2ndlook

Why Schools, Hospitals, Political Parties don’t work in India. At least upto user expectations

Posted in Current Affairs, History, India, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on August 18, 2012

If the Government has to declare that the Parliament is supreme, maybe the Parliament is no longer supreme. Is there a rumble gathering in Indian polity?

Clearly, the Indian has been less than a success in some fields. Notably health, education and producing venerable leaders.  |  A undated, unsigned RK Laxman cartoon.

Clearly, the Indian has been less than a success in some fields. Notably health, education and producing venerable leaders. | A undated, unsigned RK Laxman cartoon.

India – Failed State?

In the last sixty-five years of Indian independence, India has seen many successes – and had its share of failures, too.

Modern India is tempted to romanticize or demonize the Western and Islāmic influences and legacies – depending on the personal bias and predilection. This bias is not only popular but also widely prevalent in academia and the media.

Of the significant Indian failures has been healthcare, education and the Indian Politician. While many imports into India have been successful – like democratic elections, smooth handover of power after elections, public-sector enterprises, the software and automotive industry, there are three institutions that India has not been able to make a success of.

  • Health-care through hospitals
  • Education through schools
  • Venerable polity through political parties

Building an agenda

Yogendra Yadav, who is part of the 7-member panel that will guide the formation of Team Anna‘s political unit, makes some interesting points.

Will Party-Anna be significantly different. BJP had promised, falsely, that they will be different. |  Cartoon by Shreyas Navare on Friday, August 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm in blogs.hindustantimes.com

Will Party-Anna be significantly different. BJP had promised, falsely, that they will be different. | Cartoon by Shreyas Navare on Friday, August 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm in blogs.hindustantimes.com

Many of the Anna followers have had obvious difficulty in reconciling the strident anti-party rhetoric of the movement with its latest decision. Some have seen it as a betrayal. But if we step back from the specific context of the current discussion, both these assertions may not appear so incompatible with each other. There is no doubt a tension here, but this tension is necessary and perhaps even creative.

The dilemma of Team Anna provides a good lens to view our troubled relationship with the institution of the political party in the last 65 years. Political parties are both very robust and fragile, at once the magnet that draws people and pushes them away, ever-present and routinely hated. Hence the widespread ambivalence towards this institution. After all, founders and leaders of very different parties, such as Gandhi and M N Roy, ended up advocating party-less democracy. And it was Jayaprakash Narayan, an advocate of party-less democracy, who later formed the Janata Party.

The idea of the political party, an imported form of political organisation, has captured modern Indian political imagination. The institution of the party has acquired the same status in our political imagination as the institution of school in thinking about education or the institution of the hospital in thinking about disease and healing. The word ‘party’ is now used in almost every Indian language to refer not just to modern political parties that contest elections but also for any political grouping or faction in a local context. It is not uncommon to hear complains about ‘partybaji’, meaning groupism or factionalism, in a village.

This success is not confined to ideas and language. Very few other institutions can match political parties in the width and depth of their reach in this large and diverse country. Contrary to popular impression, fragmentation and proliferation of parties has actually contributed to deepening of their reach. The rise of regional and caste- or community- based parties has brought parties closer to the people. Between 1971 and 2004, the proportion of voting-age Indians who identified with a political party went up from 38% to 51%. During the same period, those who claimed to be a member of a political party went up three times, from 5% to about 15%.

In other words, the poli-tical party as an organisational format is here to stay. It has outlived proponents of party-less democracy and outpaced non-party political formations.

At the same time, the prevalent form of the political party does not enjoy much popular legitimacy. Even those who identify with a political party express an abstract disaffection with the nature and functioning of political parties in the country. Parties are held to be at the roots of all the problems in the country.

Some of the ills of the parties are nearly universal. Instead of being institutions that represent the peoples’ aspirations and demands, political parties have become election machines and patronage distribution networks that focus only on gathering votes by using all kinds of short cuts. While they talk about democracy and competition, most political parties in India lack even a modicum of internal democracy.

In our context political parties have acquired some special difficulties. The model of a centralised party does not easily fit with the scale and diversity of a county like India. As centralised ‘high command’ driven parties seek to reserve power for a coterie of leaders, if not a family, people do not experience parties as an entity that derives power from them. Greater number of parties does not necessarily mean greater political choice as different parties are effectively tied to the same policy. Party politics is not a nice word.

Having taken root in an alien soil, this tree has acquired a new shape. Its fruit tastes different from that of its counterpart in other parts of the world. Everyone consumes it, but few seem to like its taste.

This is the lesson Team Anna can learn from the experience of political parties since Independence. The political party is both inevitable and avoidable. While there is a need for a vehicle of political opinions and interests that seeks to direct state power, it is equally important that this vehicle be designed differently.

The new vehicle must not be focussed only on elections: struggle, constructive work and formation of ideas must be equally critical to a new kind of party. Instead of being the instrument of centralised power, it needs to recognise different levels of power at the regional and local levels. Instead of monopolising power, it needs to share power with other organisations and movements. It needs to build in norms of internal democracy. In other words it needs to build a political party that does not look or act like a political party.

via A broken trust – Times Of India.

Connecting with the media is illusory power. Connecting with this man will make the difference.  |  Ajit Nina cartoon posted on Monday, June 08, 2009 at 03:35:27 AM  in Mumbai Mirror captioned, 'The idea of 'one-man-one-post' was stolen by the Congress from us.'

Connecting with the media is illusory power. Connecting with this man will make the difference. | Ajit Nina cartoon posted on Monday, June 08, 2009 at 03:35:27 AM in Mumbai Mirror captioned, ‘The idea of ‘one-man-one-post’ was stolen by the Congress from us.’

Just no practice

Probably the one reason the Indian State has failed on health, education and political factionalism is tradition. The Indian State, governed by the traditional norms of भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra did not manage healthcare, education and factional politics.

European and Islāmic records are significantly silent on variations in legal systems and State policies. The only point of difference that British writers mention is the predisposition of the rulers towards various European factions and on the differences in social customs.

Standardization – without centralization

While there is a large body of European writing on the different social units, norms, groups, practices, there is little mention about the differences in polity. This points to a great degree of standardization in polity – yet, without a central authority. On most political issues there was national consensus, even though political control over the Indian geography was spread thinly among 1000 rulers.

This precedent goes right back to the Indus Valley-Saraswati Basin cities which were widely spread, highly standardized – yet there was no central authority.

This may seem strange, because according to our failed education system, the British Raj made the Indian nation. But the part that modern studies miss out completely, is how in भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra, Indian kings did not make laws. Indians kings could not even proclaim a different legal system for their ‘own’ kingdom. Their powers were severely proscribed.

So how did the extensive legal system of भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra that the Islāmic kings perverted, British Raj dehumanized, and modern India has forgotten, come into being.

Two men are what made the law

Much of modern Hindu Law, is based on the two major legal systems that existed in India at the start of the British Raj. This was the Vighneshwara’s Mitākṣarā and the Dāyabhāga system. Dāyabhāga based mainly on the Yajnavalkya-smrti, was updated by Jimutavahana sometime between the eleventh or thirteenth century. Widely used in Bengal, Odisha, Assam and North East, modern Bangladesh, Bihar, Nepal, it has significant overlap with the Mitākṣarā.

Mitākṣarā, criticized in Jimutvahana’s Dāyabhāga system, preceded the Dāyabhāga system. Also based on Yajnavalkya-smrti, Mitākṣarā is considered more classical – and Dāyabhāga as more synthetic. This is not to imply that Mitākṣarā and Dāyabhāga were the start of the Indian legal system. Both Mitākṣarā and Dāyabhāga, were based on Yajnavalkya-smrti – which itself is derived from Manusmriti. Vishnu-purana states that there were different ‘manus‘ for different eras.

So which Manu from which era wrote the Manusmriti is unclear – though it is usually believed that Vaivaswata Manu is the author.

Not that it helps.

Advent of Islāmic rule in India

Interestingly, both Mitākṣarā and Dāyabhāga texts are dated roughly around the time that initial Islamic rule began in India with the Slave Dynasty in Delhi – at the beginning of 13th century.

Were Vighneshwara and Jimutvahana major court figures – like Raja Todar Mal, whose writings on Indian Law helped Mughals to steer their way around the legal environment in India. Hardly anything is known about the individuals, except the extensive work that they left.

So, how did these anonymous, powerless Brahmins become law-makers – without armies, parliaments, courts, judges and lawyers. At least comparable to the Islāmic and European contemporaries.

Bombay-High & Y2K generations has not produced venerable political leadership. Instead we have a collusive democratic leadership, which conspires against us. Divide and rule continues.  |  Ajit Ninan caroon with a caption that reads 'Today it's a make-up artist who gets you votes, not your speech writer.';  posted on Friday, February 17, 2012 at 02:17:47 AM; source & courtesy - Mumbai Mirror

Bombay-High & Y2K generations has not produced venerable political leadership. Instead we have a collusive democratic leadership, which conspires against us. Divide and rule continues. | Ajit Ninan caroon with a caption that reads ‘Today it’s a make-up artist who gets you votes, not your speech writer.’; posted on Friday, February 17, 2012 at 02:17:47 AM; source & courtesy – Mumbai Mirror

Parliament is Supreme

While there is thin evidence that these Brahmins did have royal patrons, their legal standing did not depend on that patronage. More importantly, how did their writings cross the boundaries of the resident-kingdoms. From areas, where their patrons had power to areas where these two Brahmins had no influence, power or patronage?

State-controlled and managed models of the West, are relatively new to India. In the entire Anna-Baba campaign, the Indian Parliament kept repeating The Parliament Is Supreme. Did these repeated statements imply doubts about the supremacy of the Parliament?

Will the Anna-Baba political movement see re-birth of non-parliamentary legal systems?

Is that the flow – and the direction?

Anna-Baba are Opposites

This is in contradiction to the Anna campaign that has focussed on More State. Baba Ramdev’s campaign speeches have been largely based on a Lesser State. Can this basic disagreement be bridged?

Can Anna-Baba come together?

Team Anna’s campaign made much about the fact that some of them were Magsaysay award winners – while Baba’s campaign is more rooted in the Indian political tradition – भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra.

Team Anna has usually got excellent media support – and allegedly ‘foreign support. In case of Baba Ramdev, the commercial success of his Ramdev products points toward a deeper connect to the Indian Voter. Baba Ramdev has been building his campaign for nearly ten years now – while Anna campaign has sputtered for little over 10 months.

Anna-Baba may seem like peas in a pod. But they are vastly different by the way of agenda, policies, inpiration.  |  Cartoon titled Anna Hazare Vs Baba Ramdev by MANJUL on 8.12.2012.

Anna-Baba may seem like peas in a pod. But they are vastly different by the way of agenda, policies, inpiration. | Cartoon titled Anna Hazare Vs Baba Ramdev by MANJUL on 8.12.2012.

Anna’s campaign was able to make Indian polity sit up – and take note. Baba Ramdev has been largely ignored by India’s political leadership – and the media. While Anna’s campaign has been over-analyzed to death, the Baba-Ramdev-phenomenon has been buried under silence by the media.

While the Anna-campaign for all appearances is a single-point campaign, Baba Ramdev’s campaign has been across a broad front – with much work on building a unique agenda.

Many have claimed credit for Anna-campaign’s success, starting with the media and RSS having the last word. In case of Baba Ramdev, his movement has been based on his own work and agenda.

Electoral politics on the cusp of a major change?  |  Cartoon By Ajit Ninan (Times Of India) on March 26, 2009

Electoral politics on the cusp of a major change? | Cartoon By Ajit Ninan (Times Of India) on March 26, 2009

Gimme, Gimme

How will the Indian Voter manage this divergence?

Will it give power to Anna-campaign – and make Baba Ramdev powerful enough to question the polity?

Early days …


Policing America: The Grip on the Population Tightens Visibly – Sometimes Even Invisibly

Posted in America, Current Affairs, Desert Bloc, Propaganda by Anuraag Sanghi on August 15, 2012

 

Each year US prosecutes more people than the rest of the world put together. US has more secret police, civilian police than any country in the world. Wassup?

The SCOTUS has reaffirmed that the US police can stop anyone and do a personal body search based on a suspicion of a concealed weapon.  |  SCOTUS Up the Wazoo - Cartoon by Pat Bagley on Apr 3, 2012

The SCOTUS has reaffirmed that the US police can stop anyone and do a personal body search based on a suspicion of a concealed weapon. | SCOTUS Up the Wazoo – Cartoon by Pat Bagley on Apr 3, 2012

Overwhelming data point towards the fact the US is a police State beyond comparison.

With

In 2011, New York police stopped about 700,000 people on the road – and nearly half of these people were intrusively searched. One estimate put the total number of such searches in New York alone at 4 million – 40 lakhs, in the past decade.

All this in a city of eight million – a little larger than Pune. Imagine 2000 body searches every single day in Pune.

These personal body searches and CCTV surveillance has become common across the US  |  Cartoon titled Travel School and Prison By Andy Singer, on 11/20/2006

These personal body searches and CCTV surveillance has become common across the US | Cartoon titled Travel School and Prison By Andy Singer, on 11/20/2006

Police procedures demands that a the crotch is manually felt by hands – and in case of women, even the area between breasts.

Remember these figures are for New York only. National figures will be higher.

The New York City Police Department under its increasingly unpopular stop-and-frisk program (revealed) New Yorkers were stopped nearly 700,000 times last year.

Judge Shira Scheindlin of Federal District Court granted class action status to a lawsuit accusing the Police Department of using race as the basis for stopping and frisking New Yorkers. The judge rebuked the city for its “deeply troubling apathy toward New Yorkers’ most fundamental constitutional rights,” and found “overwhelming evidence” that the program had led to thousands of baseless, unlawful stops. Despite the police claims that the stops keep criminals and weapons off the streets, only about 6 percent of stops lead to arrests, and last year, only one in every 879 stops turned up a gun.

According to the department, it conducted 203,500 stops in January, February and March of this year — a record number — but stopped only 133,934 in April, May and June.

A young woman from Harlem Heights said police officers who claimed to be searching for a rapist interrupted her and two female friends, demanded identification and then patted her down. “It was uncalled-for,” she said. “It made no sense. How are you going to stop three females when you are supposedly looking for a male rapist?”

via Stop-and-Frisk in New York City – NYTimes.com.

Not surprisingly 85% of these target were African-Americans and Hispanics.

Steve Kohut, born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, says he’s been stopped and frisked “more times than I can remember” since he was 12. “It was just life to me,” Kohut said.

He only realized that it was not common to all areas of the city when he visited a friend’s upscale neighborhood. It prompted him to question the practice. “Wait a minute, the cops don’t stop you every time you go to the store over here? They don’t do that to you? They don’t search you? They don’t push you up against a wall? They don’t put your face on the hood of their car?”

“It’s not a positive thing to just declare martial law on a colored community or a poor community, which is pretty much what they’re doing.”

via NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy to be reviewed by US department of justice | World news | guardian.co.uk.

In some areas, it has become reflex action for people to prepare themselves for a search – as soon as they see a policeman in uniform.

In her lower Manhattan office, Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, raises her hands in surrender.

Lieberman, 63, is miming the resigned reaction of young black and Latino men who she says are stopped and frisked so often by the New York Police Department that they put their hands in the air as soon as they see an officer approaching.

“The police don’t say a thing,” says Lieberman of the technique, which the NYPD says has netted 800 guns in a 10-year period. “They just go right for the pockets.”

via New York, Philadelphia police stops draw criticism – thestar.com.

What's on the menu? You got choice. A Police State or a Military State  |  by Tim Kelly at Monday, January 11, 2010

What’s on the menu? You got choice. A Police State or a Military State | by Tim Kelly at Monday, January 11, 2010

Is New York the only city where the police have gone berserk?

In Philadelphia, a court challenge to stop-and-frisk resulted in an agreement involving the mayor, the police commissioner and those who brought the suit, to make the force more accountable. Officers, who once recorded stop and frisk details on paper, now use mini laptops and that information goes into an electronic data base that can be monitored by Messing and the ACLU.In 2009, 250,000 people were stopped, principally black and Latino men, in a city of 1.5 million.

via New York, Philadelphia police stops draw criticism – thestar.com.

Unlike popular image, for years the legal, civil rights community and the media simply watched. The challenge to these abusive police searches mounted only after overwhelming evidence was built up.

In recent years, stop-and-frisk tactics employed by police departments in other major cities have been impugned by civil rights leaders. In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a class-action federal lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department. The lawsuit led to a settlement in which Philadelphia officials agreed to adopt safeguards to make sure police stops were conducted legally, and to accept oversight by an independent monitor. After the changes, the number of street stops declined.

via Number of New York Police Street Stops Falls 34 Percent – NYTimes.com.

TSA seems to be getting away with the most intrusive body search by any agency in the world  |  Future Travel by Cameron Cardow editorial; cartoonist for the Ottawa Citizen;  Dec 14 2010.

TSA seems to be getting away with the most intrusive body search by any agency in the world | Future Travel by Cameron Cardow editorial; cartoonist for the Ottawa Citizen; Dec 14 2010.

These intrusive search procedures increased even as crime figures remained high.

the explosion in stop-and-frisks under Bloomberg’s administration – by 600% in the last decade – has had little impact on the number of people of shot in New York City, in contrast to claims made by the mayor and the commissioner that the practice is making the city safer. NYPD statistics reveal that 1,821 people were victims of gunfire in 2011, a figure which is almost identical to the 1,892 people who were shot in 2002 when Bloomberg came into office.
via NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy to be reviewed by US department of justice | World news | guardian.co.uk.

Outrage followed and the complete lack of logic was revealed, as data of searches on the female-persons was revealed.

Last year, New York City police officers stopped 46,784 women, frisking nearly 16,000. Guns were found in 59 cases, according to an analysis of police statistics by The New York Times.

While the number of women stopped by officers in 2011 represented 6.9 percent of all police stops, the rate of guns found on both men and women was equally low, 0.12 percent and 0.13 percent, respectively. Civil rights leaders have argued that the low gun-recovery rates are a strong indication that the bulk of stop-and-frisk encounters are legally unjustified. (The number of police stops has dropped by more than 34 percent in recent months.)

When officers conduct stops upon shaky or baseless legal foundations, people of both sexes often say they felt violated. Yet stops of women by male officers can often involve an additional element of embarrassment and perhaps sexual intimidation, according to women who provided their accounts of being stopped by the police. And many incorrectly believe that the police, like Transportation Security Administration officers, are required to have female officers frisk women.

That search is not random; it is based on information provided to an officer, like a detailed description of an armed suspect, or actions that raise an officer’s reasonable suspicion that the woman may be armed, she added.

And although the police stops of women yielded very few guns, they did produce 3,993 arrests last year.

Crystal Pope, 22, said she and two female friends were frisked by male officers last year in Harlem Heights.

Besides, Ms. Pope said, she thought male officers were required to summon a female colleague when conducting a frisk.

That belief, though incorrect, is shared by many women, said Andrea Ritchie, a civil rights lawyer and co-coordinator of Streetwise and Safe, a nonprofit organization that focuses on police practices that affect young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are also members of ethnic minorities.

via In Police Pat-Downs, Many Women See Sexual Overtones – NYTimes.com.

A brilliant PR coup to damp simmering public rage at these pat-downs, the TSA (in collusion, or otherwise) ensured media coverage of a pat-down done on Henry Kissinger.

TSA screeners at New York’s LaGuardia Airport gave former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger a pat-down. The 88-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was in a wheel chair because of the long walk to the gate when he was pulled aside for screening.

Witnesses were shocked at the sight of him being patted down, and said it looked like the agents had no idea who Kissinger was.

via Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Given Pat-Down by TSA | Fox News Insider.

In recent months, several officers said, many sergeants conducting roll calls have stopped emphasizing the need to stop and question people on the street.

“They don’t ask for it anymore,” an officer in the Bronx said. “They just stopped.”

This is key, the officer said, because when sergeants were asking for them, “it starts becoming a quota or a production goal.”

“Why is it so important how many 250s someone did?” the officer added, referring to a form, a UF-250, filled out after a stop-and-frisk episode.

After the first quarter of 2012, police and city officials began to wonder how high the number would go in future years, and some privately questioned why the number of street stops continued to rise even as crime levels remained relatively flat in recent years.

via Number of New York Police Street Stops Falls 34 Percent – NYTimes.com.

In police parlance, this is called a Terry search. The SCOTUS decided in this case that as long as a policemen believed that a person

  1. Had committed
  2. Was going to commit a crime
  3. Probably armed

the police had a right to search.

One more minute, and it becomes clear that anyone can be searched under these three qualifications.

The constitutional origin and basis for police protective searches stems from the U.S. Supreme Court case of Terry v. Ohio (392 U.S. 1 (1968). In the Terry case, the high court first considered the issue of whether police pat downs were constitutional. That case evaluated the police practice of weapon searches on accosted persons and deemed it governed by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections.

The decision stood for the proposition that police protective searches were legitimate and constitutional, as it established justifications for the searches in the jurisprudence. Specifically, the supreme court held in Terry that the Fourth Amendment’s bar on unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated by the police when they stop a suspect and pat down that suspect without probable cause to arrest him or her, so long as the police have a reasonable suspicion that the suspect committed, is committing, or committed an offense, and the officer has a reasonable belief that the suspect might be dangerously armed.

via What Is Permissible During a Police Pat Down? – Attorneys.com.

With one law-breaker or law enforcer, for every 17 adult males, the US is a world leader. For the 70 million American males in the 18-60 years of age who are the predominant target; there are 17 apex American secret service agencies that track these 70 million people. The biggest secret service in the world, the largest prisoner population, in addition to one of the the largest police forces in the world, make US clearly a leader of the ‘Free’ World.

those opposed to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new ‘enhanced’ pat down searches is that these pat downs violate a traveler’s Fourth Amendment rights.the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution it reads “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”While the new TSA enhanced pat downs may violate the Fourth Amendment on the surface,

the 9th Circuit Court of the United States ruled on the search of passengers in airports back in 1973, which effectively suspends limited aspects of the Fourth Amendment while undergoing airport security screening.

In 1973 the 9th Circuit Court rules on U.S. vs Davis, 482 F.2d 893, 908, there are key pieces of wording that give the TSA its power to search essentially any way they choose to. The key wording in this ruling includes “noting that airport screenings are considered to be administrative searches because they are conducted as part of a general regulatory scheme, where the essential administrative purpose is to prevent the carrying of weapons or explosives aboard aircraft.”

U.S. vs Davis goes onto to state “[an administrative search is allowed if] no more intrusive or intensive than necessary, in light of current technology, to detect weapons or explosives, confined in good faith to that purpose, and passengers may avoid the search by electing not to fly.”

U.S. vs Davis was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court in 1986 in U.S. vs Pulido-Baquerizo, 800 F.2d 899, 901 with this ruling “To judge reasonableness, it is necessary to balance the right to be free of intrusion with society’s interest in safe air travel.”

These 9th Circuit Court ruling laid the path for the creation of Public Law 107-71, the Aviation Transportation and Security Act, which was virtually unopposed by legislators when it was it was signed into law on the 19th of November 2001 by President George W. Bush. This law laid the groundwork for the Transportation Security Administration and the evolution of its current security procedures.

These laws give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Transportation Security Administration significant legal latitude to perform the searches utilizing their current procedures without fear of violating the Fourth Amendment.

via How The TSA Legally Circumvents The Fourth Amendment – Flying With Fish.

Simmering discontent about the intrusion is now out on the streets too  |  Pre-Flight Check. Friday, November 26th, 2010 by Ted Rall. at cartoonistswithattitude.org

Simmering discontent about the intrusion is now out on the streets too | Pre-Flight Check. Friday, November 26th, 2010 by Ted Rall. at cartoonistswithattitude.org

The Terry pat-down industry in the US Police got a big boost when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld the police case against Lemon Montrea Johnson (argued December 9, 2008–Decided January 26, 2009) that police did indeed have the power to stop and search for weapons – and any other item which discovered during this search could be grounds for prosecution.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided today that, based on an Arizona case, cops who pull vehicles over in traffic stops can pat down passengers for weapons without any suspicion of wrongdoing.

We suspect this ruling could make it easier for unscrupulous police officers to abuse typical search standards.

Anytime an officer is suspicious someone is carrying drugs or other illegal contraband, the person can be searched for “weapons.” The officer has nothing to lose, now that the Supreme Court has spoken: If the search produces no weapons, there’s no legal foul ball. But if it produces drugs, the cop is rewarded with a felony bust.

via Pat-Downs of Passengers by Police Approved by U.S. Supreme Court – Phoenix News – Valley Fever.

A few cases have been overturned – but these precedents have not been enough, in number or strength of juridical importance, to turn the tide.

The Court of Appeals recently reaffirmed the long standing rule that an officer who conducts a traffic stop must have a particularized suspicion that an occupant of the vehicle poses a safety threat before the occupant can be patted-down. The Court went on to hold that this rule holds true even if the officer intends to search the vehicle.

In Molina v. State, a Gwinnett County case, an officer conducted a traffic stop of a pickup truck after noticing a broken tail light. Upon being asked by the officer, the driver consented to a search of the truck. The driver and the passenger, Molina, were then asked to step out of the truck. A backup officer conducted a “Terry pat-down” of Molina to search for weapons. During the pat-down, the officer felt “a large brick-like substance or material or object in his front waistband.” Unsure as to whether the brick was a weapon or drugs, the officer pulled the brick out and discovered that it was a kilo of cocaine. Molina was then charged for trafficking in cocaine.

At the suppression hearing, the officer testified on direct that prior to the pat-down Molina was breathing heavily and that the artery in his neck was pounding rapidly. The officer also stated: “Other than that. . . [he] was pretty normal.” On cross, the officer stated that he patted-down Molina immediately after he exited the truck. The officer also stated, “Every time we have a consent to search and we get someone out of a vehicle, I always pat them down for weapons.” The officer explained: “While I’m going to be tucked inside somebody’s car I want to know if while they’re standing out there they’re armed.” Molina lost the suppression hearing, and following a bench trial, he was sentenced to the minimum 25 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reasoned that, “If the officer has a particularized basis for his suspicion the defendant might be armed or dangerous, he may frisk a suspect.” Quoting Terry v. Ohio, the Court went on to state that, “the issue is whether a reasonably prudent man in the circumstances would be warranted in the belief that his safety or that of others was in danger.”

via Georgia appeals court limits “pat-down” searches and “safety frisks” | Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The state Supreme Court has thrown out the 2005 methamphetamine conviction of an Olympia man, ruling that police had no right to frisk him just because he was apparently intoxicated and acting nervous in a public building.

The unanimous court overturned a decision by a Thurston County judge and the state Court of Appeals, both of which had found Lt. Don Stevens of the Tumwater Police Department justified in patting down Michael Setterstrom for weapons.

Bystanders had called police the morning of Feb. 28, 2005, to complain that Setterstrom appeared intoxicated.

The court’s ruling means that evidence seized because of that search — including a baggie of methamphetamines — is inadmissible. Setterstrom, who served six months in jail for the conviction, will have the conviction reversed.

According to the court opinion, Setterstrom lied to Stevens about his name, was fidgety and seemed nervous.

Even though Setters actually do or say anything threatening, Stevens frisked him. While he felt hard objects in the man’s front pocket, he testified “that none felt like a gun.”

Among the items the officer pulled from the pocket was a small baggie containing white powder. Stevens placed it all on the bench and told Setterstrom he was under arrest.

“What happened next was, we assume, unusual,” wrote Justice James R. Johnson for the court. “Setterstrom dropped to his knees, grabbed the baggie, and swallowed it.”

Efforts to make Setterstrom spit it out were not successful, and Johnson wryly noted that, “For obvious reasons, police never recovered the baggie.”

Based on these actions, Setterstrom was arrested and Stevens obtained a search warrant for his backpack, where officers found a small safe containing a baggie of methamphetamine, a syringe, a pipe and a set of scales. In Thursday’s ruling, the justices said that because the original pat-down was illegal, so was the search warrant that resulted from it.

while officers have every right to protect themselves, they must have a reason to suspect someone may be armed and dangerous.

“Officers must have some basis beyond nervousness and lying to justify the intrusion of a frisk,” the opinion said. “The officer here lacked such a basis.”

via Local News | Court: Police pat-down was not justified | Seattle Times Newspaper.

In JOHNSON v. THE STATE, (A11A0941.), Judge McFadden, dissenting wrote

Officer Spahr lacked authority to conduct the pat-down;  and Johnson’s consent to the subsequent search that turned up the drugs was not freely and voluntarily given, but rather was tainted by the illegal pat-down.   Therefore, the trial court should have granted Johnson’s motion to suppress, and I would reverse his conviction.I now turn to the question whether Officer Spahr had constitutionally adequate grounds to conduct the pat-down search.   I would find that the state did not meet its burden of establishing that Spahr reasonably suspected that Johnson was armed and dangerous or otherwise a threat to his personal safety.   So Spahr did not have constitutionally adequate grounds for the pat-down.Before an officer places a hand on the person of a citizen in search of anything, he must have constitutionally adequate, reasonable grounds for doing so.   If an officer conducts a pat-down for weapons without sufficient justification, any evidence discovered is inadmissible under the exclusionary rule.   Constitutionally adequate, reasonable grounds for a pat-down for weapons for officer or bystander safety are present when, based on particular and articulable facts, the officer actually and reasonably suspects that the individual is armed and dangerous or is otherwise a threat to personal safety.The state has the burden of proving that the pat-down was lawful.  Molina, 304 Ga.App. at 95.   That burden entails proving that the officer reasonably believed the suspect to have been “armed or otherwise dangerous.”  No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law.Since the pat-down was illegal, the relevant question becomes whether Johnson’s consent to the subsequent search that turned up the drugs was voluntarily given and not the product of the illegal pat-down.   Johnson argues that he did not freely and voluntarily give his consent because he was surrounded by three officers, one of whom had already conducted the illegal pat-down, and he was not told that he could leave.   In other words, Johnson contends that the encounter had not de-escalated into a first-tier encounter, and therefore his consent was not voluntary.   To determine whether the encounter became consensual, the courts must look to the totality of the circumstances in determining whether a reasonable person would have felt free to leave.

via JOHNSON v. THE STATE, A11A0941., December 01, 2011 – GA Court of Appeals | FindLaw.

Anything left out …

There are some other developing ‘stories’, which are equally a cause for worry spread over the USA.

County officials are looking into an almost 70% spike in fatal officer-involved shootings in Los Angeles County last year but said it’s too early to tell what, if anything, drove the jump.

Fifty-four people were fatally shot by authorities in 2011, according to autopsy reports analyzed by The Times, an increase all the more notable because it occurred at a time when the number of homicides in the area fell to historic lows. With 612 people killed in the county last year, nearly 1 in every 10 such deaths occurred at the hands of law enforcement officers.

via L.A. County officials looking into spike in fatal police shootings – latimes.com.

In US capital, Washington, DC, an anti-prostitution law is being watched with interest by the rest of USA.

In areas designated as prostitution-free zones, police can make arrests for up to 24 consecutive days if two or more people congregate in public in certain neighborhoods and ignore dispersal orders.

In his testimony, Newsham told council members that the city’s well-publicized prostitution-free zones appear to have played only a minor role in an overall reduction of prostitution in the city. Despite common perceptions, Newsham said, police have never made an arrest using the prostitution-free zone statute.

“While PFZs may have contributed to a temporary displacement of street-level prostitution, development and changing trends in prostitution have likely played a greater role,” Newsham said, noting that there has been a steep decline in prostitution-related calls in the District.

Courts upheld a person’s right to loiter so long as it’s not “being done with the specific intent to commit an illegal act.” Under current law, Gorman said, police do not need “probable cause” to arrest someone using the prostitution-free zone statue.

“It’s about disrupting,” Mendelson said. “If the market has to move because of a prostitution-free zone, it’s going to hurt business.”

via D.C. ‘prostitution-free zones’ probably unconstitutional, attorney general’s office says – The Washington Post.

So how do police identify prostitutes?

Over 1,200 people have signed a petition to demand the right to carry three condoms in the District of Columbia without fear of arrest. Why do 1,200 people think that carrying more than two condoms is against the law?

Widespread media reports of a “three-condom rule” in D.C. began with an item on RH Reality Check investigating the District’s anti-prostitution provisions. The item, written by researchers Aziza Ahmed and Brook Kelly, claimed that in the District of Columbia, “Anecdotal evidence suggests that having three or more condoms is considered a proxy for being a sex worker.”

Last week, the three-condom rule hit Jezebel, where it received 4,426 page-views—and inspired dozens of comments from women concerned that a late-night prophylactic run could send them behind bars. “Don’t many brands sell in 3-packs? Anyone who carries around a new package is automatically carrying 3,” one wrote. “so people in long term relationships that decide to stock up are really screwed,” wrote another. Feministing also picked up the three-condom rule. On Amplify, Jaclyn Friedman worried that her new “cute red vinyl condom case” designed to hold three Trojans could be grounds for arrest. “I once used over a dozen [condoms] in a particularly memorable weekend,” Friedman writes. “And I still wasn’t a sex worker.” Meanwhile, Dibranco’s post has been viewed over 40,000 times.

Where did this “three-condom rule” originate?

It’s not a legal standard. In D.C., police can set up temporary “Prostitution Free Zones” where officers who suspect you of loitering with the intent to commit prostitution can force you to leave the area. If you don’t leave, they can arrest you. The zone can remain in place for up to 10 days. According to the Prostitution Free Zone Law, “prostitution-related offenses” include “repeatedly beckoning to, stopping, attempting to stop, or attempting to engage passers-by in conversation for the purpose of prostitution,” “stopping or attempting to stop motor vehicles for the purpose of prostitution,” or “repeatedly interfering with the free passage of other persons for the purpose of prostitution.” Cops can also ask you to disperse if they recognize you from previous incidents as a gang member or a sex worker, or if a “reliable source” informs the police that they have observed you engaging in prostitution. The law contains plenty of objectionable procedures—they can make me leave my neighborhood if someone “reliable” tells them I’m a sex worker?—but no mention of contraceptives.

According to D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump, carrying condoms can lead an officer to suspect prostitution—but there’s no three-condom arrest rule. “Although the possession of multiple condoms may be a factor that leads an officer to suspect (reasonable suspicion) that a person is engaged in prostitution, it is not enough to establish probable cause for any crime,” Crump writes. “Depending on the circumstances, factors such as this may justify an investigative stop—but not an arrest.”

Of course, it’s possible that some D.C. police officers don’t always follow the letter of the law. Is there any evidence that D.C. police have an internal three-condom rule?

According to the report, 8.6 percent of sex workers interviewed claimed that officers had taken “safe sex supplies” from them during their interactions with police; the report also cites evidence of police officers seizing or destroying condoms in Las Vegas and San Francisco. Again, the report’s findings reveal police conduct that can be extraordinarily harmful for D.C.’s sex workers. However, the report includes no magic number of condoms required to ignite suspicion—and it doesn’t provide any evidence that condoms alone are enough to get you locked up.

via Can Having Three Condoms In D.C. Really Get You Arrested? – The Sexist.

For a short while it did appear that the this Prostitution-Free Zone practice was effective. There seemed to be a reduction in prostitution.

The prostitution landscape in the nation’s capital is changing.

WAMU-FM’s “Metro Connection” reported on the District of Columbia’s crackdown on prostitution and why it is that prostitution is moving from areas downtown into residential neighborhoods, especially in Ward 7 east of the Anacostia River.

The migration mostly has to do with a 2006 law that allows chief of the Metropolitan Police Department to temporarily designate some areas of the city as “prostitution-free zones.” In such areas, it is “unlawful for a group of two or more persons to congregate in a public space or property in that area for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or prostitution-related offenses.”

Contrary to public opinion, the carrying of more than two condoms is not itself enough to get a person arrested for prostitution though the City Paper’s former sex columnist Amanda Hess did find that carrying multiple condoms in a prostitution-free zone can lead an officer to suspect that a person is a sex worker — which, in a prostitute-free zone, is enough for the police to tell the person to disperse.

Most of the PFZs so far have been downtown, which has pushed prostitution into other parts of the nation’s capital. WAMU reports that in Ward 2, the downtown jurisdiction traditionally known as D.C.’s prostitution hub, arrests have gone down by 10 percent in the past 10 years. But east of the Anacostia River, arrests have tripled in Ward 7.

The group told WAMU it isn’t seeing any overall decrease in the number of prostitutes working in D.C., though — it’s the same number of prostitutes, just working in different places– More dangerous places, say sex worker advocates.

via D.C. Prostitution Moves East Of Anacostia River.


 

US & China: How Will They Engage In The Next 25 Years

Posted in China, Current Affairs, India, Indo Pak Relations, Pax Americana, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on July 10, 2012

For any one to believe that countries do and governments do anything for reasons other than self-interest is delusional. But coming from a Chinese analyst …

A young Dalai Lama, and Indira Gandhi, during a visit to Nehru in New Delhi, on Sept. 4, 1959. It was the Dalai Lama's first visit to New Delhi since fleeing Tibet in March. - living in exile at Birla House in Mussoorie, India.

A young Dalai Lama, and Indira Gandhi, during a visit to Nehru in New Delhi, on Sept. 4, 1959. It was the Dalai Lama’s first visit to New Delhi since fleeing Tibet in March. – living in exile at Birla House in Mussoorie, India.

Peace and stability at last

To the Chinese people, after 50 years of dislocation and disaster, the communist victory brought promise of stability and direction.

Mao’s first decade (1949-1959) achieved three major things.

  1. China was cured of its opium addiction.
  2. China’s criminal gangs were busted.
  3. After many centuries Chinese peasants got land.

But these reforms were not likely to make China into a world power.

Baby steps to a world power

According to Mao, the path to China as a super-power was The Great Leap Forward.

Initiated in 1957-58, the Great Leap Forward saw famine and hunger across China. After the Communist takeover of China, land seized from land owners, was given to peasants in 1949. Ten years later, in 1959, the Chinese State took away the same land from the same peasant, during The Great Leap Forward. Food shortages, starvation followed. Western (questionable) estimates are that 30 million people died during this period.

Some speculate, the China’s war with India in 1962 diverted attention from two domestic catastrophes – after the disastrous Great Leap Forward and before the equally disastrous Cultural Revolution.

There could be another viable cause for the war.

Comfort of size

China had annexed Tibet in 1951, with the Dalai Lama being the nominal but ‘autonomous’ ruler. Seven years after annexation, in 1959, the Dalai Lama, fearing for his life, fled to India.

Three years after Dalai Lama’s defection to India, the 1962 war followed.

More probably, the 1962 War between India and China, also served to demonstrate Chinese determination to hold Tibet.

Alexei Kosygin (Soviet PM) & Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent. Photo: RIA Novosti/AFP; courtesy - livemint.com

Alexei Kosygin (Soviet PM) & Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent. Photo: RIA Novosti/AFP; courtesy – livemint.com

Middle Kingdom in a muddle

For China, 20th century began on an untoward note.

Failed Boxer War (1899-1900), followed by the fall of Qing dynasty (1912), Japanese occupation of Manchuria (1931 onwards), civil war (ended in 1949) – all this in a space of less than 50 years. To a China recovering from such difficult fifty years, size in itself was a comfort.

Sparsely populated, Tibet’s vast landmass gave bulk to the Chinese nation, making it the 4th largest in the world – nearly equal to USA (No.3) and Canada (No.2). Without Tibet, China would drop to 6th position – smaller than Brazil (No.5) and Australia (No.6). Remove Xinjiang, and another 16% of China gets reduced. Close to 45% of current China is Tibet and Xinjiang.

A larger population means a larger government – and a larger landmass means more raw-material sources, bigger markets. All in all, more economic heft.

On the negative side is of course, sluggish administration happens easily – and often.

Action shifts

In this quest for expanding Chinese frontiers, China took on the Soviet Russia – with unfavorable results.

April 1968, Prague, Czechoslovakia: A Russian soldier lights a cigarette as a Czech walks past a sign which equates U.S. policy in Vietnam with the Soviet (CCCP) occupation of Czechoslovakia (CSSR). A swastika painted inside a star (which is used as a symbol for both the Soviet and the American armies) completes the barb. Since Warsaw Pact forces invaded Czechoslovakia, signs like this were scrawled on walls, windows and even Russian tanks

April 1968, Prague, Czechoslovakia: A Russian soldier lights a cigarette as a Czech walks past a sign which equates U.S. policy in Vietnam with the Soviet (CCCP) occupation of Czechoslovakia (CSSR). A swastika painted inside a star (which is used as a symbol for both the Soviet and the American armies) completes the barb. Since Warsaw Pact forces invaded Czechoslovakia, signs like this were scrawled on walls, windows and even Russian tanks

While the Soviet Union with Khrushchev at its helm, was busy in Cuba (October 1962), expanding and deepening relations in Middle East, Vietnam, and in Russia’s own backyard in Eastern Europe, China started aggressive posturing against Soviet Russia on the border island of Zhenbao-Damanski.

Since this was an undeclared war from both sides, this aspect of international politics is rarely factored into most analysis.

Soviet Russia scaled down military operations against China after China was made to pay a price. The Russians even considered a nuclear attack on China. US support to China, against a nuclear attack stopped the Soviets from completely bull-dozing China.

This Chinese posturing alienated the Soviet Union.

June 7, 1969: Soviet Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev addresses the World Conference of Communist Parties in Moscow. In his speech, Brezhnev accused Red China of planning nuclear and conventional war against the Soviet Union. USSR Premier Alexei Kosygin, left, and President Nikolai Podgorny listen to his statement. | Photos: Bettmann/CORBIS; source: wired.com | Click for image.

June 7, 1969: Soviet Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev addresses the World Conference of Communist Parties in Moscow. In his speech, Brezhnev accused Red China of planning nuclear and conventional war against the Soviet Union. USSR Premier Alexei Kosygin, left, and President Nikolai Podgorny listen to his statement. | Photos: Bettmann/CORBIS; source: wired.com | Click for image.

When Russia thought of nuking China

Soviet Union launched a brutal response against China.

After a Russian diplomat in New Delhi probed for a probable American response to Russian nuclear attack on China, the dove-cote was aflutter. Chou En Lai, of China relayed Chinese concerns about Soviet intentions to Pakistan’s Air Marshall Nur Khan, who in turn briefed Henry Kissinger.

A few days earlier, another Russian diplomat in the U.S., with KGB connections, Boris Davydov had sought similar American reaction to a Soviet nuclear attack on China from William Stearman, of the US State Department. This Soviet approach was escalated to Henry Kissinger and President Nixon.

This was the opening that USA wanted.

Nixon visits China

Based on these developments, Nixon made an approach to the Chinese – and the Nixon-Mao meeting happened later (February 1972). China Daily, a publication that reflects the Chinese Government’s official stance, commissioned a special feature on the ‘40th anniversary of Nixon’s landmark visit to China’ – though diplomatic relations were finally restored only in 1979.

Nixon’s Asia and Pakistan policy was a significant departure in the mechanics. In 1965, before the India-Pakistan War, Johnson cancelled US trips by Pakistan’s General Ayub and India’s Prime Minister, LB Shastri.

Of course, for vastly differing reasons. US wanted to show displeasure to Ayub Khan for getting close to China. US did not want any criticism from Shastri on the Vietnam War.

China lets down all-weather friend Pakistan

Before the 1971 Bangladesh War, the punishment that the Chinese received in the Zhenbao-Damanski Island border (1969) conflict at the hands of the Soviets made the Chinese very careful. Aware of Soviet support to India, in the India-Bangladesh War – the Chinese adopted a complete hands-off attitude. The Chinese dreaded the Soviets.

But this does not explain 1965-Chinese neutral posturing in the India-Pakistan War. Was it fear that India could provoke the secession of Tibet – if China engaged itself with India in a military adventure?

If Tibet goes, would Xinjiang remain for long?

Chinese Talk and Walk

A hall-mark of the Communist Party foreign policy has been pragmatism. Deng reiterated Chinese thinking when he said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” echoing American President Teddy Roosevelt’s suggestion to an emerging USA.

How will China and US engage in the future?

Friends, Followers, Competitors, Collaborators, Rivals or Fr-enemies. Leader, follower. This following extract from a Chinese analyst is revealing.

China has undoubtedly benefited from the world system created and supported by the US. Richard Nixon’s journey to China in 1972 opened the door for China’s return to the international community.

Most of the next two decades were a honeymoon for Sino-US relations. On the economic front, the US not only granted China most-favoured-nation trade status, but also tolerated China’s mercantilist approach to international trade and finance, notably its dual-track exchange-rate regime. In the 1990s, bilateral economic ties continued to expand. US support for China’s integration into the world system culminated with the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Of course, China’s inadequate intellectual property protection has damaged relations. And the role of China’s state-owned enterprises and official Chinese support for technological “national champions” have also hurt relations. (via Couples counselling for US and China – Views – livemint.com).

Were US actions based on benign benefit to the Chinese that will merit gratitude? Probably, he has never given the primer on modern foreign policy.

We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow” Lord Viscount Palmerston, 1848.

Does gratitude have a place in diplomacy?


Bated Breaths: Government-Change Across The World

Posted in America, China, Current Affairs, Media, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on June 18, 2012

Probably never in history have so many government changes happened in unison. To this add the global crisis in leadership.

A ballot box as a defibrillator?  Revive the Egyptian economy?  |  Cartoon by Luojie from China, Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

A ballot box as a defibrillator? Revive the Egyptian economy? | Cartoon by Luojie from China, Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Between April 2012 and March 2013, four of the five P5 nations with the Security Council veto at UN, will have a change in government. This probably more than in any similar period in history.

For a world, in the middle of The Great Recession, with a global leadership crisis, this period of uncertainty and change, does it mean hope? With empty agendas, greater resentments and despair is more probable.

Take Russia for instance.

A wooden-faced Putin, probably after a botox treatment, has become President amid street protests and allegations of vote rigging – purportedly, engineered by the US.

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russian president on Monday in a glittering Kremlin ceremony that took place less than 24 hours after protesters opposed to his rule had battled police in downtown Moscow.

Putin’s motorcade had sped through empty streets locked down by a heavy security presence on its way to the Kremlin State Palace, where some 2,000 guests had gathered to witness his inauguration for a six-year term.

Those assembled included Putin’s predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, and Patriarch Kirill, head of Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church. The patriarch later blessed Putin’s inauguration in a Kremlin service. Former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was also in attendance.

Police made 120 arrests as some 200 people, including Yeltsin-era deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, protested Putin’s return to the presidency at separate locations near the Kremlin.

Over 400 people were arrested and scores injured as Sunday’s rally against Putin’s rule turned violent when protesters briefly broke through police lines in a bid to take their protest to the Kremlin walls.

Putin was forced to step down in 2008 by a Constitution that forbids more than two subsequent terms, but is silent on further presidential stints. He shifted to the post of prime minister after installing Medvedev in the Kremlin, but remained by far Russia’s most powerful politician.

Russia’s Constitution was amended in 2008 to increase the presidential term of office from four years to six.

The amendment means that Putin could remain in power until 2024, longer than any Russian or Soviet leader since dictator Joseph Stalin. (via Putin Returns to Kremlin Amid Protests | Russia | RIA Novosti).

Soon after Vladimir Putin, it was the turn of France to have a new head of State. Right in the middle of a Euro-zone currency and banking crisis, a new French President has taken over.

Unlike the earlier German-French consensus over austerity, Hollande has made some noises against the austerity-led agenda. This opens a new wave of uncertainty across Europe – and the world.

What can embattled Euro-bankrupts expect? A taste of austerity? A helping hand with growth? What will Euro banks get? A haircut or a debt-cut? Euro-Corporations are left struggling with an over-valued Euro-currency, a stagnant home market and a weak global market.

In the meantime France and Germany are discussing how to manage European crisis.

Socialist Francois Hollande has defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential runoff by just over 1 million votes. He won 51 per cent of the vote against his rival’s 49. The president-elect has already pledged “to finish with austerity.”

Hollande will be the first French socialist president of France since 1995. He will be sworn in as new president of France on May 15.

Francois Hollande capitalized on France’s economic woes and President Sarkozy’s unpopularity. He has also promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than €1million a year, and lower the retirement age to 60.

Sarkozy, who has been in office since 2007, had promised to reduce France’s large budget deficit through budget cuts. It is only the second time an incumbent president has failed to win re-election since the start of France’s Fifth Republic in 1958. (via Hollande wins French presidency with 51.7% of votes — RT).

But Angela Merkel’s problems at home may make her more accommodating – or indecisive.

At the recent State elections, in May 2012, for North Rhine-Westphalia or “NRW” region, Europe largest state, also Germany’s most populous (13m), said a resounding ‘nein’ to Merkel’s party – the Christian Democrats.

This could either mean that Merkel becomes more flexible or worse, diffident. Soon after this wave of government changes across the world, Germany itself will be facing elections – between 27 August-27 October 2013.

These elecxtions are likely to be less than likely to be stabilizing  |  Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen of DryBones at Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image

These elecxtions are likely to be less than likely to be stabilizing | Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen of DryBones at Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image

But the Egyptians don’t have wait for so long. On Saturday, 16th June, Egyptians voted

in the first free presidential election in their history to make what many find an unpalatable choice between a military man who served deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak and an Islamist who says he is running for God.

Reeling from a court order two days ago to dissolve a new parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, many question whether generals who pushed aside fellow officer Mubarak last year to appease the pro-democracy protests of the Arab Spring will honor a vow to relinquish power by July 1 to whoever wins.

“Both are useless but we must choose one of them unfortunately,” said Hassan el-Shafie, 33, in Mansoura, north of Cairo, exasperated like many who picked centrists in last month’s first round and now face a choice between two extremes.

With neither a parliament nor a new constitution in place to define the president’s powers, the outcome from Saturday and Sunday’s run-off will still leave 82 million Egyptians, foreign investors and allies in the United States and Europe unsure about what kind of state the most populous Arab nation will be. (via Egypt makes stark choice for president – Yahoo! News).

Free and fair elections? Secret ballot? | Cartoonist - Marian Kamensky from Slovakia; source & courtesy - cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

Free and fair elections? Secret ballot? | Cartoonist – Marian Kamensky from Slovakia; source & courtesy – cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

Reports are Egyptians are already missing Hosni Mubarak.

While the Egyptian vote will be talking point in the Islamic world, for the Euro-zone, the election in Greece is more important. The day after the Egyptian election, on Sunday, June 17, 2012, the Greeks voted

in an election that could decide whether their heavily indebted country stays in the euro zone or is forced towards the exit, potentially unleashing shocks that could break up Europe’s single currency.

Opinion polls are banned in the final two weeks of the campaign but party officials’ own estimates on election day showed the radical leftist SYRIZA bloc, which wants to scrap the punishing austerity package demanded by international lenders, neck and neck with the conservative New Democracy party, which broadly supports it. (via Greek voters to decide euro future – Yahoo! News).

The one change in Government that is the most difficult to call is in China. The Chinese duo of Hu-Wen, who have presided over the biggest expansion in China’s economy, are at the verge of retirement.

Though they won’t be saying zai jian 再见 – good-bye, see you soon! Sometime between September 2012-November 2012, 3000 delegates of the Chinese Communist Party of China (CCP), will be meeting

For the new nine-member Politburo Standing Committee to be endorsed at the congress, which marks a transition of power after 10 years of rule under President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

People’s Daily, the CCP’s flagship newspaper, said on May 3 that “at present, the elections” of the 2,200-plus deputies to the 18th party congress are going as scheduled. By April 27, 12 provinces including Beijing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Jilin and Shandong have already decided on their deputies (who in fact are not really “elected” democratically but nominated by grassroots party organs and decided by higher authorities).

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily also reported that deputies to the 18th party congress representing the PLA and the paramilitary People’s Armed Police (PAP) have been nominated for the final approval of the Central Military Commission (CMC). There is no problem for other “constituencies” to complete their selections of deputies before June 30 – the set deadline.

The 18th party congress will be held “in autumn of this year”, in contrast to the official announcement of the CCP Central Committee that it would be held “in the latter half of 2012”. In China, autumn is generally considered to run from September to November.

It will be held in autumn or before the end of November following the party’s tradition. According to party rules and adopted practice, the current central committee will hold its last plenary session to endorse the agenda of the 18th congress shortly before its convention. (via Asia Times Online :: Rumor aside, a smooth transition is assured).

It is the economy stupid!  |  Caetoonist:  Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch at Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

It is the economy stupid! | Caetoonist: Nate Beeler of The Columbus Dispatch at Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Definitely, the most widely covered government-change in the world, the American elections in November has set off an avalanche of speculation in world media.

Speculation has been let loose.

A nuclear deal with Iran? An organized retreat from Afghanistan? The eurozone picking up a little bit of steam? Stable oil prices? Forget it. The crucial foreign elector recruited for Obama II at the White House is one Osama bin Laden. Call it the “Obama nails Osama” winning strategy.

No wonder the winning strategy has been subcontracted to the Hollywood/Pentagon combo. Washington lost the Vietnam War, but won it in on screen. Oscar-winning director Kathryn Hurt Locker Bigelow had already started the process of “winning” the Iraq War on screen – at least morally. Now it’s time for her new project – an as yet untitled movie – on the “Get Osama” May 2011 Abbottabad raid and the events leading up to it. With POTUS (that’s president of the United States) as the hero of his own action movie. (via Asia Times Online :: How Osama re-elects Obama).

Obama is definitely worried about an asteroid like Euro-zone crisis derailing his campaign  |  Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant of The Hill, Politicalcartoons.com  |  Click for image.

Obama is definitely worried about an asteroid like Euro-zone crisis derailing his campaign | Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant of The Hill, Politicalcartoons.com | Click for image.

Hollywood has been roped in. The hottest of Silicon Valley ‘brains’ have been called in. But, even then,

If the European crisis explodes or an attack on Iran drives up oil prices, the U.S. economy may tank and render moot all of Messina’s careful planning. Or the recovery could pick up steam, or the old gaffe-prone Romney could return and hand Obama an unexpectedly easy win. (via Messina Consults Jobs to Spielberg in Crafting Obama’s Campaign – Bloomberg).

Analysts have been reading the election-motive in the Chicago-Summit or the G* summit that Obama called for , in Chicago.

It believed that a worried

Barack Obama is to press German chancellor Angela Merkel to support a growth package to help bail out Europe at the G8 summit this weekend amid fears in the White House that the eurozone crisis could damage the president’s re-election chances.

Obama is scheduled to meet Merkel, the new French president François Hollande, the Italian prime minister Mario Monti and British prime minister David Cameron at Camp David on Friday evening.

But foreign affairs analysts said that Obama’s leverage with the European leaders is minimal on this issue. Although the US has the economic muscle to help Europe out of its mess, the Obama administration took the strategic decision not to become involved directly.

Instead, Obama is to use the Camp David summit for some quiet diplomacy, hoping to sway Merkel to endorse some immediate actions to help growth. The problem for Obama is that most of the initiatives being discussed in Europe are medium-term or longer, too late to help him if the European crisis impacts on the US economy in the fall, just ahead of the election in November. (via G8 summit: Obama to press Angela Merkel on eurozone growth package | World news | guardian.co.uk).

Soon after the US President is sworn-in to office by February, Pakistan will go for elections. Unless there is an army coup. Or a US invasion.

Probably, Pakistani Government is the only Government in history, which has taken the help of a foreign government, to invade its own country. It all boils down to

cessation of drone strikes is one of the two preconditions of Pakistan for ending the present standoff that has gone on for more than six months and has caused much tension. The second pre-condition is an apology by the US for the November 26, 2011, airstrike at Salala in North Waziristan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. After this ghastly “friendly fire”, Pakistan had closed the transit route for supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan. It remains shut because US President Barack Obama has refused to apologise, and it is doubtful that in an election year he can change his mind.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also faces election some four months after the presidential poll in the US. He is in no position, therefore, to give up either of the two preconditions prescribed by an all-party committee of Pakistan’s Parliament. The man most pleased with this intractable situation must be the all-powerful Army Chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. Ever since the US attack on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden 13 months ago, the Pakistan Army has felt humiliated but has successfully turned the public anger over its failure to prevent the incident against America. The anti-American feeling within the Pakistan Army may not be as strident as among the public, especially the jihadis, but it is strong enough. The general can, therefore, sit back while the weak President is left holding the baby.

It is in this context that one must view also the big blow at the Nato Summit on Afghanistan in Chicago last month to the heavily fraught US-Pakistan ties. The US had seen to it that the invitation to Mr Zardari was delivered at the last minute, when it seemed to Washington that Nato supplies through the southern route would be resumed by the time the Pakistani President arrived at the summit.

When this did not happen, Mr Obama gave Mr Zardari a cold shoulder. At the opening of the summit, he did not even acknowledge Mr Zardari’s presence while welcoming Afghan President Hamid Karzai and even “officials” from Russia and Central Asian republics. Moreover, he denied Mr Zardari a one-to-one meeting. In Chicago, there was understandable concern that the widening gulf between the US and Pakistan might “complicate” the planned exit of Western combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

From then on, bilateral talks between America and Pakistan — which have not broken down even though there are senior members in both establishments who would like to end them — are focused on inducements to Pakistan to reopen the supply line. (via US-Pak: Separated, not divorced | The Asian Age).

On most matter, finally, Pakistan has the last word. Here also we will let Pakistan have the last word.

And a very important word, it may turn out to be.


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The Crisis of Aging Populations

Posted in Current Affairs, Media, Pax Americana, politics, Propaganda by Anuraag Sanghi on June 15, 2012

‘Advanced’ economies of the world are aging rapidly. They can only sustain by ‘importing’ labour – i.e. immi-grunts.

Japanese women and men expect to live the longest  |  Source & courtesy - economist.com; Dec 11th 2009  |  Click for image.

Japanese women and men expect to live the longest | Source & courtesy – economist.com; Dec 11th 2009 | Click for image.

Demographic dead-end

Japan is already there.

People in Japan have to work late in their lives – when by all logic and reason, they should be at home – in retirement or care.

But acute labour shortage, small families, late marriages are forcing the elderly in Japan to work.

High mortality rates of men in Russia has forced the government to announce incentives for families to have a second child.

USA is growing its labour force by Mexican and Asian migrants, principally from India and China. Western Europe manages its labour shortage with controlled immigration from Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia to a lesser degree.

Image source & courtesy - businessweek.com

Image source & courtesy – businessweek.com

China is torn between a looming crisis – and publicly recanting its faulty population policy. Young people in China make do with ‘solitary sex’.

Apart from these four major economies, in country after country State intervention has wreaked havoc.

Lure of the State

And Anuj Chopra here wants the State to intervene, regulate, dictate, control reproduction.

His excuse for State intervention?

A few (maybe a few hundred elderly women) decided to have children. Much like the patronizing treatment and media circus around the Octomom Nadya Suleman, a few years ago.

In recent years, thousands of fertility clinics have cropped up around India, spawning a new industry of “fertility tourism” for reproductively challenged couples from around the world. They are the medical equivalent of dollar stores, offering IVF treatment at a fraction of the cost in developed economies, and often without the strict regulations and waiting periods that elsewhere make the procedure a logistical nightmare. IVF — along with other reproductive specialties like surrogacy (the world-famous “womb-for-rent” business), hormone therapy, and gamete (egg or sperm) donation — are part of India’s flourishing fertility treatment business, on track to blossom into a $2.3 billion enterprise in 2012 according to the lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry. The sector, described as a “pot of gold” in a report by the Indian Law Commission, has earned India the dubious reputation of being the world’s baby factory.

Fertility clinics aren’t just serving the international market, they’re increasingly serving the domestic market as well. And regulation has not kept pace with the proliferation of clinics as India emerges as the Wild West of fertility. In recent years, facilities have been accused of a litany of shocking abuses — from exploiting impoverished women who became surrogate mothers to prescribing unapproved fertility drugs to delivering “stateless babies” who are refused citizenship by both their mother’s country and their Indian birthplace.

The Indian government is gearing up to pass a new law to regulate the fertility business, prepared by a 12-member committee of the Indian Council of Medical Research and expected to be tabled in parliament in the coming months. It mandates that all fertility clinics be registered with the government; spells out specific guidelines for the sourcing, purchase and storage of gametes; and also explicitly enumerates the health and legal rights of surrogate mothers and babies delivered by them.

But one pressing issue has remained beyond the purview of regulation: How old is too old to get pregnant?

In 2008, Rajo Devi Lohan, an Indian woman from a tiny village in the northern state of Haryana, became the world’s oldest mother at the age of 70. About a year and a half later, Bhateri Devi, a 66-year-old from the same state, became the world’s oldest woman to give birth to triplets.

In India, as in many other countries, medically assisted procreation techniques have long been the preserve of the upper-class elite. But in recent years, with proliferating clinics hawking cheap treatment, it is fast becoming the trend du jour among middle- and working-middle class couples, including the elderly. (via The World’s Baby Factory – By Anuj Chopra | Foreign Policy).

The problem of stagnant economies! (Cartoonist - Chip Bok; published on 2005-06-05; source and courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com).

The problem of stagnant economies! (Cartoonist – Chip Bok; published on 2005-06-05; source and courtesy – cartoonistgroup.com).

Anuj Chopra thinks that the English-speaking, Western-educated elites in India know better.

Anuj, before you waste so much paper to print snooty and silly theories, and burn electricity on server farms that host such web-pages, check with reality.

Wake up – and smell the coffee.

India does not face a demographic dead-end, because Indians ignored English-speaking, Western-educated elites in India like you.

Go, figure!



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