Sunday, July 29, 2007

Greenies hate good news and other stories.

But first-
An Englishman, David McCutchion("He was a friend of Satyajit Ray and all sorts of interesting people in Calcutta who never get the attention in the West that all those anti-Western islamisant arundhati-roys manage to get."),who "lived through the war made by West Pakistan (now Pakistan) on East Pakistan" described the behavior of Pakistan-
“…We are raising funds [for those in what was then East Pakistan being murdered by the army of West Pakistan and its local, fervently Muslim East Pakistani collaborators], and hope to see the Minister of Overseas Development. What do I think of it all? Appalling…Pakistan shou’d never have existed -- it has cost more lives than the whole of the British Empire in 200 years. What should I think of a culture that burns down the British Council library in Lahore because an English publisher printed a picture of Mahomet? Fanaticism plus Machiavellianism plus brutality equals Islamic Pakistan.”
Read the whole thing.

Greenies just can't admit to good news-
The tax-exempt Environmental Integrity Project in Washington, D.C., issued its annual list of the 50 dirtiest power plants in America. This is illustrated by a photo showing steam — water vapor — escaping from a cooling tower. Sigh.

Power plant emissions nationally are down even as electric generation is up. The report showed. Nitrogen oxide emissions fell 28% between 2002 and 2006. Sulfur dioxide emissions fell 8%. Carbon dioxide emissions — the stuff you exhale — rose by 3%.

Electric production rose about 8% in that period, using the 2% annual increase in electric use, as the same agency “Dirty Kilowatts” cited.

But of course, that is good news and the left is loathe to admit that things are getting better — especially on the environmental front.
Read the whole thing. And read this too.

BBC employees including bigwigs like John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman to take honesty training(boy, they sure need it!)
John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman will be required to join Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, on a mandatory new training programme to teach honesty to BBC staff.

The Safeguarding Trust course is being set up as part of the damage limitation exercise by the corporation after the revelation that six children's and charity television programmes had misled viewers.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, July 27, 2007

K.K.Paul pats himself on the back so hard that he falls flat.

Outgoing police commissioner of Delhi, K.K.Paul's perception of his force differs radically from that of the public.
"The promises that I made, when I took charge as police commissioner, have been achieved. We worked very hard during this time."
So Delhi now is a safe place, where women can go out late at night, one can travel safely without the fear of getting crushed under the wheels of a monster bus driven by a driver who has just bribed the police and thus thinks that he owns the road,where the elderly are not murdered in their own homes, where ------(oh, one can go on and on)?Somebody's view of reality needs a check- either that of the common person who feels no safer than when Mr.Kaul came to office or that of Mr.Kaul.

"Heinous cases were worked out, there was excellent investigation, the conviction rate improved, we faced numerous challenges but our performance was good," he said.
Jessica Lal?
BMW case?

"The force grew, its now a 64,000-strong unit. A grievance redressal system was put in place and it was ensured action was taken on any complaint by any person from the public. A lot of modernisation work was undertaken. Initially, a system of making complaints through fax was started and soon anyone could send their complaints through e-mail," he said.

All police stations were connected through internet, new police buildings came up, ISO standardisation was given, cyber labs were set-up.The Delhi Police also bought out a book on its history and heritage.

So no more portly, paan chewing, foul-mouthed, heartless bumpkins sitting behind F.I.R registers?
We must live in a fantasy land -or Mr.Kaul does.

The Delhi Police also bought out a book on its history and heritage.
Now, that is a great achievement.

Update -Reality check arrives for Mr.Kaul-
Delhi Police chief wants security for himself, fears for life
New Delhi, July 22
Delhi Police Commissioner K.K. Paul, in-charge of security in the national capital, has sought protection for himself and his family as he is facing a threat -- not from a terrorist or a criminal -- but from one of his own inspectors who is "absconding" for the past eight months.
Full story here.

Update 2 - above link does not exist any more. You may find the same story here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Are our Jholawalas(and jholawalis) up to it?

A far-left group of women
protesting against the war in
the U.S.

Zombie has the report with more pictures.
(Graphic warning! -nudity involved.)
(Aesthetic warning! -No beauty involved, only flabby bodies and sagging tits.)

Our own home grown leftists ape their western counterparts in everything-from parroting the same clichés about environment and globalisation to their adoration of 'Vagina monologues'. I wonder when shall we be seeing topless and nude protests from our jholawala* crowd. Not that I look forward to it. For obvious reasons of aesthetics.

*The colorful Indian language translator-
jholawala -a scornful term for leftists in India, who have the reputation of dressing sloppily, often in kurtas and carrying a shabby, shapeless bag called a jhola, giving a general impression of poverty and simplicity. However, as in many things concerning the left, impressions can be misleading. Their 'simple' kurtas are often sourced from choicest of trendy(and expensive) boutiques, and the 'ethnic' look that is so sought after is achieved by burning a fair amount of moolah.

jholawali -female of the above species, said to be of aggressive and querulous nature (think Vandana Shiva).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Is Mohammed Haneef a lucky guy or what!

Of course, that is tongue-in-cheek, especially if he is innocent. But why am I not surprised by the cries of 'racism'. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, Indian media and other elites are quick to shout 'racism' when it concerns the actions of western nations.They(the westerners) can never be in honest error, or be just following usual legal or law-enforcement procedures -it just has to be 'racism'. Haneef's case is such a blatant example of hypocrisy that even someone like Barkha Dutt, who in general is the murti* of politicallycorrectspeak, can smell the stink -Haneef: India’s hypocrisy.

But before she gets going, she makes a Pavlovian error -

By all accounts, the 27-year-old doctor from Bangalore is being victimised, hounded and tortured.

(emphasis mine)
Tortured? Really? What evidence do you have of Haneef having been tortured, Barkha? Was it on NDTV? I must have missed it. Can't find it on their site, though. Of course, this torture tale is absurd -unless it means that just the mental stress that anyone who is arrested goes through is torture. Ever since the 'war on terror' started, media has been dumbing down the definition of torture. Now just being arrested is torture.
Other reports say that Haneef is in good health. They must not have spoken to Barkha, yet.

Victimised? You mean the police are deliberately going after him, for no good reason? That he was not picked up on the request of the British authorities? That he was not suspected to be close to Kafeel and Sabeel? That his itinerary after the failed attacks did not raise any suspicion?

As I had said before (in that same post), Barkha Dutt just can't completely get it right, though of late she has been trying-

But, what if Haneef had been arrested in Bangalore instead of Brisbane? What if a suicide bomber had rammed his explosives-laden car into the airport at Srinagar, instead of Scotland? And what if our investigating agencies had then told us that Haneef was a dreaded terrorist because he had loaned his mobile sim card to one of the men involved in the attack? Would we have been as concerned then about whether an innocent man had been locked away? Would we have demanded transparency from our judicial process on the grounds that the evidence was sketchy? Or would we have simply ranted about how India is a soft State and Islam a factory for fundamentalists? We have branded the Australians as racist, but would we have called ourselves communal?

I'll tell you what would have happened to Haneef if he had been arrested in Bangalore after an attack had happened in India -then he would have learnt what 'torture' really means. He would have got the choicest of 3rd degree techniques that our police train in regularly. And you can bet, Manmohan Singh would have lost not a wink of sleep over it, just as he loses no sleep (or even miss an occasional nap) over the daily torture and beatings that happen in custody all over India. An Indian has to be arrested in Australia to get Mr.Singh's attention. He can't be bothered with the thousands that languish in jails for years without trial. Haneef has been in custody
for about three weeks.

It is possible that Haneef is completely innocent, that he has just been a victim of circumstances and bad choice of friends. But let me say this in earnest -he sure is lucky. Lucky not be arrested in India. Lucky that Kafeel did not drive a Tata Sumo into the Delhi airport. If innocent, the Australian law will let him off sooner rather than later, instead of withering for years in an Indian jail.

Barkha Dutt's article is here. It is worth a read(I can't believe I just said that!).

*The colorful Indian language translator-
murti - (literally, a statue or sculpture) paragon, or a perfect example of.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Admit it, Mr. Buddha, your party has been wrong all along

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee says,"I have to follow capitalism"

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee says there is no place for jobless growth, and now that the communists' radical land reform, which broke up large zamindar land-holdings among small and marginal share-croppers, has nearly run its course, the logical next step is industrialisation. This is not music to the ears of the CPI(M)'s allies in the Left Front coalition that has ruled the state, unchallenged, for the past 30 years.

"I am very clear in my mind. This is capitalism. I just cannot build socialism in one part of the country. They (leftist critics) theoretically cannot accept this position. Academically they cannot accept this position. I cannot build socialism in one state of India. I have to follow capitalism. But we have to protect against the negative effects of a capitalist society," Bhattacharjee told the Hindustan Times in an exclusive two-hour interview.

"The world is changing, Communists are also changing. We can't stick to our old dogmas. Deng Xiaoping used to say 'Learn truth from the facts, not from dogmas'."

He admitted that there has been opposition from the CPI(M)'s Left Front partners. "We are still debating among ourselves the need for manufacturing investment in West Bengal. If we sit content with what we have done in agriculture, it will not help us. We have to move from agriculture to industry."

"Some economists think that the market economy is omnipotent. We don't think so. We live in a market economy, but it marginalises a section of the people. Who will take care of them?" asks Bhattacharjee.

As an example, he said of the 38,700 villages in West Bengal, the government has identified 4,612 that are the "poorest of the poor." "We have to take care of them. This is the Left alternative," he said. "We have to protect people against the negative effects of a capitalist society…We have enrolled more than one million workers in the unorganised sector for provident fund."

Thirty years in power -and still haven't 'taken care' of all those thousands of villages? Thirty years of the Left rule could not remove poverty? Didn't the communists have all the answers? What went wrong? Perhaps some unknown bug in the theories of Karl Marx? The ideological experts of the left are working on a patch.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Why the heck am I wasting time trying to make sense of the Global Warming debate when I can just lie on the couch and watch Ben-Hur for the 21st time?

Why the primer?

The global warming debate often takes a sense of some great metaphysical struggle, as if it were a cosmic war of two world-views instead of quibbles over measurements and evidence. But this is only for those who are familiar with the debate at all. For the average person(is there actually such a thing?), the debate hardly exists. It is almost completely missing from the pages of the print media, and as for the TV networks, they thrive on announcing one doomsday prediction after the other without nary a skeptical intervention.

But a curious, relatively intelligent layperson might have a sense of something not being complete, something missing from the media-consciousness. The missing 'thing', of course, is the other side of a debate that does not exist, at least in the mainstream media(MSM).

This curious layperson might follow a lead, click on a link and suddenly find himself immersed in the whirlwind of ferocious argumentation, charge and counter-charge that would spin his head.In this tizzy of arguments, where facts, factoids, numbers and moral accusations are used as weapons, our reasonably intelligent layperson would find himself completely lost, like civilian caught between two armies, defenseless, weaponless, and no shelter in sight.

I am such a layperson and I have had deeply frustrating time trying to make sense of this debate(frustration which, I must say, is still continuing), this debate that does not exist in the media or the popular consciousness, but which on the net is more like a war.

Hence this primer. It is meant for a reasoning layperson, who might or might not have a background in science but is willing to put in just that little extra mental effort that leads to comprehension as against complete bafflement.I am trying to lay down some fundamentals, like the first few steps of a long staircase. To get to the top, the most important thing to take that first step.

A natural curiosity -am I qualified to write this primer?
Answer -I am not a climatologist(don't be stupid!). I am not a scientist(of course not!). In fact, I do have a long forgotten background in science but that was long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away and thus is not even worth mentioning. So, is the answer 'no'?

No, the answer is 'yes'! I am a curious layperson as mentioned earlier and I would like to make some sense of this debate since, as we are are incessantly told, the future of the world (and thus of my progeny) depends on it. It is personal. We are told to do this or not to do that to 'save' the planet but I should like to understand before I believe. This primer is a layperson's understanding of the issue for other laypersons. I am sure there will be many mistakes, errors and bloopers. I shall endeavor to correct them when I find them. I am sure that a a truly qualified person would do a much better job if he ever deigned to do it. I dearly wish he would. Clarity is sorely lacking from the public domain on this issue. Daylight badly missed.

About the primer

The primer is divided into parts themewise and I shall be posting the parts in sequence as and when they are finished, starting with Part 1 - Gathering data, measuring temperatures. The sections and paragraphs/sub-sections are numbered in the following format for easy reference-
(1.3.2) which means- Part 1, section 3, subsection 2(of section 3)

I shall be updating the primer when new and more accurate information is available(to me!) , if I notice any error(there could be many) or if some change will make it better. However I do not believe in stealth editing, so all major and minor updates will be added to the end of the primer(except semantic changes like punctuation, spellings, grammar etc. and some changes like correcting broken links).

Since this post will disappear from the main page after a while, the primer shall remain easily accessible through links from the sidebar at the right.

Also, need I say it -suggestions, critiques and help are most welcome!

So now you know-Why the heck am I wasting time trying to make sense of the Global Warming debate when I can lie on the couch and watch Ben-Hur for the 21st time?

The Global Warming Primer for the Reasoning Layperson (but not for pure dummies),Part 1

Note -for a context of how this primer came to be, the motives behind it, terminology and formatting issues, please see my following post -Why the heck am I wasting time trying to make sense of the Global Warming debate when I can just lie on the couch and watch Ben-Hur for the 21st time?

The Global Warming Primer for the Reasoning Layperson (but not for pure dummies)

Part 1 - Gathering data, measuring temperatures

This part is divided in following sections-

1) The theory and practice of finding average global temperature (surface record).
2) Who is doing the data collection?
3) Why 1961-1990 as the base?
4) Are there other methods of measuring temperatures?
5) Since when do the records exist?
6) Is this all relevant at all to the climate change debate? Do I have to know any of this?

(1.1) 1)The theory and practice of finding average global temperature (surface record).

(1.1.1) How do the experts arrive at their value of average global temperature of the Earth?

Well, how would you go about measuring the 'average' temperature of your house? An intuitive method would be to place a room thermometer in each room(including the kitchen, all the bathrooms, closets, attics etc.).For simplicity sake, let there be five rooms in the house. You place a thermometer in each of these rooms.Then you take several readings from those thermometers each day.The average of those readings for a particular room is the average temperature of that room for that day.And an average of the average temperatures of all the rooms is the average or the mean temperature of your house for that day.For example, suppose the average temperatures of the rooms for a certain day are- 10, 15, 25(kitchen?),15 and 10°C.Then the average temperature of the house for that day is 10+15+25+15+10 divided by 5 = 15°C.
Similarly, by taking the mean temperature of the house over a desired period of time, you can find out the mean temperature of house over a week, a month, a year or ten years if you so wish.

So do we now have a perfectly fine method to find out the average global temperature?
Well, not yet. Consider this :
the temperature readings taken in your house will be scientifically incorrect (or 'biased') if -

a) you had placed your thermometers carelessly, e.g. close to an air-conditioner(which would 'bias' the readings towards lower values), or close to a stove(which would give an upward 'bias' to the readings).
b) you did not take the readings at a fixed time. You cannot take readings at 4 am, 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm on one day and at 11 am, 1 pm, 7 pm and 11 pm on the next and still get 'scientific' results.
c) the rooms are not of same size. We implicitly assumed the size of all the rooms to be equal. But of course, that is unlikely to be true in a real life example. So the readings must be adjusted or 'equalized' (or 'weighted') for size. To take a simple example, suppose that in a house of two rooms of sizes 10 and 20 square meters, the average temperatures of the rooms for a certain day are 30°C and 40°C respectively.The average temperature of the house is not given by 30+40 divided by 2=35°C. Look at it this way- you may imagine that the larger room of 20 square meters to be made up of two rooms of 10 square meters, each having a mean temperature of 40°C. So you can now imagine the house to be made up of three rooms, all of 10 square meters with mean temperatures of 30, 40 and 40°C. So the average temperature of the house is 30+40+40 divided by 3= 36.7°C.

So are we there yet? Yes, there are other quibbles but this just about is the basic theory.
The average global temperature on any given day is the average of the temperature readings all over the globe, weighted for relative area coverage. The mean global annual surface temperature is the daily figures averaged over a year. Simple.


(1.1.2) How are these temperatures taken? Where are the thermometers or sensors placed? What about----? Questions, questions!

Imagine the whole of the earth divided into invisible 'rooms' in each of which one might place a temperature sensor. Deciding on the 'rooms' is easy. When you look at a map, you see a grid of parallel lines- verticals and horizontals which divide the map into squares. These, of course, are the longitudes and the latitudes. These give us the ready made 'rooms' to place thermometers in. The climatologists take one ' room' to be a 'square' of size 5°X5°(latitude by longitude). But if you look at a globe(not a map), you will see that 'squares', i.e. our imaginary 'rooms' are not equal in size, since the Earth is not flat like a map but a sphere. So the readings from these 'rooms' have to adjusted for size, as explained above(1.1.1). Fortunately, for people as brainy as those whose job is to do these calculations, it is a piece of cake. These brainy folks also call our invisible 'rooms' grid-boxes.
The `surface record' comprises the combined average of thousands of thermometers world-wide in every country, recording temperatures in standard white louvred boxes called Stevenson Screens, usually mounted one metre above the ground. The boxes are mostly placed where there are suitable people to read and maintain them, such as at post offices in town/city centres, airports, pilot stations, lighthouses, radio/tv stations, farms, and cattle stations. By far the majority are located in towns and cities.

Stevenson Screen

(Image Source)

(Image Source)

Marine temperatures are determined from ship data, usually measuring the temperature of the marine atmosphere from stevenson screens mounted near a ship's bridge, and sea surface temperature from intake pipes in the ship's hulls.

The resulting data is statistically collated by two leading institutions, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in the U.S. and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain [11]. The process they follow is -
1) Select the stations to be used in the global database
2) Apply corrections for urbanisation to data originating from urban areas.
3) Divide the globe into 5°x5° latitude/longitude boxes
4) Determine the temperature `anomalies' for each box based on available data.
5) Combine the trends from all the boxes to arrive at an overall `global mean temperature'.
(boxes which have no data are left blank. They are not estimated from neighbouring boxes).

The final two steps are achieved by calculating a weighted average of the monthly mean temperatures of the chosen stations within the grid-box . This average is then compared against a 1961-1990 reference period, the final figure obtained being the temperature anomaly for that grid-box for any particular month. The weighted hemispheric and global annual average anomaly is then determined from that monthly data.


(1.1.4) In fact, there is also another, newer sensor known as MMTC.
Another and newer type of thermometer is the Maximum Minimum Temperature System or MMTS. An MMTS is an electronic thermometer not too different from the type you buy at the local electronics store. The MMTS is a thermistor housed in a shelter which looks similar to a bee hive.


(1.1.5) What else?
Over land regions of the world over 3000 monthly station temperature time series are used. Coverage is denser over the more populated parts of the world, particularly, the United States, southern Canada, Europe and Japan. Coverage is sparsest over the interior of the South American and African continents and over the Antarctic. The number of available stations was small during the 1850s, but increases to over 3000 stations during the 1951-90 period. For marine regions sea surface temperature (SST) measurements taken on board merchant and some naval vessels are used. As the majority come from the voluntary observing fleet, coverage is reduced away from the main shipping lanes and is minimal over the Southern Oceans.

This is the 'surface record' of temperatures, taken over land and sea.

(1.2) 2) Who is doing the data collection?

(1.2.1) Who is doing the hard work of collecting all this data and doing the calculations?

Currently, the Hadley Centre maintains the HADCRUT3, a global surface temperature dataset [2], NASA maintains GISTEMP, which provides a measure of the changing global surface temperature with monthly resolution for the period since 1880[3], and the NOAA maintains the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN-Monthly) data base contains historical temperature, precipitation, and pressure data for thousands of land stations worldwide [4].


Note- The Hadley Centre and CRU(Climate Research Unit) (referenced earlier, see 1.1.3) maintain the dataset of surface temperatures known as HADCRUT3.( More on this in Part 2 of this primer). NASA GISTEMPS stands for 'GISS Surface Temperature Analysis.' GISS has also been referenced earlier(1.1.3) in this primer.

(1.3) 3) Why 1961-1990 as the base?

(1.3.1) What is this 1961-1990 thing, as mentioned in (1.1.3)?
It a method of interpreting data collected over 150 years. More on this in Part 2 of the primer -Making sense of the data(or Has Global Warming been happening?)

(1.4) 4) Are there other methods of measuring temperatures?

(1.4.1) Yes, there are two other methods- satellite observations and radiosonde observations(from instruments sent up in what we know as weather balloons). Satellites (indirectly) measure the temperatures in the lower part of the Earth's atmosphere(Troposphere).
Since 1979, Microwave Sounding Units (MSUs) on NOAA polar orbiting satellites have measured the intensity of upwelling microwave radiation from atmospheric oxygen. The intensity is proportional to the temperature of broad vertical layers of the atmosphere, as demonstrated by theory and direct comparisons with atmospheric temperatures from radiosonde (balloon) profiles.
Satellites do not measure "temperature" as such. They measure radiances in various wavelength bands, which must then be mathematically inverted to obtain indirect inferences of temperature.


(1.5) 5)Since when do the records exist?

(1.5.1) For the surface record-
The time period for which reasonably reliable near-surface temperature records exist from actual observations from thermometers with quasi-global coverage is generally considered to start in about 1850 - earlier records exist, but coverage and instrument standardization are less. The instrumental temperature record is viewed with considerable skepticism for the early years.


For the satellite observations-
Since 1979 (see 1.4.1 above)

For the radiosondes-
The radiosonde data set becomes usably global in about 1958. Changes in balloon instrumentation and data processing over the years have been pervasive, however, resulting in discontinuities in these temperature records.


(1.6) 6)Is this all relevant at all to the climate change debate? Do I have to know any of this?

(1.6.1) No, you don't have to know any of it. But it would help if you wish to have a better understanding of the bitter disputes and controversies, where experts and non-experts, scientists and activists have a go at their 'rivals'(i.e.,those who do not agree with them) with the ferocity of attack dogs. As a bewildered layperson who would like to know what the mauling and snarling is about, at least some basic knowledge of the fundamentals would be necessary.

Part 2 of the primer(this is where the fun begins and the firecrackers of controversy start to burst) -
Making sense of the data(or Has Global Warming been happening?)
Coming soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A curiosity about Global Warming

Just about everyone knows that the Earth is warming, right? The never ending hysterical reports have made sure of that.

So, why don't we know by how much is the planet warming? By how much did it heat up in the last year? In last two, five or ten years? Is the warming increasing, that is, will it warm more and more per year? What will the temperature be in 2012?(not a hundred years from now when almost no one will be around to verify)

Why doesn't the average, intelligent person who must have read and watched hundreds of reports on global warming have the answers to any of these? Do the media persons who write the apocalyptic,doomsday reports? Why are these numbers missing from any conversation or discussion about climate change?

Well, I should like to know.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Biased media round up for Sunday -1

CNN's shell game

Astronomer and former BBC science correspondent David Whitehouse takes BBC to task over it's blatantly taking sides in the climate change debate.

Thomas Joscelyn takes the New York Times to the cleaners -New York Times Distorts Qaeda Links.
(so what's new, I am tempted to ask.)
(via -Powerline)
Victor Hanson had taken the same dirty laundry to the cleaners earlier - The New York Times Surrenders.

BBC doctors TV footage of Gordon Brown.
(via -Biased BBC)

From Bill Kristol-
"The Defeatist Democrats have lots of support from the mainstream media, most of whom have simply given up on reporting the war or analyzing arguments about the war. Actually, the newsmen who know something, like John F. Burns and Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times, have produced some terrific reporting. But run-of-the-mill foreign policy and White House reporters have little interest in what is actually happening in Iraq, or in a real consideration of the likely outcomes of different policy options. They're not even reporting what's happening in Washington. They're simply committed to discrediting the war and humiliating the Bush administration. "

Americans Overwhelmingly Believe Media Are Liberally Biased
-"By a 39% to 20% margin, American adults believe that the three major broadcast networks deliver news with a bias in favor of liberals."

Former BBC producer has an article- 'Here is the news (as we want to report it)'- on the iron-grip of 'media-liberalism'. Some of his insights are striking, for example-

We belonged instead to a dispersed ''metropolitan-media-arts-graduate'' tribe. We met over coffee, lunch, drinks and dinner to reinforce our views on the evils of apartheid, nuclear deterrence, capital punishment, the British Empire, big business, advertising, public relations, the Royal Family, the defence budget? it's a wonder we ever got home. We so rarely encountered any coherent opposing arguments that we took our group-think as the views of all right-thinking people.

The second factor which shaped our media liberal attitudes was a sense of exclusion. We saw ourselves as part of the intellectual élite, full of ideas about how the country should be run, and yet with no involvement in the process or power to do anything about it. Being naïve in the way institutions actually work, yet having good arts degrees from reputable universities, we were convinced that Britain's problems were
the result of the stupidity of the people in charge. We ignored the tedious practicalities of getting institutions to adopt and implement ideas.

This ignorance of the realities of government and management enabled us to occupy the moral high ground. We saw ourselves as clever people in a stupid world, upright people in a corrupt world, compassionate people in a brutal world, libertarian people in an authoritarian world. We were not Marxists but accepted a lot of Marxist social analysis. Some people called us arrogant; looking back, I am afraid I cannot dispute the epithet.

We also had an almost complete ignorance of market economics. That ignorance is still there. Say ''Tesco'' to a media liberal and the patellar reflex says, "Exploiting African farmers and driving out small shopkeepers". The achievement of providing the range of goods, the competitive prices, the food quality, the speed of service and the ease of parking that attract millions of shoppers every day does not show up on the media liberal radar.
(emphasis mine)

I was on NDTV, la la la la!

NDTV reporter Amulya Gopalakrishnan was nice enough to interview me for a program on Islam, terrorism etc. It was broadcast on the 12th.I got about 18 seconds of screen time and came out looking like a smug and stuffed parrot! A screen shot of my blog also appeared, this being the post highlighted-

The story is also available on the NDTV website.

However, whoever saw that segment without being familiar with this blog might come away with a misleading impression.The narration as my blog was being shown(along with images of other sites) went like this-

"On one hand people vent their most bigoted feelings on blogs and social networks under varying degrees of anonymity ---"

Along with that large 'Venom on the web' highlighted at the bottom part of the screen, one might have got the impression that I am among those spouting 'venom', one of those 'hate-filled' bloggers venting hate and fire from behind anonymity.

Far from it. I am neither anonymous nor venting any 'hate'. I prefer cool-headed logical analysis sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek humor. That analysis might be offensive to some, it might not be politically-correct, it might go against the grain of 'consensus' -but, as sure as hell, it will be rational and logical to the extent of my abilities.

The full sentence in that narration was-

"On one hand people vent their most bigoted feelings on blogs and social networks under varying degrees of anonymity, on the other hand for anyone wiling to go deeper these internet forums offer a profusion of perspectives."
(emphasis mine)

I only wish that my site had had been shown while that second part of the sentence was being read out since it fits this blog to a T. But, what the heck!

Update -Atlantean was the other blogger interviewed. He has the video. In fact, having just discovered Atlantean's blog, I must say it is well worth a look.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's the government's job to dig holes and yours to fall in

He said what?!!!!

From the Hindustan Times (it appears in the Delhi print edition, Live section,Thursday, but does not seem to be there on their main site. However it can be accessed from here, registration required) -
----- an open drain in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Delhi government, in Nandnagri is a death trap for passersby as well as school-going children.

Utter negligence by the authorities is witnessed in front of
the DC office. A 400-m stretch has been covered with only
a few cemented slabs, which are not sufficient as there
are three-four ft gaps in between.


"Our children have no choice. To go to the nearby school, they have to either walk on the main road amid heavy traffic or cross through the manholes. In both the circumstances they run a risk to their life, especially in the rainy season," says Ramvir Singh, a resident.

A makeshift DTC bus stop is also there on the narrow pavement. "If anybody slips and falls into the 10-12 ft drain he/she will not manage to come out of it and it will turn into a death trap for him/her," says Ramanath, a nearby resident.


"MCD does not have any plan to cover the drain. If people are scared to pass by, they can take their own precautions," said A. K. Singh, Deputy Commissioner of MCD Shahdara (North).

Assuming that the Hindustan Times has quoted him accurately, just re-read what this public servant said-
"MCD does not have any plan to cover the drain. If people are scared to pass by, they can take their own precautions"

Hey, it is the government's job to dig holes, and if anybody falls in, that's his/her fault.

It's as if the minister(s) responsible for water supply said-
"We do not have any plans to provide clean, germ-free, dirt-free water.In fact we do not have any plan to supply water in sufficient quantity at all. If people are thirsty, they can make their own arrangements."

It's as if the police commissioner said-
The police department does not have any plans to provide adequate security to the citizens. If anybody is scared, they can take their own precautions."

It's as if the transport minister said-
I do not have any plans to provide a decent, hassle free system of public transport so that the public could commute in relative comfort without getting fleeced or getting crushed under the wheels of over-speeding monster. If people don't like what we give them they can make do on their own."

It's as if railway secretary said-
"The ministry has no plans to provide a comfortable, harassment-free system of railways where the tickets are easy to buy without long waits and waiting lists or going through the touts, no maram-maari* for the seats and berths, no bribing the TC*, where one doesn't have the fear of goondas* who have no fear of the few railway police guards that might be lazing off somewhere on the same train, where........Oh, for, godsake! Why don't you take a plane!"

It's as if the top civil aviation official said-
"We have no plan to clean up the mess that are our airports, to remove corrupt customs officers or make the staff helpful and polite. If anyone has any complains, he can take the train."

It's as if all the chief ministers and the prime minister said in a chorus-
"We have no plans to provide a government where there are no ministers with criminal backgrounds, where each and every department is honest, where there is no corruption, where the public servants behave as if they are one and not as masters, where police torture is not the norm, where buses, trains and things run smoothly and the sun shines brightly. No, sir, we have no such plans at all. And if people are tired of this system, they can take their precautions -they can emigrate! In fact, we don't care if they go to hell!"

Perhaps, no one has said any these things . But the country is run as if they had. It sure feels that the our government at all levels is full of A.K. Singhs.

*The colorful Indian Language Translator-

maram-maari - the dog-eat-dog, desperate struggle and conflict over something. A very common feature of an average Indian's life.

goonda -Gangster, lout, unsocial element. A species that thrives in the Indian political culture.

TC - Ticket Checker.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What lies beneath -beneath that bright blue turban? Why, another electric idea!

Note -an important update below the fold:
When conservative columnist Joshua Livestro was confronted with censorship at the Dutch public broadcasting corporation, he didn’t get mad – he got even.

Another bolt from
under that blue.
Caricature from
Cox & Forkum.

What exactly goes on beneath that turban? What sparks fly in that head that belongs to Manmohan Singh? How many powerful thought-bombs keep going ka-boom! in that hyperactive brain -since he and his government keep coming out with one electric idea after the other?

If it's not Arjun Singh who thought of the super-original idea of ever more quotas then it is Priya Praneshwari Das Munshi "who has said he sometimes stays up late to monitor television content", so that he could find 'objectionable' content and, presumably, ban channels. (via Great Bong)

Now, out of the blue (pun intended!), this - You may now need licence to own TV !

You may now need licence to own TV

You do not watch Doordarshan but may soon have to pay a one-time licence fee for the TV you own and an additional tax on any new TV you buy in the future. Why? To support Prasar Bharati Corporation and its employees.

On Wednesday, the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Prasar Bharati (PB) is likely to decide on a new tax on each television set sold in the country. The GoM has two options: a 5 per cent tax or a 10 per cent one. A 10 per cent levy will fetch Prasar Bharati Corporation Rs 890 crore every year.

The GoM will also decide on a proposal to levy a licence fee on broadcast receivers — television and radio set owners.

Television channels will have to pay a ‘public service broadcast fee’ to PB. This will be 5 per cent of their gross revenue generated. Officials said the measures would help end PB’s financial woes. The corporation requires Rs 3,000(crore) every year for operations but its annual revenue has been about Rs 1,600 crore over the past few years. An official said the measures would make PB financially independent of the government.

Sometimes it seems that it is always (Orwell's) 1984. When a government propaganda tool is called a public service broadcaster. When Rs 3,000 crore(30,000 million) are wasted on ---- on what exactly? What good does Prasar Bharati do, really?

Sevanti Ninan asked in 2004 -
What do mature democracies with a burgeoning private sector media need an information and broadcasting ministry for? You could argue that a largely rural, poor society could have media needs which the private sector will not find profitable to meet. But how well is Prasar Bharati, which costs Rs. 5 crore a day, meeting these needs? We have a satellite kisan channel, a terrestrial kisan channel, and Krishi Darshan. Have they revolutionised Indian agriculture?

How many hospitals would that 3000 crores every year (and growing) build and thus save more lives? How many schools? How many buses for better public transport? How many extremely poor could survive if that money was spent just on their basic meals?

I am a libertarian. I don't believe that the state should be doing any of these things. But there are many, many who do, including almost everyone in the government itself. So shouldn't that 3000 crores(and counting) be put to better, much better use ? Why are the employees of Prasar Bharati, the I&B bureaucrats , the ministry officials and toadies and hanger-ons and middlemen, the politicians and their chamchas* - why are they more important than the hundreds of thousands of people in extreme poverty who could survive with some decency if that 3000 crores could be used to help them.

Back of the envelope calculation -at Rs100 to feed one person for one day, Rs 3000 crores would feed about 821,917 persons for one year!

But I suppose Doordarshan must be doing something reaaaally important -just can't figure it out now. And in the meanwhile, we live in dread of another bolt(and jolt) from under that blue.

(all emphasis mine)

*The colorful Indian language translator-
Chamcha - literally, a spoon. A derisive word for toadies, hanger-ons and boot-lickers, with whom every Indian politician is surrounded. Indian politics is replete with such cutlery.In fact, there is a hierarchy in chamchadom, as the politician surrounded by chamchas is himself the chamcha of a bigger politician.It's a whole and complex ecosystem. Someday the scientists who specialize in parasites will pay more attention to it.

Update -is it true that the so-called public service broadcasters are almost always toadies of the government(Doordarshan in India, Channel 1 and Channel Rossiya in Russia and Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) in Iran for example) or, if they are truly autonomous, they come under the sway (control, rather) of a politically correct, left leaning orthodoxy (BBC in UK, National Public Radio (NPR) in USA andNetherlands Programme Service(
NPS) in Holland, for example)?

Here is an interesting tale of what happened when a 'right-wing' journalist unexpectedly became part of the cozy leftists club at the NPS, Holland -

Some excerpts-
When conservative columnist Joshua Livestro was confronted with censorship at the Dutch public broadcasting corporation, he didn’t get mad – he got even.
Late on Saturday evening, I received a phone call from Van Friesland. He said he thought it was a good column, but he warned me to tread carefully: “With a program like ours, with its left-wing audience, you’ve got to remember: leftist columnists will be praised even for third-rate efforts. Right-leaning columnists have to be much more conspicuous in the way they operate.” Right now, he suggested, reading out this column just wouldn’t be a good idea. Better switch to a safer option. I gladly jotted all of this down in my notebook.

Based on the flood of complaints the program routinely received in the hours after the show, by the way, I wonder whether the editors really know what makes their own audience tick. The e-mails all complain of similar issues: biased, leftwing presenters, and a biased, leftwing editorial policy, with a clear preference for guests and issues on the left.

Looking at the statistics for the four months I was involved with the program, I can only say the e-mails understate the extent of the problems. I looked at the period between the beginning of March (when I was first hired) and the end of June (when my contract was terminated). In that period, the editors invited nearly twice as many liberal guests as conservative ones – 23 versus 14. Among government ministers, the bias was even more obvious. Five different ministers from the governing left-of-center Social Democrat party appeared on the show. And from their coalition partners, the right-of-center Christian Democrats? Not a single one.
(all emphasis mine)

Go read the whole thing -it's worth it.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Barkha Dutt confesses her prejudices in an almost sensible article.

Note -an important update to this post below the fold.

Barkha Dutt gets it -almost. It is too much to expect that she get it all.
We have hoped against hope that it is not true. We have tried to convince ourselves that this must be a grand conspiracy of racial profiling — you know, White Man hunts for Brown victim. Happily unmindful of how bigoted and quick to conclusion we are when terror hits the home turf, we have wondered whether the British police are shooting darts at soft targets.

I have always argued that the Indian media is quick to impute racism to people and authorities of Western nations without any evidence. Barkha is now admitting this prejudice in print. Good for her.

But what about looking inwards? Can we confront the fact that Political Islam may be growing roots in our own backyard? Are we brave enough to consider the possibility that the assimilation of the Indian Muslim has not been as successful as we like to believe?
This week, an emotional Prime Minister met some of us at his house and argued that terrorism had no nationality or religion. He warned against the labelling and stereotyping of communities and said that after he had heard the mother of the arrested doctors break down on national television, he lay awake all night.

The Prime Minister’s empathy and liberalism is laudable. But the fact is that if three Indian citizens are actually found guilty in this terror plot, we cannot afford to disown their nationality. For too long now, our instinctive need to protect India’s minorities from the onslaught of the Right has prevented us from looking at this issue honestly. We hesitate to use the word Islam and Terrorism in the same sentence. But we can no longer allow political correctness to obfuscate the debate. It may help to know that even the conservative clerics of the Jama Masjid in Delhi recently took the initiative to debate why radicalism had permeated their religion.

Another Barkha confession -that her instincts (and those of others like her in the media) have" ----- prevented us from looking at this issue honestly." This is a day for admitting prejudices. Good.

But this is Barkha Dutt. There are some fundamental errors that she just has to make-

But can we afford to ignore these questions this time around as well? What was an Indian engineer from Bangalore doing partnering an Iraq-born doctor on a suicide mission? Why did he care enough to call a meeting of Muslims on World Chechnya Day in a city where most people don’t know what the dispute between Russia and the Chechens is about? If the doctors being investigated by British authorities are really part of a global terror module, have we underestimated the response of India’s Muslims to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

No, Barkha, this is not about Iraq and Afghanistan(see the previous post below - The Hindustan Times is clueless about jihad). Septemper 11, 2001 happened long before Iraq and Afghanistan. The plot to blow up 12 airliners happened before Iraq and Afghanistan.Bali was bombed before Iraq and Afghanistan.Indians were not involved in these and many more others, but the ideology behind them is the same. Iraq and Afghanistan vex many muslims but are only a recent addition to a long list of 'grievances' , 'grievances' that in fact go back centuries and are never ending.

It is only your own blinkers , that you have admitted to, that have prevented you from grasping this.

update - Samizdata points out this from an article in The Telegraph-
Mr Husain, whose book, The Islamist, exposed the workings of Hizb ut-Tahir, is contemptuous of the idea that the latest plots were inspired by the West's intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. "This is just an excuse. They reject Western culture full stop, not just 'slags in night clubs'. They would have supported the bombing of Muslims attending the cinema in Cairo in the 1950s. They do not want Muslims to enjoy social freedoms. If it was not Iraq they would cite Chechnya. Or Palestine. These are angry men. Accommodation is not an option. It has to be containment or annihilation.

Also from the same article-
All the suspects under arrest are adherents of the Wahhabi doctrine which dates back to 18th-century Arabia. Bilal Abdulla, 27, is a devotee of the extreme form of the Wahhabi teaching, which advocates "hate and hostility to infidels and polytheists".

Some Middle East commentators have argued that the would-be bombers were motivated by the civilian killings in Afghanistan and Iraq. But one suspect is said to regard the Taliban, who routinely butchered their own people for the crime of adultery, homosexuality or for a woman showing too much flesh, as the leaders of the definitive moral society. And Mr Husain, whose book, The Islamist, exposed the workings of Hizb ut-Tahir, is contemptuous of the idea that the latest plots were inspired by the West's intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Samizdata post is titled - No, it really is not about Iraq or Palestine or Afghanistan...
Quite aptly, methinks.

(all emphasis mine)

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Hindustan Times is clueless about jihad.

Today at the Hindustan Times -a clueless editorial, mushy profile of a mass-murderer's admirer and a sensible article from Sagarika Ghose(of all people!)

Let's take them up one by one-

The editorial, Cause and deadly effect, peddles the same tired old myth that were it not for Bush, Blair and those Israelis, the jihadis would be sipping green tea and singing Kumbaya.

The archetypal image of the terrorist — and that includes extremists under the rubric of Naxalites, Kashmiri militants, etc — is the person who takes recourse to grievances of socio-economic deprivation and being marginalised. The case with the global ummah — or at least its perception — is that the worldwide Muslim community is under attack and needs to react, in the tactics of al-Qaeda and other versions of Muslim brotherhood — violently. This, of course, for better or worse, cuts across States and comfort levels. Thus, we have individuals who, discomfited by the fact that the real issues, such as Palestine or the question of occupied Iraq, have not been quickly corrected, find other minor issues, like Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, to project as bugbears.

Radicalisation is not only about being down and out, but also about lashing out. It is about feeling frustrated. And that is why we should not feel so surprised about some Indians — who happen to be part of the community of people unhappy with the US-British-led War on Terror — being turned into disgruntled members of society. One hopes that the Indian way of life eclipses some complaints. But if some anomalies slip through, the question to be asked of those waging a war is: how to remove the cause. We’ll see what happens next.

In other words, blame USA, UK and that little satan, Israel for the doctors going mad.And blame Salman Rushdie too!(though he gets the lesser blame, since it's Blair who knighted him).

Oliver Kamm has an interesting post on this-

Only on the letters page of The Guardian would you find an argument, expounded without irony, of the form "as Osama Bin Laden made clear..." (last letter on the page). Its author is maintaining that there are substantive causes in Western foreign policy for Muslim anger. The letter, like so much along the same lines that appears in that newspaper's comment pages, is inflammatory nonsense, but I was particularly taken with the notion that we ought to tailor our foreign policy to the demands of a man who asserts (in his 1998 statement "The Nuclear Bomb of Islam") that "it is the duty of Muslims to prepare as much force as possible to terrorise the enemies of God". It is, of course, strictly true that the jihadists hate us for, among many other reasons, our foreign policy. The only proper response is satisfaction that we have that effect on them.


On the same subject, I called after the 7/7 bombings for the sacking of the editor of The New Statesman, John Kampfner, on account of his emblazoning the front page with the preposterous and indecent message "Blair's bombs". The author of that cover story, John Pilger, this week pronounces the failed bombing of a nightclub in London and of Glasgow airport "Brown's bombs". I modestly direct you to irrefutable evidence I have previously cited that by the same criteria (which is to say, entirely bogus ones) all of these terrorist acts are in fact "Pilger's bombs".

Diane West wants to call it as it is-
This is nothing new. From September 11 onward, the yeoman effort of elites has been to wrench "Islam" away from all acts of jihad. But now, particularly after the London and Glasgow attacks, their efforts have achieved a deeper level of denial, and, worse, broader consensus.

The new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has directed ministers to omit "Muslim" when discussing (Muslim) terrorism. And forget the generic "war on terror"; even that pathetic phrase is off limits. (This has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Brown's unctuously stated goal to make Britain "the gateway for Islamic finance.") The new Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith (love that "i" ending) refers to British Muslims as "communities" — maybe a prelude to not mentioning them at all. Both have done the "perversion of a great faith" dance to enlightened applause, taking cues from the unpublished "EU Lexicon," which reportedly nixes such "offensive" phrases as "Islamic terrorism."

British literary lions couldn't agree more. Philosopher John Gray and historian Eric Hobsbawm recently said on British television that even the word "Islamist" was "unfair" because "it implied a strong link to Islam." Never mind the link is doctrinally accurate. Better to accommodate mortal threat without identifying its Islamic roots. Instead of defending their nations — for starters, stopping Islamic immigration and, with it, the progression of Islamic law into Western societies — our elites have decided to pretend Islam isn't there at all.

In the media, the effort is misleading to the point of farce. Joel Mowbray, writing at the Powerline blog, noted that the New York Times has identified Britain's Muslim terrorists as "South Asian people" — which, considering Britain's largest South Asian population is Hindu, is beyond absurd. "Diverse group allegedly in British plot," the Associated Press reported, missing that unifying Islamic thread. "All 8 detainees have ties to health service," wrote the Toronto Star, "but genesis of terror scheme still eludes investigators."

The roots of jihad, as Charles Allen points out in his book, God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult And the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad, go back to the time of Sheikh Ibn Taymiyya (b.1263), when the Caliphs were still around.

One of reviews of the book says-

British author Allen (Soldier Sahibs) argues persuasively that violent Islamic extremism isn't as new as we might think,------------ Carefully drawing distinctions between mainstream Islam and the fanaticism that spawned al-Qaeda (which he calls "as much a threat to Islam as to the West"), Allen goes back to the 18th-century founding of Wahhabism, a strain of Islam fostered in the Arabian desert that now serves as the Saudi state religion. Fixated on removing any hint of deviation from their interpretation of Muhammad's teachings, violent Wahhabists have traditionally killed more Muslims than non-Muslims. A Central Asia expert, Allen focuses on the form of Wahhabism that developed against the backdrop of waning British imperialism in that area, gradually leading up to Osama bin Laden's arrival.

(from Publishers Weekly, at

There must have been Bush and Blair in the 13th century. The root cause of jihad, you know.

The absolute cluelessness of the concerned HT editor is made even more stark by this confessional article by Hassan Butt-
When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology, I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the 'Blair's bombs' line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.

(all emphasis mine)
Note -since this post has become longer than expected, I shall be taking up the other two opinion pieces published in HT in a later post.

update -maybe the root cause of jihad is global warming!

They are doctors, and they are here to kill you.

Some news and reactions to the jihadi doctor's plot in UK-

It was not about Iraq or Palestine or Afghanistan...
The attempted London bombings were, we will be told, a consequence of US/UK actions Iraq or Palestine or Afghanistan or something or other about George Dubya Bush or Halliburton or Global Capitalism or Social Injustice. You may be certain that all these bullshit excuses will be trotted out by the disingenuous left who crave the accusations or the deeply provincial Americocentric faction of libertarianism who pretend bad people will leave you alone if only you stay in your mountain bunker in the Ozarks, do not ever send soldiers abroad and refuse to trade or interact with the rest of the world.

‘Those who cure you will kill you’
An al-Qaeda leader in Iraq boasted before last week’s failed bombings in London and Glasgow that his group was planning to attack British targets and that “those who cure you will kill you”, The Times has learnt.

"that total indifference to pain and suffering"
I think it has something to do with what Mel Brooks once referred to as "that total indifference to pain and suffering" that is necessary to be a good doctor. You have to be "clinical" about all that, because you can't afford to have your judgment swayed by real sympathy with the sufferer.
(Micheal Leeden)
(via -James Taranto)

Why the Bombs Failed
The London bomb plot allegedly planned by a cell of doctors failed early last Friday morning because a medical syringe used as part of the firing mechanism caused a malfunction, ABC News has learned.

Who--- is going to be in a hurry to keep that appointment with Dr. Hamid?
(Thomas Lifson)
(via -James Taranto)

Common link found.

The BBC has been wondering for years what the common factor was in a wave of attemped or thwarted British terror attacks. At last they've found a link.
Terror suspects all linked to NHS

The Islamists are not going anywhere

We have heard so often, and will continue to hear, that the Iraq war and Blair's alliance with George W Bush were a recruiting sergeant for al Qaeda and its affiliates in this country. That may be true, but only in the sense that everything is a recruiting sergeant for this cause: the removal of the Taliban, the existence of the state of Israel, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the end of the Muslim caliphate in 1924, the way women dress in the West. One of the conversations bugged in Operation Crevice that led to life sentences for five terrorists in April included a chilling discussion about bombing a London nightclub. "Now no one can even turn around and say 'Oh they were innocent'," said Jawad Akbar, "those slags dancing around."
(Matthew D'Ancona)
(via -Oliver Kamm)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Oliver Stone wants to lick boots but Ahmadinejad says,"Get lost!"

A scene from the Alfred Hitchcock
film 'Topaz', depicting a couple
brutally tortured by Castro's security

Note- an update to this post blow the fold.

This is delicious-
But Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was surprisingly camera-shy when his extrovert persona drew the attention of Hollywood, turning down a request by Oliver Stone, the director of JFK, Nixon and Platoon, to make a documentary film about him. He dismissed the American film-maker as "part of the Great Satan", the Iranian regime's standard term of abuse for the US.

Oliver Stone earlier
has made two documentaries about Cuba's Communist president, Fidel Castro,whom he considers a friend

The Hollywood liberals love dictators -as long as they are anti-American. Castro is a particular favorite -from Robert Redford to Steven Spielberg to Michael Moore.

Now like a jilted lover, Stone has fired back-

“I have been called a lot of things, but never a great Satan. I wish the Iranian people well and only hope their experience with an inept, rigid ideologue president goes better than ours.”
Dirty Harry puts it aptly-
Oliver Stone had hoped to continue his legacy of dishonest anti-Americanism with a documentary about Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Well, obviously Iran hasn’t seen Stone’s films or his disgraceful love letter to another dictator, because if they had they wouldn’t have turned him down denouncing him as “a part of the Great Satan,”

Here is a bit about Stone's film Looking for Fidel

As its chummy title indicates, Looking for Fidel retains an admiring tone toward Castro. Sure, Stone poses human rights issues to Castro and includes brief remarks by dissidents Oswaldo Payá, Elizardo Sánchez, and Vladimiro Roca, but his heart isn’t in it. Stone is smitten with Castro – “one of the Earth’s wisest people,” he said last February [3] – and it begets obscene indulgences.

The rankest is when Castro appears with eight men charged last April with attempting to hijack a plane to leave Cuba. Stone asks if they are treated well in prison, and they all say yes. He asks why they wanted to leave, and they all say economic reasons. They then demand long prison sentences for themselves, and Castro urges their attorneys to do their best to seek reduced sentences.[4]

Stalin, your techniques are alive and well in Havana.

While discussing this scene in an interview with Cuba Confidential author Ann Louise Bardach, Stone said, “I must say, you're really picturing a Stalinist state. It doesn't feel that way.” This exchange followed:

Bardach: Did it strike you as interesting that at one point in the scene with the prisoners, Castro turned to the prisoners' defense lawyers, who just happened to be there, and he says, “I urge you to do your best to reduce the sentences”?

Stone: I love that. I thought that was hilarious. Those guys just popped up.

Bardach: Is there a show-trial element here?

Stone: Yeah. I thought that was funny, I did – the prosecutor and Fidel admonishing them, to make sure they worked hard.[5]

Stone considers totalitarian bullying and the mockery of due process real knee-slappers.

Cuban human rights activists appear in Looking in Fidel in an almost deracinated manner, without background on how much they have suffered for being conscientious. Viewers unfamiliar with Oswaldo Payá won’t know he endured forced labor from 1969 to 1972 for opposing the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, which Castro supported.[6] They won’t know Elizardo Sánchez was purged from the University of Havana faculty for opposing the invasion and imprisoned, among other times, from 1980 to 1985 for “enemy propaganda.”[7] They won’t know Vladimiro Roca spent 1997 to 2002 in prison and over two years in a cell that “resembled a cage meant to hold wild animals.”[8]

As Payá remarked of Stone last year after being interviewed by him, “I thought he was very misinformed about what is going on in Cuba. He was more interested in the love life of Fidel Castro than what is happening to 11 million Cubans.”[9]

Stone appeared on the Charlie Rose Show the night Looking for Fidel premiered. “I attack him,” he claimed of his interviewing style.

Oh really? Consider this exchange:

Stone: You have been in power….?

Castro: I am not the one in power. It is the people who are in power.

Stone doesn’t follow up and ask how the people can be in power in a one-party regime where it’s a crime to criticize Castro and his functionaries,[10] criticize socialism,[11] assemble conscientiously,[12] establish independent media,[13] or travel outside Cuba without permission[14] – with secret police, paramilitary Rapid Response Brigades,[15] and neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution[16] crushing dissent.[17] When Castro later tells Stone, “Let’s respect each other’s viewpoints,” he doesn’t ask why Cubans like Oscar Biscet and Jorge Olivera are suffering 25-year and 18-year sentences for expressing viewpoints and seeking this elementary respect for their countrymen.[18]

When Rose asked about objections to Castro on human rights grounds, Stone responded:

I can’t answer the question because, frankly, I don’t know the answer…Human rights is a very, very delicate (concept). It goes both ways. I mean, there can be those people who are authentically violated and those people who are not, those people who are supported by the United States financially and those who are not.

Stone further equivocated, saying the Thought Police were on the loose in America. “There is conformity in our thinking, and we do tend to political correctness,” he said. That’s how Stone described America during the Rose appearance.

But it seems the filmmaker swallowed Fidel’s propaganda whole, particularly his undeserved image as a Man of the People. “I don’t think that Castro has a dime outside of what he believes in, a dime,” Stone also asserted, showing either colossal ignorance or colossal mendacity. Forbes estimates Castro’s worth at 110 million dollars minimum,[19] and former Cuban army political officer Servando González notes:

He has a private fleet of yachts and luxury cars, and keeps stately homes in each of Cuba's 14 provinces. While the Cuban people struggle with housing shortages, Castro reserves hundreds of houses in Havana's Jaimanitas beach section for the use of his security guards and aides. While Castro demands austerity from the people and watching American TV is prohibited, he and his close associates buy foreign luxury items and use government satellite dishes to tune in to U.S. televised movies and sporting events.[20]

Note- the numbers in the brackets refer to footnotes in the original article.

Update -It seems that Michael Moore may reach those boots that Oliver Stone could not.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Chuck Norris as president

Does your enthusiasm meter go up for Pratibha Patil As the India's new president?
Mine actually hits the bottom. Visions of Giani Zail Singh sweeping the floor keep ringing in my ears - oops , sorry for the wrong metaphors but this choice of Sonia Gandhi and her family concern, the Congress party, is too depressing.

Who do I want as the president?
Chuck Norris!

I want someone who would readily smack our politician's bottoms whenever they do something wrong and venal. Which means that the Rashtrapati Bhavan would be filled with the booming sound of smacking 24/7.
If only...

this brainwave has occurred to many others before me. You may sign a petition here if you want Chuck Norris as the president -of USA!

And here too!

update 2 -
Chuck Norris as David and as Christ (and everyone else) in the Last Supper.

Mad, mad, mad world

More of the mad mad mad world-

Reuters , AP and other agencies caught with their pants down and make lame excuses. That western news outlets channel terrorist propaganda willingly is something that has been evident for a long time.

update- Helen Szamuely goes through the case and comes to this conclusion:

So the story was given by somebody who was nowhere near the scene of action and refused to give his name or explain who he was. It could not be confirmed because the situation in the area is dangerous but it was published anyway. Terrific.

According to the Drudge report- New scientific research refutes many of Gore's climate claims.
Among other things in this article-

Gore claims the snowcap atop Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro is shrinking and that global warming is to blame. Yet according to the November 23, 2003, issue of Nature magazine, "Although it's tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think that deforestation of the mountain's foothills is the more likely culprit. Without the forests' humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine."
Gore claims global warming is causing more tornadoes. Yet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in February that there has been no scientific link established between global warming and tornadoes.
For example, Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. Yet the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate reported, "Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame."
What was that again ?-
Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains

But you hear and read everywhere that the Himalayan glaciers are melting. So who is lying? And why did our 'brave' media had nothing to say on this report? Does not fit their biases or sloppy work ethic?

(All emphasis mine)