Saturday, November 26, 2011

Walmart Invades India

See how the CORRUPT Govt. of India Collaborates with Corporate LOOTERS to destroy the PEOPLE's ECONOMY?

Walmart Invades India

See how CORRUPT Govts. collaborate with Corporate LOOTERS to destroy what has the potential to become a PEOPLE's Economy in the world's largest democracy?

The Indian Government has never helped its farmers or its small retailers, the two largest sectors of the Indian economy.

Now India's govt. bends over backwards to give favorable terms to the world's largest corporation.

Walmart withdrew its operations from Germany because, the German govt.'s antitrust lawyers would not allow Walmart to undercut prices charged by local retailers. Or to remain open long hours, because of Germany's worker protection laws.

While Walmart operates in 27 countries besides the U.S. it does not have stores in ANY of the following countries that have a high UN Human Development Index (HDI) -- Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, France

In contrast Walmart has made headway in Africa.

In the U.S. Walmart has not (yet) succeeded in bringing its operations into New York City! A recent study showed that New York city would lose jobs and hurt small retailers.

If Walmart cannot enter the NYC business arena why does it receive landing rights in India?

The India of Gandhi's highly pragmatic ideal of local self-reliant sustainability deserves a more ethical government and more ethical business practices.

Neither India's govt nor Walmart meets the Gandhian standard

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Predatory Capitalism -- the 21st century U.S. type

Predatory Capitalism -- the 21st century U.S. type

Predatory Capitalism -- the 21st century US type -- is represented by the US Corporate-Military-Govt complex (CMG).

US Govt. manipulation of the market to protect the 1% vs. the 99% , had led to this problem. Now, we have become Occupiers like our govt at home and overseas!

Let us be careful, 99%.

I blame the US govt. rather than Goldman Sachs, for creating and expanding this monstrous problem.

By Govt. I mean BOTH houses of Congress and the White House.
My Govt. is acting in cohesion with their fellow corporate 1%ers, to benefit themselves and each other -- the 1% --, while pretending to have opposite views, while pretending to represent the Greater Collective Good (GCG) of We the 99%.

So it's the GCG of the 99% vs. the CMG of the 1%.

You and I did NOT elect Goldman Sachs.

You and I elected the US Govt.

In democracy we elect govts. not corporates.

So what does the US GOVT. do? The US govt. uses and abuses my ballot to act against me, a member of the 99%.

Demonizing GS, while temporarily useful, even just to vent our collective rage, will not help us to fully understand and completely overhaul, step by step, the US Corporate-Military-Govt. complex (CMG).

EVERY, yes EVERY, institution or formation, including the academy, army, business, under the US model of PREDATORY CAPITALISM, is controlled and managed by a 1% that acts against the 99%.

The academy has its 1% that produces a 2-tier system of inequality in education.

The army has its 1% that sends poor young people to war to kill other poor people else

You and I are reduced to commodities.

You and I are sows' ears futures to be traded in a commodities market for predatory gain by the 1%!

We the 99% are fighting back as hard as we can to reclaim our human capacity and dignity and our claim to a Fair Share.

Let us not become the 1%.

Throughout history, Rebels became Tyrants.

Let us be careful, steadfast, truthful, caring, 99%.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Opportunistic Obama

Opportunistic Obama

The U.S. President is both politically pragmatic and politically opportunistic.

He knows he can't win in 2012 on the Economy because of his abysmal, dismal performance on JOBS. That is a campaign promise he made but did not keep. Instead he prioritized Healthcare. If you don't have a job can you pay for healthcare?

So today, Obama's trying to capture the anti-war, anti-GREED, peace and unity vote that has coalesced at OWS -- Occupy Wall Street.


I feel relieved the USCIA is supposedly planning to get out of Iraq.

USCIA -- Get out of South Asia too.

Enough already.

Get out already.
NYTimes copyright
by Mark Lander


My sign at OWS!
Be there.

The Occupation

Personal Accountability+Collective Responsibility = Ethical Democracy

see YOU at OWS!

Be there, YOU ARE the Movement against Corporate, Military & Govt. GREED.

YOU are the Movement for Equality of Strength & Power.

Be there.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Friday, October 21, 2011

Does Occupy Wall Street Endorse Religion?

Ethical Values that benefit Humanity and promote the GREATER COLLECTIVE GOOD ***neither need nor require religion to bolster such universal human values***.
Organized Religion frequently undermines Ethical HUMAN Values that promote Redistributive JUSTICE and advance the GREATER COLLECTIVE GOOD (GCG).
Occupy Wall Street -- One Breath at a Time.

Breath is a pre-religious activity of all species and living beings -- Breath!
Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Rockets' Red Glare -- from Pak Against the US!

The Rockets' Red Glare -- from Pak Against the US!
The USCIA manipulated Pakistan's military and govt for 60+ years, since the early 50's, the US got Pakistan to fight its US-invented Cold War, trained terrorists on Pakistan and Afghan sovereign soil.
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan's internally weak post-colonial governments took the US bait but also engaged in war profiteering and terror against their own people.

These US-initiated marriages were headed, from the word go, for Divorce Court, way way before the PAKISI and its proxy, the Haqqani,started firing the rockets on US posts (read occupation), mentioned in your article.

You sow what you reap, US.
Ditto Pak and Afghanistan.

In India, we did not allow one US soldier to set foot on Indian soil. We stayed out of your fabricated Cold War. We maintained cordial relations with both the US and the Soviets, and signed a strategic "treaty of friendship and cooperation" with the Soviets while building a vibrant democracy based on our own Gandhi-led liberation struggle.

See the resulting difference?
Learn from this, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The USCIA will not.
New York Times copyright

Thursday, October 13, 2011

OCCUPY Wall Street -- or somewhere close to it

Occupy Wall Street -- or somewhere close to it.
So I went downtown today in a light drizzle to check out the Occupy Wall Street activities. The US govt OCCUPIED Iraq & Afghanistan, now the American PEOPLE, or at least a disgruntled few hundreds, are daily occupying Wall Street.

Well not exactly Wall Street -- but close to it.
Zucotti Park to be precise, several blocks down and over. Those of us who actually are the 99%, who have been cheated by the banks and defrauded by the Govt. who stole our money and bailed out the financial houses, not just the banks.

At Zucotti, there's a lot of singing, dancing and free food. Blue tarps cover sleeping protesters and their belongings. Lots of banners and placards and flyers ranging from American Indian issues to the World Socialist Movement.

What's missing? I wish Zucotti had a Discussion Tent, where people could gather in small, decentralized groups to try to understand the many complex interrelated issues and then take the action back to their neighborhoods and to DC.

My sense is you can't talk about greed and corruption without aiming at those rabid Republicans and Tea Partiers who have just defeated Obama's Jobs Bill.

Regrettably, Obama offered TLTL -- Too Little Too Late -- he did not come up with ANY Job Action in his first 90 days in office, instead here he is,3 years later, 3 years too late, trying to get a Jobs Bill passed, in the heat of a re-election bid against those same Republicans. Good luck with that, hocus POTUS.
Yeah Yeah you will be re-elected because your opposition borders on suicidal lunacy or at the very least cynically simplistic solutions.

But to return to the Occupiers. Mainly they seemed to be feeling the moment and zen-like, were in the moment. Hope the moment can stretch and gain depth. That's essential.

Q. How did Zucotti ever become a PRIVATE Park, right off Broadway? I was shocked to research and discover that Brookfield Properties owns it.

Property IS Theft from the 99%.
Privatizing PUBLIC spaces, especially scarce green spaces, is THEFT of Public Resources, by the 1%, from the 99%.

Interestingly, Mayor Bloomberg's girlfriend, Diana Taylor, is on the Board of Directors of Brookfield Properties. She is a high-flying capitalist, who is shrewd enough to makeexcessive piles of money, access power, move with the movers and shake with the shakers, and then also sit on the boards of a fistful of PUBLIC-spirited non-profits, how shrewd is that.

So, is that why the Mayor came down yesterday to tell the Occupiers that they are ordered to vacate "temporarily" so the Park can be cleaned? Actually, it's relatively clean and well-maintained, today it's raining so Nature is cleaning as well, I saw Occupiers wielding brooms.

So my guess is the Mayor had a motive which had little to do with Lysol.

Help we really really need a cleaning crew during a Revolution! After we've been cleaned OUT already.

Wall Street, the street itself was pretty much cordoned off, lots of police and barricades, no singing, dancing, free food and overnight sleepers there. A union Local of building workers was protesting today with banners and a bullhorn, they repeated somewhat robotically "We are the 99%."

The bankers undoubtedly have central a/c, so could they hear the noisy % claim?

Then I walked over to Broadway and Morris to observe the famed Bull of high capitalism. I note he has surprisingly modest testicles. NYPD was guarding him while impressed tourists took pictures of themselves posing with him.

I asked a cop, Officer Feliciano, while leaning against a barricade and taking in the rock band, back again at Zocotti:

"How long do you figure this will last?"

He looked at his watch with a grin "Till tomorrow -- or maybe till it turns cold."

That's at least 3 months away.

Dr. Chithra Karunakaran
City University of New York [CUNY]
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

Monday, October 10, 2011

Infant & Child Rape in Sierra Leone

Infant and Child Rape in Sierra Leone . Do UN Women UNICEF or UNIFEM interact directly with UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) to REDUCE/Eliminate the rape o finfants and children? There are so many UN agencies and so little coordination among them, to the extreme and unacceptable point that this issue of Infant and Child Rape is being insufficiently addressed.

Do whatever it takes, UN agencies,especially the women-focused UN Agencies, you have the resources, you have the access, now show you have the guts to do the job you are paid to do.

Q. What Can UN Women do to overturn this horror?
A. UN Women must use their status-conscious, safe, comfortable UN jobs to ACT, not just talk endlessly. Earn your salary and perks, UN Women! You are a very privileged group that is employed by the UN out of my salary, as a citizen of a member-state. We ordinary folks from all the member countries, pay you UN folks. from our wages to ensure your salaries and perks and lifestyle.
***Infant & Child RAPE in Sierra Leone***

Sunday, October 9, 2011

China Manipulates its Currency to Cheat Workers Everywhere

China's Currency Manipulation Cheats Workers Everywhere
by Chithra KarunaKaran on Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 4:11am

China's Currency Manipulation hurts the world's workers and small businesses.

China's currency manipulation cheats workers in EVERY country, including China.

Yesterday the Dalai Lama called China's totalitarian rulers "liars" and "hypocrites" in the context of South Africa (China's largest trading partner and newest member of BRICS) refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama on the occasion of fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday. Presumably, South Africa was fearful of China's disapproval.

Here's the point however -- Whether it is Human Rights abuses or manipulating its currency value at the expense of workers and small businesses everywhere, China leads!

For China, Performing as Sweatshop Nation to the World is finally beginning to expose its ugly downside.

None of the BRICS, India included, have spoken out against China's artificial lowering of the value of its yuan.

Great for China, bad for workers everywhere, bad for small businesses everywhere, very profitable for bankers, multinational corporations and fat cat Republican legislators in the US Congress.

Why has the US Congress taken so long to wake up to China's faux role in the world economy?
Why has currency manipulation by China been tolerated by the US for so long?

Because America's biggest businesses have profited and made Republicans richer? While small businesses in the US have suffered and millions of Americans are jobless or underemployed?

Those who are occupying Wall Street in my city of New York need to add China's currency manipulation to their manifesto against bankers and multinationals.

China's rulers are unethical.
The US Govt, especially House and Senate Republicans, through delaying action against China, is also unethical.

The time is now for the renminbi to reflect the actual value of the yuan, and if the Chinese keep balking on upward revision, through punitive action against China for cheating workers and small businesses everywhere.

the Hill copyright
Ignoring Chinese currency manipulation costs America jobs

By Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) - 10/03/11 06:44 PM ET

In the 15 months since China announced that it would float its currency, the renminbi (RMB) has appreciated a paltry 6 percent against the U.S. dollar, well below what economists say it should. In fact, according to one reputable estimate, the RMB is still 28 percent below its true value.

The impact on America is clear. The currency manipulation by China costs at least 1 million American jobs, according to Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Bergsten has said it “is by far the largest protectionist measure adopted by any country since the Second World War — and probably in all of history.” Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman estimates that the cost of China’s action is closer to 1.5 million jobs.

As our manufacturers compete with Chinese companies to produce the products of the 21st century — from solar panels to battery cells — currency manipulation is one of the most egregious tools China is using to give its exporters an upper hand.

Yet in the face of compelling evidence for action, Republican leaders have offered no plans to bring up the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act that I reintroduced this year together with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Republican Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. The bill is designed to rein in China’s currency manipulation and has more than 200 co-sponsors. A virtually identical bill passed the House a year ago with support from the majorities of both parties.

What’s more, the Senate is preparing to act on legislation this week that includes the central components of the House bill.

Meanwhile, China continues to purchase U.S. Treasury bills in order to leverage its currency and maintain its low value. Combined, the practices artificially lower the cost of imported Chinese products and increase the cost of American exports to China.

The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 639) would allow countervailing import duties for U.S. industries that are injured by the undervalued RMB. The Commerce Department, as a result of the legislation, would have the authority to impose import tariffs to offset the negative consequences of China’s undervalued currency. The bill reverses a current Commerce Department practice that has precluded it from treating foreign government currency practices as an export subsidy while also directing the department on how to measure subsidies provided to foreign producers through currency undervaluation.

Overall, the measure could help reduce our trade deficit by $200 billion.

Our nation’s workers and businesses deserve a level international playing field, and this measure provides concrete action to help make that a reality. With 14 million Americans still looking for work, it is far past time that Republican leaders took up legislation that has a history of bipartisan support and will help strengthen the hands of American workers and businesses.

There is no excuse for inaction. The specter of a “trade war” has been raised by opponents, as it is so often used against action. It masks the fact that there is economic competition — indeed, a battle — among nations and it is unwise to let the other nation refuse to abide by long-ago-developed international rules to help prevent trade wars, including rules against currency manipulation.

House Republican leaders argue that the focus should be on other Chinese practices, relating to lack of protection of intellectual property and technology transfer requirements. We should be pursuing action on all fronts — instead of playing one off against another — especially since there has been no legislative action by the House majority on any.

Levin is the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee.
AP copyright
WASHINGTON — In one of Capitol Hill’s longest running battles, opponents of China’s trade policies have used threats, negotiation, protests from small American businesses and even the occasional Peking duck dinner in a failed effort to stop China from manipulating its currency.
Enlarge This Image
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
Lindsey Graham, left, and Charles E. Schumer proposed a tariff on Chinese goods.

After eight years, that campaign is on the verge of a breakthrough, as the Senate appeared ready Thursday to approve a get-tough approach that had stalled numerous times before: a bill to punish China with high tariffs on some exports if it fails to adopt a market-driven exchange rate.

Economists say China’s artificially cheap currency has cost the United States jobs and billions in lost trade. But opponents of tariffs, including major manufacturers doing business in China, warn that penalizing China could start a trade war that would hurt American businesses even more.

“We’re already in a trade war,” Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who has led the push for tariffs, said in an interview. “We can’t afford to just do nothing. This is a message to China that the jig is finally up.”

The American jobless problem have combined to give the tariff proposal newfound momentum, as the Senate spent much of the afternoon Thursday debating it.

Supporters, casting the measure as a way to spur job growth, were confident the Senate would approve it. Even the measure’s fiercest opponents were grudgingly predicting passage in the Senate, and probably the House.

But 11-hour resistance by leading Republicans has clouded the outcome in the House, where the speaker, John A. Boehner, this week called the tariff plan “dangerous,” and it is unclear if the issue will even come up for a House vote.

China itself voiced strong objections this week and charged that meddling by the United States in Chinese currency violated world trade protocols. The Chinese Embassy has retained one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying shops, Patton Boggs, to represent its interests for $420,000 a year.

Lobbyists for General Motors, Caterpillar, steel producers, textile manufacturers, toy makers, poultry farmers and other businesses have also weighed in, supporting or opposing the tariffs depending on their own business relations with China.

Generally, large manufacturers like Caterpillar that operate in China have opposed it, warning of a backlash. Smaller businesses, like a tube maker in Ohio or a ceramics maker in upstate New York, have supported tariffs because they say China has artificially lowered its prices and gained an unfair edge.

While the Chinese renminbi has risen 6 percent against the dollar since China loosened currency controls last year, economists say it is still vastly undervalued. Meanwhile, China’s trade surplus with the United States stands at $273 billion — more than triple the gap a decade earlier.

In Senate testimony this week, the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, went so far as to link China’s undervaluing of its currency to the slow economic recovery worldwide.

“The Chinese currency policy is blocking that process,” Mr. Bernanke testified. “And so it is to some extent hurting the recovery process.”

The Obama administration, however, has been noncommittal about the tariff proposal.

At a news conference on Thursday, President Obama would not say whether he would veto the bill it if it passed, but he raised concerns.

On the one hand, he said, “China has been very aggressive in gaming the trading system to its advantage,” and “it is indisputable that they intervene heavily in the currency markets.”

But he cautioned that he did not want to see the World Trade Organization strike down any steps the United States might take. “Then suddenly U.S. companies are subject to a whole bunch of sanctions,” Mr. Obama said.

Both supporters and opponents of the tariffs see the outcome as hugely significant financially and politically.
Page 2 of 2)

That was evident this week when the Club for Growth, a conservative free-market advocate that has led opposition to the bill, warned lawmakers that a vote supporting tariffs “will count heavily as an antigrowth action” on the group’s Congressional “scorecard,” which helps determine the group’s level of support.
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Club for Growth’s political muscle is already being felt. In the House, 99 Republicans supported a tariff plan last year. But after the club intensified its opposition, Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who favors tariffs, complained this week that “all of a sudden you can’t get a lick of Republican support.”

Early in the week, Chris Chocola, a former congressman who leads the Club for Growth, was pessimistic about chances of stopping the bill.

“It’s not politically expedient to defend China, so you won’t find many who will do that in words or deeds,” he said.

By midweek, after sharply critical remarks from Mr. Boehner on Tuesday, Mr. Chocola’s outlook had brightened.

“I give Boehner a lot of credit,” he said. “He clearly doesn’t want to bring it to the floor. And we’re trying to do everything we can to prevent it from getting to the floor.”

The maneuvering reflected the stops and starts on the issue as a whole since 2003, when Mr. Schumer and Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, first proposed a 27.5 percent tariff on Chinese goods.

The two senators visited China in 2005 to press economic officials there to allow their currency to rise to market rates. They were greeted with a high-level banquet at the Great Hall of the People — Mr. Schumer pronounced the Chinese dishes “extraordinary” — and by China’s assurances that it would begin liberalizing monetary policies and allowing market forces to determine values.

The United States saw some early signs of improvement, but progress stalled. The Bush administration, after avoiding confrontations with China for years on the issue, took it to the World Trade Organization in 2007 over trade barriers.

The United States imposed tariffs on Chinese tires in 2009, and China followed the next year with steep tariffs on American poultry imports. Tariff opponents see the tit-for-tat as a small-scale version of the kind of trade wars they predict will break out en masse if the current plan becomes law.

“Every time we engage in protectionist behavior,” Mr. Chocola said, “bad things happen.”
NYTimes copyright
As Its Economy Sprints Ahead, China’s People Are Left Behind

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times
A shopkeeper napping on a busy shopping street in Jilin. While Western companies look at China as a potentially huge market, consumers in Jilin and other heartland cities mostly settle for what state-run department stores and mom-and-pop shops offer.
Published: October 9, 2011
JILIN CITY, China — Wang Jianping and his wife, Shue, are a relatively affluent Chinese couple, with an annual household income of $16,000 — more than double the national average for urban families.
Endangered Dragon
The Price of Growth
This is the second in a series of articles examining China’s system of government-managed capitalism and the potential weaknesses that could threaten the nation’s remarkable economic growth.
China’s Reluctant Consumers

Enlarge This Image

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times
Yang Yang and her son, Guo Liming. To save money, Ms. Yang, her husband and son recently moved in with her parents.
They own a modest, three-bedroom apartment here in this northeastern industrial city. They paid for their son to study electrical engineering at prestigious Tsinghua University, in Beijing. And even by frugal Asian standards, they are prodigious savers, with $50,000 in a state-run bank.
But like many other Chinese families, the Wangs feel pressed. They do not own a car, and they rarely go shopping or out to eat. That is because the value of their nest egg is shrinking, through no fault of their own.
Under an economic system that favors state-run banks and companies over wage earners, the government keeps the interest rate on savings accounts so artificially low that it cannot keep pace with China’s rising inflation. At the same time, other factors in which the government plays a role — a weak social safety net, depressed wages and soaring home prices — create a hoarding impulse that compels many people to keep saving anyway, against an uncertain future.
Indeed, economists say this nation’s decade of remarkable economic growth, led by exports and government investment in big projects like China’s high-speed rail network, has to a great extent been underwritten by the household savings — not the spending — of the country’s 1.3 billion people.
This system, which some experts refer to as state capitalism, depends on the transfer of wealth from Chinese households to state-run banks, government-backed corporations and the affluent few who are well enough connected to benefit from the arrangement.
Meanwhile, striving middle-class families like the Wangs are unable to enjoy the full fruits of China’s economic miracle.
“This is the foundation of the whole system,” said Carl E. Walter, a former J. P. Morgan executive who is co-author of “Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise.”
“The banks make loans to who the Communist Party tells them to,” Mr. Walter said. “So they punish the household savers in favor of the state-owned companies.”
It is not just China’s problem. Economists say that for China to continue serving as one of the world’s few engines of economic growth, it will need to cultivate a consumer class that buys more of the world’s products and services, and shares more fully in the nation’s wealth.
But rather than rising, China’s consumer spending has actually plummeted in the last decade as a portion of the overall economy, to about 35 percent of gross domestic product, from about 45 percent. That figure is by far the lowest percentage for any big economy anywhere in the world. (Even in the sleepwalking American economy, the level is about 70 percent of G.D.P.)
Unless China starts giving its own people more spending power, some experts warn, the nation could gradually slip into the slow-growth malaise that now afflicts the United States, Europe and Japan. Already this year, China’s economic growth rate has begun to cool off.
“This growth model is past its sell-by date,” says Michael Pettis, a professor of finance at Peking University and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “If China is going to continue to grow, this system will have to change. They’re going to have to stop penalizing households.”
The Communist Party, in its latest five-year plan, has promised to bolster personal consumption. But doing so would risk undermining a pillar of the country’s current financial system: the household savings that support the government-run banks.
Here in Jilin City, where chemical manufacturing is the dominant industry, the state banks are flush with money from savings accounts. The banks use that money to make low-interest loans to corporate beneficiaries — including real estate developers, helping fuel a speculative property bubble that has raised housing prices beyond the reach of many consumers. It is a dynamic that has played out in dozens of cities throughout China.
As Its Economy Sprints Ahead, China’s People Are Left Behind
Published: October 9, 2011
(Page 2 of 3)
Meanwhile, China’s central bank in Beijing also depends on the nation’s vast pool of consumer savings to help finance its big investments in the foreign exchange markets, as a way to keep the currency artificially weak. The weak currency helps sustain China’s mighty export economy by lowering the global price of Chinese goods. But it also makes imports unaffordable for many Chinese people.
Enlarge This Image

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times
Wang Shue and her husband live frugally and put much of their income into savings.
Endangered Dragon
The Price of Growth
This is the second in a series of articles examining China’s system of government-managed capitalism and the potential weaknesses that could threaten the nation’s remarkable economic growth.
China’s Reluctant Consumers

Enlarge This Image

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times
Left, a billboard announcing Jilin Fortune Plaza, a real estate project in Jilin, China. Local governments have come to view such projects as a source of easy riches.
News reports of the nouveaux riches in Beijing and Shanghai snapping up Apple iPhones, Gucci bags and Rolex watches may conjure Western business dreams of China’s becoming the world’s biggest consumer market. But consumer choice here in Jilin and many other heartland cities is confined largely to the limited offerings of dingy state-run department stores and mom-and-pop shops. Any sales of global “brands” come mainly in the form of the counterfeits and knockoffs often sold at outdoor markets.
On a recent weekday at the Henan Street flea market, crowds sifted through stacks of clothes that included $3 T-shirts with images of Minnie Mouse and $5 imitation Nike sports jerseys. Just a few yards away, an authentic Nike store selling the real thing for $35 had nary a shopper. Because consumers have so little spending power, many global-brand companies do not even bother to open stores in cities like Jilin.
With the faltering economies of the United States, Europe and Japan limiting China’s ability to continue relying on growth through exports, the Chinese government knows the importance of giving its own consumers more buying power. Already, the central government has pushed to raise rural incomes and has even offered subsidies to buy cars and household appliances.
The question is whether the government can change its entrenched economic system enough to truly make a difference. “The central government is committed to increasing the share of consumption in G.D.P.,” says Li Daokui, a professor of economics at Tsinghua University and a longtime government adviser. “The issue is what is going to be the means.”
Frugality Born
Of Necessity
If China is to make consumer spending a much larger share of the economy, it will need to encourage big changes in the habits of people like Mr. Wang, 52, a highway design specialist, and Ms. Wang, also 52, who retired as an accountant seven years ago because of health problems.
“We’re quite traditional,” says Ms. Wang, who draws a pension. “We don’t like to spend tomorrow’s money today.”
But tomorrow’s money may not be worth as much as today’s — not as long as their savings account earns only a 3 percent interest rate while inflation lopes along at 6 percent or more.
Yet the Wangs see no good alternatives to stashing nearly two-thirds of their monthly income in the bank. They are afraid to invest in China’s notoriously volatile stock market. And Chinese law sharply limits their ability to invest overseas or otherwise send money outside the country.
Nor do the Wangs feel flush or daring enough to join the real estate speculation that some Chinese now see as one of the few ways to get a return on their money — risky as that might prove if the bubble bursts.
Mainly, like many in China, the Wangs save because they worry about soaring food prices and the high cost of health care, which the People’s Republic no longer fully provides. They also worry about whether they can afford to buy a home for their son, a cost that Chinese parents are expected to bear when their male children marry.
“If you have a daughter, it’s not so expensive,” Wang Shue said. “But with a son you have to save money.”
Housing prices have become crucial in pushing up savings rates. Here, too, analysts say government policies are shifting wealth away from households.
In the case of the Wangs, they are being forced to move to make way for a new real estate development authorized by municipal authorities — the sort of project that local governments throughout China have come to regard as an easy source of riches.
Although the Wangs and other current residents have received some cash compensation for the apartments they are leaving, the Jilin City government has sold the land to a developer that plans to demolish the current dwellings and erect a new complex with more, and more expensive, apartments.
(Page 3 of 3)
The Wangs are not sure they will be able to find a home comparable to their current apartment from the money they are being paid. But the developer and the local government are expected jointly to earn a profit of more than $50 million.
Endangered Dragon
The Price of Growth
This is the second in a series of articles examining China’s system of government-managed capitalism and the potential weaknesses that could threaten the nation’s remarkable economic growth.
China’s Reluctant Consumers

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Averting a Crisis,
But Forming a Habit
Why would China, which hopes eventually to surpass the United States as the world’s biggest economy, deliberately suppress the consumer market that might help it reach that goal?
Some analysts trace the current policies to habits formed in the late 1990s. That’s when the bloat of China’s giant, uncompetitive state-run corporations nearly brought China’s economic expansion to a standstill. Suddenly, with state-owned companies facing bankruptcy, the state banks were saddled with hundreds of billions of dollars in nonperforming loans; many banks faced insolvency.
To avert a crisis, Beijing allowed state-owned companies to lay off tens of millions of workers. In 1999 just one of those companies, the parent of PetroChina, a big oil conglomerate, announced the layoff of a million employees. And to shore up the banks, Beijing assumed tighter control over interest rates, which included sharply lowering the effective rates paid to depositors. A passbook account that might have earned 3 percent in 2002, after inflation, would today be effectively losing 3 to 5 percent, once inflation is factored in.
That is how Chinese banks can provide extremely cheap financing to state-owned companies while still recording huge profits. It has also helped the banks provide easy financing for big public works projects, which besides the high-speed train system have included the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the monumental Three Gorges Dam.
It was during this same period that the Communist government discarded the longstanding “iron rice bowl” promise of lifelong employment and state care. Beijing shifted more of the high costs of social services — including housing, education and medical care — onto households and the private sector.
Together, these measures added up to the managed-market system now known as state capitalism. They worked so well that they not only helped resuscitate China’s failing banks and state companies, but also fueled the nation’s economic boom for more than a decade. But the system also took an enormous economic toll on personal pocketbooks.
“We’d like to spend, but we really have nothing left over after paying the bills,” said Yang Yang, 34, a school administrator who lives in Jilin City with her husband, a police officer, and their son, 10. “Even though our son goes to a public school, we need to pay fees for after-school courses, which everyone is expected to take. Almost every family will do this. So there’s a lot of pressure on us to do it, too.” To save money, Ms. Yang, her husband and son recently moved in with her parents.
Nicholas R. Lardy, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, calculates that the government policies exacted a hidden tax on Chinese households that amounted to about $36 billion in 2008 alone — or about 4 percent of China’s gross domestic product. Over the last decade, Mr. Lardy says, that figure probably amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars — money that banks essentially took from consumers’ hands.
The distortions may have actually cost households far more, because his figures do not include hidden costs like artificially high prices for imports.
For many Chinese economists, the state capitalism that helped jump-start growth has become counterproductive.
“China is already beyond the point where the law of diminishing returns starts biting,” said Xu Xiaonian, an economist who teaches at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai.
Mr. Xu argues that China risks repeating the mistakes Japan made in the 1980s and early 1990s, when it relied too long on a predominantly export economy, neglected domestic markets and allowed real estate prices to soar. Since Japan’s bubble burst in the mid-1990s, its economy has never really recovered.
“If we don’t change, we will follow those same footsteps,” Mr. Xu said. “We have already seen the early signs of what we might call the Japanese disease. China invests more and more, but those investments generate less and less growth.”
A Radical Overhaul,
But Within Reach
Some economists predict major changes, noting that the Chinese government has the cash and the power to alter course as drastically as it did in the late ’90s, this time in the people’s favor.
“China has faced more daunting challenges in the past,” said Wei Shangjin, a professor at the Columbia Business School. “I don’t doubt that they want to do it. The question is, Can they successfully engineer such a major restructuring of the economy?”
Certainly, multinationals like McDonald’s, Nike and Procter & Gamble are still betting billions of dollars that China will grow into the world’s biggest consumer market within a few decades.
But raising consumption will require a radical overhaul of the Chinese economy — not just weaning state banks off household subsidies but forcing state-run firms to pay much higher borrowing rates. It would also mean letting the currency rise closer to whatever value it might naturally reach. It would mean, in other words, a significant dismantling of the state capitalism that has enabled China to come so far so fast. “To get consumption to surge,” said Mr. Pettis, the Peking University lecturer, “you need to stop taking money from the household sector.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dalai Lama Criticizes China's Totalitarian Govt. for Censorship

The Dali Lama is a contemporary icon of nonviolence and peace. The entire world knows him.
For China, to put pressure on South Africa to deny a Nobel Peace Laureate a chance to visit with his fellow Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu shows how petty, cynical and coercive China's rulers are.

[I say -- Boycott Chinese goods to the extent possible, if you and I have the same willpower and courage. Note the Dalai Lama wisely, for the sake of the Tibetan People and for the Govt and People of India has not called for such an action. But it is up to us to act.]

Bravo India Govt and India's people for giving safe haven to the Dalai and exiled Tibetans since the late 50's. The India Govt did not (yet) censor Dalai Lama's remarks.

That is what makes India a democracy, following the Gandhian path despite many continuing flaws and failings.

Q. Which nation-state has shown that degree of courage as well as diplomatic acumen against a more powerful and aggressive neighbor?

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
Dalai Lama criticizes China in S.African address
By DONNA BRYSON - Associated Press | AP – 3 hrs ago


Related Content

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, second left back, listen during a live video …

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, sitting at left, speaks during a live video …

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Dalai Lama on Saturday sharply criticized China, which is accused of blocking him from traveling to South Africa to celebrate Archbishop Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday.

The Tibetan spiritual leader spoke with Tutu and answered questions via a video link, instead of attending an event honoring South Africa's anti-apartheid hero a day after his birthday. Tutu asked the Dalai Lama why the global giant and South Africa's main trade partner China feared his fellow Nobel peace laureate.

The Dalai Lama, sitting in a room decorated with orchids and silk hangings in his home in exile in India, was playful at first. He said communist propaganda portrayed him as a demon, as he raised his index fingers to his temples.

"Yes, I have horns," he said, drawing laughter from Tutu and others watching him on a video screen at the University of the Western Cape, near Cape Town. The encounter was streamed live on the Internet, but not broadcast by South African state television as had been expected.

The Dalai Lama said for communist officials and those in other totalitarian systems, "telling lies has unfortunately become part of their lives." He said he made Chinese officials "uncomfortable" because he tells the truth.

He added the Chinese people should be able to hear his views and judge for themselves.

"Censorship is immoral," he said.

He also called for legal reforms in China.

"The Chinese judiciary system must raise up to international law standards," he said.

The Dalai Lama earlier this week called off his South Africa visit after waiting weeks for a visa. South African officials deny they stalled because of pressure from China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist. The Dalai Lama insists he is only seeking increased autonomy for Tibet.

Tutu, often described as South Africa's conscience, had called the African National Congress-led government worse than the country's former oppressive white regime for not issuing the visa. Tutu accused the government of failing to side with "Tibetans who are being oppressed viciously by the Chinese."

South African foreign ministry officials said the visa process was delayed by problems with the timing and completeness of the application. Officials from the offices of Tutu and the Dalai Lama have denied the application was late or incomplete.

Tutu's anger appeared to have abated Saturday. For more than an hour, two old friends brought together by technology giggled and teased one another as they exchanged views on politics and spirituality.

Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his nonviolent campaign against white racist rule in South Africa. The Nobel committee recognized the Dalai Lama in 1989 for his peaceful efforts to "preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people."

The Dalai Lama said he missed seeing Tutu at international events. Tutu has traveled less since retiring from public life after his 79th birthday, but remains outspoken.

"I can see your face," the Dalai Lama said to Tutu, gazing at a monitor. "I really feel very, very happy."

The Dalai Lama said he was looking forward to Tutu's 90th birthday.

"Don't forget to send me an invitation," he said. "Then we can test your government."
NYtimes copyright Reuters opyright
Dalai Lama: China Is Built on Lies, Run by Hypocrites
Published: October 8, 2011 at 12:18 PM ET

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - China is built on lies and its officials are hypocrites, the Dalai Lama said Saturday, speaking via videophone after visa problems prevented him from joining Archbishop Desmond Tutu's birthday celebrations in South Africa.

"Some Chinese officials describe me as a demon," the Tibetan spiritual leader said to loud applause as he put his index fingers either side of his head to mimic devil's horns.

"In reality, for the communist totalitarian system ... hypocrisy (and) telling lies has unfortunately become part of their lives."

He said the Chinese government was "uncomfortable" with people who tell the truth, adding that honest people live longer and he would like to attend Tutu's 90th birthday.

"At that time, don't forget to send me an invitation ... then we can test your government," he said to Tutu in an apparent reference to his visa debacle with South African authorities.

The government's failure to allow the Dalai Lama into the country has been seen as bowing to pressure from China, South Africa's largest trading partner that pledged to invest $2.5 billion in Africa's largest economy last week.

The 80-year old Tutu retired about a year ago from most public duties but has remained a prominent figure and is still seen as a voice of integrity.

(Reporting by Shafiek Tassiem; Editing by Phumza Macanda; and Louise Ireland)

Friday, October 7, 2011

US/CIA -- Stay out of Myanmar

US/CIA -- Stay out of Myanmar

The New York Times headline is misleading or at best overly sanguine about US motives.

The Myanmarese PEOPLE, yes PEOPLE, can effect their own Change.

They have already proved they can. They know how to choose their own leaders.

For the US this is an opportunity to appear they are promoting democracy, but in fact trying to gain strategic depth in South Asia, and yes to supposedly contain China.

Let South Asia and South East Asia, neighbors with common borders, negotiate their own creative, sustainable, sovereign nation-state geopolitical solutions.

US, stay out.
The argument I am making is NOT to ask the US govt. to return to an earlier unproductive policy of "isolationism."
However, a policy ff "interventionism" which is what the US has done pretty much across the world for the past 55 years is unwarranted and counterproductive.

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes article follows, their copyright

Detecting a Thaw in Myanmar, U.S. Aims to Encourage Change
Published: October 6, 2011

WASHINGTON — The United States is considering a significant shift in its long-strained relationship with the autocratic government of Myanmar, including relaxing restrictions on financial assistance and taking other steps to encourage what senior American officials describe as startling political changes in the country.
Enlarge This Image
Nyein Chan Naing/European Pressphoto Agency

Myanmar's new government has met with the opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, center.

Burmese Wary of ‘Democracy,’ After Decades of Oppression (August 26, 2011)
Times Topic: Myanmar

The American special envoy to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell, met with government and opposition leaders in Yangon last month.

The thawing, while in its early stages, follows a political transition in Myanmar after deeply flawed elections last year that nonetheless appears to have raised the possibility that the new government will ease its restrictions on basic freedoms and cooperate with the repressed opposition movement led by the Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The new president, U Thein Sein, a former general who was part of the military junta that ruled the country for two decades, has in six months in office signaled a sharp break from the highly centralized and erratic policies of the past. Mr. Thein Sein’s government is now rewriting laws on taxes and property ownership, loosening restrictions on the media and even discussing the release of political prisoners.

The apparent shift offers the United States the chance to improve ties with a resource-rich Southeast Asian nation that after many years of semi-isolation counts neighboring China as its main ally. Last week, Myanmar’s new leadership unexpectedly halted work on a $3.6 billion dam strongly backed by China, prompting angry criticism from the Chinese government and the state-owned Chinese company that was building it.

The Obama administration, though skeptical, has responded to this new openness with a series of small diplomatic steps of its own, hoping that a democratic transition in Myanmar could bring stability and greater economic opportunities to the region at a time of increasing American competition with China over influence in Asia.

“We’re going to meet their action with action,” the administration’s newly appointed special envoy to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell, said in an interview. “If they take steps, we will take steps to demonstrate that we are supportive of the path to reform.” Mr. Mitchell spent five days last month in Myanmar, meeting with senior leaders in the government and opposition. That visit was followed by two meetings in New York and Washington last week between senior State Department officials and Myanmar’s new foreign minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin.

Mr. Wunna Maung Lwin, whose travel in the United States is normally sharply restricted, was the first foreign minister from Myanmar invited to the State Department since the military junta took power.

The motivation for the changes has baffled American officials and others, but Myanmar appears eager to end its diplomatic isolation and rebuild a dysfunctional economy that has trapped the country’s population of 55 million people in poverty, which the government acknowledged for the first time in Mr. Thein Sein’s inaugural address in March.

Members of Mr. Thein Sein’s government have since met several times with Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from years of house arrest last November and whose name was so demonized by the previous junta that it was typically whispered in public. She, too, has expressed cautious support for what appears to be a political opening.

The government has also for the first time discussed with her and American officials the possibility of releasing hundreds of political prisoners, after years of denying there were any at all. The government has even assembled a list of those it is considering releasing. About 600 people are on it, though opposition leaders and diplomats say that there are nearly 2,000 political prisoners listed in a database compiled by an organization in Thailand. “We told the government we cannot accept their list,” said U Win Tin, a founding member of the National League for Democracy, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. “We gave that message to the government, but we don’t know yet whether they will change their list.”

Even so, the senior administration official said that the mere acknowledgment that Myanmar held political prisoners reflected a significant shift in the new government’s attitude. Signals like that, even if tentative, have begun to win over skeptics who have seen false dawns before in Myanmar.

“It’s very exciting,” said Priscilla A. Clapp, who was the chief of mission at the United States Embassy in Myanmar from 1999 to 2002. “They are moving into a more pluralistic form of government. I wouldn’t call it totally democratic. But things are changing very rapidly.”

Steven Lee Myers reported from Washington, and Thomas Fuller from Bangkok.

p 2
(Page 2 of 2)

Ms. Clapp and others warned that the changes, which are exceeding expectations inside Myanmar and abroad, remained a work in progress. “Any transition this dramatic is a recipe for instability,” she said. “Anything can happen. There could be a coup, a counterrevolution.”

Burmese Wary of ‘Democracy,’ After Decades of Oppression (August 26, 2011)
Times Topic: Myanmar

Senior Gen. Than Shwe, who led the junta for nearly two decades and stepped down in March, remains an uncertain factor in the tumultuous transition. It was under General Than Shwe’s leadership that the government carried out a deadly crackdown on protests led by Buddhist monks in 2007 and restricted foreign aid in the aftermath of a cyclone that killed more than 100,000 people.

The reasons that General Than Shwe ceded power to the current government have not been fully explained beyond the notion that he was ready for retirement. In leading the drive for reforms, Mr. Thein Sein appears to be siding with a younger generation of military officers who believe that maintaining the junta’s oppressive policies and hermetic attitudes toward the outside world would be a dead-end path for the country.

The decision by Mr. Thein Sein last week to suspend work on the giant hydroelectric dam on the Irrawaddy River was interpreted by many as a sign that the president was moving out from under the shadow of General Than Shwe.

Obama administration officials are now debating additional steps to support the nascent changes and encourage more, including the creation of a truly democratic political system and an end to violence against Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. The outreach is being closely coordinated with Congress, with other countries, including members of the European Union, and with Myanmar’s opposition.

“We’re not looking to move I think any faster than anyone else here,” Mr. Mitchell said. “I think we’re all looking to move step by step. We are going to test. There is no single point where we are absolutely certain that reform is going to be sustained and irreversible.”

Myanmar faces American sanctions first imposed in 1997 and expanded as recently as 2008. One hundred senior officials or businesses remain on the Department of the Treasury’s list banning any commercial trade. Lifting those sanctions would require new legislation in Congress. That is unlikely to happen unless Myanmar convinces its critics that its transformation is fundamental.

In the meantime, though, the administration is considering waiving some restrictions on trade and financial assistance and lifting prohibitions on assistance by global financial institutions, like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. An I.M.F. team is scheduled to visit this month for consultations on modernizing the country’s exchange rate system and lifting restrictions on international transactions.

Assistance like that is needed to overhaul what for years was a Soviet-style planned economy, where the military ran factories producing soap and bicycles. Ancient-looking cars still ride on potholed roads, and some buildings look as if their last coat of paint was applied during the days when Myanmar was a British colony, known as Burma.

Many in Myanmar remain unconvinced that genuine democracy has arrived.

“All these Western countries are hearing about some changes and they are very happy and keen,” said Mr. Win Tin of the opposition party. “I think that’s wrong. They should listen very carefully and wait to see whether what this government calls change is real and genuine.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton echoed that caution. She recently noted what she called “welcome gestures” but raised a series of issues. “We have serious questions and concerns across a wide range of issues — from Burma’s treatment of ethnic minorities and more than 2,000 prisoners to its relations with North Korea,” she said, using Myanmar’s colonial name, which is official American policy.

She added that the day before she spoke, a 21-year-old journalist was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Myanmar.
Steven Lee Myers reported from Washington, and Thomas Fuller from Bangkok.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Haqqanis, USCIA, PakISI in Kashmir

Haqqanis, USCIA PAKISI in Kashmir

It is important to put 2 news story streams together:

1. 2500+ unmarked graves recently discovered along the India-Pak border in divided Kashmir.

2. the attacks on US forces by the Haqqanis along the Af-Pak border.

If we don't put these stories together the daily terror narratives emanating from the Pentagon, Kabul and Pakistan might appear baffling and discrete or at the very least, confusing.

Even though India never has, and never would permit the US to put its bloody boots on the ground anywhere in India, the Indian state of Jammu Kashmir Ladakh (JKL), particularly the Kashmir Valley has long being targeted by the PakISI who hire the Haqqanis and their rivals, to supply suicide bombers whenever and wherever needed -- from Mumbai to Kashmir

Q. But how can Pak afford a decades-long terror infiltration in which cash flow and weapons must be sustained over 55 years? Enter the USA.

The US, even before the Cold War, over 55 years has armed, paid and trained the Haqqanis and many of the Haqqanis' rivals, through the PakISI. It is called the US aid package to Pakistan.

PakISI has, not surprisingly, used the cash and weapons provided by the US, to further their own objectives, the focus of which is the destabilization of Indian Kashmir.

The 2500+ unmarked graves along the LoC (the UN-monitored Line of Control)are mainly of the desperate young men who were paid indirectly through the 'aid package\" by the USA -- and armed, trained and deployed by the PakISI.

I have heard these stories, unsolicited, for 5 years, narrated directly to me in the Kashmir Valley.

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyright
Published: October 2, 2011
CHARBARAN, Afghanistan — The first helicopter landed in the bluish gray gloom before dawn. More than 20 members of an American reconnaissance platoon and Afghan troops accompanying them jogged out through the swirling dust, moving into a forest smelling of sage and pine.
Americans Move Against Haqqani Network in Afghanistan

Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan (September 25, 2011)
Times Topic: Haqqani Network

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Three more helicopters followed, and soon roughly 100 troops were on the floor of this high-elevation valley in Paktika Province, near the border with Pakistan. They were beginning their portion of a brigade-size operation to disrupt the Haqqani network, the insurgent group that collaborates with the Taliban and Al Qaeda and that has become a primary focus of American counterterrorism efforts since Osama bin Laden was killed.

The group, based in Pakistan’s northwestern frontier, flows fighters into Afghanistan and has orchestrated a long campaign of guerrilla and terrorist attacks against the Afghan government and its American sponsors.

Its close ties to Pakistan’s intelligence service, and Pakistan’s unwillingness to act against the Haqqani headquarters in Miram Shah, a city not far from the Afghan border, have drawn condemnation from Washington and escalated tensions between two nations that officially have been counterterrorism partners.

Against this backdrop, the helicopter assault into Charbaran this past week highlighted both the false starts and the latest set of urgent goals guiding the American military involvement in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon plans to have withdrawn most of its forces from the country by 2014. Talk among many officers has shifted sharply from discussions of establishing Afghan democracy or a robust government to a more pragmatic and realistic military ambition: doing what can be done in the little time left.

In the tactical sense, this translates to straightforward tasks for units in the security buffer along the border. While they still have their peak troop presence, American commanders are trying to bloody the strongest of the armed antigovernment groups and to put thousands more Afghan police officers and soldiers into contested areas.

The long-term ambition is that Afghan forces will have the skills and resolve to stand up to the insurgency as the Americans pull back.

And yet, even while looking beyond 2014, American units must fight a day-to-day war.

One element lies in trying to prevent more of the carefully planned attacks that have shaken Kabul, the Afghan capital, several times this year. The attacks — striking prominent targets, like the capital’s premier hotel and the American Embassy — have often been organized by the Haqqanis, and have highlighted the Afghan government’s vulnerability and the insurgents’ resiliency.

Lt. Col. John V. Meyer, who commands the Second Battalion of the 28th Infantry Regiment, which used two companies to cordon off the Charbaran Valley and another to sweep the villages, called the operation “a spoiling attack to prevent a spectacular attack in the Kabul area.” It was also intended, he said, to gather intelligence.

The Charbaran Valley has become one of the main routes for Haqqani fighters to enter Afghanistan. They generally come in on foot, American officers say, and then, after staying overnight in safe houses and tent camps, they work their way toward Kabul or other areas where they have been sent to fight.

Mid-level Haqqani leaders also meet in the valley’s villages, American officers said, including near an abandoned school and the ruins of a government center that the United States built earlier in the war but that local fighters had destroyed by 2008.

It was 2010 when the last conventional unit entered the valley. An infantry company, it landed by helicopter and was caught in a two-hour gunfight as it left.

When the American and Afghan troops fanned out this time, their mission faced a familiar law of guerrilla war: when conventional forces arrive in force, guerrillas often disperse, setting aside weapons to watch the soldiers pass by.

Americans Raid Byways of Haqqani Insurgents in Afghanistan
Published: October 2, 2011

(Page 2 of 2)

The operation was also probably no surprise to the Haqqani fighters in the valley, American officers said, because during the days of preparation some of the Afghan troops probably leaked that the assault was coming.

Brutal Haqqani Crime Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan (September 25, 2011)
Times Topic: Haqqani Network

As the soldiers climbed the hills — laden with body armor and backpacks heavy with water and ammunition — they almost immediately found signs of the fighters’ presence.

In the first house they entered, not far from the landing zone, only two women and several children were home. The men had all left.

Inside, the Afghan troops uncovered a case of ammunition fired by both PK machine guns and Dragunov sniper rifles. They also found two bandoleers of .303-caliber ammunition for the dated Lee-Enfield rifles that remain a common insurgent arm.

Capt. Nicholas C. Sinclair, the company commander, ordered the Afghan troops to confiscate the ammunition. The younger woman protested loudly.

“There have been many American soldiers here, and they always left it,” she said.

This, the Americans said, was most likely a lie. An Afghan police officer packed away the ammunition. The company walked off.

Later, at the now-abandoned school, which the Haqqani and Taliban fighters had forced to close, the soldiers were greeted by a taunting note written in white chalk above the main entrance.

“Taliban is good,” it read, in English.

The school, the soldiers said, was evidence of an earlier setback. According to those who advanced the counterinsurgency doctrine that swept through the American military several years ago, building schools was supposed to help turn valleys like this one around.

Instead, it was shut down by the same fighters who overran the government center and chased the police away. It stands empty — a marker of good intentions gone awry, and of time and resources lost before this latest battalion inherited duties in the province.

More signs of the fighters soon emerged. At the edge of the Charbaran bazaar, where the Haqqani and Taliban fighters were said to gather, Second Lt. Mark P. Adams, a fire support officer, glanced into a woodpile he was using for cover and saw a makeshift bomb.

The weapon — fashioned from 120-millimeter and 82-millimeter mortar rounds attached to roughly 10 pounds of homemade explosives — was powerful but not armed. It apparently had been hidden there but was meant to have been moved to a road frequented by the Afghan and American troops.

Staff Sgt. Robert Blanco, an explosive-ordnance disposal specialist, put a small explosive charge against it and detonated the bomb in place.

Soon the soldiers climbed a mountain, joining the rest of the battalion, to sleep in the relative safety of a higher ridge.

The next morning, as the sweep resumed, one elder, Ghul Mohammad, sat with First Lt. Tony E. Nicosia, an American platoon leader, as Afghan and American soldiers searched the shops a second time.

There was a ritual familiarity to their exchange, a product of a war entering its second decade.

“When you come here, that’s a big problem for us,” the elder said. “Because after you leave the Taliban comes and asks us about you, and they take our food and are not paying for it.”

Whether this was true could not be determined from this conversation alone; many villagers, the Afghan and American soldiers said, support Taliban and Haqqani fighters.

The soldiers also said that at least some of the men gathered around them were probably fighters, at least part time, who had set down their weapons for the brief period that the Americans had a large presence in the valley.

“We understand your concerns and, hopefully, we can push some security in here,” Lieutenant Nicosia said politely.

Ghul Mohammad nodded. “I cannot do anything about it,” he said. “I want my God to bring security here.”

The Americans shouldered their equipment and began the walk to the next buildings, on the opposite side of the valley.

Throughout the operation, hidden fighters were occasionally heard over the two-way radios that Afghan interpreters were monitoring for intelligence. The guerrillas had threatened to ambush the reconnaissance company.

After the American and Afghan soldiers reached the opposite slope, the guerrillas managed their only attack: they fired four mortar rounds from outside the cordon.

The rounds exploded well behind the soldiers, near the abandoned school, causing no harm but making clear that Charbaran, which had fallen almost silent as the company moved through, remained out of government hands.

Americans Raid Byways of Haqqani Insurgents in Afghanistan

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Did Some Self-ascribed Indian "Intellectuals" Miss the Point? Yes

Did Some Indian "Intellectuals" Miss the Point? Yes some did did. Some signed on to oppose the India's govt's decision to deny a visa to a Denver radio journalist, barring him from entering JKL -- Jammu Kashmir Ladakh.

This guy Barsamian, no disrespect intended(a US-born citizen, no less than Awlaki) was, from my perspective, correctly denied a visa to from enter JKL -- Jammu Kashmir Ladakh. The broadcaster was denied access to a part of India which reportedly experiences daily attempts at cross-border infiltration sponsored by Pak's ISI, which in turn is allied with the Haqqani network, both of which are supported by US taxpayer $$, via the CIA and the Pentagon.

Given these proven realities:

Instead of reporting 4m JKL, Barsamian needs to focus on the disastrous military adventurism of his own US govt (and mine) in the South Asia region.

Glad you were refused entry bro, you got plenty of work to do right here, stateside.
I strongly suggest you stay home for a while, spend some time researching your US govt (and mine) particularly its treacherous alliances paying and training Pak's ISI, OBL and the so-called Haqqani network. Your govt and mine paid and trained them ALL.

Be ethical. I'm trying, as well. Don't become an unwitting or (worse) intentional arm of your neo-imperial govt and mine -- the USA.

Lastly, the centenary observance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 shd be of some interest to you. Hope you get all your visas in Ankara, good luck with that. I am planning to join others to mark the centenary observance of the Armenian Genocide right here at the UN in April 2015, if they'll let us of course. Gotta try. Join us. Turkey is in denial, gotta persuade them to give up denial and offer a profound apology and at least some symbolic compensation (reparation is unlikely) to the descendants of the survivors of that horrific event.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

My comment on the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923, FYI Barsamian:
Dear David Barsamian,instead of complaining abt not getting a visa to JKL, India,
Please be sure to visit Turkey and protest Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.You are Armenian, hope you get all your visas in Ankara!
The centenary observance of the Armenian Genocide (I plan to organize this at the UN) by the Govt of Turkey is less than 3 years away.
Please raise your voice NOW against Turkey's failure to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
see article below

Intellectuals protest the deportation of legendary broadcaster David Barsamian

We write to protest the denial of entry to David Barsamian by Immigration Authorities at the New Delhi airport in the early hours of September 23, 2011, and we write to draw attention to the growing arbitrariness of the Indian Government in dealing with dissent of any kind.

David Barsamian is a veteran broadcaster, and founder and director of Alternative Radio, a weekly one-hour public affairs programme offered free to all public radio stations in the US, Canada, Europe and beyond. For more than 25 years Alternative Radio has provided information, analyses and views that are frequently ignored in other media. Structured around intensive interviews conducted by David Barsamian, these programs are carried by over 125 radio stations and heard by millions of listeners. He is the author of numerous books with Edward Said​, Eqbal Ahmad​, Howard Zinn​, Noam Chomsky​, Arundhati Roy​ and Tariq Ali.

David is a friend for many of us, but he is an older friend of India. He first came as a young man in 1966, and has since returned innumerable times, immersing himself in its music, languages and poetry. He has taught himself Urdu and Hindi, learned to play the Sitar, and closely follows events in the sub-continent.

When he was deported on September 23 he had a visa which was valid for another 5 years, and although he last visited in February 2011, he had no intimation or warning that he was in violation of any of the conditions under which his visa was issued. The only thing that the Immigration Officers were able to tell him was that he was “banned” from entering the country, and that the reasons were a “secret”.

The deportation of David Barsamian unfortunately mirrors the manner in which Prof Richard Shapiro was arbitrarily stopped from entering India in November 2010. We are dismayed that this power to send people back from the airport is slowly becoming a weapon, used to discipline and silence people who draw any kind of attention to uncomfortable truths about India. A year later Prof Shapiro still has no formal response on why he was stopped, and when he can regain his right to travel to India, where he has family.

We therefore ask that the ban on David Barsamian and others like Richard Shapiro be revoked, and the Government of India not impede their return to India.

We demand that the right to travel and the right to free exchange of ideas between scholars, journalists, artists, and human rights defenders be respected and protected, and that government agents not authorize the denial of entry and eviction of visitors to India, or monitor their movement. Free exchange of ideas is one of the most basic human rights and values in free democratic societies. Freedom of travel is one of the most important avenues for furthering such exchange among peoples. Recognizing this, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified, protects freedom of expression, right to travel and scientific exchange.


Amar Kanwar, Film-maker
Amit Bhaduri, Academic
Amit Sengupta, Journalist
Anuradha Chenoy, Academic
Ania Loomba, Academic
Angana Chatterji, Academic
Aunohita Majumdar, Journalist

Aruna Roy, MKSS, Activist
Arundhati Roy, Writer
Ashok Prasad, Academic
Ajay Skaria, Academic
Basharat Peer, Writer
Dibyesh Anand, Academic
Harsh Dobhal, Journalist

Jean Dreze, Scholar
Joel Geier, International Socialist Review
Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Academic
Kamala Visveswaran, Academic
Lalitha Gopalan, Academic
Manisha Sethi, Academic
Mirza Waheed, Writer

Najeeb Mubarki, Journalist
N Raghuram, Academic
Mridu Rai, Academic
Nagesh Rao, Academic
Pankaj Mishra, Writer

Parvaiz Bukhari, Journalist
Philip Gasper, Academic
Prashant Bhushan, Lawyer
Rahul Roy, Film-maker
Sanjay Kak​, Film-maker
Satya Sivaraman, Journalist
Suresh Nautiyal, Journalist
Simona Sawhney, Academic

Shripad Dharmadhikary, Researcher
Shohini Ghosh, Academic
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Artist
Sukumar Muralidharan, Journalist
Suvir Kaul, Academic
Saba Dewan, Film-maker
Snehal Shingavi, Academic
Sherry Wolf, International Socialist Review
Vandana Shiva, Academic
Vrinda Grover, Lawyer

Friday, September 30, 2011

U.S. Foreign Policy -- Create Terrorists, Then Kill Them

My comment published in NYTimes, among many others
#259. EthicalDemocracy
New York
September 30th, 2011
12:53 pm
US Foreign Policy -- Create Terrorists, then Kill Them

Americans posting on these pages blame the US govt but they, the American people, [I am a US citizen] consistently vote leaders into power who promise to take a "tough stand" on "terror" and generally give them license to intervene everywhere in the world.
Americans appear to think that the opposite of an earlier policy of "isolationism" is intervention, occupation, etc. Well, now American People, you must reap the consequences.

US govt. complicity with Saudi Arabia, with a half-century long US policy of Cheap oil, no Democracy for Saudis, has kept neighboring Yemen poor, then you have Awlaki who should have freedom of speech under our very own, highly prized First Amendment, he's droned out yesterday as a terrorist.
I'm not saying Awlaki right, in fact he's deadly wrong, but i'm saying the US created Awlaki and that's wrong.

Will 10 Awlaki(s) rise in his place? Hmmm, yeah.

Same story in AfPak, the US Govt. paid and trained (as they did pay and train OBL) the Haqqani network, US still still pays 'em and trains 'em as I write, now we are out to kill them.

Grow 'em, then kill 'em.

What an astute, successful, farseeing, effective, foreign policy!

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
NYTimes copyright
U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in YemenBack to Article »

An American drone attack killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a preacher born in the United States and a leading figure in Al Qaeda’s outpost in Yemen, on Friday morning, officials in Washington and Yemen confirmed.

U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen
Site Intelligence Group/AFP — Getty; WBTV, via AP

Anwar al-Awlaki, left, in a 2010 video and Samir Khan, shown in North Carolina in 2008.
Published: September 30, 2011

SANA, Yemen — Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was a leading figure in Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate and was considered its most dangerous English-speaking propagandist and plotter, was killed in an American drone strike on his vehicle on Friday, officials in Washington and Yemen said. They said the strike also killed a radical American colleague who edited Al Qaeda’s online jihadist magazine and was traveling with Mr. Awlaki.
Interactive Map
Map of Countries Where Al Qaeda and Its Affiliates Operate

News Analysis: American Strike on American Target Revives Contentious Constitutional Issue (October 1, 2011)
Drone Strike in Yemen Was Aimed at Awlaki (May 7, 2011)
Radical Cleric Still Speaks on YouTube (March 5, 2011)
Rights Groups Sue U.S. on Effort to Kill Cleric (August 31, 2010)
Imam’s Path From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad (May 9, 2010)
Times Topic: Anwar al-Awlaki

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Many details of the strike were unclear, but one American official said that Mr. Awlaki, whom the United States had been hunting in Yemen for more than two years, had been identified as the target in advance and was killed with a Hellfire missile fired from a drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. The official said it was the first C.I.A. strike in Yemen since 2002. Yemen’s Defense Ministry confirmed Mr. Awlaki’s death.

The strike appeared to be the first time in the United States-led war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that an American citizen had been deliberately killed by American forces, a step that has raised contentious constitutional issues in the United States. It was also the second high-profile killing of an Al Qaeda leader in the past five months under the Obama administration, which ordered the American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last May.

Mr. Awlaki was an important member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, regarded as the most dangerous Al Qaeda affiliate. He was considered the inspirational or operational force behind a number of major plots aimed at killing Americans in the United States in recent years, most notably the deadly assault at an American army base in Fort Hood, Texas, and attempts to bomb Times Square and a Detroit-bound jetliner.

“The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate,” President Obama said in remarks at a swearing-in ceremony for the new Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, outside Washington. Mr. Obama said the cleric had taken “the lead role in planning and directing the efforts to murder innocent Americans.”

Mr. Obama also called Mr. Awlaki “the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” — the first time the United States has used that description of him.

Yemen’s official news agency, Saba, reported that the attack also killed Samir Khan, an American citizen of Pakistani origin and the editor of Inspire, Al Qaeda’s English-language Internet magazine, and an American official said the United States government believed Mr. Khan had been killed as well. It was not clear whether Mr. Khan, who proclaimed in the magazine last year that he was “proud to be a traitor to America,” was also a deliberate target of the strike.

A Yemeni Defense Ministry statement said that a number of Mr. Awlaki’s bodyguards were also killed.

Neither the Americans nor the Yemenis explained precisely how they knew that Mr. Awlaki had been confirmed dead.

The strike came in the midst of a deepening political crisis in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been resisting repeated calls to relinquish power — including from the United States. Mr. Saleh has argued that he is critical to the intensifying American efforts to battle Al Qaeda here.

An Awlaki family member, reached by telephone, said Mr. Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, was en route from Yemen’s capital, Sana, to the site of the attack in northern Yemen on Friday afternoon to identify the body. “We don’t know anything aside from the news that has been released,” the family member said. “Obviously Mr. Awlaki is very upset and wants very much to find out if it is truly his son that has been killed. We don’t know if any relatives died with him.”

The White House decision to make Mr. Awlaki a top priority to be hunted down and killed was controversial, given his American citizenship.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which fought unsuccessfully in the American court system to challenge the government’s legal justification for its so-called targeted killings program, which was used to take aim at Mr. Awlaki, condemned that program in reaction to the news of Mr. Awlaki’s death. “As we’ve seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts,” Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, said in a statement.

Laura Kasinof reported from Sana, Yemen, Mark Mazzetti from Washington, and Alan Cowell from London. Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt and Robert F. Worth from Washington, and Souad Mekhennet and Rick Gladstone from New York.
page 2

U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen
Published: September 30, 2011

(Page 2 of 3)

Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, Mr. Awlaki, 40, began preaching in mosques while he was a college student in the United States. During that time, as a preacher in San Diego, he met two of the Sept. 11, 2001 attackers. He returned to Yemen in 2004 and his English-language sermons became ever more stridently anti-American.
Interactive Map
Map of Countries Where Al Qaeda and Its Affiliates Operate

News Analysis: American Strike on American Target Revives Contentious Constitutional Issue (October 1, 2011)
Drone Strike in Yemen Was Aimed at Awlaki (May 7, 2011)
Radical Cleric Still Speaks on YouTube (March 5, 2011)
Rights Groups Sue U.S. on Effort to Kill Cleric (August 31, 2010)
Imam’s Path From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad (May 9, 2010)
Times Topic: Anwar al-Awlaki

His Internet lectures and sermons were linked to more than a dozen terrorist investigations in the United States, Britain and Canada. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Awlaki before the shootings. Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010, cited Mr. Awlaki as an inspiration.

A high-ranking Yemeni security official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Mr. Awlaki was killed while traveling between Marib and al-Jawf provinces in northern Yemen — areas known for having a Qaeda presence and where there is very little central government control.

President Obama’s top national security and counterterrorism officials held a video teleconference at 6:30 a.m. Washington time to discuss details of Mr. Awlaki’s death as well as its impact on the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen and the group’s broader organization.

Mr. Awlaki’s name has been associated with many plots in the United States and elsewhere after individuals planning violence were drawn to his engaging lectures broadcast over the Internet.

Those individuals included Major Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the Fort Hood shootings; the young men who planned to attack Fort Dix, N.J.; and a 21-year-old British student who told the police she stabbed a member of Parliament after watching 100 hours of Awlaki videos.

But his death could also play into the tangled politics of Yemen and President Saleh’s attempts to remain in power.

In early September, the Obama administration’s top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, said recent cooperation with Yemen was better than it has ever been despite the prolonged absence of Mr. Saleh, who returned recently after four months in Saudi Arabia recovering from wounds he suffered in a bomb attack on his presidential palace.

President Saleh’s family controls the armed forces responsible for counterterrorism, and the killing of Mr. Awlaki seemed likely to be used to further the argument that the current government is the best ally for the United States when it comes to combating Mr. Awlaki’s affiliate group.

“Awlaki may not matter much to Yemenis, but his presence in Yemen has influenced U.S. counter terrorism policy, which in turn has influenced transition politics,” said Ginny Hill, the head of the Yemen Forum at Chatham House in London.

A senior American military official in Washington said Mr. Awlaki’s death would send an important message to the surviving leaders and foot soldiers in Al Qaeda, both in Yemen and elsewhere. “It’s critically important,” the senior official said. “It sets a sense of doom for the rest of them. Getting Awlaki, given his tight operational security, increases the sense of fear. It’s hard for them to attack when they’re trying to protect their own back side.”

“You take out someone like this, it sends a message,” the military official continued. “Now they have to go into a succession effort that will cause a movement of people, of messages, which makes them more vulnerable. Bottom line, they’ve taken a severe impact.”

But some Islamist figures said Mr. Awlaki’s status could be elevated to that of a martyr. Anjem Choudhry, an outspoken Islamic scholar in London, said: “The death of Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki will merely motivate the Muslim youth to struggle harder against the enemies of Islam and Muslims.”

Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a telephone interview: “In many ways, Awlaki was, operationally, more important than Bin Laden.”

“Clearly, he was one of the most motivated to attack the United States.”
page 3
U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen
Published: September 30, 2011

(Page 3 of 3)

Mr. King warned that the United States would need to guard against retaliatory attacks from Al Qaeda’s arm in Yemen, but other senior American military and counterterrorism officials said that, unless a plot was already well under way, the Qaeda affiliate is likely to be in too much disarray right now to launch an immediate counterstrike.
Interactive Map
Map of Countries Where Al Qaeda and Its Affiliates Operate

News Analysis: American Strike on American Target Revives Contentious Constitutional Issue (October 1, 2011)
Drone Strike in Yemen Was Aimed at Awlaki (May 7, 2011)
Radical Cleric Still Speaks on YouTube (March 5, 2011)
Rights Groups Sue U.S. on Effort to Kill Cleric (August 31, 2010)
Imam’s Path From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad (May 9, 2010)
Times Topic: Anwar al-Awlaki
Earlier this year, the American military renewed its campaign of airstrikes in Yemen, using drone aircraft and fighter jets to attack Qaeda militants. One of the attacks was aimed at Mr. Awlaki. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in July that two of his top goals were to remove Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s new leader after the death of Bin Laden in May, and Mr. Awlaki.

Word of the killing came after months of sustained American efforts to seriously weaken the terrorist group.

In August an American official said a drone strike killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner after Bin Laden was killed.

In July, Mr. Panetta said during a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan that the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaeda” and that the American focus had narrowed to capturing or killing 10 to 20 crucial leaders of the terrorist group in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

A month earlier, an American official said the Central Intelligence Agency was building a secret air base in the Middle East to serve as a launching pad for strikes in Yemen using armed drones.

The construction of the base was seen at the time as a sign that the Obama administration was planning an extended war in Yemen against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has repeatedly tried to carry out terrorist plots against the United States.

Last year, the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen sought to install Mr. Awlaki as the leader of the group, which apparently thought Mr. Awlaki’s knowledge of the United States and his status as an Internet celebrity might help the group’s operations and fund-raising efforts.

Mr. Awlaki, who came from a prestigious Yemeni family, was accused of having connections to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian former engineering student at University College London, who is awaiting trial in the United States for his attempt to detonate explosives sewn into his underwear aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it landed in Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009. The bomb did not explode.

Mr. Awlaki had been linked to numerous plots against the United States, including the botched underwear bombing.

He had taken to the Internet with stirring battle cries directed at young American Muslims. “Many of your scholars,” Mr. Awlaki warned last year, are “standing between you and your duty of jihad.”

In Yemen, there was a muted reaction to the news of the death of Mr. Awlaki, who derived his importance from his ability to reach out to the Western, English-speaking world but was of little consequence to the Yemeni population.

Many saw the killing as confirmation of their belief that the United States becomes involved in Yemen only for counterterrorism. Mr. Awlaki’s death comes at a time when Yemeni protesters, who have been demonstrating against their government for eight months, are angry at the United States for not doing more to push President Saleh out of office.

The killing could further harm the image of the United States among average Yemenis, who are staunchly against outside military intervention in their country.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Beauty & Inferiority
New York Times
Comment #27
Ethical Democracy
New York
September 25th, 2011
1:50 am

Beauty & Inferiority

India is a vast crowded complex space where numerous, seemingly conflicting stereotypes (and ideals) persist.

That's Democracy -- thirty-one centuries in the making. Give or take a few.

Where else would you have Fair and Lovely makeup, side by side with celebrating the birthday, as a national holiday, of Krishna the dark blue God of Love?
I'm an atheist, don't use beauty products, just juxtaposing contrastive ideals by way of illustration.

The author (see her article below) claims and I quote \"Over a decade of living in North America – where tans are pursued and Halle Berry is a beauty icon – helped that. Far away from the subcontinent, obsessed with Victorian ideas of beauty, it was refreshing to be part of a society that embraced a wider spectrum of skin tone.\"

Really? Even Aretha Franklin and more recently, Beyonce pretty much went blond, or do you think their hair color and skin tone are a happy accident? To uphold the US, the epicenter of racist ideology of Whiteness, is just plain ignorant and a gross distortion of racialized discourse in the US.

And, yikes, have you never heard of the racialization of the Black Irish?
Yes, they have white skin. But black hair! A Black Irish woman at London's Heathrow airport was detained, (she claimed to me), because she was Black Irish. That was in the mid-1980's, so, way before Islamist hysteria following 9/11.

People use many strategies for constructing The Other.

Suck it up , Suryatapa, you really speak from class privilege and therefore Power (dark brown though you may be), so stop being superficial, focus instead on maternal and child malnutrition in your writings, make fewer blow-dry (you have a hair problem too?) visits to the beauty salon (most Indians, including me, and I live in New York, have never been inside one) get over it, live your own life, think your own thoughts be receptive to disparate perceptions, misguided though some obviously are, be HUMYN and don't blame it on India and Indians.

Please don't let your next article be about the big boobs of Indian goddesses and how inadequate that makes you feel!

Take responsibility for constructing your own mindset.

It's not that you \"do not compute.\" You cant compute.
Or rather, you choose not to.

Harsh -- but sometimes truths are inconvenient.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran

City University of New York [CUNY]

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

The article follows:

New York Times copyright

Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin (Tone)


Suryatapa at the age of six in her childhood home in Siliguri, West Bengal.

I am Indian – but after more than 15 years of living abroad, some aspects of Indian life feel fresh, if not new or altogether welcome.

Three months ago, I wandered into a salon in Kolkata with my mother and came face-to-face with a prejudice I hadn’t had to deal with in all the years abroad.

The beautician insisted she could remove my “deep tan.”

But my dark skin was not the result of a tanning bed disaster – I was born with it.

Lady with pink talons and bright pink lipstick: I can lighten you up by several shades.

Me: No.

Lady: You are roaming in the sun too much.

Me: Don’t touch my face.

No one in India seems to think it unusual to try to slap some bleach, or a herbal equivalent, on my skin to reveal a whiter me. It is mildly irritating when it comes from my beloved aunts, and maddening when strangers suggest my dark skin is something to be “fixed.”

Being dark made me feel self-conscious.

As a kid I had several nicknames that stung. Darkie, Blackie and Kaalia (pinched from the title of a Bollywood film, about someone with dark skin). My color defined me and it stuck. A friend from school sent me a message on Facebook recently. It read: Kaalia, remember me? When I pointed out that it was insulting, I was called out for being “too sensitive.”

“We called you that with love,” he said. Like that should justify the hurt.

In Bengali, the word phorsha (fair) is used interchangeably with beautiful, and with family it was no different. Well-meaning aunts and their neighbors worried about my marriage prospects. Perhaps, they suggested, a little less sun exposure, or maybe a few extra layers of sandalwood paste or a homemade concoction that the neighborhood swore by?

But I was a problem child. You couldn’t drag me home from playing outside and even back then, I wouldn’t let anyone touch my face. The aunts sighed but never really gave up.

To be dark in India is not necessarily to be invisible. Instead, in this country, it is everyone’s business to correct it or cover it up. The personal is open to public opinion, whether it makes you squirm or not.

Few Indians seem to be comfortable in their dark skin. The matrimonial classifieds every weekend ask for or offer prospective brides who are never described as dark; at best (or worst) they are “wheatish.”

So it is no surprise that a multi-billion rupee market in fairness products thrives in India. Bollywood superstars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra are complicit in the act, appearing in airbrushed, whitened versions of themselves, urging you to pick up a tube or two of the latest product. From lotions and soaps to whitening underarm deodorant; every body part it seems is could be a few shades lighter.

In a moment of adolescent weakness, I too was convinced to go on a regimen of drinking milk with crushed turmeric. Urban legends abound of how turmeric and milk, with their blood cleansing properties, had turned someone’s friend’s sister into a fair maiden – so I gulped down this vile concoction, gagged and never touched it ever again.

As an adult I’ve become much more comfortable with the color of my skin.

Over a decade of living in North America – where tans are pursued and Halle Berry is a beauty icon – helped that. Far away from the subcontinent, obsessed with Victorian ideas of beauty, it was refreshing to be part of a society that embraced a wider spectrum of skin tone.

So when I moved back to India, I was surprised and offended all over again, as I confronted people who still think porcelain skin is the epitome of beauty.

The last time I visited my parents in West Bengal, I paid a visit to the hairdresser. As I instructed the hairdresser on how to blow-dry my hair, the lady in the chair next to me seemed intrigued by my conversation. After several furtive glances she could no longer help herself and asked: “Do you do tanning?” I was dumbstruck and could barely stammer out a surprised “no.”

In retrospect, her assumption says a lot about how Indians equate skin tone with beauty, confidence and social standing. To her, my dark skin was incommensurate with me – a confident professional in a fancy salon.

I do not compute.

Suryatapa Bhattacharya is the India correspondent for “The National” newspaper.