In Defense Of Self Defense & Supreme Court Shooting Down DC Gun Laws

It was a split decision, but at least the Supreme Court of the United States has taken a stand on the American Constitution.

Sadly, it has not had much to say on violations of the Constitution carried out by the Bush regime, nor taken any stand on the daily decline in our constitutionally protected rights.

More important to them than the Constitution being torn to shreds were Washington, DC (District of Columbia) gun laws that ban legal ownership of guns by DC citizens.

Mind you, DC, among other cities, has often vied for the Murder Capital of the World title. So, I can see the local law enforcement’s logic in trying to ban guns (for the last 32 years). But, both as someone born in Pakistan and having been taught to handle my father’s favorite Webley & Scott revolver, and now as an American with an affinity for Smith & Wesson/Walther devices, I fully support the right of Americans to bear arms.

Of course, the NRA, of which I should be a member but am not, would probably disagree with my contention that there do have to be some limits on the types, and possibly even number, of guns we can or should be allowed to own.

I support the right to bear arms for several reasons.

My interest in owning weapons includes having them for target shooting, self-defence and all that the Constitution intended as good reasons to bear arms.

However, I also do not think we, or any non-law-enforcement citizen, need some sort of 3000 rounds per minute assault rifle or machine gun to do all of the things above.

We live in unsafe times. Security of the homeland means protecting ourselves not just from would be suicide-bombers but also from armed home invaders, drug dealers, road-rage-warriors, thugs, muggers, petty criminals, gang members, and so many other types of vile scum that can easily snuff out our lives for a few Dollars, or on a whim.

So, I do support the Supreme Court decision shooting down the DC gun laws, but I also hope for two more things.

The Supreme Court, and American courts in general, should also not hobble American law-enforcement from coming down hard on hard core criminals who often brazenly conduct their business better armed than our Police officers.

Of course, it would also be nice if the Supreme Court actually did something more to protect the whole Constitution itself from our increasingly fascist dictatorial executive branch and lame, crippled Congress, and spineless Senate, and not just try to address one particular aspect of the Constitution. What do you think?

More Moronic Mormon Big On Bigotry Questioned By Questionable Questioner

The New York Times and others have reported on Mitt Romney, the Republican Presidential candidate, saying he would not have Muslims in his Cabinet if elected President.

What more can one expect from a pro-war waffler none of whose children serve in the military. When he was asked about them not serving in the military, he said they best serve their country by helping him get elected. Doh. Another George W. Bush in the making on the more moronic front.

I am a Muslim and I do not think a Muslim is NEEDED in Cabinet. But, then, neither is a Jew or a Hindu or an Atheist… or a Mormon President needed for that matter. What is needed is a capable person in an appropriate position….

Sadly, the person who asked the self-serving question, Mansoor Ijaz, is not the right person for asking the question and Romney, apparently big on bigotry, is not the right person for the White House, no matter how right-wing he tries to lean to win votes.

Originally Published: 11/27/7 on http://imran.com/media/blog/

Real World News Of Real World News Media Making News In Virtual World

Recent news items mention how CNN, the global, respected, cable news leader, has established a presence in Second Life, a virtual world online.

Even though I have cautiously resisted jumping on the Second Life bandwagon (for fear of wasting time even more than I do at present), this seemingly innocuous news item has far greater long term impact on an industry, and society, than, say, Citibank or McDonald’s creating a presence.

For the most part, even large companies like these are merely touching the tip of the benefits iceberg that a real viable virtual world presence will bring businesses in real world terms.

News, by its nature, is the most well suited to that virtual world being leveraged in the real world.

A virtual burger sold by McDonald’s will not fill my hunger, virtual or real. Sure, some bank’s virtual branch could lend me virtual money in Second Life to buy some virtual property there – while they could charge me a fee in the real world, costing me real Dollars.

But, a virtual CNN reporter asking me a question of my virtual persona (especially if it is based on my true identity) can get the same valuable (or useless) insights as if they had met me in Atlanta or New York.

A citizen journalist in Pakistan could provide detailed accounts of dictator Pervez Musharaff’s latest hooliganism against journalists, judges and the Constitution of Pakistan in a virtual world, far quicker, safer and better than than it could be done in the real world.

That is one small aspect and there are many more. Here are the key points to keep in mind particularly for large businesses:

– Real world businesses can be in virtual worlds merely for appearing virtually cool

– Some large businesses can make small incremental revenues quickly in the real world by leveraging “services” delivered in the virtual world

– News media are ideally positioned to leverage virtual world presences for real world benefits far greater than other industries can experience at this stage.

What do you think – “really”?

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Beats Bush Rice Pudding For World Peace

My sweet tooth (more like sweet teeth!) mean there are few desserts, and hardly any ice-creams, that I do not like. But, among my favorites are Ben & Jerry’s flavors, along with Hagen Daz and many others.

I have been a fan of B&J’s ice-creams from before they showed the courage to take the challenge of exposing our government’s, especially the Bush administration’s, follies and foolish policies.

Obviously I just consume massive quantities of Chunky Monkey, Chubby Hubby, Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dreams, Half Baked, and many other flavors just to support Ben and Jerry be great corporate citizens. Fine, don’t believe me!

Anyway, when I saw a link to it, I was happy to become a fan of their “fan page” on FaceBook. I saw that they have actually created several flavors and brands in support of world peace.

During the same Facebook session, I clicked on the page of a very interesting person in Israel, who had connected to me. On his page, in a section called The Wall, which is standard on most FaceBook profiles, it was very heartening to see Palestinian and Israeli members, writing literally side-by-side, for world and middle-east peace.

It was just a coincidence. But one that reminded me again that individuals, like Yaakov Ort and Ben & Jerry (as people and as a business), can, do and will achieve far more for world peace with simple web pages, than President Bush ever could, even if he had thought about actually trying.

Even just by naming some flavors for World Peace, Ben and Jerry has/have done more for peace around the world, than President Bush did in 8 years. Even with his FaceBook profile, people like Yaakov, do more than Rice can do inviting world leaders for photo-ops.

Of course, Bush still has a SO many weekends left to solve the Mid-East problem, Darfur, and other issues. Many effective techniques are at his disposal. He can have the conflicting parties come and solve it all in day — perhaps by having some (kosher/halal, one hopes) hamburger cookoffs at his ranch.

I am not sure what dessert they serve at the Bush ranch. Surely it is not Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream…

Perhaps the dessert is Rice pudding — served on a water-board?

As I wrote in a comment on one of the profiles on FaceBook… Peace, with Dignity, and Equal Justice, to All.

Benazir Bhutto Befallen By Beastly Bastards

“Bhutto Assassinated.”

To a current follower of the news, that may be a simple, straightforward, headline.

But, to me, it brought forth a complex set of feelings and memories.

I grew up in Karachi, in the early 70’s. We would drive by the Bhutto residence in Clifton almost every day, en route to my aunt’s house at Sea View apartments on the ocean. My aunt’s late husband had been Director administering the Pakistani space and upper atmospheric research organization (SUPARCO) at that time.

It was during that time, just entering my teen years, that I had the chance to meet and see both Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Benazir’s late father) and Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi (Gaddafi/Qadhafi) during their visit to Karachi. This was around the time of the Islamic Summit that Zulfi Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, had pulled off.

In more recent years I have met and seen charismatic people, one on one, or in group settings. But, even comparing people with awesome personalities, from Bill Clinton and Colin Powell, to Steve Jobs and others, no one has exuded charisma and sheer human magnetism as Bhutto, and even Qaddafi, did back then.

My late Mother’s best friend (like a sister to her really) also lived in a house behind the Bhutto residence, so the Bhutto name and family was quite “visible” to us going about our day to day lives. Even as the megalomaniac that Zulfiqar Bhutto was, there was none of the modern-day security cordon around his house – as people like Musharaff and even his lowly minions can’t seem to live without.

Bhutto was busy charming the Pakistani public (while destroying the economy through socialist policies), and his younger son was being groomed to take over from him some day. Benazir was a character somewhat on the political sidelines at that time.

As a young teenager, I adored Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and scorned the religious political parties that were out to oust him.

Like all great leaders, what brought down Bhutto was not the brilliance or strength of his opponents, but his own hunger for power, pride and greed. He rigged an election, that he would have easily won anyway. That set in motion events that would lead to his eventual overthrow – by his own handpicked General Zia-ul-Haq.

Bhutto had thought Zia was a puppet, but Zia was one of the most cunning people I ever met. Not only did he overthrow Bhutto, hang him for murder, but went on to rule for 11 years.

My first meeting with General Zia was as a student at Aitchison College, Lahore in the 1977-78 timeframe. He was the Chief Guest at Aitchison’s Founder’s Day annual event. Along with many others, I too had created a science project for the exhibition at that time. It was a very elementary Lie Detector Test device. It consisted of some strands of wiring wrapped around two wooden handles that a user had to grasp. As they answered, the theory was that the sweaty palms, caused by telling a lie would change the resistance of the device, making a small electrical ammeter show a deflection.

Sure enough, Zia stopped by our booth and made it to my desk. I recall how much more repulsive he was in person, even more than in his photographs. Those droopy eyes of a weak calf, that insincere laugh, that ugly visage. I was not ready to be a political prisoner (at least then) so I kept my disgust to myself.

But, it did not stop me from being a smarty-pants. Zia took the lie detector test. I am probably the only person in the world who ever gave a sitting President of a country or a dictator a lie detector test! I asked him his name and what day it was, to calibrate” the device. He played along. I asked him a couple of questions and he answered truthfully and the meter showed no deflection. Finally, I asked him, “Will you end martial law and hold elections?”

He answered, “Yes.” The ammeter literally jumped off the scale and a light came on the console, “LIE”. We all laughed, but deep in my heart, even as a 15 year old, I knew Pakistani democracy would be shedding tears for years to come.

During that time period, Bhutto’s main political heir, his younger son, died in mysterious circumstances – a suspected victim of poisoning. His older son then tried to grab the mantle, but made things worse for himself by orchestrating a terrible hijacking that backfired on his reputation. That opened the door for Benazir Bhutto to become the family’s political dynasty leader — though not without feuding for a long time with he mother, Zulfiqar Bhutto’s widow, Nusrat Bhutto.

I had the chance to meet General Zia several times over the years – and could not stand the man. I despised him for how he had raped the name of Islam (some at the behest of his American government bosses) to create a fundamentalist movement, to help create fervor against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He also used the name of Islam to crush the liberal Pakistani society into an intolerant one, where the tiny fraction of zealous fanatics could hold a whole nation hostage to their version of 1400 year old laws.

In an attempt to crush the Bhutto family’s strength in the province of Sindh, he and his henchmen of the ISI also created yet another Cancer in Pakistan – the vile and murderous MQM, or Muhajir Qaumi Movement. The goal of this organization was to terrorize Karachi, and weaken the People’s Party. The things this organization did to its victims would make Adolf Hitler and his beastly friends shudder in fear. Yes, that was what America’s friend, General Zia, was up to in Pakistan.

As a student leader, Chief Organizer of the largest independent students organization in Pakistan, called QSF (Quaid-e-Azam Students Federation) at the University of Engineering and Technology, in Lahore, I was among those who bore the brunt of this out of control Islami Jamiat Taliba (a militant student organization run by the fundamentalist, anti-democracy, pro-Zia, pro-Taliban Jamate Islami).

I met Zia once again, but very briefly – when he was Chief Guest at an annual event of my engineering school. Needless to say, this visit was arranged by the Islami-Jamiat who then ran the students union.

After one particular incident this axis of Zia and the Jamiat became even more clear. One day Jamiat students were arrested shooting at my party workers and the police raid led to about 40 of their people being arrested with hand grenades and rifles to use on my party workers. As I left my apartment that night for my own safety, I literally ran into them being brought back to their dorm rooms by state vehicles less than 8 hours after their arrests.

I barely made it out. They went inside and ransacked everything. They destroyed my dorm room as well as others. My belongings were burnt and everything of value, including supposedly un-Islamic expensive audio music systems, cameras and electronics were stolen. My copy of the Quran, given to me by my Mother in 1977, was tossed on the floor by the Jamiat thugs. They just wanted blood and loot. The Quran, with its message of peace, was just an object to toss aside.

So, much that I wanted the Soviets out of Afghanistan, I also knew what price we in Pakistan were paying. These militants, along with 6 MILLION illiterate and unlawful Afghans flooded the streets of Pakistan, bringing with them prostitution, drugs, and assault rifles for sale to anyone. Drugs and internal strife, crime and violence, tyranny and fundamentalism, were all Zia’s and Ronald Reagan’s gifts to Pakistan.

When the Soviets were defeated, as it is wont to do, America picked up its bags and left. Zia tried to cling to power, thinking he could stave off America’s now apparent interest in democracy in Pakistan. By now the US was happy to see Benazir Bhutto return from exile.

I was no fan of Benazir Bhutto, whom I only saw as running on her father’s legacy, with nothing to show for her own work. Her two times as Prime Minister proved me correct. But, at that time, I was happy to see someone coming to challenge a dictator, Zia, whose days were numbered, but who seemed intent on staying in power.

Around that time I met General Zia once again, at a State dinner with some newspaper owners. I was there with the late Mir KhaliI-ur-Rehman, the Pakistani equivalent of Rupert Murdoch. Mir sahib was the owner and founder of the Jang Group of Newspapers and legend and an institution in his own lifetime. When he introduced me to to Zia, General Zia showed no one was safe from his and his henchmen’s eyes. He said to me, “Oh, I know you, I am familiar with your work.”

The background to that comment was Benazir. I was then working directly with MKR’s younger son, Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, the now owner/Chairman of the Jang Group of Newspapers (and the well known and currently blocked GEO TV network).

Upon BB’s return from her exile, I was able to have one of the Jang photographers get me color photos of Benazir’s arrival at Lahore Airport – just in time for me to write a quick article and put the items on a flight to Karachi.

The materials arrived in Karachi in time for my late friend, and editor of MAG Weekly, Wahab Siddiqui, to run the photos as the cover story of MAG (literally hours after Benazir had landed) with the article I submitted.

Some things never change. Just like the corrupt dictator Musharaff is going after the media, surely enough, back then, I got a visit at home that night from “security personnel” who were there to ask how and why the pictures of Benazir’s arrival were front cover story news in Mag Weekly the next day.

I was lucky that I was not treated to the Zia Special as many of my fellow journalists were treated back then (nails pulled, beaten, tortured) but it was a good reminder that I still lived in a dictatorship. Zia’s later comment about knowing my work showed that even a “hobbyist” journalist was not beyond the range of his radar screens.

Eventually, thankfully for Pakistan, General Zia died in a plane crash — as dictators not needed by the USA anymore have a strange habit of doing. Benazir came into power — and squandered a historic opportunity to create her own legacy, do good in Pakistan, or improve the lot of women in that region.

Instead, she watched her corrupt and vile husband become “Mister Ten Percent” who took that amount in kickbacks on every government project. Around that time I had the honor of becoming the founder of Internet and email in Pakistan. My neighbor and I had co-founded and co-owned the .PK Pakistan TLD (top level domain). Apparently, Zaradari, at that time was trying to corner the market on all electronic media, from FM and TV station licenses to paging (anyone remember beepers?) and email. My neighbor and I had to stave off a great deal of pressure to relinquish control and ownership of the .PK TLD but were able to resist. Eventually, the issue fizzled away, as did Zardari. He had bigger problems to deal with.

Thanks to his corruption, and Benazir’s lack of leadership, she got thrown out of power and the game of musical chairs for leading Pakistan began.

Nawaz Sharif, another person I had known personally for a long time, became Prime Minister. From someone whom you could play Cricket with in Lahore, he became a power hungry maniac too. He had been an insignificant local politician, whom General Zia had groomed and pushed into leadership. In particular, Jang newspaper in Lahore, and our mutual friend Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, had a lot to giving him prominent coverage making him popular. I recall that Nawaz Sharif had a really favorable news story and interview appear in Jang Lahore, with a really great set of photos (taken by my old friend and colleague at that time, Abdul Qayyum). I was with Mir Shakil when Nawaz Sharif called and requested if he could be given the original slides of those pictures – that is how good the photos were.

Shakil gave the originals to me and I drove to Nawaz Sharif’s home in Model Town, Lahore, that night. He invited me in, and could not get enough of looking at his pictures. He was practically drooling. His exact words to me were, “Imran sahib, please thank Shakil sahib for me and tell him, ‘I was nothing and today you made me a national leader’.”

Of course, when Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister, he did the usual “elected dictator” things Pakistani heads of state do. He squeezed Benazir and her supporters. He and his supporters made more money (but, to their credit, at least some great things and development projects took place in Pakistan in his tenure). Of course, the expected irony and twist was how today’s populist candidate defending Pakistan’s judiciary from attacks by Musharaff, himself had his supporters attack the courts and judges to have his way. Even more ironic, the same person, today defending media freedoms, who had asked me to thank Shakil for making him a leader had, back then, squeezed Shakil and Jang any time news coverage was not to his own liking.

Such is the guaranteed, hypocritical, “Do as I say, not as I do” way of Pakistani politicians… until, of course, they are out of power, and want to be your best friends again.

In that, Benazir Bhutto was no exception. She had been an ineffective, corrupt, weak, personality-driven head of state. She sold out Pakistan’s interests in many areas, to please foreign powers. She had been a marked woman for many of those actions a decade ago but most of today’s media reports seem to ignore the background of why the militants (and some ISI people) wanted her head for a long time.

I was highly opposed to her being helped back into a side role with Musharaff in power that the Bush government was working on this year. I found it shameful that our leaders in Washington had no desire for true democracy in Pakistan. They just wanted to ensure that the dictator Musharaff stayed at the helm.

They did not care Bhutto was ineffective. They did not care she was corrupt. They did not care she would be a figurehead. All they wanted was a show of democracy. So much for sincerely wanting democracy in Pakistan. I wrote highly critical articles about Benazir’s shamelessly jumping into bed with Musharaff. But, I was horrified when she was targeted in a mass killing suicide bombing a few weeks ago, and she had my fullest support to have the right to live and move and campaign freely in Pakistan.

Alas, even critic’s good wishes, and friends’ prayers, are no match for violent axis of evil when foreign influence like the CIA, black ops like ISI and pure vile murderous bastards like AlQaeda/Taliban are cooperating/competing with each other in a dance that only brings death to innocent victims, and more slush funds to them.

I knew Benazir would be a target. Much that I did not want her in power as a fellow cohort of Musharaff, I also did not want Musharaff to get away with having her killed, directly or indirectly. But, unfortunately, that is how it was going to play out.

The irony that brings the story full circle is that while Benazir’s father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was not assassinated literally, as he was afraid he would be, he had written a book, “If I Am Assassinated”.

Benazir never wrote a book of that name, but her date with destiny was in the realization of her father’s book title…. perhaps her last words may have been… “I am assassinated.”

May God have mercy on her soul, and many who died alongside her. And, may God protect Pakistan and Pakistanis from the evil and beastly bastards that befell Benazir Bhutto. Amen.