Keeping sane.

Jahanzeb Hussain is the editor of Collateral Damage Magazine http://collateraldamagemagazine.net [Keeping Sane]







Being Muslim Under Narendra Modi

It was on his watch as chief minister that more than 1,000 people, many of them Muslims, were killed throughout Gujarat in 2002, when rioting erupted after some 60 Hindus died in a burning train in Godhra. A Human Rights Watch report that year asserted that the state government and local police officials were complicit in the carnage.

Mr. Modi has not visited the camps of the Muslims displaced by the violence or apologized for his government’s failure to protect a minority.Instead, he has described the reprisal killings of Muslims that year as a simple “reaction” to an “action,” namely the deaths of the Hindu train passengers — and has said he felt as sad about them as would a passenger in a car that accidentally ran over a puppy. His only regret, he once told a reporter for this paper, was failing to manage the media fallout.

Even as candidate for prime minister, Mr. Modi has not given up his sectarian ways. Nor has his party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Of the 449 B.J.P. candidates now running for seats in the lower house of Parliament, all but eight are Hindu. The party’s latest election manifesto reintroduces a proposal to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of a medieval mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya, even though the destruction of that mosque by Hindu extremists and B.J.P. supporters in 1992 devolved into violence that killed several thousand people.

Amit Shah, a former Gujarat minister and Mr. Modi’s closest aide, is awaiting trial for the murder of three people the police suspect of plotting to assassinate Mr. Modi. (Mr. Shah calls the charges a political conspiracy.) He has made speeches inciting anti-Muslim sentiment among Hindu voters, including in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, despite an outbreak of sectarian violence there last September.

The problem isn’t just about rhetoric. Judging by the evidence in Gujarat, where Mr. Modi has been chief minister since 2001, a B.J.P. victory in the general election would increase marginalization and vulnerability among India’s 165 million Muslims.

(Source : The New York Times)

IS AMERICA AN OLIGARCHY?

From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy. After examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, the political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy.

In their conclusion, Gilens and Page go even further, asserting that “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover … even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

This is what the data shows: when the economic élites support a given policy change, it has about a one-in-two chance of being enacted. (The exact estimated probability is forty-five per cent.) When the élites oppose a given measure, its chances of becoming law are less than one in five. (The exact estimate is eighteen per cent.) The fact that both figures are both below fifty per cent reflects a status-quo bias: in the divided American system of government, getting anything at all passed is tricky.

The study suggests that, on many issues, the rich exercise an effective veto. If they are against something, it is unlikely to happen. This is obviously inconsistent with the median-voter theorem—which holds that policy outcomes reflect the preferences of voters who represent the ideological center—but I don’t think that it is a particularly controversial claim. A recent example is the failure to eliminate the “carried interest” deduction, which allows hedge-fund managers and leveraged-buyout tycoons to pay an artificially low tax rate on much of their income. In 2012, there was widespread outrage at the revelation that Mitt Romney, who made his fortune at the leveraged-buyout firm Bain Capital, paid less than fifteen per cent in federal income taxes. But the deduction hasn’t been eliminated.

(Source : newyorker.com)

I have an easier and more English pronunciation of my name if you have an easier and more Urdu pronunciation of your Anglo-saxon name.

Entwining Tales of Time, Memory and Love

The personal gave way to the historical in some novels that dealt on an epic level with the tortuous history of Latin America. “The Autumn of the Patriarch” created a hallucinatory portrait of a tyrant who seems like a mythic composite of every dictator to strong-arm his way to power on that continent: a once-feted hero, who sells out his country to the gringos, murders his opponents, rewards himself with medals, unimaginable wealth and the modest title “General of the Universe,” and who ends up completely isolated, discovered dead in his palace, pecked at by vultures.

As for “The General in His Labyrinth,” it performed a kind of free-form improvisation on the life of the 19th-century revolutionary Simón Bolívar, who becomes in Mr. García Márquez’s telling a close relative of many of his fictional heroes — a spoiled dreamer, torn between martyrdom and hedonism, extravagant ambitions and crashing disillusion.

(Source : The New York Times)

Salman Rushdie: Angel Gabriel

The damage to reality was – is – at least as much political as cultural. In Marquez’s experience, truth has been controlled to the point at which it has ceased to be possible to find out what it is. The only truth is that you are being lied to all the time. Garcia Marquez has always been an intensely political creature: but his books are only obliquely to do with politics, dealing with public affairs only in terms of grand metaphors like Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s military career, or the colossally overblown figure of the Patriarch, who has one of his rivals served up as the main course at a banquet, and who, having overslept one day, decides that the afternoon is really the morning, so that people have to stand outside his windows at night holding up cardboard cut-outs of the sun.

El realismo magical, ‘magic realism’, at least as practised by Garcia Marquez, is a development of Surrealism that expresses a genuinely ‘Third World’ consciousness. It deals with what Naipaul has called ‘half-made’ societies, in which the impossibly old struggles against the appallingly new, in which public corruptions and private anguishes are more garish and extreme than they ever get in the so-called ‘North’, where centuries of wealth and power have formed thick layers over the surface of what’s really going on. In the work of Garcia Marquez, as in the world he describes, impossible things happen constantly, and quite plausibly, out in the open under the midday sun. It would be a mistake to think of Marquez’s literary universe as an invented, self-referential, closed system. He is not writing about Middle Earth, but about the one we all inhabit. Macondo exists. That is its magic.

(Source : lrb.co.uk)

Gabriel García Márquez: Why Allende had to die

On 4 September 1970, as had been foreseen, the socialist and Freemason physician Allende was elected president of the republic.

During the first year, 47 industrial firms were nationalised, along with most of the banking system. Agrarian reform saw the expropriation and incorporation into communal property of six million acres of land formerly held by the large landowners. The inflationary process was slowed, full employment was attained and wages received a cash rise of 30 per cent.

The previous government, headed by the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei, had begun steps towards nationalising copper, though he called it “Chileanisation”. All the plan did was to buy up 51 per cent of US-held mining properties and for the mine of El Teniente alone it paid a sum greater than the total book value of that facility.

Popular Unity, with a single legal act supported in Congress by all of the nation’s popular parties, recovered for the nation all copper deposits worked by the subsidiaries of the American companies Anaconda and Kennecott. Without indemnification: the government having calculated that the two companies had made a profit in excess of $800m over 15 years.

For the United States, the election was a much more serious warning and went beyond the simple interests of expropriated firms. It was an inadmissible precedent for peaceful progress and social change for the peoples of the world, particularly those in France and Italy, where present conditions make an attempt at an experiment along the lines of Chile possible. All forces of internal and external reaction came together to form a compact bloc.

(Source : newstatesman.com)

Someone made a made a “halal” version of the Happy British Muslims video and cut out all the women.

"

A promethean president, entrenched in his burning palace, died fighting an entire army, alone… One million people have fled Chile, a country with a tradition of hospitality - that is, ten per cent of its population. Uruguay, a tiny nation of two and a half million inhabitants which considered itself the continent’s most civilized country, has lost to exile one out of every five citizens. Since 1979, the civil war in El Salvador has produced almost one refugee every twenty minutes. The country that could be formed of all the exiles and forced emigrants of Latin America would have a population larger than that of Norway.

I dare to think that it is this outsized reality, and not just its literary expression, that has deserved the attention of the Swedish Academy of Letters. A reality not of paper, but one that lives within us and determines each instant of our countless daily deaths, and that nourishes a source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable. This, my friends, is the crux of our solitude…

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Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1982.

thank god king joffrey is dead ‪#‎GameOfThrones‬

can someone send me a steam link for the 2nd episode of GOT ? Please

Why We’re in a New Gilded Age

Still, today’s economic elite is very different from that of the nineteenth century, isn’t it? Back then, great wealth tended to be inherited; aren’t today’s economic elite people who earned their position? Well, Piketty tells us that this isn’t as true as you think, and that in any case this state of affairs may prove no more durable than the middle-class society that flourished for a generation after World War II. The big idea of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is that we haven’t just gone back to nineteenth-century levels of income inequality, we’re also on a path back to “patrimonial capitalism,” in which the commanding heights of the economy are controlled not by talented individuals but by family dynasties.

And what happened when these wealthy individuals died? They passed their wealth on—again, with minimal taxation—to their heirs. Money passed on to the next generation accounted for 20 to 25 percent of annual income; the great bulk of wealth, around 90 percent, was inherited rather than saved out of earned income. And this inherited wealth was concentrated in the hands of a very small minority: in 1910 the richest one percent controlled 60 percent of the wealth in France; in Britain, 70 percent.

No wonder, then, that nineteenth-century novelists were obsessed with inheritance. Piketty discusses at length the lecture that the scoundrel Vautrin gives to Rastignac in Balzac’s Père Goriot, whose gist is that a most successful career could not possibly deliver more than a fraction of the wealth Rastignac could acquire at a stroke by marrying a rich man’s daughter. And it turns out that Vautrin was right: being in the top one percent of nineteenth-century heirs and simply living off your inherited wealth gave you around two and a half times the standard of living you could achieve by clawing your way into the top one percent of paid workers.

You might be tempted to say that modern society is nothing like that. In fact, however, both capital income and inherited wealth, though less important than they were in the Belle Époque, are still powerful drivers of inequality—and their importance is growing. In France, Piketty shows, the inherited share of total wealth dropped sharply during the era of wars and postwar fast growth; circa 1970 it was less than 50 percent. But it’s now back up to 70 percent, and rising. Correspondingly, there has been a fall and then a rise in the importance of inheritance in conferring elite status: the living standard of the top one percent of heirs fell below that of the top one percent of earners between 1910 and 1950, but began rising again after 1970. It’s not all the way back to Rasti-gnac levels, but once again it’s generally more valuable to have the right parents (or to marry into having the right in-laws) than to have the right job.

(Source : nybooks.com)

Can someone please tell me what exactly goes on in the head of a suburban kid who takes Political Science 101 and think he/she can now go on and save the world starting with Africa?

“Waae Watan Hoshken Daar”

The book burning will continue in Balochistan because there isn’t a chance that political and radical books’ trade would ever become as lucrative as the poppy cultivation and heroin factories of Qilla Abdullah and merit patronage of Pakistani establishment. The Baloch youth should however continue to acquire knowledge through books of substance specially those which the Pakistani state considers a threat to its spuriously fabricated ethos that it wants to impose on Baloch and claims that religion is the basis of nationhood. It is this ethos which they claim to be superior to all that allows heroin and opium trade to flourish in Qilla Abdullah but oppresses those who seek knowledge and demand their rights. The choice for Baloch is unmistakable and it is up to them to decide if it is the Qilla Abdullah ethos they want to follow or the “Waae Watan Hoshken Daar” ethos.

(Source : nakedpunch.com)

Islamabad-Pakistan Taliban Peace Talks: Shifting Focus to Afghanistan.

The US-NATO drawdown did not convince the Taliban to forego violence and enter into negotiation with the government. Just last month, they launched a bloody armed campaign targeting election rallies in a bid to disrupt the election and vowed to continue fighting the new government. Meanwhile the same Taliban pushed the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella organisation of the anti-Pakistan militant groups, to negotiate peace with Islamabad. This indicates that a joint campaign is underway for waging a concerted insurgency in Afghanistan in the coming years.

Addressing the menace of Taliban militancy in the broader Afghanistan-Pakistan region requires a holistic approach – military or political, which should involve true cooperation from both Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, the Islamabad-TTP peace talks and the Afghan Taliban’s constructive role in this regard indicate that a campaign is underway to address militancy in Pakistan and create a united Afghan-Pakistani Taliban front against the government in Afghanistan.

The peace talks with TTP has also overshadowed Pakistan’s claim of “no interference and no favourites” in Afghanistan. It appears mere rhetoric and the peace process carries a worrying prospect of intensity in violence in the coming years. The ongoing ceasefire between Islamabad and TTP has already led to an unprecedented spike in attacks in the Afghan provinces along the Durand Line and the trend could continue through the upcoming fighting season.

(Source : rsis.edu.sg)

Well done Atletico!