Blog Visits

Visits Per Month

September 2003 is the first month I have gotten more than 5,000 visits. The number of visitors to my weblog has been increasing a lot recently. I switched to Movable Type in mid-May and it was then that the decline of my blog was averted.

In other news, I have had visitors from 85 countries since I started keeping track.

And the most popular entry is the one on arranged marriage.


Is this nepotism or is it just a small world?

  • Douglas J. Feith is undersecretary of defense for policy. His former firm

    has recently established a task force dealing with issues and opportunities relating to the recently ended war with Iraq. …[It] is assisting regional construction and logistics firms to collaborate with contractors from the United States and other coalition countries in implementing infrastructure and other reconstruction projects in Iraq. Through its Washington, D.C., office, ZGC is also assisting American companies in their relations with the United States government in connection with Iraqi reconstruction projects as prime contractors and consultants.

  • Joe Allbaugh “served as the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under President George Bush until March 2003” and before that “was Chief of Staff to then-Governor Bush of Texas and was the National Campaign Manager for the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign.” (statements within quotes from here.) He is now the CEO of New Bridge Strategies,

    a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Its activities will seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration. The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C. and on the ground in Iraq.

  • Salem Chalabi is the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi and now the founder of the Iraqi International Law Group.

    The lawyers and professionals of IILG have dared to take the lead in bringing private sector investment and experience to the New Iraq. Our task is to provide a “last mile” connection between foreign capital, initiative, technology, experience and know-how and the organizations, enterprises, institutions and entrepreneurs in Iraq eager to rebuild this ancient and war-torn country, to catalyze and ignite the realization of the New Iraq’s huge economic potential.

  • Haley Barbour is a former RNC chairman and currently CEO of Barbour Griffith & Rogers, Inc. Josh Marshall has some interesting links between his firm and New Brisge Strategies.

You tell me what’s happening here.

I am Back

So I am back in Atlanta. The trip back is always much worse than the trip out. But such is life.

We watched Secondhand Lions and Matchstick Men. Both are good entertaining movies.

Going Home

I am going home now for the weekend. Will be back sunday evening. Hopefully with more regular blogging.


May be this will make Britney Spears’ music better:

Britney Spears has turned to Indian bhangra rhythms for her comeback song out later this year. The song features Spears singing and rapping over music and rhythms from rural India and has been remixed by British Asian producer Rishi Rich – himself celebrating a top 20 hit in the UK this month with Dance With You (Nachna Tere Naal). Rich has previously remixed songs for Westlife, Ricky Martin and Craig David.

Bhangra (don’t try to pronounce it; the “r” is not a regular one) is music and dance from Punjab (now divided into Indian and Pakistani parts). It became big in the 1980s with a number of mostly Sikh performancers who modernized the music. Here is some history of Bhangra.

And in recent years it has become quite popular in Britain as well. So it has been mixed with reggae, hip hop and other kinds of music by Punjabi Britishers. In the early days of Bhangra in Britain in the 1980s, I remember the group Alaap.

We also have Bhangra-pop symbolized by Daler Mehndi from India. Here is some sample music of his. Abrar-ul-Haq from Pakistan has also used some Bhangra influence in his music.

You can download lots of Bhangra music here, but as the website points out it should be only to sample the music and “after downloading mp3s, you must delete them from your hardisk within 24 hours.”

There is lots of Bhangra music online. If you want, go ahead and search for it. I am not pointing it out since most of it is pirated.

Blogging and Politics Paper

Dan Drezner and Henry Farrell are writing an academic paper on power and politics of blogs. They are soliciting some help.

If you’re a journalist, columnist, commentator, producer, or editor for a newspaper, magazine, or television station, we’d appreciate your help. We’d be grateful if you could take two minutes to send an email to with answers to the following five questions.

Go to Crooked Timber or Dan Drezner for the questions.

GITMO Military Arrests

A Muslim Chaplain in the US Army who was administering to the detainees at the Guantanoamo Bay camp was arrested recently.

The Muslim military chaplain who ministered to suspected Al Qaeda terrorists at a U.S. detention center in Cuba can be confined under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for up to two months without being charged.

Army Capt. Yousef Yee, 35, was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Col. David McWilliams, spokesman for U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said Sunday in a telephone interview from command headquarters in Miami that military authorities are awaiting the investigation’s outcome.

He said the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division was in charge of the investigation.

Is that what’s known as an Article 32 hearing?

[…]McWilliams refused to characterize in any way what Yee is suspected of having done. He said the chaplain raised the suspicions of U.S. Customs officials when he arrived in Jacksonville on a flight from Guantanamo Bay.

A senior law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saturday that FBI agents confiscated documents Yee was carrying and questioned him before he was handed over to the military.

[…]On Sept. 15 a military magistrate determined that there was sufficient reason to hold Yee in confinement, McWilliams said, pending outcome of the investigation.

Yee is being held in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. — the same place where officials are holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi who allegedly fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member charged with plotting to detonate a bomb.

McWilliams said a military lawyer has been assigned Yee, but the spokesman would not identify the lawyer.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, the military organization that runs the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, will decide on the next step in the Yee case after he receives results of the Pentagon investigation, McWilliams said.

If charges are brought, Miller could decide to proceed to a court-martial, recommend administrative action or opt not to pursue any charges.

Today, there was news of two more arrests of military personnel, one of whom appears to be an Arab-American from his name and the other’s identity is not known.

An Air Force airman who had worked at the U.S. prison camp for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has been charged with espionage and aiding the enemy — charges that could carry the death penalty — a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi worked as an Arabic-language translator at the prison camp, spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said.

Al-Halabi knew Yousef Yee, the Muslim chaplain at the prison arrested earlier this month, but it was unclear if the two arrests were linked, Shavers said.

The enlisted airman has been charged with nine counts related to espionage, three counts of aiding the enemy, 11 counts of disobeying a lawful order, and nine counts of making a false official statement.

Espionage and aiding the enemy are military charges that can carry the death penalty, said Eugene Fidell, a civilian lawyer in Washington and president of the National Institute of Military Justice. The commanding general in charge of al-Halabi’s case would have to decide whether military prosecutors could seek the death penalty in his case, Fidell said.

If the death penalty is an option, the 12-member military jury that hears the case would have to vote unanimously to impose it, Fidell said.

Al-Halabi, who was based at Travis Air Force Base in California and assigned to a logistics unit there, is being held at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Shavers said.

Earlier Tuesday, senior military officials told Fox News that a member of the Navy was also in custody, under suspicion of espionage and possible improper communications with the camp’s detainees. The Navy member’s role at the camp has not been disclosed.

Fox News has learned al-Halabi and the Navy member both were detained roughly two weeks before Yee was arrested. Officials said the two were being surveyed for some time before Yee came to their attention.

It seems that al-Halabi would face charges in a court martial then.

If you are expecting profound analysis from me, I don’t have any. I don’t know what to think about these cases. They could be innocent or guilty. I have only two comments. One, they should be given the regular military treatment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) instead of being detained indefinitely like Yasser Hamdi and Jose Padilla. Two, if these guys are guilty, it is their individual act and should not be construed as making all the Muslim chaplains or even all Muslims in the military.

There also is these comments in the Fox News story which highlight something that is pretty common, i.e., improper handling of classified material.

Yee, 35, was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla., after getting off a flight from Guantanamo Bay and is being held at the consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C. A senior law enforcement official said authorities confiscated classified documents Yee was carrying.

Determining what Yee’s intentions were may be difficult, according to one senior official. The official told Fox News he was having a difficult time assessing the meaning of the articles said to be in the chaplain’s possession when he was arrested.

Yee was detained in part because he carried classified information without having something called a “courier card” in his possession. Such mistakes are not uncommon, the official said.

Yee also possessed a laptop equipped with a modem, which are strictly forbidden at the base. The official pointed out that nearly every laptop now sold is equipped with a dial-up modem.

A Pentagon official told Fox News that classified information was also found on the laptop of the Air Force member now in custody. But the official said slip-ups such as this —- which he described as “sloppy computer security” —- are somewhat common.

Classified material, especially in the military and defense-related work, needs to be very carefully guarded. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t follow the rules on such things strictly. This is a plausible explanation in this case, but I have no idea whether it’s true or not. I think we’ll all have to wait and see.

UPDATE: According to the New York Times:

The translator, Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi, faces 32 criminal charges, including accusations that he tried to slip prison maps, cell-block information, names of prisoners and messages from them to an agent of the Syrian government. If convicted of the spying charges, he could face the death penalty.

UPDATE II: Things didn’t turn out well for the military and the charges against these guys. Read my later post.

UPDATE III: Also, see this New York Times article.

Wes Clark

Very interesting that Wesley Clark has shot up to be the top Democratic contender just after announcing his candidacy. Here are the results from CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls over the last month…

Very interesting that Wesley Clark has shot up to be the top Democratic contender just after announcing his candidacy. Here are the results from CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls over the last month.:

Candidate 9/19-21 9/8-10 8/25-26
Wesley Clark 22 10 2
Howard Dean 13 14 12
John Kerry 11 12 10
Dick Gephardt 11 16 13
Joe Lieberman 10 13 23
Bob Graham 4 5 4
John Edwards 4 5 5
Al Sharpton 4 2 4
Carol Moseley Braun 3 4 5
Dennis Kucinich 2 2 1
Other/None/No opinion 16 17 21

In a matchup with Bush, Clark does best (49-46) while Dean does worst (46-49) among the major Democratic contenders. (Yes, I know these numbers are too close to the 3.5% error margins.)

It seems Josh Marshall was right.

I think this [Clark’s candidacy] has the potential to turn the primary race completely upside-down. The Dean insurgency has almost completely defined the race to this point. At present, you can’t even call it an insurgency really since Dean is in fact the front-runner, by most reasonable measures. As I’ve written before, I think there’s a niche waiting to be filled just to Dean’s right. And the real mystery of the campaign so far is that none of the other contenders has managed to fill it and coalesce those who don’t support Dean behind their candidacy. Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards, Gephardt … none of them have managed it.

The Poor Man, who is a Clark supporter, must be very happy.

I usually have a bad reaction about generals in politics (a reflex action from my days in Pakistan) but as my friend John put it: A general who comes away from it all with some aversion to war is a good thing.1

Clark’s domestic policy positions are not well-known at this point. I’ll be keeping an eye out for his positions on issues.

The Democratic primaries has turned interesting now. Practically speaking, there are four major contenders: Clark, Dean, Kerry and Gephardt. Clark and Dean seem to be the top two guys right now but things could change before the primary season.

Continue reading “Wes Clark”

Abraham’s Claim to Mesopotamia

An interesting (funny is probably more like it) case in the DC district court:

Plaintiff “Great Prince Michael” (a.k.a. Michael Craig Clark) brings this action along with a group referred to as the “Inhabitants of the Land” against the United States, President George W. Bush, “Americans currently in the land,” Great Britain, and “British citizens currently in the land,” seeking injunctive relief from American and British occupation of certain lands located in the Middle East. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants are trespassing over lands located west of the Euphrates River and Persian Gulf and east of the Mediterranean Sea and Nile River, thereby violating the plaintiffs’ rights under the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The plaintiffs allege that these lands are entrusted to the care of the plaintiff Great Prince Michael, who claims to be the sole representative of the descendants of Abraham and who allegedly has the responsibility to enforce the biblical covenant given to Abraham to protect lands in question.

The case was obviously dismissed by the court.

Via Begging to Differ.

Kashmir: Religion

Current census figures for religious affiliation in Kashmir according to the BBC are: …

Current census figures1 for religious affiliation in Kashmir according to the BBC are:

Religious groups: Indian-administered Kashmir
Region Buddhist Hindu Muslim Other
Kashmir Valley 4% 95%
Jammu 66% 30% 4%
Ladakh 50% 46% 3%
Religious groups: Pakistani-administered Kashmir
Region Buddhist Hindu Muslim Other
Northern Areas 99%
Azad Jammu and Kashmir 99%

Courtesy of the Kashmir Study Group.

Also see here for more information.

Most of the Muslims in the Kashmir valley, Jammu province and Azad Kashmir are Sunnis. Shias, mainly Nizari Ismailis, dominate in the Northern Areas. Ladakh also has a large number of Shias.

Muslims are a majority in the Kargil district of Ladakh while Buddhists dominate in the Leh district. There are also some Sikhs, mostly in Jammu.

Overall, according to the 1981 census, Muslims are 74.9% of the population of Kashmir, followed by Hindus (22.6%) and Buddhists (0.8%).

According to the 1941 census2, the percentage of Muslim population in the districts of Kashmir was as follows:

District Muslim Controlled by
Gilgit Agency 99.99% Pakistan
Gilgit Wazarat 100.00% Pakistan
Ladakh 79.00% India
Baramula 96.49% India
Muzaffarabad 92.89% Pakistan
Punch 90.97% Pakistan
Srinagar 91.55% India
Mirpur 80.41% Pakistan
Riasi 54.79% India
Udhampur 43.15% India
Jammu 39.00% India
Kathua 25.45% India
TOTAL 77.11%

The “controlled by” data in the above table is based on who controls more of the district as some districts are divided by the Line of Control. For example, more than half of the Punch district is controlled by Pakistan but the town of Punch is on the Indian side of the line of control.

Continue reading “Kashmir: Religion”