observed by nearly 30 U.S. states for years before this, acknowledging the efforts of typically blue-collar workers who worked long hours for little pay in manufacturing jobs.
      In the late 1800s, workers in fields such as factory work, mills and roadworks, began demanding better pay and working conditions, and this led to a rise in labor unions in the U.S.
      The first Labor Day activity on record took place in New York City on September 5, 1882. 10,000 workers took part in the first Labor Day parade when they took unpaid time off work to march between City Hall and Union Square.
      labor day parade in 1982
      Marchers from the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) in a Labor Day parade in New York City, September 1982.BARBARA ALPER/GETTY
      A key event to nationwide recognition of Labor Day was the Pullman railroad strike in June 1894.
      The strike was in response to George Pullman, a railroad proprietor, cutting his workforce and slashing wages in 1893. This led to a boycott of railroad workers that crippled the traffic across the country.
      Protests by workers in Chicago led President Cleveland to send troops to the state to enforce an injunction banning strike action. The violence that followed killed at least 30 people.

      Who came up with Labor Day?

      The exact innovator of Labor Day is contested.
      Matthew Maguire, who was the Secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York, is often credited as the man who first posited the idea of a federal holiday honoring America's labor force. He is said to have suggested such a day after the success of the first-ever labor workers' parade in New York in September 1882.
      However, a man called Peter J. McGuire, vice president of the American Federation of Labor, is also credited with the idea of Labor Day. He is claimed to have mooted the idea in 1882 and suggested it be held on the first Monday in September because of good weather and because it would fall midway through the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving on the calendar.

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      Aasia Bibi speaks about days spent on death row

      Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman charged with blasphemy and later acquited by Pakistan’s Supreme Court (SC) last year has expressed her gratitude to “those who helped here achieve freedom.”
      In her first interview since her acquittal, Aasia told the Sunday Telegraph that she did not believe that she would be granted freedom.
      “Sometimes I was so disappointed and losing courage I used to wonder whether I was coming out of jail or not, what would happen next, whether I would remain here all my life,” she said.
      “When my daughters visited me in jail, I never cried in front of them, but when they went after meeting me in jail, I used to cry alone filled with pain and grief. I used to think about them all the time, how they are living, ” she added.
      In the interview, Aasia also raised concerns over the misuse of the blasphemy laws which she believes continue to subject hapless and innocent people of minority communities to death and imprisonment.
      Aasia had been arrested for committing blasphemy in November 2009. The charges were reported to have been trumped up and motivated by a feud between Asia with her neighbour, Noreen.
      Asia’s case gained international attention when then-governor of Punjab Salman Taseer questioned the validity of the judgment against her, thereby sparking a debate over the blasphemy laws which were widely said to have been misused against Pakistan’s minorities.
      The case also invited backlash from Pakistan’s far-right extremists, which led to the assassinations of Governor Taseer and Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.
      In January 2019 she was acquited by a three-member special bench headed by former chief justice Saqib Nisar, nearly 10 years after her arrest. Her acquittal led to widespread protests in the country while several major cities witnessed lockdown and businesses were brought to a halt by Islamic extremists led by the Tehreek-Labaik Pakistan (TLP).
      Asia spent nearly eight years on death row and a further seven months in protective custody amid fears of attacks by religious extremists. After which she was allowed to go to Canada where she along with her family were granted asylum.
      Her freedom was secured through the efforts of the European Union’s special envoy on religious freedom, Jan Figel who held talks in Brussels with Pakistan’s Attorney General Anwar Khan and Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari which paved the way for Aasia’s exit from the country.
      “My heart was broken when I left that way without meeting my family. Pakistan is my country, Pakistan is my homeland, I love my country, I love my soil,” she said.
      Jan Figel describes Aasia bibi,  “an admirably brave woman and loving mother” whose case according to him can lead to the review of the controversial and “outdated of blasphemy legislation in Pakistan.”

      Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian given shelter in Canada, plans to move to Europe

      Nearly four months after the 54-year-old finally left Pakistan following a miscarriage of justice that caused worldwide outcry, she has the opportunity to build a new life

      Asia Bibi, a Christian woman recently freed from prison after her blasphemy conviction was overturned.
      As Asia Bibi sits free at last in a secret location in Canada, the Pakistani Christian woman who spent years on death row on false blasphemy charges turns her mind to those left behind still facing the same ordeal.
      Nearly four months after the 54-year-old finally left Pakistan following a miscarriage of justice that caused worldwide outcry, she has the opportunity to build a new life for herself and her daughters.
      Yet while she is grateful for the international efforts to free her, she says the world should also know that Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws have left many others still languishing behind bars.
      In her first ever newspaper interview, she told The Sunday Telegraph she had at times fallen into despair after being sentenced to death.
      She also spoke of her heartbreak at being forced to leave her homeland, amid fears she would be murdered by religious extremists even after Pakistan’s supreme court had quashed her flimsy conviction.
      Her freedom was finally secured with mediation from Jan Figel, a European Union special envoy, who has for the first time spoken about negotiations to secure Mrs Bibi’s freedom as she was held in protective custody for months even after her release from prison.
      In this file photo taken on February 1, 2019 Pakistani Islamists hold a poster displaying an image of Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman accused of blasphemy, with a noose and a knife, during a protest against the Supreme Court decision on Bibi’s case in Lahore. – Asia Bibi, the Christian woman at the centre of a decade-long blasphemy row, has left Pakistan, a senior government source told AFP on May 8, months after her death sentence was overturned to mass protests by Islamist hardliners. ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images
      While she is currently in Canada, she hopes to move to an undisclosed country in Europe in the coming months.
      Mrs Bibi said her wrongful conviction after she was accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in a row with fellow farmhands had devastated her life.
      “My whole life suffered, my children suffered and this had a huge impact on my life,” she said in a series of voice messages sent in response to questions from The Telegraph.
      Mrs Bibi thanked the supreme court for acquitting her, but said others also needed fair trials. “There are many other cases where the accused are lying in jail for years and their decision should also be done on merit. The world should listen to them.
      “I request the whole world to pay attention to this issue. The way any person is alleged of blasphemy without any proper investigation, without any proper proof, that should be noticed. This blasphemy law should be reviewed and there should be proper investigation mechanisms while applying this law. We should not consider anyone sinful for this act without any proof.”
      The US State Department says an estimated 77 others are in prison in Pakistan under blasphemy laws, most of them Muslims, with lawyers and rights groups saying false accusations are made to settle scores, or silence rivals. The charge can carry the death penalty, but is so incendiary that cases can also end in mob lynching. Pakistan has never executed anyone specifically for blasphemy, but trials and appeals can drag on for years because judges are afraid of extremist threats.
      “Sometimes I was so disappointed and losing courage, I used to wonder whether I was coming out of jail or not, what would happen next, whether I would remain here all my life,” Mrs Bibi said.
      “When my daughters visited me in jail, I never cried in front of them, but when they went after meeting me in jail I used to cry alone, filled with pain and grief. I used to think about them all the time, how they are living.”
      Mrs Bibi was first convicted of blasphemy after she quarrelled with two Muslim women while they picked falsa berries for a landowner in rural Punjab in 2009. Her accusers claimed she insulted the Prophet Mohammed in an argument because the women would not drink from a container she had touched. The accusation was taken up by the village mullah and she was taken to court and sentenced to death in 2010. But Mrs Bibi said she had been made to confess at the hands of a village mob who nearly beat her unconscious. She denied she had ever committed blasphemy.
      She spent eight years on death row, constantly fearing for her life, before the case was quashed in the supreme court last October. However, she was kept in custody for a further seven months as Imran Khan’s government wrestled with how to free her without angering influential hardline Islamist groups who had paralysed the country in protest at her acquittal.
      Mr Figel, a Slovak politician and the EU special envoy on religious freedom since 2016, said: “I think Imran Khan’s government and Pakistan’s military used this delay to get the situation in the country under real control.”
      He held talks in Brussels with Anwar Khan, Pakistan’s attorney general, and Shireen Mazari, human rights minister, on how to free her.
      As the months dragged on, Mrs Bibi and her husband, Ashiq Masih, were kept in government safe houses first in the hills outside the capital Islamabad and then in the port city of Karachi. While given a television and a phone, they were unable to go outside.
      The strain saw Mrs Bibi fall into depression and be treated for heart problems. Throughout this time she was in daily contact with Muhammad Amanullah, a human-rights activist who had previously helped five other people accused of blasphemy. Mr Amanullah acted as her direct liaison with the EU.
      He said: “[Pakistan’s government] always told us it will be two weeks, or 10 days, two weeks, 10 days and like this we spent seven months.”
      He went on: “At one point she had lost her hope and one day she told me, if I am assassinated or anything happens to me, please do not forget my daughters.”
      Early candidates for asylum included France and Belgium, but as time went on, Mrs Bibi’s daughters were granted temporary refuge in Canada.
      If I am assassinated or anything happens to me, please do not forget my daughters
      Mrs Bibi had wanted to go to Europe, but arrangements were made for her to follow them and she finally left Pakistan in May. Mrs Bibi and Mr Figel both rejected earlier reports she had ever wanted to go to the UK.
      She said she had never contacted the UK or asked to go there. The whole family is later expected to move to an undisclosed European country. “Security conditions are crucially important for Asia Bibi and for her family,” said Mr Figel.
      When her freedom finally arrived, security concerns meant Mrs Bibi was unable to say goodbye to her father or her home town. “My heart was broken when I left that way without meeting my family. Pakistan is my country, Pakistan is my homeland, I love my country, I love my soil,” she said.
      Mr Amanullah has also left the country after being declared an apostate because of his work with those accused of blasphemy.
      Mr Figel said Mrs Bibi was “an admirably brave woman and loving mother” who had refused to give up her Christian faith in exchange for immediate freedom. “Her story and the highly professional supreme court decision can serve as a base for reforms in Pakistan, which has very outdated system of blasphemy legislation easily misused against neighbours and innocent people.”

      The Pakistani American who could be behind Bernie Sanders’ controversial Kashmir speech

      Faiz Shakir, a Harvard and Georgetown alumnus, has deep ties across the Democratic Party leadership and civil liberties advocacy groups. 

      Over the weekend, Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders created a stir in India by stating that New Delhi’s actions in Kashmir were “unacceptable” while calling for the United States to support a UN-backed peaceful resolution in the region.
      Many believe that his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, a progressive advocate and Pakistani American, is responsible for authoring Sanders’ Kashmir speech. ThePrint looks at Faiz Shakir, an activist with a stellar CV and deep ties with the Democratic Party.  

      ‘A progressive hustler’ 

      Shakir has been deeply immersed in the world of activism and has managed to cultivate several important connections in the Democratic Party. Born to Pakistani immigrants in the US, Shakir went on to study at Harvard and Georgetown universities.
      Over the past decade-and-a-half, he has developed a stellar resume by working with some of the biggest Democratic legislators and top-notch think tanks and civil liberties advocacy groups. 
      When Sanders appointed Shakir as his campaign manager in March 2019, news website Daily Beast wrote, “In hiring Shakir, Sanders brings into the fold one of the Democratic Party’s better-travelled operatives — an official with limited campaign experience but with ties to the party’s think tank infrastructure, its Hill operations, and the larger progressive universe.”

      Shakir’s ties with the top Democratic Party leadership 

      After completing his education at prolific institutions, Shakir began working as a legislative aide to former Florida governor, Bob Graham. He then went to work as a junior staffer in the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign. 
      Following Kerry’s campaign, Shakir joined the liberal think-tank and advocacy group Centre for American Progress (CAP) in 2005. Back then, the CAP was headed by John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff and Hillary Clinton’s controversial campaign manager. Shakir worked at CAP as a policy advisor. 
      Later that year, Shakir helped CAP launch the progressive news website ThinkProgress. Shakir was ThinkProgress’ editor-in-chief between 2007 and 2012 and helped turn it into a platform that garnered a lot of acclaim for its reporting on climate change. 
      After his stint at CAP and ThinkProgress, Shakir joined prominent Democratic legislator Nancy Pelosi’s team as the “director, new media”. Pelosi is currently the majority leader of the US House of Representatives (lower chamber). 
      Following his stint with Pelosi, Shakir went on to work with esteemed Democratic Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader between 2007 and 2015. 
      Talking about Shakir’s importance, Reid’s deputy chief of staff said, “Reid did not make a big decision without consulting Faiz. There’s no one he trusted more on how the progressive community would react on something and no one whose advice he took more seriously on pushing him to the left.” 
      In 2016 when Shakir joined Sanders’ presidential campaign team, he drew a lot of ire from his former boss Podesta, who was then managing Clinton’s campaign. His displeasure at Shakir’s decision was revealed in the infamous “Podesta email leaks”. 
      During this time, as a bitter primary campaign ensued between Clinton and Sanders, according to news website OZY, Shakir was reported to have played the role of an “intermediary among various players”. Though Shakir’s efforts failed, this reflects his deep connections across the Democratic party.

      The quintessential Washington activist 

      After Sanders failed to win the Democratic primaries, Shakir joined civil rights advocacy group American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as its political director. 
      Over the past two years, ACLU has been at the helm of legal and political resistance against President Donald Trump’s policies, especially the “Muslim immigration ban”. ACLU is a major advocacy group and has over 12,00,000 members and more than $100 million at its disposal. 
      Following Trump’s immigration ban, ACLU helped raise $24 million and Shakir played a big part in it. ACLU had also filed a lawsuit against Trump’s executive order, which led to a temporary stay on Trump’s immigration ban. 
      “Shakir, along with the ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, has become the face of the resistance,” notes a report in OZY.  During an interview to The Slant, when Shakir was asked which political issues occupy his mind, he responded by saying, “There’s no shortage of issues — it depends on what day you catch me.”

      #Pakistan - #Lahore cinema releases night-vision explicit videos of couples

      In what is being termed as a blatant breach of citizens’ privacy, a cinema in Lahore has released explicit footage of couples putting on public display of affection at the movies.
      The videos showing couples holding hands, making out and being involved in sexual activities, started doing rounds on Friday evening, sparking outrage over social media.
      While some called out the cinema for “blatant violation” of the couples’ privacy, others stepped in to train guns at the couples for publically being involved in the activities.

      Emporium cinema in Lahore, DHA should be sued for breach of privacy under cyber law for leaking out videos of couples involved on PDA.

      See Hasnain's other Tweets

      Apparently there's videos circulating from an emporium cinema of couples making out in the cinema hall. The videos are from infrared security cameras mounted inside the hall facing the crowd.

      Why are there cameras facing the crowd watching the screen in the first place?

      See Maaz's other Tweets

      No official statement over the episode has yet been released, however, former Punjab’s Strategic Reforms Unit director general (DG) Salman Sufi has announced filing a lawsuit against the cinema.

      Important thread: Just found that video recordings of citizens from cinema halls in have been shared around.This is NOT acceptable and is a violation of law. We demand that all theaters/Public places delete ALL video recordings that have no recorded safety threat ASAP

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      “Just found that video recordings of citizens from cinema halls in #Pakistan have been shared around. This is NOT acceptable and is a violation of law. We demand that all theaters/Public places delete ALL video recordings that have no recorded safety threat ASAP [sic],” Sufi tweeted.