Kyrgyz Constitution Writing
(Crossposted to American Footprints.)
Commentary on the Politics, History and Culture of the Middle East and Central Asia, by Brian Ulrich
"'What my friend and I were doing is part of our individual freedom. This is a democratic and free country,' the student, who is above the age of 21, told the judge sentencing her. Police said they found the girl and her boyfriend in 'an intimate position' in a car park."
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"The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.
"The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.
"Had the student stuck to his original story, it might never have been proved false.
"But on Thursday, when the student told his tale in the office of UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Robert Pontbriand to Dr. Williams, Dr. Pontbriand, university spokesman John Hoey and The Standard-Times, the student added new details.
"The agents had returned, the student said, just last night. The two agents, the student, his parents and the student's uncle all signed confidentiality agreements, he claimed, to put an end to the matter.
"But when Dr. Williams went to the student's home yesterday and relayed that part of the story to his parents, it was the first time they had heard it. The story began to unravel, and the student, faced with the truth, broke down and cried."
"Several officials said the eavesdropping program had helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches. What appeared to be another Qaeda plot, involving fertilizer bomb attacks on British pubs and train stations, was exposed last year in part through the program, the officials said. But they said most people targeted for N.S.A. monitoring have never been charged with a crime, including an Iranian-American doctor in the South who came under suspicion because of what one official described as dubious ties to Osama bin Laden."
"Besides intercepting ILC communications at radio stations, NSA, GCHQ and their counterparts also collected printed copies of all international telegrams from public and commercial operators in London, New York and other centres. They were then taken to sigint analysts and processed in the same way as foreign telegrams snatched from the air at sites like Chicksands and Kirknewton. Britain had done this since 1920, and the United States since 1945. The joint programme was known as Operation Shamrock, and continued until it was exposed by US Congressional intelligence investigations in the wake of the Watergate affair.
On 8 August 1975, NSA Director Lt General Lew Allen admitted to the Pike Committee of the US House of Representatives that : 'NSA systematically intercepts international communications, both voice and cable.' He also admitted that 'messages to and from American citizens have been picked up in the course of gathering foreign intelligence'. At a later hearing, he described how NSA used '"watch lists" an aid to watch for foreign activity of reportable intelligence interest'.
US legislators considered that these operations might have been unconstitutional. During 1976, a Department of Justice team investigated possible criminal offences by NSA. Part of their report was released in 1980 It described how intelligence on US citizens, known as MINARET 'was obtained incidentally in the course of NSA's interception of aural and non-aural (e.g, telex) international communications and the receipt of GCHQ-acquired telex and ILC (International Leased Carrier) cable traffic (SHAMROCK)" (emphasis in original)."
"I have personal knowledge of DHS folks visiting intellectuals over books. I know an Arab-American professor who was doing development work in the Middle East who shipped back some Arabic books, some of them on water and sewage systems. These were intercepted at customs and he received a visit from two agents who questioned him about the books. They were, of course, innocuous, and he had been working on a USG contract!"
"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
They will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.
Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.' (Isaiah 49:22-23)
"Today we light the fourth candle of the Advent Wreath. It is the candle of hope. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah was giving hope to God’s people who had been defeated by their enemies and taken off to a foreign land – away from their center of worship, separated from the house of God; living among the customs and traditions of foreign people. Is it any wonder they needed the hope of God’s presence, and the hope of a future restored to them through a powerful military leader – the Messiah for whom they longed? The prophet could tell of enemies becoming the servants of God’s people.
"What a topsy-turvy fulfillment of prophecy with the birth of the baby Jesus who would grow into the likeness of God and lead His followers into the Kingdom of God. Instead of being served, we are called to serve. Instead of having our enemies under our feet, we work toward justice and equality. And as we live this life, united by our faith in Jesus the Christ, we hope for what is yet to be ours.
"'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you ….'(1 Peter 1:3-4)"
"The lovefeast of Apostolic times was resuscitated in its original simplicity by the Moravian Church in 1727. After the memorable celebration of the holy communion on August 13, seven groups of the participants continued to talk over the great spiritual blessing which they had experienced and were reluctant to separate and return to their own homes for the noonday meal. Count Zinzendorf, sensing the situation, sent them food from his manor house, and each group partook together, continuing in prayer, religious conversation, and the singing of hymns. This incident reminded Zinzendorf of the primitive agape, and the idea was fostered until lovefeasts became a custom in Moravian life. They were introduced wherever new settlements were founded and so came to America.
"The lovefeast is primarily a song service, opened with prayer. Often there is no address; the hymns in the ode, or order of service, furnish the subject matter for devotional thoughts. If many visitors are present, the presiding minister often says a few words, explaining the purpose of the service, just before the congregation partakes of the bun and coffee, or whatever is served. On special occasions an address may be added, giving opportunity to remind the congregation of the history of the anniversary or the deeper import of the day.
"There is no rule as to the food to be offered, except that it be very simple and easily distributed. The drink may be coffee, tea, or lemonade, fully prepared in advance, so that it may be served very quietly and without interruption of the singing. Usually mugs are used, which may be passed from hand to hand along a pew from a tray brought along the aisle. A slightly sweetened bun, which can be served in baskets passed along the pews, is a convenient form of bread. Usually men handle the trays of mugs, and women the baskets of buns. While the congregation partakes, the choir sings an anthem. Later the mugs are quietly gathered and removed. The food served is not consecrated, as in the communion. Children and members of any denomination may partake."
"A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called 'The Little Red Book.'
"Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.
"The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.
"The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a 'watch list,' and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.
"'I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book,' Professor Pontbriand said. 'Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it.'"
"An Indian woman who has waited 34 years for her Bahrain-based sweetheart will finally meet him in Cochin on Tuesday where they will get married.
"The 50-year-old woman was just 16 when K.S. Paramesh-waran left Kerala to take up a position as a pipefitter in Bahrain, and has persistently refused all marriage proposals in the hope that the man she loved would come home one day to marry her.
"Parameshwaran, 65, told Gulf Daily News that he had spent all those years thinking the woman he loved had forgotten him. 'I came to Bahrain as a pipefitter. I was earning 80 dinars a month and was not financially stable to get married nor was I in a condition to ask her to wait for me,' he said."
"Now I’m living in Shagm. It is a ‘real’ ‘Kyrygz’ village. It is so far off the beaten path that people in Osh have never heard of it. It is 10 km up the mountains from Korshab, a tiny town near the elbow of the earth. To get cell phone service I have to climbs a small hill and hang out with the sheep and donkeys for a little while. To take a bath I have to go back to Osh. Same goes if I want to use a real toilet, although I’m a fan of the outhouse. Go Peace Corps. I’m spending a month here in Shagm living with a family and getting the real ‘Kyrgyz’ experience. My host mother is actually the village matriarch. She is 83 years old, the oldest woman in the village, and she calls the shots around here. She has 40 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. And she speaks Kyrgyz, some Russian, German, Arabic and any English I teach her. No and Go are her two favorite words in English. She prays 5 times a day, and knows a lot of prayers. In this town, when you throw a toi, you invite everyone. And their brother. It starts at 8am and goes all night. You feed the whole town, kill lots of sheep, and give away tons of food. There are literally mountains of food. If a real poor person came from Africa or India, they would swear that the Kyrgyz are the richest people on earth. Piles of bread, piles of meat. Huge pots (called Kazans, they look like woks, but bigger) of soup and rice, pots so big you could swim in it. Can you imagine cooking for 1000 people? And the houses aren’t big enough, so you borrow your neighbors houses so everyone can sit. People come in shifts.
"Today we light the third candle of the Advent Wreath. It is the candle of joy. Now three will be lit: love, peace and joy.
"There was a time, described in the Old Testament, when God’s people had been defeated by their enemies and the best of Israel, its leaders, were taken to Babylonia. There God’s people were without their Temple in which to make sacrifices to God. The point – from the enemy’s perspective – was to mix ethnic groups together and dilute their strengths, their religion, their history. It worked well. God’s people had drifted away from God and their faith practices.
"Enter the prophet Isaiah. He wrote about the Suffering Servant who would come out of King David’s descendants, who would save God’s people. From chapter 55, verse 12, we have a wonderful image of God’s people being led away from their enemies, and returning – with joy – to their homeland.
"'You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees will clap their hands.' (Isaiah 55:12)
"And God did bring forth a suffering servant. He was Jesus of Nazareth, destined to be the Christ of Calvary and the herald of Good News for all people. On the night the Babe of Bethlehem was born, the angel said to the Shepherds: 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'
"And today, 2000 years later, that joy which Jesus brought, continues to come into the life and heart of the Christian. How uplifting is it to hear the words from First Peter, chapter 1: 'Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.' (1 Peter 1:8-9)
"May the Joy of the Risen Lord be yours today and always."
"Saddam Hussain loyalists who violently opposed January elections have made an about-face as Thursday's polls near, urging fellow Sunni Arabs to vote and warning Al Qaida militants not to attack.
"In a move unthinkable in the bloody run-up to the last election, guerrillas in the western insurgent heartland of Anbar province say they are even prepared to protect voting stations from fighters loyal to Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, leader of Al Qaida in Iraq.
"Graffiti calling for holy war is now hard to find.
"Instead, election campaign posters dominate buildings in the rebel strongholds of Ramadi and nearby Fallujah, where Sunnis staged a boycott or were too scared to vote last time around."
"It seems to me, really, that the whole Christmas spectacular would be much better if it just went unapologetically as 'Christmas.' If someone wants to know why I'm not in the 'Christmas spirit' the answer is easily enough: not Christian, don't celebrate the day, no spirit. The 'holiday season' has a weirdly insidious universalizing effect. Nobody's tricked into thinking it's anything other Christmas, but all of a sudden it's for all of us instead of merely the overwhelming majority of us. There's nothing wrong, really, with an overwhelming majority lording it over a small minority in such trivial ways as putting decorated conifers all over the place, but one might as well be clear on what's going on."
"'For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.'(Isaiah 9:6-7)
"Today we light the second candle of the Advent Wreath. It is the candle of peace. If only our world could be at peace. Instead we are sending men and women, our neighbors, relatives, fellow citizens, into hot-beds of hostility and hatred. One religion against another. Will the nations of the world ever be at peace?
"Will members of the same family be able to settle differences? Will neighbors learn to live with respect for diversity and acceptance of one another? Jesus said: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.' We are called to be active peacemakers, working with one another – friends and strangers alike – to bring harmony into a discordant world.
"How? We follow the example of our Lord as described by Paul in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus:
"'The Messiah has made things up between us so that we're now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used - to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody. Christ brought us together through his death on the Cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.'(Ephesians 2:14-18)"
"Stewart also told UK's Teletext that plans are afoot to make another TNG feature film for the big screen, as revealed this week by SFX Magazine.
"Despite plans at Paramount for a TREK prequel movie featuring an all-new cast -- currently titled STAR TREK: THE BEGINNING, Stewart said, 'About four months ago at a meeting in Los Angeles the subject was raised quite seriously from a very interesting point of view. I have been saying for four years now that it's over. No fantasies about it coming back, the space suits have been hung up for good.'
"'But there are weighty people in Hollywood who are very interested in one more run around the holodeck. There are serious plans.'"
"Elaborating on his historic decision which was announced on Thursday, Shaikh Khalifa said that the decision stipulates that the Ruler of each of the seven UAE emirates will form a local council which is to be at least 100 times as much as the number of its representatives in the FNC.
"That means for each FNC member, a local council in the concerned emirate will have 100 members.
"The local council will then conduct a poll to elect half of the representatives of each emirate to the FNC while the Ruler will appoint the other half."