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[VIDEO] Are Some Cultures Better than Others?

Are some cultures better than others? Or are all cultures and their values equal? Bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza, who was born in India and moved to America, explains.

Source: PragerU

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Bitcoin Value Crashes by Nearly 20%

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Lucas Nolan reports: Bitcoin value took a dramatic dive Thursday with the cryptocurrency’s value falling by as much as 18% to $820 per coin, according to Business Insider.

Bitcoin made headlines earlier this week when the cryptocurrency value surpassed $1000, its highest valuation since 2013, but Bitcoin traders didn’t enjoy the sudden increase for too long as the price began to fall rapidly. By 8AM EST on Thursday a single coin was valued at $892. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Gurgaon: India’s Private City 

Thirty years ago, Gurgaon barely existed. There were no high-rises. No kitschy shopping malls. No 27-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf courses. Until six years ago, the metropolis of two million people didn’t even have a municipal government.

So how did Gurgaon become one of the world’s fastest growing cities – India’s third wealthiest – in three decades?

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The last time I was in India, it was a familiar scene. The rickshaws rumbling through busy bazaars. Shoppers haggling over everything from gemstones to silk sarees. Pilgrims prostrating their way to salvation. Authentic street food, enhanced by locally-sourced infectious pathogens.

This time around, I knew the country had changed. I wanted to see the effects of thirteen years of market reform and hypergrowth since my last visit. So I summoned an Uber (already something new) and headed 15 miles south of my Delhi hotel.

As the crumbling roads of the capital city opened up into a 32-lane expressway, the old India I thought I knew, gave way to the future. I’d arrived in the city of Gurgaon.

It’s hard to imagine, but twenty-five years ago, there was nothing here. No high-rises. No kitschy shopping malls with Vegas-like trompe l’oeil ceilings. No 27-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf courses. Stretching back to medieval times, Gurgaon was nothing more than a plot of rocky soil with a small marketplace. Until six years ago, it didn’t even have a municipal government. So what happened?

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When Delhi banned private real estate development in the 1950s, Kushal Pal Singh began buying land south of the city limits. His company, Delhi Land and Finance, offered cash and equity stakes to farmers in Gurgaon. Many of these cowherds became instant crorepatis – millionaires, in the local lingo – while KP Singh would become the fifth richest man in India by the turn of the century.

The state of Haryana eased land use restrictions, making it easy for developers to use their land as they saw fit. But once land was converted from farmland to commercial use, it was still classified as rural. That’s how Gurgaon ended up as a city without a city government. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Set to Approve Moon Mission by Commercial Space Venture 

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Startup Proposes to Land Payload of Scientific Gear on Lunar Surface Some Time Next Year.

Andy Pastor reports: U.S. officials appear poised to make space history by giving the green light to the first private mission aiming to go beyond Earth orbit, according to people familiar with the details.

The government’s endorsement would eliminate the largest regulatory obstacle to plans by Moon Express, a relatively obscure space startup, to land a roughly 20-pound package of scientific hardware on the Moon sometime next year. It also would provide the biggest federal boost yet for unmanned commercial space exploration and, potentially, the first in an array of for-profit ventures throughout the solar system.

The expected decision, said the people familiar with the details, is expected to set important legal and diplomatic precedents for how Washington will ensure such nongovernmental projects comply with longstanding international space treaties. The principles are likely to apply to future spacecraft whose potential purposes range from mining asteroids to tracking space debris.

Approval of a formal launch license for the second half of 2017 is still months away, and the proposed mission poses huge technical hurdles for California-based Moon Express, including the fact that the rocket it wants to use hasn’t yet flown.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

But the project’s proponents have considered federal clearance of the suitcase-size MX-1 lander and its payload as well as approval of a planned two-week operation on the Moon itself to pose the most significant legal challenges to the mission.

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After months of lobbying by Moon Express officials and high-level deliberations among various federal agencies led by the White House science office, the people familiar with the matter said, the company appears close to obtaining what it has called “mission approval.” Until recently, Moon Express faced a regulatory Catch-22 because there was no template for getting Washington’s blessing for what it proposed.

Official action coordinated through the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates U.S. rocket launches and is responsible for traditional payload reviews, could come as soon as the next few weeks, these people said. Read the rest of this entry »


Google Exploring Shanghai’s Free-Trade Zone

Companies such as Amazon and Apple use Shanghai’s free-trade zone to run some of their value-added services in China, due to the area’s looser rules on foreign capital.

Yang Jie reports: The jury is still out on the business benefits of Shanghai’s free-trade zone— but one notable U.S. tech giant is among the firms that has dipped a toe into the pilot area’s waters.

“The free-trade zone’s rules make it easier for foreign companies to run e-commerce operations, for example. But they have little benefit when it comes to activities such as Internet search and e-mail, which are dependent on the location of the server and the storage of data”

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., set up a company in Shanghai’s pioneer free-trade zone last year, according to online filings reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Companies such as Amazon and Apple use Shanghai’s free-trade zone to run some of their value-added services in China, due to the area’s looser rules on foreign capital and greater freedom in terms of industries that foreign businesses can participate in.

The free-trade zone’s rules make it easier for foreign companies to run e-commerce operations, for example. But they have little benefit when it comes to activities such as Internet search and e-mail, which are dependent on the location of the server and the storage of data, according to people familiar with the matter.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the issue. The company’s establishment was first reported on Monday by The Paper, a Shanghai-based media outlet.
Read the rest of this entry »


The Mystery of Hillary’s Missing Millions 

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If the Clintons made $230 million, spent $135 million and have just $45 million left over, what happened to the other $50 million?

Dan Alexander reports: Since Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House in 2001, they have earned more than $230 million. But in federal filings the Clintons claim they are worth somewhere between $11 million and $53 million. After layering years of disclosures on top of annual tax returns, Forbes estimates their combined net worth at $45 million. Where did all of the money go? No one seems to know, and the Clintons aren’t offering any answers.

“I don’t see how that would be possible…That’s quite a quite a mystery you have on your hands.”

— Jim Gilmore

From 2001 to 2014 the power couple spent $95 million on taxes. Hillary’s 2008 presidential run cost her $13 million. Their two homes cost a combined $5 million, and the Clintons have given away $22 million to charity. All of this is according to FEC filings, property records and years of tax returns. Add it up and you get $135 million. If the Clintons made $230 million, spent $135 million and have just $45 million left over, what happened to the other $50 million?

“That’s kind of strange,” says Joe Biden’s accountant, Walter Deyhle. “You have to report all of your assets. You have to report assets that are owned by your spouse.”

“That’s kind of strange. You have to report all of your assets. You have to report assets that are owned by your spouse.”

— Joe Biden’s accountant, Walter Deyhle.

It seems unlikely that the Clintons could have spent all of it. Over 14 years $50 million averages out to $3.6 million in extra expenses per year, or $9,800 per day.

WHERE COULD THAT much money have disappeared? The Clintons have been speaking around the world for years, and they count millions in travel expenses under their businesses. It is unclear whether they have paid for additional travel expenses out of their own PANTSUIT-REPORTpockets. It seems unlikely, but they could have given it away overseas: Donations to foreign charities are not deductible and would not be listed on tax returns. Billionaires like Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, Lakshmi Mittal of India and Joseph Safra of Brazil have donated to their foundation. Maybe the Clintons are returning the favor?

Or maybe they have given millions to their daughter, Chelsea, although she has plenty of her own money, after working for years and marrying hedge fund manager Marc Mezvinsky in 2010. The problem with all of these ideas is they are merely guesses. The Clintons did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Others were just as perplexed as we were. Read the rest of this entry »


India: Journalist Jagendra Singh Set on Fire and Burned to Death After Facebook Post Making Allegations Against Local Politician

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Lizzie Dearden reports: A journalist has reportedly been burned alive in India after publishing allegations of corruption and land grabs against a local politician.

Ram Murti Verma, a cabinet minister on Uttar Pradesh’s legislative assembly, has been arrested alongside five others in connection with the death of Jagendra Singh, the Press Trust of India reported.

Mr Singh died of his injuries in hospital in the city of Lucknow yesterday after he was doused with petrol and set on fire. Jagendra Singh died on Monday after suffering severe burns

Police in the town of Shahjehanpur told IBN Live that Mr Singh set himself alight.

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Jagendra Singh published allegations about a local politician on Facebook

“There was a case against Jagendra Singh. We tried to arrest him but he committed suicide,” a spokesperson said, without specifying the allegations.

Mr Singh, who was married, ran a local online newspaper in the town and published short reports in Hindi on Facebook.

He had two accounts. One was in his own name and another carried his picture under the title Shahjahanpur Samachar – Hindi for Shahjahanpur News. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Chinese University’s Video Boldly Goes Where Others Have Gone Before

Te-Ping Chen writes: China has long struggled with the question of how to build world-class universities Fudan-tokyo-video-wsjthat encourage creativity and innovation. This week, that challenge was again in the spotlight after Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University – one of the country’s best schools – pulled a glossy promotional video from its website, following a public outcry over allegations of plagiarism.

Posted earlier this week, the video bears a striking resemblance to the University of Tokyo’s official promotional video, “Explorer,” which was released last year. In it, an astronaut walks through campus and the city of Tokyo, narrating in English in a contemplative voice.

“I took this city as an explorer, ate with strangers from the same bowl, laughed, partied together, became a family,” the astronaut intones in English, as the video shows footage of her busting various moves on a laser beam-lit dance floor. The video culminates with a shot of the main character removing her white helmet to reveal a woman identified as astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, class of 1993.

Fudan University’s film follows a similar arc, with the main character dressed in a flight suit and shown partying on a dance floor. When she whips off her helmet at the end of the video, it is revealed that she is Le Yafei, class of 2009 and a flight test engineer.

Social media users were quick to mock the video, which the university explained earlier this week was produced in English in keeping with its increasingly internationalized campus. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Sending Disaster Response Team, $1 Million in Aid to Nepal

Kathmandu Struck By Powerful Earthquake

(WASHINGTON)—The United States is sending a disaster response team and $1 million in aid to Nepal following a devastating earthquake that shook three countries.

The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry are offering condolences along with pledging the support.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake outside the capital Kathmandu killed more than 1,000 people in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. It also toppled buildings and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest.

Kerry says in a statement that the United States stands with the people of Nepal and sends heartfelt sympathies.

He says USAID is preparing to deploy the disaster assistance response team and is activating an urban search and rescue team.

National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says the U.S. stands ready to provide further assistance in the region.

[TIME]


Hot Rods: Custom Camel Culture

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In India’s Thar Desert, nomads rely so much on camels for survival that the animals are revered. Livestock owners take great pride in their camels, carving intricate patterns in their fur.

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iOS Conceal Carry: Women in India Fight Sexual Harassment with Smartphones

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Interest in phone apps with SOS buttons to alert contacts and websites to report sexual harassment has surged as more women challenge the view that they have a lower status than men

New Delhi —  Nita Bhalla and Alisa Tang, report: Indian women armed with smartphones are using the clout of social media to fight sexual harassment by filming and publicly shaming men who molest them as greater awareness of violence against women spreads.

In the latest of a series of incidents, a young Indian woman used her smartphone to shoot video of a man sitting behind her on an IndiGo airline flight who tried to grope her between the seats. She filmed her rebuke of him in front of the other passengers.

“A video is a weapon that scares patriarchy. The proof, like in the IndiGo case, is mostly undeniable. It leaves the woman with more power than usual to fight for her own cause with little need of either empathy or logistical help from a man. It pins a man down for his crimes with little scope of escape.”

— Piyasree Dasgupta, on leading news website firstpost.com

The video, posted on YouTube last week, went viral, adding to growing anger over gender violence in the world’s second most populous country where women are frequently sexually harassed in public and on transportation.

The trend to name-and-shame sex offenders comes after the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in Delhi in 2012. The incident sparked public protests and led to a national debate about the security of women – encouraging victims once embarrassed to come forward to use smartphones to expose perpetrators.

Interest in safety apps with SOS buttons to alert contacts and websites to report sexual harassment has surged in the past year or so as more women challenge the age-old patriarchal attitudes in India that view women as lower status than men. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Viral Vengeance: Man Video-Shamed for Molesting a Girl on an Indigo Flight

‘This man on the seat behind mine, put his fingers in the seat gap to touch me!!! I was very shocked for sometime to react. By then the flight went to landing mode. Then the moment flight touched down, i got up. Saw his hand was again on the side ready to take up any opportunity to touch me!!! I created such a scene, humiliated him in front of the whole flight! He thought like usual girls will keep quiet and he can get away with this! I have lodged an FIR now! He is a very rich man of Bhubaneswar and is now very humiliated in front of the people who know him. Cant believe the ordeal i had to go thru but being silent is a crime! The police officer was very helpful and the Indigo staff remained with me throughout. The man is under police custody currently.

I clicked his pictures and made videos, shouted so loud that the entire plane came forward to see him! i made sure i humiliate him as much as possible because i know law will do nothing’

source: YouTube


Super-Secret Shadow Government

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Charlie Spiering writes: President Obama met with American Muslim leaders this afternoon, according to the White House schedule, but so far the administration is unwilling to reveal who attended the meeting, which was closed to the press.

The White House released a readout of the meeting explaining that Obama discussed “a range of domestic and foreign policy issues” including Obamacare, police fairness, anti-Muslim discrimination, and the upcoming Summit on Countering Violence Extremism.

APTOPIX White House Sunrise

“The President discussed the need to continue countering ISIL and other groups that commit horrific acts of violence, purportedly in the name of Islam,” the readout continued. Read the rest of this entry »


Sick Freaks: Captured Jordanian Pilot Burned Alive in a Cage by Islamic State Fighters

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Releases Video Depicts Captured Jordanian Pilot Burned Alive

Asa Fitch, Suha Ma’ayeh and Maria Abi-Habib report:

Islamic State jihadists released a video on Tuesday purporting to show captured Jordanian air force pilot First Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh burned alive, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

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If the video is authentic, the killing would mark the first time Islamic State has used burning to execute a high-profile prisoner. 

The 22-minute video, which SITE said was distributed via Twitter , begins with footage of Jordanian involvement in a U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State’s spread, before showing a man with a black eye who appears to be Lt. Kasasbeh describing Jordan’s military operations.

The video ends with the apparent execution of the man. He is shown being burned alive inside a cage by Islamic State fighters.

Lt. Mu'ath al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State group's fighters after they shot down a warplane from the U.S.-led coalition near Raqqa city, Syria PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Lt. Mu’ath al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State group’s fighters after they shot down a warplane from the U.S.-led coalition near Raqqa city, Syria PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SITE, an organization that tracks extremist activities, has verified numerous Islamic State videos in the past that later proved to be authentic, but government authorities have yet to declare the latest video is genuine.

If the video is authentic, the killing would mark the first time Islamic State has used burning to execute a high-profile prisoner. The group has beheaded numerous high-profile hostages in the past, including two Japanese men in the past two weeks. Read the rest of this entry »


This Day in History, January 30th, 1948: Mohandas Gandhi Assassinated

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Gandhi was assassinated on this day in 1948, a shocking and dispiriting event covered by media all across the world, including a mournful Nation. But perhaps more interesting to read today is this article from our issue of May 6, 1897, “East Indians in South Africa,” written by Alfred Webb, an Irish MP and an early president of the Indian National Congress.

Mahatma Gandhi, lying in state, after his assassinatino in 1948. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Mahatma Gandhi, lying in state, after his assassinatino in 1948. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

According to the historian Ramachandra Guha, this is the first mention of Gandhi ever to appear in the American press.

The population of India increases rapidly and encroaches upon the means of subsistence. South Africa is the nearest outlet for emigration. The climate is congenial; and thither numbers of Indians have repaired…. While all were at first welcomed as helpful toward the development of the country, all alike have been subjected to disabilities by color prejudice and by law…. M.K. Gandhi, a Hindu barrister, long resident in South Africa, returned to India to arouse public interest in the subject. His address at Bombay, last September, has been published…Mr. Gandhi says: “The general feeling throughout South Africa is that of hatred towards the Indians, encouraged by the newspapers and connived at, even countenanced, by the legislators…(read more)

January 30, 1948

The Nation


All the Annoying Stories the New York Times Has Done on Cows, Snakes, and Monkeys in India

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India’s Motorcycle Dare Devils will Perform at the Republic Day Parade


[VIDEO] Happy Friday Face-Flame Vodka Shot

Four friends sat in a room looking forward to a good time.

Of course, some drinks were also added in the mix to help with the said good time. However it soon turned into a scene out of a sci-fi film,  when one man downed his flaming vodka, only to discover that he had set himself on fire…(more)

India Today


Tantric Hindu painting

Tantric

Tantric Hindu painting: A meditation on the endless dance of energy


Indian Spacecraft Orbits Mars

And it was their first attempt — beating the less than 50% success rate of all Mars missions to date.  Read all about it here.


Hindu Activists in India Warn Women to Beware of ‘Love Jihad’

Conservative Hindu activist Chetna Sharma warns Hindu women that Muslim men will try to trick them into marriage and force them to convert to Islam. Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal

Conservative Hindu activist Chetna Sharma warns Hindu women that Muslim men will try to trick them into marriage and force them to convert to Islam. Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal

AURANGABAD, India—NIHARIKA MANDHANA writes: Conservative Hindu activist Chetna Sharma looked sternly at her audience of more than 40 young Hindu women gathered in the living room of a rural home and issued a warning: Muslim men would try to trick them into marriage and force them to convert to Islam.

“When one Hindu girl leaves to be with a Muslim, four or five new members will be added to that community.”

Given a chance, Muslim men would force a woman “to have two or three children and then leave her, or rape her, or throw acid on her if she resists, or murder her,” she said. “You can’t even imagine what can happen if you don’t protect yourself from love jihad.”Junho Kim-WSJ

“A majoritarian Hinduism got elected and that is having rather subtle but threatening consequences.”

Right-wing Hindu organizations and politicians have mounted a high-profile drive against “love jihad,” which they paint as a dark, international conspiracy aimed at eroding Hindus’ demographic dominance in India by brainwashing Hindu women.

[The cover of the latest edition of Panchjanya, a right-wing magazine, asks: Is love blind or a business? Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal]

Authorities say they haven’t found any proof of an Islamist conspiracy to convert or abuse Hindu women. Critics of the Hindu right dismiss the whole thing as nonsense. And Muslim leaders decry it as a campaign of hate. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Look! Squirrel!’ Redskins Controversy: Does Trademark Law Violate First Amendment?

Supreme Court Affirmitive Action

Regulatory adventurism–an arm of government being misused for a political, narrow, misguided agenda–naturally raises legal questions. Can you imagine so much effort on the part of a tyrannical minority of activists about a ruling that most Americans, and most native Americans think is a pointless solution to an imaginary problem?

For Brietbart.com, Ken Kuklowski writes:

Yesterday’s decision from the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to cancel the trademark protections of the Washington Redskins professional football team, ruling that the word “redskins” is disparaging to Americans descended from indigenous people instead of immigrants, has sparked an energetic conversation raising serious legal and constitutional issues.

“To be clear: the federal government is not banning anyone from using the term ‘redskins.’”

Trademark law permits PTO to reject trademark protection to terms that PTO finds disparaging. Specifically, PTO may deny trademark registration under 15 U.S.C. § 1052 when a term, “consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

“…Instead, PTO is saying they no longer have the right to use the term exclusively to retain all financial benefits from its use.”

Lawyers for the Redskins argued that the trademark is (1) old and (2) well used, and (3) has tremendous financial value as a brand name. And one judge on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dissented from the decision to revoke the Redskins’ longstanding trademark protection. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Who Gets to Speak First at Holy Remembrance Ceremony? Let’s Settle That Question OLD-School, 13th-Century Style

30th Anniversary of an Army Raid on India’s Golden Temple

Footage showed rival groups of Sikhs fighting each other on a staircase.

RAMINDER PAL SINGH/EPA

Dramatic images showed Sikhs rushing out of the temple, brandishing their swords. RAMINDER PAL SINGH/EPA

“Today we were supposed to have a solemn remembrance for the martyrs of 1984, so what happened is very sad.”

— Prem Singh Chandumajra

The clashes broke out after arguments over who would speak first at a ceremony to mark a deadly military offensive there in 1984. Hundreds of Sikhs had gathered but the ceremony soon erupted into violence. Read the rest of this entry »


White House Story Unraveling: US Knew Bowe Bergdahl Had Deserted, Investigated Him

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For The Daily CallerChristopher Bedford reports: As early as 2010, the Pentagon had confirmed that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had deserted his post in 2009, and even before he deserted he had been the subject of “a major classified file” by U.S. intelligence.

[Also see: The soldiers in Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon speak up: We Swore to an Oath and We Upheld Ours. He Did Not.’– The Weekly Standard]

A 2010 investigation by the Pentagon found there was solid evidence that Bergdahl hadn’t lagged behind on patrol, as first reported, and had indeed walked from his post, AP reports. The Pentagon decided at that point to draw down search-and-rescue operations. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hammer: America’s War on Carbon Is Economic Suicide, Global Do-Goodism

“Any scientific theory that explains everything explains nothing.”

Despite the United States reducing its carbon emissions to 1992 levels, worldwide carbon emissions are higher than ever, “because we don’t control the emissions of the other 96 percent of humanity, especially China and India,” he said…(read more(

“And no matter what happens in climate that’s unpleasant, it’s attributed to global warming.”

National Review Online


Election Spoofs, Fake News, Political Satire Flourishing in India

Candidate Narendra Modi is spoofed using an iconic scene from Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator

Candidate Narendra Modi is spoofed using an iconic scene from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator

Political ass-kicking in India: Spoofs on the internet and TV

Jay Mazoomdaar writes: For a people not known to take themselves lightly, a surprising number of Indians are laughing their way to the general election.

A generous dose of irreverent political humour is now competing with shrill campaign rhetoric, thanks to a new crop of satirists.

The genre is not new in India – there is a rich tradition of cartoons in newspapers – but the appetite for political satire is.

CNN-IBN‘s spoof show – The Week That Wasn’t, starring Cyrus Broacha – was popular long before the last general elections in 2009, and Hindi show Pol Khol (Expose) by Shekhar Suman on Star News became a hit during the 2004 elections. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: Chinese Site May Show Debris Images of Missing Malaysian Jet

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Satellite images on a Chinese government website show suspected debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner floating off the southern tip of Vietnam, near the plane’s original flight path, China’s Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The revelation could provide searchers with a focus that has eluded them since the plane disappeared with 239 people aboard just hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday. Since then, the search has covered 35,800 square miles (92,600 square kilometers), first east and then west of Malaysia and even expanded toward India on Wednesday.

“There’s too much information and confusion right now. It is very hard for us to decide whether a given piece of information is accurate…We will not give it up as long as there’s still a shred of hope.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, Beijing

The Chinese sighting, if confirmed, would be closer to where the frantic hunt started.

Read the rest of this entry »


Currency Crises Abroad Are Benefiting the U.S.

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If this looks like good news, think again. Being the ‘best looking horse in the glue factory’ isn’t an enviable position to be in.

Christopher Matthews writes:  Analysts are calling them “The Fragile Five,” a catchy sobriquet for five countries–Turkey, Brazil, India, South Africa and Indonesia–that have been experiencing serious turmoil in their economies and currencies in recent weeks.

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Victor Albrow / Getty Images

To one degree or another these five economies have been rocked by foreign investors who are taking their money and parking it in safer and increasingly more lucrative investments in developed countries like the U.S. This capital flight has caused these nations’ currencies to plummet in value, forcing central banks to raise interest rates and possibly weaken economic growth at home. This week, the Turkish Central Bank raised its interest rate a stunning 4.5%, hoping to convince investors to keep their money in Turkey.

So what exactly does a currency crisis in Turkey or India have to do with the U.S.? In recent days, foreign leaders like Brazilian President Dilma Roussef reportedly laid blame for economic troubles in her country at the feet of the United States’Federal Reservesaying ”the withdrawal of the monetary stimulus in developed countries” was fueling “market volatility.” Some analysts have dismissed this as simple scapegoating, but according to Eswar Prasad, a Cornell economist and author of a forthcoming book on the international monetary system, The Dollar Trap,  the analysis is not entirely off the mark. Volatility in places like Brazil “isn’t an indictment of Federal Reserve policy, but it certainly is a side effect,” he says.

Read the rest of this entry »


India: Innovative Education

Where there is a will, there is a way…

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It is an unusual school in an unusual location and is run by an unusual teacher.

Rajesh Kumar is a shopkeeper by profession but spends hours every morning teaching around 80 children from the poorest of the poor in India’s capital.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wife of India Minister Found Dead after Twitter Conflict

Sunanda Puskhar Tharoor, right, wife of India's Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, poses with her husband at the Indian F1 Grand Prix outside New Delhi, October 27, 2013. Sunanda, 52, was found dead in a New Delhi hotel room Friday, police said, days after she was involved in a row with a Pakistani woman on Twitter.

Sunanda Puskhar Tharoor, right, wife of India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, poses with her husband at the Indian F1 Grand Prix outside New Delhi, October 27, 2013. Sunanda, 52, was found dead in a New Delhi hotel room Friday, days after she was involved in a row with a Pakistani woman on Twitter.

William M. Welch  reports:  Abhinav Kumar, a minister’s aide, said that Tharoor and his wife had moved into the five-star hotel Thursday while their home was being painted. The minister first thought his wife was sleeping when he returned to their suite Friday night after a meeting, but she was found dead, he said.

Pushkar on Thursday gave a series of rambling interviews to Indian TV stations in which she said did not plan to leave her husband.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! The French, Too? France Surpasses U.S.A. in Whiskey Consumption

First Japan buys Jim Beam. Now this. 

Roberto A. Ferdman writes:  Japanese beverage giant Suntory is acquiring Beam, which makes Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbons, among other spirits, for $16 billion. The two companies control nearly 10% of the global whiskey market, according to International Wine and Spirit Research. Combined, they will obviously be going after a larger share.

whiskey-liquor-store

A quick gander at global whiskey consumption helps show where the promise lies. India is far and away the world’s biggest guzzler, owing in part to its large population. Roughly half of the world’s whiskey is drunk by the sub-continent, according to Euromonitor. Most of it is made by UB India, the world’s largest whiskey company by volume.

But when those numbers are broken down per capita, India falls well outside of the picture. France, Uruguay, and the United States soar to the top…

[See the chart, and weep]  Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Nirbheek: New Gun Made for Women, Will it Make Them Safer? HELL Yes

This news feature is riddled with subtle (and not-so-subtle) anti-gun bias, and has an overall tone that I think is condescending to women. And men. Even the original title’s suggestion: ‘…but will it make women feel safer?” is offensive. The reporters here are all male, and though they make an appearance of getting contrasting points of view, it’s obvious that these men do not approve.

Which is interesting, because every woman in India that’s beaten, raped, or killed, is a sister. A wife. A mother. A daughter. Someone with men in their lives who endure profound suffering, having a family member victimized. These men don’t need to be insulted by some fatuous reporter narrating a news segment. The Supreme court in India recently ruled–not unlike here in the U.S. –no one is obligated to be a victim, and the option of protecting yourself, with deadly force if necessary, is a fundamental, universal human right.

A minor, but annoying error, in the news report, is the image on screen repeatedly flipping back and forth between a certified Nirbheek, and a gun that is obviously not a Nirbheek (it looks more like a hammerless Smith & Weapon or Ruger .38) with no effort to explain the repetitive, arbitrary appearance of gun that’s not relevant to the news report.

More worrisome: the most glaring falsehood in this video news report appears a few minutes in, when the narrator asks if “arming half the population” is really the answer. Excuse me? Who said anything about arming half the population?

Then he suggests it’s not really about protecting victims, it’s just a marketing ploy by gun companies. A smug comment, but about what you’d expect from an anchor, media figure, or news reporter who enjoys the luxury of working in an office building protect by armed private security guards. Someone who takes his personal safety for granted.

The notion that anyone is advocating that half the population– every woman in India–should be armed is misleading, absurd, dishonest, and stupid. Even if a fraction of the adult female population (or any other group that’s vulnerable to predators and violent criminals) were armed, 5-10%, or only 3%, this is a powerful deterrent. The evidence backs this up. Rapes and murders are always higher in places with the strictest anti-gun laws, where citizens are forbidden or restricted from individually protecting themselves.

[See Maps made by the U.N. office on Drugs and Crime clearly show that where gun ownership is highest in the world, crime is lowest on a per capita basis]

In fact, that’s the whole point of a concealed weapon. An attacker can’t know who is, or isn’t carrying one.

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Defense Against Rape: Meet the Nirbheek, India’s First Firearm for Women

Lightweight revolver intended for self-defense amid rising sexual violence against women
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Nirbheek weighs 500 grams, can fit into a purse.

What’s the most rational, effective way to combat the rising tide of rape and violence that plagues women in India?  Arm them. Yes. The threat of deadly force is a proven deterrent. A concealed weapon is a potent equalizer. A weapon designed and manufactured for women, named in honor of a martyred gang-rape victim, is sure to send a message.

[See also: [VIDEO] Nirbheek: New Gun Made for Women, Will it Make Them Safer? HELL Yes]

From the Times of India:

LUCKNOW: Giving more power to women to defend themselves and as a tribute to December 2012 gangrape victim Nirbhaya, the Indian Ordnance Factory, Kanpur, has manufactured Nirbheek, a .32 bore light weight revolver, India’s first firearm designed for women. At 500 grams, it is also the first IOF handgun made of titanium alloy.

“The revolver is capable of firing six rounds loaded in a revolving chamber, hence any misfire of a round does not affect next shot, unlike in a pistol.”

Priced at Rs 1,22,360, Nirbheek was launched on January 6 and has already received around 80 formal enquiries and over 20 bookings. “At least 80% bookings are from women licensees,” says Abdul Hameed, general manager of IOF. Described by arms experts as an Indian hybrid of a Webley & Scott and Smith & Wesson, for its simple mechanism and light frame, it is the smallest revolver made in India — an ideal to fit a purse or a small hand bag.

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India’s Hefty ‘Naughty Boy’ Rocket Comes in from Cold

dn24821-1_300Jacob Aron  writes:  India’s most powerful space rocket blasted off on Sunday in the vehicle’s first successful launch for a decade. Previously feared unreliable, the rocket could one day allow the fledgling space power to send a robot, and even people, to the moon.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota and used it to put a 2-tonne communications satellite in orbit.

Known as the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), the rocket was first launched in 2001, when it failed to place the satellite it was carrying into the correct orbit. Two successful launches in 2003 and 2004 followed, but then a string of failures left the GSLV as one of the most unreliable rockets in use today. “Some used to call the GSLV the naughty boy of ISRO,” said K. Sivan, the rocket’s project director. “The naughty boy has become obedient.”

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Nuclear Gangbangers

gangster-nukesHostile countries with nuclear capabilities have the upper hand on the global police
Victor Davis Hanson writes: The gangster state of North Korea became a nuclear power in 2006–07, despite lots of foreign aid aimed at precluding just such proliferation — help usually not otherwise accorded such a loony dictatorship. Apparently the civilized world rightly suspected that, if nuclear, Pyongyang would either export nuclear material and expertise to other unstable countries, or bully its successful but non-nuclear neighbors — or both.

The United States has given billions of dollars in foreign aid to Pakistan, whose Islamist gangs have spearheaded radical anti-American terrorism. Ever since a corrupt Pakistan went nuclear in 1998, it has been able to extort such foreign-aid payouts — on fears that one of its nukes might end up in the hands of terrorists.

By any measure of economic success or political stability, without nuclear weapons Pakistan would not warrant either the cash or the attention it wins.

An observant Iran appreciates three laws of current nuclear gangbanging:

1. Nuclear weapons earn a reputation.

2. The more loco a nuclear nation sounds, the more likely it is that civilized states will fear that it is not subject to nuclear deterrence, and so the more likely that they will pay bribes for it to behave. Gangbangers always claim they have nothing to lose; their more responsible intended targets have everything to lose.

3. As of yet there are no 100 percent effective nuclear-defense systems that can guarantee non-nuclear powers absolute safety from a sudden attack. The nuclear gangbanger, not the global police, currently has the upper hand.

Again, the actual bombs are not the problem. We do not worry about a nuclear but democratic Israel or France. We are not even bothered by a hostile but non-nuclear Cuba or Venezuela. The combination of a bomb with a rap sheet is what changes all diplomatic and strategic considerations.

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[VIDEO] Sachal Studios: Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ Like You’ve Never Heard It

Sachal Studios’ Take Five Official Video


JACKPOT, BABY: $1.2 Million in Gold Bars Found Stashed in Boeing 737’s Bathroom

A customs officer (right) shows 24 gold bars to the media after it was seized at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, India, on Wednesday.

A customs officer (right) shows 24 gold bars to the media after it was seized at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, India, on Wednesday.

Alexander Smith NBC News reports:  A hidden stash of gold bars worth $1.2 million was found in a commercial jet’s bathroom on Tuesday, according to officials in India.

An aircraft maintenance crew found the 24 gold bars in two bags aboard a Jet Airways Boeing 737 while they performed routine end-of-day checks at Kolkata, India, airport.

“It was quite a surprise,” airport director BP Sharma told NBC News. “The bars were packed in bags so we did not immediately know what it was. The bags were inspected and found to be gold.”

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World Overnight: Why Indians and Pakistanis Find This Ad Incredibly Moving

Despite the tensions between the governments of India and Pakistan, this commercial, released by Google India on Wednesday, makes the point that the personal connections between Indians and Pakistanis run deep.

The story of the ad, entitled ‘Reunion’, begins in India, where an old man, Baldev, reminisces to his grand daughter Suman about his childhood friend Yousuf, with whom he lost touch after the India-Pakistan partition in 1947.

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Contemplating the Ghost

Contemplating the Ghost Chile

Happy Halloween! I’ve eaten and cooked with various kinds of dangerously hot peppers before, but have yet to encounter the Ghost Pepper ভূত জলকীয়া) (Bhot Jolokia) fresh or preserved, though I’ve been curious to try it. I discovered this at an Asian market last week, and immediately bought it.

I’m looking for ideas, recipes to try. Help me take advantage of the Ghost’s legendary heat! I welcome instructions from any chefs out there. Any suggestions?

From friedas.com:

Also known the Bhut Jolokia or Naga Jolokia, the Ghost Chile originates in India and is considered one of the hottest commercially available chiles in the world. (At this time, only the Trinidad Scorpion Chile is hotter.) Frieda’s Dried Ghost Chiles are twice as hot as Dried Habanero Chiles, and should be used sparingly in recipes. CAUTION: Wear gloves and use caution when handling this chile, and do not touch eyes, nose or mouth after handling.


China, India Sign Border Cooperation Agreement

India

(BEIJING) — China and India signed a confidence-building accord Wednesday to cooperate on border defense following a standoff between armed forces of the two Asian giants in disputed Himalayan territory earlier this year.

The agreement followed a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also had trade ties on the agenda as India seeks to gain greater access to Chinese markets and attract inbound Chinese investment. Read the rest of this entry »