Zen Pencils: Malala Yousafzai: The Movie

A little something I put together to help spread the word. Donate to The Malala Fund!

Original comic here. Music by Bombay Dub Orchestra.

Duplicity and Pakistan

Please read this article from Mosharraf Zaidi in Foreign Policy, about how the Bin Laden raid looks from on the ground in Pakistan. Very interesting stuff.

If Americans are confused about exactly what Pakistan is up to, they need to get in line. Pakistanis are more confused — utterly so.

This confusion has been carefully cultivated by a national elite whose singular focus is the accumulation of wealth, at all costs. In the near-decade since 9/11, Pakistan’s generals, judges, politicians, and bureaucrats have constructed two separate and equally effective narratives. To the West, they sold the bin Laden version of Pakistan: a fanatical nation, full of restless natives armed to the teeth with hatred and — if the West wasn’t careful — nukes. To ordinary Pakistanis, they sold the Ugly American version of the rest of the world: a big bad Uncle Sam and friends who were always burning Korans, knighting Salman Rushdies, and violating the Land of the Pure (the literal meaning of “Pakistan”).

Media Rashomon: Pakistan and the CIA

I’m not insane! Sometimes I need to tell myself this, just to hear someone say it, because it’s very easy to believe otherwise, especially when I read news stories. Today CNN gave me a total Rashomon moment. (TPCQ: “C’mon, Homer. You liked Rashomon.” “That’s not how I remember it.”)

Look at how CNN described the reason for Pakistan’s release of US citizen Raymond Davis, who was revealed to be a CIA contractor after we swore up and down he wasn’t:

CIA contractor Raymond Davis has been released from jail in Pakistan after the families of two men he killed in January forgave him, a government official said Wednesday [...] the victims’ families did not want to press charges

Doesn’t that sound remarkable? It reads like a Debbie Morris type of moment, where a survivor shows amazing grace and divine mercy to a person who committed horrible violence.

I wanted to know more, so I went to Al Jazeera English, where I found a very different story:

he was immediately pardoned by the families of the victims in exchange for compensation or “blood money”. The practice of pardoning those accused of murder under such an arrangement is permitted under Pakistani law. [...] Lawyers for the victims however suggested that they were forced to sign the deal.

Wow. That’s a very different version of the story — almost not the same story at all. Not like CNN reported four inches of rain and Al Jazeera reported five. It’s more like CNN reported four inches of rain and Al Jazeera reported flaming chunks of concrete falling from the sky.

Obviously it’s tricky to know who to believe here, but suffice it to say that I’m really suspicious of the CNN version. Given the history of CIA activity around the world during the last 50 years, I expect the Al Jazeera version is a bit closer to the truth.


I protested the nuclear-powered launch of the Cassini probe, since it could have irradiated all of Florida if something had gone wrong (like things sometimes do with space travel). Still, the images it has sent back to Earth are truly remarkable.

Today I’m listening to: Soma FM!