Current Affairs

Australian Uranium exports: Yes to China, No to India

Apparently, Australia trusts the Communist regime in China more than the Democratic one in India! Sure, if China has signed the NPT it must have abided by it and since India hasn't, it must have participated in the proliferation of nuclear weapons! What kind of twisted logic is this where words matter more than actions?
Australia refuses to lift ban on uranium exports to India:

Australia has welcomed a US-India agreement to share nuclear technology but ruled out lifting a ban on uranium exports to India while New Delhi refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

CBC News: Australia opens up uranium sales to China.

Canada's major competitor in the uranium business, Australia, has reached a nuclear safeguards deal with Beijing that opens up the Chinese market to Australian mines.

...

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said Monday's deal will ensure that Australian uranium is sold only to power producers and that there are international inspections of Chinese nuclear facilities.



So, this is what a principled communist look like!
Link: BBC NEWS | South Asia | India Speaker rebuked on spending.

India's top auditing body has reprimanded the Speaker of parliament for unauthorised expenses during overseas trips nearly 10 years ago.

The auditors say Somnath Chatterjee spent thousands of dollars more than his entitlement without submitting valid receipts.

....

The CAG says that in 1996-97 alone, Mr Chatterjee drew $8,525 above the amount he was entitled to without furnishing evidence of expenditure.

...

But Mr Chatterjee actually drew $6,000 for the 12 days at the rate of $500 a day.

The CAG report added: "Scrutiny of hotel bills of the chairman and managing director of the WBIDC relating to their stay in Israel, Germany, France and the UK from 8 to 22 September 1998 revealed that apart from room rentals, an expenditure of $1,072 was made towards minibar, bar, laundry and tobacco."


Bush visits India

India and US signed a landmark nuclear deal during Bush's visit to India. This deal will provide India access to the nuclear fuel in return for allowing international inspections of its civilian nuclear reactors:

- Under a July 2005 deal, agreed in principle between India and the United States, New Delhi would commit itself to certain non-proliferation standards including allowing international inspections of its civilian nuclear plants.

In return, it would gain access to U.S. civilian nuclear technology, including fuel and reactors denied for 30 years. India's military facilities would not be subject to inspections under the deal.

- The agreement hinges on India separating its nuclear facilities into civilian and military components.

However, some people choose to oppose the deal and Bush's visit to India:

About the visit of Bill Clinton, circa 2000, there is no need to say much. The gala event is so recent as to be relatively fresh in people’s minds. Blessed with charisma and a gift of the gab, Clinton — whose principal policy aim for this part of the world, was to “cap, reduce and eliminate” Indian nuclear capability — captivated his hosts. There were no demonstrations against him. On the contrary, after his address to a joint session of two Houses, MPs — cutting across party lines — made a spectacle of themselves by falling over each other to shake hands with him.

Bush — who is being accommodative towards this country over the nuclear issue and has made friendlier pronouncements on India than any other American president — can only envy Bill. Paradoxically, Dubya is not liked by a fairly large section of Indians. Iraq has something to do with this. So have the threats to Iran. Much more damaging, however, have been TV images of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

So, Bill Clinton, who opposed India's nuclear capability was great. While Bush, who signed the nuclear deal against so much opposition and without pushing India to sign the NPT, is bad!

Did the Left protest against Bill Clinton during his visit to India? They protested alright, but not over Clinton's opposition to India's nuclear programme. But when Bush came calling, the Left protested his visit precisely because of the nuclear deal:

Left parties said on Friday that they would hold protests across the country over a landmark deal on nuclear technology during Bush's visit to India next month.

But the real reason may be India's vote against Iran at the IAEA:

Earlier, the Left parties had urged the government not to vote against Iran in the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog meet, but analysts say India voted under pressure for the deal.

The deal although announced with great fanfare has run into criticism from nuclear experts and some members of the U.S. Congress who say it undermines global non-proliferation goals.

Left parties are strongly opposed to New Delhi supporting the West, as it did last September when the IAEA declared Iran had failed to comply with its international obligations.

Karat, agitated over the US attitude on deal, said they would take up the issue in the forthcoming session of Parliament and urge New Delhi not to vote against Iran in next month’s IAEA meeting.

Why do the Left even pretend that they are for India's interests?


Will Democrats dare to impeach Bush?

Link: Instapundit.com.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's national security adviser defended the administration Sunday against accusations that it misled the nation about the need for war with Iraq as Democrats stepped up their attacks on the president's candor.

Stephen Hadley told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that those claims were "flat wrong."

"We need to put this debate behind us," he said. "It's unfair to the country. It's unfair to the men and women in uniform risking their lives to make this country safe." . . .

Hadley said the intelligence Bush used for those arguments "was roughly the same intelligence that the Clinton administration saw."

"They drew the conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat to peace, that he had weapons of mass destruction. They acted against him militarily in 1998," Hadley said, referring to the administration of Bill Clinton, a Democrat.


If the Democrats really believe in the "Bush lied" theory, why don't they call for impeachment of George Bush? Remember, they are accusing a sitting President of misleading and then rushing the country into an "unnecessary" war against Saddam Hussein! According to them, this unnecessary war has caused the deaths of thousandas of American soldiers and endangered the future security of the country. If they believe the charge to be true, isn't it is their duty to the country and the people to impeach the President? If they are not serious about what the accusations they are making, then people can question their patriotism. How else would you charaterize casually accusing sitting President of lying and misleading the country into a war, right in the middle of it?

Dems cannot say that are avoiding impeachment proceeding because of GOP majority in the Congress. If you are really serious about bringing country's attention to the "lies" of the President, they ought to follow through irrespective of the consequences.

I think President Bush should challenge Dems to impeach him. It is much easier to make baseless charges through media and speeches. They won't bring the impeachment against President Bush because they know they are just playing politics. Even if they do bring impeachment proceedings, it will give the President and the GOP an opportunity and forum to bring out all the relevant statements made by Dems against Saddam Hussein and in support of the war. President should ask them to follow through on their accusations and expose them for what they are: liars!


Natwar Singh and Congress party named as beneficiaries by the Volcker Report on the Oil-for-Food Scandal

Link: The Hindu : Front Page : Volcker Report names Natwar Singh and Congress Party as "beneficiaries".

New Delhi: K. Natwar Singh, India's External Affairs Minister, as well as the Congress Party are listed in the recently released report of the Volcker Committee as "non-contractual beneficiaries" of Iraqi oil sales in 2001 under the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme. The contracting company in both cases is named as Masefield AG.

The fifth and final report of the Independent Inquiry Committee, appointed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in April 2004 to investigate the administration and management of the Oil-for-Food Programme, is available at www.iic-offp.org.

Mr. Singh is shown in Table 3 of the Report as the non-contractual "beneficiary" in connection with 4 million barrels of oil allotted to Masefield AG, the contracting company, which actually lifted 1.936 million barrels out of this. The phase in which the oil was allocated is shown as 9.

In addition, the Congress Party is listed in the same table as the non-contractual "beneficiary" in connection with 4 million barrels allotted in phases 10, 11, 12 and 13. Out of this allocation, 1.001 million barrels were lifted. In this case, Masefield AG is shown as the contracting company in phase 10 (during which the 1.001 million barrels were lifted), but no name of the contracting company is mentioned for the subsequent phases.

The table also lists Reliance Petroleum Limited as a "beneficiary" from an allocation of 19 million barrels of oil to Alcon Petroleum Limited, the contracting company, which lifted 15.780 million barrels in phases 9, 10 and 11.

A yet to be identified Bhim Singh from India is also listed in the table as a "beneficiary," with no contracting company mentioned by name. In Bhim Singh's case, 7.300 million barrels were allocated but nothing of this was lifted, according to the table.

You can read the Volcker Report here! So much for No War for Oil! Remember it was considered bad for a company to lobby for Iraq Reconstruction contract and to profit from the war. Many of us knew that much of the opposition to liberation of Iraq was rifed with hypocrisy but the extent of corruption is coming to light only now. Looks like the removal of Saddam Hussein destroyed a whole ecosystem.


IIPM vs Blogosphere

The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) is after bloggers Gaurav Sabnis and Rashmi Bansal for exposing their lies. IIPM made some bizzare threats against IBM, the employer of Gaurav Sabnis, leading to the voluntary resignation of Gaurav from his job. The threats included burning of IBM laptops in protest in front of IBM office in Delhi. This is truly horrible and I really applaud Gaurav's courage here in deciding to continue to speak truth. You can read more about the issue on this post: DesiPundit � IIPM Blog Wars Redux.

IIPM is showing their true colors by behaving in this terrible manner. Imagine the pressure journalists must be facing when writing something that might offend their advertisers! Indian media hasn't really done a good job in exposing the exaggerated claims made by institutes like IIPM.

I wholeheartedly support Indian blogosphere's effort to speak out against IIPM. I am not sure, however, if this is about preserving our freedom of speech. It is more about our choice to speak the truth at a cost of our reputation because of some bizzare tactics used by IIPM. Nobody is physically threatening us from speaking out. And as far as I know IIPM hasn't broken any laws in threatening to burn IBM laptops in protest.


How to infer good news from media

Link: Coyote Blog: Update on Iraq.

... but we all know the media has a bias toward negativity that trumps any political biases it might have (after all, your local news station learned long ago that "your kids are happy and healthy, story at 11" is not a very good way to tease the evening news). ... In fact, you can even sort of deduce the successes from the major media coverage.  When the NY Times stops writing about blackouts in Iraq, you know that the electrical system is fixed.  When the WaPo stops writing stories about shortfalls in re-enlistment rates, you can infer that the rates are back up.

There ought to be a blog(s) to monitor when media stops writing about various negative things and infer the good news from them.


Brahmacharyashram and Grihasthyashram

Via Instapundit.com, this piece by Paul Sheehan:

It's time someone praised and defended reckless teenage girls and young women who behave badly, dress provocatively, engage in risky sex, and get pregnant. They are the normal ones. The rest of us are the deviants. They are behaving in the most natural way. The rest of us are mutants.

Our norms are also dominated by the ideology of materialism that is moving women further and further towards unnatural behaviour, pressuring them to have babies later rather than sooner.

This is society's real problem. Teenage pregnancy is trivial by comparison to suppressed pregnancy.

She goes on further:

A healthier
society would allow women to have children earlier than they do now.
...
Our aim should be to have
children born into a culture where there is plenty of support for child
care in addition to the mother, thus liberating mothers to more fully
exploit the possibilities that advanced society can offer them.

Children are the most important asset in our culture, so society should be structured around this central reality. Instead, we are structuring society around consumerism - .... When the pattern of peak reproduction at peak fertility is broken, as it is now, women are forced by economic circumstances or social pressure to postpone pregnancy. Collective fertility inevitably falls, usually below replacement level. Societies such as Australia's and most in Western Europe now depend on imported fertility. Immigrants.

She gets it right, mostly, in my opinion. The fact that even wealthy couples postpone having kids shows that problem is really severe. Or may be it is the other way round: only way to get and stay wealthy is not to have kids sooner! Either way, it is equally bad.

I believe it is still individual's (or couple's) problem and solution also lies at that level. However, more debate and awareness will help everybody make an informed decision. In US, (and I am sure in Europe and elsewhere too) it is much more easier for a woman to suspend her education/career, have kids and resume it later. I don't think there is any need to blame materialism or consumerism also. In fact, if there is one thing that has really helped women then it is the technology, which progressed largely because of our healthy hunger to improve quality of our lives.

Government involvement has generally made the matters worse. The case in point is public education. I sometimes shudder when I think how much of our major decisions are forced on us by the public education. In India, you need to complete 10+2 years of education before you can join college. Then if you want to get a professional degree you have to attend 4 year college. Government controls the sequence, duration and contents of education and controls the supply (through licensing). And I am not only talking about government "financed" institutions. This in turn, influences when we complete our education, have jobs, marry and finally have kids. It is hard to mix eduation, job, and family responsibilities. There is no reason why a secular government should take the Ashramas, especially  Brahmacharya and Grihasthya, so seriously!

In an alternate universe, where private education was not controlled, we would have a much different society, a society that reflects our real choices regarding our aptitute, career, and family.