Saturday, February 21

Pakistani Envoy demurs on Bangladesh Genocide Trials

Well, he would, wouldn't he? I quote:

People who collaborated with the Pakistan government during the freedom movement are called "war criminals" in Bangladesh.
During a heated discussion in Jatiya Sangsad (parliament), Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's special envoy Mirza Zia Ispahani was asked to "apologise for his audacious remark", New Age newspaper said Thursday. Ispahani is here on a five-day goodwill visit that is the first high level contact by Pakistan after the Hasina Government took office last month. Dhaka should not expect any cooperation from Islamabad "at this stage", Ispahani said Tuesday while responding to a media query on the proposed war crime trials.

War crimes is a prickly issue in Bangladesh-Pakistan relations as all the accused were either Pakistani nationals or armed bands propped up by the erstwhile East Pakistan regime to terrorise the civilian population. Many of the accused escaped to Pakistan after Bangladesh became free. Bangladesh says over two million people, mostly unarmed civilians, were killed during the nine month conflict. Ten years back, Dhaka had expelled a senior Pakistani diplomat posted at the high commission after he made disparaging remarks about the freedom struggle

Thursday, February 19

No fans allowed for Israel tennis match

So let me see if I understand this. A tennis match has to be held in Sweden. Not any odd sod match, but the premier international tennis match in the Davis Cup. And then the local city council says that the match will happen without any spectators. Why? because there seems to be an issue in Israel. Presumably the next time a hockey match is held in Malmo, they will do the same because the match is played using wooden sticks made with wood from Brazil and the Malmo city council is protesting against Amazonian deforestation? No wonder that the same article linked to this article. Anti Semitism on the rise in Sweden. Truly moronic behaviour and actions on part of the social democrats.

Tuesday, February 17

Frankenstein or Frankincense crops

Quite an interesting story. And personally speaking, I like the idea of having more GM food around the world. Just because the prices are falling a bit, does not mean that the pressure for more food has gone away. The middle classes of the world are demanding higher quality food, meat and the lot. They still need to be fed and watered. Given the lack of additional farm land, water, the only thing to do is to improve productivity of the existing cropland. GM foods provides one with a way to do this. Here are some interesting quotes:

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) said the global area of GM crops increased from 114m ha in 2007 to 125m ha in 2008, producing a harvest worth $7.5bn. The number of farmers planting GM crops rose from 12m in 22 countries to 13.3m in 25 countries.

Clive James, ISAAA chairman, said the most significant development last year was the first commercial planting of biotech crops in two African countries: maize in Egypt and cotton in Burkina Faso. Both crops contain “Bt genes” from bacteria, which kill insect pests. In 2007 South Africa had been the only country on the continent with GM plants (cotton, maize and soya).

Look at some of the benefits:

Of the cumulative economic gains of $44bn over 10 years of growing GM crops, the report attributed 44 per cent to yield increases and 56 per cent to reduced production costs, including the use of 359,000 tonnes less pesticide.

Now isn't that just peachy? Good stuff to read that not only you increase productivity, but production costs are reduced and less pesticide is used therefore reducing pollution as well. Yes, there are quite a lot of issues in this relating to the sale of patented seeds, potential for gene mutation, and the lot, but I think the risks are well worth it. Here is a good report from Friends of the Earth as a counterpoint to this argument. Anyway, I really dont want to get into a head banging argument about this.

One thing which is quite interesting is that if you increase the usage of GM foods, then the sustainability size factor of farms reduces as well. What do I mean by this? Well, in vast swathes of the world, you will see that the actual plot sizes are tiny. Plus with more and more children, the plots of land become smaller and smaller down every generation, till the end where the land is practically too small to support even one family and poverty increases dramatically. But with increase in crop productivity, less production costs, the level at which land sizes are no longer sustainable or able to support even one family increases. So for countries like India and China, this is good news indeed.

But beyond that, countries are now getting desperate for food security. Here’s a great example of what South Korea is planning to do in Madagascar. I quote:

South Korea's Daewoo Logistics this week announced that it had negotiated a 99-year lease on some 3.2 million acres of farmland on the dirt-poor tropical island of Madagascar…….Daewoo plans to put about three quarters of it under corn. The remainder will be used to produce palm oil — a key commodity for the global biofuels market. A Daewoo manager, Hong Jong-wan, told the Financial Times that the crops would "ensure our food security" and would use "totally undeveloped land which had been left untouched."

Here is another example of how Saudi Arabia is doing the same in Pakistan. I quote:

To this end, the Saudis, the Emiratis, and the Bahrainis have been in talks with Egypt, Pakistan, Ukraine, Sudan, Turkey, Yemen, South Africa, the Philippines and Thailand to buy up or rent arable land and expand agricultural production in these countries.

This is actually good, I dont have an issue with this. This is pushing investments in poorer countries and combined with new types of crops, the food situation in the world will get a desperately needed fillip. So instead of these crops being Frankenstein type of horror for the world, I suspect they will more be frankincense.

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Monday, February 16

Dating – the Swedish way

I spent quite a lot of time in sunny old Sweden and its a funny old country. Specially about the drinking bit. But this I found funny, how to date in Sweden and what explains the high birth rate. I quote some salacious bits:

In a nutshell, it goes something like this:
A) Meet at a mutual friend's party.
B) Get really, really drunk.
C) Make out. Sex is optional.
D) If you're lucky, you are sober enough to save the other person's telephone number in your mobile, AND to put it under the correct name.
E) Send a text message along the lines of "last night was nice. Shall we have a coffee sometime?"
F) Spend hours analyzing the various ways in which aforementioned text message could be misinterpreted. Get your friends involved.
G) Have a "fika." *(see below for an explanation of this uniquely Swedish institution)
*A "fika" is a Swedish word for an ambiguous meeting that may or may not be a date, or better explained as a non-date, or a date that is pretending-not-to-be-a-date.
It is also worth mentioning that one can also have a fika with a friend, colleague, family member, or neighbor. Hence the ambiguity of the whole affair.
During this "fika" Swedish non-date, things are a little stilted and awkward as both parties pretend that nothing happened last Saturday night, and politely and awkwardly ask questions about the other person, usually beginning with "Where do you live?," descending into a discussion about the difficulty and frustration of the Stockholm housing market, and complaining that you have had to move seven times in the course of six months.
Now, where were we...oh yes:
H) At the end of this date pretending not to be a date, give each other an awkward hug, or possibly a handshake, ended with the statement, "Vi hörs!" or "Hoppas vi ses snart!" ("I'll talk to you soon." or "Hope we see each other soon!")
I) Spend the entire next week pondering over who should make the next move. A WORD OF WARNING: It is not assumed here that the guy will take the lead. More likely, the opposite is expected. If the Swedish guy is brave enough open his mouth and say something at all during this date, he may feel that it is now the girl's turn to put herself out on a limb.
J) Spend many more hours analyzing your feeble attempts at text message"flirting," agonizing over whether you should or should not use the word "mysig" (cozy) or "trevlig" (nice), fearing the former may be too much, and the latter may not be enough. Once again, enlist the help of your friends.
K) Repeat Step A.
L) Repeat Step B.
M) Repeat Step C, all the while pretending it never happened the first time.
N) Sometime after several more renditions of Steps B and C, go out to dinner.
O) Since it's a little harder to pretend you are not on a real date in the formal atmosphere of a restaurant, drink massive amounts of the house wine.
P) At the end of dinner, closely examine the bill to make sure each person pays for his or her appropriate share, including the extra five kronor for dressing on the side.
Q) Get kicked out of your way-too-expensive second-hand rental contract because the person you were subletting from didn't take 10 study points and lost his/her contract for student housing.
R) Get drunk again, and commiserate on the horrors of the Stockholm housing market.
S) Move in together.
T) Go shopping at
U) Take a romantic trip to the Canary Islands.
V) Move to the suburbs, buy a
Volvo and start collecting “Vuxenpoäng” (see Stockholm Syndrome for more on the ‘adult points’ systems).
W) Have a child.
X) Name it Johan, Erik, Fredrik, or Henrik if it’s a boy or Sara, Anna, Lisa, or Emma if it’s a girl.
Y) Two months after you go back to work after having Johan/Erik/Fredrik/Henrik/Sara/Anna/Lisa/Emma, repeat Step W.
Z) Enjoy an additional 18 months of parental leave.
Å) Get married for your 20th wedding anniversary.

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Corporal punishment – this time for the teachers

Now here’s an idea if the school results are not good, or they are late or teach the wrong syllabus. Cane them. I quote:

The teachers were caned by a police officer in front of their pupils after an investigation into poor exam results at three schools. The report blamed teachers for being late or not showing up for work and not teaching the official syllabus.

One of the caned teachers, Ativus Leonard, 33, told the BBC he was now too ashamed to meet his pupils. The case comes at a time when parents and human rights groups in Tanzania have been calling for a ban on flogging of schoolchildren throughout the country. The union says it will sue District Commissioner (DC) Albert Mnali, who ordered the caning in the northern region of Kagera.

Fair’s fair, no? you cane the kids if they dont study, and the teachers get caned if they dont perform.

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No signoff on the EU accounts yet again

So this year again, the Netherlands government is refusing to sign off on the EU Accounts. I quote:

Finance Minister Wouter Bos has announced the Netherlands will vote against the annual financial statement of the European Union for 2007. He made his statement after a meeting of European finance ministers.
For the 14th time, the EU accounting office reports that many billions of euros in expenses have not been properly accounted for. Mr Bos says that the Dutch parliament would never accept such a statement from a finance minister, and that the Netherlands will therefore vote against.
The Netherlands is once again the only country to reject the EU financial statement. Mr Bos says an increasing number of countries agree with the Netherlands, but fear being punished financially should they vote against the statement.

I have complained about this before. But nothing happens. The European Union, in its estimable undemocratic way, keeps on going ahead, spraying my tax dollars on weird and wonderful initiatives, with no proper accounting for the funds. The Netherlands seems to be the only country which has a set of proper balls for proper accounting and treatment of their funds.

Now I wonder why the British Government does not follow suit? Oh! sorry, I forgot that the British Politicians are equally venal as the EU bureaucrats, and would prefer to keep their expenses secret. Welcome to the land of corruption. And dont tell me that we are cleaner than Nigeria or Bangladesh. We are NOT a third world country, we live in a trust society and in return for my tax dollars, you are to be open and transparent in your spending which you are doing on MY behalf. If you are incompetent, then you need to be fired and if corrupt, exposed. Is there anybody else besides the Dutch who would be brave enough to hold these EU incompetent gits to account?

Quote of the day:
Many would be cowards if they had courage enough. - Thomas Fuller

Sunday, February 15

You cannot adopt, you are too fat

One of the things which I deeply regret in my life (and there aren't many of those, I promise), is the fact that I was not able to adopt here in the UK, and all because of those interfering busybodies in the social services. The range of exclusions and factors were very bizarre. You are a Hindu so you cannot adopt a Christian or Muslim baby! You already have a child so its not fair on others. You are of a brown race so you cannot adopt a white child or a black one and so on and so forth. Thank god they didn't say that I was too fat or too tall.

I can only tell you anecdotal evidence that the number of Asian foster and adoptive parents are significantly lower than white parents. While I can understand and know about cultural and religious factors (such as purity of bloodline, casteism, Islamic reasons and the lot), still, when one does want to adopt, they find it very difficult.

I am still furious about this situation. And that's something that really gets me going every time I read about this. These bloody awful social services people are simply too interfering. They actively force kids into fostering and force them into a horrible situation of not having loving parents. These people are seriously well meaning, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

But hold on, the social services did say this to this couple.

The letter the couple were sent by Leeds City Council, signed by a team manager and seen by the BBC said: "I am writing to confirm that we are unable to progress an application from you at this time.

"This is due to the concerns that the medical advisers have expressed regarding Mr Hall's weight.

"I have discussed this with our medical adviser... who considers that it is important to alter lifestyle, diet and exercise in a sustainable way so that any weight reduction can be maintained in the long term.

It went on: "I understand that you would like to begin the assessment as soon as possible and while appreciating your reasons for this, I consider it would be more appropriate to begin the assessment once Mr Hall's BMI is below 40."

What on earth is this? This is bureaucracy gone mad. Who gives them the right to play god and prevent a child  from having a good family home? Where is it written that fat people are not good parents? Both my parents have had pot bellies and look what I turned out to be (perhaps this is not such a good example…), but all joking aside, this is ridiculous.

While they will take decisive action on stopping kids from being adopted, they dither such as in the case of Victoria Climbié or Baby P. Makes me want to weep for the missed opportunities for the poor babies. Also see this brilliant take on this story.

Then comes news of the fact that a foster parent has been struck off the rolls just because a girl in her care has converted to Christianity. What did the council say?

But council officials allegedly accused her of failing to ‘respect and preserve’ the child’s faith and tried to persuade the girl to reconsider her decision.

So these council officials can literally be prosecuted (and will be, as I understand) for violating the fundamental rights of both the mother and the child. More I read about this and the more upset I get.

They said that she should have undergone counselling to ensure that she understood the implications, especially as such conversions are dealt with harshly in some Muslim countries. In April, council officials told the girl that she should not attend any church activity for six months, so that she could reconsider the wisdom of becoming a Christian. The carer was also instructed to discourage the girl from participating in any Christian activities, even social events. The council then told the carer there had been a breakdown of trust and in November removed her from the register.

Just because some countries have medieval and frankly stupid views on conversion (like India and many Muslim countries) does not mean that I am happy to let the UK also be ruled (in howsoever small a way in a council) by those intellectually vapid theories. Makes one’s blood boil to read about the social service care.

Then you read this interview of Sharon Shoesmith trying to excuse herself. Yes, there was a witch-hunt, but no hint of an apology. This is fast becoming the face of officialdom. Nothing, nobody is to blame, but yet, a baby has been tortured to death, the mother/father/lodger in prison, some people have been fired, but what is happening? Then this woman has the effrontery to try to defend against what the inspectors said

The inspectors' report into her department criticised everything from insufficient supervision by senior management to poor record-keeping and a failure to identify children at immediate risk of harm.

I know they are doing a good job under trying circumstances, but by God, some of these lot are hideously incompetent and by and large, the entire social services department is full of some very strange principles.

And at end of the day, there is an orphaned baby and two loving adoptive/foster parents who are not together. A tiny tragedy in the great wash of humanity, frequently overlooked in the big news about Israel-Palestine wars or the great Credit Crunch issue.

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Bangladeshi War Criminals arrested

Bangladesh has pleasantly surprised me, it has actually arrested two people on war crime charges. I have written about this before and frankly, did not expect this to happen. Bangladesh faced one of the biggest genocide events in our history but typically, nobody was prosecuted till now. Forget about the Pakistani’s, they will obviously not do so, but for Bangladesh itself not to look at the war criminals still working and living amongst their own midst, was criminal. But, very impressively (and perhaps Pakistan would learn, doubtful…), they have arrested two of the war criminals. Good for them, these Islamist scum should know that they cannot escape the long hand of the law.

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Caged Birds


Just says it all, doesnt it?

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