Thursday, October 23, 2014

The National Interest on Putin Peace Plan

From Why the Putin Peace Plan is Working :
"Finally, there is the obvious reluctance of many in the West to countenance a peace that “rewards Putin.” Influential media outlets such as The Economist, Maclean’s, Financial Times, Washington Post and theNew York Times routinely highlight the danger of allowing Putin any semblance of “victory.” To paraphrase British journalist Angus Roxburgh, they see that Putin is part of the problem, but “refuse to concede that he might also be part of the solution.”
But just because some elements of the current peace plan are indeed Putin’s initiative, we should not make the mistake of failing to consider whether it is also in Ukraine’s best interests. If, in the final analysis, the Minsk accords lead to stronger and more respected government institutions, won’t this help to stabilize and unify Ukraine? Is such an outcome not as much in the interests of Ukraine and Europe as it is of Russia?"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Two Meena Kapoor songs from Pardesi 1957

Ragothaman on Indrani Rahman

in his new series Know thy dancer ( the following photo from his blog)

Newsweek on beheadings

When it comes to beheadings, ISIS has nothing over Saudi Arabia
"It’s a mystery why the U.S. and the European Union, which strongly support the regime in Saudi Arabia, with its vast oil wealth and strategic and military importance, do not publicly condemn the country for its grisly, medieval public executions. In September, Secretary of State John F. Kerry was in Saudi Arabia, meeting with Arab diplomats when setting up the coalition again the Islamic State, commonly called ISIS. Human rights violations were not mentioned.
But there is a clear double standard. Iran, for example—Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical rival in the Middle East—is often cited by politicians such as Senator John McCain for gross human rights violations. But Iran, part of what President George W. Bush called “an axis of evil,” has, in fact, a far more democratic political process than Saudi Arabia.
So why the blind eye when it comes to Saudi Arabia? ISIS beheadings are repugnant, but the Saudis’ beheadings are ignored. "
"“Riyadh issues statements against violence of the Islamic State while sentencing prisoners to death, which indicates that the condemnation is not about the violence itself but about its lack of legitimacy,” she says. “Violence by the state is permissible, while violence by non-state actors is not.”"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Remembering Whitlam in the days of Abbott

Cuba fighting Ebola

Cuba's war on Ebola from Al Zajeera
"Cuba's response to the Ebola crisis is in keeping with its tradition of accruing international brownie points via contributions to global health. Back in 2009, the New York Times mentioned that, over the past 50 years, Cuba had "sent more than 185,000 health professionals on medical missions to at least 103 countries"."

Dexter Filkins on Kurds, Iraq, ISIS...

A comprehensive article in The NewYorker 'The fight of their lives' (via
Some points new to me ;
"Al Qaeda in Iraq was run largely by foreigners; ISIS is run by a council of former Iraqi generals, according to Hisham Alhashimi, an adviser to the Iraqi government and an expert on ISIS. Many are members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Baath Party who converted to radical Islam in American prisons. "
"The Obama Administration says that it is neutral in its policy toward Kurdish oil. But analysts say that the U.S. government warnings about buying Kurdish oil have chilled the market."
"With so much oil still to be tapped, many Kurds fear that the country will devolve into a kleptocracy. Hiwa Osman, who owns a communications firm in Erbil, told me, “The choice is between Norway and Nigeria”—that is, between a country where the oil wealth is managed conscientiously and one where it is largely stolen or misappropriated. Osman spent five years in Baghdad during the American war, overseeing a program to train local journalists to cover the government responsibly and aggressively; many of those journalists were murdered while pursuing stories. The problem in the Kurdish region, he told me, is not just that the government is corrupt but that its operations are opaque, and that the press is mostly complacent. "

Jeevan ki rail

salt-tolerant potatos

Dutch team pioneering development of crops fed by sea water "But where does all that salt go? Aren’t we in danger of overdosing on salt if we eat the Salt Farm Texel crops? “What we find is that, if you tease a plant with salt, it compensates with more sugar,” said de Vos. “The strawberries we grow, for example, are very sweet. So nine times out of ten the salt is retained in the leaves of the plant, so you’d have to eat many many kilos of potatoes before you’d exceed your recommended salt intake. But some of the salads are heavy with salt, you wouldn’t eat them by the bucketful." and
"But thanks to a partnership with Dutch development consultants MetaMeta, several tonnes of the Texel seed potatoes are now on their way to Pakistan where thousands of hectares of what until now had been unproductive land because of sea water encroachment have been set aside for them.
If the experiment works and the potatoes adapt to the Asian climate, it could transform the lives of not only small farmers in Pakistan and Bangladesh,, where floods and sea water intrusion wipe out crops with increasing regularity, but also worldwide the 250 million people who live on salt-afflicted soil."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

India blocks Satyardhi

From The Hindu article Hero or persona non grata?  (via Rahul Siddharthan)"Not long ago, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) considered him persona non grata even though he was the first chair of the newly formed alliance for promoting Education for All (EFA), namely the Global Campaign for Education (GCE). In that capacity, we at UNESCO regularly invited him to high-level meetings on EFA to represent civil society. We valued his contributions, which consistently brought to light the educational neglect of working children and called upon developing countries and the international community to fulfil the pledges and promises made at the World Education Forum at Dakar in April 2000.
Hence we were aghast when the leader of the Indian delegation to the Working Group on EFA, a Secretary-level officer in the MHRD, made an informal request to exclude him from future meetings convened by UNESCO on EFA for reasons which were not specified. Despite our politely declining the request on the grounds that Mr. Satyarthi was invited in his capacity as chair of the GCE and that his nationality was merely coincidental, the Indian side persisted and had its way."

Catabolic capitalism

Craig Collins writes "But capitalism’s prime directive is profit, not growth.  If growth turns to contraction and collapse, capitalism won’t evaporate.  Capitalist elites will extract profits from hoarding, corruption, crisis, and conflict.  In a growth-less economy, the profit motive can have a devastating catabolic impact on society.  The word “catabolism” comes from the Greek and is used in biology to refer to the condition whereby a living thing feeds on itself.  Catabolic capitalism is a self-cannibalizing economic system.  Unless we free ourselves from its grip, catabolic capitalism becomes our future.
Capitalism’s catabolic implosion raises important predicaments that climate activists and the Left must consider.  Instead of relentless growth, what if the future becomes a series of energy-induced economic breakdowns–a bumpy, uneven, stair-step tumble off the peak oil plateau?  How will a climate movement respond if credit freezes, financial assets vaporize, currency values fluctuate wildly, trade shuts down, and governments impose draconian measures to maintain their authority?  If Americans can’t find food in the supermarkets, money in the ATMs, gas in the pumps, and electricity in the power lines, will climate be their central concern?"
His solution: "If green community organizers and social movements initiate nonprofit forms of socially responsible banking, production, and exchange that help people survive systemic breakdowns, they will earn valuable public approval and respect.  If they help organize community farms, kitchens, health clinics and neighborhood security, they will gain further cooperation and support.  And if they can rally people to protect their savings and pensions and prevent foreclosures, evictions, layoffs, and workplace shutdowns, then popular resistance to catabolic capitalism will grow dramatically.  To nurture the transition toward a thriving, just, ecologically stable society, all of these struggles must be interwoven and infused with an inspirational vision of how much better life could be if we freed ourselves from this dysfunctional, profit-obsessed, petroleum-addicted system once and for all."

Unread books

My wife Jhansi wanted to throw away my books, half of which are unread, since these days I am mostly reading on kindle. But then my granddaughter Ava started playing with the books and they are saved. One of the books she often picks up is 'Why is sex fun?' by Jarred Diamond. I did not read that book yet but started looking at the third chapter 'Why don't men breast-feed their babies? The non-evolution of male lactation.'
Yesterday's dream. I was walking along with a street with some unknown friend and see some people at a roadside cafe probably in a western country. Suddenly I sort of recognize somebody and say 'He seems to be Robert Trivers' and the friend says that he is. Though I read about his work, I never read any of his books though I have two of them including 'Genes in conflict'. I did not realize that I admired Robert Trivers so much that I wanted a glimpse of him.

Friday, October 17, 2014


'A nation deep in debt; the financial roots of democracy' by James Macdonald. It is turning out to be harder than I expected going back and forth. May take a few more weeks. Two reviews here and here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

From Shair 1949


Most people with addiction simply grow out of it: Why is this widely denied? asks an ex-addict (via MindHacks). Lot of comments. I do not know much about this. I was addicted to mathematics from the ae of 16 and I think that I grew out of it around the age of 65 or so.

Oil weapon?

It was thought that with fracking, USA may be lessening its dependence on middle east and use oil, together with food and of course finance and military as a weapon.It seems that Saudi Arabia has other ideas (all the links from Naked Capitalism). The last linked article talks of worries about deflation News Week writes about deflation problems in Europe.

Magic Number?

Another universal constant? Seth Ackerman in his Jacobin review of Piketty calls r ‘raw’ rate of return and says that it has been steady for centuries. Browsing through ‘A nation deep in debt: the financial roots of democracy’ by James Macdonald I find on page 93 ‘Then in 1482, Venice attempted to revive the old idea on a clean state,… Interest rate was again set at the magic rate of 5%…”. Can somebody comment on this 5%?
P.S. Another recent study of Venice which strangely does not refer to James Macdonald