Thursday, January 31, 2008

Barack for President, Hillary for Vice President



Below is WIKIPEDIA on Obama. I was dithering in my choice between a woman and a minority. But I think Barack's audacity of hope and his inspirational speeches have won my heart and vote.

Barack Hussein Obama (pronounced /bəˈrɑːk huːˈseɪn oʊˈbɑːmə/[1]) (born August 4, 1961) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election.[2][3] The U.S. Senate Historical Office lists him as the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history, the third to have been popularly elected, and the only African American currently serving in the Senate.[4]

Obama was born in Honolulu to a Kenyan father and an American mother. He lived most of his early life in the Pacific island U.S. state of Hawaii. From ages six to ten, he lived in Jakarta, Indonesia. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer, university lecturer, and civil rights lawyer before running for public office and serving in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. After an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2003.

The following year, while still an Illinois state legislator, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July.[5] In the U.S. Senate elections that November, buoyed by an enthusiastic response at the Convention, and running against a Republican campaign marred by an early scandal which caused his original opponent to withdraw,[6] Obama won a landslide victory with 70% of the vote.[7] As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, Obama co-sponsored legislation for controlling conventional weapons and for promoting transparency in public life; in addition, he made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In the 110th, and current, Congress, he has sponsored legislation on lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel.

Since announcing his presidential campaign in February 2007, Obama has emphasized ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care as major priorities.[8] He married in 1992 and has two daughters. He has written two bestselling books: a memoir of his youth titled Dreams from My Father, and The Audacity of Hope, a personal commentary on U.S. politics.[9]

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Persepolis



I am finally catching up on all the movies I have missed this winter. I started by seeing Persepolis, since I had read the book and had found it to be very good. The movie was too similar to the book and I felt that when it was converted into a film, some thing else should have been added. Maybe changing it from black and white to color would have been a start. Also even though it was autobiographical, it became very indivudulaistic and self obsessed. It was an elitist perspective of the the time after the Iranian revolution.
A review below.
Persepolis
An animated life story about an individualistic Iranian woman who grew up
during the Islamic Revolution. The amusing narrative style by co-writer-directors Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi (whose story it is) features Catherine Deneuve voicing the role of Mrs. Satrapi, Marjane's mother.
There's a good lesson here about Iranian history but it's not exactly gripping material. Charming at times, it amounts pretty much to a "so what?" And, by way of trivia: Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands, and Iggy Pop lent their voices to the English-language dub of the film but go uncredited.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Wholeness of Relationship

What, in daily life, is our relationship with each other and on what is it based? Is it based on knowledge and experience that breeds emotional and or intellectual conclusions? Can it be based on memory that creates the image of you and me? Or perhaps our so-called relationship is based on mutual dependency and attachment?

What seems to be "peculiar" about our relationship to life and to each other? What is the significance of relationship as it actually is? How do we approach the fact of relationship? Are we afraid to go into the fact and face it? Do we hug the status quo through fear, or through force of habit, or are we just dull human beings?

Can we put aside our images and our fears and begin to look into this matter of relationship as a whole? Can we come together and begin to respond totally rather than partially? If indeed relationship is the whole structure of society then maybe it begins with what is our relationship now?


The very desire to be secure is destroying itself.

J. Krishnamurti, Saanen 1976

I came across this from the Ojai Winter dialogues 2008.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Listening To Grasshoppers

Arundhati Roy delivered a powerful lecture on genocide and genocide deniers in India and Turkey on the first death anniversary of the assassination of Hrank Ding.



(12 of 12)
It tells us that the rich don't have a choice (There Is No Alternative), but the poor do. They can choose to become rich. If they don't, it's because they are choosing pessimism over optimism, hesitation over confidence, want over hope. In other words, they're choosing to be poor. It's their fault. They are weak. (And we know what the seekers of lebensraum think of the weak.) They are the 'Constraining Ghost of the Past'. They're already ghosts.

"Within an ongoing counterfeit universe," Robert Jay Lifton says, "genocide becomes easy, almost natural."

The poor, the so-called poor, have only one choice: to resist or to succumb. Bachchan is right: they are crossing over, quietly, while the world's not looking. Not to where he thinks, but across another ravine, to another side. The side of armed struggle. From there they look back at the Tsars of Development and mimic their regretful slogan: 'There Is No Alternative.'

They have watched the great Gandhian people's movements being reduced and humiliated, floundering in the quagmire of court cases, hunger strikes and counter-hunger strikes. Perhaps these many million Constraining Ghosts of the Past wonder what advice Gandhi would have given the Indians of the Americas, the slaves of Africa, the Tasmanians, the Herero, the Hottentots, the Armenians, the Jews of Germany, the Muslims of Gujarat. Perhaps they wonder how they can go on hunger strike when they're already starving. How they can boycott foreign goods when they have no money to buy any goods. How they can refuse to pay taxes when they have no earnings.


Stamp out the Naxals: They have no place in Shining India
People who have taken to arms have done so with full knowledge of what the consequences of that decision will be. They have done so knowing that they are on their own. They know that the new laws of the land criminalise the poor and conflate resistance with terrorism. (Peaceful activists are ogws—overground workers.) They know that appeals to conscience, liberal morality and sympathetic press coverage will not help them now. They know no international marches, no globalised dissent, no famous writers will be around when the bullets fly.

Hundreds of thousands have broken faith with the institutions of India's democracy. Large swathes of the country have fallen out of the government's control. (At last count, it was supposed to be 25 per cent). The battle stinks of death, it's by no means pretty. How can it be when the helmsman of the army of Constraining Ghosts is the ghost of Chairman Mao himself? (The ray of hope is that many of the footsoldiers don't know who he is. Or what he did. More Genocide Denial? Maybe). Are they Idealists fighting for a Better World? Well... anything is better than annihilation.

The Prime Minister has declared that the Maoist resistance is the "single largest internal security threat". There have even been appeals to call out the army. The media is agog with breathless condemnation.

Here's a typical newspaper report. Nothing out of the ordinary. Stamp out the Naxals, it is called.



This government is at last showing some sense in tackling Naxalism. Less than a month ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked state governments to "choke" Naxal infrastructure and "cripple" their activities through a dedicated force to eliminate the "virus". It signalled a realisation that Naxalism must be stamped out through enforcement of law, rather than wasteful expense on development.


"Choke". "Cripple". "Virus". "Infested". "Eliminate". "Stamp Out".

Yes. The idea of extermination is in the air. And people believe that faced with extermination, they have the right to fight back.By any means necessary.

Perhaps they've been listening to the grasshoppers.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This is an abridged version of a lecture delivered by Arundhati Roy in Istanbul on January 18, 2008, to commemorate the first anniversary of the assassination of Hrant Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian paper, Agos.

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony


Parag Khanna writes in the New York Times magazine, about the demise of American global hegemony. Interesting he feels that India is not in the big league and is decades behind China.

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony
By PARAG KHANNA

Published: January 27, 2008
Turn on the TV today, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s 1999. Democrats and Republicans are bickering about where and how to intervene, whether to do it alone or with allies and what kind of world America should lead. Democrats believe they can hit a reset button, and Republicans believe muscular moralism is the way to go. It’s as if the first decade of the 21st century didn’t happen — and almost as if history itself doesn’t happen. But the distribution of power in the world has fundamentally altered over the two presidential terms of George W. Bush, both because of his policies and, more significant, despite them. Maybe the best way to understand how quickly history happens is to look just a bit ahead.

It is 2016, and the Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Barack Obama administration is nearing the end of its second term. America has pulled out of Iraq but has about 20,000 troops in the independent state of Kurdistan, as well as warships anchored at Bahrain and an Air Force presence in Qatar. Afghanistan is stable; Iran is nuclear. China has absorbed Taiwan and is steadily increasing its naval presence around the Pacific Rim and, from the Pakistani port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea. The European Union has expanded to well over 30 members and has secure oil and gas flows from North Africa, Russia and the Caspian Sea, as well as substantial nuclear energy. America’s standing in the world remains in steady decline.

Why? Weren’t we supposed to reconnect with the United Nations and reaffirm to the world that America can, and should, lead it to collective security and prosperity? Indeed, improvements to America’s image may or may not occur, but either way, they mean little. Condoleezza Rice has said America has no “permanent enemies,” but it has no permanent friends either. Many saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as the symbols of a global American imperialism; in fact, they were signs of imperial overstretch. Every expenditure has weakened America’s armed forces, and each assertion of power has awakened resistance in the form of terrorist networks, insurgent groups and “asymmetric” weapons like suicide bombers. America’s unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial countermovements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order. That new global order has arrived, and there is precious little Clinton or McCain or Obama could do to resist its growth.

The Geopolitical Marketplace

At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

The more we appreciate the differences among the American, European and Chinese worldviews, the more we will see the planetary stakes of the new global game. Previous eras of balance of power have been among European powers sharing a common culture. The cold war, too, was not truly an “East-West” struggle; it remained essentially a contest over Europe. What we have today, for the first time in history, is a global, multicivilizational, multipolar battle.

In Europe’s capital, Brussels, technocrats, strategists and legislators increasingly see their role as being the global balancer between America and China. Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a German member of the European Parliament, calls it “European patriotism.” The Europeans play both sides, and if they do it well, they profit handsomely. It’s a trend that will outlast both President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, the self-described “friend of America,” and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, regardless of her visiting the Crawford ranch. It may comfort American conservatives to point out that Europe still lacks a common army; the only problem is that it doesn’t really need one. Europeans use intelligence and the police to apprehend radical Islamists, social policy to try to integrate restive Muslim populations and economic strength to incorporate the former Soviet Union and gradually subdue Russia. Each year European investment in Turkey grows as well, binding it closer to the E.U. even if it never becomes a member. And each year a new pipeline route opens transporting oil and gas from Libya, Algeria or Azerbaijan to Europe. What other superpower grows by an average of one country per year, with others waiting in line and begging to join?

Robert Kagan famously said that America hails from Mars and Europe from Venus, but in reality, Europe is more like Mercury — carrying a big wallet. The E.U.’s market is the world’s largest, European technologies more and more set the global standard and European countries give the most development assistance. And if America and China fight, the world’s money will be safely invested in European banks. Many Americans scoffed at the introduction of the euro, claiming it was an overreach that would bring the collapse of the European project. Yet today, Persian Gulf oil exporters are diversifying their currency holdings into euros, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has proposed that OPEC no longer price its oil in “worthless” dollars. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela went on to suggest euros. It doesn’t help that Congress revealed its true protectionist colors by essentially blocking the Dubai ports deal in 2006. With London taking over (again) as the world’s financial capital for stock listing, it’s no surprise that China’s new state investment fund intends to locate its main Western offices there instead of New York. Meanwhile, America’s share of global exchange reserves has dropped to 65 percent. Gisele Bündchen demands to be paid in euros, while Jay-Z drowns in 500 euro notes in a recent video. American soft power seems on the wane even at home.

And Europe’s influence grows at America’s expense. While America fumbles at nation-building, Europe spends its money and political capital on locking peripheral countries into its orbit. Many poor regions of the world have realized that they want the European dream, not the American dream. Africa wants a real African Union like the E.U.; we offer no equivalent. Activists in the Middle East want parliamentary democracy like Europe’s, not American-style presidential strongman rule. Many of the foreign students we shunned after 9/11 are now in London and Berlin: twice as many Chinese study in Europe as in the U.S. We didn’t educate them, so we have no claims on their brains or loyalties as we have in decades past. More broadly, America controls legacy institutions few seem to want — like the International Monetary Fund — while Europe excels at building new and sophisticated ones modeled on itself. The U.S. has a hard time getting its way even when it dominates summit meetings — consider the ill-fated Free Trade Area of the Americas — let alone when it’s not even invited, as with the new East Asian Community, the region’s answer to America’s Apec.

The East Asian Community is but one example of how China is also too busy restoring its place as the world’s “Middle Kingdom” to be distracted by the Middle Eastern disturbances that so preoccupy the United States. In America’s own hemisphere, from Canada to Cuba to Chávez’s Venezuela, China is cutting massive resource and investment deals. Across the globe, it is deploying tens of thousands of its own engineers, aid workers, dam-builders and covert military personnel. In Africa, China is not only securing energy supplies; it is also making major strategic investments in the financial sector. The whole world is abetting China’s spectacular rise as evidenced by the ballooning share of trade in its gross domestic product — and China is exporting weapons at a rate reminiscent of the Soviet Union during the cold war, pinning America down while filling whatever power vacuums it can find. Every country in the world currently considered a rogue state by the U.S. now enjoys a diplomatic, economic or strategic lifeline from China, Iran being the most prominent example.

Without firing a shot, China is doing on its southern and western peripheries what Europe is achieving to its east and south. Aided by a 35 million-strong ethnic Chinese diaspora well placed around East Asia’s rising economies, a Greater Chinese Co-Prosperity Sphere has emerged. Like Europeans, Asians are insulating themselves from America’s economic uncertainties. Under Japanese sponsorship, they plan to launch their own regional monetary fund, while China has slashed tariffs and increased loans to its Southeast Asian neighbors. Trade within the India-Japan-Australia triangle — of which China sits at the center — has surpassed trade across the Pacific.

At the same time, a set of Asian security and diplomatic institutions is being built from the inside out, resulting in America’s grip on the Pacific Rim being loosened one finger at a time. From Thailand to Indonesia to Korea, no country — friend of America’s or not — wants political tension to upset economic growth. To the Western eye, it is a bizarre phenomenon: small Asian nation-states should be balancing against the rising China, but increasingly they rally toward it out of Asian cultural pride and an understanding of the historical-cultural reality of Chinese dominance. And in the former Soviet Central Asian countries — the so-called Stans — China is the new heavyweight player, its manifest destiny pushing its Han pioneers westward while pulling defunct microstates like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as oil-rich Kazakhstan, into its orbit. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization gathers these Central Asian strongmen together with China and Russia and may eventually become the “NATO of the East.”

Naked Tree

 
Posted by Picasa

Closeup

 
Posted by Picasa

Purana Kila Ramparts and Zoo boundary

 
Posted by Picasa

Kashmir Handicrafts

 
Posted by Picasa

Hairdresser cum Nai

 
Posted by Picasa

Posters and Floors

 
Posted by Picasa

sewa

 
Posted by Picasa

bag of scarfs

 
Posted by Picasa

praying

 
Posted by Picasa

a breath

 
Posted by Picasa

sikh boy

 
Posted by Picasa

hiding

 
Posted by Picasa

boys

 
Posted by Picasa

steps

 
Posted by Picasa

Panels

 
Posted by Picasa

Corner

 
Posted by Picasa

Balconies

 
Posted by Picasa

Amrit

 
Posted by Picasa

Perspective

 
Posted by Picasa

inlay detail

 
Posted by Picasa

door detail

 
Posted by Picasa

balcony

 
Posted by Picasa

worshippers

 
Posted by Picasa

Women ragis sing on wednesdays at Bangla Sahib

 
Posted by Picasa

The plight of the Bakherwals