More in US
Obama is pushing credit card reform legislation that will hit at the predatory practices of the credit card companies. Not so say that all are bad, but there are enough companies which lure people in with low initial rates and then raise the rate even on past purchases and without knowledge of the people who owe the money. People have obviously been taken in as the interest rates can go up to the vicinity of 30%.
Obama argued for reform and transparency in the credit card workings.
“Enough’s enough. It’s time for strong reliable protections for our consumers. It’s time for reform that’s built on transparency and accountability and mutual responsibility, values fundamental to the new foundation we seek to build for our economy.”
Its time for change.. to world where one can charge that you can “believe” in!
We have reported time and again, with the ONLY report links available in the media, on this revelation – i.e; that Lt Gen Mahmood had directed Sayeed Sheikh to wire $100,000 to Mohd. Atta.[Report #1]. The tremendous effort that went in to obfuscate the truth by the Republican Government led by Dick Cheney (come on.. Bush was just a toy!) – is indeed amazing!
What the FBI agent Glass reveals here in this piece about the intention of the ISI Agent RG Abbas who says in an undercover wiretap that his purchases were financed by Bin Laden are indeed SHOCKING! Specially when you listen to Glass narrating what Abbas told him when they came out of the NY restaurant pointing towards the World Trade Towers. Truly shocking EVEN for me.. who has very closely followed this story ever since it first appeared in TOI and then on WSJ!
Today is the completion of 100 days for Barack Obama. How do you think he has done?
For last two days, Hillary Clinton has been making statements that I never thought any US administration official could ever make. But today’s statement below is completely astounding as it comes from the highest foreign policy official from Obama Administration. It might be music to many in Pakistan and a rather stinging assessment of the previous administrations. Worth recording.
“We can point fingers at the Pakistanis. I did some yesterday frankly. And its merited because we are wondering why they just don’t go out out there and deal with these people… But the problems we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan… Let’s remember here…the people we are fighting today we funded them twenty years ago… and we did it because we were locked in a struggle with the Soviet Union…they invaded Afghanistan…and we did not want to see them control Central Asia and we went to work…and it was President Reagan in partnership with the Congress led by Democrats who said you know what it sounds like a pretty good idea… let’s deal with the ISI and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these mujahideens … and great… let them come from Saudi Arabia and other countries… importing their wahaabhi brand of islam so that we can go beat the Soviet Union… and guess what.. they (Soviets) retreated… they lost billions of dollars and it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union… So there is a very strong argument which is…it wasn’t a bad investment in terms of Soviet Union but lets be careful with what we sow…because we will harvest… So we then left Pakistan… We said okay fine you deal with the stingers that we left all over your country… you deal with the mines that are along the border and… by the way we don’t want to have anything to do with you… in fact we’re sanctioning you… So we stopped dealing with the Pakistani military and with ISI and we now are making up for a lot of lost time…”
Chinese are smart and have made the US play into their hands – from the economy to manufatcuring to defense. And for some reason, the Americans have played happily along.
We all know Lehman Brothers – the investment banking firm – got nuked due to toxic assets. Figuratively speaking.. right? WRONG!
The investment bankers were actually sitting on a stockpile of 450,000 lbs of uranium “yellow-cake”. It could theoretically speaking, be used to power a nuclear reactor or even make a bomb.
Now, if I put the Indo-US Nuke deal into context you somehow wonder – how come an investment bank – full of idiots who run the company under a truck – gets something more easily than an entire sovereign country? Worse the investment bankers don’t even need to ratify any treaty! Do you see the apartheid in this field?
North Korea’s missile launch lately has been in the news. But North Korea’s missile indulgence has a “rich” past. A lot of it was encouraged by a certain masochist mindset on part of the US itself. Let’s go back to 1971 – just 10 weeks before the India-Pakistan war.
Foreign Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto signed an agreement with North Korea on September 18, 1971 just two and a half months before the outbreak of war with India to get conventional weapons from North Korea. At that time, Pakistan had no consular relations. For US Dollars (which Pakistan ostensibly got in US aid), Pakistan received Rocket Launchers and other ammunition under this September agreement.
Over the years, Pakistan helped Pyongyang (as an intermediary) to supply arms to Iran and Libya. In fact during the Iran-Iraq war in 1980s, Iran’s principal supplier was North Korea. The arms would arrive in Karachi by sea and then sent by road via Balochistan to Iran on trucks. Over 100 Scud-B (known as the Hwasong 5 in North Korea) ballistic missiles and equipment for assembly were sent over.
HIllary Clinton’s visit somehow has gone un-noticed in the large Desi press, which is surprising. For, this visit revealed more than all the eloquence of Obama did.
It fundamentally underscores that the geo-political and economic considerations of post-Bush era may be pushing the Indo-US relationship on the back-burner. The countries visited were Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China. All important countries (Indonesia for the Islamic relationship), but India was missing. And many commentators are pointing that out.
Begging in China?
But it is not where she went that is of importance. But what she said. In China, you could see her almost servile statement bordering on begging the Chinese to keep the US treasuries in hand and not to “rock the boat”. This came at a time when the US Dollar is rising.. and is considered a “safe haven”. At least for now. If I were an investor, and listened to Hillary, I would start shorting the US Dollar. Because you don’t go to an investor to make a case for a “blue chip”. You make a case for a thing that is not really strong fundamentally.
This is one aspect. But it also speaks volumes of where that relationship between US and China may go towards. The “India as a China counterweight” policy is probably safely out of the window in the Obama echelons by now.
Two teachers in the same school – ironically named Bountiful Junior High School – have been arrested because they had sex with a teenage kid. Both indulged with the same male student. One, Linda Nef, 46, is married; and second Valynne Bowers, 39 is divorced. Both have teenage kids. In both cases the relationship ostensibly followed the same path – from personal conversations to erotic text messaging and phone sex and finally oral and intercourse sex. Although the acts didn’t happen in school, they were committed in their homes, parking lots and public parks. They have been charged with sodomy and rape.
Cases of such behavior has become common in the last few years. Or at least it has been coming out more. Where a female teacher indulges in sexual activity with an underage boy. Many teachers have been arrested and charged and yet this keeps going on. Do you have any thoughts on what is contributing to this? Why despite the obvious criminality of the act would a lady in her 40s (or even late 20s and 30s) seek out a teenage kid to satisfy her sexual needs? Why not someone her age?
Here is a stunning statistic:
One in 50 American children in the course of a year are Homeless!
Southern states are the worst affected.
But to be fair the following are included in this list:
- When the young parents move in with their parents (doubling up) – their kids are also included
- Those who live in in trailer parks and motels ..
- Kids of Migrant workers, and
- Kids in Foster care
Ok, guys its not to do with Valentine anymore.. its about cash…
After California and New York – it is the turn of two other states to be in financial mess: Kansas and New Jersey.
Garden State, NJ has now increased its projected deficit by a some… 71% from the projection a month back – a budget shortfall for the current fiscal year of $3.6 billion from a projection of $2.1 billion a month ago. What a difference a month MAKES! Governor Jon Corzine to call for unpaid days off and for “substantial adjustments to the state budget” – which invariably means job cuts and holding off on tax refunds…..
…. and is the case for Kansas!
The 780 Billion Stimulus plan has been signed into history. In Denver. The person used as an example of what this would do was the CEO of Namaste Inc. – a company that provides Solar panel energy solutions. He is now in the hiring mode. So, hopefully things will change. Let us see how the stock markets take this.
But in the longer term, things would probably become improved on the back of a forced government expediture for recovery.
Meanwhile, while I am writing, the Wall Street has fallen almost 300 points! Damn!
Three companies are in a soup because of H1B fraud and inconsistencies: Vision Systems, Worldwide Software, and Sana Systems. Officers of Vision System have been arrested.
Vision Systems Group an IT company with offices in South Plainfield, NJ and Coop Rapids, Iowa has been indicted on 10 federal counts, including conspiracy and mail fraud.
5 other companies are under investigation as well. At a time when unemployment is soaring in the US, H1B workers have become a big sensitive issue. The large IT Indian companies – Wipro, Infosys, and TCS will face major pressure because of that.
Obama has asked Bruce Riedel to conduct an inter-agency review of American policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan. Who is Bruce Riedel? Well, he has a very interesting background and his history gives some insight into the direction in to where Obama may be headed as regards his policy to South Asia and specifically the Terrorism that we all have come to experience – specially in context of the Mumbai Attacks. Look at what he says in an interview with Spiegel about Pakistan and that area – India-Pakistan and South Asia – in the aftermath of Mumbai Attacks on 26/11:
I have said on many occasions that Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world: International terrorism, nuclear proliferation, the threat of nuclear war, drugs, democracy deficit and Islam all come together in an extraordinarily combustible way. India and Pakistan have already fought three wars and just five years ago were on the brink of a fourth. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Nevertheless, South Asia is the most likely place where in our lifetimes we might see a nuclear war.
Riedel had last worked on this region during the Bill Clinton presidency when he actually designed the reaction and response of US towards the Kargil conflict. He had called the bluff of Pakistan and specifically Musharraf, which he details in his path-breaking article – “American Diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil Summit” (attached with this post).
A small but very significant measure – at least for normal employees – in the stimulus bill from Barack Obama is raising heckles for the companies across the US. This has to do with the COBRA provision – the medical insurance available to the employees who have been laid off.
The provision make companies responsible for extending health insurance to former employees age 55 and older or who worked for the company for at least 10 years and this extension of benefits would be permanent!
The other provisions are:
British Pakistani community is being seen as the greatest threat to the US post 26/11 by the CIA. The President has been informed by the CIA that it has started a vast spying operation in the UK to keep a tab on the LeT linked people in that country. US has a visa waiver for the British citizens and if the rhetoric in the mosques (watch this dispatch) – even the biggest ones – is any indication, then they are breeding grounds for terrorists who would, if given the right situation, go against their target – Jews, Americans, and Indians.
British society has been very liberal in the way it has allowed such elements to perpetuate in their society and they have taken full advantage of it Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer says: “The British Pakistani community is recognised as probably al-Qaida’s best mechanism for launching an attack against North America.”
In Hindu mythology, often the annointing of a new king – if he was benevolent and good – was joined in by the people of “other worlds”. Now, that was mostly, logicallly speaking, a figure of speech with perhaps wide poetic license.
But it seems that in the case of Barack Obama, creatures from outer space may have visited the innauguration – as a black disc like thing flew past the Washington monument! Look at the video below.. it does seem strange. It surely could not have been an aircraft – for the security was as tight as it could be on any event ever!. But it could have been a bird. But that fast?
So, my guess is that either its a hoax, or a camera trick or a real UFO (if that is how those green men still travel – man they seriously need an upgrade.. we are catching up on their technology pretty fast! Just think – we earthlings have moved from those propeller planes to some kick-ass air machines.. and these green men still move around in those little round discs!)
Pakistanis in the US are worried about the Indian “influence” and so they want to counter it. They think that Obama’s thinking and actions on Pakistan are based on what Indian Americans tell him. Strange for a guy who has lived in Pakistan and not in India!
The newly formed Pakistan American National Alliance (PANA) is the new lobbying group formed by the Pakistanis. Their grievance: that Indians have been lobbying and putting pressure on the US administration. Interesting isn’t it? One lobbyist abusing another lobbyist because that other guy is… well.. a lobbyist! That is about the strongest argument this group has against the Indians as of now.
Today, Barack Obama took his oath as the 44th US President. A new chapter was started in the US and the world. I caught some of the oath taking and the full speech. Obama and Michelle then walked Bushes to their copter – the first time this had happened.
I wanted to write about it, but I was more busy in doing a make-over of my own blog. I was told by some very trusted readers that my blog needed to be more simple and easier on the eye. So that is what I did.
Hopefully you will like the new look. There is a contact link up at the top menu, please use it to let me know.
Meanwhile, White House also has a Blog! In keeping with his penchant for using technology, Barack Obama has started the office with a spanking new blog to share thoughts with the people. It is quite in keeping with his pledge of being one of people.
I have seen Obama’s speeches that he has given on his train ride to Washington DC from Philly via Delaware and Maryland (reminiscent of Lincoln’s ride from Illinois to DC). He seems to be getting people ready for what seems like a terrible storm! Sometimes I feel that he is communicating to people what most people already know, buut somehow it seems that he (and others in the Government) seem to know that the storm is even more terrible than it seems or most have imagined! It is not a normal communicating.. but an exraordinary “call to action”.
Going further on the racist attacks on the Sikhs, here is how the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) helped prosecute 4 youth assailants who attacked a Sikh family. [sent by Ms S. Sahni]
In October 2007, SALDEF was contacted by a Sikh family in San Jose who was concerned with the increase in the number of attacks on their home. For months, the Singh residence was the site of numerous hate-motivated attacks on their property. Their home was spray painted with vulgar language such as “Osama,” “Al Qaida,” and “Nigger.” Their home was toilet-papered on numerous occasions and the family frequently received vulgar and threatening phone calls in the middle of the night.
Through their perseverance, the family was able to catch the assailants — 4 Southeast Asian and 1 South Asian teenagers — by identifying the vehicle and license plate number that they saw in front of their house.
An old Sikh man in California was waiting for his second package to be delivered, when he accidentally looked at the first package’s receipt on UPS website. And what he saw was shocking! Instead of his name in the “Signed By” section, he saw the UPS driver had entered “Terrorist”.
The family of Blbar Singh (sic) [probably Balbir Singh], is obviously mad and not taking it kindly. This is not the first time that a turbaned and bearded Sikh gentleman has been called a terrorist, ostensibly in a reference to him being an Arab Muslim. Some clarifications are needed in this country surely:
I am sure everyone saw this video but I wanted it to be on Drishtikone just for record…btw, he dodged it pretty well at least he has practiced it well enough!
If I was the US Intelligence Chief or that of India, I would be very furiously and strongly preparing to take out the Nukes of Pakistan… RIGHT NOW! I am not sure why, but I fear that this is “watershed”!! A few reasons why:
- Pakistan has recently threatened to retaliate against the US if there are more attacks on its soil.
- Pakistan is on the verge of bankruptcy and even the traditional friends have not given it money. It does not matter for the common person as much.. but the military, which lives and thrives on the money will be deprived of their largese!
- Pakistani President Asif Zardari recently announced the “No-first use” policy of Nukes. As much as it sounded “stupid”, I am now, after enough thought convinced that it was meant to take away the moral rationale IF India were to think of attacking first!!
It is not about the common man in Pakistan.. but the entire system and the Army has built an existence that is part hallucination and part self aggrandizement. In their bid to attain a goal – of destroying India – that was faulty and self-defeating to start with and ultimately has brought Pakistan to the verge of complete RUIN, these people are now trying to cover up their follies by creating situations where they have little options. Now, the Army and ISI is fighting with its back to the wall… and that is why they have planned an attack that for once “CASHES” all their investments that were made in the anti-India network:
- Dawood Ibrahim
- Indian Muslim anti-nationalists
- Islamic terrorist organizations
- and “tie-ups” other regional terrorist organizations like LTTE (which was used in attacks on Sheikh Hasina)
This Mumbai attack has involvement of ALL FOUR along with ISI and Pakistani Army.
It is my own belief that it would not be long until their is VERY serious turmoil in Pakistan itself. In fact now, the terrorist masters within the establishment and the fundamentalists are on the “last mile” stretch of their final campaign… the control of Nukes and their THREAT to use. A sane military strategist – from a country like Pakistan would NOT have otherwise, threatened to RETALIATE against the US!! There is no way it can be sustained or even won. Unless the swagger of Nukes makes one think so.
Please, I am NOT trying to be jingoist.. for any action AFTER Nukes fall into the hands of terrorists will hurt the Pakistani citizens MORE than anyone else!
I am sure many amongst the common people in Pakistan would not realize this but complete capitulation of the Pakistan Army and the current set up of ISI is actually in their long term favor. History that was different that what I am pointing to has hurt the interests of the common man terribly!
Intriguingly, this time US and the Western forces and analysts are taking notice and very acutely – of the attacks and situation in India! This has never happened! And if this analyst is speaking what others might be thinking privately, then a bigger fight is on the cards in the sub-continent!
There is a lot of discussion of failure and bailout or otherwise of the US Auto industry. Here is a video as well with Peter Schiff discussing this thing. I agree with a lot of what he says.
It can’t be denied that lot of people will be affected if GM and other two die tomorrow. However, they need not. It is important to isolate what is critical and what is important and what is Nice to Have! And I have always believed that Sherlock Holmes advise is still relevant:
“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, has to be the truth.” The need here is to eliminate the “impossible”!
Here is my prescription:
- Let these Top 3 companies go bankrupt
- Give any company in the world which wants to set up factory or take over the existing ones, a 10 year tax holiday – just as India gave to the Indian software industry and other companies. And then let companies like Toyota, Hyundai, Tatas, Mahindras of the world make cars more efficiently.
This way the names and brands would change but the cars would still be made in Detroit and the people will also be employed. So, instead of spending $25 billion on giving to the companies…. earmark it for shortage in taxes!! Have a combination of State and Federal tax cuts to motivate the foreign companies to set up shop here.
Extraordinary times require extraordinary actions. This is one of those.
In the midst of the 20 nations who came to meet in US for the session to solve the current economic problem, I saw George Bush kissing the Saudi prince on the cheek on both sides, which is the popular custom in the middle east between men. Now as a host and a friend of the Saudi prince it was probably a very warm gesture… but it was nevertheless, a little strange. Specially given that Bush is also the “leader” of the right wing of US conservative for over 8 years.. and many among them would consider this greeting as “gay-ish”.
But there was a time when this kind of greeting was called the “Holy Kiss”!
The holy kiss is a traditional Christian greeting. The term comes from the New Testament, where it appears five times.
It is mentioned in:
* Romans 16.16a – “Greet one another with a holy kiss”
* I Corinthians 16.20b – “Greet one another with a holy kiss”
* II Corinthians 13.12a – “Greet one another with a holy kiss”
* I Thessalonians 5.26 – “Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss”
* I Peter 5.14a – “Greet one another with a kiss of love”
Superficially, there was nothing new in the practice of Christians greeting one another with a kiss: cheek kissing was the normal way that men in the ancient western Mediterranean would greet one another.
When Hillary Clinton’s name was being thrown in as the Vice President for Obama ticket – I strongly felt that she would be downright STUPID to become a VP!! If I know her mind even a wee bit as an observer I would think that she would like to be a Secretary of State. And I still think that Obama might actually have her as the Secretary of State. And now CNN is reporting that that is exactly what may happen.
I also feel that since he has reached out to John McCain as well and he has often raised the name of Abraham Lincoln on the trail, my bet is that McCain may actually become the Secretary of Defense! So here is his top cabinet members:
Hillary Clinton – Secretary of State
John McCain – Secretary of Defense
Let’s see if my intuition serves it right!?
A 71 year old Detroit grandmother Leola Brock-Reese came to Chicago with her best friend Freddie a 77 year old. They went all over the city and in the evening they went to Grant Park hoping to catch Barack Obama’s speech. They sat on the steps in the Park and then decided their old bodies could not take it. So, they decided to go back to their Hotel – Hyatt Regency and went up to 28th floor.
On the way they met this group of guys walking with Barack Obama walking between them. He walked to them with his arms wide open and put his arms around Leola and said “I want to take a picture with you”. She was bewildered and said “Oh, fine!”.
There is an Obamania in the US and around the world but somethings are hard to change…. specially WITHIN the US!
It seems some school authorities are unhappy with Obama in Mississippi.. so much so that the word “Obama” is banned. Kids cannot UTTER the word Obama not have any clothing which says it and support the new President elect.
I am wondering what will they say when they have to tell someone who the new President of the US is.. in a few weeks?? Maybe they will take a cue from John McCain and say “That one”! Republicans have fallen really badly but this is downright pathetic!
The ACLU has received complaints from students and parents in that state claiming they are being told not to say Barack Obama’s name or wear shirts or other items expressing their support for the President-Elect. At Pearl Junior High School, two students were kicked off the bus for daring to utter Obama’s name. Players for the girls’ basketball team were told they would be suspended if they spoke Obama’s name. And at Puckett Attendance Center, two students were informed that Barack Obama was only to be discussed in history class, not in other classes or in the halls.
Kitne Viraano se guzarein hain to jannat paayi hai…
How many deserts have we traversed before reaching the heavens…
I think of all the commentaries and criticisms of the Rescue Plan passed recently in the US pushed by Paulson and George Bush, this is probably the most eloquent of all!
I found this exhibit very powerful! It traces the progress of blacks through the US History. With the Presidency of Barack Obama, this becomes a very powerful story to tell!
This was a prank played on Sarah Palin – who was so close to becoming the VP of the US! It must have been so embarrassing for her.. but the way that guy was talking and the sort of remarks he was making, it was pretty clear that he certainly NOT Sarkozy! But it takes a little bit of experience and smarts to understand that! First of all, the entire team was idiotic to even allow such un-vetted call through.. and then Palin was as stupid to even speak to that guy…
Some behind the scenes stuff that had not come out during the long Presidential campaign between Obama and McCain.
– Sarah Palin didn’t know which countries were in NAFTA, and she “didn’t understand that Africa was a continent, rather than a series, a country just in itself.”
– Sarah Palin refused preparation help for her interview with Katie Couric and then blamed her staff, specifically Nicole Wallace, when the interview was panned as a disaster. After the Couric interview, Fox News reported, Palin turned nasty with her staff and began to accuse them of mishandling her. Palin would view press clippings of herself in the morning and throw “tantrums” over the negative coverage. There were times when she would be so nasty and angry that her staff was reduced to tears.
– McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.
– The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and very disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that the crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Michelle Obama said to a top campaign aide.
– On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain’s core group of advisers–Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons — met to decide whether or not to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had “a pulse.”
– The Obama campaign’s “New Media” experts created a computer program that would allow a “flusher”–the term for a volunteer who rounds up nonvoters on Election Day–to know exactly who had, and had not, voted in real time. They dubbed it Project Houdini, because of the way names disappear off the list instantly once people are identified as they wait in line at their local polling station.