People living with disabilities have a tough time in Pakistan. The wider society and often their families are unable or unwilling to provide the care they need. This is where Milap, a Catholic non governmental organisation, comes in to offer assistance to the disabled, orphans and widows. Its director, Margaret Piara, stresses that her group’s main efforts are dedicated to the disabled because with “what he have here we have to do everything".Milap's work is important in itself but what makes it even more precious is that they're helping the most needy of Pakistani society while Pakistani Christians are faced with increasing hostility, violence and intolerance on a daily basis: Christian minorities in Pakistan: little freedom and rising Islamic pressure
“Children born with physical or mental handicaps are at the bottom," she said. “Our NGO tries to help them in the home, whenever parents are absent for work and siblings are unable or unwilling to help them."
When social workers make house calls, “family members sometimes cry; at other times they are stone silent; but in some cases they pray to God that He may take them after sending them in this world. The situation is very painful."
In the past few years Milap has provided medical check-ups, medicines, wheelchairs, walkers and crutches. But its main task is to help coordinate rehabilitation activities and find ways to aid those who were born with or affected by debilitating conditions to become more independent.
East Germany's former secret police, known as the Stasi, spied on the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger three decades before he became Pope Benedict XVI. The activities took place prior to the reunification of Germany, when the old GDR was under communist control.I hope Ratzinger becomes the Church's lion against Communist China, the way Wojtyla was against the Soviet Union.
"Long before his nomination as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, State Security Ministry agents kept watch on him," the Bild am Sonntag weekly newspaper reports, referring to Ratzinger as the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog.
"One of them later wrote with concern that, as Congregation prefect, he would have an influence on the growth of anti-communist attitudes in the Catholic Church, especially in Latin America," the newspaper continued.
It said the Stasi had begun regular surveillance of the future pontiff in April 1974 when he was a theology professor and visited then East Germany to lecture at a Catholic seminary in Erfurt. The secret police later said that he was seen by the Vatican as "one of the fiercest opponents of communism".
One Stasi report noted that the future pope appeared "initially shy in conversation", but also possessed "a winning charm".
The Pope had been notified by Germany's Centre for Stasi Archives of the newspaper's plans to publish the material and had given his consent in a letter to its director, Marianne Birthler, the newspaper reported.
The Stasi employed 97 000 full-time agents and used 173 000 informers from its headquarters in East Berlin and 14 regional offices, equivalent to one agent for every 63 East German citizens, or one in six when part-time informers were included. It was swept away by East Germany's peaceful revolution in 1989 which paved the way for German unification the following year.
In its article, Bild am Sonntag said East German agents had shown "particular interest" in the future pope's contacts with the then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, who became Pope John Paul II in 1978, and who was himself closely monitored by agents for Poland's communist rulers.
One Stasi report noted that the German cardinal had later "strongly supported" Wojtyla's election as pope, the newspaper reported. Stasi agents recorded how John Paul II later asked Cardinal Ratzinger to organize help for "counter-revolutionary activities in Poland" after the rise of the Solidarity movement in 1980.
The determination of countries across the Middle East and Asia to develop nuclear arsenals and other weapons of mass destruction is laid bare by a secret British intelligence document which has been seen by the Guardian.Israel? Whatever, MI5.
More than 360 private companies, university departments and government organisations in eight countries, including the Pakistan high commission in London, are identified as having procured goods or technology for use in weapons programmes.
The length of the list, compiled by MI5, suggests that the arms trade supermarket is bigger than has so far been publicly realised. MI5 warns against exports to organisations in Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel, Syria and Egypt and to beware of front companies in the United Arab Emirates, which appears to be a hub for the trade.
Despite the large number of bodies identified, the document says the list is not exhaustive.Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | MI5 unmasks covert arms programmes
The 17-page document identifies 95 Pakistani organisations and government bodies, including the Pakistan high commission in London, as having assisted in the country's nuclear programme. The list was compiled two years ago, shortly after the security service mounted a surveillance operation at the high commission which is the only diplomatic institution on the list. Abdul Basit, the deputy high commissioner, said: "It is absolute rubbish for Pakistan to be included. We take exception to these links."
Some 114 Iranian organisations, including chemical and pharmaceutical companies and university medical schools, are identified as having acquired nuclear, chemical, biological or missile technology. The document also attempts to shed some light on the nuclear ambitions of Egypt and Syria: a private chemical company in Egypt is identified as having procured technology for use in a nuclear weapons programme, while the Syrian atomic energy commission faces a similar charge. Eleven Israeli organisations appear on the list, along with 73 Indian bodies, which are said to have been involved in WMD programmes.
The document also highlights concerns that companies in Malta and Cyprus could have been used as fronts for WMD programmes. The United Arab Emirates is named as "the most important" of the countries where front companies may have been used, and 24 private firms there are identified as having acquired WMD technology for Iran, Pakistan and India.
A spokesman for the UAE government said it had always worked "very closely" with the British authorities to counter the proliferation of WMD.
Iran's new hardline president has placed his country's nuclear programme under the control of militant commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, the military's most committed wing.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has launched a purge of moderates in national and provincial government since his election two months ago, has drafted in fellow radical revolutionaries to top administrative posts - a move that will heighten Western fears over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Many of the new power-brokers are veterans of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds (Jerusalem) Force, in which Mr Ahmadinejad held the rank of brigadier general. The unit is linked to a series of international terrorist attacks and the main backer of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), a leading opposition group that has previously exposed clandestine nuclear sites, gave details of the appointment of high-ranking Quds Force officers to senior positions to The Sunday Telegraph. Other Iranian exiles with contacts inside the country are also tracking the purges.
Most significantly, the country's nuclear programme, which Iran claims is for civilian purposes, is in the hands of hardliners who, like Mr Ahmadinejad, were young radicals at the time of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
American and British intelligence are certain that Teheran is trying to develop atomic weapons. "This is not like the pre-war debate about whether Iraq was working on weapons of mass destruction," an American intelligence official said. "Iran has a nuclear weapons programme. There are no doubts."
The disclosures come days after Tony Blair said that explosives used by insurgents to kill British soldiers in Iraq "lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah", effectively ending a long-running diplomatic effort to woo Iran.
AUSTIN, Texas — A 2,000-mile tableau from the Pacific to the Gulf, the nation's southern border spans six Mexican and four U.S. states, snaking through arid deserts, rugged mountains, urban areas and remote, dangerous terrain.Leaving aside the fact that Wayne Cornelius has a vested professional interest in continuing illegal immigration for his center to "study", if human smuggling went mostly maritime it would decline drastically in scale, because once you introduce boats into the equation it gets a lot harder. What's the success rate for Cuban seaborne crossings? I would bet money that it's far lower than the success rate for overland crossings.
Despite an unprecedented build-up in border enforcement during the past decade, much of the battle against illegal immigration is still being lost there.
Now, a conservative group wants to fence off the border, all 2,000 miles of it, calling the idea a logical solution to an immigration problem that's out of control and threatens national security and the economy.
"I think it's an issue whose time has come," said Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, a Pennsylvania-based group that gained national prominence in 2004 by urging pastors to more actively promote conservative causes during the presidential campaign, and for distributing a video touting President Bush's religious convictions.
Last week, the group launched an Internet and national television ad campaign to build support for a border fence.
A "state-of-the-art" border fence could be built for $4 billion to $8 billion, Hanna says, with a multilayered design similiar to what Israel is building in the West Bank.
Let Freedom Ring's vision includes 200 crossings for commerce, commuters, tourism and legal immigration. It would actually be two fences of unspecified height, topped with barbed wire, with a space in between for patrols. There would also be closed circuit cameras, sensors and other obstacles.
Building the fence would require taking some private land, Hanna said, but mostly in areas that are relatively open or barren.
"I don't think there are too many environmental concerns," Hanna said.
Both critics and proponents say that building a 2,000-mile-long fence is theoretically possible, but that is where their agreement ends.
While not commenting directly on the fence proposal, one immigration policy expert said a massive investment in manpower, hardware and technology to seal the border still wouldn't shut off illegal immigration from Mexico.
"Smugglers would run migrants up the Pacific and Gulf coasts, and maritime enforcement would become the new battleground," Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California at San Diego, said in a statement.
Hanna said he has begun lobbying lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, seeking to convince them that public support for a fence is more prevalent than they might think. "They seem concerned about the problem and intrigued about the solution," he said.Stop being intrigued and start working on it.