Monthly Archives: December 2015

‘I Emphatically Refuse’: Muslim ACLU Activist Explains Why She Won’t Condemn Islamic Terrorism

‘I Emphatically Refuse’: Muslim ACLU Activist Explains Why She Won’t Condemn Islamic Terrorism

The deputy director of the ACLU of Michigan said in an op-ed Monday that she refuses to condemn radical Islamic terrorism in order to prove her allegiance to the United States.

Rana Elmir wrote that she’s “consistently and aggressively asked” to condemn Islamic terrorism, and is tired of having her religious views linked to atrocities like the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and in Paris and San Bernardino this year.


“I emphatically refuse,” she wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

The op-ed was titled: “Stop asking me to condemn terrorists just because I’m Muslim.”

Elmir, who lectures on issues related to Islamophobia, free speech and the intersection of race, faith and gender, asserted that she “will not be bullied into condemning terror perpetrated by psychopaths who misrepresent and distort Islam for their deranged purposes.”

Elmir compared the terror created by groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram to “the terror advanced by mostly white men,” which she says happens at the rate of one mass killing every two weeks in the U.S. For example, Dylann Roof’s attack on parishioners of a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Robert Dear’s attack on a Planned Parenthood facility, the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and “the slaughter of moviegoers in Colorado or Louisiana” — none of which she says she was asked to comment on.

Guilt by association is more prevalent in the case of American Muslims, Elmir argued, and the distinction between radical and peaceful Muslims is better made in silence.

“Muslims across the globe are not threats. They are threatened,” Elmir wrote, arguing that Muslim victims are wrongly pressed by politicians and journalists to publicly apologize for “the ideology that contributed to their own persecution.”

Such apologies, according to Elmir, become “admission[s] of guilt” that contribute to further Muslim oppression in America.


“The pernicious disease that is Islamophobia is spreading at home, thanks to a steady diet of repugnant rhetoric and equally misguided policies,” she wrote, citing a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2014. Condemning Islamic extremism would only serve “zealots who will never be satisfied,” Elmir wrote.

Muslims have been subject to slavery and persecution since America’s founding, she said.

“The first Muslims in the United States were brought over bound as slaves, not immigrants,” Elmir wrote. “While some American Muslims have prospered, many face challenges — poverty, unemployment and undereducation.”

But condemning or claiming terrorism through an apology is the wrong course of action, Elmir concluded.

“Terrorism is not mine,” she said.


Animal Study Points to Drug Duo That Might Aid Injured Brains to Bounce Back

Animal Study Points to Drug Duo That Might Aid Injured Brains to Bounce Back

Can two everyday drugs prevent irreversible harm from traumatic brain injury?




A blow to the head generates a hail of free radicals and inflammatory molecules that can cause lasting damage if left unchecked.  A drug that could be administered within hours, or even a day or more after the injury, could help soldiers, athletes, and everyone really.

report at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago this week showed that mice treated within hours after a lab-induced injury with a combination of an antibiotic and an antioxidant could avoid some of the neural chaos that results from a concussive blow. The apparent effectiveness of the drugs persisted even if they were not administered immediately—a desirable attribute in a traumatic brain drug because treatment is often not sought right away. So far, no drug has been approved for the condition.

Researchers from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., combined the FDA-approved antibiotic minocycline and the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine, both of which have previously been shown to have neuroprotective effects. One group of rats received the drugs 12 hours after receiving head injuries in a lab. The other ingested them a full day after. When tested a week later, the mice who received the drugs 12 hours later performed better on two tasks that tested cognition than did injured animals given only a placebo. Rats dosed after 24 hours did better than the placebo group on the easiest of the two tasks.  Minocycline and N-acetylcysteine together worked better than either did alone. “Essentially the effect you see in combination is something you don’t see when giving the drugs in individual doses,” said Michael Sangobowale, a graduate student in the laboratory of Peter Bergold, during a press briefing.

The two drugs also resulted in the preservation of myelin, the sheathing for the long, wire-like axons that stretch out like tentacles from a neuron’s central cell body—a kind of insulation essential for neurons to communicate properly.

The pragmatic approach of repurposing old drugs to meet an acute medical need makes abundant sense, even though it lacks the technological panache of a prototype for a portable PET-scan helmet—other research presented at the conference.  Patents for both minocycline and N-acetylcysteine have expired, a decided advantage because it will keep costs low. N-acetylcysteine can even be purchased over the counter at shops selling supplements. Funding for the research came from the Department of Defense.

The idea for a relatively innocuous concoction that could be administered shortly after an injury is making the rounds. Akiva Cohen of the University of Pennsylvania, who moderated a press conference on traumatic brain injury at the conference at which Sangobawale discussed his work, is also developing a treatment, a kind of sports drink intended to help brain activity return to normal following a hard hit. Cohen didn’t go into details about what’s in the drink, but his laboratory has previouslypublished in Science Translational Medicine on using precursors to the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA—molecules called branched chain amino acids—as potential treatments. Glutamate and GABA balance out brain activity to ensure that neurons are neither over- or under-stimulated.  No one expects a sports drink or the drug combo from SUNY Downstate to work miracles, but even a little protection for the brain tissue of a soldier on patrol or the climber on a remote mountain would be a welcome addition to an ice pack and an aspirin.  

As always, the giant neuroscience gathering that attracts 30,000 or so attendees every year overflowed with early, mostly unpublished, research findings on every imaginable topic related to the three-pound wonder hidden underneath the skull. Traumatic brain injury was no exception. Studies in experimental animals pointed to the disparate effects of a blow to the head. Male and female, for instance, mice display different symptoms. The rodents also experience fearful behaviors reminiscent of PTSD. And, in children, not pups, certain populations of nerve cells are more vulnerable to traumatic brain injury.

The data dump at the brain fest bombarded attendees with information about such advances as the growing understanding of a specialized class of cells that acts as hedge clippers for neurons to make sure they have just the right number of connections to their neighbors, neither too few or too many, so that communication pathways keep humming—it also chronicled how autism or Alzheimer’s might emerge when this process goes awry. 

My pick for the most amusing entry was an abstract with a headline that read: “What Happens to Mouse Hippocampal-Dependent Behavior and Neurogenesis on the Way to Mars? One Small Step for Mousekind.” It summarized a study that showed that exposure to space-like radiation—high-energy silicon particles, for instance—enhances learning and memory in adult mice. Earlier mouse studies had demonstrated that exposure to these particles did the opposite, but the tests were always carried out on young mice. In this case, mature mice learned faster on challenging lab tests after being zapped. This is decidedly good news for NASA, which funded the study. I wonder whether tanning salons will now install their own cosmic ray rooms

Muslim man shows true spirit of Christmas by delivering presents to homeless people

Muslim man shows true spirit of Christmas by delivering presents to homeless people

As a Muslim, Nubaid Haroon, aka Rambo Vlogs, doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but he’s taken to the streets to “spread love” among rough-sleepers






A Muslim man on a mission to “spread peace and love” has captured the true spirit of Christmas – by delivering presents to homeless people.

Nubaid Haroon, also known as Rambo Vlogs on social media, filmed himself giving blankets to people sleeping rough on the streets this winter.

At the beginning of his YouTube clip , he admits that, as a Muslim, he doesn’t particularly celebrate Christmas, but wanted to enter into the giving spirit.

He is then seen presenting festively wrapped blankets to less fortunate people, including Catherine, who has been homeless for 21 years.

Read more : Kind strangers save Christmas for family who had gifts stolen

Other grateful recipients include ex-solider David, 28, who has been on the streets for three years and Teddy, 47, who has spent 12 years sleeping rough.


YouTube / Rambo VlogsRambo Vlogs give presents to homeless people for Christmas
Giving: Nubaid Haroon, aka Rambo Vlogs, delivered Christmas cards to homeless people


Mostly, their reactions are full of shock and gratitude, with many sharing a warm embrace with Nubaid, a young British Asian man.

He says: “I know a lot of YouTubers do giveaways but for me I really wanted to do something for people that needed it the most this Christmas.


YouTube / Rambo VlogsRambo Vlogs give presents to homeless people for Christmas
“Spread the love”: The YouTuber explained why he wanted to help the homeless


“Life is unfair on homeless people and I’m in a more fortunate position than the homeless so I thought it would be nice to be Santa Claus and give out some gifts!

“I wanna spread love and I wanna make people feel appreciated so I was really happy to take on this video and to continue to spread equality!”


YouTube / Rambo VlogsRambo Vlogs give presents to homeless people for Christmas
Heartwarming: Nubaid gave blankets to people, including ex-soldier David


The video, titled “Muslim Gives Presents to Homeless for Christmas” and published on Tuesday, has been viewed thousands of times.

One viewer wrote: “Dude u are so awesome.”


YouTube / Rambo VlogsRambo Vlogs give presents to homeless people for Christmas
Helping the needy: Teddy, who has been homeless for 12 years, received a blanket


Another added: “Love this! I think it’s great that you shared their stories :)”

One of Nubaid’s previous videos shows him offering free hugs as he embarks on his quest to “spread love”.

Follow Nubaid’s adventures at his Twitter profile .

Muslim man shows true spirit of Christmas by delivering presents to homeless people

Muslim man shows true spirit of Christmas by delivering presents to homeless people

As a Muslim, Nubaid Haroon, aka Rambo Vlogs, doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but he’s taken to the streets to “spread love” among rough-sleepers






A Muslim man on a mission to “spread peace and love” has captured the true spirit of Christmas – by delivering presents to homeless people.

Nubaid Haroon, also known as Rambo Vlogs on social media, filmed himself giving blankets to people sleeping rough on the streets this winter.

At the beginning of his YouTube clip , he admits that, as a Muslim, he doesn’t particularly celebrate Christmas, but wanted to enter into the giving spirit.

He is then seen presenting festively wrapped blankets to less fortunate people, including Catherine, who has been homeless for 21 years.

Read more : Kind strangers save Christmas for family who had gifts stolen

Other grateful recipients include ex-solider David, 28, who has been on the streets for three years and Teddy, 47, who has spent 12 years sleeping rough.


YouTube / Rambo VlogsRambo Vlogs give presents to homeless people for Christmas
Giving: Nubaid Haroon, aka Rambo Vlogs, delivered Christmas cards to homeless people


Mostly, their reactions are full of shock and gratitude, with many sharing a warm embrace with Nubaid, a young British Asian man.

He says: “I know a lot of YouTubers do giveaways but for me I really wanted to do something for people that needed it the most this Christmas.


YouTube / Rambo VlogsRambo Vlogs give presents to homeless people for Christmas
“Spread the love”: The YouTuber explained why he wanted to help the homeless


“Life is unfair on homeless people and I’m in a more fortunate position than the homeless so I thought it would be nice to be Santa Claus and give out some gifts!

“I wanna spread love and I wanna make people feel appreciated so I was really happy to take on this video and to continue to spread equality!”


YouTube / Rambo VlogsRambo Vlogs give presents to homeless people for Christmas
Heartwarming: Nubaid gave blankets to people, including ex-soldier David


The video, titled “Muslim Gives Presents to Homeless for Christmas” and published on Tuesday, has been viewed thousands of times.

One viewer wrote: “Dude u are so awesome.”


YouTube / Rambo VlogsRambo Vlogs give presents to homeless people for Christmas
Helping the needy: Teddy, who has been homeless for 12 years, received a blanket


Another added: “Love this! I think it’s great that you shared their stories :)”

One of Nubaid’s previous videos shows him offering free hugs as he embarks on his quest to “spread love”.

Follow Nubaid’s adventures at his Twitter profile .

Muslim volunteer group serves 1,000 meals to homeless on Christmas Eve

Muslim volunteer group serves 1,000 meals to homeless on Christmas Eve


Volunteers with the American Muslim Voice Foundation spent Christmas Eve serving a thousand meals to the homeless at Loaves & Fishes. December 24, 2015


Volunteers with the American Muslim Voice Foundation spent Christmas Eve serving a thousand meals to the homeless at Loaves & Fishes.

Some food items include baked chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes. From buying the groceries, to preparing the food, to actually serving the meals, the volunteers were busy all day.

“Giving one day of our time isn’t that much” first-time volunteer Kiran Fareed said. “Seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces the children and the families is definitely a meaningful experience.”

As an American Muslim who attended Catholic school, Fareed says she knows all too well the importance of standing up for what she knows is or is not a part of her faith.

“When [my non-Muslim friends] hear all these things about Muslims, you know, with so many things being said, [I say to people] look around you and the Muslims you know who are your friends your neighbors and that’s the true faith of Islam,” said Fareed. “That’s what we believe in.”

Whether or not these Muslim volunteers believe in Christmas or not, they all believe in coming together in helping those who need a hand.

“All religions are different, but all religions are the same,” said Khalid Saeed, the President of the American Muslim Voice Foundation. “As a human, we are serving humanity. I’m a very proud Muslim, but I’m American also.”

ചിക്കൻ കൊണ്ടാട്ടം

ചിക്കൻ കൊണ്ടാട്ടം – 

Chicken Kondattam


വേണ്ട സാധനങ്ങൾ

— ———————————

കോഴി — ചെറിയ കഷ്ണങ്ങളാക്കി മുറിച്ചത്

കൊണ്ടാട്ട മുളക് (തൈര് മുളക് ) – തണ്ട് മാറ്റി ക്രഷ് ചെയ്തത്

ചെറിയുള്ളി – ചതച്ചത്

പച്ചമുളക് ,ഇഞ്ചി ,വെളുത്തുള്ളി – ചതച്ചത്

തേങ്ങ ചിരകിയത്

അരിപ്പൊടി വറ്റല് മുളക് – തണ്ട് മാറ്റി ക്രഷ് ചെയ്തത്

പൊടികൾ – മഞ്ഞൾ ,മുളക് ,മല്ലി ,ഉപ്പ് ,കുരുമുളക് ,ഗരം മസാല

വിനാഗിരി അല്ലെങ്കിൽ നാരങ്ങാ നീര്

പുദീനയില – ഉണക്കി പൊടിച്ചത്


കറി വേപ്പില

എണ്ണ –



തയ്യാറാക്കുന്ന വിധം

— ———————————

ആദ്യം കോഴി കഷ്ണങ്ങളിൽ ടൂത്ത് പിക്ക് കൊണ്ട് നല്ല കുത്ത് വച്ച് കൊടുക്കുക ,(ചെറിയ സുഷിരങ്ങളിലൂടെ കൊണ്ടാട്ട മുളകിന്റെ എസെന്സ് ഇറങ്ങി ചെല്ലാൻ വേണ്ടിയാണു ഇത്),

ഇനി ക്രഷ് ചെയ്തു വച്ചിരിക്കുന്ന കൊണ്ടാട്ട മുളകിൽ കുറച്ചും , മഞ്ഞപ്പൊടിയും ,ഉപ്പും , മുളക് പൊടിയും ,അരിപ്പൊടിയും(അരക്കിലോ ചിക്കന് 5-6 സ്പൂണ്‍) ആവിശ്യത്തിന് ചേർത്ത് ഒരൽപം വെള്ളവും ചേർത്ത്(കോഴിയിൽ വെള്ളമയം ഉണ്ടെങ്കിൽ വേണ്ട) നന്നായി ഇളക്കി കുഴച്ചു ഒരു രണ്ടു മണിക്കൂർ വയ്ക്കാം.

അതിനു ശേഷം എണ്ണയിൽ മുക്കി പൊരിച്ചു മാറ്റി വയ്ക്കാം ,എണ്ണയിൽ ബാക്കി വരുന്ന പൊടിയും എടുത്തു വയ്ക്കണം .

ഇനി മറ്റൊരു പാനിൽ ചെറു ചൂടിൽ എണ്ണയില്ലാതെ തേങ്ങയും വറ്റല് മുളകും ചേർത്തു ഒന്ന് മൂപ്പിച്ചു മാറ്റി വയ്ക്കാം ,ഒരു ഇരുപതു സെക്കണ്ട് മൂപ്പിച്ചാൽ മതി ,അധികം ബ്രൌണ്‍ ആകരുത് .

ഇനി ഇതിൽ നിന്നും പകുതി എടുത്തു വിനാഗിരി ഉഴിച്ചു നല്ല പേസ്റ്റ് പരുവത്തിൽ അരച്ചെടുത്ത് വയ്ക്കുക.

ഇനി പാനിൽ എണ്ണ ഉഴിച്ചു ജീരകം പൊട്ടിച്ചു ഉള്ളി ചതച്ചത് ചേർത്ത് നന്നായി വഴറ്റണം , വഴണ്ട് വരുമ്പോൾ പച്ചമുളക് ,ഇഞ്ചി ,വെളുത്തുള്ളി എന്നിവ ചതച്ചത് ചേർത്ത് നന്നായി മൂപ്പിക്കുക , മൂത്ത് കഴിഞ്ഞു പൊടികൾ ചേർത്തു നന്നായി വഴറ്റിയതിനു ശേഷം വിനാഗിരി ഉഴിച്ച പേസ്റ്റ് ചേർത്തു ഒന്നുകൂടെ വഴറ്റുക ,

ഇനി തേങ്ങയും വറ്റല് മുളക് മൂപ്പിച്ചതും കറിവേപ്പിലയും ചേർത്തു ഹൈ ഫ്ലെയിമിൽ വഴറ്റണം ,

വിനാഗിരി വറ്റി വരുമ്പോൾ ചിക്കൻ ചേർത്തു കൊടുക്കുക ,ഒപ്പം പുദീനയും കൊണ്ടാട്ട മുളകിന്റെ ബാക്കിയും ചേർക്കുക …

ചിക്കനും മസാലയും കൂടി നന്നായി യോജിച്ചു വരുമ്പോൾ അരക്കപ്പ് വെള്ളം ഉഴിച്ചു ഒന്ന് കൂടി ഇളക്കി ചെറുതീയിൽ ഒരഞ്ചു മിനിട്ട് വയ്ക്കാം ,

ഇനി മല്ലിയില തൂകി സെർവ് ചെയ്യാം …

* * ഉപ്പ് ചേർക്കുമ്പോൾ ശ്രദ്ധിക്കുക ,കൊണ്ടാട്ട മുളകിലും മറ്റും ഉപ്പ് ഉണ്ട്.ഗ്രേവി ടൈപ്പ് വേണ്ടവർക്ക് തക്കാളി സൊസോ പേസ്റ്റൊ ചേർക്കാം.ചോറും പുളിശ്ശേരിയും കൂട്ടിയാണ് കഴിക്കാറ്   ​

Forgotten Indian history: The brutal Maratha invasions of Bengal

Forgotten Indian history: The brutal Maratha invasions of Bengal

For medieval India history, incidents that don’t fit into an overarching Hindu versus Muslim narrative tend to be removed from popular discourse. The 1741 Maratha invasion of Bengal is one such example.
Shoaib Daniyal  · Dec 21, 2015 · 10:30 am
Forgotten Indian history: The brutal Maratha invasions of Bengal
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Road names often have a story to tell. In Calcutta, given its long continuous history, even more so.  One of those is the curiously named Marhatta Ditch Lane in Baghbazar in North Calcutta.

The lane refers to an actual ditch built in the 1740s along what was then the northern extremity of Calcutta. Its purpose? To stop the marauding bands of Maratha cavalry who were pillaging Bengal at the time.

In 1741, the cavalry of Raghoji Bhosle, the Maratha ruler of Nagpur, started to pillage western Bengal under the command of Bhaskar Pandit. Bengalis called these Marathas “Bargis” which is a corruption of the Marathi word, “bargir” (etymology: Persian) which means “light cavalry”. Malik Ambar, the celebrated Prime Minister of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate, had instituted the Deccan practice of guerrilla warfare, which at that time took the name bargir-giri. These swift hit-and-run guerrilla tactics became a part of the military heritage of the Deccan, being used to great effect by Shivaji and, eventually, by the Marathas against the hapless residents of Bengal.


In the 1740s, the bargir-giri of Bhosle’s army confounded the forces of Nawab Alivardi Khan, the ruler of Bengal. While the Bengali army tried its best and even defeated the Marathas in the few times they fought head-to-head, most of the time, the Maratha cavalry would simply skirt the Khan’s slow-moving infantry, being interested only in looting.

In the 10 years that they plundered Bengal, their effect was devastating, causing great human hardship as well as economic privation. Contemporary Dutch sources believed that the Bargis killed 4 lakh Bengalis and a great many merchants in western Bengal, writes historian PJ Marshal, “were permanently crippled by losses and extractions”.

In the Maharashtra Purana, a poem in Bengali written by Gangaram, the poet describes the destruction caused by the raiders in great detail:

This time none escaped,
Brahmanas, and Vaisnavas, Sannyasis, and householders,
all had the same fate, and cows were massacred along with men.

So great was the terror of the Bargi that, in a Gabbar-esque twist, lullabies were composed in which mothers would use the fear of a Maratha raid to get their children to go to sleep. These poems are popular amongst Bengalis even today. One of them went something like this:

Chhele ghumalo, paada judaalo bargi elo deshe 
Bulbulite dhaan kheyechhe, khaajnaa debo kishe?
Dhaan phurolo, paan phurolo, khaajnaar opay ki?
Aar kotaa din shobur koro, roshoon boonechhi 

A very inelegant translation:

When the children fall asleep, silence sets in, the Bargis come to our country
Birds have eaten the grain, how shall I pay the tax (to the Bargi)?
All our food and drink is over, how shall I pay the tax?
Wait for a few days, I have sown garlic.

The ditchers of Calcutta

Not only did the Bargis loot the countryside, but in a sign of their effectiveness, managed to raid the capital of Bengal, Murshidabad and even sack the house of one of the richest Indians at the time, the Marwari banker, Jagat Seth.

In spite of this, the Marathas never did attack Calcutta, in all probability being paid off by the British. The ditch, though, did serve to provide citizens with a nickname: ditchers, i.e everyone who lived south of the ditch, in “proper” Calcutta. Eventually the ditch was filled up and was made into what is now Upper Circular Road.

After a decade of pillage, the Marathas eventually stopped their raids after the harried Nawab, accepting defeat, handed over Orissa to Raghoji Bhosle.

Past through the lens of the present

Of course, as Aakar Patel points out in his column, this history of the Marathas is usually never given popular currency. The Marathas are often portrayed as a proto-national force, acting as agents of either India or Hindu nationalism. This is a common tendency and modern nations often construct myths where they extend themselves back into time. Many Pakistanis imagine that its Islamic nationalism existed during the time of Qutb-ud-din Aibak and many Indians think that a Hindu nationalism was furthered by the Marathas looking to set up a – to use Vinayak Savarkar’s term – “Hindu Pad Padshahi”.

Ironically, the very phrase “Hindu Pad Padshahi” is taken entirely from the Persian language, showing how seamless the transition was from the so-called Muslim Deccan sultanates and the Mughals to the so-called Hindu Marathas. And, of course, such a simplistic view of history must also leave out pillaging bands of Marathas attacking a predominantly “Hindu” West Bengal even as a “Muslim” Nawab struggles to push them out. Today’s India is so caught up with the binaries of “Hindu” and “Muslim” that it tends to see the past in those terms as well. But the past is a different country.

Note: an earlier version of this article referred to the existence of semaphore towers in Bengal being connected to the Bargi raids. This is incorrect and has been removed.

Why the Rajputs failed miserably in battle for centuries

What our textbooks don’t tell us: Why the Rajputs failed miserably in battle for centuries

They were defeated by Ghazni, Ghuri, Khilji, Babur, Akbar, the Marathas and the British.
Girish Shahane  · May 20, 2015 · 09:00 am
What our textbooks don't tell us: Why the Rajputs failed miserably in battle for centuries

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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The home minister, Rajnath Singh, wishes our school textbooks told us more about the Rajput king Rana Pratap, and less about the Mughal emperor Akbar. I, on the other hand, wish they explained why Rajputs fared so miserably on the battlefield.

A thousand years ago, Rajput kings ruled much of North India. Then they lost to Ghazni, lost to Ghuri, lost to Khilji, lost to Babur, lost to Akbar, lost to the Marathas, and keeled over before the British. The Marathas and Brits hardly count since the Rajputs were a spent force by the time Akbar was done with them. Having been confined to an arid part of the subcontinent by the early Sultans, they were reduced to vassals by the Mughals.

The three most famous Rajput heroes not only took a beating in crucial engagements, but also retreated from the field of battle. Prithviraj Chauhan was captured while bolting and executed after the second battle of Tarain in 1192 CE, while Rana Sanga got away after losing to Babur at Khanua in 1527, as did Rana Pratap after the battle of Haldighati in 1576. To compensate for, or explain away, these debacles, the bards of Rajputana replaced history with legend.

Specialists in failure

It is worth asking, surely, what made Rajputs such specialists in failure. Yet, the question hardly ever comes up. When it does, the usual explanation is that the Rajputs faced Muslim invaders whose fanaticism was their strength. Nothing could be further than the truth. Muslim rulers did use the language of faith to energise their troops, but commitment is only the first step to victory. The Rajputs themselves never lacked commitment, and their courage invariably drew the praise of their enemies. Even a historian as fundamentalist as Badayuni rhapsodised about Rajput valour. Babur wrote that his troops were unnerved, ahead of the Khanua engagement, by the reputed fierceness of Rana Sanga’s forces, their willingness to fight to the death.

Let’s cancel out courage and fanaticism as explanations, then, for each side displayed these in equal measure. What remains is discipline, technical and technological prowess, and tactical acumen. In each of these departments, the Rajputs were found wanting. Their opponents, usually Turkic, used a complex battle plan involving up to five different divisions. Fleet, mounted archers would harry opponents at the start, and often make a strategic retreat, inducing their enemy to charge into an ambush. Behind these stood the central division and two flanks. While the centre absorbed the brunt of the enemy’s thrust, the flanks would wheel around to surround and hem in opponents. Finally, there was a reserve that could be pressed into action wherever necessary. Communication channels between divisions were quick and answered to a clear hierarchy that was based largely on merit.

Contrast this with the Rajput system, which was simple, predictable, and profoundly foolish, consisting of a headlong attack with no Plan B. In campaigns against forces that had come through the Khyber Pass, Rajputs usually had a massive numerical advantage. Prithviraj’s troops outnumbered Ghuri’s at the second battle of Tarain by perhaps three to one. At Khanua, Rana Sanga commanded at least four soldiers for every one available to Babur. Unlike Sanga’s forces, though, Babur’s were hardy veterans. After defeating Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat, the founder of the Mughal dynasty had the option of using the generals he inherited from the Delhi Sultan, but preferred to stick with soldiers he trusted. He knew numbers are meaningless except when acting on a coherent strategy under a unified command. Rajput troops rarely answered to one leader, because each member of the confederacy would have his own prestige and ego to uphold. Caste considerations made meritocracy impossible. The enemy general might be a freed Abyssinian slave, but Rajput leadership was decided by clan membership.

Absent meritocratic promotion, an established chain of command, a good communication system, and a contingency plan, Rajput forces were regularly taken apart by the opposition’s mobile cavalry. Occasionally, as with the composite bows and light armour of Ghuri’s horsemen, or the matchlocks employed by Babur, technological advances played a role in the outcome.

Ossified tactics

What’s astonishing is that centuries of being out-thought and out-manoeuvred had no impact on the Rajput approach to war. Rana Pratap used precisely the same full frontal attack at Haldighati in 1576 that had failed so often before. Haldighati was a minor clash by the standards of Tarain and Khanua. Pratap was at the head of perhaps 3,000 men and faced about 5,000 Mughal troops. The encounter was far from the Hindu Rajput versus Muslim confrontation it is often made out to be. Rana Pratap had on his side a force of Bhil archers, as well as the assistance of Hakim Shah of the Sur clan, which had ruled North India before Akbar’s rise to power. Man Singh, a Rajput who had accepted Akbar’s suzerainty and adopted the Turko-Mongol battle plan led the Mughal troops. Though Pratap’s continued rebellion following his defeat at Haldighati was admirable in many ways, he was never anything more than an annoyance to the Mughal army. That he is now placed, in the minds of many Indians, on par with Akbar or on a higher plane says much about the twisted communal politics of the subcontinent.

There’s one other factor that is thought to have contributed substantially to Rajput defeats: the opium habit. Taking opium was established practice among Rajputs in any case, but they considerably upped the quantity they consumed when going into battle. Several ended up in no fit state to process any instruction beyond, “kill or be killed”. Opium rendered some soldiers incapable of coordinating complex manoeuvres. There’s an apt warning for school kids: don’t do drugs, or you’ll squander an empire.

Bajirao was Not a Hindu Nationalist, All He Fought For Was Chauth – A Form Of Tax!

Bajirao, No Hindu Nationalist, Was Hated By Most. All He Fought For Was Chauth – A Form Of Tax!

December 20, 2015


Bajirao mastani


I think I’ll write about Bajirao Mastani today. I have not seen the movie, nor do I intend to (only one Gujarati makes the cut as director of watchable pap and that is neither Sanjay Leela Bhansali nor Sajid Nadiadwala, but Manmohan Desai, a true master).

However, I have read Bajirao Mastani’s reviews and one of them said to my alarm, that the film “explores the romantic side of 18th-century Maratha general Bajirao Ballal Bhat, who fought and won 40 battles against the Mughals with an aim to create a unified Hindu kingdom or Akhand Bharatvarsha”.

Whoa, hold it right there. First, the Marathas only ever wanted a Marathi kingdom for themselves. It was not unified, hardly akhand and never Hindu. The Marathas were despised by other Hindu rulers, and disliked by non-Marathi Hindus as well, as history shows us.

Bajirao and the Marathas campaigned for one thing alone, and it was called chauth. It meant a fourth of all revenue from other kingdoms, no matter what the faith of king and subject, and at collecting this Bajirao and the rest were efficient.

Maratha extortion caused Jaipur’s Ishwari Singh to commit suicide in December 1750. Sir Jadunath Sarkar (the Manmohan Desai of our historians) writes of what followed in his four-volume classic, Fall of the Mughal Empire: “On 10 January, some 4,000 Marathas entered Jaipur… (and) despising the helpless condition of a king propped up by their arms, seemed to have behaved towards Jaipur as a city taken by storm. Suddenly the pent-up hatred of the Rajputs burst forth; a riot broke out at noon, and the citizens attacked the unsuspecting Marathas. For nine hours slaughter and pillage raged.”

Bajirao Mastani


The Marathas first invaded Bengal in 1742. Of their behaviour, the New Cambridge History of India tells us that “all authorities, both Indian and European are agreed”. A contemporary writer calls them “slayers of pregnant women and infants” and Sarkar has recorded their gang-rape of Hindu women, inexplicably stuffing the mouths of their victims with dust and breaking their arms and tying them behind their backs. The only Indian to try and protect his subjects against the Marathas incidentally, was the Mughal governor Ali Vardi Khan. So much for Akhand Bharat. But I must say that the Marathas did not behave differently from any other ruler or warrior community, and the idea of a unified Hindu sentiment exists only in the imagination of those who get their history from the movies.

What the Marathas did striking north from the south, the Sikhs did in the opposite direction (they called their extortion ‘rakhi’, or protection, and it was 10% for all Indians). It is undeniably true on the other hand that the Marathas were originals.

It is important for this romance between Bajirao and Mastani that she knew how to ride well because there were no palanquins and howdahs travelling with the Marathas as there were with the Mughals.

Bajirao Mastani

The Marathas were the Mongols of South Asia, always on horseback, and with no infantry and no giant camp behind. Even the scavengers who followed them around, the bargis, rode. When the monsoons ended, the Maratha army, about 40,000 men, rode across the Narmada and Tapi, the border that marked off the Deccan, and attacked ‘Hindustan’.

Shivaji always organised this on a particular day: Dussehra (Bal Thackeray continued this tradition of declaring war on other Indians with his fiery Dussehra speeches). After the death of the peasant king, power passed to the Brahmin peshwas of whom the best was Bajirao. As the Mughal fighting ability and finances (the two being interchangeable) declined after Aurangzeb, the Marathas began penetrating increasingly into hitherto unknown territory in the north. It was the young Bajirao, then only in his teens, who determined, rightly, in one of these raids that the Mughals had gone soft and could no longer defend the realm.

From this point on, the Marathas began holding ground instead of just taking their horses back. It is why we see Marathi names like Holkar and Scindia and Gaekwad in parts of India they do not naturally belong. Everyone grabbed what they could and held onto it, there was no Hindu or Bharat angle to any of it.

Bajirao had one good battlefield victory, against Chin Qilich Khan, first Nizam of Hyderabad. It was a positional win, meaning the arrangement of Bajirao’s force gave no space for Khan and he gave up without much fighting. Like chess. A similar situation came in Panipat, when Abdali positioned the Marathas out. Bravely, the Marathas chose to fight and were slaughtered. Scindia (Jyotiraditya’s ancestor) and Holkar, it may interest the reader, fled the field, and the man who helped Abdali with supplies ensuring his win was Ala Singh. Abdali rewarded him by making him Maharaja of Patiala, Captain Amarinder Singh’s ancestor.

Can you spot any Hindu or nationalist angle to any of it? No, because it exists only in the movies.

How Beautiful is Lebanon

41 Photos to Remind You How Beautiful Lebanon Is

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We dedicate this post to Mohammad Shaar, who inspired the #NotAMartyr selfie protest, and all those who participated, including @daniellemrad@mayafawaz and @thisisjad, as well as to all the Lebanese respondents to this survey who said they were less than proud to be citizens of Lebanon.

Here are some photos to remind you how beautiful Lebanon is – because, simply, it’s been easy for us to forget.


Adonis Waterfalls, Afqa (Via)


Adonis Waterfalls, Afqa (Via)

Anjar (Via)


Anjar (Via)

Barouk Cedars (Via)


Barouk Cedars (Via)

Batroun (Via)


Batroun (Via)

Bcharri (Via)


Bcharri (Via)

Bcharri (Via)


Bcharri (Via)

Bcharri, Qadisha Valley, northern Lebanon (Via)


Bcharri, Qadisha Valley, northern Lebanon (Via)

Faqra (Via)


Faqra (Via)



Faqra Castle (Via)

Faraya (Via)


Faraya (Via)

Faraya (Via)


Faraya (Via)

Hammana (Via)


Hammana (Via)

Hasroun (Via)


Hasroun (Via)

Jbeil (Via)


Jbeil (Via)

Jeita Grotto (Via)


Jeita Grotto (Via)

Jezzine (Via)


Jezzine (Via)

Jounieh Bay (Via)


Jounieh Bay (Via)

Maad (Via)


Maad (Via)

Mar Charbel (Via)


Mar Charbel (Via)

Mohammad Al Amin Mosque (Via)


Mohammad Al Amin Mosque (Via)

RIP Mohammad Shaar (Via)


RIP Mohammed Shaar (Via)

Moukhtara (Via)">Via)


Moukhtara (Via)”>Via)

Mount Lebanon (Via)


Mount Lebanon (Via)

Mzar (Via)


Mzar (Via)

Nahr El Ibrahim (Via)


Nahr El Ibrahim (Via)

North Lebanon (Via)


North Lebanon (Via)

Sarma (Via)


Sarma (Via)

Sidon Sea Castle (Via)


Sidon Sea Castle (Via)

Tannourine (Via)


Tannourine (Via)







Mount Lebanon Panorama (Via)


Panorama view from Mount Lebanon (Via)




Beirut (Via)


Beirut (Via)

Beirut (Via)


Beirut (Via)

Beirut Street Art (Via)


Beirut Street Art (Via)

Beirut (Via)


Beirut (Via)

Beirut (Via)


Beirut (Via)

Beirut (Via)


Beirut (Via)

Beirut by Zena Assi (Via)


Beirut by Zena Assi (Via)




How Beautiful is Saudi Arabia

37 Photos to Remind You 

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The KSA gets a bad rep sometimes, and with the day-to-day rat race of work and traffic and life, it’s easy to forget how visually stunning the kingdom is.

Take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous aesthetics of Saudi Arabia with these beautiful photos:


Hail (A. Aziz bin Hajjaj Via)


Hail (A. Aziz bin Hajjaj Via)


Hail (Via)


Hail (Via)


Dawadmi (Khalid A. Al-Saif Via)


Dawadmi (Khalid A. Al-Saif Via)


(Abdulhameed Shamandour Via)


(Abdulhameed Shamandour Via)


Al Khobar (Mohammed Al-Jawi Via)


Al Khobar (Mohammed Al-Jawi Via)


Al Masjid An Nabawi (Muneeb Mohamed Via)


Al Masjid An Nabawi (Muneeb Mohamed Via)


Al Masjid An Nabawi (Via)


Al Masjid An Nabawi (Via)


(Salem Al Atwi Via)


(Salem Al Atwi Via)


Boulders Beach (Osama Khaled )


Boulders Beach (Osama Khaled Via)


Angawi House, Jeddah (Souvenirs Heureux Via)


Angawi House, Jeddah (Souvenirs Heureux Via)


Jeddah (Via)




Corniche, Jeddah (Bilal Ahmad Via)


Corniche, Jeddah (Bilal Ahmad Via)


Old Jeddah (Souvenirs Heureux Via)


Old Jeddah (Souvenirs Heureux Via)


(Farhan Al-Salman )


(Farhan Al-Salman Via)


Gulf of Saudi Arabia (Ali Areda Via)


Gulf of Saudi Arabia (Ali Areda Via)


(Karim Hussain Via)


(Karim Hussain Via)


(Khalid A. Al-Saif Via)


(Khalid A. Al-Saif Via)


(Mohammed Al-Jawi Via)


(Mohammed Al-Jawi Via)


(Abdulhameed Shamandour Via)


(Abdulhameed Shamandour Via)


Nabatean Characters in Madan Saleh (Souvenirs Heureux Via)


Nabatean Characters in Madan Saleh (Souvenirs Heureux Via)


Old Nabatean Settlement (Souvenirs Heureux Via)


Old Nabatean Settlement (Souvenirs Heureux Via)


(Osama Khaled )


(Osama Khaled Via)


Riyadh (Saad Mdawi AlAhmari Via)


Riyadh (Saad Mdawi AlAhmari Via)


Summan (Khaled Al Juhaim)


Summan (Khaled Al JuhaimVia)


Makkah (Via)


Makkah (Via)


An aerial view of Makkah ()


An aerial view of Makkah (Via)


Haram, Makkah (Via)


Haram, Makkah (Via)


Cave of Hira, Mecca (A. Shamandour )


Cave of Hira, Mecca (A. Shamandour Via)


A view of Al Wajd from the International Space Station


A view of Al Wajd from the International Space Station


Desert near the oasis city of Al-Ula (Danita Delimont/Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Desert near the oasis city of Al-Ula (Danita Delimont/Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Asir Mountains (Via)


Asir Mountains (Via)






Darb Zubaidah (Via)


Darb Zubaidah (Via)


Great Gorge near Tabuk  (Via)


Great Gorge near Tabuk (Via)


Madain Saleh (Via)


Madain Saleh (Via)


Madain Saleh (Via)


Madain Saleh (Via)


Najran (Via)


Najran (Via)

Secret £14million Bible in which ‘Jesus predicts coming of Prophet Muhammad’ unearthed in Turkey

Secret £14million Bible in which ‘Jesus predicts coming of Prophet Muhammad’ unearthed in Turkey

  • Vatican ‘wants to see’ 1,500-year-old ancient script
  • Has been hidden by Turkish state for 12 years
  • Handwritten in gold-lettered Aramaic



A secret Bible in which Jesus is believed to predict the coming of the Prophet Muhammad to Earth has sparked serious interest from the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI is claimed to want to see the 1,500-year-old book, which many say is the Gospel of Barnabas, that has been hidden by the Turkish state for the last 12 years.

The £14million handwritten gold lettered tome, penned in Jesus’ native Aramaic language, is said to contain his early teachings and a prediction of the Prophet’s coming.

Secret Bible: The 1,500-year-old tome was is said to contain Jesus' early teachings and a prediction of the Prophet's coming

Secret Bible: The 1,500-year-old tome was is said to contain Jesus’ early teachings and his prediction of the Prophet’s coming

Ancient: The leather-bound text, written on animal hide, was discovered by Turkish police during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000

Ancient: The leather-bound text, written on animal hide, was discovered by Turkish police during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000

The leather-bound text, written on animal hide, was discovered by Turkish police during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000.

It was closely guarded until 2010, when it was finally handed over to the Ankara Ethnography Museum, and will soon be put back on public display following a minor restoration.

A photocopy of a single page from the handwritten ancient manuscript is thought to be worth £1.5million.


Turkish culture and tourism minister Ertugrul Gunay said the book could be an authentic version of the Gospel, which was suppressed by the Christian Church for its strong parallels with the Islamic view of Jesus.

He also said the Vatican had made an official request to see the scripture – a controversial text which Muslims claim is an addition to the original gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

In line with Islamic belief, the Gospel treats Jesus as a human being and not a God.

Serious interest: The Vatican, under Pope Benedict XVI, is said to want to see the recently re-discovered Bible

Serious interest: The Vatican, under Pope Benedict XVI, is said to want to see the recently re-discovered Bible

Historic: The £14million handwritten gold lettered tome is penned in Jesus' native Aramaic language

Historic: The £14million handwritten gold lettered tome is penned in Jesus’ native Aramaic language

It rejects the ideas of the Holy Trinity and the Crucifixion and reveals that Jesus predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad.

In one version of the gospel, he is said to have told a priest: ‘How shall the Messiah be called? Muhammad is his blessed name’.


Born in Cyprus as Joseph, Barnabas was an Early Christian later named an apostle.

His story appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul mentions him in some of his epistles.

The date, place, and circumstances of his death are historically unverifiable.

But Christian tradition states that he was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus.

He is traditionally identified as the founder of the Cypriot Church, with his feast day on June 11.

And in another Jesus denied being the Messiah, claiming that he or she would be Ishmaelite, the term used for an Arab.

Despite the interest in the newly re-discovered book, some believe it is a fake and only dates back to the 16th century.

The oldest copies of the book date back to that time, and are written in Spanish and Italian.

Protestant pastor İhsan Özbek said it was unlikely to be authentic.

This is because St Barnabas lived in the first century and was one of the Apostles of Jesus, in contrast to this version which is said to come from the fifth or sixth century.


He told the Today Zaman newspaper: ‘The copy in Ankara might have been written by one of the followers of St Barnabas.

‘Since there is around 500 years in between St Barnabas and the writing of the Bible copy, Muslims may be disappointed to see that this copy does not include things they would like to see.

‘It might have no relation with the content of the Gospel of Barnabas.’

Theology professor Ömer Faruk Harman said a scientific scan of the bible may be the only way to reveal how old it really is.


Read more: 
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Did Cancer Evolve to Protect Us?

Did Cancer Evolve to Protect Us?

A physics-based, “atavistic” model posits that cancer is a “safe mode” for stressed cells and suggests that oxygen and immunotherapy are the best ways to beat the disease

A new theory declares cancer is the reexpression of an ancient “preprogrammed” trait that has been lying dormant. 
Credit: National Cancer Institute via Wikimedia Commons

Could cancer be our cells’ way of running in “safe mode,” like a damaged computer operating system trying to preserve itself, when faced with an external threat? That’s the conclusion reached by cosmologist Paul Daviesat Arizona State University in Tempe (A.S.U.) and his colleagues, who have devised a controversial new theory for cancer’s origins, based on its evolutionary roots. If correct, their model suggests that a number of alternative therapies, including treatment with oxygen and infection with viral or bacterial agents, could be particularly effective.

At first glance, Davies, who is trained in physics rather than biomedical science, seems an unlikely soldier in the “war on cancer.” But about seven years ago he was invited to set up a new institute at A.S.U.—one of 12 funded by the National Cancer Institute—to bring together physical scientists and oncologists to find a new perspective on the disease. “We were asked to rethink cancer from the bottom up,” Davies says.

Davies teamed up with Charley Lineweaver, an astrobiologist at The Australian National University in Canberra, and Mark Vincent, an oncologist at the London Health Sciences Center in Ontario. Together they have come up with an “atavistic” model positing cancer is the reexpression of an ancient “preprogrammed” trait that has been lying dormant. In a new paper, which appeared in BioEssays in September, they argue that because cancer appears in many animals and plants, as well as humans, then it must have evolved hundreds of millions of years ago when we shared a common single-celled ancestor. At that time, cells benefited from immortality, or the ability to proliferate unchecked, as cancer does. When complex multicellular organisms developed, however, “immortality was outsourced to the eggs and sperm,” Davies says, and somatic cells (those not involved in reproduction) no longer needed this function.

The team’s hypothesis is that when faced with an environmental threat to the health of a cell—radiation, say, or a lifestyle factor—cells can revert to a “preprogrammed safe mode.” In so doing, the cells jettison higher functionality and switch their dormant ability to proliferate back on in a misguided attempt to survive. “Cancer is a fail-safe,” Davies remarks. “Once the subroutine is triggered, it implements its program ruthlessly.”

Speaking at a medical engineering conference held at Imperial College London, on September 11, Davies outlined a set of therapies for cancer based on this atavistic model. Rather than simply attacking cancer’s ability to reproduce, or “cancer’s strength,” as Davies terms it, the model exposes “cancer’s Achilles’ heel.” For instance, if the theory is correct, then cancer evolved at a time when Earth’s environment was more acidic and contained less oxygen. So the team predicts that treating patients with high levels of oxygen and reducing sugar in their diet, to lower acidity, will strain the cancer and cause tumors to shrink.

The effects of oxygen level on cancer have been independently investigated for many years and appear to support Davies’s ideas, saysCostantino Balestra, a physiologist at Paul Henri Spaak School and the Free University of Brussels, both in Belgium. In unpublished work that has been submitted for peer review, for instance, Balestra and his colleagues have recently demonstrated that slightly elevated oxygen levels can begin to induce leukemia cell death without harming healthy cells. “It almost looks too easy,” Balestra says. “Our preliminary results seem to show that supplying a little extra oxygen for one or two hours a day, in combination with other traditional cancer therapies, would benefit patients without any harsh side effects.” Balestra emphasizes, however, that this work was not carried out to test Davies’s hypothesis and cannot be taken as proof that the atavistic model is correct.

Davies and his colleagues also advocate immunotherapy—specifically, selectively infecting patients with bacterial or viral agents. Medical researchers are already investigating the promising effects of such an approach for artificially boosting patients’ immune systems to aid in their recovery. Immunotherapy has already performed well in treating melanomas, for instance, and its effects on other cancers are being studied. According to the atavistic model, however, in addition to invigorating the immune system, cancer cells should also be more vulnerable than healthy cells to being killed by infectious agents because they lose higher protective functionality when they “reboot into safe mode,” Davies says. Recent studies injecting clostridium spores in rats, dogs and a human patient also appear to support this interpretation, he says.

Some scientists, such as David Gorski, a surgical oncologist at Wayne State University, remain skeptical. “The ‘predictions’ of atavism are nothing that scientists haven’t come to by other paths,” he says.

Davies and his colleagues have already begun a more direct test of their theory, in answer to such criticisms. “The key to our theory is looking at the ages of the genes responsible for cancer,” Davies explains. The atavistic model claims that with the onset of cancer, cells revert to a more primitive mode and more recently evolved functions are switched off. The team therefore predicts that as cancer progresses, more recently evolved genes should lose function, whereas ancient genes become active.

To check if this hypothesis is correct, Davies and his colleagues are currently cross-referencing data from the cancer genome atlas, which identifies the genes that are involved in cancer, with various databases that classify the genes that we have in common with other species. The latter data set enables biologists to trace back genes’ ages. Any correlation that exists between the gene age and cancer will be a boost to the atavistic model. “Combining the two data sets hasn’t been done before,” Davies says. “But it’s essentially a data-mining exercise that doesn’t take much money and it’s something we’re working on now.”

Brendon Coventry, a surgical oncologist and immunotherapist at the University of Adelaide in Australia, sees value in physicists working with oncologists to piece together existing medical evidence to try to understand cancer’s origins. “Enormous amounts of money and the brightest minds in biological and medical science have failed to make a big impact in the war on cancer, so maybe it’s time for a new paradigm,” Coventry says, adding: “A cosmologist can look at the cell as an ‘internal universe’ to be explored in a new way.”


Paul Davies: Physics Could Help Fight Cancer [Podcast]
April 13, 2011

Interdisciplinary Research Partnerships Set Out to Uncover the Physics of Cancer
December 27, 2010

It’s the “clock kid” all over again: A 12-year-old Sikh boy is the latest victim of racist terrorism paranoia

It’s the “clock kid” all over again: A 12-year-old Sikh boy is the latest victim of racist terrorism paranoia

In Dallas, Armaan Singh Sarai spent 3 days in juvenile detention after a classmate said his backpack held a bomb



It's the "clock kid" all over again: A 12-year-old Sikh boy is the latest victim of racist terrorism paranoiaArmaan Singh (Credit: The Dallas Morning News)

Imagine that your twelve-year-old son doesn’t come home one day after school. You’re always worried about him because he’s not even a teenager but has already required three open heart surgeries thanks to a congenital condition. He’s not a tough kid but a “goofball,” and you’ve recently moved from San Antonio to Arlington, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, where everything is bigger, including the trouble. Nobody is telling you where he is. Nobody will answer your questions. He’s just…disappeared.


School officials aren’t helping. Neither are the police. Eventually, you discover that he’s being held in a juvenile detention center. He’s born and raised in Texas. An American citizen. A kid.

Why did the Arlington police hold a twelve-year-old boy with a heart condition for three days without alerting his parents? Why did the school principal call the police in the first place?

Because his name is Armaan Singh Sarai, his working-class Indian family is Sikh, and a “bully” at his school accused him of having a bomb in his backpack.

According to a Facebook post by Ginee Haer, who identifies herself as his cousin,

“On Friday, December 11th, 2015, my cousin attended school, like any other normal 12 year old child. A bully in class thought it would be funny to accuse him of having a bomb, and so the principal, without any questioning, interrogation, or notification to his parents, called the police. Worried & frightened at home, his family was concerned as to why he had not reached home right after school. They started calling every police department in the area, only to find out he was sent to a Juvenile facility. They kept him held behind bars for three consecutive days, before finally releasing him on Monday, December 15th.”

Armaan had carried a “power bag” to school, meaning his backpack has a built-in battery charger for a cell phone. Numerous companies sell these bags, which are not cheap but popular enough to be sold out right now in several styles and categories on Amazon. “The student in front of me, who is the one who made the accusation. . . said that [the backpack] looked like a bomb,” [Armaan] Singh said, per a report in the Washington Post. “Then Friday. . . I came back to that period and he was in front of me again and he said ‘I’m going to go tell on you. I’m going to go tell on you and say all this stuff about you. I’m going to go tell on you.’ Singh said he laughed at the other student, who did the same.

But the other student wasn’t joking. He made good on his threat, telling the teacher that Armaan had a bomb. The teacher told the principal, who called the police, which came to school and “grabbed” him. Now at home because he’s been suspended from school, Armaan must wear an ankle monitor as he awaits his court date. Though he is twelve years old, it is currently unclear whether he’ll be tried as a juvenile or an adult, and what charges he will face for the crime of carrying a trendy backpack to school.

There are more than a few parallels to “clock kid” Ahmed Mohamed, who was fourteen years old and living with his family in a Dallas suburb when he was accused of bringing a bomb to school. But the specifics of Armaan’s situation more closely resemble the targeting of Veereender Jubbal, a Sikh who was set up to become the face of terrorism after the November 13 Paris attacks. Veerender is not a Muslim or a terrorist. He’s a Canadian. But, like Armaan, Veerender has a goofy sense of humor and loves to play video games, and he was maliciously targeted by racist individuals in the gaming community who knew that he had no involvement whatsoever with Islamic extremism, but went ahead and labeled him a terrorist anyways. Newspapers around the world picked up a doctored image of Veerender which had falsely identified him as one of the 11/13 Paris bombers, thereby placing his life in real danger. Since November 23, after being inundated with vitriol and threats, Veerender turned himself into “Ghost Veerender” and went on a Twitter hiatus.

In Armaan’s case, a nameless “bully” targeted the most vulnerable kid in striking range at his school: a boy with a serious heart condition who was not only the new kid but whose race and religion identified him as an outsider. The bully chose his victim well: the police are vociferously defending their actions despite no evidence of any wrongdoing on Armaan’s part. Instead, at every step of the way, the bully’s lie was supported, endorsed, and reinforced by the actions of every adult authority figure who ought to have known better. That they did not is far more troubling than a child acting cruelly. The institutional response is only comprehensible inside a racist framework that makes it seem reasonable to assume that all brown people are Islamic extremists conspiring to blow up white Americans, and presumed to be guilty rather than innocent.

“Protect and serve? My ass,” the Sikh bank clerk complains in Spike Lee’s film, “Inside Man,” 2006, about a confounding bank heist where the police are unable to distinguish the hostages from the criminals, and so they treat the victims as if they’re violent felons. “Where’s my turban?” the bank clerk asks angrily. “I’m not talking to anyone without a turban. It’s part of my religion to cover my head as in respect to God. I’m a Sikh. Not an Arab, by the way, like your cops called me outside…First you beat me and now you want my help…Fucking tired of this shit. What happened to my fucking civil rights? Why can’t I go anywhere without being harassed?”

It shouldn’t even be relevant that Sikhs are not Muslims, because being mistaken for “an Arab” isn’t the nut of the problem. What’s wrong is being attacked and bullied, period. What’s worse is the cultural condoning of such violence. Yet numerous reports have not only been tracking a surge of Islamophobia since 9/11 and the spike of hate crimes against Muslims since 11/13, but also they’ve also repeatedly pointed out–in tones of near despair—that, collectively, white Americans are fine with it. Islamophobia is so thick and pernicious that a shameful number of Republicans (and Democrats) are in favor of bombing Agrabah  just because it’s somewhere in “Arabia” — when it’s actually the fictional setting of the Disney film “Aladdin.”

Given the difficulties of countering the Disneyfied geographic imaginary, it shouldn’t be too surprising that in Texas, racist paranoia has made it possible for a bully to accuse brown kid of bringing a bomb to school, and the institutions of education and law enforcement rush to validate the accuser, not the victim. In this era of “see something, say something,” an increasingly intolerant political narrative affirms that the bully did the right thing. Things you learn by going today to school and obeying the rules.

Paula Young Lee is the author of “Deer Hunting in Paris,” winner of the 2014 Lowell Thomas “Best Book” award of the Society of American Travel Writers. She is currently writing outdoor adventure books for middle grade and young adults. Follow her on Twitter@paulayounglee

30 Days Jail Time For Israeli Sniper Who Bragged About Shooting 13 Children in a Day

Jail Time For Israeli Sniper Who Bragged About Shooting Children



It’s been several days since we first screen captured the Instagram account of Israel Defense Forces sniper David D. Ovadia, and his cached comments on the account of Palestinian Sherrii ElKaderi.

Many dozens of news sites tripped over themselves to copy and paste our report, even without having access to the sources that brought it to us. Free of the burden of citation, they noted the details we had relayed publicly, but when pressed, they could not elaborate. This led to many to suspect that the post from Ovadia was a hoax, that he had never in fact posted such comments.

For her part, ElKaderi has tirelessly confirmed the post by the IDF soldier, even who boasted of murdering 13 Gazan children in one day. An IDF Combat Engineering Corps Soldier, specifically, Ovadia posed with a Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle, taunting the Palestinian ElKaderi with the now famous screen captured post. 

As we said from the beginning, it was unclear and perhaps unlikely that the Barrett was used in the commission of such crimes, as this weapon is usually reserved for the best of the best marksmen. But Ovadia’s posting of himself with the .50 caliber rifle was obviously meant to be visually intimidating to Palestinians.

As Israeli, Iranian, European and pretty much everyone but U.S. media outlets (save the International Business Times), took our report seriously, the IDF began doing an investigation of their own. Ovadia’s initial plea was that his account had been “hacked”, a claim which many proponents of the IDF incursion into Gaza quickly jumped on, as we had reported the “hacktivist” group  “Anonymous” took control of his Instagram account, deleting it entirely after our report first broke.

Ovadia thought that would be the end of it. Within hours, armies of self-described “debunkers” flooded social media, claiming that this was a “hoax”. But the IDF investigators still smelled something funny about Ovadia’s professions of innocence. They pressed on with their questioning, only to catch him in a number of lies. Finally, Ovadia confessed to having made the post, and quickly deleting it once it was clear he was going to get in trouble for his hateful comments.

Now, the IDF has announced that Ovadia is being sentenced to 30 days in jail. They assert that he did not actually shoot 13 children, but was instead using the claim to harass and terrorize Palestinians on social media. As we suspected, Ovadia has not even qualified for the .50 caliber rifle, but had posed with it to look intimidating.

Before finally confessing, Ovadia’s hateful claims of proudly carrying out war crimes led to Anonymous hacking the websites of the Mossad intelligence agency in Israel “for the brave IDF Sniper”, in reference to Ovadia, and following up by taking down the Israeli Ministry ofDefense as well, similarly attributing attack to Ovadia’s online claims.

Meanwhile, there are still people who believe they are “debunking” this story, which is now headline news in Israel. On the contrary, however, this story has been investigated, confirmed, and led to Ovadia doing some (though not enough) jail time.

(Article by Ari Simeon, M.B. David, and Isa Abu Jamal)

Muslim woman in Hijab sworn in with Holy Quran as Civil Court Judge in New York


Muslim woman in Hijab sworn in with Holy Quran as Civil Court Judge in New York


New York: Judge Carolyn Walker-Diallo, a Muslim woman, took oath as a civil court judge in New York on Thursday, while swearing to abide by the U.S. Constitution placing her hand on the Holy Qur’an, Morocco World News reported.

Judge Walker took her oath respecting the sacred book of her Islamic faith, the Holy Qur’an, while also wearing a hijab.

In the United States and the majority of Western countries, politicians and members of the courts are sworn in to their positions while placing their hand on the Holy Bible when they take their oath.


readalso California mosque burnt during Friday prayer – Trump blamed


A video posted on Facebook shows the moment when Judge Walker was sworn in as a civil court judge of the 7th Municipal District at the Brooklyn Borough Hall in New York City.

“All is praise is indeed due to the Most High! I am humbled that my community has entrusted me with the immense responsibility of ensuring that everyone has notice and a fair opportunity to be heard in the halls of justice,” Walker wrote on her website.

The video of her ceremony has prompted many comments in favor her induction.

Carolyn received a Juris Doctor from New York law school. She serves as first vice-chair of Brooklyn community board 5, board chair of the George Walker Jr. Community Coalition, Inc., board member of the east New York restoration local development corporation, and a member of the 75th Precinct community council.

Judge Carolyn Walker-Diallo is also a trained mediator with the New York peace institute, according to her biography.


Posted by John Prager on 13 Dec 2015*cking%20Sh*t%20(SCREENSHOTS)&type=share&

Conservatives are furious that not only is a Muslim woman a judge — but she had the audacity to swear her oath of office on a Quran rather than the Bible like a good, patriotic Christian would. There is not, nor has there ever been, a requirement that someone swearing an oath do so on a Bible, but conservatives are pretending that this was the case in an effort to justify their attacks on Judge Carolyn Walker, who chose to swear her oath on a book in which she places her faith.

“Raise your right hand, and place your left on the Bible,” writes Young Conservatives’ John S. Roberts. “That’s the way things work in America when an elected official assumes his or her post. At least, that’s the way things use to work.”

After quoting an article that points out Walker’s decision to take her oath on her holy book while wearing her religion’s traditional clothing. To most, this would be a brave decision in light of the GOP-inspired Islamophobic atmosphere in America. To conservatives, it’s “crazy.”


“I’d much rather have a judge swear on the Bible than on the Koran, because one doesn’t call for the deaths of all infidels,” Roberts writes before claiming that because Christianity is the majority religion in the United States, we are a Christian nation.

“This is political correctness gone too far, and we have to hope there aren’t more occurrences around the nation like this one in New York,” he says. “If officials can take their oaths on the Koran, what’s next? A cookbook?”

Technically, yes, anyone can swear an oath on a cookbook if they want. They could swear on a pot roast, a glass of chardonnay, or their pet poodle. What they place their hand on does not matter; what’s important is that they uphold their oath — and there’s no indication that Walker will not do her job splendidly. Unfortunately, conservatives don’t see it that way. To them, this is just another sign of “Obama’s America.” Young Cons’ readers weighed in in the comment section:


The incredibly wrong-headed and awful belief that Muslims can not be faithful to their god while also upholding the Constitution is a belief that conservatives hold almost as dear as their opinion that a Christian can remain faithful to both. Unfortunately for them, we are a diverse nation comprised of individuals of varying beliefs and backgrounds — something the Right has a lot of trouble tolerating.

Congratulations to Judge Walker, who will almost assuredly do an excellent jo

Chicago’s non-Muslim school girls wear hijab to promote acceptance of Islamic beliefs


Chicago’s non-Muslim school girls wear hijab to promote acceptance of Islamic beliefs


Chicago: Vernon Hills High School is objecting to Islamophobia and racism with an initiative called “Walk a Mile in Her Hijab.”

Over a dozen non-Muslim girls agreed to wear a traditional Islamic head scarf to better understand the Muslim faith and life as a Muslim woman.

School senior Yasmeen Abdallah, the president of the MSA, who coordinated the event said, “This event is to hopefully denounce negative stereotypes.”

“You can’t really understand or judge a person and their beliefs until you understand why they do it and what it’s like for them to do what they’re doing,” she said.

“I think it is a difficult time to be a Muslim student in our high school, in our community and in America,” School principal Jon Guillaume told the Daily Herald by praising the Muslim student’s initiative.

“I think this is an opportunity for our kids to embrace the Muslim community within the school. For other kids outside of this organization, to understand what it’s like for these girls to walk through our halls in this garment in a way that stands out from other kids. So, I’m proud of them.”

Charli Mosley, who participated in the event told the Herald that she wanted to wear the Hijab because her uncle is a Muslim and she hoped to “bring more acceptance” to Islamic beliefs.

Charli Mosley_Hijab

“I wanted to learn more about the religion, considering my uncle is also Muslim,” Charli said while wearing a red hijab. “With more people wearing a hijab around school, it could bring more acceptances to the religion and have more people become more aware.”

Illinois has the highest population of Muslims in the United States, but hate crimes and violence directed at Muslims is on the rise.

Muslim anti-Isis march not covered by mainstream media outlets, say organisers

Muslim anti-Isis march not covered by mainstream media outlets, say organisers

‘Hundreds of Muslims flooded the streets of London to condemn terrorism. Media’s response: Silence’

Organisers of an anti-Isis march in London have spoken of their frustration after mainstream media outlets failed to cover the demonstration.

Thousands of people took part in the annual UK Arbaeen Procession, coordinated by the Husaini Islamic Trust UK, on Sunday.

Although Shia Muslims take part in the march each year to mark the Arbaeen, or mourning, anniversary of Imam Husain – a seventh-century leader who fought for social justice – this year organisers decided to use the event as a platform to denounce terrorism following the recent Isis attacks in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere.

Organiser Waqar Haider said: “This year we had hundreds of placards which were basically saying ‘no’ to terrorism and ‘no’ to Isis. A very direct message.

“For us it was a controversial move to go political. Normally we don’t mix politics with mourning. However with what’s happened recently, we thought we had to make sure we as a community totally disassociate ourselves with what’s happening elsewhere in the world.”

Despite this, Mr Haider said the demonstration still failed to garner attention in the mainstream media because of “stereotyping”.

“It is the oldest annual Muslim event in London but unfortunately it is very difficult to get any media coverage,” he said.

“I think it’s because of stereotyping. People see the entire Muslim community as one community.

“[But] the Muslim community is a very diverse community, with the vast majority of us horrified by Isis.

“With our event, we had so many people from different ethnic backgrounds. It’s more of a family event in terms of people it attracts.”

Volunteer Mohammed Al-Sharifi also commented on the lack of media coverage for the event.

In a tweet, he said: “Hundreds of Muslims flooded the streets of London yesterday to condemn terrorism. Media’s response: Silence.”

His post has been re-tweeted more than 5,000 times.

Other social media users also believed the demonstration should have been more widely covered.

Mr Al-Sharifi told The Independent: “I think the reason the mainstream media hasn’t covered the story is because I don’t think it’s juicy enough to sell papers. It’s simply not interesting enough.”

“Unfortunately [some] media outlets have gone for stories that to some extent can be divisive. If a group of Muslims do something good, it’s not mentioned or the religion is not mentioned. But if someone does something [negative], it is on the front page and their religion is mentioned.”

“It’s feeding this hatred and divisiveness and demonisation, I think, of Muslims.”

He said the media had an increased level of responsibility to create a cohesive society.

“The reason my tweet went viral… is because I think people realise there is a huge disparity between what they’re being fed in the media and the reality of the day-to-day interactions they have with Muslims at work, at school.”

Mr Al-Sharifi called on the country’s leadership to counter Islamophobia. 

David Cameron praises individual who said ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv’

The Arbaeen processions take place in other locations around the world including Iraq, Nigeria and the US.

During this year’s event in Kano, a Boko Ha

Where was the patriotism of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha for 22 years between 1925-1947

Where was the patriotism of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha for 22 years between 1925-1947?

December 12, 2015

Historian Irfan Habib on the rightwing project of mythologizing of history

The freedom enjoyed by RSS and other Sanghis was wrested from the British with the blood of Muslims of Kerala and other parts of India. And now these cowards who licked the boots of the colonisers are the only “patriots” in India? – Mohamed Iqbal Pallipurath



Teesta Setalvad:        
You famously and most recently said that the mythologizing of history seems to be a great preoccupation of the present dispensation. What exactly does the mythologizing of history entail ?
Irfan Habib:              
Well, actually there are two aspects to this. One is the aspect that developed in the early 20th century. That is, to claim for ancient India or in their words, Hindu civilization achievements that are unique that should place that civilization above every other culture. This took early forms like claiming great antiquity for the Sanskrit language and particularly for the Vedas, and to claim all kinds of scientific achievements for a very early period, achievements that are not recorded or only occur in the epics and so forth.

So they are heirs to that tradition and because of their Hindutva doctrine which goes back, of course, to their foundation, the foundation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)  in the 1920s, they have espoused that. And then, the anti-Muslim tradition, that also has early beginnings and of course that had Muslim counterparts also. So they have picked up all of those prejudices and prejudiced interpretations of medieval and ancient Indian history. For instance the Hindu Mahasabha slogan that “ we have being in under foreign rules and 1000 AD” has been picked up by them. As if all Muslim rulers were foreigners and sent money abroad, wealth abroad. That’s one aspect of mytholigising (of history). The second (aspect) is, to which adequate attention has not been paid, I think, is their distortion of the history of the national movement.

Although they were themselves founded 22 years before Independence, they did nothing against the English. So when their leaders say that the patriotism of the RSS cannot be questioned –I am quoting their recent statements — one wonders where that patriotism was from 1925 to 1947?

They took no part in the national movement. They have no heroes; their leaders never went to jail excepted Hegdewar by mistake when he was arrested for a few days. I think during the civil disobedience movement. But otherwise nothing happened. Golwalkar has hardly any harsh word for the British Government compared to his harsh words against Muslims. So their problem is that they can only revile the leaders of the national movement and now what they are doing is to pick up certain people who did not in their view can be espoused that their heroes. Their main heroes today, it seems, are Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose and Patel.

None of the three had anything to do with the RSS or Hindu Mahasabha. Obviously they can’t find any other heroes. The only thing they could say about these three people was that that two worked critical of Gandhiji, Shahid Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose and Sardar Patel was critical of Jawaharlal Nehru’s views. They had controversies, for instances reflected in some of Nehru’s writings (Tomorrow in India) against Patel. They don’t realize, of course and many people don’t realise this, that in the national movement it was quiet common to have these differences without impairing the unity against the British.

In that unity, the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha had no place. So now they building up a mythology in which the so-called ‘Hindu nationalism’ –actually that’s a misnomer –because they were never nationalist. They were communalists.
So in which the Hindu communalism is trying to be portrayed as the mainstream of the national movement. Muslims are being excluded from it — you will find no Muslim name among the leaders of the national movement– in the textbooks which the first NDA government produced and I think the same thing would happen now.



The man leaned over his creation, carefully assembling the tiny pieces. This was the hardest part, placing a thin silver plated diaphragm over the internal chamber. The diaphragm had to be strong enough to support itself, yet flexible enough to be affected by the slightest sound. One false move, and the device would be ruined. To fail meant a return to the road work detail, quite possibly a death sentence. Finally, the job was done. The man leaned back to admire his work.

The man in this semi-fictional vignette was Lev Sergeyevich Termen, better known in the western world as Léon Theremin. You know Theremin for the musical instrument which bears his name. In the spy business though, he is known as the creator of one of the most successful clandestine listening devices ever used against the American government.


The creation of Léon Theremin’s bug can be attributed to the success of his instrument. Theremin, the man, was a scientist by training. Theremin, the instrument, uses the player’s hand proximity to a pair of antennas to generate electronic sound. As a young student, Theremin was an aspiring physicist. World War One saw him enter military engineering school for radio operations. After the war, he worked on experiments as diverse as a device to measure the dielectric constant of gases and hypnosis.  Léon even did work in Ivan Pavlov’s lab.

In 1920, while working on his dielectric measurement device, Theremin noticed that an audio oscillator changed frequency when he moved his hand near the circuit. The Theremin was born. In November of 1920 Léon gave his first public concert with the instrument. He began touring with it in the late 1920’s and in 1928, he brought the Theremin to the United States. He set up a lab in New York and worked with RCA to produce the instrument.

Theremin’s personal life during this period was less successful than his professional endeavors. His wife, Katia, had come to America with him and studied medicine at a school about 35 miles from the City. For much of this time, Léon and Katia lived apart, seeing each other only a couple of times a week. While at school, Katia became associated with a fascist organization. The Russian Consulate caught wind of this and summarily divorced Léon from Katia. They couldn’t risk their rising star being associated with the Nazis.

Theremin eventually remarried, this time to Lavinia Williams, a ballerina. Lavinia was African-American and the couple faced ridicule in American social circles due to their mixed race. However, the Soviet Consulate did not have a problem with their relationship. In 1938, with the Nazi threat growing stronger, Theremin returned to Russia. He expected to send for his wife a few weeks after his arrival. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case. Léon and Lavinia never saw each other again.

Upon arrival in Leningrad, Theremin was imprisoned, suspected of crimes against the state. He found himself working in a laboratory for the state department. This was not an unusual situation. Aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev and missile designer Sergei Korolyov were two of many others who faced a similar fate.
It was during this time as a prisoner that Theremin designed his listening device.

Placing the bug

greatseal-frontThe date was August 4, 1945. The european war was over, and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima was only two days away. A group of 10 to 15 year old boys from the Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union arrived at the US embassy carrying a hand carved great seal of the United States of America. They presented the seal to W. Averell Harriman, the US ambassador to the Soviet Union. The seal was given as a gesture of friendship between the US and Soviet Union. Harriman hung the plaque in the study of his residence, Spaso House. Unbeknownst to Harriman, the seal contained Theremin’s sophisticated listening device. The device, later known as “The Thing”, would not be discovered until 1952 — roughly seven years later.


sealandbug-cutawayThe discovery of the great seal listening device is an interesting one. British broadcasters reported hearing American voices on the their radios in the vicinity of the American embassy. No Americans were transmitting though, which meant there had to be a bug. Numerous sweeps were performed, all of which turned up nothing. Joseph Bezjian had a hunch though. He stayed at the embassy pretending to be a house guest. His equipment was shipped in separately, disguised from Russian eyes. Powering up his equipment, Bezjian began a sweep of the building. With his receiver tuned to 1.6 GHz, he heard the bug’s audio, and quickly isolated the source in the great seal. Close inspection of the carving found it had been hollowed out, and a strange device placed behind the eagle’s beak. No batteries or wires were evident, and the device was not powered through the nail which had been hanging the seal. Bezjian removed the device from the great seal and was so cautious the he slept with it under his pillow that night for safe keeping. The next day he sent it back to Washington for analysis.

Theory of Operation

Bug-mountedThe great seal bug quickly became known as “The Thing”. It was a passive resonant cavity device, containing no batteries or other power source. It consisted of an antenna and a small cylinder. One side of the cylinder was solid. The other side consisted of a very thin diaphragm, obviously some sort of microphone. Passive resonant cavities had been explored before, both in the US and abroad, but this is the first time we know of that was used for clandestine purposes. In his book Spycatcher, British operative Peter Wright claims that the US came to him for help determining how the device worked. However he is not mentioned in other accounts of Theremin’s bug.

Regardless of who figured out the device, the method of operation is devilishly simple. The Soviets would sit outside the embassy, either in another building or in a van. From this remote location they would aim a radio transmitter at the great seal. The bug inside would receive this signal and transmit voices in the room on a second, higher frequency. It did all of this with no standard internal components. No resistors, no tubes, no traditional capacitors, or the like. There were capacitive properties to the mechanism. For instance, a capacitor is formed between the diaphragm and the tuning peg of the device.

scientific-am-bugReceive tuning (if it can be called such) was achieved by the precisely cut antenna. The RF carrier transmitted by the Russians would be received at the antenna and travel into the body of the device which was a resonant cavity. That resonant chamber was capacatively coupled to the thin conductive diaphragm which formed the microphone.

Sound waves would cause the diaphragm to move, which would vary the capacitance between the body and diaphragm, forming a condenser microphone. It is important to note that the bug didn’t transmit and receive on the same frequency. According to Peter Wright, the excitation frequency used by the Russians was actually 800 MHz. The cavity would resonate at a multiple of this base frequency, producing the 1.6 GHz output seen by Bezjian.

While bugs of this type have fallen out of favor, the idea of “illuminating” a device with an external transmitter lives on. Check out [Elliot’s] description of the RageMaster bug from the ANT catalog here. Resonant cavities have found common use as well. Every microwave oven or radar system with a magnetron uses one.

A Political Pawn

lodgeThe great seal bug disappeared for a number of years. The Russians knew we had caught them, and moved on to other espionage devices. It finally reappeared in 1960 at the United Nations. During the Gary Powers U2 incident, Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. presented the seal as concrete proof that Russia was spying on the Americans.

A replica of the great seal is on display at the NSA National Cryptologic Museum.


thermogLéon Theremin was released from his camp in 1947. He married Maria Guschina. This time the state did not intervene, and the pair had two children. In 1964, Theremin became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. He lost his job after an article published in the New York times was read by the assistant director of the conservatory. The assistant director stated “Electricity is not good for music; electricity is to be used for electrocution” before throwing Theremin and his instruments out of the establishment. Through the 1970’s, Theremin worked in Moscow University’s Department of Acoustics. While there he built a polyphonic version of his instrument. Stored in a back room, the instrument was looted for parts by students and professors. Meanwhile, Theremin’s instrument was returning to vogue in the western world. Electronic music was hot, spawned by instruments such as the MiniMoog, and the Arp Kitten.

Theremin finally visited the United States in 1992, reuniting with old friends. He performed in a concert at Stanfordand was interviewed by Robert Moog, who considered him to be a hero of the electronic music world. After filling in many of the blanks of his story, Theremin asked Moog and co-interviewer Olivia Mattis to be responsible when writing up their story. “But if you write that I have said something; against the Soviet government and that I have said that it is better to work elsewhere, then I shall have difficulties back home [ironic laughter]”. Even then at the twilight of his life, with the fall of the Soviet Union underway, Theremin was still looking over his shoulder, worried about what the government might do if he offended them.

Theremin passed away in 1993. The unlikely master of this spy-gadget was 97 years old.


Muslim Man is Described as ‘The World’s Kindest Man’ by a Complete Stranger. Here’s Why

Muslim Man is Described as ‘The World’s Kindest Man’ by a Complete Stranger. Here’s Why:

Verity Jones, a disabled mother from Bedford, England posted a message on a Facebook group used for selling/swapping items asking if anyone was willing to deliver some nappies for her:


Help!!! This is a long shot but has anyone got any packets of size 4 or size 4+ nappies for sale and can deliver?? And will be happy with immediate paypal or bank transfer? Ive lost my purse so am now waiting for a new visa card. Ive got no cash in the house. And im disabled so I cant even just drive to collect some from anyone. Daughter is now on her last nappy. Happy to pay whatever necessary!!! Xxx

She was in a bit of a sticky situation; she had lost her purse which contained her debit card and her daughter was on her last nappy (that’s diaper for our American readers). On top of that she didn’t have any cash at home and her disability prevented her from collecting some nappies from anyone.

She didn’t expect a result and was faced with the prospect of hoping her daughter doesn’t need to answer the call of nature having run out of nappies!

An hour later, a Muslim man called Tariq Hussain left a comment saying:


Verity I don’t have any but if no one gets back to you let me know and I will purchase some and drop off to you.

Verity got in touch with Tariq and true to his word, he dropped off the nappies. Delighted, she left a comment saying:

verity 2

Yes everyone im sorted now. Tariq, the worlds kindest man, dropped me a packet off free of charge. What a wonderful and lovely thing for a stranger to do. Xxxxxx

Verity left another comment saying:

Im embarassed to say I got all emotional lol. X

Touched by Tariq’s actions, other members of the group left many messages for him:

This has made my day, so nice to have good people still in this world”

“Wow what a lovely man”

“You are a star ! Make a me feel that there is hope in this world such a small jesters from a huge heart”

“Wow don’t normally do this but goes to show how many wonderful people are out there and are prepared to help a complete stranger and want nothing in return.”

“Tariq, up most respect. With all this crazy stuff going on lately, you are a gentlemen.”

“Brought a tear to my eye! Such an act of kindness!”

“What a lovely thoughtful thing to do thank you Tariq, restores my faith in human kind”

Lastly, Tariq responded to all the messages saying:

tariq 2

Thank you all for the lovely messages it was and honour to help a mother in distress

Well done Tariq!

By Rafiq ibn Jubair

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Bumbling Bureaucratic B@stards caused the Chennai Flood?

Delay in decision to open sluice gates caused flood of trouble

CHENNAI: The flood that ravaged Chennai last week was not a natural disaster, but one caused by the state bureaucracy’s failure to regulate release of water from Chembarambakkam reservoir (lake) in the outskirts of the city. 

Those privy to developments in the state secretariat during the last week of November say that in the wake of international weather forecast agencies predicting 500mm of rain for Chennai on December 1 and 2, public works department (PWD) officials had advised the PWD secretary and other senior bureaucrats on November 26 to bring down the water level in the reservoir from 22ft to below 18ft so the lake could absorb heavy inflow four days later. There was not much rain between November 26 and 29 and Adyar river, too, which originates from this lake, had very little water. 

The proposal to release lake water was caught in bureaucratic red tape. Sources said the PWD secretary waited for chief secretary’s nod to open the sluice gates -and whose nod the chief secretary was waiting for still remains a mystery.In effect, the disaster caused in Punjab by heavy release of water from the Bhakra Nangal dam two years ago was repeated in Chennai. 

Orders to open the Chembarambakkam sluice gates -rather flood gates -were not received till the city received was pounded with rain and the reservoir started overflowing. “The state administration maintained that the release from the reservoir into Adyar river was only 33,500 cusecs (cubic feet per second; 1 cubic ft is 28.3 litres of water), which is the maximum capacity of the gates, from December 1 night onwards. But the actual release was more than double that, and nobody has any idea how much it was because water was overflowing from Chembarambakkam after the reservoir reached its full capacity of 24 feet. The problem was compounded as Athannur lake breached, releasing about 5,000 cusecs into the Adyar,” said a highly placed source in PWD. 

In effect, Adyar was carrying more than one lakh cusecs of water on December 2 and 3, said a senior IAS official, who was coordinating rescue operations. “The city has paid the price for having a bunch of bureaucrats who don’t have the guts to act on their own.We were lucky that the reservoir, despite overflowing, did not breach,” he said. 

“Flooding of Chennai and suburbs could have been averted by better management of water release,” said Madras Institute of Development Studies professor S Janakarajan. The administration should not have viewed Chembarambakkam in isolation. The lake and Adyar river are connected to about 200 tanks, he said. Even if 33,500 cusecs had been released from Chembarambakkam, by the time the water reached Saidapet, it would have swelled to 60,000 cusecs because of additional flow from other water bodies enroute. The administration failed to gauge this and hapless people paid the price for it, he explained. 

Janakarajan said the government should view all water bodies, roughly 3,600 of them, in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts as one watershed as they are hydrologically connected to one another. “If the government cleans up all those water bodies, they can hold about 30 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water.Moreover, it will also prevent flooding in future,” he said. 

The magnitude of the disaster was more because there was no advisory issued to people living in low-lying areas, warning them that their homes could get flooded.To add to the misery, Chennai city police officers were instructed to keep their cell phones switched off (much before mobile phone towers went down) and carry out all communications only through wireless sets. Hence, people in distress could not seek help by reaching out to officials in their locality. 

TOI’s repeated efforts to get responses from the chief secretary and PWD secretary went in vain.Some pertinent questions that remain unanswered are: Whose orders were the bureaucrats waiting for to open the reservoir sluices? Will anybody be held responsible for the lapses? And, at least now, will the government put a standard operating procedure in place to keep reservoirs at safe levels? Will a better system be evolved to warn people living on river banks before gates are opened? 

Washing machines on the street 

The lack of a warning about the huge discharge from Chembarambakkam reservoir not only devastated the banks of Adyar but also submerged T Nagar and its bylanes, leaving middle and low-income colonies in distress.Tonnes of food grains from grocery shops and household items, including washing machines, are on road-side dumps in every corner of the neighbourhood. Having lost items worth thousands of rupees, the residents were picking up pieces. TNN

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    In a democracy, politics is like an act, political parties and their ideologies are narratives, politicians are actors and people are the audience. If the audience likes the narrative and actors, they clap and give them another chance to perform. Else, new narratives and new actors are brought in and the show goes on.

    The beauty of democracy is that political parties, their ideologies, political decision, and their leaders are judged every day. Any comment, decision or stand taken by it is discussed extensively, both at individual level and at collective level through media. Therefore, political parties and their leaders are very careful about the kind of narrative being put forward by them in support or against of a particular issues, incident or decision. ‘No comments’ and silence are also judged.

    The present ruling government is very careful about the kind of narrative it is putting forward. Or to be specific, it is vigilant and using every possible trick of the trade to prove two things – one, that the present-day government is the best government that independent India ever had, and two, that Modi is the most honest, patriotic, courageous and powerful leader in the world and, he is, if not god then not anything less than him, and his will is supreme like that of god.

    In order to prove these two things, his party and supporters have thrashed every logical and sensible critical narrative with illogical, foolish and non-democratic counter narratives.

    The numerical majority, noise and power of these counter narratives are so high that the subtle critical narratives are lost, and they end up proving their point.

    There are too many counter narratives used by the present ruling government. Let’s try to analyse them one by one.

    1. “They also did it”

    This is the most common counter narrative used by the present-day government. The party leaders say, ‘Why didn’t you shout when Congress was in power. They were the one who did it. We are doing nothing. We are just carrying it forward.’

    When beef ban was imposed in Maharashtra, they said, “See before we did it here in Maharashtra, Congress did it in the states where it ruled. And the four day Guddi –Partava ban was first imposed when Congress-NCP duo were in power. So why are you shouting now?’

    Aare bhai, people voted you in thinking that you were a party with a difference and if are just following what they did then what was the point of bringing you to power.

    2. “Ye Bharat ke sanskriti ke kilaf hai / This is against culture of India”

    The present government, its alliance partners and their affiliated non-political organizations are the official moral, cultural and traditional guardians of the 121 crore people, living in the 29 states and 5 union territories. They are the ones who decide what women should wear, whether they can drink and smoke, what people should eat and watch.

    Whenever there are attacks in pubs, police raids in private hotel rooms, vandalism during Valentine’s Day, violence against inter-religious marriages – branding them to be love jihad – the government’s alliance partners and leaders have a flat one line answer, “Ye Bharat ke sanskriti aur sabhyata ke khilaf hai. (This is against the culture values of India ).”

    Though the party’s official line by Jaitley Ji and Rajnath Ji will remain, “We are against such acts” but its alliance partners say, “Yes, we have done it and we will do it again.”

    Sunia ji, we voted you to manage our country not to manage our personal lives.

    What we eat, drink, watch, read and how our women dress, who they marry and at what time of the night they should return home is purely our personal affair. Please do not enter our private lives and make choices for us. We are all from different caste, creed, community; region, race, religion, sex and ethnicity, and we know them better than you.

    change your habit

    3. “You have to change your habits, dude”

    This is the most original one. Whenever the prices of essential commodities and services go beyond the reach of the common man and protesting starts, this counter narrative comes in.

    When the price of railway tickets was increased, it was said “Every weekend you can go to cinema hall and shell out 250 rupees on a movie ticket, 150 rupees on popcorn and 100 rupees on Coke but you can’t spend 10 percent extra on your railways ticket.” And the better one is this. On the sky rocketing prices of pulses, one famous “non-political” person – associated with the ruling government and a great admirer of Modi Ji – said, “Dal patli banao. Zayada gadhi nahi. Aur khane mein sabzioon ka zayada prayog karo. Wo zada paushtilk hoti hain” (“Do not make the gravy of dal very thick and use more of vegetables. They are much healthier than pulses. )

    Kya ji, did we vote for you so that when you come to power you would instruct us on how we should spend our hard-earned money? And if we protest again, you make us feel guilty about how we spend so much on entertainment while refusing to pay the increased price of a service managed by you?

    Now you are telling us that we should change our eating habits just because you cannot manage the price of essential commodities. Kamal ki bate karte ho ji.

    Why don’t you acknowledge the fact that you have failed to give what’s due to the farmers and because of which this agrarian crisis has occurred. It has happened because you have failed to guarantee a decent Minimum Support Price (MSP) and waive off farmer loans in drought-hit areas. You prefer to make highways which will help the Ambanis and Adanises transport their raw material from one state to another but choose to ignore rural connectivity and irrigation systems. Why don’t you accept the fact that the price of essential commodities are rising because you have failed to keep check on hoarders and black marketers.

    4. “Wo Pakistani hai / He is a Pakistani”

    This counter narrative is often used by the alliance partners of the ruling government to blacken faces at book releases, issuing threats to cancel musical shows, and interrupting theatrical performances. They say that since the concerned artists are from Pakistan (and since Pakistan is our enemy state) we can’t allow them to perform here.

    See artists, irrespective of the nationality and art form they practice, spend their whole life to give this world, perspectives of the things which we have not seen, re