So, Who shot you Mr. bin Laden?

Have you ever seen little children fight over petty issues? Cute isn’t it? What if those little children are 40 years old. Not quite!

That is what is happening right now in the United States’ special operations force SEAL Team 6. The SEAL Team 6 brought itself international recognition a couple of years back when they successfully pulled off an operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which led to the death of America’s biggest enemy - Osama bin Laden. The operation was tightly secure and carried out in an extremely confidential manner. The SEALs were showered upon with fame and respect because what they pulled off was not just another operation. It was a turning point in America’s war history.

US Navy SEALS

Then why compare them with school children? It all began in February 2013. Esquire magazine published an interview with the man who claimed to be the one who shot bin Laden. For security reasons of course, his identity was never revealed. While describing the sequence of events that took place that night, this man claimed that he was the only one to go up to Osama’s bedroom which was on the third floor. CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen, an al-Qaeda expert, dismissed the account to be a fake.

According to Bergen, three commandos made it first to Osama’s bedroom - one of which was the man who claimed to be the shooter. The other man was ‘the point man’ and the third was Matt Bissonette, who released a book under his pen name Mark Owen. The ‘point man’ was the first to shoot bin Laden when he saw him loitering about his bedroom anxiously. That shot severely injured bin Laden and made him immobile. The ‘point man’ then saw two more women in the bedroom and feared that they might be suicide bombers carrying explosives. The rushed the two woman into the room. Meanwhile the other two commandos shot bin Laden in the chest and killed him.

This revelation by the CNN team has shocked many. Not only is the authenticity of information provided by the shooter in question, but the plot still lays open. Nobody knows what exactly happened that day, not even the SEALs. Under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t matter who really shot bin Laden. The fact that the al-Qaeda leader was gunned down spreads enough happiness and the question as to who is the shooter is of little importance. But that’s not how the SEALs are looking at it.

According to reports, there has been a rift in the SEAL Team 6. Several members are unhappy with the claimed shooter for giving false information in the Esquire magazine. The shooter has been thrown out of the team for bragging about being the one who shot bin Laden in bars around Virginia, where the SEAL team is based. Nobody on the SEAL Team is willing to say anything about the raid, after such an incident took place. They refuse to open up.

The media of course is having its share of fun - just like how a kindergarten teacher has fun overlooking all the drama unfold among her little kids. While the question as to bin Laden’s shooter still remains in thin air, one would feel for the breakdown of the SEAL Team 6 which was once held in great esteem by the world, but is now broken due to a petty issue.

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I am Malala

Malala Yousafzai has become a symbol for restoring the right to education for every child in this world. She sums up her cause when she says “I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can’t get education. I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right.”

And Malala has signed up a 3 million dollar deal to do just that - to tell her story. The book, which is to be published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in Commonwealth countries and by Little, Brown elsewhere, is titled “I am Malala”. It will release by the end of 2013.

Malala Yousafzai reading a book

Malala Yousafzai

A 15-year old girl bagging 3 million dollars to tell her story isn’t something that happens every other day. Many may wonder whether her story is so significant so as to be so mightily priced. But not everyone gets shot in the head by the Taliban and then makes a dream-like recovery only to challenge them again. Malala’s story is not just a fairytale that happened to become real. It is a story of gut, will and determination. It is a story of truth.

Whether Malala’s story deserves 3 million dollars or not is a different question. But every child must know her story. Every child must know what it takes, in certain parts of the world, to educate oneself. The book talks about how girls in Pakistan struggle against the whims of the society, to earn education for themselves. Not every child knows of Malala’s story. But they must. It is time children all over the world realise the value of education - which has somehow come into their hands very easily.

That which is achieved with ease is seldom given due respect. Education is no different. Malala’s story presents the truth about education and the society’s take on it. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to know for all those who enjoy a different side of the truth.

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The Beatles: a reminiscence of the Legend

The Beatles

Soon to be Legends - the Beatles

A sixteen year old starts a band with a couple of kid guitarists - the average high school band story, you’d imagine. But it’s the rocking’ 60’s; the kids become legends; the Beatles. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and later Ringo Starr came in during an age when people said guitars were old school, and made them take back their words. From a modest start of playing in converted strip clubs in Germany, they went on to become international hits, and led what is called ‘the British invasion of the American pop market. All four members contributed to the vocals while Lennon and McCartney were the song writers.. Though they started off with rock and roll, their style soon changed to represent the mood of the age, with classic rock, pop, psychedelic rock themes added to their work. With rising fame, they came to be known as the ‘fab four’, and ‘Beatle mania’ spread across the world. By the 1970’s however, things started to fall out between McCartney and the others, and gradually the band dissolved. They continued to make solo albums, though many felt the magic had been lost forever.

At their best they had become such a huge phenomenon that a comment by Lennon during an interview about the Beatles being “more popular than Jesus” became a major controversy which led to the Vatican issuing a protest. They won seven Grammies, were included in Time magazine’s compilation of the twentieth century’s 100 most influential people, and are the bestselling band in history with estimated EMI sales over one billion units. In 1988 the Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time. They hold 39 Platinum records, topped by ‘The Beatles’ reaching platinum status 19 times. In the few years they performed, the Beatles led the world in terms of music, fashion, and changed its perspective of the youth.

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Michael Owen calls it a day

The two Argentine defenders, with twenty years of experience between them, didn’t know what hit them. He was past both of them in the blink of an eye. He let fly from the edge of the box, and as always, the ball nestled in the corner of the net. England’s manager Sven Errikksen, therefore, was not exaggerating when he called Michael Owen a “killer”, a clean killer.”

After 17 years of terrorizing defenses, the prolific striker has decided to call it a day. Michael Owen, on Tuesday, announced on his personal website that he will be retiring at the end of the ongoing Premier League season. He will be drawing the curtain on a career decked with  three League  cup medals, one  F. A.cup victory , one UEFA cup and one Premier League trophy.

Michael Owen calls it a day

Owen started his career at Anfield, when he signed for Liverpool at the age of 17. Liverpool managed to pry him from the grasp of Manchester United and Chelsea, who were also vying for the talented youngster’s signature. Owen went on to become a legend in Merceyside, finishing as Liverpool’s top scorer for eight consecutive seasons, from 1997 to 2004, even as he was fighting constant knee and hamstring injuries. He also won English hearts when he scored that amazing goal against Argentina in the ’98 world cup, at the ripe age of 18. In 2001, he led Liverpool to a treble which won him the coveted Baland’or. Liverpool’s fall from grace at the end of the 2004 season, when Owen was at his peak, led to fears among fans that the club was not good enough for Owen.

It was a year later that the inevitable happened. Owen moved to Real Madrid for a hefty 8 million pounds. Owen enjoyed a good run in Spain, even though he was playing second fiddle to Brazilian superstar Ronaldo. Towards the end of his tenure, however,  he was plagued  with injuries and bad form. Eventually, the arrival of big players like Robinho meant that Owen was surplus to requirements at the Bernabeu. He was sold to Newcastle United in  2005 .

Injuries continued to haunt him, and he was forced to sit out the majority of the 05-06  season. He returned after this long layoff to become captain of the club, but soon moved to Liverpool’s arch rivals Manchester United, amidst much controversy in 2009. The highlight of his short stay at Manchester came when he scored an injury time winner in The Manchester Derby. The goal was vintage Michael Owen. Even though that was his only league goal for that season, Michael Owen will not forget his time at Manchester United, as it was here that he won the premier League medal that had eluded him for so long.

Owen moved to Stoke City in  2012  and continues to play there, as of March 19th, 2013, when he announced , ” I now feel that it is the right time to bring down the curtain on my career. I have been very fortunate that my career has taken me on a journey like I have dreamt of.”

His 124  goals in the Premier League  and  40 goals for England, including a hat-trick against Germany,  will remain in the hearts of football fans for many years to come.

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i-sland or our-land?

I was walking towards the Aavin store in my campus . The sunlight Shimmering down and demanding a refreshing cold milk. All was going well as I sipped my chocolate milk till my senior approached and said our college would be “closed Indefinitely”. Well it took me quite some time to digest the fact. My sudden enthusiasm over cancelled classes was replaced by deep sorrow and disappointment. The government of Tamil Nadu needed students to render their support against the Sri Lankan government’s ill treatment of native Tamilians.

Tamilians suffer in Sri Lanka

Ever since civil war of 2009 with the LLTE, the political situation and the safety of the Lankan Tamilians has been on boisterous waters. The Tamilians who continue to be a minority in the country seem be victims of homicides. Its almost similar to racial discrimination that the Indians faced in Australia a year ago. As the USA began to take interest in the unrest in Sri Lanka and the unfair government policies against minority through UNHRC , India seems to have a deaf year to this issue.

Even though the DMK and AIADMK , the major leading parities Tamil Nadu have pressed the central government to show some interest in this sensitive issue where our own citizens are being killed in our trusted neighbouring country, the central government hasn’t taken any steps hitherto. Infuriated over the lack of interest displayed , DMK chief, Karunanidhi has threatened to pull out his ministers from the UPA . The government of Tamil Nadu has also closed down around 550 colleges as a sign of support for this issue. But what they don’t realize is that they are affecting the career of atleast 4,40,000 (550X800) students with this “indefinite “closure. I always believed that this country will never learn through protests. I say this because there have been atleast 7 high lightened rape cases in the past 3 months and none of them men seemed to have learnt a lesson as yet!

Its only in a country like India that the Intervention of politics in education in possible. What the government hardly realises is that they are affecting the system of education by this unanimous decision. There are always better solutions. Think a million times before your ruffled blood indecisively forces you to pick up the dagger. A pen is lighter ,but stronger.

I was probably thinking too deep , yet thinking right I knew. Even if the Tamil Nadu government denies , they have affected the educational system for an entire generation to come.! I just couldn’t believe what was going on, neither I could believe I was behaving matured . !

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Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation


Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI had a reign of nearly eight years, from April 19, 2005 to February 28, 2013. His sudden resignation shook the church to its base, and the significance of the action remains a major topic of debate, some approving it as a courageous decision by the Pope, of stepping down when he felt he could no longer carry the cross. Others see it as a sign of the weakening of the church, that the vicar of christ should carry the cross till the end and his inability is a bad sign.

Many popes over the years, including his predecessor, stayed on in spite of failing health and other reasons because they believed “You cannot come down from the cross”. At the same time, Pope Benedict XVI is not the first to step down. The oldest recorded papal resignation was by St Pontian in A.D. 235, having been exiled by Roman authorities, the last but one being Gregory XII Who reigned to end the western Schism.

Before his election as Pope, Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was nicknamed ‘God’s rotweiler’ for his uncompromising conservative views - clashing with homosexuals, feminists and even rock musicians. Even after his elections he became a protector of the teachings of the church: he held a firm opposition to tolerence of homosexuality, the ordaining of women as priests and abortion. The church added 7 modern mortal sins during his reign, including excessive wealth and environmental damage.

He made a histroric visit to the Blue Mosque in November 2006 and prayed with its Muslim leader. He also paid homage to the victims of the Holocaust at a memorial in Austria in 2007. He also paid a major visit to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Yet his reign had its own share of scandals, with the issue of child abuse by members of the church. Cases to this effect often languished unattended for years, even decades with victims as young as three years of age. On september 12, 2006, in a lecture on faith at a university in Germany, the pope quoted a 14th centry Byzantine Emporer who describes the teachings of prophet Muhammed as ‘evil’ and ‘inhuman’. An embarrassing leak of documents from the Pope’s desk revealing corruption and mismanagement inside the Vatican led to the conviction of his butler in 2012. The affair gave a damaging impression of a power struggle at the Holy See. Even with his stern position against homosexual tolerence, eight countries legalized gay marriage during his reign.

On the whole we see a reign filled with controversy and scandal, with supporters saying that Pope benedict XVI made great efforts in bringing together different faiths and eradicating child abuse in the church. At the same time opposition roars that the Pope has damaged relations with Muslims and Jews, and has obstructed much needed change in the church.

Considering his age and the mountain of difficulties the pope has to tackle, you would not consider his resignation a sin from a humane view. Yet what it means for the future and existence of the church itself is yet to be seen.

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An Uninvited Reunion

 

 

While one community considers it as their Holy Land, another has termed it as naqba , or catastrophe – The State of Israel.

Judah Magnes

Judah Magnes

As the holocaust entered its most horrific development in 1942, a political party named Iduh, Hebrew for unity, was formed in Palestine. This was the brainchild of an American pacifist rabbi named Judah Magnes. He argued for a binational state in the region of Palestine to be occupied by both Jews and Arabs. This was supported by like-minded idealists. However, their efforts were heavily criticized and the very idea was met by great detest by the public themselves.

As the United Nations continue to ponder over a disagreement that has spanned over decades of intense strife, a variant of Magnes’ idea – being that of a single state nation is returning to vogue. Although the opposition is quite heavy, it is supported by left-wing Western circles and a growing minority of Palestinians. This is complemented by the notion of Post-Zionism being aired among an increasing number of Israeli intellectuals.

Former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg notes that “I have no doubt something is emerging, though I am not sure as to what it is”. Avi Shalim, a noted chronicler of the Israel-Palestine saga has opined “to supporting a one-state solution for equal rights for all citizens”. Although, he does agree, that every attempt for the same have been swiftly killed off by the ruling government at the time.

However, it remains to be seen whether Jerusalem would continue to be seen as a divided capital.

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Does Duncan deserve more?



I’m not sure how many people joined me in raising their eyebrows when Duncan Fletcher was appointed by the BCCI to succeed Gary Kirsten as the coach of the Indian Cricket Team. I’m sure there would have been quite a few though. For all the high standards Gary had set, one would have expected his successor to be of the same level, if not higher. If I remember correctly, Stephen Fleming was the other worthy candidate who was in contention for the post.

Fletcher for another year?

Fleming vs. Duncan

In my opinion, Fleming would have won the battle any day. The man has a cool Kirsten-like-demeanour, which is quite necessary, especially when you are facing the Indian media after losing eight consecutive Test matches. He has also worked wonders with Dhoni for their IPL franchise. So there is bound to be good captain-coach coziness, which again is essential if MS Dhoni is your captain. And ironically, Fleming’s positives were Fletcher’s negatives. During his tenure as the coach of England Fletcher had problems with the English media – I don’t think he realized that their Indian counterparts are much worse. And in that same tenure, he is also believed to have had occasional spats with Michael Vaughan. Let’s not talk about the comparison with Dhoni.

 

Fleming was always going to be the perfect choice. But surprise, surprise! The BCCI had a trick up their sleeve – or atleast that’s what it seemed like. Fletcher got the job. The rest is history. India lost everything they had to savour on the cricket field. Surprisingly, the team-bashers (or more specifically the Dhoni-bashers) have a soft corner for Duncan. And it’s not just them, it’s the BCCI too. On 15th March, the BCCI decided to extend Fletcher’s contract by one hear. Completely unexpected. The reason given was that the younger players have a lot of respect for him. More like the granddad kind of respect? We don’t know. Here is a man who doesn’t laugh, doesn’t talk and doesn’t win matches. How did he manage to keep his place? Surely Gary Kirsten himself would have liked to have a better successor, if not a more inspiring one.

India needs another coach like Gary Kirsten. An active one, who inspires the team, instills confidence and of course, one who laughs a bit. No offence! But the BCCI needs to take some stern actions with respect to coaching staff. If not to the heights of the Australian coach, atleast someone half as stubborn would do for now.

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In Defense of Selfishness


For all organisms other than humans, selfishness is an inborn biological instinct and as such, it is not found fault with. For all organisms in the animal and plant kingdom, the instinct for survival, the instinct for self preservation is basic to its survival as an individual and as a species. Selfishness flows from this instinct for self preservation. In the process, every organism tries to maximize its pleasure and minimize the pain.

So do human beings. But why is selfishness frowned upon when it comes to humans? It is believed that if everybody is selfish to the extent of an animal and not generous at all, human relations tend to dry up. Being selfish for even petty things can make social life miserable.

Being Selfish: Anything Wrong?

However, there is nothing intrinsically wrong in being selfish. Human beings are expected to behave in a manner that benefits them the most.However, their selfishness should not cause undeserving harm to others. And man’s selfish behaviour should be within the bounds of law. That means selfishness should not result in jungle rule.
Given that man has a right to selfishness, he can choose to enjoy the pleasures of being generous. But that should be his choice rather than an imposition - moral or otherwise. He should have the freedom to decide his level of generosity in every day life. And when it comes to big decisions in life like career or marriage, he should exercise his right to be selfish because he is completely going to be responsible for the decisions he takes and has to personally bear the consequences of his decisions.

However, it is nice to show generosity at times if one can afford it. There may be situations when a small thing for us may be a big thing for another person and by giving him that, we may make a big difference in his life or make him extremely happy. If we are generous at times like that, we may voluntarily CHOOSE to be generous because being so will give us happiness and satisfaction of helping someone in extreme distress. However, no one should think that being generous is a human obligation towards fellow human beings and CHOOSING not to be generous at times makes us any less human.

To prove the point, let us see what selfishness popularly means. It means not giving something that we have to someone who needs it. If it is immoral to be selfish, it means we should try to be as selfless as possible. That means we should be ready to give away whatever we have which the other person does not have. That means we have to give up our property, food, house, books, car and even our clothes and donate them to someone who doesn’t have them. Doing anything less than that will make us selfish and hence immoral! And why should we earn all these riches if it is immoral to keep them? That means, no one earns anything because no one has any incentive to earn it. That means no one even produces food and the world would come to an end. This is an absurd derivation. This obviously means that our assumption that being selfish is immoral is wrong.

Finally, “to be able to say “I love you” one must first learn how to say the “I”” . selfishness is not a vice but a virtue.

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