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Code da India 2007

by FarEasterner Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:44:30 AM EST

Yesterday I read good article about what bothered Indians in 2007 and decided to share it with you offering mini-dictionary (imperfect but still) to explain proliferated cryptic words incomprehensible for many foreigners.

Happy new year!

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Benazir martyred, Pakistan in flames

by FarEasterner Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 12:45:58 AM EST

Former Pakistan's PM Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007) has been assasinated yesterday evening on outskirts of Rawalpindi, the city to the south of Islamabad, famous for numerous security and army institutions (Pakistan army headquarters located there) and infamous for the ongoing serie of suicide attacks by Islamists on them. Now high-profile politician fell victim to suicide squad, apparently from the same stables.

Morning newspapers with identical headlines: Benazir assasinated.

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What's in your genes

by FarEasterner Tue Dec 25th, 2007 at 07:50:17 AM EST

Short Christmas diary, devoted to recent scandal in highly conservative Punjab high society.

Yesterday's front-page article in The Tribune, Chandigarh-based newspaper which was a cause of din and wild accusations in Punjab assembly yesterday.

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Desperate flight of Taslima Nasreen

by FarEasterner Mon Dec 3rd, 2007 at 05:41:48 AM EST

Controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, 45, is on the run from Islamic fundamentalists, who issued fatwas against her in 1994. She was in Kolkata, flied to Jaipur, then now she is hiding in Delhi.

Taslima by profession is doctor however it was her literary activities which completely changed her life. Her novel Lajja (Shame) was banned by the Bangladesh government in 1993, and the following year she went into hiding then Taslima left Bangladesh in 1994 after violent street protests. She was granted refuge and citizenship in Sweden. She returned to the region in 2004, living in Kolkata on a renewable visa.

This story is going on and nobody knows how it will end. I compose this diary from excerpts of old interviews and articles and with some moderate input, expressing my bewilderment at Indian explosive mix of modernity and ancient prejudices. As it's usual in India every such story has potential to trigger sharp political crisis, from accusations in condoning fundamentalism to playing vote-bank politics.

Taslima Nasreen in Delhi [on November 24]. [editor's note, by Migeru] Photo moved to the side to save whitespace on the front page.

Diary Rescue by Migeru

[editor's note, by Migeru] Originally posted on November 25.

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Ahmadinejad may take a short break

by FarEasterner Sun Nov 25th, 2007 at 05:49:19 PM EST

I have been keeping silence here as the pace of events in and around Indian subcontinent became so fast so there was no time for reflections and analysis. Nepal's Maoists are quitting Parliament, in Bangladesh 1,700 people died in cyclone, in Sri Lanka Tamil Tigers political smiling face Tamilselvan is killed, in Tamil Nadu he was mourned by politicians, in Kerala controversies rage about the religios rites before the deceased and about the death of well-known Leftist intellectual before TV cameras, in Karnataka warring partners JDS and BJP patched up their differences and after collapse of coalition government reunited albeit in uneasy and acrimonious marriage, further north in Delhi Communists gave a green go-ahead with riders to the government on the talks with IAEA, Congress held its annual plenary where it made all the right noises about the need of affirmative action, mildly rebuked CPM for its culture of gun and violence and lashed out at BJP, BJP is set to cash in on Left's difficulties over the handling of Nandigram recapture by violent CPM cadres (this theme is of main interest for Indians as it may indicate the demise of Communist ideology in the country), the Leftist Academia is all out against increasingly authoritarian and bourguois Communist leadership, the ultra-left (CPI-ML) is poised to jump into political vaccuum, Sheila Dixit, chief minister of Delhi blamed BJP (who wrested municipal corporation this year) for monkey menace, stray monkeys even raided home of Priyanka Vadra, daughter of Sonia Gandhi, there are some news on Burmese and Tibetan fronts also.

By priority the first come Pakistan.

Photo from tehelka.com article (see link further)
Indian press routinely devote lot of space for developments in neighbouring country though the public remains largely uninterested. I also usually give a miss to news from other side of the border (it's just 100 km from here) and their problems remain on the fringes of my consciousness. It's a pity as developments there are very important for stability in the entire region and they reached a dangerous explosive level.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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Indian Left from local perspective

by FarEasterner Wed Oct 31st, 2007 at 05:16:09 PM EST

Sometimes it's better to express some thoughts in hot and fresh forms though I used to keep some distance between events and their reflections in my writing.
Yesterday and today I met twice one guy, left party activist. His name is Sandeep and he is chief of local youth wing of Communist Party of India (Marxist). His party is not so much popular here, still he claims the support is growing. It was interesting meeting for me as there are not so many people around who are genuinely in politics, as I am, albeit on different level and from another angle. Maybe these were good meetings to redefine myself, elaborate what I stand for and so on.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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Earthquake open thread

by FarEasterner Wed Sep 12th, 2007 at 12:49:19 PM EST

I just received a letter from friend in Jakarta:

I was sitting at my computer on the 15th floor of the Hyatt hotel
earlier this evening when the building began to sway and make noises.
Turns out that an 8.2 magnitude earthquake occurred Southern Sumatra,
about 425 miles from Jakarta where I am staying.

Nothing fell except my laundry line and nothing broke. There have
been after shocks but I haven't noticed them.

Hope there will be no many victims as last time in December 2005 but extent of damage appear very slow.
Quake triggers tsunami in Indonesia; 7 dead
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP): A massive earthquake killed at least seven people, injured 100 and triggered a small tsunami in western Indonesia, authorities said. Warnings for destructive waves were issued across much of the Indian Ocean region.

The 8.2-magnitude quake off Sumatra island badly damaged buildings along the coast and could be felt in at least four countries, with tall buildings swaying as far as 2,000 kilometers away.

It was followed by a series of strong aftershocks.

At least seven people were killed in three Sumatran towns, Felix Valentino, an official from the Social Affairs Department, told the news portal detik.com.

Comments >> (7 comments)

Nawaz triumphant homecoming cut short

by FarEasterner Wed Sep 12th, 2007 at 06:29:50 AM EST

If yesterday Nawaz Sharif, ousted in coup in 1999 Pakistan PM, was daring this country military ruler Musharraf to deport him back to Saudi Arabia, today his illusions about Musharraf's intentions to cling to power at any cost be it cut of American aid or international and domestic outcry are shattered.

What next for this troubled South Asian country given its importance on so-called the war on terror?

  From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Crossroads of Inner Asia - Part III

by FarEasterner Sun Jul 29th, 2007 at 04:51:29 AM EST

This part deals with purpose of my journey through high-altitude terrain of Ladakh towards the vale of Kashmir and further down into India. When one is exposing his personal diaries he (or she) would be tempted in turning oneself into someone heroic, exaggerating hardships and difficulties, highlighting achievements and good deeds. I had no such intention trying faithfully to share with you my excitement on the brink of trip through Himalayas and exhaustion after it was completed in part I and what I did observe in Ladakh in part II. Photos I made by usual soapcase camera are very imperfect but I believe they can help you to visualize my trip, people I interacted with and sceneries I was in awe.

Dal lake from shikara.

Third and last part of FarEasterner's great travelog - afew

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by FarEasterner Sat Jul 28th, 2007 at 06:54:43 AM EST

So Frodo style I climbed Tanglang La pass (5,325 m) in distressed mood probably caused by sheer altitude and growing headache. What I could expect in Ladakh, I wondered looking at cragged gloomy peaks covered by dark clouds.

On Tanglang La.

A Saturday journey to Ladakh - from the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Crossroads of Inner Asia - Part I

by FarEasterner Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 07:17:44 AM EST

Today I want to tell you about my journey last october to one of the extremely remote places on earth - Ladakh. Lha Dags, the land of snow passes, is situated at the extreme north of Indian subcontinent and is separated from my temporary abode in Dharamsala only by mountain ridge. Yet there are not many people around who can boast they visited it - for this ridge is the Great Himalayan.

Himalayas from Likir gompa.

(To update other photos it will take time and I need to change photoserver as it automatically cut pics to size of 500*333 pixels).

From the diaries with a slight edit- afew

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Three days amidst ruins

by FarEasterner Thu Jun 14th, 2007 at 05:51:27 AM EST

The weather in this part of Himalayas where I am is just fine. While plains swelter from scorching sun here we have intermittent showers with swirling rivulets, in the evenings chilly fog is creeping up enveloping everything that I cannot see adjacent buildings and in hazy mornings we are spared of relentless heat of glorious Indian sun. I hear local boy playing on flute from neighbouring rooftop cafe. He is apparently waiting for customers so he has time to practice how to lure local girls.

Swollen streams take away accumulated junk like time swallows memories of distant lands I visited and wonderful people I met. In the last rainstorm I was observing how small pieces of paper, rags, empty bottles did not flow away, clinging to narrow crevices between boulders, leafs and branches of assorted bushes, using swirls of water to find the way to peaceful shores, where staff of my hotel ripes out the wild grown mint to prepare special tea.

I promised to post here reports of my recent trips but memories are too fresh to sort out and turn them into tender narrative. Some impressions are painful, others are boring, there was also a lot of joy and wonder. Time should take its course, like swollen river, taking junks that pile my mind and after a while I will see what was important in today's wanderings and meetings.

Last year on the way from Bangalore to Goa I stopped for three days in Hampi, the seat of medieval Vijayanagara empire. Herein I release excerpts from my Hampi diary.

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Three conversations

by FarEasterner Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 07:21:55 AM EST

Finally I sat down before my laptop to write something about me and this strange wonderful world. I started to write several times but each time was not satisfied with the outcome giving up in hope for better mood and inspiration. Sometimes when I want to write electricity goes out, this happened again tonight. I hope I would be forgiven by those here (DoDo!) who waited for the diary so long but I'm putting my thoughts here not to arouse any interest towards me but probably to draw your attention to this magnificent land, India, and the way she transforms the minds of some travellers from the West.

Dhauladar range above Dharamsala, Humachal Pradesh

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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Reflections on 2006

by FarEasterner Tue Dec 26th, 2006 at 08:41:30 AM EST

So, I am planning to leave Russia for Asia. I don't know how long this sojourn will last but here are some my thoughts. I spent almost whole year in my home, busy with many things but mostly doing nothing. I did not finish planned books, the amount of work proved to be too big, I was too lazy and painfully (for my Publisher) slow and thorough. I have not followed current political developments (whether in Russia or in the world), I almost have not watched TV news, listened to radio or read newspapers. That's why I found occasional visits to this site extremely useful to keep certain level of consciousness updated. Thanks, ET.

From the diaries - keep in touch FarEasterner! -- whataboutbob

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Summit of SCO and Eurasian Geopolitics

by FarEasterner Wed Jun 14th, 2006 at 06:05:24 AM EST

SCO marks 5th anniversary by summit of its leaders except India. What does SCO mean for the world? Here is a brief analysis of American strategy towards Eurasian alliance.

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G8 finance monsters statement

by FarEasterner Sat Jun 10th, 2006 at 08:50:15 AM EST

G8 finance ministers issued a statement in Leningrad:

  1. We discussed important linkages between energy services and health, education, gender inequality and environmental sustainability, and agreed to take steps to alleviate energy poverty. Lack of access to modern energy services is a barrier to economic growth and can put at risk the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  2. Increased access to energy services can spur economic and social development provided that policies for economic growth and poverty reduction are in place. We urge national governments and multilateral and bilateral donors to integrate energy issues into poverty reduction and country assistance strategies, including options for the least developed countries to tap their natural resource potential, and develop the energy trade infrastructure between countries.

  3. We stress the need to give a specific pro-poor focus to energy strategies, with emphasis on access to modern energy services for the most vulnerable population groups, and on availability of energy and electricity supplies to essential services, such as hospitals and schools. We highlight the importance of increased access to cleaner fuels in household consumption which can reduce air pollution.

  4. We underscore the key role of the private sector in providing energy services, and call upon developing countries to reduce barriers to private sector involvement by adopting clear and effective legal and regulatory frameworks. Small-scale private service providers and microfinance institutions can help fill the gap in private financing of infrastructure by serving vulnerable communities.

  5. We reaffirm the commitment made at Gleneagles to promote clean energy and achieve sustainable development globally, including by increased access to reliable and affordable energy. We welcome the existing initiatives in the energy sector and look forward to the completion and implementation of the World Bank's Clean Energy Investment Framework and underline that it should give increased attention to improving access to energy services. We encourage the World Bank Group to explore strengthening the existing instruments and evaluate the potential of new instruments to tackle the problem of energy poverty. We welcome the agreement reached on replenishing the Global Environment Facility which can serve as a major tool for developing access to clean energy.

  6. We will explore opportunities to intensify our aid efforts to alleviate energy poverty and encourage bilateral and multilateral donors to scale up their assistance in this area. We reaffirm the role of the IMF's Exogenous Shocks Facility in helping poor countries that face higher energy prices and invite further financial contributions. We support the activities of the Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP), which seeks to increase access to modern energy. We welcome Russia's decision to join other donors by contributing US$30 million to the GVEP in order to scale up its work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

What one can say of this statement? I would urge all liberals on this site to think of it. How once again liberal phraseology was used to mask imperialist intentions, protecting Exxon Mobile, BP and other multinationals to rob wealth of indeginious hapless people around the world. About hypocracy of European and American liberals who wish to suck blood of third world countries as neocons openly declare.
When liberals realise that exploitation of third world by their companies and governements is the crime against humanity?    
Here is the link to interesting article:
Shoot the Leningrad Cowboys: G8 for Dummies about G8 protests.

Comments >> (2 comments)

New bullsh*t about Russia from NYT

by FarEasterner Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 01:26:59 AM EST

While Western media cheifs castigated Putin in Kremlin
their servants like Andrew E. Kramer from NYT quietly continue malpractice of distorting Russian reality.
Let's have a look at his article:

As China Makes Strides, Russia Stumbles Out of the Stock Offering Gate

AT the start of the year, Russian companies had high hopes of raising billions of dollars in stock offerings, tapping into investors' zeal for emerging markets. Twenty-five initial public offerings were planned -- nearly twice the number of 2005.

Then, reality started to hit.

Russia's state oil company Rosneft started the year with an announcement that it planned to raise $20 billion in a stock offering, in what would have been the largest such offering in corporate history after NTT DoCoMo telecommunications company's $18 billion offer in 1998. But the Rosneft offering is now expected to be closer to $10 billion when it finally comes to market next month.

Who said Rosneft should offer more than it needs? For purchase of 10% of Gazprom last year it raised 7.5 bln dollars. This sum will be easily reached.

In April, Morgan Stanley backed out of a stock deal for Cherkizovo Group, a meat processing company, in a dispute over the company's worth.

To it's own chagrin. Cherkizovo easily raised almost 1 bln dollars on domestic market. Really expensive sausages. Any suggestions where Rosneft will get more money - in Russia or in London?

Then, just last week, CTC Media Inc., a network of television stations, became the first Russian company to list on Nasdaq -- but only after reducing its asking price to $14, below the $16 to $18 range recommended by Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, the two underwriters. The stock closed at $17.40 yesterday after reaching as high as $18.75 during the day.

This is difficult to interpret as a failure.

The setbacks give the appearance of a wholesale Russian retrenchment rather than a retreat by one or two troubled companies.

This is very biased and misleading assumption.

Russia's stumbling contrasts with its emerging market rival, China. On the same day of CTC Media's trading debut, the Bank of China raised $9.7 billion in the world's biggest share offering in six years.

The shortfalls suggest that Russian companies are going public too early, for the wrong reasons, or are valuing their shares too high, critics say. Investors have also raised questions about the lack of transparency in accounting at some Russian companies and the shortfalls in corporate governance standards.

This winter, for example, RosUkrEnergo, an offshore energy trader handling Gazprom's deals with Turkmenistan and Ukraine, improbably said that it would go public -- though it is so secretive it has no listed telephone number.

Then, last month, an article in Forbes magazine quoted the chairman of the board of Kuzbassrazrezugol, a Siberian coal company with a stated goal of going public, explaining his management practices. They included threatening employees with death.

In the case of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company that was a beneficiary of property taken from Yukos in a politically tinged tax dispute in 2004, the threat of lawsuits by Yukos shareholders has reduced enthusiasm, though the oil operator controls nearly as much reserves as Exxon Mobil.

What has offshore RosUkrenergo, operating in Ukraine and Turkmenistan in common with Russian IPOs - ask NYT.
Argument about Kuzbassugol is simply ridiculous. It's western companies who intimidate their workers with death threats and death squads. In USA trade unions have persistently been facing massive police and criminal repressions. Remember Al Capone's source of money? Right, American government and big business.  
The Rosneft is Russian company operating in Russia and I did not hear about any lawsuits against it from Yukos shareholders in Russia.

By the end of this year, 25 Russian companies will probably have held public offerings, up from 13 last year and 6 in 2004, according to a study by Ilya V. Sherbovich, director of investment banking at Deutsche Bank in Moscow.

In the entire preceding decade after the breakup of the Soviet Union, only 13 Russian companies held initial public offerings.

This passage again contradicts with intention of author.

Among emerging market economies, Russia was in eighth place last year in number of initial stock offerings, behind Israel and Poland. But measured by the value of stock issued, Russia, with $5.2 billion, was in second place behind China, with $19.4 billion, according to the report.

This year, Russian offerings are expected to yield $17.5 billion, closing in on China, though much depends on what happens with Rosneft's offering.

This is conclusion. Again Russian companies are expected to raise record money from their IPO's what NYT beloved marketistas like Chubais and Gaidar and Yavlinsky could not acheive (2nd place right after China).
It's a shame that NYT readers have to read such anecdotic crap every day.

Comments >> (4 comments)

Hot Summer for Mr Bush

by FarEasterner Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 12:33:01 AM EST

Bush II administration has unenviable position this summer. It has to decide how to clip rivals' (Putin, Chavez...) wings, to handle Iran nuclear program, to make oil cheaper, to stabilize stock and financial markets, to cope with growing criticism at home, to prepare Congress reelection, et cetera.
Any ideas on future course of events are welcome.  

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