Syria asks UN to ‘prevent any aggression’

DAMASCUS: Syria has asked the United Nations to try to “prevent any aggression” against it, state news agency SANA said Monday, as the United States weighs military action against Damascus.

“The Syrian government calls on the UN secretary general to assume his responsibilities … and to make efforts to prevent any aggression against Syria,” the agency said, quoting a letter from Syria’s UN representative Bashar al-Jaafari.

The letter also urged the United Nations to help seek a “peaceful political solution to the crisis” in Syria, where more than 110,000 people have been killed in violence since an uprising against the regime began in March 2011.

US President Barack Obama is seeking approval from Congress for military action against Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack on Damascus suburbs on August 21 that killed hundreds.

Much of the international community, including the United States, Britain and France, has accused the Syrian regime of carrying out the attack, a charge that the government in Damascus denies.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said Syria used sarin gas and France on Monday was set to provide what it says is clear evidence the regime was behind the alleged chemical attack.

“The Syrian government repeats once again that it has never used chemical weapons,” Jaafari wrote in the letter.

“The world was expecting the United States to play its role as a sponsor of peace… by preparing seriously for the Geneva conference on Syria, and not as a country that uses military force against those who oppose its policies,” he added.

Earlier in the year, the United States and Russia said they would work to organise a peace conference in Geneva to seek a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

But the efforts have gradually fallen apart, with leaders announcing successive delays to the mooted meeting.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that military action against Damascus would put off chances for a peace conference “a long time, if not forever.”


Growing wings in a bus

The girl standing in the women’s section among more men than women in the morning rush hour had been, with all the force of indoctrination, prior experience, and will, pretending as if nothing just happened that concerned her.

When hero took over the situation and had two fellow passengers restraint the offender, he tapped her shoulder with a polite, ‘bibi’. She recoiled in horror. The hand pushing against her buttocks was obviously out of her sight; it was not supposed to be seen by anyone at all. The journey would soon end and she could reclaim her body without a blemish, and without anyone knowing anything about the hand or where it had been wandering. It only happens for a short while, why turn it into a bigger museebat by reacting to it? This policy had worked for her till that day.

The kindly tap on her shoulder pulled her out of a world she’d made up to escape from the real world of a crowded bus and male bodies pressing against her. It exposed her in front of strangers, all looking at her expectantly and imagining God knows what in their heads. She was mortified. She wanted to cry but her features stayed frozen in fright. She raised her eyes with difficulty and looked around in a quick semi circular movement of head. She wanted to plead for help, help her get out of this embarrassment that she was about to be pushed deeper into. All she saw was a blur of male faces perspiring and flushed with the heat of July as much as that of unfamiliar emotions.

Would I want my sister in the shoes of this young woman? Tauba tauba, Allah forbid. Anyways, now that something as commonplace as caressing a butt has been criminalised, let’s see what comes out of it. Females are passive, you do things to her, she is not supposed to react. What is this one going to say or do about it? It was a private court held by a strong man and that was as good an assurance as can be that justice will be done and done quickly. They looked on expectantly.

Bibi, look at this beghairat, especially his face, because you are the last one to see this face intact. Go and kick his face until his ears come out of his eyes’. Hero’s voice had the elder brotherly command and assurance in equal measure. She was covering her face with her chador, showing only her anxious, sometimes frightened and sometimes pitiful eyes. Her hands were clasped tight to keep them from shaking. She hadn’t spoken a word, or moved a foot. She was half turned back, towards the men’s section and even with downcast eyes, couldn’t avoid the sight of the offender pinned down on a seat two rows from her. She looked up at hero, begged him with her eyes for something that wasn’t clear to either, and bowed her head again.

‘Are you scared of him? You know how brave this tarzan is? I swear he’ll die of heart attack before my first punch lands on him. He will start urinating if I just look him in the eye for half a minute. But he has the courage to violate another’s body? If you want to know, your silence is the source of his courage’. He turned towards other passengers, including a handful of women who promptly looked away so they didn’t have to answer: ‘What would you do if someone molested you from behind? Yes, you bhai saab’. Over a general din of threats of violence against the beholder of the offending hand, the man originally asked the question, took his time to think his response. ‘It really depends …’ His companion, an older man, in a bid to shut this idiot’s mouth immediately, jumped in excitedly: ‘Let me tell you this, very few men will admit in public and I am glad to be one. Yes, my behind has been a source of amusement for total strangers. I have also fondled strangers who were weaker than me. Having been both, an abused and an abuser, I agree with this gentleman, the abuse goes on until you turn around and face the abuser.’

‘You heard that, bibi? This boy, man, whatever he is, violated your body. These guys are willing to cut their violator in pieces. Your violator is right here, produced before you. Do what you want with him. At least slap him, or beat him with your sandal.’ She raised her eyes finally and blinked a yes to him. She took two small steps and stood over the boy. He wasn’t really a boy. He had a petite physique and boyish face but the lines around his eyes gave him away as at least in his early 30s. She had dreaded looking into the eyes of her tormentor but when she did, she was pleasantly surprised to see fear there, and that gave her courage. She removed the chador from her face and bent over him. Her lips parted and a tiny shower of spittle issued from them. A passenger, who was filming with his mobile phone camera, stood over the scene, moving between close-ups of the two faces. He was happy to have anticipated the spitting moment, then he turned to the man who was held down and spat on. He was chalk white and expressionless and witless. There was no drama in his face, just fear.

The girl on the other hand was going through a spectacular transition from larva to butterfly. Four dozen pairs of male eyes saw her growing instant wings. There, in front of their eyes, this shy and frightened girl was turning into a woman who could strike back. She just had. Her lips were not quivering anymore; her breathing and hands were steady too. And her eyes, that’s where the sea change was. They sparkled as if she had just won a prize fight. It is difficult to explain in words the feelings evoked by what was going on in her eyes. I was glad someone was filming this. I’d probably still be watching those eyes telling the story of a lifetime in a few seconds, over and over again, if the silly passenger hadn’t forgotten to email me the captured footage.

She was staring unblinkingly at the boy-faced man lying helplessly on the seat, not even allowed to wipe the spittle off his face. ‘Give my salam to your mother,’ she hissed. ‘I have taught you a lesson she should have’. Then she turned to the hero and thanked him with a simple ‘shukria bhai saab. I am done,’ and went back to standing among other women – faceless but not voiceless any more.

Nine Leading Universities in Pakistan Join the Oracle Academy

Karachi, Pakistan – 11th July 2013: Nine leading universities in Pakistan have joined the Oracle Academy and have integrated its Advanced Computer Science program into their IT curriculum to provide their students hands-on experience with Oracle Database and Oracle Fusion Middleware.

As a result, approximately 4500 students from these participating universities will have access to world-class Oracle software, technical curriculum, and industry-recognized certification resources, as well as developing vital business and technology skills.

Participating universities include University of Engineering & Technology (UET) – Taxila, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) – Karachi, GC University Faisalabad, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology – Lahore, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, University of Peshawar, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) – Islamabad, University of Agriculture – Faisalabad and The Superior Group of Colleges – Lahore.

The Oracle Academy helps to equip students with world-class IT skills that help them prepare for careers in fields such as computer engineering, application development, web development, IT consulting, systems integration, database design/administration, IT product management, IT product marketing, technical support, and more.

“It is essential that our next generation have the right skill set before entering the workforce. Using industry-relevant and engaging computer science education resources offered by Oracle Academy, these students can benefit from hands-on experience with real world business software,” said Ahsen Javed, Managing Director, Oracle Pakistan and SAGE-W.

“We are proud to support the universities in Pakistan in preparing the students for IT and business careers and hope that this young workforce will soon contribute to the success of the organizations they will work for,” he said.

The Oracle Academy provides a complete portfolio of software, curriculum, technology, faculty training, support, and certification resources to secondary and higher education institutions.

Representatives from participating universities were equivocal in their support of this initiative.

“The Oracle Academy has been very effective as we have not only been able to enrich our existing courses but our faculty is also in the process of designing more courses with major practical and hands-on outlines,” said M.N. Khokhar, Assistant Professor and Coordinator MS(CS), SZABIST Islamabad Campus.

“We are confident that the Oracle Academy will help our faculty and students to enhance their understanding in various areas where Oracle has been the leader and innovator,” said Dr. Adeel Akram, Dean – Faculty of Telecom, & Information Engineering, UET Taxila.

“We at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology Lahore campus have been benefiting from our Oracle Academy Advanced Computer Science Membership since March 2013,”said Dr. Hamid Turab Mirza, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore Campus.

“Curriculum and software support is very useful and is helping our students to master database systems concepts, and specifically Oracle Database technology, in a better way,” said Dr Mirza.

“We have recently subscribed to Oracle Academy to let our students and faculty members learn the state-of-art Oracle software,” said Dr. Azhar Rauf, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Peshawar. “We are also planning to incorporate some courses from Oracle Certification Programs into the BS program.”


There was an eerie calm over Hawaii that morning. Perhaps it was a silent warning of what was to come. On every prior Sunday, for nearly two months, U.S. Navy carrier-based fliers posing as enemy aviators had conducted mock bombing raids while Army antiaircraft batteries directed simulated fire in defense of the island. Just a week earlier the sky over Oahu has resembled a three-ring circus as Navy planes circled, dove and buzzed the decks of the mighty Pacific Fleet’s warships lying in anchor at Pearl Harbor.

But Sunday, December 7, 1941, was different. With just a few exceptions nearly all the Navy’s and the Army’s aircraft were on the ground. No army gunners were ready at their posts. Not a single Navy reconnaissance plane was in the air. Instead, the fighters, bombers, patrol planes, transports and trainers were carefully lined up on runway aprons – wing to wing, tip to tip, in perfect target position.

The sailors of the fleet were also unaware that the clear blue sky above would soon begin raining death and destruction on their gently lolling ships. Except for the carriers Enterprise and Lexington – which were at sea along with a few heavy cruisers and destroyers – virtually the entire Pacific Fleet was in the harbor.

Curiously, though the USS Ward reported sinking a submarine in the prohibited area off Pearl at 6:45 a.m., no alert was sounded. Instead, each vessel’s crew routinely prepared for Sunday religious services.

Aboard the battlewagon USS Arizona the members of the band were excused from performing at morning muster since they had won second place in a contest the night before. They snoozed contentedly, little knowing that their bunks would soon become their eternal resting place and the ship their tomb.

At 7:50 a.m. swarms of Japanese planes swept over the island. From the north, bombers roared over the Army’s Schofield Barracks and past Wheeler Field toward the fleet. Another force came from the east, attacking Kaneohe Field, then Bellows Field and on to the harbor. From the south a third group of planes pock-marked Hickam Air Field with bomb craters and ignited a chain of exploding U.S. planes before continuing toward the helplessly moored warships.


In rapid succession the battleship USS Utah and the light cruiser USSRaleigh were struck by torpedoes from the diving Japanese planes. A single torpedo crippled both the Oglala and the Helena. Moments later an 1,800-pound bomb penetrated the Arizona‘s deck and ignited fuel and ammunition caches below, sending more than a thousand sailors and Marines aboard her to a watery grave.

Wave after wave of Japanese planes descended on the harbor, bombing, strafing and torpedoing their targets. By 11 a.m. the attack was over; only the flotsam and jetsam of a once-mighty fleet was left bobbing in its wake.

A terrible price in lives and equipment had been paid. More than 2,400 men were killed outright or died of their wounds soon after. Another 1,178 were wounded. A total of 18 vessels – eight battleships, three light cruisers, three destroyers and four auxiliary ships – were either sunk or knocked out of commission. Eighty-seven naval aircraft were also destroyed along with 77 Army planes.

Equally devastating, the pride of the U.S. Navy also sank that morning. By contrast, the Japanese lost only 29 planes, one attack submarine and five midget subs in their daring raid.

As news about the attack flashed across the nation, Americans reacted with shock, fear and then rage and anger. Yet, as emotions calmed, the inevitable questions were raised.

How could the Japanese fleet sail across the Pacific without detection? Where did Japan obtain the detailed information about the deployment of U.S. forces on Oahu? Why were our ships and planes lined up so neatly together, inviting attack? How could our fighting forces be caught so off-guard? How could they be taken so totally by surprise?

Today, more than four decades later, some of those questions can now be answered. Most of the players in the tragic drama staged at Pearl Harbor are dead now, their terrible secrets taken with them to the grave. There is little owed to them. A far greater debt must be paid to historical truth.

Within hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was hand-correcting a speech he planned to deliver the next evening before a joint session of Congress. That draft is among my most prized possessions. In faded pencil, is the unmistakable scrawl of Roosevelt, inserting a word there, a phrase there.

The next day, the third-term President gave one of his best-remembered addresses. In his lilting, sing-song cadence, Roosevelt called the grieving nation to arms. He labeled December 7, 1941, as “a date which will live in infamy.” His words were so carefully crafted and eloquent, it was difficult to believe he had managed to compose them in the haste and confusion following the attack.

In fact, the treachery of our nation’s leader rivaled that of the Japanese. Roosevelt had labored on the speech for days. He knew well in advance that the Japanese were planning a sneak attack. He knew to the day, almost to the hour, when the assault on Pearl Harbor would begin. December 7, 1941, held no surprises for Roosevelt, nor for me.

A full week earlier, on November 29, I learned about the impending attack from an unlikely source – Cordell Hull, Roosevelt’s own secretary of state. To put the matter into proper perspective, I should explain how and why Hull came to entrust me with the terrible secret of Pearl Harbor.

I arrived in Washington, D.C., on the same train that carried President-elect Roosevelt in March 1933. Though I was only 22 at the time, I moved comfortably within the ranks of movers and shakers who were soon to inherit the reins of government.

My credentials among the Roosevelt crowd were impeccable. I had organized the first Roosevelt for President Club three years earlier in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, while FDR himself was still running for reelection as governor of New York. By the end of 1930 I was directing active clubs in 21 states.

Prior to the Democratic National Convention of 1932 I convinced House Speaker John Nance Garner to issue public statements that he was not a candidate for the Presidency, and helped head off the “Stop Roosevelt” bloc within the party. As sort of a thank-you, Democratic National Committee Chairman Jim Farley arranged a brief visit with Roosevelt at the governor’s mansion in Albany. At a private meeting with FDR following his victorious election he suggested I select a post in his administration and submit my application directly to him after the Inaugural on March 4, 1933.

Though I had proven my political savvy during the long Roosevelt Presidential campaign, I knew little about the machinery of the government itself. I was caught on the horns of a dilemma. Here I was, presented with an opportunity to pick nearly any job in the administration I desired short of a Cabinet post, and I couldn’t decide. I wanted a job where I could meet people and rub shoulders with the power-brokers, something in public relations.

Finally, a few weeks after he formally took office, I wrote to Roosevelt and asked for an appointment as chief of the passport division under the jurisdiction of the newly appointed secretary of state, Tennessee Senator Cordell Hull. By March 27, Louie Howe, Roosevelt’s closest confidant, had forwarded my request to the State Department, and within a few days Hull himself telephoned to suggest I drop by his office.

Tall and distinguished, with thick-tufted brows poised above kindly eyes, Cordell Hull cut an imposing figure. He had the carriage and bearing of a king; yet he never forgot his Tennessee hill-country origins.

With a sincere twinge of sorrow in his voice Hull explained that the job I sought was held by a career civil servant who could not legally be removed, and asked whether I would be interested in an appointment as special assistant to the woman who currently held the post. After considering his offer for a few days, I thanked Hull for his time and attention but declined the position. The papers were full of rumors of sex scandals within the State Department, and I decided that that agency probably shouldn’t serve as my initiation into government service. My meetings with Hull, however, began a cordial, respectful relationship that was to last throughout his nearly 12 years as secretary of state.

Over the next few years I moved through several of the “alphabet soup” agencies President Roosevelt created to focus government attention on the nation’s depressed economy. At the National Recovery Administration I managed to obtain the participation of the Du Pont Corporation in the NRA’s work. But soon I recognized that the restrictive codes and regulations imposed by the administration were driving small Mom-and-Pop businesses into bankruptcy and launching chains of conglomerates that changed the very face of American retailing.

Next I began handling complaints for the Agriculture Adjustment Administration (AAA) until I witnessed the deliberate slaughter of hogs to keep pork production down. While millions of families starved and begged for food, the government was directing the destruction of crops, dairy products and animals to prop up prices!

I resigned in protest and took a post in the Treasury Department, which wasn’t much of an improvement. As chief of correspondence of the emergency-accounts section in the department’s procurement division, I could watch from a front-row seat while tax dollars were squandered on outrageous programs and federal agencies paid exorbitant sums for equipment that could have been purchased at half the price on the open market.

I argued until I was blue in the face, but it was all to no avail. The fix was in. I finally figured that government service was not for me.

Over the next months I began working as a freelance writer for the New York Herald-Tribune, the Pittsburgh Press and the Paul Block newspaper chain, among others. I also worked for a number of congressmen, writing speeches, handling their public relations and investigating issues.

Meanwhile, Roosevelt was finding that his smooth-sailing ship of state had run into some rough water. The Supreme Court declared both the NRA and the AAA unconstitutional and challenged other parts of Roosevelt’s New Deal program.

Roosevelt, of course, fought back. He began behind-the-scenes maneuvers to purge members of the Senate who opposed his pet projects, and blatantly tried to pack the Supreme Court with justices who would be subservient to his whims. For me that was the last straw. I publicly broke with the President and began directing my efforts against his tyrannical plans.

At the height of the controversy I wrote to Supreme Court Justice James C. McReynolds and questioned him about the rumors circulating in the capital that he intended to retire. McReynolds advised me in his reply to “disregard” all the talk about his resignation, and I leaked the text of the letter to my friend Lyle Wilson, Washington bureau chief of United Press. The story put a damper on Roosevelt’s court-packing plan and spelled defeat for his judicial reorganization proposal in Congress.

Only nine months after FDR took the oath of office for his second term as President, I continued my assault by revealing in the New York Herald-Tribune on October 31, 1937, that Roosevelt was hoping for a war in Europe so that he could sidestep the Constitutional provision limiting a President to eight years in office and seek an unprecedented third term. The story was later reprinted in full in the Congressional Record, only weeks before the election in 1940.

Of course, my organizing activities against Roosevelt earned me his undying hatred, just as my efforts in his behalf a decade earlier had won his friendship. But it was clear he had become a demagogue and wanted to be a sort of king or a president-for-life. I was not alone in that assessment, and my opposition to a third term for Roosevelt also gained for me the fellowship of many politicians and even the grudging admiration of one of Roosevelt’s own Cabinet secretaries, Cordell Hull.

For decades Hull had toiled in service to the nation. He volunteered for duty in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and upon his return he rode the Tennessee hills as a circuit judge. He was elected to Congress in 1907, and he remained there until Roosevelt beckoned him in 1933.

Between 1921 and 1924 he had paid his political dues serving as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. As secretary of state, he suffered in silence while Roosevelt used Undersecretary Sumner Welles – a closet bisexual – to direct foreign policy from the White House, undercutting Hull at every turn.

At first, Hull had ample reason to be patient. He wanted to be President and told me later that Roosevelt had secretly promised Hull not to seek reelection to a third term. Roosevelt, Hull claimed, had even vowed to support him for the Democratic nomination. But unknown to Hull at the time, FDR had made the same guarantee to a score of others.

Months went by – crucial organizing months – while Roosevelt refused to discuss the issue of a third term publicly. Finally, when FDR made his move, Hull realized he had been betrayed. By the time Roosevelt’s third term ended in 1944, Hull would be 72 – too old, he figured, for a tough race for the White House.

Early in 1941 I came upon some incredible information that, if true, could have badly tarnished Hull’s shining political image. Remembering his personal kindness years before, I wrote to the secretary of state and requested a private audience.

Independently, I managed to confirm the gist of the story that concerted events dating back to the beginnings of Hull’s career in public life. My intention was merely to get a statement from the secretary of state and then publish the story. In a series of meetings over the following weeks Hull acknowledged the truth of what I had discovered.

The scene of our meeting in Hull’s office is still etched deeply in my memory: the courtly secretary of state, hunched over in despair, sobbing and pleading with me to keep the story secret. As Hull related to me the difficult circumstances Roosevelt had placed him in, I began to understand the sorrow and anguish he had suffered. He’d had enough, I decided. I promised Hull never to reveal the information I had obtained, and I have kept that confidence to this day.

Hull told me he never forgave Roosevelt for double-crossing him in 1939; yet he remained in office, cautiously and carefully tying to hold together the fabric of U.S. foreign policy. Hull knew he was the only man in the New Deal Cabinet who had the power and stature to blow the whistle on Roosevelt’s chicanery. But he remained a loyalist for the good of the nation. It was clear that war clouds were on the horizon and that a political crisis in the United States could only benefit the enemies of democracy.

It was in this volatile and uncertain atmosphere that Cordell Hull telephoned me early on Saturday, November 29, 1941, and asked me to see him in person as soon as possible. He wanted to discuss a matter of extreme importance with me, and it was a subject of such sensitivity, it could not be talked about on the phone. There was an obvious note of urgency in his high-pitched voice, and I quickly agreed.

We met outside the State Department (then housed in what is now known as the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House), and after exchanging brief hellos, walked briskly across the street to Lafayette Park. As we sat on a bench, Hull was fidgeting nervously, betraying the emotions usually masked by his cool demeanor. Suddenly, he burst into tears, and his lanky figure shuddered.

I resisted an impulse to drape my arm around his shoulder and waited patiently for him to regain his composure. Sucking in great gasps of air, Hull began to talk. His words came slowly at first and then fairly streamed from his mouth. It was as if he could barely wait to pronounce them he was so anxious to tell the story.

I could only sit in startled silence as Hull told me Japan was going to attack Pearl Harbor within a few days, and pulled from his inside coat pocket a transcript of Japanese radio intercepts detailing the plan. Recovering from my shock, I began to question him.

“Why are you telling me this?” I blurted out. “Why don’t you hold a press conference and issue a warning?”

“I don’t know anyone else I can trust,” he replied, shaking his head. “I’ve confided in some of your colleagues in the past, but they’ve always gotten me into hot water. You’ve had the goods on me for months; yet you’ve kept your promise not to publish them. You’re the only one I can turn to.”

“Does the President know the Japs are going to attack Pearl Harbor?”

“Of course he does. He’s fully aware of the plans. So is Hoover at the FBI. Roosevelt and I got into a terrible argument, but he refuses to do anything about it. He wants us in this war, and an attack in Hawaii will give him just the opportunity. That’s why I can’t hold a press conference. I’d be denounced by the White House. No one would believe me!”

(Hull’s allegations about FBI complicity in the coverup were confirmed more than a month after Pearl Harbor. A bylined article by United Press reporter Fred Mullen in the Washington Times-Herald declared, “FBI Told Army Japs Planned Honolulu Raid.” The article explained that the bureau had intercepted a radio-telephone conversation on December 5, which mentioned details of the planned raid. Within hours of publication Hoover pressured the newspaper into pulling the story from its later editions.)

After exacting a promise from me never to reveal where I got the document, Hull gave me a transcript of the Japanese message intercepts. I nearly ran the few short blocks to the National Press Building on 14th Street, where I had an office. I took the elevator up to the United Press bureau and brushed past the clerks and reporters into Lyle Wilson’s private office.

Wilson was a longtime friend who had used many of my stories in the past. He was also a chum of Steve Early, Roosevelt’s press secretary; so I swore him to secrecy before I would reveal the purpose of my visit.

I told Wilson I had just left a high governmental official who gave me unimpeachable evidence that Pearl Harbor was about to be attacked and that Roosevelt knew all about it. Wilson was incredulous. He told me my story was simply unbelievable and refused to put it on the United Press wire. Again I made Wilson swear an oath that he would not divulge what I had told him, and I hurried out of his office.

After a frantic series of calls I finally located Harry Frantz, until recently the cable editor of United Press. Harry still had excellent connections at the bureau, and he managed to transmit the story on the UP foreign cable – but not the syndicate’s main trunk line.

Though written in haste, the story as it left Washington contained all the important details of what Hull had confided to me earlier that morning. Yet, somehow, the text was garbled in transmission.

The only newspaper in the whole world to use any portion of the story was the Honolulu Advertiser. A front-page banner headline in the paper the morning of Sunday, November 30, “JAPANESE MAY ATTACK OVER WEEKEND!” A subhead noted, “Hawaii Troops Alerted”.

Suspiciously, the story didn’t mention that the target of the Japanese attack would be Pearl Harbor itself. The horrible cost paid for that simple omission is well-known.

Men in Black

The Mystery:

If you only know the term “Men in Black” from the Will Smith movie, you should know that the mythology of the MiB predates it by decades. According to paranormal researchers, particularly UFO believers and conspiracy buffs, men dressed in black clothing show up after an encounter with the unknown. They’re either government agents or entities posing as government agents, who make vague threats and attempt to intimidate people into keeping quiet about what they saw.

“It’s like the Will Smith movie, but with less mind-erasing and more summary executions.”

They’re always dressed in neatly tailored black suits, drive large, black cars and often seem otherworldly or somehow not human.

The Solution:

MIBs were introduced into the public consciousness by way of a UFO researcher named Gray Barker. Barker was a credible journalist — and by “credible journalist” we mean the exact opposite of both of those things.

Apparently the Blues Brothers are involved somehow.

Turns out, Gray Barker was actually a closet skeptic, and tended to refer to his UFO writings as “kookie books.” In fact, he frequently played pranks on other UFOlogists because he felt like they were taking things too seriously. After his death, his own sister called him out for mostly being interested in cash, saying he once told her, “There’s good money in it.”

That’s a man who’s not revealing what’s happening to his lower half at that precise moment.

Barker based his book about Men in Black on interviews with UFOlogists who had simply claimed to have been visited by government agents who asked them to take it down a notch. This might not actually be far from the truth. At the time, the government didn’t want people getting too worked up over UFOs because they knew the craft were actually experimental spy planes, like the U-2 spy plane.

“Man, that’s not a UFO either. Guess we still haven’t found what we’re looking for.”

To further impugn Barker’s record, he and his friend James Moseley once got their hands on some blank government stationery and sent a hoax letter to a fellow UFOlogist.

“The alien king of Xibitu has recently come into a great sum of money and needs my help?”

Then in 1970, he published a book titled The Silver Bridge, an account of the “Mothman” sightings in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, which he admitted to his friend John Sherwood contained fictitious and exaggerated accounts. Five years later, UFOlogist John Keel based his book The Mothman Prophecies (which became a film starring Richard Gere) heavily on Barker’s book and prank phone calls Barker made to Keel. That’s right, the Mothman was invented by Barker, too. Holy shit, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he invented Bigfoot.


woman runner training for marathon. Female runner in sporty pink tank top jogging on mountain road. Beautiful young mixed race Asian Caucasian female fitness model outside.

From medical treatment to global communications, the past couple of decades have seen technology take over, and its impact is expected to increase to a much greater level as people constantly look to enhance their productivity and get more out of their day.

Since the introduction of the first photo finish at the 1948 London Summer Olympics, technology has also had an incredible impact on how sports are played and how athletes use new innovations to continuously improve their performance and set new records. Pakistani sport has also been affected by and benefitted tremendously from the introduction of new technologies in international sport.

Pakistani sports fans got their first taste of the impact of biomechanics in sports after the controversy surrounding the bowling actions of Shoaib Akhtar and Sri Lankan superstar Muttiah Muralitharan, as they seemingly ‘chucked’ the ball. In order to avoid future controversies and clear the actions of the bowlers, the ICC turned to Biomechanics.

So what is biomechanics? It is a technology that utilises the laws of mechanics to provide a greater understanding of how the bodies of athletes react in different situations through the use of mathematical modelling and computer simulations. The availability of this detailed information about body movements and their impact on the game, which would be missed by the naked eye, help provide definitive guidelines with regards to the legitimacy of a bowler’s action.

To solve the Akhtar- Muralitharan dilemma, the ICC referred the bowlers to specialist centres that used motion analysis high-resolution cameras to measure the angle at which the bowlers were moving their arms during their bowling action. And with the availability of biomechanics, it allowed the ICC to draw a line with regards to the constant controversy surrounding these bowlers, allowing the sport to move forward once again.

Biomechanics has other implications on sports in general as more athletes turn to technology to gain that extra bit of speed that can mean the difference between first and second place – winning and losing. The study of body movements through the use of biomechanical technology also allows coaches to help iron-out flaws in the way an athlete runs or throws, to not only increase their sporting prowess, but also reduce the risk of injuries that could potentially end careers.

Fast bowlers have often suffered from severe pressure on their joints as the increasingly hectic touring schedules cause more wear and tear than ever before, specifically on the knees and spine. Pakistan has long suffered the effects of these physical-stress related injuries as fast bowlers like Mohammed Zahid had to end their careers after suffering stress fractures in the back due to the enormous force absorbed by his body due to bowling actions. Shoaib Akhtar and Imran Khan also suffered because of similar injuries and lost significant playing time while recovering from stress fractures.

The use of biomechanics has not been limited to just a few sports, for years now the world’s top golfers have utilised this technology to iron out any kinks in their golf swing to help gain extra yards in their drives. This, coupled with the incredible leap in the use of technology and new materials in designing sports equipment, has helped top golfers tame the most challenging courses and break records that have stood for decades.

Swimmers and runners have used this technology, combined with other conventional medical technologies to help provide in-depth data about the functioning of their bodies during an event, and how they can improve on their performance based on data gathered on blood pressure, heart rates, breathing habits and physical movements during tests as well as in actual professional events. Coaches are now using a mix of these technologies, along with advice from doctors, physicians and technologists, to help increase the endurance of individual athletes, by concentrating on physical training programs that allow athletes to build up their resistance to the stress associated with each sport.

The end of instinct and adrenaline rush…

Purists have criticised the ever-increasing use of technology in sports, citing fears that the essence of the sport and the nuances of on-field decisions, including umpiring decisions, are an essential part of what makes the sport attractive. They fear that the excessive use of technology is making sports too clinical, and therefore less interesting for fans; but the fact remains that with time, sporting events have evolved and individual athletes have adapted by using more technology to ensure that they can break previously held notions about the limitations of the human body.

The relationship between sports and technology is evolving on a daily basis, from the use of Hawk-Eye to eradicate incorrect decisions in cricket, to the introduction of goal-line technology that will help referees in football decide whether or not a ball had crossed the goal line.

These decisions have a far-reaching impact on athletes and on teams in international sports, where a wrongfully disallowed goal can cost a football club millions of dollars in potential revenues.

Or levelling the playing field?

The increasing use of technology in sports is unavoidable. Using technology could help smaller nations compete with the sporting giants of the world by helping train athletes in the best way possible from a young age. Technology use will help level the playing field as more and more countries adopt new training and assessment techniques to identify talent that can compete on the international stage, and hone their skills specifically according to the needs of their chosen sports.

In Pakistan, the use of technology in sports remains beyond the reach of most young talented individuals; the Pakistan Cricket Board is the only sports board to have used biomechanics in training so far. This trend should hopefully change in the coming years, as the increasing potential for earning large sums of money from professional sports forces team owners and athletes to start utilising these technologies and help provide better opportunities for local athletes on the international stage.

If Iran wanted bomb, US couldn’t stop it: Khamenei

TEHRAN: Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons, but if it wanted to the United States could not thwart it, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday.

“We believe nuclear weapons must be abolished and we have no intention of building” such weaponry, Khamenei said in remarks posted on his website

But, Khamenei said, “if Iran had such intentions, the US could in no way prevent it” from making an atomic bomb.

The West and Israel suspect the country is masking the development of an atomic weapons capability under the guise of a nuclear programme that Iran insists is purely peaceful.

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Tehran to “recognise that now is the time for a diplomatic solution” to the nuclear stand-off. He added, “We will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Khamenei’s remarks come less than two weeks before a major meeting in Almaty on February 26 between Iran and six world powers – the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany – seeking to curb its nuclear activities.

Decisions about the disputed nuclear drive rest with Khamenei, who has declared possession of atomic weapons a “sin” banned by religion.

On Saturday, Khamenei repeated that claim and said Iran’s stance on weapons of mass destruction was not taken “because the US is unhappy, but because it is based on a religious belief that nuclear weapons are a crime against humanity.”

He accused Washington of “deceit” in its approach towards the Iranian nuclear drive, saying: “They want to keep us from our legitimate rights of uranium enrichment and peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

Provocative declarations on what Iran considers as a non-negotiable “right” to pursue a nuclear energy programme are not unprecedented.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said in 2012 that if Iran wanted to build the bomb, “it would not be afraid to announce” its decision to the world.

Tehran has spurned UN Security Council demands to abandon its uranium enrichment programme, a process that can be used for peaceful atomic purposes as well to make the core of a nuclear bomb.

The UN atomic watchdog, meanwhile, says “overall, credible” evidence exists that until 2003, and possibly since, Iran conducted nuclear weapons research despite its repeated denials.

Israel, the sole but undeclared nuclear state in the Middle East, and the United States have refused to rule out a military strike against Iran.

Tehran has warned against an attack on its nuclear facilities, but at the same time argues that its programme would not be stopped even if it was bombed.