Posted on 30-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has tossed out thousands of juvenile convictions by former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella from Jan. 1, 2003 to May 31, 2008.  Judge Ciavarella allegedly received kickbacks for sending juveniles accused of minor crimes to a detention facility.  The good judge was essentially being compensated handsomely while he maintained his tough on crime image and ruined young lives in the process.  Corruption in the administration of justice is not unknown, but something this blatant destroys the credibility of the justice system.  Another reason why lay persons and the media should pay closer attention to local officials and their myriad conflicts of interest.

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Posted on 30-10-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

A comment to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her refreshingly frank tour of Pakistan has irritated me more than it should.  During an exchange she was told that Pakistan “was fighting America’s war”.  As Clinton herself acknowledged, the United States did abandon Pakistan when the Soviets left Afghanistan.  But Pakistan’s current situation is the result of the terrible choices made by its security and political establishments in the past 20 years and beyond.  Pakistan’s failure to create a viable educational system or develop its economy delegates a vast section of its population to madrassas where they emerge as radicalized youth with no career skills ripe for harvesting by terror groups.  Pakistan’s security establishment turned a blind eye to many of these groups because they could be used to bleed India in Kashmir.  The ISI created and funded the Taliban’s rise to power in the 90s and Pakistan was one of only three countries (along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) to recognize that brutal regime.

After 9/11 the Musharraf dictatorship avoided many hard choices with respect to the terrorist establishment and in fixing Pakistani society.  Instead, it used American aid replenish its military arsenal against India.  Pakistan has been riding the jihadi tiger for the last 20 years and is now finding out that it is very hard to get off without being bitten.

For the  last decade the Pakistani establishment has acted as if it could continue business as usual in launching terrorists against India and pretending all was well in its unruly Northwest.  The American drones were used because the Pakistani army would not or could not launch anti-insurgency operations in Waziristan.  After the Mumbai attacks last year and with the increasingly brazen attacks on army and civilian targets inside Pakistan in the past few months, it is clear that things have to change.  Its time the Pakistani people stopped blaming everybody else and took a close hard look at the ruin they have created from its founder’s dreams.

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Posted on 30-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Previously posted on the administration calling out Fox.  Its been amazing to see the mainstream media rally to Fox’s defense and pretend that what the Obama administration is doing something new…except that the Bush administration did the same thing to MSNBC this last year.  But the reason for this post is the absolutely brilliant, must see video from Jon Stewart skewering Fox.  Enjoy!

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
For Fox Sake!
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis
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Posted on 30-10-2009
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rashtrakut

From the folks at deadspin.com a case of sheer bureaucratic stupidity.  High School cross-country team gets disqualified because of the color of the stitching on their shorts.  And nobody can really give a good reason why this rule was enacted.  But a rule is a rule, however stupid.  This is the sort of bureaucratic rigidity that breeds contempt for rules and regulations.

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Posted on 30-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

This blog has not had much good to say about the feckless Hamid Karzai.  But today we shift gears to the men with the guns who make Afghanistan ungovernable while fattening their pockets.  A Who’s Who from the folks at American Progress.  Some like Rashid Dostum have a long bloody history.  The brothers Karzai are recent additions to the list after their brother’s elevation to the presidency.  Ismail Khan and his fiefdom of Herat was one of the few bright spots in Afghanistan between the fall of Mohammad Najibullah and the rise of the Taliban.  Lately he is yet another squabbling warlord hovering around the weak Karzai regime.  As these warlords squabble they help generate the insecurity that allows the Taliban to dream of a comeback.

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Posted on 30-10-2009
Filed Under (Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

A previous post alluded to the problem the United States had in training an Afghan army.  Here is another article about the cultural, economic and logistical nightmares that bedevil the training effort of an Afghan army and have prevented any draw down of American troops.  The United States had a similar problem creating an Iraqi army, but Iraq at least had a tradition of a professional army.  Then there is the insistence on training the soldiers with the M-16.  This may be a boon for American military suppliers and it does have superior firepower than the the low maintenance AK-47, but one wonders whether a weapon which even trained American soldiers find difficult to maintain in rugged Afghan conditions is ideally suited as the weapon of choice for the rag tag Afghan army.

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