Snow globes – the next terrorist threat

Ashcroft snow globeEveryone who flies (in commercial airplanes, at least) knows the ridiculousness of so-called “airport security”. While innocent passengers are harassed and prohibited from taking the most necessary and inoffensive items into the airport, while letting actual guns and ammo through.
TSA rules as to what you cannot get passed security have really been going beyond any notion of the ridiculous – not only are they banning Disney souvenirs, but they now are scared shitless about the dangers of snow globes. WTF?
snowglobesban.jpgThe real story on this, however, is the fact that we, the citizenry, allow the government to impose the most stupid, arbitrary and capricious rules on us without complaining. This one may be a relatively trivial one, but it gets us used to the intrusion of the government into our private lives.

Plump lips

lipplumper.jpgIt’s night, I’m about to go to sleep. My teeth are brushed, my face washed and moisturized and I’ve applied some eye serum to the area around my eyes in a vain attempt to fight off wrinkles. As if that was not enough, my lips are tingling – they are plumping up.
Today, my last day on listia (I have to cut this obsession), I got a package of Avon products I “won” last week. The fun of that particular auction was that I didn’t know exactly what I was bidding on (though I knew I’d be getting a bottle of True Glow perfume, which I discovered through another listia auction, and which I love). Who doesn’t like surprises? And all in all it was a very nice surprise. In all, considering both the shipping charges I paid and the number of credits I used, I probably spent about $12-15 on this auction. For that money I got the perfume above (which would cost me that much just by itself), two mascaras, one lipstick, one eyeshadow palette, one eight-in-one lip palette, a moisturizer (of course, I’m not sure what to do with it given that I make my own lotions), a foot cream, a very ugly plastic hairband and the Avon Anew Clinical Plump & Smooth Lip System. This is a system with the purported effect of making your lips plumper. I kid you not. And that’s what I put on tonight.
Nope, I’m glad you asked, but nope, I don’t think for a minute that my lips need to be plumped up. Then again, I don’t think for a minute that a couple of creams (one you put /on/ your lips and another one you put /around/ your lips) are going to plump up your lips (though apparently they are also supposed to smooth them away, making the lines less noticeable). I actually think it’s pretty ridiculous to want to plump up your lips in the first place – I have nothing against plump lips, but really? I can’t help but to think of Desmond Morris’ The Naked Ape, where he theorizes that women’s breasts evolved to look like buttocks while her facial lips evolved to look like those of the vagina. Indeed, you don’t need to have much imagination to theorize why men may like plump lips in the first place.
But it’s not my thing. That said, I got this product and I’m going to use it. Until I get bored, that is 🙂

PAKISTAN: A Hindu teenager is told to marry her alleged rapist

Amazing!

PAKISTAN: A Hindu teenager is told to marry her alleged rapist; police and courts fail to act
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that four men who allegedly assisted in the rape of a young Hindu girl have been granted pre-arrest bail by a session court. Rape is a non-bailable offense in Pakistan and this is against criminal procedure and the law. Attempts by the family to file an FIR and obtain a medical report have been obstructed by local police, who later arrested the victim’s father on a false offense. Meanwhile members of an illegal tribal court have reportedly proposed that the victim marry her rapist and convert to Islam. She has threatened public self immolation if the perpetrators are not arrested and brought to justice by the authorities.
CASE DETAILS:
According to information received from local NGOs, the Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network and All Kohli, Ms. Kastoori, seen in the video clip below (also here), is 17 years old and was abducted on 24 January 2010.
After being taken in the evening by Ramzan Khoso, Habib Ullah Khoso and Ghulam Nabi Khoso, with the help of their armed guard Verio Gur-Ro, Kastoori was allegedly raped by Ramzan, the eldest of the brothers. She was recovered the next day from the mens’ residence by a group from her community, where she was found tied up.
On 26 January Kastoori’s parents tried to register a First Information Report at Nagar Parker police station but were turned away. Because of this they could not obtain an official medical checkup for her at the civil hospital or the Nagar Parker hospital, which they attempted to arrange on 27 January.
The family rejected an out of court sum offered to them by the father of the three perpetrators, Muhammad Bachaal Khoso, who is an office bearer for the local ruling political party and reportedly wields political influence. He arranged a jirga – an illegal tribal court – on 9 February, allegedly within the knowledge of Nagar Parker police officers. The jirga members allegedly pressured the victim’s family to accept the marriage of the victim to her rapist and her conversion Islam. The family rejected this proposal and continued to try to use legal channels.
With the help of NGOs Kastoori’s father was able to file a petition with the Sindh High Court on February 12, which ordered the filing of an FIR and a medical examination on 17 February. The report noted that due to the length of time since the alleged rape it could not find the necessary evidence.
Although an FIR was finally lodged on February 17 under Section 365-B, the perpetrators were not arrested because they had successfully applied for pre-arrest bail from the Sessions Court in Mithi, even though the court is not authorized to do so at that level. We are told that the police then arrested the father of the victim (along with 12 others) on February 18 for stealing valuable sap from a Guggal plant, although Guggal is not cultivated in the area.
At the Hyderabad press club Kastoori (featured in the You Tube video, embedded) has threatened to publically kill herself if the perpetrators are not arrested. Mr. Hameed Chand, Assistant Sub Inspector in Naga Parker, and the investigation officer have told human rights activists that they are being prevented from pursuing the case by ruling party members and local landlords. The victim and her family are in hiding, and civil society protests have reportedly not resulted in further action from the authorities.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
The AHRC received frequent reports of forced marriages of minority girls with Muslim men in areas along the Indian borders that have large Dalit Hindu populations, such as Thar Parker, Nagar Parker, Umer Kot, Mithi and Karoonjhar. The term Dalits are members of a scheduled caste, and due to the position of many as bonded labourers, female Dalits are particularly vulnerable to abuse. It is not unknown for Muslim seminaries to urge the forced conversion of Dalit women.
The AHRC has documented several such cases, including UA-008-2006 and UG-020-2006 and is aware of many more, in which Hindu scheduled caste and Christian women and girls have been abducted by Muslim men and raped. When confronted by the authorities perpetrators are often able to produce a marriage certificate from a seminary confirming the marriage and conversion of the victim. The girls are often taken out of contact with their families entirely, and various cases have been documented in which the courts have condoned such marriages with girls below the age of consent.
SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities listed below asking them to intervene to ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are arrested, and any police officers proven to be involved in their protection also face legal action. Please also urge for protection of the victim and her family.
The AHRC has written a separate letter to UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences and the Independent Expert on Minority Issues calling for their intervention into this case.
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SAMPLE LETTER:
Dear __________,
Re: PAKISTAN: A Hindu teenager is told to marry her alleged rapist; police and courts fail to act
Name of victim:
Miss Kastoori, daughter of Nawo Kalhi, resident of Mokrio village, Nagar Parker town, Thar Parker district, Sindh province
Name of alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Ramzan Khoso
2. Mr. Habib Ullah Khoso,
3. Mr. Ghulam Nabi Khoso
All sons of Muhammad Bachaal Khoso and residents of Mokrio village, Nagar Parker town, Thar Parker district, Sindh province.
4. Mr. Verio Gur-Ro, resident of Mokrio village, Nagar Parker town, Thar Parker district, Sindh province.
5. Mr. Hameed Chand, assistant sub inspector, investigation officer at Nagar Parker police station, Nagar Parker, district Thar Parker, Sindh province
6. Inspector Mohammad Khan Rind, Station Head Officer at the time of incident of Nagar Parker police station, Nagar Parker, district Thar Parker, Sindh province
Date of incident: January 24, 2010
Place of incident: Mokrio village, Nagar Parker, Thar Parker district, Sindh province
I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the actions taken by Mithi Sessions Court and Nagar Parker police in response to the alleged rape of a teenage girl.
I am told that the victim, Ms. Kastoori is 17 years old and was raped by Mr. Ramzan Khoso with the help of three other perpetrators named above. On 26 January Ms. Kastoori’s parents tried to register a First Information Report at Nagar Parker police station but were turned away. Because of this they could not obtain an official medical checkup for her at the civil hospital or the Nagar Parker hospital, which they attempted to arrange on 27 January.
I am told that police officers were aware that the family rejected an out of court sum offered to them by the father of the three perpetrators, Mr. Muhammad Bachaal Khoso – an office bearer for the local ruling political party – and of the jirga that he then organized. In this jirga on 9 February I am told that the victim’s family was pressured, unsuccessfully, to accept the marriage of the victim to her rapist and her conversion Islam.
With the help of NGOs, Kastoori’s father Mr. Nawo Kalhi was able to file a petition with the Sindh High Court on February 12, leading to the filing of an FIR and a medical examination on 17 February. However the medical report noted that due to the length of time since the alleged rape it could not find the necessary evidence.
Although an FIR was finally lodged on February 17 under Section 365-B of the Pakistan Penal Code, the perpetrators were not arrested because they had successfully applied for pre-arrest bail from the Sessions Court in Mithi. The court is not authorized to do so at that level. I understand that the police then arrested the father of the victim (along with 12 others) on February 18 for a fabricated crime relating to forestry.
Mr. Hameed Chand, the Assistant Sub Inspector in Nagar Parker and the investigating officer of this case has reportedly told human rights activists that he is being prevented from pursuing the case by ruling party members and local landlords. I urge that these allegations be immediately investigated. I am told that the victim and her family are in hiding and need state protection.
I understand that this is one of numerous cases coming from border areas with large Hindu Dalit populations, involving the rape of a Dalit girl and the attempt to forcibly convert her to Islam by marriage. This issue clearly needs addressing at the highest levels. Many Dalits in these areas are engaged in bonded labour, and women of the caste need strong institutional support and protection from abuse.
Intervention is therefore urgently needed to ensure the arrest of the perpetrators, and of any police officers proven to have obstructed the course of justice. It is absolutely necessary that the authorities send a message of zero tolerance for impunity, particularly regarding violations against women and minorities.
Yours sincerely,
—————–
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111 +92 51 920 6111
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk
2. Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan
Governor of Sindh province
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 5043
Tel: +92 21 920 1201 +92 21 920 1201
E-mail: governor@governorsindh.gov.pk
3. Syed Qaim Ali Shah
Chief Minister
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 2000
Email: pressecy@cmsindh.gov.pk
4. Mr.Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com
5. Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar, Karachi
Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220
E-mail: registrar@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk
6. Ms. Nadia Gabol
Minister for Human Rights
Government of Sindh,
Pakistan secretariat, Barrack 92,
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9207044
Tel: +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043
E-mail: lukshmil@yahoo.com
7. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk
——————————–
Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)
Thank you.
AHRC New Weekly Digest – an easy way to receive all your Human Rights news in just one weekly email – subscribe here.
—————————–
Asian Human Rights Commission
19/F, Go-Up Commercial Building,
998 Canton Road, Kowloon, Hongkong S.A.R.
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339 Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367

SAUDI ARABIA: Blogging about quest to treat comatose brother could land man in jail

15 March 2010
Blogging about quest to treat comatose brother could land man in jail
SOURCE: Human Rights Watch
(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) – New York, March 9, 2010 – Saudi Arabia’s Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecutions should immediately drop “cybercrimes” charges against Nasir al-Subai’i for writing about his bureaucratic ordeal as he tried to get the government to pay for his brother’s medical care, Human Rights Watch said today.
In early 2009, al-Subai’i began blogging and speaking to the media about the lack of support he contends he received from Saudi officials as he tried to arrange care for his brother, Muhammad al-Subai’i, who had been in a coma after a traffic accident in Saudi Arabia in March 2007.
“Saudi prosecutors are trying to silence legitimate complaints, which Saudi citizens have the right to make public,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Public criticism of the government’s alleged failures are an important check on its performance and a good tool for accountability.”
Al-Subai’i claims Saudi officials in the Foreign Affairs and Health Ministries never implemented King Abdullah’s orders to cover expenses for his brother’s treatment in China, and to facilitate further treatment in the United States.
After Muhammad had been in a Saudi hospital for five months, al-Subai’i took him to China on October 5, 2007, for a specialized procedure at Beijing’s Naval Hospital. From there, he sent a petition to the Saudi Royal Court, the administration directly under the king, applying for reimbursement of his brother’s medical and travel expenses. Documents show that the Saudi embassy in Beijing transmitted al-Subai’i’s request via the foreign affairs ministry in Riyadh and that there was initial approval to pay the expenses. But the payment was never made, nor was further treatment he requested for his brother approved.
Saudi Arabia funds necessary medical treatment for its citizens abroad if such treatment is unavailable in the kingdom. Many Saudi embassies have medical administrators on staff to facilitate medical arrangements, and occasionally provide services like transportation and per diems. According to a document provided to Human Rights Watch, King Abdullah, on November 21, 2007, approved paying for Muhammad al-Subai’i’s treatment in Beijing and instructed the health minister to process payment. Responding to the king’s instructions, the general manager for medical establishments and offices abroad under the Ministry of Health, Dr. Fahd bin Sulaiman al-Sudairi, ten days later requested detailed medical reports and expenses for Muhammad’s treatment from the Saudi embassy in Beijing, another document Human Rights Watch obtained shows.
The Subai’is left Beijing for Saudi Arabia on January 7, 2008, without reimbursement for their expenses. The consul has told Human Rights Watch that he dutifully facilitated al-Subai’i’s request, but that the matter had remained in the hands of the Ministry of Health without a decision. Al-Subai’i denies that the consul informed him about the initial consent of the Royal Court.
After returning from China, Nasir al-Subai’i sought further treatment options for his brother at London’s Wellington hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, both of which provided letters of acceptance, dated November 12, 2008 and April 20, 2009 respectively. According to another document provided to Human Rights Watch, on February 27, 2008, King Abdullah agreed that the state cover Muhammad’s medical expenses for rehabilitation in the United States, but the Health Ministry never approved this treatment, al-Subai’i says. His brother remains in a Saudi hospital bed, receiving only nursing, but not specialized rehabilitative care.
Disappointed at what he perceived to be a lack of cooperation by some Saudi officials, on November 16, 2008, al-Subai’i filed a legal case against the Ministry of Health and Consul al-Shammari, seeking payment for Muhammad’s treatment in China, and payment and facilitation of treatment in the US. The Board of Grievances, Saudi Arabia’s administrative court, accepted only the part of the case against the Health Ministry, and only the part that sought future treatment in the US. The case is ongoing. Al-Suba’i subsequently created a blog, posted YouTube videos, and appeared on television shows of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, and of Saudi Arabia’s al-Iqtisadiya television, among others, decrying his failed attempts to have the state cover his brother’s medical expenses in China and to provide further treatment in the United States. In particular, he criticized what he said was the lack of support from the Saudi consul in Beijing. Between March and May 2009, al-Subai’i had also sent complaints to the foreign affairs and interior ministries, as well as to the Royal Court.
Prosecutors at the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecutions in Khafji on the border with Kuwait summoned al-Subai’i in late July 2009 and told him to sign a pledge saying he would not post anything further about the matter on the internet. Although he signed, prosecutors called him two weeks later, saying he now faced unspecified charges under the Law to Combat Information Crimes over allegedly libelous comments he made against the Saudi consul, Majid al-Shammari. He was released on bail.
[. . .]
Human Rights Watch calls on Saudi Arabia to decriminalize all forms of peaceful expression, including abolishing the criminal charge of libel.
“The government has no business silencing exposure of alleged misdeeds by its officials by threatening to throw their critics in jail,” Whitson said. “If anything, the state should tolerate a greater degree of criticism of public officials than ordinary citizens, without resorting to charges of criminal libel, which are so frequently used to silence critics.”
For more information:
Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10118
USA
hrwnyc (@) hrw.org
Phone: +1 212 290 4700
Fax: +1 212 736 1300
Human Rights Watch
http://www.hrw.org