US President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for offering the world hope and striving for nuclear disarmament in a surprise award that drew both warm praise and sharp criticism.

The bestowal of one of the world's top accolades on a president less than nine months in office, who has yet to score a major foreign policy success, was greeted with gasps of astonishment from journalists at the announcement in Oslo.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Obama for 'his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.'
Critics - some in parts of the Arab and Muslim world - called the committee decision premature.
Obama's press secretary woke him with the news before dawn and the president felt 'humbled' by the award, a senior administration official said.
When told in an email from Reuters that many people around the world were stunned by the announcement, Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, responded: 'As are we'.
The first African-American to hold his country's highest office, Obama, 48, has called for disarmament and worked to restart stalled Middle East peace moves since taking office in January.
'Very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future,' the committee said in a citation.
Despite problems at home that include high unemployment, the US president is still widely seen around the world as an inspirational figure.
Obama laid out his vision on eliminating nuclear arms in a speech in Prague in April. But he was not the first American president to set that goal, and acknowledged it might not be reached in his lifetime.
Obama was to make a statement in the White House Rose Garden at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT). The president, struggling at home with high unemployment and resistance in Congress to his healthcare reform plans, is likely to go to Oslo to receive the prize, Axelrod told the MSNBC TV channel.
While the award won praise from such statesmen as Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev, both Nobel laureates, it was also attacked in some quarters as hasty and undeserved.
Afghanistan's Taliban mocked the award, saying Obama should get a Nobel prize for violence instead.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said it was absurd to give a peace award to a man who had sent 21,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to escalate a war.
'The Nobel prize for peace? Obama should have won the 'Nobel Prize for escalating violence and killing civilians','
he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Obama is considering a request from his top commander in Afghanistan to send him at least 40,000 more troops.
The Palestinian movement Hamas said the award was premature at best.

Embarrassing 'Joke'
Obama is the fourth U.S. president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after Jimmy Carter won in 2002, Woodrow Wilson picked it up in 1919 and Theodore Roosevelt was chosen for the 1906 prize.
Issam al-Khazraji, a day laborer in Baghdad, said of Obama:
'He doesn't deserve this prize. All these problems - Iraq, Afghanistan - have not been solved . . . man of 'change'
hasn't changed anything yet.'
Liaqat Baluch, a senior leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami, in Pakistan, called the award an embarrassing 'joke'.
But the chief Palestinian peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, welcomed it and expressed hope that Obama 'will be able to achieve peace in the Middle East.'
Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland rejected suggestions from journalists that Obama was getting the prize too early, saying it recognized what he had already done over the past year.
'We hope this can contribute a little bit to enhance what he is trying to do,' he told a news conference.
The committee said it attached 'special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons,' saying he had 'created a new climate in international politics'.
Without naming Obama's predecessor George W. Bush, it highlighted the differences in America's engagement with the rest of the world since the change of administration in January.
'Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.
'Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts,' it said, and the United States was playing a more constructive role in tackling climate change.
Obama is negotiating arms cuts with Russia, and last month dropped plans to base elements of a US anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Moscow had seen the scheme as a threat, despite US assurances it was directed against Iran.-Reuters

Afghanistan's effort to forge a peace deal with the Taliban was branded "a disgrace" by the sacked head of the country's spy service.

President Hamid Karzai's dismissal of Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan's National Directorate for Security (NDS) - the equivalent of MI5 - and Hanif Atmar, the head of the Interior Ministry, on Sunday exposed deep divisions within the Afghan government and Nato members over an emerging peace talks process.
The move has been hailed as a boost for negotiations on reconciliation with insurgents by those in favour of the talks, including some British officials and Pakistan, but criticised by their American counterparts.
Mr Saleh and Mr Atmar were sacked after the Taliban carried out a rocket attack on a gathering of tribal elders in Kabul last week during a speech by President Karzai. Although the rockets missed the building were the peace conference was being held, the breach was deemed a serious assault on the Afghan government.
But Mr Saleh said the reasons for his dismissal went beyond the security failure, adding that he had worked to undermine efforts to achieve peace with the Taliban. "Negotiating with suicide bombers will disgrace this country," he said.
Officials in Pakistan hailed the development as a sign Mr Karzai was ready to deal with his enemies. He said: "Perhaps this will bring to an end the mixed signals Kabul sends out by conducting dialogue on the one hand and sabotaging talks on the other."
However, Nato officials said the loss of two key security officials was "not helpful".
Mr Saleh has led the NDS for six years and the organisation is held in high regard. "The NDS is very effective, very efficient and in the long term his removal will lead to a security vacuum," said a member of a British think tank who has met the spy chief.
Separately, Pakistan on Tuesday claimed it had crushed the Taliban presence in the war-torn region along the Afghan border.
Major General Tariq Khan, Inspector General of the Frontier Scouts, said major operations across the mountainous region would wind down in the next two months.
He said it would leave only North Waziristan – a rugged, mountainous region that has drawn jihadi groups from across Pakistan – in the hands of the militants.
Maj Gen Khan said his men had cleared 13,000 square miles in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, with large-scale fighting remaining in one last area.
"We are about to conclude our operation in Orakzai, which will be the last of it," he said. "The Frontier Scouts area will more or less be cleared of militants to the extent that we can stop kinetic – large-scale – operations but we will continue policing operations."

By Damien McElroy and Rob Crilly in Peshawar
Published: 4:54PM BST 08 Jun 2010

Nelson Mandela marks 20 years of freedom

South Africans are celebrating how far they have come since Nelson Mandela took his first steps to freedom 20 years ago today.

Thousands gathered for commemorations at what was known in 1990 as Victor Verster Prison, near Cape Town. A re-enactment is planned of the moment Mandela, hand-in-hand with his then-wife Winnie, walked free after 27 years in prison.

Cyril Ramaphosa, a leader in Mandela’s African National Congress, said: “We knew that his freedom meant that our freedom had also arrived.”

Just four years after Mandela’s release, South Africans held their first all-race elections, making Mandela their first black president.

His ANC has reduced poverty, built houses and delivered water, electricity and schools to blacks who had been without under apartheid. But needs remain great.

Mvuso Mbali, 37, was in the crowd today and said he was at the prison 20 years ago.
“I still remember vividly what happened,” he said.

He added: “Today we are reinventing our freedom and uniting our people to follow the values of Mandela.”

But others said Mandela’s release – triumphant as it was – carried uncertainty too.

“When Mandela was released we did not know what was going happen,” said Nontuntuzelo Faku, who came to today‘s event.

But being at the prison 20 years later, she said, “makes me realise how far the country has come”.
Mandela’s release was the culmination of an eventful few days for South Africa.

On February 2, then-President FW de Klerk announced the unbanning of the ANC and other organisations. On February 10, de Klerk announced at a press conference that Mandela would be released the next day.

Whites conditioned to see Mandela as an enemy who would destroy their way of life were shocked and confused. Blacks were uncertain that Mandela, known affectionately by his clan name Madiba, was right to trust de Klerk. Civil war seemed possible.

“I think the imprint of February is deeply etched into the psyche of our nation,” Mac Maharaj, a key ANC leader at the time, said.

“That image of Madiba, Winnie, walking out of Victor Verster, holding hands. Madiba looking quite, quite sombre, not celebratory, not pumping the air and jumping about like a victorious boxer, but walking very sternly, and I think I see a sense of bewilderment in him.”

Mandela marked the anniversary of his release at home last week, reminiscing with fellow veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle for the camera’s of his daughter Zindzi’s production company, which was preparing a documentary called Conversations About That Day.

He also was expected to be in parliament later today for a State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma scheduled to coincide with the anniversary as a tribute.

Mandela, who will be 92 in July, has largely retired from public life.

Most Islamic studies teachers oppose pluralism, survey finds

Most Islamic studies teachers in public and private schools in Java oppose pluralism, tending toward radicalism and conservatism, according to a survey released in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The study shows 62.4 percent of the surveyed Islamic teachers, including those from Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah — the country’s two largest Muslim organizations — reject the notion of having non-Muslim leaders.

The survey was conducted last month by the Center for Islamic and Society Studies (PPIM) at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, involving some 500 Islamic studies teachers throughout Java.

It reveals 68.6 percent of the respondents are opposed to non-Muslims becoming their school principle and 33.8 percent are opposed to having non-Muslim teachers at their schools.

Some 73.1 percent of the teachers don’t want followers of other religions to build their houses of worship in their neighborhoods, it found.

Some 85.6 percent of the teachers prohibit their students from celebrating big events perceived as Western traditions, while 87 percent tell their students not to learn about other religions.

Some 48 percent of the teachers would prefer for female and male students to be separated into different classrooms.

PPIM director Jajat Burhanudin said the teachers’ anti-pluralist views would be reflected in their lessons and contribute to growing conservatism and radicalism among Muslims in the country.

“I think they play a key role in promoting conservatism and radicalism among Muslims nowadays. You can’t say now that conservatism and radicalism only develop on the streets like what has been campaigned by the FPI (the Islam Defenders Front), but rather deep within the education (system),” he said, referring to a radical Islamic group.

Jajat said such intolerance threatened the civil and political rights of citizens of other religions.
The survey also shows 75.4 percent of the respondents ask their students to call on non-Muslim teachers to convert to Islam, while 61.1 percent reject a new Islamic sect.

In line with their strict beliefs, 67.4 percent said they felt more Muslim than Indonesian.
The majority of the respondents also support the adoption of sharia law in the country to help fight crime.

According to the survey, 58.9 percent of the respondents back rajam (stoning) as a punishment for all kinds of criminal and 47.5 percent said the punishment for theft should be having one hand cut off, while 21.3 percent want the death sentence for those who convert from Islam.

Only 3 percent of the teachers said they felt it was their duty to produce tolerant students.
With 44.9 percent of the respondents claiming themselves members of Nahdlatul Ulama and 23.8 percent supporters of Muhammadiyah, Jajat said the two moderate organizations had failed to establish their values at the grassroots.

“Moderation and pluralism are only embraced by their elites. I am afraid that this kind of phenomenon has contributed to increasing radicalism and even terrorism in our country,” he said.

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 11/26/2008 7:06 AM | Headlines 

Ang Ladlad, pluralism, and lechon manok

Everybody is bashing the Comelec for refusing to accredit the Ang Ladlad as a partylist group of gays and lesbians for the coming elections. They accuse the Comelec of deciding on the petition on the basis of morality, which is beyond its authority and competence to decide.
That may be true, of course. But could the Comelec have acted otherwise? This country is not the kind of society some would like it to be. It was thus a very valid fear on the part of the Comelec that a far greater backlash would have swallowed it had it chosen to rule otherwise.
Let us not be too harsh on the Comelec by saying it overstepped its bounds as electoral overseer because if there was only some way the poll body could have avoided deciding on the Ang Ladlad challenge, that would have been the way it would have taken.
The Comelec did not relish the job of deciding on that petition. Unfortunately for the poll body, it was doomed from the first moment the Ang Ladlad set its sights on Congress. For there was only one way to take up that challenge, and that was by way of the Comelec.
Unfortunately for the Comelec, it is now reaping the whirlwind that is not of its making. For this controversy is not about Ang Ladlad per se. The real issue is so much bigger than the bill of particulars. The Ang Ladlad is just an incidental symptom of a larger mess.

The mess is rooted in the partylist system itself. The partylist system is the result of the pluralistic pretensions of a society that is not ready or suited for it. That is what happens when the politics of accommodation and pretense comes masquerading as open democratic space.
In the desire of the government of then president Corazon Aquino to be the exact opposite of what the Marcos dictatorship was, its so-called Cory Constitution introduced pluralism on the mistaken belief that this replaces oligarchy and repression.
So, never mind if the partylist system duplicates everything, from representation to compensation, for as long as the then Cory administration can bask in the mistaken illusion of pluralism, where every sector of every shape, color and persuation earns a place in the sun.
But Filipino mentality can stretch the idea of pluralism too thin. An apt microcosm of the folly of the partylist system is lechon manok, among other things, and how it has sprouted in every streetcorner of the land. Now there are more lechon manok stands than lechon manok eaters.

Use your car mats for the comfort of your car

Do not feel we've stepped on the mid-year 2010. Lots of changes, and also a lot of innovations that have emerged, which of course is expected to be useful for everyone. In the year 2010 we are spoiled with all the existing facilities, which makes everything much easier and more comfortable for us. The increase is most we can see during the passage of time is, the increasing number of owners of vehicles, especially cars. Almost in every house we find a car parked in their garage. Of course, this indication of an increased standard of living citizens of the world.

Today I will discuss the dependence of society on their vehicles, namely cars. Can not be denied again, that when this car became one basic requirement for most people, other than to facilitate all the activities, the car can also enhance their prestige in society, therefore, many people are willing to spend a lot of money to make the car they comfortable, and also reflects the owner.

But too often they forget to maintain the appearance, comfort, and cleanliness of their car, especially on the interior, they are more concerned with outward appearances. In fact, the interior is the most important part to be able to create comfort.

One of the tools that need to be added in the interior of the car is a car mats, because with car mats installed in our cars, we will be more comfortable, and also the cleanliness of our car floor intact. Especially for those who often do things that make them dirty floor of the car, this car mats solution. Especially at this time many car mats are available with all forms and styles, so that it can be adjusted to our tastes.

If you really want your car has an interesting view, and certainly convenient, it never hurts to try to put this car mats in your car. Because it will reflect your personal. Moreover, the price of the car mats is not too expensive, so you can still stylish, without having to spend a lot of cost.