Keeping sane.

Jahanzeb Hussain is the editor of Collateral Damage Magazine [Keeping Sane]

When liberal White folks go to Africa to volunteer, the only thing that transforms is their profile picture on Facebook. 

As an Arsenal fan, I’m sad Moyes is gone. 

Anonyme asked: you seem to be very intelligent


What makes me mad the most is when a White person says “you’re smart, you’ll find a job.” No, asshole, my intelligence don’t matter shit in a White country. What matters the most is the colour of the skin and the sound of the name and the place of birth.

Us non-Whites swim in a sea of White supremacy and we feel it the most when applying for jobs. 

Protecting Classrooms From Corporate Takeover

As a first change, the union actively encourages teachers to work for social justice in their communities. “In the way past, our union didn’t really do much outreach to the community except when we needed support for our issues,” Peterson says. “That’s changed.” Recently, Peterson says, MTEA teachers turned out to support immigrants’ rights groups in the city alongside a grassroots organization called Voces de la Frontera and provided adult advising and mentoring for its youth arm, Youth Empowered in the Struggle. Union members also joined picket lines in spring 2012 in support of striking Palermo’s pizza factory workers. These are not actions that seem directly related to education. For MTEA teachers, addressing such stressors as legal status, support in the community, and economic insecurity is critical to student success. “We are really trying to change the narrative in the community,” he says, “from ‘teacher unions just defend bad teachers’ to a narrative where we are seen as the go-to people when it comes to public education.

In the schools, the union’s focus is on making clear how, in Peterson’s words, “our teaching conditions are our students’ learning conditions.” The union’s negotiating team recently won a 50 percent increase in paid class preparation time for MTEA teachers, allowing the teachers to accommodate the more complex curriculum material that will boost their students’ achievement.

A final leg of the union’s efforts, Peterson argues, is to “reclaim our profession in our classrooms.” Teachers “should be child-driven and data-informed,” Peterson says, using a broad set of data to measure the success of the whole child, rather than measuring learning strictly with standardized tests. In one example, the union lent its voice to the effort to overhaul Milwaukee’s ailing early childhood education system and convened a joint task force with school officials to lay the groundwork for improvements in the city’s pre-K through third-grade programs. Recognizing the strong evidence that improved early childhood teaching makes for improved long-term outcomes for all kids, the union has assigned early childhood education experts to the task force.

Because a child’s education doesn’t start or stop at the classroom door, education and public health officials are moving toward a consensus that schools in high-poverty areas produce the most positive outcomes when they are seamless parts of the community. Members of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) regularly confront the way poverty interferes with their students’ ability to learn. They argue that the right of all children to an education is intertwined with the right of families to live free from hunger and preventable medical problems, and to have access to adequate childcare as well as parenting support.

Working with parent leaders, politicians, and school administrators, the UFT is transforming traditional public schools into community schools. The community school model was piloted in New York by the Children’s Aid Society and by the Harlem Children’s Zone, a comprehensive education program anchored in a partnership with Promise Academy charter schools. The model makes the school a hub where families can be introduced to available services, from child care to medical attention to classes for parents and activities for non-school-age children. In 2012, the UFT announced an initiative, which received $700,000 in new funding from the state, to establish before- and after-school care, medical services, parents’ activities, clubs, and sports at 16 existing schools throughout the city.

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Some of the criticism of ‘Happy Muslims’ video would suggest that, if Muslims living in the West are shown being happy and living regular lives, they are trying to reconcile themselves with White supremacy. Apparently, we should all be on a rage all the time, never smile or dance or anything – ever.

The Wrong Kind of Pakistani

If you condemn prejudice, abuse and violence as categorically as those who perpetrate it, you are the other side of the same “extremist” coin. And the terrorist somehow is better because he is “indigenous and authentic” whereas the liberal extremist is a sinister Western Plant. This bogeyman is neither the creation of a state propaganda machine nor the murderous religious extremist. He is a creation of influential hate-mongering opinion-makers, their acolytes, apologists and understudies. It is a delegitimizing, dehumanizing term, and this villainous monster is made real by widespread social acceptance of his existence. This acceptance is no misunderstanding. It allows for a fictional place of ostensible social dignity, balance and moderation between sane humanism and nihilistic rage. It is also clearly nonsense. Unfortunately, it is murderous nonsense.

Liberal extremists love claiming they are under threat, they say. It is a hoax, pretention, paranoia, an attention-seeking device, a ploy to get donor funding. You almost want to believe it yourself. To be a fraud is easier than to adopt the lifestyle of constantly looking over your shoulder. But then it gets real. Raza’s 25-year old driver, Mustafa, did not survive the attack. Every one of the 12 odd bullets that hit him was intended for Raza. Mustafa supported an extended family of 10. Raza has elderly parents, young children—the usual web of family and responsibility that makes us all vulnerable and fearful and human.

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can someone please send me a link to watch the new GOT episode?

Constructing Coercive Consent

The diversionary and obfuscating tactics of the media and the political campaign have taken interesting twists and turns over the past decade. The first attempt at diversion and obfuscation started with the construction of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. The next phase of obfuscation was initiated with the claim of a ‘foreign hand.’ It was claimed that no Muslim could inflict such destruction on other Muslims. It was then that the construct of the Taliban as a manifestation of ‘Pashtun nationalistic aspirations and frustration’ started doing the rounds. This construct was permeated despite the fact that most of the destruction was inflicted on the Pashtuns by the militant network.

The recent theory in this regard emerged in the narrative of ‘revenge.’ It was claimed that all the terrorist activities by the militant network are carried out to avenge drone strikes and demonstrate repugnance to the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan. A self-contradictory discourse of the Pakhtun culture-specific revenge was constructed to support this incongruous narrative. Nobody bothered to question why the people of Federally Administered Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had not avenged the death and destruction of their near and dear ones at the hands of militant organisations.

The alliance of the militant network and the extreme right in Pakistan brought the already constructed discourses of ‘the enemies out there adamant on wiping out Pakistan from the map of the world’ and ‘Pakistan as a fortress of Islam’ to their best use. The use of jihad to allow private armies to carry out jihadist activities in the neighbourhoods provided a useful spring board to the alliance of the militant network and the extreme right. Leaving FATA outside the domain of the constitutional, legal and administrative framework provided the militant network and international jihadists with physical space for their military infrastructure.

It is now the mainstream Pakistani state and society which seems to be on the defensive with respect to the demand for a ‘free zone’ and ‘legal office’ for TTP. Keeping in view the fact that the alliance has achieved considerable influence, authority and hegemony in the culture, polity and society of Pakistan through their discourse, strategies and tactics, one can expect that the alliance is fast moving from social control to state control of Pakistan. Thus, quantitatively speaking, the alliance might not account for even five per cent of the whole population of Pakistan.

Hence, it is not a matter of ‘only dialogue’ with ‘only military operation’ against the militant network that will lead to the so-called peace. A full-fledged reconstruction of the whole discourse of statehood, state security and human security might put the state and society of Pakistan on track to a sustainable peace.

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Pak-Saudi Relations: Friends or Masters?

Contrary to what we would imagine that this is about Arab dependency on Pakistan, it is the latter that may be dependent on the former because of money earned through the process. Keeping a large standing military busy, especially when the age of conventional wars is virtually over, is quite a task. Pakistan sends about 10,000 military personnel annually on UN missions. This is in addition to those dispatched to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. The arrangement is beneficial both for the armed forces and the individual as part of the salary is retained by the military. Given the possibility of a reduction in the UN’s requirement for peace-keeping missions, the Arab states will become important for Pakistan’s military as a lucrative posting for its personnel. Furthermore, the US$ 1.5 billion and more money that may be contributed by other Arab states is welcomed by the military as a source of financing that will keep the organisation afloat. Though the Pakistan military is never short of funds, it has not had major modernisation since the 1980s. It needs equipment for which money is essential.

The government of the PML-N probably shares this perspective. Given the dearth of resources, the inability to raise money through taxes and the pressure of numerous problems such as electricity shortages, the Sharif government would be happy to see an increase in its money supply. The news that these funds were given as a “gift” may not be taken lightly as Sharif is considered close to Riyadh’s heart. Not only does the Saudi royalty view him as “their man in Pakistan,” they have good memories of the Pakistani prime minister. The Saudi crown prince was the only foreign dignitary who was taken on a trip to Pakistan’s nuclear facilities after the atomic tests in 1998. This adventure also indicates that the political government in Islamabad and GHQ, Rawalpindi may be on the same page as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned.

The Saudi/Arab-Pakistani connection has come under some criticism. However, a question worth asking: Can the elite of Pakistan afford to say ‘no’ to the ‘freebies’ from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries? Given the country’s economic scenario, we continue to look outside for resources. The Arab money may appear ‘dirty’ to some, but this may well be a possible replacement for the American funding that is likely to be reduced as US and NATO forces pull out of Afghanistan.

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Being Muslim Under Narendra Modi

It was on his watch as chief minister that more than 1,000 people, many of them Muslims, were killed throughout Gujarat in 2002, when rioting erupted after some 60 Hindus died in a burning train in Godhra. A Human Rights Watch report that year asserted that the state government and local police officials were complicit in the carnage.

Mr. Modi has not visited the camps of the Muslims displaced by the violence or apologized for his government’s failure to protect a minority.Instead, he has described the reprisal killings of Muslims that year as a simple “reaction” to an “action,” namely the deaths of the Hindu train passengers — and has said he felt as sad about them as would a passenger in a car that accidentally ran over a puppy. His only regret, he once told a reporter for this paper, was failing to manage the media fallout.

Even as candidate for prime minister, Mr. Modi has not given up his sectarian ways. Nor has his party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Of the 449 B.J.P. candidates now running for seats in the lower house of Parliament, all but eight are Hindu. The party’s latest election manifesto reintroduces a proposal to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of a medieval mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya, even though the destruction of that mosque by Hindu extremists and B.J.P. supporters in 1992 devolved into violence that killed several thousand people.

Amit Shah, a former Gujarat minister and Mr. Modi’s closest aide, is awaiting trial for the murder of three people the police suspect of plotting to assassinate Mr. Modi. (Mr. Shah calls the charges a political conspiracy.) He has made speeches inciting anti-Muslim sentiment among Hindu voters, including in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, despite an outbreak of sectarian violence there last September.

The problem isn’t just about rhetoric. Judging by the evidence in Gujarat, where Mr. Modi has been chief minister since 2001, a B.J.P. victory in the general election would increase marginalization and vulnerability among India’s 165 million Muslims.

(Source : The New York Times)


From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy. After examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, the political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy.

In their conclusion, Gilens and Page go even further, asserting that “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover … even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

This is what the data shows: when the economic élites support a given policy change, it has about a one-in-two chance of being enacted. (The exact estimated probability is forty-five per cent.) When the élites oppose a given measure, its chances of becoming law are less than one in five. (The exact estimate is eighteen per cent.) The fact that both figures are both below fifty per cent reflects a status-quo bias: in the divided American system of government, getting anything at all passed is tricky.

The study suggests that, on many issues, the rich exercise an effective veto. If they are against something, it is unlikely to happen. This is obviously inconsistent with the median-voter theorem—which holds that policy outcomes reflect the preferences of voters who represent the ideological center—but I don’t think that it is a particularly controversial claim. A recent example is the failure to eliminate the “carried interest” deduction, which allows hedge-fund managers and leveraged-buyout tycoons to pay an artificially low tax rate on much of their income. In 2012, there was widespread outrage at the revelation that Mitt Romney, who made his fortune at the leveraged-buyout firm Bain Capital, paid less than fifteen per cent in federal income taxes. But the deduction hasn’t been eliminated.

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I have an easier and more English pronunciation of my name if you have an easier and more Urdu pronunciation of your Anglo-saxon name.

Entwining Tales of Time, Memory and Love

The personal gave way to the historical in some novels that dealt on an epic level with the tortuous history of Latin America. “The Autumn of the Patriarch” created a hallucinatory portrait of a tyrant who seems like a mythic composite of every dictator to strong-arm his way to power on that continent: a once-feted hero, who sells out his country to the gringos, murders his opponents, rewards himself with medals, unimaginable wealth and the modest title “General of the Universe,” and who ends up completely isolated, discovered dead in his palace, pecked at by vultures.

As for “The General in His Labyrinth,” it performed a kind of free-form improvisation on the life of the 19th-century revolutionary Simón Bolívar, who becomes in Mr. García Márquez’s telling a close relative of many of his fictional heroes — a spoiled dreamer, torn between martyrdom and hedonism, extravagant ambitions and crashing disillusion.

(Source : The New York Times)