Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Blockade With Cuba

If there’s one clear example why the United Nation General Assembly is such a useless, pointless organization, it’s their annual vote condemning the United States’ economic blockade of Cuba. From Granma, Cuba’s commie rag:
The resolution passed today for the 16th consecutive time highlights the "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States on Cuba."
The 16th time! So it has become tradition, not to mention absurd. No doubt they will vote for it again next year.

It’s a strange little game these two countries play: the United States insists on a blockade that they well know is ineffectual; while Cuba agrees to play the role of hapless victim, with the idiots in the U.N. General Assembly as their cheering section

What is little known, however, is that Cuba trades with the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cuba bought $328 million worth of agricultural products from the United States in 2006 alone.

Nevertheless, why does Cuba insist on trading with a country they’ve been continuously condemning for nearly fifty years? The United States is well within its rights as a sovereign nation to trade with whomever they want. Cuba, which constantly lectures the world about the inviolability of its sovereignty, should accept this reality, wrongheaded as it is.

US Should Take India's Lead On Education

Shikha Dalmia from Reason magazine writes an op-ed for The Chicago Tribune on how to improve America’s deteriorating education school system. Her suggestion: take India’s lead.
But, unlike the United States, the Indian government does not penalize schools that don't meet its expectations. Parents do. India has a robust private kindergarten through 12th-grade market that almost all middle-class and above families use. James Tooley, an education professor in England, found that 75 percent of children even in some urban slums attend private schools. The upshot is that parents can yank their kids out of substandard schools that don't prepare them adequately for the "boards" and enroll them in ones that do. The exams simply put crucial information in their hands to make comparisons.

This might seem counterintuitive to the American teaching establishment given its legendary hostility to school choice, but parental accountability is actually empowering for teachers as well. Because parents in India pick the schools their children attend, they are far less prone to blame teachers when their children underperform -- and far more to prod their kids to take responsibility. Even when a few disgruntled parents do pull their kids, they don't threaten the financial health of the whole institution. This is in stark contrast to No Child Left Behind, where a few failing kids could jeopardize federal funding for the entire school.
As far as I can remember, Indians—those that can afford it—have been sending their children to private schools (preferably English-medium schools). The public education system, like many of India’s government institutions, is decrepit and riven with corruption and inefficiency. And with a growing middle-class, the demand for private schools has grown by leaps and bounds.

The quality of these schools is reflected in the students they produce. They are smart, talented, ambitious, and speak English fluently. No wonder the United States imports thousands of Indians each year to work in jobs natives are, sad to say, incapable of doing because their education system fails them in instilling skills needed for the 21st century: less brawn, more brains.

The article essentially makes the case for vouchers, which I wholeheartedly support.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bhutto Chances? Not Good

The Nation has a decent article on Benazir Bhutto’s prospects as future Prime Minister of Pakistan. The ground realities have changed significantly in the eight years Bhutto has been living in exile. For one thing, Bhutto is willing to cut a deal with Musharraf in order to be Prime Minister.
In return the PPP has abandoned an alliance of parties opposed to the army's involvement in politics and will back Musharraf as civilian president. Bhutto has also quietly accepted a future dispensation in which he and the army will retain control over national security, foreign relations and the US war in Afghanistan. Depending on how well the PPP performs in elections, Bhutto will make domestic policy.
Even on the face of it, it's an unworkable solution. Forget about politics, for the moment; if Bhutto is to transform Pakistani society, as the article claims, she will need to marshall substantially more resources to accomplish it. Given that the military (or debt repayment) garners the lion's share of the budget, Bhutto will either have to find new revenue sources, or tell the military to do more with less. And the military is adamant about keeping present force levels even though Pakistan possesses a sizable nuclear arsenal. This conflict with the military has been a source of tension for Bhutto before, and there’s a good chance it will be so again.

Monday, October 29, 2007

India's Provident Fund: A Question

Can anyone out there explain to me the concept of India’s provident fund system, India's answer to a social security system? I have read Wikipedia's explanation, of course, but it only scratches the surface. Currently, the fund’s rate of interest is pegged at 8.5%. My question is: where’s the money invested to garner such a high return? Given the statism and anti-market sentiment of the current government (it’s obvious they don’t understand the concept of risk), I doubt it’s invested in the stock market, where such a high return is possible. So, where does the money come from?

The reason I’m asking is that the C.I.T.U., the trade union wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), is bitterly complaining about the “paltry” rate of return, and is demanding the government increase it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The New Air India

With the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, the combined airline, to be called Air India, has rolled out a new color scheme for its jets.

As you can see, it looks very good on this brand new Airbus 320.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jamaat Tries To Rewrite History

Jamaat-e-Islami is at it again, trying to rewrite history, denying its insidious role in Bangladesh’s independence. From The Daily Star:
People from all walks of life yesterday blasted Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed for his Thursday's comments, which they said went against the Liberation War.

Mojaheed on Thursday told the media that Jamaat did not work against the Liberation War in 1971 and there are no war criminals in the country.
This editorial adds a few more salient details:
...He said this before media displaying veritable arrogance and ire when asked about the role of Jamaat-e-Islami during the nine-month Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. To our utter shock and indignation, Mujahid not only denied any wrong-doing by his party but was defiant enough to throw a challenge to the newsmen to dig into the history and find for themselves the role of Jamaat.
What level of ignorance does this man operate from? Did he say this with a straight face? Sadly, denying their grateful and gleeful collaboration with Pakistan to brutalize their fellow Bengalees—all in the name of Islam—is standard operating procedure for Jamaat. Have been doing it for years, in fact.

Fortunately, there is a trove of evidence to counter the blatantly false lies of Jamaat and their supporters. In fact, The Daily Star has published, also in the same issue, an interesting research article clearly documenting Jamaat’s involvement, some even published in their own newspaper! This is what Nizami, a senior Jamaat leader, wrote:
“Hindu forces are far stronger and capable than us. Unfortunately, a number of infidels have taken their side and are trying to weaken us from within. We have to foil their conspiracy and protect the existence and ideal of Pakistan. This is not possible only by defensive action...It is our luck that the Islam-loving youths of this country have been able to form the Al-Badr unit with the help of the Pakistani military...The youths of Al-Badr have renewed their pledge on this stand next to the army to defeat the Hindu forces and annihilate Hindustan and hoist the flag of Islam all over the world."
History condemns Jamaat, and they should accept its verdict. They are lucky none of them have been jailed for their grisly crimes. In fact, various governments since 1971, in acts of cynicism, have not only given Jamaat leaders amnesty, but have rehabilitated them, courted their votes and even made them partners in coalition governments.

This explains why Jamaat says what it says and does what it does: they have not been held to account for their crimes. They got away with it. And this a great shame in Bangladesh today. We can take solace in the fact that history is on the side of the victims—for now.

Gujarat Massacre: Admission Caught On Video

India has yet to get to the bottom of the Gujarat massacre in 2002, where Hindu zealots butchered thousands of innocent Muslims. It was an act where thousands were complicit, but only a relative few have been brought to justice.

Now Tehelka, a muckraking news magazine with a history of provocative investigative journalism (pioneering the use of the spycam), has an interview with one of these zealots, who readily admits to joining in the attacks.

Both Sandeep and Barbar Indian question the video’s veracity, and question the timing of the report given upcoming elections in Gujarat. Legitimate questions, in my opinion. It will be interesting to see, though, how the UPA government and courts react to this video.

Tehelka also has a special section on its web site, which the video is part of, dedicated to the Gujarat massacres that is worth checking out

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why Are India's Poor So Poor?

Praful Bidwai writes the latest in a long line of tedious, often repetitive articles about growing income and wealth inequality in India. Of course, Mr. Bidwai blames the rich—or the middle class—and the neoliberal policies on which their wealth is based on:
The contrast between this obscene concentration of wealth at the very top, and the prevalence of mass poverty, with the most appalling conditions of life at the bottom, should shock us all. Not only is this morally indefensible and unacceptable in itself; but coupled with deep and entrenched inequalities of opportunity in this super-hierarchical, casteist society, it is especially repugnant.
In his article, Mr. Bidwai cites statistic after statistic to burnish his arguments, weak as they are. Yes, statistics say there is income inequality in India, but they don’t explain why, and neither does Mr. Bidwai. Nor does he offer any solutions except for asking Indians to find the goodness in them and address the pressing needs at hand. In other words: let’s keep on trying till we get it right. This is good sloganeering, of course, but it translates into poor public policy.

What Mr. Bidwai and rest of the left-wing chattering classes really want is a return to the halcyon days of Nehruvian socialism, where everybody was poor, and the government was suppose to be the only fount of wealth, as well as wisdom. If there is a good reminder why government is never a good source of creating wealth, or distributing it, the failure of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) should be sobering.

Amit Varma from India Uncut writes:
Last month, the Delhi-based Society for Participatory Research in Asia, a non-profit organization, released a preliminary study on NREGA’s governance. The results are shocking. In the financial year beginning in April 2006, only 6% of the households registered under the scheme actually received their 100 days of employment. PRIA’s study also cited shoddy implementation practices across 14 of India’s 28 states. In the surveyed villages, only 45% of registered households had even applied for work under the scheme. And of those households that had applied for a job, only 44% had received one within the required 15 days.

PRIA’s results mirror the findings of another study carried out by the Centre of Environment and Food Security earlier this year. The CEFS study focused on the state of Orissa, and found that about 75% of the funds spent in Orissa had been “siphoned and pocketed by the government officials.” “We could not find a single case where entries in the job cards are correct and match with the actual number of workdays physically verified with the villagers,” the study noted. Out of a total $187 million in public monies spent in the state during the 2006-2007 fiscal year, around $127 million was effectively stolen.

This kind of wastage shouldn’t come as a great surprise. India’s bureaucrats hold effectively tenured positions, and are often unaccountable to the public they serve. Their incentives are tailored only toward increasing their power and their budgets. Government is not transparent, and most common citizens do not contemplate legal recourse against it, as the legal system is dysfunctional and the rule of law is weak.
Poor governance plagues India still, but it hurts the poor more than the middle and upper classes, who have carved out a life in the private sector and are less reliant on the government (as it should be). And in the case of NREGA, money allocated for the poor disappear into the black hole of government bureaucracy and the corrupt hacks who run it. Yet we do not see Mr. Bidwai demonize them like he does the rich. For Bidwai, a government employee—no matter how unaccountable or how inept—is above reproach; who should be put on a pedestal and revered like some Hindu deity.

In essence, the government is the problem, not the rich.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Che And Castro: Islamic?

Some crazy Iranian establishment types think Che Guevara and Fidel Castro are not, in fact, hardcore atheists, but God-fearing Islamic revolutionaries like them.
…Hajj Saeed Qassemi, the co-ordinator of the Association of Volunteers for Suicide-Martyrdom (who presumably remains selflessly alive for the cause), revealed that Che was a “truly religious man who believed in God and hated communism and the Soviet Union”.

Qassemi went on to claim that Fidel Castro, the “supreme guide” of Guevara, was also a man of God. “The Soviet Union is gone,” he affirmed.
I’m sure Fidel Castro would be very surprised to hear this. Castro, like most communists, abhors organized religion, and has done almost everything in his power to destroy the Catholic Church as a viable institution. And Che Guevera’s daughter was surprised by the statement as well.
Che’s daughter Aleida wondered if something might have been lost in translation. “My father never mentioned God,” she said, to the consternation of the audience. “He never met God.”
We all know there is common cause between the hard-left and Islamic radicals for one reason: they pathologically hate the United States. Aside from believing in a strong central government and welfare state, they have nothing in common. How can they? Atheists and religious radicals do not mix.

What we are seeing, though, and what we long suspected, is that Islamic radicals are slowly taking over the hard-left. This is a tactic used by communists during the Cold War, who infiltrated socialist parties and take them over from within. And what better way to start the process than to appropriate Marxist icons

Monday, October 22, 2007

Britney Spears' New Song

I know Britney Spears gets a lot of flack (much of it deserved) for, well, everything. But her latest song “Gimme More” is better than average—from a mainstream dance music perspective anyway. Nevertheless, the video below is just atrocious: the girl just can’t dance; and her talents as a stripper are questionable, to say the least. She’d be lucky to get pennies thrown at her.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cuba's So Called Election

Fidel Castro, ailing dictator of Cuba, is praising his country's bogus elections, which are being held this weekend with such fanfare. Writing in Granma, the Communist Party of Cuba's official newspaper, Castro criticizes American elections as only for the rich and--get this-- unfair. Castro writes:
Our elections are the antithesis of those held in the United States, not on Sundays but on the first Tuesday of November. Being very rich or having the support of lot of money is what matters the most there. Huge amounts are later on invested in publicity, specialized in brain washing and the creation of conditioned reflexes.

Having more than 90 per cent of all citizens voting in the elections and school children guarding the ballots is an unheard of experience; it’s hard to believe that this occurs in one of the “dark corners of this world”, a harassed and blockaded country named Cuba. That is how we exercise the vigorous muscles of our political awareness.
Cuba's elections--if you want to call them that--are akin to a beauty pageant: the results are fixed and known beforehand. The whole process is a pretensious excercise to legitmatize a totalitarian regime that does not, in all honesty, brook any opposition: it jails dissidents, silences critics and muzzles journalists.

In Cuba, for one thing, there's no such thing as an opposition party because the only party allowed is the Communist Party. There's only one--safe--name on the ballot, and no write-ins are allowed. The United States and the European Union have taken note of this in their criticism of the elections. Cuba poo-poos this by claiming that anyone, not just Communist Party members, can stand for elections.
National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon in a recent interview said Cuban opposition members can run in Cuba's elections as long as they find someone willing to nominate them. Critics, however, say that since nominations have to be sought and voted on in public open-air assemblies, there is no such real freedom to nominate opposition members because those who do could face reprisals from authorities.
A totalitarian state is also a police state. Informing on one another is actively encouraged by the various security services, who are deeply embedded in the lives of every Cuban. It is a regime that rules by fear, nothing more. Yet Cuba still doesn't stop harping about how wonderful their health and education systems, which they claim to be the best in the world. If this is all true, then the Communist Party would win handily in an open and free election, right?

So why don't they. Simply, because the reality does not sqaure with the fantasy being pushed by Castro, and Cubans know this. They will vote for change the first chance they get.

Friday, October 19, 2007

US-India Deal Collapse: Commies Are To Blame

Manish over at Ultrabrown pretty much sums up what I think about India dropping out of the historic Indo-US nuclear deal. Manish writes:
At first, the deal seemed dead in its cradle. But all summer long, Bush put on a full-court press and called in favors. Meanwhile, Indian-American lobbying groups turned debutante with this deal, their first big success. When opposition surfaced in the Indian Parliament, the U.S. softened the deal and left its prolif planks toothless.

After all this motion in favor of India, a mangy coalition torpedoed the plan. The BJP had itself championed the deal when it was in power, but now opposed it to score craven political points. And Communists, whose raison d’aitre was thoroughly discredited decades ago, howled because it’s a deal with America.
Humiliation does not even begin to describe it—especially for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who equally championed the deal in Parliament, only to be foiled by a small collective of communists, who continue to burnish their anti-Indian credentials through treasonous behavior.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bhutto Returns To Pakistan: Will She Last?

Benazir Bhutto triumphantly returns to Pakistan, only to have bombs exploding near her parade route. She should count herself lucky. She’s getting more auspicious treatment, relatively speaking, then her rival, Nawaz Sharif, who was treated more like a leper than a former prime minister.

In addition, the corruption charges have been dismissed—for now—against Bhutto and her greedy, corrupt husband. She will compete in parliamentary election in a few months. And with the voting rigged in her favor, no doubt with Musharraf’s help (he’s getting quite good at this), she will become Prime Minister for the third time.

Once in office, she’ll promptly renege on her deal with Musharraf and try to dismiss him as President. In the process, she will alienate everyone from the MMA to the MQM. Karachi will become a war zone—yet again. It will all be a big mess. And to clean it all up, she’ll make some Faustian bargain with the army in order to stay in power. Instead there will be a coup. Martial law will be declared. The army, just sick of Bhutto’s many shenanigans, will reinstate corruption charges against her and either throw her in jail, or send her into exile for the third and, hopefully, last time.

Remember a leopard never, ever changes his (or her) spots. It’s an axiom no one seems to heed, especially in Pakistan.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jorja Fox Leaves CSI: Nobody Cares

Jorja Fox, who plays Sara Sidle on CSI, is leaving the crime drama to—what else—pursue other opportunities. Will she be missed?

No one will even notice, or care.

For the most part, many of the actors on CSI, including William Petersen, who plays Gil Grissom, are, in my opinion, mediocrities and can easily be replaced. Why? Because the show is not about them. The triumph of CSI is its writing, cinematography, and directing. Finally, it’s about the process. Yes, the process. It’s the star of the show.

If CSI can be compared to one show it’s Law & Order, which has seen its cast replaced at least once, and perhaps twice or even thrice, yet it endures because the process is front and center, not personalities.

Still unconvinced? Back in 2004, Jorja Fox and her co-star George Eads, who plays the insufferable prick Nick Stokes, decided to renege on their contracts and hold-out for more money, thinking, perhaps, the producers would quickly relent. After all, the show cannot go on without them, right? And how did the producers respond? They promptly fired Eads and Fox, and did so without any hesitation. Eads and Fox, cutting their losses, sheepishly returned to the fold a few days later.

ADDENDUM: I don't know where I read this, but it seems Jorja Fox left CSI over money. She was making a sweet $100K per episode. That works out to $2.2 million over a 22-episode season, plus residuals from syndication, DVD and assorted show-related products.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Atlantic: 150 Years Old

The Atlantic Monthly is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. To mark the honor, the magazine is publishing an issue discussing the "Future of the American Idea". Atlantic is one of my favorite magazines—the only print magazine I subscribe to, in fact— and is filled with great writing by equally great writers. The list of contributors is a virtual who’s who of American letters. And since it’s a monthly, I have time to read it from cover-to-cover in relative peace and without the fear of feeling rushed. Can’t do that with a weekly magazine.

As a subscriber, I also have access to Atlantic’s vast archives where I can reread some of my favorite articles and discover new talented writers. Robert Kaplan is one of my favorite writers, and Christopher Hitchens’ book reviews are a joy to read. It was in the Atlantic the world was introduced to A.Q. Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and all around villain.

If you were stuck on a desert island and could take with you one magazine—the Atlantic should be it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cute But Dangerous

A few years ago, on a trip to the Grand Canyon, I encountered wild squirrels who, after years of human contact, have acquired a taste for junk food. This fellow, for example, craves Cheetos and soda.

Unlike urban squirrels, who are often shy, these squirrels are brazen and in your face.

Charlie Wilson's War

The movie, Charlie Wilson's War, looks like a good flick. Om Puri playing the sinister President Zia-ul-Haq should be a special treat. Check out the trailer.

The book, which the movie is based on, is quite a good read as well.

It will be interesting to see what Pakistan thinks of the movie since it's mostly an unflattering account of its sordid involvement in Afghanistan, including funding and arming some rather unsavory characters, many of whom are still around today, causing death, destruction and mayhem.

The Rise Of Dubai

60 Minutes has an interesting two-part segment (here and here) on the bustling, booming city of Dubai, the Singapore/Hong Kong/London/New York of the Middle East, including an interview with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai’s visionary ruler.

Dubai is definitely a city on the move. Anywhere you go, small as the emirate kingdom is, the desert gives way to construction site after construction site, including one that will house the world’s tallest building. Artificial islands shaped like palm trees have been built. A new international airport is on the way, which will be the hub for Emirates, arguably the most wildly successful airline in the world.

Dubai is probably the most Westernized of Middle Eastern cities, with thousands of Western expatriates working and living there, joining locals in taking advantage of the city’s many beaches and thriving nightlife. Dubai is definitely not Saudi Arabia! Because of this, thousands of migrants (25,000 a month) flock to Dubai because there’s money to be had and fortunes waiting to be claimed.

But it’s also a city built on inexpensive labor. Without the contribution of thousands of hard working, often poorly paid migrants, mostly from South Asia, Dubai would be nothing more than a sleepy backwater. While anti-capitalists might crow about this, the reality is that many of these migrants are far better off working in Dubai than being mired in poverty in their home countries.

Dubai is modern and sophisticated in every sense except in politics. Dubai is still an autocracy ruled with an iron fist by a mostly benign ruler, who also has a stake in every project under the sun. Still some of the Sheik’s critics were reticent in their comments about him. Nobody seems to care, though, because things are so good.

Affirmative Action And Clarence Thomas

Nice article by James Kirchick on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that summarizes my feelings on the matter: the vicious attacks on Clarence Thomas by vindictive liberals were hypocritical at best, and racist at worst.
How can you support a policy of racial preferences and then attack one of its supposed beneficiaries as undeserving? This, ultimately, is the intrinsic hypocrisy of the Thomas bashers. They allege that he's not competent and that the only reason he became a Supreme Court justice was because he's black. And in so doing, they level the exact same arguments against Thomas that they castigate conservatives for making about affirmative action itself. But let's face facts: A program that gives people with a certain skin color an advantage will invariably reward some who would otherwise not qualify.
Exactly. It seems the only “good” affirmative action hires, according to liberals, are those who not only meet the racial requirements, but ideological ones as well—preferably a fellow liberal. But if you’re a minority and, say, a conservative, you automatically become “unqualified” or “incompetent.” This is the type of discrimination that is practiced by liberals, but it’s not called that, of course, because there’s this nutty belief out there that liberals do not discriminate. They do.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Empire State Building Aglow In Islamic Green

This story is causing such a tizzy among wingnuts that it has them seeing green:
New York's iconic Empire State Building is to be lit up green from Friday in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid, the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar marking the end of Ramadan, officials said.

"This is the first time that the Empire State Building will be illuminated for Eid, and the lighting will become an annual event in the same tradition of the yearly lightings for Christmas and Hannukah," according to a statement.
Michelle Malkin is calling it an act of dhimmitude. Huh? I don’t see it as an act of anything except as an acknowledgement by the United States that Muslims are an integral part of this country. It’s a sign of tolerance and respect, nothing more.

The Empire State Building, iconic as it may be, is privately-owned, so its owners are allowed to celebrate whatever holidays they wish. They already celebrate Christmas and Hannukah (and will continue to do so), so what’s wrong with celebrating Eid, one of the holiest days for Muslims?

Conservatives like Malkin seem to live in some parallel universe, where they can’t tell the difference between a radical and a moderate Muslim, so why not tar and feather the whole lot of them just to be on the safe side. And if you think about it, it’s not surprising. After all, Malkin wrote a very despicable book justifying internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, so to better, in my opinion, justify interning Muslims in the war against terror today.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Che: A Marketing Success Story

Leftists the world over are celebrating the death of Marxist revolutionary, Ernesto Che Guevara, who died in Bolivia forty-years ago doing what he did best-- overthrowing governments and committing acts of senseless violence. He was a hardline communist, through and through, who dedicated himself to spreading revolution throughout the world; and who fanatically believed that the only way to deal with opposition, in whatever its forms, was to liquidate them. This is why liberals like Paul Berman are dismayed by all the hero worship Che receives. He writes:
The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims.
Yet Che still cuts a romantic figure: handsome and brimming with charisma. These days he's treated more like a celebrity, or a rock star, than a political figure. It helps that he's also a marketing darling, his iconic image used to peddle everything from t-shirts to key chains. Communism has been discredited, for the most part, but the cult of Che still thrives.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 Gone But Not Forgotten

I had no idea stopped publishing. What a loss! It was my favorite web site for all things DVD—from their insightful, penetrating reviews, news, and new DVD releases and announcements.

I started reading them years ago, soon after I bought my first DVD player, and have kept up with them on-and-off since. They use to publish five times a week, and then reduced to two—with a review of a new DVD release on Mondays, and on Tuesdays a list of new releases and announcements. I didn’t have to go anywhere else for my DVD needs.

They published a farewell letter, of sorts, but it’s still unclear to me why they stopped—economics, lack of interest, moving on to other projects, etc? I wished they elaborated a little more. Nevertheless, they’ll be missed.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

One Of Ahmadinejad's Admirers

From a laudatory letter in The Daily Star, a Bangladeshi professes his admiration for the Iranian president.
I am writing to you in regard to the recent visit by Dr. Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, to the United States. He was subsequently invited by Columbia University to deliver a speech to interested students. I am sure you are aware of the media frenzy this event generated in America. I have listened to his entire speech at Columbia University ( and as many conscientious people would agree, I believe he did a great job.
Ahmadinejad’s speech was absurd. Honestly, how can anyone believe, while keeping a straight face, Ahmadinejad when he says there are no homosexuals in Iran, or the Holocaust didn’t happen; and not wince with his unflinching support of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, or calling for the destruction of Israel. That much of the Muslim world, including the letter writer, believes what Ahamdinejad peddles is disturbing but not surprising.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Malaysia: No More Bangladeshis

Malaysia has decided that 300,000 Bangladeshis are more than enough and will not take in any more. Of course, Malaysia doesn’t explain why it's doing this.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said there were now too many workers and agents from Bangladesh in Malaysia.He said the presence of such agents who used Malaysians as sub-agents and the huge amount of money involved "are not a healthy sign, it is not good for the country".
I know manpower export is a sleazy business, and the Home Minister’s reticence explain loads; yet Malaysia still needs workers, it’s just looking elsewhere to get them.
Mohd Radzi told reporters in Putrajaya that Malaysia could obtain workers from 10 other countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Nepal and Laos.

He said the government felt that it would do to rely on these countries for workers.
Why is Bangladesh being discriminated against? Is it their work ethic, are they dishonest, cheats, liars, etc? Considering how many Bangladeshis work overseas, this is an odd stance for Malaysia to take, not to mention an unfair one.