A society is nothing more than the sum of its institutions, and we are trying to change too many Afghan institutions at once. Also, we need to give the locals a compelling reason to change -- say, for example, watching their neighbors get rich pursuing legal activities. I like the literacy requirement for serving in the army. Illiteracy can be an insuperable barrier to new ideas (ask any kid from a US inner city). Still think they need to legalize the drug trade. We can't even win that fight in the West.
Reuters reports that, according to early data, the U.S. may have just experienced its weakest holiday shopping season since the woeful days of 2008, when the country was still dealing with, you know, a financial crisis and a recession. Holiday-related spending from late October through Christmas inched up 0.7 percent this year, down from last year's 2 percent growth, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. Other sales trackers found similarly meager results.
What happened? Weather was probably part of the problem. Superstorm Sandy smashed into the Atlantic in November, bringing business to a halt, and winter storms in December may have also depressed sales.
Couldn't possibly be the fact that people are worried, unemployment is going back up, and taxes are going up at the first of the year. Naaah...
But Santa, Rudolph, Dancer, and Prancer also appear to have collided head on with the fiscal cliff. Americans are watching the negotiations in Washington carefully, and after months of shrugging them off, recent surveys show the impasse in Congress appears to finally be taking a psychological toll on country, making everyone feel a bit nervous about opening their wallets... Guess who author and associate editor Jordan Weissmann blames?
[Dawn] THE celebrations that mark Christmas and the Quaid-e-Azam's birthday this time of year are also a reminder of Pakistain's failure to rein in the religious intolerance Mr Jinnah advocated against. In 2012 an extermination campaign targeting Hazaras and other Shias took hold from Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... and Quetta to Kohistan ...a backwoods district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa distinguished by being even more rustic than is the norm among the local Pashtuns.... , Mansehra ...a city and an eponymous district in eastern Khyber-Pakthunwa, nestled snug up against Pak Kashmir, with Kohistan and Diamir to the north and Abbottabad to the south... and Gilgit-Baltistan. The peaceful Bohra community was targeted in attacks that were perhaps the first of their kind. Mobs egged on by irresponsible holy mans demanded that victims of indefensible blasphemy allegations be handed over to be murdered without trials. While stories of the mass migration of Hindus to India may have been exaggerated, the community complained of discrimination and forced conversions. Churches and Christian homes continued to be attacked and the Rimsha Masih blasphemy case turned out to be linked to a broader campaign to rid her area of Christian families. This month alone saw the razing of a Hindu temple in Bloody Karachi, the desecration of Ahmadi graves in Lahore and the lynching of a man accused of blasphemy in Dadu. Decades after being founded as a country in which each individual was meant to have the right to follow his or her chosen beliefs, Pakistain has failed to treat religious minorities as equal citizens of the state.
Nor is the intolerance limited to minorities. A broader divide has also taken root in Pakistain -- that between peaceful religiosity and an extremism that violently opposes any practice it doesn't believe in. Those behind the attacks on polio ...Poliomyelitis is a disease caused by infection with the poliovirus. Between 1840 and the 1950s, polio was a worldwide epidemic. Since the development of polio vaccines the disease has been largely wiped out in the civilized world. However, since the vaccine is known to make Moslem pee-pees shrink and renders females sterile, bookish, and unsubmissive it is not widely used by the turban and automatic weapons set... workers, Malala Yousafzai and Bashir Ahmed Bilour are out to annihilate anything and anyone standing in the way of their version of an 'Islamic' state. Moslems are more often than not the victims of violence related to blasphemy killings, carried out not by jacket wallahs but by ordinary Paks fed a steady diet of intolerance. Add to this the increasing brutalisation of Pak society, in which guns are plentiful, human rights ...which are usually open to widely divergent definitions... unimportant and the legal system slow and ineffective, and intolerance translates even more easily into violence. More than six decades later the dawn we hoped for has not arrived, and any celebrations this time of year cannot escape that painful fact.
[Dawn] THE death of four children reportedly due to measles in Sukkur on Monday has put renewed focus on the contagious disease, which, according to the World Health Organisation, is a major cause of child mortality in Pakistain. While measles cases have been reported from across the country, Sindh has been particularly affected. As reported in this paper, over 20 children have died in several districts of upper Sindh over the past five weeks. Reliable estimates paint an even more grim picture; in the current year over 300 outbreaks have been reported in Sindh while there have been over 100 deaths in the province due to measles.
Poor routine immunisation coverage seems to be the major reason behind the frequent outbreaks of the preventable disease. Paediatricians have called for increasing the number of vaccination centres across the country; doctors point to a drop in routine immunisation as contributing to the increased cases of measles. A door-to-door vaccination drive must be launched immediately in the affected areas.
Also, there are disturbing reports that vaccinators have been facing resistance in upper Sindh from parents. Superstitious beliefs are rife in the region and some villagers have refused to have their children immunised as they believe the measles outbreaks are 'tests of faith'. The state must inject renewed vigour into the campaign to immunise all children, especially in far-flung areas and urban slums. Only a coordinated effort by government officials, elected representatives and community elders to dispel false propaganda and superstitious beliefs can convince reluctant parents to immunise their children. It must also be said that while the campaign against polio ...Poliomyelitis is a disease caused by infection with the poliovirus. Between 1840 and the 1950s, polio was a worldwide epidemic. Since the development of polio vaccines the disease has been largely wiped out in the civilized world. However, since the vaccine is known to make Moslem pee-pees shrink and renders females sterile, bookish, and unsubmissive it is not widely used by the turban and automatic weapons set... needs sustained efforts to eradicate the crippling ailment, the state needs to give equal importance to vaccinating children against other diseases, such as measles, included in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation.