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IPL: The Dirty Picture

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://cricket.yahoo.com/news/ipl–the-dirty-picture-.html

By Bhavna Vij-Aurora, Dhiraj Nayyar and Shantanu Guha Ray | India Today – Mon 28 May, 2012 1:01 PM IST

By Bhavna Vij-Aurora, Dhiraj Nayyar and Shantanu Guha Ray

A late-night bust-up involving charges of molestation and assault at a hotel suite in Delhi booked in the name of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Deccan Chargers on May 18. An early morning Income Tax raid at the offices of Pune Warriors and Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 23 following a TV sting operation in which five fringe players were caught striking deals on spot-fixing and switching teams for more money. A brawl at Wankhede Stadium leading to a five-year ban by the Mumbai Cricket Association on Shah Rukh Khan on May 16. It was a week from hell for IPL. And the week promised to stretch into a long year.

Around 6.30 p.m. on May 22, Zohal Hamid, 27, was giving yet another live interview on her now famous charge of molestation by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) player Luke Pomersbach. The incident acquired bizarre momentum, especially after her ‘fiance’ Sahil Peerzada, 33, was hit by Pomersbach and she turned out to be close to a defence agent. India Today was present at the plush farmhouse of her “rakhi” brother Abhishek Verma, an accused in the naval war room leak and under investigation for his suspected role in defence deals. Sahil made a dramatic entry while she was on camera. “How dare you speak to the media without my permission?” he asked. Zohal placated him and they then drove off in Verma’s Hyundai Sonata. Both she and Sahil then went incommunicado. Clearly, they had received instructions to go quiet. Some deal had been struck to cover up an intoxication-fuelled, unscripted drama that threatened to blow apart the nocturnal mix of sex and money that plays behind the televised scenes of IPL. Sahil and Zohal met their lawyer Rajneesh Chopra who had worked out a compromise with RCB owner Sidhartha Mallya, who had so charmingly described Zohal’s allegations against Pomerbasch as a “load of f…..g s..t” in a tweet. On May 22, Zohal agreed to withdraw her case against Pomersbach and drop the defamation threat against Mallya, who has not even deigned to remove the offending tweets from his account-another said “what this girl is doing is idiotic”. On May 23, though, he tweeted, “So glad all charges have been dropped and Luke can return Down Under a free man!”, followed by “Oh and btw, I know ppl can be cynical, so just so u know, the settlement wasn’t financial in any way!”

These shenanigans took TV cameras into the bedroom, the last thing IPL wanted as its oversold carnival becomes a sordid circus. The manufactured silence was designed to avoid some basic questions:

  • Why did Deccan Chargers book a Rs 20,000-a-day suite for Sahil at ITC Maurya?
  • What is Sahil’s connection, if any, with cricket and IPL?
  • What is Zohal’s real link with Sahil? She claims he is her “fiance”. Sahil is a trifle hesitant about the honour.
  • Why was Zohal sleeping in Sahil’s suite if she was not booked there?
  • Why were two men, Miraj and Moin, sleeping in Sahil’s room?
  • Why was RCB hosting an after-party despite an IPL ban on them in 2010?

The mystery became more mysterious with Verma’s involvement. His former New York-based business partner and lawyer C. Edmonds Allen claims that Zohal was an employee of Ganton Indian Private Limited, and that he recommended her for a visa to visit India on Verma’s request last year. Allen is the president of Ganton, which he claimed he set up to handle $205 million (Rs 1,127 crore) made by Verma through arms deals and lobbying for defence firms. Verma denies any link with Ganton and claims that Zohal too has nothing to do with Ganton. He says “my wife Anca Neacsu is best friends with Zohal” and recommended her for an Indian visa through Allen.

THE BOOKIE UNDERBELLY

Born in Afghanistan to an Afghan father and an Iranian mother, Zohal’s family migrated to US in the late 1980s. Now an American citizen, she works for a cosmetics company in New York as a sales manager. She did part of her schooling in India, where she picked up conversational though accented Hindi. She went to Rutgers University in New York. After watching her first IPL match on May 17, goes her story, she landed at the RCB party and in the room booked by Deccan Chargers at ITC Maurya. Every answer begs a further question.

But Rajiv Shukla, who took over as the IPL commissioner in September 2011 and is also a Union minister, has no answers, except an evasive one. “I am the IPL commissioner, not police commissioner. I have nothing to do with what is happening in the hotel room.” The fact that he mentioned “police commissioner” involuntarily speaks for itself. He believes media is exaggerating the problems of the league by highlighting stray off-field incidents. He does not deny knowing Sahil Peerzada. “He is the son of a Congressman,” he says. Sahil’s father, Peerzada Ghulam Mohammed, who died in 1994 at the age of 52, was a ticketing agent at the Sopore (J&K) bus stand in the 1970s, and went on to become a junior-level Congress leader. The family migrated to Mumbai in 1992.

Sahil’s brother, Feroze, says he has a real estate business in Mumbai, as well as two Kashmir handicrafts showrooms at the Leela in Bangalore and near Pavilion Mall in Kuala Lumpur. But Sahil’s reputation has been made in bedrooms rather than boardrooms. He is a serial dater of semi-famous women such as TV actors Shama Sikander and Gauhar Khan. Deccan Chargers is silent about why they rented such an expensive suite for him. Manjula Harpanahalli, media coordinator for Deccan Chargers, told India Today that they had no comments to offer. Repeated calls and text messages to E. Venkatram Reddy, director (operations), Deccan Chargers, went unanswered.

Investigating agencies are silent but taking a keen interest in the events. They have been busy. There has long been a suspicion that IPL is a breeding ground for bookies. Days before the start of the tournament, CID officers of Mumbai Police traced a conference of bookies from all over India huddled inside a five-star hotel room in Mumbai to plan their strategy: Essentially, to cooperate in the milking of those who like a flutter.

On May 17, when Chennai Super Kings was taking on Kings XI Punjab, Arun Chavan, head of Mumbai Police’s Property Cell, arrested two well-known bookies from a Lokhandwala flat. Devendra Kothari, 42, and Sonu Jalan, 30, were taking bets on the crucial match. Both were arrested immediately and 20 mobile handsets, a dozen SIM cards, two laptops, two voice recorders and an LCD T recovered. They led the police to another bookie, Mohammad Feroze Ansari, 38, from Nagpada in Mumbai. On May 19, the police arrested him too. The probe has now moved to Delhi. A team from Mumbai Police left for Delhi on May 21. Their goal: Check the truth in Kothari’s claim that he paid Rs 10 crore to a Sri Lankan cricketer to fix a one-day international match in 2006. “We cannot reveal the name of the Sri Lankan player. Investigations are still on,” said Mumbai Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nangre-Patil.

In Delhi, the police confirmed that Kothari and Jalan were part of a global betting racket and among 170 suspects scheduled to visit Sri Lanka to fix matches. “There was to be a meeting in Colombo in anticipation of the fourth T20 World Cup which will take place in Sri Lanka. But it was cancelled,” says Brijesh Kumar Gupta, Delhi’s police commissioner. The police’s suspicions about a Colombo meeting were confirmed when a woman they picked up on May 19 from Delhi for possessing cocaine confessed to her involvement in the betting racket and said she was to travel to Colombo. On May 24, Delhi Police busted a betting racket in west Delhi, unearthing a mini-telephone exchange comprising 113 lines used for transmitting information about rates to over 300 betting syndicates across India.

India’s betting laws date back to the Public Gambling Act of 1867. Bail, therefore, is guaranteed for a paltry Rs 100 and allows bookies to get free within days of their arrest. No one has bothered to change this. “There’s very little time for questioning. And rarely are the big fish netted because the bookie chain is inordinately long,” says Gupta. This year alone, Delhi Police conducted more than 75 raids on bookies in Delhi and arrested over 100 people placing bets on IPL, the highest since the tournament started four years ago. The core problem hampering investigations is that there is no complaint, says Gupta.

ULTIMATE SECRET SOCIETY

Cricket is hardly the primary activity in IPL. The large, growing and dark circle around the field includes a secret society of franchise owners, pretty party girls and men of unknown means. Presiding over this is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which has ensured lack of transparency. BCCI is a registered society completely autonomous from the Government. It only started paying income tax in 2007 after authorities decided that it wasn’t simply a charitable organisation “promoting the sport of cricket”. In the effort to become successful, IPL has cut corners. Interpol wanted to investigate the bookie phenomenon and and asked for Rs 90 crore as expenses, just as it had asked FIFA when it set out to investigate football sleaze. FIFA paid. International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar refused. Very conveniently, ICC’s Anti Corruption Unit was hired. “If ICC had hired Interpol, cricket’s cleansing process would have begun. But that did not happen,” says Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken.

In 2011, IPL had hit a ratings low. A new model was sought to be created, as highlighted in broadcaster Set Max’s ads which encouraged viewers to watch the game on the ground. Rajiv Shukla says that the average gate receipts for the 2012 season will be Rs 30 crore for each franchise. He also argues that the decline in TAM TRP ratings, from an average of 4.81 in IPL-1 to 3.33 in IPL-5 so far, is misleading because the goalposts have changed. “The ratings of even the most popular entertainment programmes have fallen as a result. IPL is still doing very well on television,” he says. Shukla is also buoyant about overseas revenues.

EVADING THE TAX NET

All nine IPL franchises have been under the scanner of the Income Tax Department after a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance in July 2011 instructed tax officials to scrutinise the accounts of all IPL teams. What aroused the suspicion of the Standing Committee was a wide discrepancy between the annual financial returns statements for the assessment year 2008-09 and the assessment year 2009-10. For the year 2008-09, also the first year of IPL, three of the eight franchises, Mumbai, Chennai and Deccan Chargers, showed nil loss. The remaining five showed minor losses-Rajasthan Rs 6 lakh, Punjab Rs 14 lakh, Kolkata Rs 50 lakh, Bangalore Rs 79 lakh and Delhi Rs 2.92 crore. In 2009-10, each franchise reported huge losses-Rajasthan Rs 35.5 crore, Punjab Rs 65.68 crore, Kolkata Rs 11.85 crore, Mumbai Rs 42.89 crore, Chennai Rs 19.3 crore, Bangalore Rs 5.58 crore, Deccan Rs 87.09 crore and Delhi Rs 47.11 crore.

There was no particular reason why losses should have mounted so steeply. The player auctions had been conducted before IPL-1. The cost of players would be the same for IPL-2. The revenue streams would have been greater-the success of IPL drew more advertisers and spectators to the second edition. The only reason for higher costs was the move to South Africa, but that alone could not explain the wide discrepancies. According to sources at the Income Tax Department, while the assessment is complete, investigation is ongoing and franchises have been asked to furnish details.

There are several other issues of apparent financial irregularities red-flagged in the report of the Standing Committee. At least four teams-Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians- received investments from abroad from tax havens such as Mauritius, Bahamas and British Virgin Islands. BCCI, in its reply to the committee, put all the blame on former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. Even if true, and that is not proven, how does this exonerate the franchise owners who got the money from questionable unnamed sources? The Enforcement Directorate (ED), charged with investigating these violations, said its investigations have not been completed.

Even BCCI and IPL are under investigation by ED and Reserve Bank of India for operating bank accounts along with Cricket South Africa during IPL-2 without permission. IPL Commissioner Shukla shrugs aside the allegations of financial irregularities, just as he dismisses anything in convention with his usual bluster.

PLAYERS DON’T HAVE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

There are other problems, inbuilt into IPL, which have created irregular incentives for players. In 2010, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was banned from season 3 of IPL for trying to negotiate a contract in violation of league rules. Jadeja, who at the time had not played for the IndianTP Sudhindra national team, was entitled to a salary of Rs 25 lakh, not more, set by the IPL Governing Council. Already a rising star in his franchise, Rajasthan Royals, Jadeja believed he deserved more money. This perverse rule on pay caps for Indian players who have never represented the country has made them vulnerable to the lure of illegal negotiations with franchises and offers from bookies. Curiously, no such cap is applicable to foreign players who have not represented their countries.

A recent TV sting operation on five Indian players who have never represented India revealed the dangerous consequences. The players- TP Sudhindra (Deccan Chargers), Shalabh Srivastava (Kings XI Punjab), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors), Amit Yadav (Kings XI Punjab) and Abhinav Bali-were caught on camera either offering to indulge in spot-fixing or ready to negotiate with other franchises or admitting that their franchises paid them significantly more than the official figure, in cash. An underground economy is clearly thriving in IPL. Modi, the creator of IPL and commissioner in its first three editions, admits that not auctioning uncapped players was a mistake.

There are several possible reforms that can salvage the situation:

  • No player should be retained by a franchise without an auction. In 2008, for example, M.S. Dhoni was bought by Chennai Super Kings at the highest bid price of $1.5 million (Rs 7.5 crore). He was not put up for auction for the 2011 and 2012 seasons in which Gautam Gambhir came out on top with a bid price of $2.5 million (Rs 12.5 crore) from Kolkata Knight Riders. It would be unreasonable to expect Dhoni to have commanded anything less in an open auction.
  • The only players not subject to an auction in IPL-1 were the icon players-Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai), Rahul Dravid (Bangalore), Sourav Ganguly (Kolkata), Yuvraj Singh (Punjab) and Virender Sehwag (Delhi). Each was, however, to be paid a 10 per cent premium on the highest bid paid out by their team in the open auction. There was some transparency then. Now, with the icon system being replaced by the system of retaining players (icons or not), no one knows how much players are being paid, whether by cheque or in cash. Says Modi, “No one should be allowed to be retained. If a player is important for the franchise, let them bid for him.” Rajiv Shukla also recognises the opacity of retaining players. “We will consider revising this in our next Governing Council meeting,” he says.
  • There should be an independent regulator for sports. “No one is being able to self-regulate. If not for anything else, let the regulator look into the alleged financial bungling of the state cricket associations,” says Ajay Maken. “Put rules in place, things will start moving,” says Bishen Singh Bedi. The former Indian captain says it’s time BCCI auctions each player every year. “Let there be transparency, let us see who is paying what for whom. Let the juniors get a price for themselves so that they do not take money under the table,” adds Bedi.

POLITICS OF CRICKET

IPL would not have survived its serious flaws were it not for a strong cross-party political alliance lending its weight. Shukla is a prominent minister. Arun Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, is on IPL’s Governing Council and heads its legal and disciplinary committee. The cricket establishment of BCCI and its regional components are packed with powerful politicians. Four are members of the Union Cabinet-Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar (ICC president), Congressmen C.P. Joshi (president, Rajasthan Cricket Association) and Vilasrao Deshmukh (president, Mumbai Cricket Association), and Farooq Abdullah (president of the J&K Cricket Association) of the National Conference. The quartet has successfully stalled Maken’s attempts to legislate a sports bill that will force BCCI to be more accountable. “What can I do if no one wants to clean the dirt from cricket?” says Maken.

Shukla says there is no need for BCCI to be under the Government. “We don’t take a penny from the Government. And we have made a global name for ourselves,” he says. The cricket establishment can count on some support from outside the Government. Apart from Jaitley, Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP and son of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is president of his state’s cricket association which hosts IPL games at its stadium in Dharamshala. His party colleague, Kirti Azad, is however a staunch opponent of IPL and went on dharna demanding the abolishing of the league after its string of recent scandals. Azad said that India’s image was being spoilt at an international level because of IPL debauchery and that he has written a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to take action against IPL.

Politics is a power game, and for now Maken and Azad are weak before a muscular establishment. But a poisonous worm is corroding the IPL apple from within, and all the might of Pawar, Shukla and friends will not stop this disease from spreading, if they do not use a sharp scalpel.

– With Kiran Tare and Nishat Bari

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Posted in Conspiracy Archives, India Forgotten, Press Releases, Rated R, Vigilant Citizen | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on IPL: The Dirty Picture

This is India – by Niyati Upadhya

Posted by Admin on November 9, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/comics/this-is-india-by-niyati-upadhya-1319188441-slideshow/

From her travels around India, sculptor and aspiring photographer Niyati Upadhya shares her favourite images of Mumbai gleaming through the monsoons – the faces and occupations of India’s oldest port city, of Goa‘s winding roads and dreamy train-scapes, and the many scenes that keep India close to our hearts.

  1. Fri, Oct 21, 2011
Telephone wire, trees and trains.

  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

 

A professional ear cleaner‘s equipment, seen in Mumbai.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    A man gets his ears cleaned in Mumbai.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    Colourful umbrellas brighten up an otherwise grey monsoon.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    Fishing villages along the coast of Goa.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    An elderly man braves the gloom, barefoot.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    A schoolboy shares an umbrella with his mother.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    Green fields by a park bench, and a single umbrella to cosy under.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    View from a train, Mumbai to Goa.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    A vendor balances his fruit on a wheelbarrow.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    Getting the job done – a man cycles along a wet road to deliver LPG cylinders..
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    History’s relics.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    Women on the ferry.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    The long road ahead, Mumbai and Goa.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    Blue.
  • Fri, Oct 21, 2011

    More from Niyati Upadhya – http://niyatiupadhya.wordpress.com/

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on This is India – by Niyati Upadhya

Reader, Interrupted

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/blogs/opinions/reader-interrupted-070551236.html

By Sanjay Sipahimalani | Opinions – Fri, May 27, 2011

One of the aims of the novelist, writes John Gardner in his The Art of Fiction, is to create for the reader “a vivid and continuous dream”. Well, these days, I find that dream to be full of interruptions.

I’m not referring to doorbells, phone calls and mysterious thumps from next door. Rather, it’s the distraction caused by having access to the Internet. The lurking sense that there are e-mails to be checked, tweets to be followed, status updates to be noted, headlines to be scanned or new videos of Rebecca Black to be made fun of.

The ease with which all of this can be accomplished means that it’s a temptation to be constantly wrestled with, and more often than not, I find myself pinned to the ground. And the more often one enters that kinetic, frenetic arena, the more difficult it is to settle down for a period of sustained, single-minded attention.

Nicholas Carr, in his much-discussed The Shallows, maintains that the Web destroys focus, quoting neurological studies to prove that it rewires the brain. “Because it disrupts concentration,” he writes, “such activity weakens comprehension”. Concentration, comprehension: without these qualities, the act of reading is imperiled. Bandwidth comes at the expense of mindwidth.

As with others, there are two states I swing between when reading a novel. The first, of immersion: of being drawn into and inhabiting the author’s world, one that supplants ordinary laws of time and space. The other, of being aware that I am reading: of peripheral vision, of turning the pages and of occasionally checking to see how many more are left. Sadly, it’s the latter state that prevails and more and more nowadays. (The problem resolves itself if it’s a novel I dislike, in which case I simply skim.)

When much younger, this quality of immersion was so much more pronounced. Succumbing to one of his usual fits of nostalgia, Proust has written, “There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we believe we left without having lived them, those we spent with a favorite book”. He goes on to state that memories of those times even bring alive the surroundings: “If we still happen today to leaf through those books of another time, it is for no other reason than that they are the only calendars we have kept of days that have vanished, and we hope to see reflected on their pages the dwellings and the ponds which no longer exist”. Every such book, then, becomes a diary of the past.

To return to the 21st century, there’s the added complication, as many have pointed out, that Web pages simply aren’t conducive to reading at length. Bite-sized pieces are all we absorb before clicking and moving on, and this habit can persist when we return to the printed page. (Paradoxically, though, it’s the Web that’s being credited with something of a revival of long-form journalism, be it through curation sites such as LongForm.org, save-for-later services such as Instapaper, or Kindle Singles. Content is selected, distractions are eliminated. Dedicated e-book readers, too, have that advantage — which is why I think the Kindle should simply do away with the rudimentary Web access it currently provides.)

Which leads to the speculation that, when it comes to the novel, we’ll return to the time of the Victorians, with authors writing in monthly installments that appear on e-readers and periodicals, subsequently being issued as one large, complete volume. James Buzard, MIT literature professor, makes this sound trendy when he says that such serials “encourage a different social engagement” with books,talking of it as a form of “viral marketing” where readers have the time to exchange views on the work in progress with each other and with the novelist. (“But, Charles, did you really have to let Little Nell die?”)

While we wait for these and other necessities-turned-virtues to materialise, I’m left with an immediate, unresolved problem. There are more than 150 unread pages of a book that I have to review, and if I persist in turning to one of the many screens that surround my life, I’m never going to meet the deadline.

Sanjay Sipahimalani is a writer with an advertising agency in Mumbai. His reviews are collected at Antiblurbs.

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Hybrid Newsletter – 1 for 02.12.2010 A.D

Posted by Admin on December 2, 2010

Spain arrests seven over links to Mumbai attacks

By Teresa Larraz, writing Nigel Davies, editing by Tim Pearce | Reuters – Wed, Dec 1 7:09 PM IST

http://beta.in.news.yahoo.com/spain-arrests-seven-over-links-mumbai-attacks.html

Spain arrests seven over links to Mumbai attacks

Spain arrests seven over links to Mumbai attacks

MADRID (Reuters) – Seven men have been arrested in Barcelona, accused of providing fake identification documents to al Qaeda-linked groups including the one that carried out the Mumbaiattacks in 2008, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Six Pakistanis and one Nigerian were arrested on Tuesday and early Wednesday accused of stealing passports and other travel documents from tourists in Barcelona and sending them toThailand where they were falsified and passed to extremist organised crime groups, it said in a press release.

Among the groups the documents were sent to was the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed for the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 in which 166 people were killed, as well as Sri Lanka’s separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The ministry said the arrests were part of an international operation in which two Pakistanis and one Thai were also arrested in Thailand, accused of leading the group set up in Spain and other European countries.

The ministry said the group robbed people whose age and nationality enabled members of the militant groups holding the falsified documents to travel freely across borders.

“This large-scale operation neutralises an important cell providing passports to al Qaeda, weakening the falsification apparatus of this organisation at an international level, and as such its operational capabilities,” the ministry said.

Spanish police recovered numerous identification documents in the homes of those arrested, as well as hard discs, memory sticks, 50 mobile phones and SIM cards, and cash in dollars, euros, and British pounds.

(Reporting by Teresa Larraz, writing Nigel Davies, editing by Tim Pearce)

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India incapable of quick strike against Pak, US believes

Yahoo! India News – Thu, Dec 2 11:59 AM IST

http://beta.in.news.yahoo.com/india-incapable-of-quick-strike-against-pak–us-believes.html

India USA Joint Military Exercises

India USA Joint Military Exercises

America suspects India is not agile enough to launch a concerted military attack against Pakistan, Wikileaks cables disclosed on Wednesday. The disclosures also underlined contradictions between what America tells India and what it puts down on its internal records.

America feels it would take India 72 hours to mobile its military resources and launch an attack against Pakistan. Its ambassador to India describes India’s process of mobilisation as “slow and lumbering”.

Officially, Pakistan and America were talking about reining in militant groups after the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, and again after the 2008 attack on Mumbai, but America had no hope that any good would come of it.

The US ambassador to Pakistan had told her state department in 2009 that generous aid would not help in convincing Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The Telegraphreports: “There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance levels in any field as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these groups, which it sees as an important part of its national security apparatus against India. The only way to achieve a cessation of such support is to change the Pakistan government’s own perception of its security requirements,” she wrote.

Pakistan had received more than 16 billion dollars in American aid since 2001. In other words, the Americans were trying to buy peace from Pakistan while being fully aware that they were up against a stubborn supporter of extremist groups.

Disclosures on Wednesday also indicated that the US thought the Indian army had been slow to respond to the parliament attack: … India commenced ‘Cold Start’, a military doctrine developed by Armed Forces, which involves joint operations between Army, Navy, and Air Force, after 2001 Parliament attack but the Army was not able to execute it properly.

The cables sent by US ambassador to India Timothy Roemor on Feb 16, 2010 said that, “Indian forces could have significant problems consolidating initial gains due to logistical difficulties and slow reinforcement.”

Pakistan’s hypocrisy was well in evidence even earlier this year. In April, its prime minister Gilani promised he would act firmly against anti-India groups in his country. In June, the US kept up the pretense that Pakistan could be persuaded to stop supporting deadly groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

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Assange’s legal options narrow

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER and MALIN RISING, Associated Press – 1 hr 32 mins ago

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101202/ap_on_bi_ge/wikileaks

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

 

LONDON – Julian Assange’s legal options narrowed Thursday as the WikiLeaks founder lost an appeal against a court order for his arrest and his British lawyer said authorities knew his precise location.

Sweden’s Supreme Court upheld a order to detain the 39-year-old Australian for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual molestation that could lead to his extradition. The former computerhacker has been out of the public eye for nearly a month, although attorney Mark Stephens insisted that authorities knew how to find him.

“Both the British and the Swedish authorities know how to contact him, and the security services know exactly where he is,” Stephens told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, cables published to WikiLeaks’ website detailed alleged financial support for North Korea and terrorist affiliates by Austrian banks; an allegation by a Pakistani official that Russia “fully supports” Iran’s nuclear program; and a deeply unflattering assessment of Turkmenistan’s president.

Accused in Sweden of rape, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of unlawful coercion, Assange’s last public appearance was at a Geneva press conference on Nov. 5.

Swedish officials have alerted Interpol and issued a European arrestwarrant in a bid to bring him back in for questioning. Stephens, Assange’s lawyer, said that the Swedish prosecution was riddled with irregularities and turning into an exercise in persecution.

Assange denies the charges, and Stephens has said they apparently stemmed from a “dispute over consensual, but unprotected sex.”

It is unclear if or when police would act on Sweden’s demands. Police there acknowledged Thursday they would have to refile their European arrest warrant after British authorities asked for more details on the maximum penalties for all three crimes Assange is suspected of.

Scotland Yard declined comment, as did the Serious and Organized Crime Agency, responsible for processing European arrest warrants for suspects in England — where The Guardian claims Assange is hiding out.

Stephens — who also represents The Associated Press — said that, if Assange were ever served with a warrant, he would fight it in British court.

“The process in this case has been so utterly irregular that the chances of a valid arrest warrant being submitted to me are very small,” he said.

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said late Wednesday the organization was trying to keep Assange’s location a secret for security reasons. He noted commentators in the United States and Canada had called for Assange to be hunted down or killed.

Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The latest batch of leaked documents included a frank assessment from the American envoy to Stockholm about Sweden’s historic policy of nonalignment — a policy which the U.S. ambassador, Michael Woods, seemed to suggest was for public consumption only.

Sweden’s military and intelligence cooperation with the United States “give the lie to the official policy” of non-participation in military alliances, Woods said. He added in a separate cable that Sweden’s Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors fondly remembers his time as a high school student in America and “loves the U.S.”

Woods cautioned American officials not to trumpet Sweden-U.S. cooperation in the fight against terrorism too openly.

“The extent of this cooperation in not widely known within the Swedish government,” he said. “Public mention of the cooperation would open up the government to domestic criticism.”

Woods’ comments were front page news in Sweden Thursday, while WikiLeaks dominated the British news agenda as well.

A front page story in The Guardian alleged that one of the leaked cables showed British politicians trying to keep parliament in the dark over the storage of American cluster bombs on U.K. territory — despite an international ban on the weapons signed up to by British authorities. Britain’s Foreign Office denied the charge.

___

Gillian Smith contributed to this report.

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NEWSLETTER CLOSED

 

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