Sunday, June 25, 2006

Finding answers from Uncle Sam

The Haditha killings (also called the Haditha massacre or the Haditha incident) were an incident that occurred on November 19, 2005 in the town of Haditha, Iraq. A convoy of United States Marines was attacked with an improvised explosive device which killed Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas. Up to twenty-four Iraqis were subsequently killed; it is alleged that they were non-combatant local residents who were massacred by Marines in the aftermath of the insurgent attack. A Marine Corps communique initially reported that 15 civilians were killed by the bomb's blast and eight insurgents were subsequently killed when the Marines returned fire against those attacking the convoy. However, media reports contradicted this story.The evidence uncovered by the media prompted the US military to open an investigation into the incident, with charges reported to be delivered in due course. Video shot by Iraqi journalist and human-rights worker Taher Thabet and cellphone photos reportedly taken by one of the Marines the day after the killings have been put forth as evidence that the killings were methodical and without resistance.The term "execution-style" has been used by US military officials to describe the killings. The intentional killing of civilians, or indeed of any unarmed people, is prohibited by modern laws of war derived from the UN Charter, the Hague Conventions and the Geneva Conventions, and constitutes a war crime. The Marines and officers are expected to face courts martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is U.S. military law. Due to a Status of Forces Agreement with the Government of Iraq, the troops will not be subject to Iraqi law.
Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
Beginning in 2003, numerous accounts of abuse and torture of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq (also known as Baghdad Correctional Facility) occurred. The acts were committed by personnel of the 372nd Military Police Company, CIA officers, and contractors involved in the occupation of Iraq. An internal investigation by the United States Army commenced in January 2004, and reports of the abuse, as well as graphic pictures showing American military personnel in the act of abusing prisoners, came to public attention in April 2004, when a 60 Minutes news report (April 28) and an article by Seymour M. Hersh in The New Yorker magazine (posted online on April 30 and published days later in the May 10 issue) reported the story.The resulting political scandal damaged the credibility and public image of the United States and its allies in the prosecution of ongoing military operations in the Iraq War, and some critics of U.S. foreign policy argued that it was representative of a broader American attitude and policy of disrespect and violence toward Arabs. The U.S. Administration and its defenders argued that the abuses were isolated acts committed by low-ranking personnel, while critics claimed that authorities either ordered or implicitly condoned the abuses and demanded the resignation of senior Bush administration officials. The U.S. Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and seven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault, and battery. Between May 2004 and September 2005, seven soldiers were convicted in courts martial, sentenced to federal prison time, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner, and his former fiancée, Pvt. Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten years and three years in prison, respectively, in trials ending on January 14, 2005 and September 26, 2005. The commanding officer at the prison, Brig. General Janis Karpinski, was demoted to the rank of colonel on May 5, 2005. The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib was in part the reason that on April 12, 2006, the United States Army activated the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion, the first of four joint interrogation battalions.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dating Niagara falls

It had been my dream in my life that i wanted to visit Niagara once i come to US. Many people suggested to visit once I get married. But i didn't have much patience for the D-day . Good that soma booked a ticket from Des Moines to NYC and asked me to pick him up and drive towards Niagara.

we became 6 who planned to Niagara including soma's colleague saravana bhava..ezhil's friends in Connecticut. I took a rental van ...a Chrysler-town and country minivan kinda SUV from the Baltimore downtown and drove towards NYC. I never have drove such a big vehicle in my life...a seven drive towards NYC with mild rains...finally landed in a place..thanks to google map that i landed in a place which is not called La Guardia airport in newyork.i followed the map so religiously and finally landed up in a gas station according to that map. found out the airport and after long trail in the terminal path to pick soma and his accomplice saravana :) (wont tell what he did bad ..married poor fellow). Driving the newyork city is the most crazy thing in life.somehow managed though iam a religious driver after coming to US.There is a sign in newyork city saying please go on green light only.....c'mon india of united states...we are no bad ...its all population and head count counts to drive anywhere in this world,,.,,I have to go to china and see how they drive....soma checked in as thirupathi ajith ..(once he was red ajith) with a telugu/kannada actor saravana. good that soma took over the driving and we started roaming in NYC by drive and then headed towards connecticut...finding out ezhil's house wasn't that tough and we were guided by a cop who initially stopped us by throwing his serial light. my first encounter with a cop, later finding us searching for a route in local roads he guided us. ezhil's house is near river valley....i could hear the noise of water flowing...though not big, his place is too good. connecticut is a good place...full of greenery and water and i like it next to my garden day went to liberty statue to visit amma....this statue is much exaggerated in hollywood movies with light setting......But when you go there , you'll find an ordinary statue which is painted with a pale green...It is not even painted properly....Designed by a French architect , One of the best place to visit in US, this doesn't attract me that much and also I had been here with my HCL friends earlier. So finished of this, then went to Newyork city , crazy driving , found out our thrifty rental place after a long struggle tunneling all the time. Then evening we decided after adding additional drivers soma and ezhil, we started towards Niagara....There are 2 freeways which are long like 150 miles in each that you reach buffalo where we have booked a hotel to one of the freeways it was difficult to drive ..guess what it is not due to fog but it is due to clouds...i think it is in a high altitude place...atlast in the midnight we could reach our hotel which is near to university of buffalo....Quite good place to stay and enjoy the serene climate....Then next day morning after a brief spell of something called sleep , we started to the falls place which is 20 miles from the hotel. I heard that when you go to Niagara, you can hear two languages , one is telugu and one is english ...this time also we heard two is tamil and one is telugu...too many tamil crowd citing long weekend as an excuse ..machi...mamu....lot of young couples...when we were searching for parking spot we played Arinthum Ariyamalum "theepidika song" in high volume , window open....making the place real desi....only two good is called of "Maid of the mist" which is sailing in the cruise towards the falls and feeling the drizzle and another one is "Cave of the winds" which is typical showering in the falls...both are too good..only when you go in the crew you get reminded of why people ask you to go to Niagara after marriage ...too much of desi romance....
The world's second largest falls...another god's gift to this country...The second exciting place next to Newyork city i found in united states...Other states are just the same with wooden houses, dunkin donuts, Mc D s , gas stations near the day morn started back from Niagara in the early morning since soma has to catch 5 30 evening flight....With good average high speed most of the time exceeding speed limit,we returned back to connecticut to drop ezhil, sunil and bhavani....Then towards la guardia airport to drop soma and saravana..and finally i drove back to baltimore. The longest drive i ever have made, my CD-cassette converter crashed due to over heating as it had been singing all the way in the drive.

You can view photos of liberty and Niagara here.
My next plan is Florida..finding out the best season to go

Monday, June 12, 2006

India-Pakistan Wagah Border Closing Ceremony

I love watching this ceremony in TV and searched in web manytimes to find this video.

This video is taken from pakistan side. yet to find one from our side on web

The march and flag hoisting is really great.

This is shown in only one tamil movie starring murali and simran i believe.

Friday, June 09, 2006

World is blind to this Dark Continent--Somalia

Unscrambling Somalia
During World War II, the Italians briefly took British Somaliland, only to see the British return to retake "their" Somaliland, plus Italian Somaliland and Ogaden, too. In 1949, the Italians returned to administer Italian Somaliland as a UN trust territory, but not before many Somalis had begun longing for their own independent, pan-Somali state.
In 1960, the British and Italians left, and British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland joined to form the United Republic of Somalia. Almost immediately, the new nation became embroiled in border conflicts over Somali-inhabited lands in northern Kenya and eastern Ethiopia. A military buildup followed, even as internal tensions mounted between the former British and Italian regions.
In 1969, a bodyguard from a rival clan assassinated Somalia's president, and the military assumed power. The commander of the army, Mohamed Siad Barre, became president--and, before long, dictator. The coup was restyled a "revolution," as "Comrade Siad" announced his pursuit of an Islam-friendly version of "scientific socialism." Yet socialism never really took root in Somalia, and rival clans and Islamic leaders soon resented the Comrade's rule.

Somalia Rescrambled
In 1974, Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie fell. Three years later, Siad Barre retook the Somali-inhabited Ogaden region. At first, the Soviets tried to mediate the dispute. Then they shifted their support to Ethiopia (which has 75 million people to Somalia's 9 million). Somalia's Soviet arms shipments stopped, while Ethiopia got military advisors and Cuban troops. The United States shifted its support from Ethiopia to Somalia, but not before Ogaden was back in Ethiopian hands.
After the defeat in Ogaden, officers from a rival clan tried to topple Siad Barre. They failed, but the threat they posed prompted the dictator to start making government appointments based on perceived clan loyalty. The government and military became less competent, clan rivalries increased, and guerrilla attacks began. As the 1980s wore on, opposition groups became more powerful, and Siad Barre responded with increasingly repressive measures.
By the end of the 1980s, militias from several clans had seized much of the country. A series of last-ditch efforts at political reform failed to appease them, and in January 1991, a united opposition front captured the capital, Mogadishu. Siad Barre fled, his regime collapsed, and the militias turned on each other. In the next two years, 50,000 people died in factional fighting, and some 300,000 Somalis starved. Meanwhile, the former British Somaliland effectively seceded, calling itself, simply, "Somaliland." Somalia hasn't had a functional central government since.

Surveying Somalia
Somalia hasn't had a functional central government since 1991, when a group of warlords representing a variety of the country's traditional clans and sub-clans overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The warlords promptly turned on each other, and the situation in much of Somalia has been chaotic--and frequently deadly--ever since.
In the early 1990s, a United Nations task force, led by the United States, tried to restore order and provide humanitarian assistance. The effort saved many Somalis from starving, but ended in failure after militiamen downed two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters in Mogadishu. The ensuing firefight killed 18 U.S. soldiers and more than a thousand Somalis.
Since then, 13 internal attempts to fashion a national government have failed. A 14th attempt, backed by the European Union, got underway in 2004, when warlords and politicians agreed to create a new parliament and made a former warlord, Abdullahi Yusuf, president.
The transitional parliament met on Somali soil for the first time in February 2006, in the town of Baidoa, 155 miles (250 km) northwest of Mogadishu. Neither of the factions in the recent fight for Mogadishu answers to it. In fact, Yusuf and Company have stayed away from Mogadishu, which is more war-torn fief than capital city. What's a capital, after all, in a country without a government?

Separate Somalilands?
Understandably, large parts of the country have begun governing themselves. In the northwest, the part of Somalia that was once a British colony seceded 15 years ago, right after the warlords toppled Siad Barre. Enjoying relative peace, prosperity, and representative government, it longs for legal recognition as an independent nation, "Somaliland."
In the northeast, another large region--called "Puntland"--functions autonomously, too, though its leaders like to see it as the start of a federal system in Somalia. Puntland has ancient roots. Egypt's pharaohs once sought frankincense and myrrh from the "land of Punt."
Finally, in 2002, a group of warlords in the southwest followed suit, establishing "Southwestern Somalia." Its status is now unclear, as several of its leaders have taken posts in Somalia's transitional government.

Long-Suffering Somalis
Amid the political chaos, many ordinary Somalis suffer. One in four Somali children dies before turning five, cyclical famines kill thousands (and threaten millions), and pirates patrol the nation's coastline, stealing everything from black market goods to humanitarian food shipments. According to the United Nations, a drought in the south has left a sixth of Somalia's 8.8 million people in need of food aid.
Much of the aid that actually reaches Somalis comes in the form of money sent by relatives living abroad. According to some estimates, such remittances account for more than 20 percent of household income, though they've come under pressure from campaigns to curtail terrorist financing.
Despite it all, some sectors of Somalia's economy have actually thrived. Most major towns have wireless phone services, and many now have internet cafes. The airline business has boomed, too. "Corruption is not a problem," says one airline executive, "because there is no government."