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EDITORIALS

Beyond the handshake
Dialogue depends on Pak action against terrorists
W
HAT Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in Russia on Tuesday in full view of the media should be enough to make Islamabad serious in fighting terrorism if it wants to get the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue process to revive and move forward.

Going without power
Punjab dithers on reforms and suffers
P
UNJAB has sought more time for unbundling the Punjab State Electricity Board. The Central Electricity Act 2003 requires every state to separate the functions of power generation, transmission and distribution, currently vested with a single board in several states.

Why blame one man?
26/11 was a national failure
T
HE hullabaloo in the Maharashtra Assembly for two days over the R.D. Pradhan Committee report on the Mumbai terrorist attack and the transfer of Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor was unfortunate.



EARLIER STORIES

Mayawati again
June 17, 2009
No changers win
June 16, 2009
That sinking feeling
June 15, 2009
Sahibs and Burra Sahibs
June 14, 2009
Swine flu pandemic
June 13, 2009
Now it’s Canada
June 12, 2009
Vision for growth
June 11, 2009
Beware! It’s not milk
June 10, 2009
MP or a murderer?
June 9, 2009
Arrest of a terrorist
June 8, 2009


ARTICLE

Focus on terrorism
Pak must prove its bona fides for talks
by K. Subrahmanyam
P
RIME Minister Manmohan Singh was loud and clear in his message to Presdent Zardari at his meeting with him on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit at Yekaterinburgh. He chose his words deliberately and carefully.

MIDDLE

Reading The Reader
by Simrita Dhir
K
ATE Winslet’s winning of the Academy Award this year for her performance as Hannah Schmitz, a former SS guard in Nazi Germany, has set everybody talking about the book that I cherish, The Reader.

OPED

From Lal Salam to Lalgarh
Buddhadev runs into deeper trouble
by Uttam Sengupta
A
chief minister being driven in a three-wheeler is a rare sight. When Buddhadev Bhattacharya, therefore, chose last week to travel in an ‘auto-rickshaw’ to meet cyclone-affected people in the state, curious people lined up the narrow lanes to get a glimpse of the man who had held the promise of transforming the state.

Torture, the painful truth
by Ben Ehrenreich
Perhaps we protest too much. Torture, after all, is a venerable American tradition. If not quite as homespun as apple pie or lynching, it is at least as old as our imperial aspirations. We were waterboarding captives in one of our earliest wars of occupation, the Philippine-American War, which cost as many as 1 million civilian lives.

Health
Carrots cooked whole ‘better at fighting cancer’
by Jeremy Laurance
Carrots boiled whole before being cut up are better at fighting cancer and are tastier than when they are sliced before being cooked, a study has shown. It may require a bigger saucepan but cutting a carrot after boiling it could boost its health-giving properties by a quarter.





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Beyond the handshake
Dialogue depends on Pak action against terrorists

WHAT Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in Russia on Tuesday in full view of the media should be enough to make Islamabad serious in fighting terrorism if it wants to get the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue process to revive and move forward. Dr Manmohan Singh was candid when he expressed the view that his “mandate” was limited to “discussing how Pakistan can deliver on its assurances that its territory would not be used for terrorist attacks on India.” It was last November’s terrorist attack on Mumbai that led to the peace dialogue going off the rails, and to put it back on the track couldn’t be that easy for any Prime Minister. India does not want to appear as an obstructionist in the eyes of the world, but it cannot afford to talk to Pakistan unless terrorist strikes against India from its territory come to an end. Assurances given by Pakistan in the past have not been followed by specific action to curb the terrorist groups.

There is, however, a whiff of hope for the dialogue to begin after the talks between Dr Manmohan Singh and President Zardari. The two leaders agreed on a meeting between their Foreign Secretaries next month and to explore whether they could carry the exercise beyond the point where Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Zardari left. The meeting at Yekaterinburg — the first high-level contact between the two countries after 26/11 — is not without significance, for nothing else than that some ice was broken, which is an improvement over the two governments simply not being on talking terms.

India’s sensitivity about Islamabad not taking steps against the terrorist groups, with their training camps and communication network remaining intact, and about Hafiz Saeed’s release remains acute. What Pakistan does to address Indian concerns on terrorism will determine the success of the Foreign Secretaries’ meeting, which will take place before next month’s Non-Aligned Summit. For Pakistan to expect progress towards a dialogue and resumption of the peace process without its taking action against the terrorist groups and the Taliban outfits in Pakistan will be simply futile.

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Going without power
Punjab dithers on reforms and suffers

PUNJAB has sought more time for unbundling the Punjab State Electricity Board. The Central Electricity Act 2003 requires every state to separate the functions of power generation, transmission and distribution, currently vested with a single board in several states. While transmission work is to stay with a state-funded entity, other jobs can be entrusted to private companies. The aim is to ensure regular power, competition and a choice to consumers to get power from whichever company they like. Consumers will, of course, have to pay more. Reforms hope to curb political interference in the management and fixing of tariff which has ruined the financial health of power boards.

Power reforms have become necessary as all power boards had suffered heavy losses for years, bleeding an already debilitated state exchequer. Political meddling had wrecked their management and finances. The political leadership, therefore, has as much vested interest in keeping the PSEB unchanged as some of the employees, who fear privatisation. After the expiry of the ninth extension, the Centre has asked for a road map of unbundling the board before agreeing to the state request for another extension of the deadline.

The dithering on reforms has cost the state dear. It has been denied access to Central funds. The World Bank has refused aid to Punjab due to free power to sections of the population. Lack of funds has prevented further power generation to meet the growing needs of the state. The cash-strapped Punjab government has invited private companies to set up new power plants. The response has been lukewarm. Besides, private companies execute projects at their convenience and are notorious for delays. Though politicians keep promising 24-hour power, the fact is Punjabis will have to live with prolonged power cuts during many coming summers. Power shortage has hampered industrial growth. Some units have even moved out of the state. Punjab growth, slowing down in recent years, cannot pick up without sufficient power.

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Why blame one man?
26/11 was a national failure

THE hullabaloo in the Maharashtra Assembly for two days over the R.D. Pradhan Committee report on the Mumbai terrorist attack and the transfer of Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor was unfortunate. Members wasted time on this avoidable controversy without realising that 26/11 was a much larger issue. The nature of the attacks, the shooting down of innocent people and courageous police officers in different places across the city represented an affront to the Indian state of a type not seen in the past. However, the whole focus in the Assembly was on one man — Mr Hasan Gafoor — though the audacious attack points to the total collapse of the system including the breakdown of the communication channels and the failure of intelligence and coordination at various levels. When it was a national tragedy that claimed as many as 184 people, one cannot blame one man for an inadequate response to the situation.

Undoubtedly, the sequence of events — 11 Pakistani terrorists sneaking into Mumbai by sea, the spread of terror, the duration of the violence and the kind of arms they used — leads to the inevitable conclusion that the mischief had been planned by malcontents over a period of time before they shook India in a surprise attack on November 26 last. When the terrorists occupied vantage positions at CST railway station, the Tajmahal and Trident hotels and Nariman House, and started killing people at will, the intelligence agencies — at the Centre and in the state — were caught napping. Even the jawans of the National Security Guards, who did a commendable job in killing 10 terrorists, capturing Mohd Ajmal Kasab alive and saving many people, took 12 hours to reach Mumbai and plunge into action. When this was the actual position signifying a national failure, it does not behove one to express lack of confidence in the capability of one functionary like the Mumbai Police Commissioner.

The Pradhan Committee report is yet to be released by the Maharashtra government and it remains to be seen whether it will go public on its contents. It must have pointed out lapses on the part of the Mumbai police and then what would need to be rectified. But often the committees and commissions are set up to defuse an immediate controversy rather than what caused it. Hopefully, the Maharashtra government will take steps to ensure that it is prepared to meet future contingency better.

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Thought for the Day

You should not paint the chair, but only what someone has felt about it.

— Edvard Munch

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Focus on terrorism
Pak must prove its bona fides for talks
by K. Subrahmanyam

PRIME Minister Manmohan Singh was loud and clear in his message to Presdent Zardari at his meeting with him on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit at Yekaterinburgh. He chose his words deliberately and carefully. “My mandate is to tell you that Pakistani soil should not be used for terrorist acts against India”. He said this in the presence of the world media so that there will be no obfuscation of the sorts Pakistan Foreign Minister is famous for.

Pakistani refrain is that both countries are victims of terrorism. The issue is whether Pakistan is sincere in its efforts to put an end to terrorist violence emanating from its soil against India. The Hafiz Saeed case was a litmus test for Pakistani sincerity.

According to Daily Times of Pakistan of June 7, the Lahore High Court Bench in its judgement on the Hafiz Saeed case held that the security laws and anti-terrorist laws of Pakistan were silent on Al-Qaeda being a terrorist organisation.

President Obama in his speech on the Af-Pak strategy said, “I want American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan”. It is quite clear that Pakistan has not bothered to ban Al-Qaeda for the last seven years. They have neither been sincere in their promises to the US nor to India.

One would have expected a major reaction from the US to this disclosure in the Lahore High Court judgement. But Ambassador Holebrook merely talked of his being disturbed and the US Congress has passed the aid legislation to extend aid to Pakistan. There were testimonies before the Congress, but the basic fact that Al-Qaeda has not been banned appeared to have escaped notice of the entire Washington bureaucracy and the Congress.

The US officials were taken in by the Pakistani Army action against certain sections of the Pakistani Taliban which challenged the Pakistani state. But the Army has not acted against Al-Qaeda or the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan. Though two weeks have passed since the Lahore High Court judgement, there has been no move on the part of the Pakistan government to rectify its seven-year-old omission, if at all it was one and issue a notification to ban Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organisation.

Pakistani officials talk of going on appeal in the Hafiz Saeed case. But the success of the appeal will to a large extent depend on their declaring Al-Qaeda a terrorist organisation and proving the links between Al-Qaeda and Hafiz Saeed.

Surely the Pakistani lapse to notify Al-Qaeda a terrorist organisation should feature in the forthcoming discussions between the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Secretaries.

How Pakistan reacts to the Lahore High Court judgement and whether it bans Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organisation even at this late stage is likely to be a crucial determinant for India to assess whether Pakistan, in Dr Manmohan Singh’s words, would show the courage and statesmanship to prevent its territory from being used for acts of terror against India and bring the Mumbai attack perpetrators to justice.

When Dr Manmohan Singh said this he was not laying any precondition to resume talks with Pakistan. He was asking Islamabad to prove merely its basic bonafides to demonstrate that a resumption of talks will be worthwhile.

A country which has posed as a frontline state in the war against terror for seven years and has drawn billions of dollars of American tax payers’ money without taking the very first step of banning Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organisation cannot claim even a modicum of credibility as a negotiating partner. While it is for the US administration to explain to the American taxpayers why billions of their dollars are being handed over to a country which gives a safe haven to Al-Qaeda and does not ban it as a terrorist organisation, for Indians it will be difficult to stomach the resumption of talks with Pakistan when it does not display its bonafides as a negotiating partner.

It must also make us in India to evaluate US competence in managing the Pak-Af situation. General Musharraf with prior planning provided Al-Qaeda a safe haven in Pakistan in December 2001 and thereafter enabled them to continue their activities for the safety of Pakistan. While thanks to the security measures adopted by Washington the US has been able to protect itself from the Al-Qaeda attacks, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown complained that 75 per cent of terrorist plots in the UK led their trails back to Pakistan.

General Musharraf and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) should be amazed at their own success in taking the Americans for a ride for seven long years and milking the American aid. No doubt the ISI was trained by the CIA and has proved to be a case of the pupil outsmarting the teacher. The Pakistani confidence in dealing with US on their own terms goes back to a quarter century of their successes in outwitting the US bureaucracy, which have been chronicled in Bob Woodward’s “Veil” and Steve Coll’s “Ghost Wars.” They could even conduct a nuclear test with Chinese help May 26, 1990, defying US warnings.The ISI chief arranged for the money to be sent to the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and be in Washington as the Pentagon was struck.

Pakistanis have even boasted about their being able to get some of the 9/11 commission findings watered down through their successful lobbying efforts in Washington. There is a long history of US helplessness in dealing with Pakistan.

When Secretary Clinton visits Delhi it will be useful to apprise her of some of these perspectives since she seems to have been a victim of successful Pakistani propaganda that poor Pakistan after its valiant support for the anti-Soviet campaign was abandoned by the US invoking the Pressler amendment. Her colleague, Defence Secretary Bill Gates, who led the 1990 unsuccessful mission to Pakistan to dissuade them from nuclear tests at LopNor, will be able to enlighten her on the truth.Thomas Reed and Danny Stillman, two US nuclear scientists, in their book, “The Nuclear Express”, have dealt with the Chinese test in 1990 for Pakistan.

Pakistan has so far succeeded in avoiding dealing with terrorism nurtured by it as an instrument of policy. However, terrorism, which has grown as a parasite, is threatening it. If it is still hoping to distinguish between its own terrorism and the other one threatening it and hope to succeed in putting down its adversarial terrorism while saving its own creation at American expense, Dr Manmohan Singh’s warning should be clear.

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Reading The Reader
by Simrita Dhir

KATE Winslet’s winning of the Academy Award this year for her performance as Hannah Schmitz, a former SS guard in Nazi Germany, has set everybody talking about the book that I cherish, The Reader.

When I read the book back in 2002, I was jolted by its psychological and ethical complexity. Upholding the belief that a great book changes you, I immediately felt confident in proclaiming it to be one such book. I wrote to a few friends who enjoy reading telling them why I think the book is worth their time. However, all I heard from most of them was that they could not find the book and that if it were such a great book, it should have been more available and so forth.

So this year, I am thrilled to see everyone talk about the book, thanks to the release of the motion picture based on it. The renewed interest in the book seems an affirmation of my belief about its “greatness” and I cannot help rejoicing.

What makes the book different from other popular holocaust books like Schindler’s List, Sophie’s Choice and The Diary of Anne Frank is its attempt to focus on the perpetuators of the crime. The book brings us to realise that Hannah Schmitz, the former SS guard, may as well have been any other unemployed woman without resources who took up the job of a SS guard.

Her illiteracy is a secret that she fanatically guards, considering it more shameful than mass murder. Her secret is a metaphor for the inability of many at the time to fully comprehend what the holocaust entailed. Hannah is hit by the intensity of her crime only after she is convicted and after she attains literacy.

The book also focusses on the predicaments of the succeeding generation in Germany that finds much to its chagrin that instead of inheriting the legacy of Hegel and Kant, it is a bearer of a legacy of shame and guilt.

Michael, who is “The Reader”, represents the succeeding generation, that finds itself loving and at the same time questioning those who committed the crimes of the Holocaust. Michael sums up the dilemma of his generation, “The pain I went through because of my love for Hanna was, in a way, the fate of my generation, a German fate.”  

His psychic predicament leads him towards a quiet atonement when he discovers how in a dictatorship, people are driven to do things against their moral inclinations, things they would not do otherwise, many a times it being a question of survival.

Hannah’s question to the judge, “What would you have done?” is at once thought provoking and disturbing. It has opened up great new doors to discussion and analysis regarding the Holocaust.

So while movies are born out of books, great movies can do wonderful things to books by bringing an enduring work of literature home to the masses.

This summer, many people intrigued by the movie have wrapped their fingers around The Reader. The greatest testimony to its greatness is the number of students that are reading the book as part of their curriculum. As for me, let us just say, I am smiling from ear to ear.

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From Lal Salam to Lalgarh
Buddhadev runs into deeper trouble
by Uttam Sengupta

A chief minister being driven in a three-wheeler is a rare sight. When Buddhadev Bhattacharya, therefore, chose last week to travel in an ‘auto-rickshaw’ to meet cyclone-affected people in the state, curious people lined up the narrow lanes to get a glimpse of the man who had held the promise of transforming the state.

But the orchestrated ride failed to have the desired effect because there were four-wheelers, police jeeps, moving both in front as well as at the back of the celebrity’s three-wheeler. In the end, the West Bengal chief minister ended up being ridiculed by people for giving his consent to the ‘Public Relations’ stunt.

Barely three years ago in 2006, Bhattacharya had led the Left Front to a resounding victory in the Assembly elections, bagging 235 out of the 294 seats. But today there is a growing demand in the state, even within his own party, for him to step down.

Blamed for mishandling the land acquisition in Singur and criticised for the state administration’s failure to contain the mass unrest in Nandigram, the chief minister is today the fall-guy in Bengal, held responsible for almost everything as the state spins out of control in a spate of post-poll violence, reprisals and retaliatory attacks.

It is easy for the CPM to blame Maoists and Mamata Banerjee for the escalating violence in Lalgarh in West Midnapore district, less than 200 kilometres from Kolkata, simply because both Maoists and Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress make no bones about their mission to drive away the CPM from the area. While TC workers have taken over buildings occupied till recently by the CPM, Maoists have been generous in giving sound bytes to the mainstream media in which they have acknowledged receiving support from Mamata Banerjee’s TC. In the same breath they have declared their intention to execute the ‘death sentence’ which they claim has been handed out by the people against the Chief Minister.

But while Maoists and the TC have undoubtedly exploited the situation, the CPM and the Left Front government have only themselves to blame for their present predicament. Not all the people opposed to the CPM are Maoists. But a large majority of the people in Lalgarh, caught in the crossfire, seem to have little or no option but to follow orders given by Maoists.

So much so that family members of a CPM leader, killed by the Moaists, did not dare remove the body for several days because Maoists wanted the body to be on display as a deterrent. Even the police did not dare to take away the body for the routine post-mortem.

The imposing office buildings of the CPM and the palatial buildings of the party leaders had stood out for years as a sore thumb in the midst of grinding poverty of the people in West Midnapore. While the state administration failed to generate employment or even implement centrally sponsored schemes like NREGA, the party and the party leaders flourished in the area. Public money was clearly being siphoned off. People were first browbeaten by the lumpen elements which routinely stick to the ruling party; and when the people turned against them, the party unleashed the police on them.

What triggered Lalgarh was the landmine blast in November, 2008 targeted at Bhattacharya and the then union minister of steel, Ram Vilas Paswan. While the Maoists took the responsibility, police made indiscriminate arrests, picked up schoolboys and accused them of being Maoists. Women were beaten up, houses were ransacked and villagers detained on suspicion after being pointed out by CPM workers.

By November-end last year, people in the area revolted and pushed the police out of the area. They dug up the approach roads to prevent vehicles from getting into the area. They felled trees and placed them on roads to create obstacles and slow down vehicles and the Maoists appear to have moved in with arms in support. TMC workers, many of whom had been driven out of their homes by the CPM earlier, also rallied around the tribals of West Midnapore , who formed a People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities to spearhead their movement.

While the tribals intensified their campaign for release of the arrested villagers, compensation for damages inflicted by the police etc., the state administration remained paralysed. Villagers, according to reports, brought all activities of the government to a halt in a 10-kilometre area. The results of the general election demoralised the CPM cadres further while emboldening Maoists and TC workers to push forward against what they saw as the symbols of oppression.

CPM workers appear to have made mistakes in Lalgarh similar to the ones they made in Nandigram. There, faced with virtually a mass uprising against ‘rumours’ of land acquisition for a chemical hub, armed CPM workers were unleashed on the people, who retaliated in kind, supported by armed Maoists and TC workers. In Lalgarh too, reports indicate arms haul from abandoned CPM offices.

The party this week issued an appeal, asking ‘citizens’ not to take up arms even when provoked. The statement, issued by CPM headquarters at Alimuddin Street in Kolkata, is possibly meant to justify recovery of firearms from CPM offices.

Police action has become inevitable following Maoists’ challenge to state authority. But if the experience in Nandigram is any indication, the Bengal police has neither the leadership nor the skill and motivation required to deal with the situation. The highly politicised police and the bureaucracy in the state are so alienated from the people, specially in poorer districts like West Midnapore, that it is unrealistic to expect them to bail out the state. Deployment of central para-military forces can buy the administration breathing time and a temporary peace. But indiscriminate arrests, detention, torture and deaths in encounters will be counter-productive and only prolong the agony.

While New Delhi will be politically correct in following a hands-off policy and allowing the state government to deal with law and order, it is unlikely to work; unless the Prime Minister uses Mamata Banerjee’s acceptability to the Maoists to broker peace and sanity.

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Torture, the painful truth
by Ben Ehrenreich

Perhaps we protest too much. Torture, after all, is a venerable American tradition. If not quite as homespun as apple pie or lynching, it is at least as old as our imperial aspirations. We were waterboarding captives in one of our earliest wars of occupation, the Philippine-American War, which cost as many as 1 million civilian lives. In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt himself wrote with laconic praise of “the old Filipino method.”

Other techniques, crude or sophisticated, have filled the war bag since. CIA interrogation manuals from the 1960s, which lay out the basic stress-position and sleep- and sensory-deprivation techniques later applied at Bagram and Guantanamo, have been public since 1997.

Despite our protestations, we have little to be surprised about. The Bush administration’s great act of hubris was not to allow torture — that was nothing new — but to attempt to shelter it within the law.

Now, when President Barack Obama vows that “the United States does not torture” and spars with the former vice president over details, he crosses his fingers behind his back and saves himself a loophole. Via “extraordinary rendition” — a Clinton administration innovation — our government is still free to outsource torture and claim it doesn’t know.

The Obama administration has been relying increasingly on foreign intelligence services to detain and interrogate our suspects for us. Our hands, in a way, are clean.

Yet as more classified documents dribble into the headlines, we hold tight to our outrage. The scandal has been breaking for five full years, but still we claim not to recognize ourselves.

Despite hundreds of front-page stories, we pretend we didn’t know, that it was all somehow kept secret from us. “ `Secret,’ “ author Mark Danner has observed in the New York Review of Books, “has become an oddly complex word.” It refers not to things we don’t know but to things we won’t admit to seeing.

This blindness serves a function. By declaring torture anomalous, by pushing it once again to the margins of legality, we can preserve a vision of U.S. military power — and of American empire — that is essentially benevolent.

That vision — of our nation’s messianic role, its unique destiny to shower the world with freedom and democracy — has been at the root of our self-image for more than a century. Even when we know better, we are loath to let it go, even when we understand that those showers often take the form of 500-pound bombs and that self-determination is not something that can be bestowed at gunpoint.

Maintaining military and economic hegemony over the planet remains an inherently bloody affair. Seen from the other side, empire is a synonym for subjugation and hence for violence on a massive scale.

You don’t have to be Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to find our self-regard wanting. All that’s required is minimal attention to the fates suffered by the citizens of the nations to which we are currently delivering democracy.

Take the residents of the Bala Baluk district of Afghanistan’s western Farah province, where, on the evening of May 6, U.S. air strikes killed either 147 or 20 to 30 civilians, depending whether you prefer to believe, respectively, the people bombed or the ones who bombed them. Survivors described extended families wiped out, a nightmare landscape littered with human limbs. Being waterboarded 183 times suddenly doesn’t sound so bad.

That bombing was hardly extraordinary. You may remember the 37 civilians killed outside Kandahar on Nov. 4, the 90 killed near Herat on Aug. 22, the 47 killed in Nangarhar province on July 6 or the 15 killed in Nuristan two days earlier. If not, don’t blame yourself. Unless the body count approaches 100, these kinds of deaths barely merit a word on CNN’s crawl.

And as our war spreads into Pakistan, such incidents are on the rise. Missiles launched from unmanned drones have killed 700 civilians in Pakistan since 2006 and, we are assured, 14 al-Qaida leaders. (Obama has been drastically increasing the number of drone strikes, which Leon Panetta, his CIA director, has called “the only game in town.”) Meanwhile, back in Iraq, one of the more moderate estimates of the civilian death toll hovers near 100,000. Doesn’t it seem odd that it’s only torture that appalls us?

As the deaths mount, we will continue to beat our breasts about the treatment of detainees. The outcry is not unjustified. My point is not to relativize torture: We should not torture anyone. But we do and have done so, both directly and with the help of client states, for many years. Just as in war after war, the alleged costs of our well-being have been borne by people we will never see, most of them noncombatants.

This is the price of global sovereignty, of being, in Colin Powell’s words, “the biggest bully on the block.” President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney knew this, and they were unapologetic. Obama knows it too, but he has worked hard to let us believe otherwise, to patch up the tattered fantasy that we are the country we imagine ourselves to be.

Our outrage over torture, like the president’s rhetoric, lets us maintain the belief that we had innocence to lose. It allows us to deny the everyday violence of empire and to forget the many thousands of lives that we continue to sacrifice for something that we persist in calling freedom. I don’t mean that we should be less outraged, but more, and more broadly. The rest of the world cannot afford our good conscience.

The writer is the author of the novel “The Suitors” and a fellow of the Horizon Institute.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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Health
Carrots cooked whole ‘better at fighting cancer’
by Jeremy Laurance

‘By cooking them whole and chopping them up afterwards, you are locking in both taste and nutrients’, says Dr Kirsten Brandt, who led the study at the University of Newcastle
‘By cooking them whole and chopping them up afterwards, you are locking in both taste and nutrients’, says Dr Kirsten Brandt, who led the study at the University of Newcastle

Carrots boiled whole before being cut up are better at fighting cancer and are tastier than when they are sliced before being cooked, a study has shown.

It may require a bigger saucepan but cutting a carrot after boiling it could boost its health-giving properties by a quarter. Researchers at the University of Newcastle found that “boiled-before-cut” carrots contained 25 per cent more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those that were chopped up first.

And the sugars which give the carrot its distinctively sweet flavour were also found in higher concentrations in the carrot that had been cooked whole, so the vegetable tasted better as well as being healthier.

The health benefits of falcarinol were first discovered four years ago when Kirsten Brandt, who led the study, found rats fed on a diet containing carrots or isolated falcarinol were a third less likely to develop tumours than those in a control group.

“Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are being cooked,” said Dr Brandt. “By cooking them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in both taste and nutrients. We all want to try to improve our health and diet by getting the right nutrients and eating our five-a-day.

“The great thing about this is it’s a simple way for people to increase their uptake of a compound we know is good for you.”

The team presented their results at a conference in Lille, France, yesterday. They also carried out a blind taste test on almost 100 people comparing the taste of “boiled-before-cut” versus “cut-before-boiled” carrots. The response was overwhelming with more than 80 per cent saying that carrots cooked whole tasted much better.

— By arrangement with The Independent

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