Sunday, September 28, 2003

Some Hawaii Pics

I know I was going to post some of these a long time ago, but here are a couple of pics from my trip to hawaii this past June-July.

This first is of a group of us on the active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

I included this second picture, of the Economic Opportunity Council that we found, I think in Kona, also on the Big Island, b/c I thoght the run-down state of the building is kind of conflicting with its apparent mission to assist Hawaiians in finding them economic opportunity.

New Look

Please bear with me as I am in the middle of a site update. While I enjoyed the old look, I think it is time for a lil change, so here is the beginnings of one.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Must See TV -Especially For Desis

Just want to remind all that tonight at 10 marks Parminder Nagra's, of Bend it Like Beckham fame, debut on NBC's er. Make sure to tune in and support er for finally making that hospital drama truly representative of many of the hospitals around the US.

I can't beleive it took the show a tenth season to finally incorporate a full time Indian doctor into the show.

"In the season premiere, a frazzled Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) returns from his harrowing mission to the Congo only to be confronted by a hostile Abby (Maura Tierney) while an exotic new British medical student (Parminder Nagra, "Bend It Like Beckham") causes a stir when she unexpectedly helps a patient -- and angers Dr. Chen (Ming-Na) as Dr. Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) flirts with her. In addition: a concerned Dr. Pratt works the margins to help an HIV-infected patient obtain the necessary medical insurance; a woman and her young children are treated after their wrecked car is struck again by a large truck; construction workers add to the chaos of the emergency room; Dr. Romano (Paul McCrane) sports a new look -- and Carter gets an ominous call from Africa. Laura Innes, Alex Kingston, Sherry Stringfield, Sharif Atkins also star. "

I find Nagra's characterizaiton as the "Exotic new British Medical Student" kind of humorous.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

(Piyush) Bobby Jindal for Governor?

I usually am the first to champion causes for South Asian's in America, but I gotta question blind support for Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana born Desi, who was in the Bush administration, and who is now running for Governor of Louisiana. I know that his winning would be a great symbolic step for South Asian-Americans, but I really doubt he would champion the cause, and I actually think many of his policy leanings are contrary to the viewpoints of many immigrants.

Many in the Desi community are upset with Jindal's conversion to Christianity, despite his parents remaining practicing Hindus. I am not one of them. Religion is a personal thing, and if he finds greater peace personally from religion, than good for him. I hope individually we all can find the same kind of peace. And because religion is such a personal, individual thing, I don't understand Mr. Jindal's views favoring a greater relationship between the state and the church.

If you want to read Jindal's views on church and state, click here to go to his policy platform website . I for one am scared of any candidate who wants a greater collaboration between church and state. But go to his website and read for yourself. I am also replicating some of his points below:

Closely regulate abortion providers
Ban human cloning
Create offices of faith-based and community initiatives in the governor’s office and large granting offices in state government.
Appoint a faith community advisory council

At one point Mr. Jindal writes, "The arguments of those who oppose the President’s faith-based initiative all boil down to a latent fear of faith, a fear of all things religious, as if somehow faith and religion are corrosive or corrupting influences in people’s lives. We should reject the arguments of those who look down their noses and scoff at the efforts of the faith-based community, preferring the secularism of traditional government programs. They have no reason to feel threatened by people of faith."

I am not scared of religion, but rather fearful that the loss of secularism from the U.S. government not only goes against our constitution, but has the potential to create a huge divide and rift among the American people, a people who follow many different faiths. Faith-based anythings sponsored by the government can lead to something that could be viewed as a government sponsored church, a trend that the American forefathers were seemingly against.

Also, here is a link to the Badmash comic strip-- that many desis will find amusing--specifically discussing some of the intricacies of the Jindal campaign.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Dilbert Dilbert

If you are desi and reading this blog, then you probably have heard the bollywood song Dilbar Dilbart. Well, it turns out, that perhaps the writers of the comic strip Dilbert, may have heard the tune as well. Ok, maybe not, but they have introduced an Indian character in their comic strip, Asok, who hails from the famous Indian Institute of Technology.

You can check out the cartoon here, and read Asok's bio here.

Thanks to SAJA for this entry. There is a constant discussion on the SAJA list about what constitutes Desi's making it into the mainstream in America. Some have said when a Desi actor/actress gets to host SNL, but I don't know, I think a comic strip is a pretty good indicator.

Jay Sean, Rishi Rich, Juggy D

I want to big up this trio, part of Rishi Rich's 2point9 productions for their recent top 20 British hit (it actually went to 12) Dance With You (Naach Tere Naal). I wasn't sure ow this song would chart after the explosive reception that Panjabi MC received, but they exceeded my expectations. Congratulations, and keep on bringing the Desi into the mainstream.

If you want to see the video for this song, which in my opinion is really well done, or hear the song, or the Wayne Wonder Dancehall remix, click here. Then follow the audio-videdo link.

Quick Thought

I guess this is kind of a weird thing to post, but with all of the media coverage, and preparations for the impending Hurricane Isabel, I was wondering why no tropical storms had non-Western sounding names. I guess, if I was going to have something named after me, I wouldn't really want it to be something so devastating as a hurricane. It is a little odd though, isn't it?

Friday, September 12, 2003

Interesting Site--Airline Meals

I don't know about you, but I have always found myself strangely interested in airline meals, the good, the bad, the ugly, whatever they be. This site, has a wide variety of information and pictures on the various meal and meal setups on different airlines and classes.

I must say, some of the pictures of the meals and the setup for those fortunate enough not to fly economy class, are quite impressive. Like my old roommate anand use to say (tongue in cheek of course) about flying first class, "It's not just a better seat, its a better lifestyle."

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Taliban File

I just posted an Electronic Briefing Book on the website of the National Security Archive. Entitled, the The Taliban File the EBB is a collection fo 32 declassified U.S. government documents discussing U.S. dealings with the Taliban, Pakistan support for the Taliban, the death od Ahmad Shah Masoud and its relation to the September 11 attacks, and post 9/11 thinking on military strategy in the War on Terror. I am pasting the Press Release below.

National Security Archive Update, September 11, 2003

*The Taliban File*

Volume VII of the Archive's September 11th Sourcebooks

Washington, D.C., September 11, 2003 - Marking the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the National Security Archive at George Washington University today posted on the Web a new collection of recently declassified U.S. documents covering the controversial rise to power of Osama bin Laden's former hosts in Afghanistan, the Taliban. This murky history has particular relevance today, as the Taliban fighters regroup in Afghanistan, and key Taliban leaders remain at large.

Today's posting, "The Taliban File," is the seventh volume in the Archive's September 11th Sourcebook series, recognized by the National Journal in December 2001 as one of the top five sites on the Web for terrorism information. The collection of 32 documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by Archive research associate Sajit Gandhi details the rise of the Taliban from its meager start in Kandahar to a full fledged military force and ultimate control of the country. The documents discuss Pakistan's support for the Taliban, U.S. dealings with the Taliban, post 9/11 thinking on military strategy in the War on Terror, and the relationship between the assassination of the Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Highlights of the Briefing Book include:

* A November 1994 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad which mentions one of the first kidnappings conducted by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the self-confessed mastermind of the kidnapping of slain American reporter Daniel Pearl. Sheikh, who in 1994 went by the moniker Rohit Sharma, kidnapped one American-Bella Josef Nuss--and three British citizens. The document indicates that Sheikh (Sharma), "holds a British Passport, attended the London School of Economics, and spent time in Bosnia where the abuse of Muslim women apparently radicalized his views." In January of 2002, eight years after the 1994 kidnapping, the Bush administration finally asked Pakistan to arrest Saeed Sheikh.

* A February 1995 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad which offers a detailed biographic sketch of the secretive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Amir-ul-Momineen (leader of the faithful), from his origins in the Mujahideen to his rise as the leader of the Taliban.

* A December 1997 Department of State cable summarizing a meeting between Taliban officials in the US as part of a Unocal delegation and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth. When the Taliban are questioned by Inderfurth over their allowing Osama Bin Laden refuge, a Taliban representative responds by saying that if they expelled Bin Laden he would go to Iran and cause more trouble. Another representative notes that the Taliban did not invite Bin Laden into Afghanistan, but that he was already inside Afghanistan, "as a guest of the previous regime when they took over." The Taliban representative claims that they had stopped allowing Bin Laden to give public interviews, and "had frustrated Iranian and Iraqi attempts to get in contact with him."

* DIA cables from October 2001 which discuss the role of Pakistan in the rise of the Taliban and questions about Pakistan's and the ISI's connection with Bin Laden. "Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe sanctuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan Directives."

* A November 2001 DIA cable that discusses the relationship between the assassination of Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and the terrorist attacks of September 11. The cable indicates that Masoud had gained limited knowledge "regarding the intentions of the Saudi millionaire Usama (bin Ladin) (UBL), and his terrorist organization, al-Qaida, to perform a terrorist act against the U.S. on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania." Could Masood's knowledge of an attack and subsequent warning to the US government have led to his assassination?

It would be interesting to see your comments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Can Rishi Rich, Jay Sean, and Juggy D do it?

The Rishi Rich Project, known as 2.9, continue the success of Panjabi MC in the UK mainstream Debut's? Producer Rishi Rich and singers Jay Sean and Juggy D released their dirt mainstream single Dance with You, in the Uk last week, and hopefully they can be as successful, if not more than Panjabi MC was with his international smash hit, Mundian to Bach Ke. To hear the song, or see the video, click here to get access to the links. From what I hear, 2.9 productions has the top 20 in the bag, and are now fighting to see how they can position themselves within this top group. If you have any opinions would love to hear them.

Also, just wanted to apoligize for the lack of posts. I have been quite busy at work on an electronic briefing book discussing U.S. policy towards the Taliban beginning in 1994. I am publishing the declasified U.S. government documents tomorrow, and place the link then on the blog.

Friday, September 05, 2003

MSN Promotional Videos for India

I was just sent this link to MSN messenger's promotional videos for India. There are four of them, the first of four can be found here. I don't know, I think the first one is in bad taste, funny, but just in bad taste, and I think the third samples from one of Karsh Kale's tunes from his first album Realize. Anyway, check them out, and let me know what you think.