Wednesday, June 18, 2003


This blog will be on hiatus until July 7 as I am going to Hawaii to present, with some of my coworkers from the National Security Archive, on the role of the internet and global freedom of information. The conference is at the University of Hawaii and is being held under the auspices of the Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast. So, I will be back next month, hopefully with some nice digital images to share.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Dinesh D'Souza Does it Again

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Dinesh D'Souza, the Indian-American writer who became kind of famous as a Ronald Reagan Appointee for his very conservative views, and now at Stanford's Hoover Institution. He is author of a few books including, "Illiberal Education," a study-somewhat flawed in my opinion-of affirmitive action, and the more recent, "What So Great About America." It wasn't so much everything about Illiberal Education that I didn't like, in fact some of D'Souza's points were quite valid. The only thing I quuestion about the book, and this recent piece in the Washington Times is that the facts he uses to support his argument are shady at best. I think he takes quotes and facts out of context, and if you checked some of the sources he used for his book, you too would question thhe accuracy of his scholarship. I think everyone should check out Illiberal Education, as it definitely does raise some brows, but I remain skeptical.

In this latest piece entiteld How the West Grew Rich, D'souza is discussing colonialism, slavery, and reparations.

The unique Western attitude is captured in Abraham Lincoln's remark, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master." Lincoln understandably didn't want to be a slave, but interestingly, he didn't want to be a master either. He rejected slavery altogether, and he was willing to expend a good deal of treasure and ultimately a great deal of blood to destroy the institution. During the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of white men died to bring freedom to African Americans — a group that was not in a position to secure freedom for itself. Considering these undisputed facts, how should we think about the issue of reparations? My own view of the subject was rather tersely expressed by Muhammad Ali. After defeating George Foreman for the heavyweight title in Zaire, Muhammad Ali returned to the United States where he was asked by a reporter, "Champ, what did you think of Africa?" Ali replied, "Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat." Ali's point was that although the institution of slavery was oppressive for the slaves, paradoxically it benefited their descendants because slavery was the transmission belt that brought African-Americans into the orbit of Western freedom. And the same is true of colonialism: against the intentions of the European powers, who came mainly to conquer and rule, colonialism proved to be the mechanism by which Western ideas like democracy, self-determination, and unalienable human rights came to the peoples of Asia, Africa, and South America.

I question if Ali gave his answer serious thought. He uses a snippet that Mohammed Ali said after defeating George Foreman in Africa to defend his position that slavery wasn't all bad and I wonder if one asked Mr. Ali if he thought slavery was good for him, his family, and the majority of African Americans, what his answer would be? I highly doubt Ali, or a majority of African Americans would say that slavery was good for their people. If slavery did not exist, first, I highly doubt the United States would be as well of as it is, since the much of the so called "old money" was made on the backs of free, or very cheap labor. Also, didn't Ali refuse to go to Vietnam by saying that no "Vietnamese ever called me nigger"?

This is just one criticism of D'Souza's so-called "undisputable facts and truths." Curious to see what you guys think of his article

Monday, June 16, 2003

Bush to Reward Musharraf with Trip to Camp David

It seems President Bush will be rewarding Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for is efforts in curbing terror post 9/11 with regards to Afghanistan with a trip to Camp David. Is it me, or is it not very often that military dictators who took power through non-democratic means -coup d'etat's for example- are invited to Camp David for meetings. The Washington Post reports that

Bush plans to use the June 24 visit to lean on Musharraf to work harder to prevent al Qaeda from using his country to regroup, and to continue improving relations with India, the officials said. The United States and Pakistan hope to sign a preliminary trade agreement, officials said. Pakistani officials also expect Bush to continue discussions about U.S. requests for troops to aid stabilization in Iraq. Visits to Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex., are reserved for heads of government with whom the president wants to show a special kinship, but foreign governments consider Camp David a close second and far preferable to a White House meeting. "Both the optics and the substance are better at Camp David," said a Pakistani official who requested anonymity. "This shows President Bush considers it a personal relationship." U.S. officials said that although some Bush aides were worried about how India would react to the visit, intelligence agencies strongly supported the Camp David treatment for Musharraf, since Pakistan has been crucial as a recruiting ground and a staging area for operations in Afghanistan.

Bush NSC Aide Resigns, Joins Kerry Team

I found this Washington Post article on Rand Beers resigning quite interesting. To resign after 35 years of government service so abruptly is kind of unheard of, to resign from a Republican Administration and then sign up to join a democratic candidate's team to oust your former boss is unheard of. It is brave however, and it is good to see that what Mr. Beers has done, can be done--even if you disagree with him. In the end, it is a little scary that an insider felt he must resign because not enough was being done with the war on terrorism.

Beers's resignation surprised Washington, but what he did next was even more astounding. Eight weeks after leaving the Bush White House, he volunteered as national security adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a Democratic candidate for president, in a campaign to oust his former boss. All of which points to a question: What does this intelligence insider know? "The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure," said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out."

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Danville in the News

My high school has made news--it is kind of unfortunate, and funny that it is for something like this.

CNN reports that Danville Police are considering filing criminal charges after more than 20 Danville High School students took part in a food fight Thursday.

Superintendent Richard Martz said some seniors might not be allowed to attend next week's graduation.

"The bottom line is that it will not go unnoticed. It will not go unresponded to," Martz said.

Some students said the food fight had been planned as an end-of-the-year prank.

Police Chief Rae Leighow said he expected to file disorderly conduct charges against several students.

The charge carries a fine of up to $300

Mundian to Bach Ke--Summer Anthem 2003?

Just saw the Panjabi MC video for Mundian to Bach Ke on Direct Efects on MTV. Turns out PMC was at MTV’s Beach House, and I think this is a good sign for him and in preparation for his July 1 release entitled “Beware.” The album is a compilation of his older materials from when he began in 1993 with Mundian to Bach Ke actually being the newest track on the album.

What is really cool though is at the end of his segment, MTV had people ask PMC how to say certain phrases in Punjabi. The phrases consisted of “Can you buy me a drink,” and “We are in the Hamptons,” but it was cool nonetheless to see MTV and its audience get into some Indian language and culture.

I say this time and again, but it really is a great time to be young and South Asian.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Wow. All I can say is wow. Me and a few of my mates saw PMC spin yesterday, and he was amazing. Totally controlled the crowd, his MC was on point, and PMC mixed up the music quite well. He played everything from Bhangra and Hindi remixes to his own remixes and original tracks. I can't think of a highlight, although he did play that new track Jogi with someone rapping over it which was pretty interesting. I can't wait to get that single. This was the second time we have heard him DJ, the first being two years ago at the old post office pavilion for Bhangra Blowout in front of almost 4000 people, and naturally I think that was a better show. Not only was it a lot longer, there were a lot more people there, and it was a more full on bhangra and hip-oriented set. He was able to control the crowd then, and he did it again yesterday. Big-UPs to PMC and best of luck on the rest of the tour.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Panjabi MC comes to Washington DC

I think this is great. I have been excited about this for some time. British Asian DJ Panjabi MC, who has hit it big with American audiences with his Mundian to Bach Ke, featuring Jay-Z is doing a tour of the US in support of his upcoming July 1 major label debut. His British album is a compilation of older works, so I am curious to see what his American release entitled, Beware looks like. It is quite interesting to witness his rise to fame, and especially with this tour. It seems the hip-hop community that has embraced him now are the ones that are really responsible for his becoming so popular. And if you see the acts PMC is touring with, it is an impressive lineup of hip-hop artists. Big-ups to PMC.

Just for the record because I have been hearing this way too much, the punjabi lyrics are sung by Labh Janjua, not Panjabi MC. PMC produced the track, he came up with the beatson Mundian to Bach Ke, and this track is almost five years old. Jay-Z just got on it recently. Anyway, for those of you in DC, PMC will be doing a live set with Bikram Singh at the VIP club this thursday on June 5. Come support the Desi.

Incidentally, here is a link to the Boston Summerjam show PMC recently did. There are pictures from the set, and also a link to a 45 second interview. If you listen to the interview, please do not be fooled by PMC's lack of eloqunece when being interviewed, he says all he needs to say when he is on the ones and twos. Panjabi MC is hands down one of the best DJ's I have ever seen perform live--he controls the crowd really well, and will make anyone and everyone want to dance whether he spins Bhangra, hip-hop, or his own creations. He really does tear it up. If you can, make sure to check one of his shows out, you won't regret it. And, if you look at the pictures, looks like Bikram and the dancers really kept it desi--Big Ups.

Karsh Kale's Liberation

New York based Tabla Player, DJ, and Producer Karsh Kale releases his second full lenght album tomorrow, entitled, Liberation. One of my reviews of the album is posted on, so check it out. It can be purchased at tower records and online at

Interesting Story on Parminder Nagra

Here is a link to an interesting story on Bend it Like Beckham star (and soon to be ER star) Parminder Nagra from the New York Post and the potential for her to become the first Indian Idol. I know it sounds kind of weird, after all I think Mohandas Gandhi took that role, but Nagra certainly is representative of this new South Asian influence in Hollywood and also in American pop-culture.

Nagra realizes the breakthrough significance of her contract, given that actors of Indian heritage with regular small screen roles on American network and cable series - such as Ravi Kapoor's "Bug" on "Crossing Jordan" and the Hank Azaria-voiced Apu on "The Simpsons" - are still a relative rarity. "I'm aware it comes with its own bit of baggage to do with having that responsibility," she says. "But essentially for me it's an acting job, saying things through my work."