CategoryCurrent Affairs

Justifying Violence

This statement was made by a recently-appointed Governor of Tripura. This isn’t about Gujarat but rather about the justification of violence. What happened in Gujarat was unfortunate but more than 13 years later, a public official can openly justifies the actions of a murderous few. Why? Simply because it is not an unpopular opinion in India. The general sentiment during and following any communal violence is that the other community should be taught a lesson. Often the lesson involves hacking to death innocent people of that community who probably had nothing to do with the act that people are offended by. It’s just like, advocating killing the nearest left-handed batsman if a left-handed batsman smacked a bowler with his bat in Australia. Apart from justifying violence as an appropriate reaction, people are often content to deflect the onus of “teaching them a lesson” onto others. So if a psychopath who would’ve otherwise committed a crime now feels emboldened. Most of us I’m sure will not kill anyone when it’s actually time to do so.

But still, such sentiments are expressed openly and without remorse even among close friends and family. I’ve heard them first-hand from people around me, men and women alike. Surprisingly, even from people whom otherwise you wouldn’t suspect of harboring such murderous tendencies in their hearts. Is it because they’ve never been told that such a reactions is in fact wrong? You live in your close circles where most agree with the sentiment and the tiny minority that doesn’t chooses to keep silent lest they be chastised for not agreeing with the majority.

Thankfully, in that sense, Twitter has been a boon. People especially openly tweet about what they think is the norm. It happened in the case of the Salman Khan verdict. Now they’re surprised by the backlash that such an opinion is in fact looked down upon. Maybe slowly, it will creep into their minds to be more civilized especially if you claim to belong to one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

The Real Purpose of the Prosecution

Like most people that may read this, I also got hooked on the Serial podcast that outlined the reexamination of the murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old high schooler in Baltimore that ended with the conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Produced in the This American Life stables, Serial takes a second look at the prosecution of the 15-year-old homicide case with Adnan still serving his prison sentence. There are umpteen theories of whether Adnan is guilty or not. Personally, I think he isn’t but that isn’t the point of this post.

What caught my attention the most while listening to his podcast was how the prosecution approaches a homicide case.

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Election Season in India

In a week’s time, election season will finally end in India although that doesn’t always mean we’ll soon have a government. India’s had a history of hung parliaments and more stuff happens behind the scenes post-elections than in the election campaign itself. That may probably shake your belief in the whole ‘world’s largest democracy’ but don’t let it. That’s how it is and probably will be even in many developed countries. That’s a well known bug in Democracy 4.21 and until someone comes up with a patch, it’s not gonna change. You could change to any other system but let’s be honest, there’s nothing out there half as good. Your choices are communism (Cuba, China, etc.), monarchy (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Brunei, etc.), dictatorship (North Korea, etc.), or pure chaos and anarchy (Pakistan, Somalia, etc.). Democracy or at least the way it is practiced in India or even the U.S. is the least worst option.

Anyway, after the mother of all segues there (not surprising, right?), whatever happens in India, it is almost assured via opinion polls that the Congress won’t be forming the government. For a change, I have been largely disengaged this time from the election fever. I remember the time in mid- and late-90s, when I used to stay up late night listening to the news and waiting for election results feverishly tracking my eyes on the rapidly-scrolling news ticker. This time, the people contesting the elections have not impressed. The three primary candidates – Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, and Arvind Kejriwal – have been lackluster, threatening, and disappointing respectively. It may eventually turn out that we may have someone else as a Prime Minister in the end. Remember Deve Gowda, Chandrashekhar, and IK Gujral? Did anyone envision them to be Prime Ministers? But now, after their brief stint, they get all the perks of ex-PMs in their retirement. Man, what a con!

Just because I’ve been disinterested doesn’t mean everyone else is. In fact, everyone else is super gung-ho this time or maybe Twitter and Facebook has given them the illusion that people actually give a shit about what they think. Criticize Modi and hordes of his followers will drag your mother-sister through the muck. Support Gandhi and people laugh at you for being a brown-nose (let’s admit it, everyone criticizes Gandhi. He’s so easy to.) Support Kejriwal and…wait, why is anyone still buying his BS?

Anyway, whatever happens in a week, it will be definitely exciting. I just hope Modi doesn’t celebrate by doing what he does best (you know what I mean). Ab ki baar…Gujarat may get a bar?

Brown Traitors

The Devyani Khobragade incident is almost forgotten now and people have moved on to outraging about other things. But I’ve always wondered what about the incident prompted such visceral reactions from folks in India. The tweet above by actress and now-avid Twitterer/activist, Gul Panag [1] unwittingly encapsulates why the issue made Indians reflexively hate the United States.

At the heart of the issue, it was a very simple law and order problem. Khobragade lied on her visa application, underpaid her maid, and implored the maid to lie about it, all of which are serious crimes in the United States. However, the ensuing hullaballoo failed to highlight these issues and instead chose to dwell on conspiracy theories and debates on diplomatic immunity. If diplomatic immunity was in fact valid, India should’ve clamped down on the noise and keep repeating diplomatic immunity ad naseum and whisk Khobrgade out of the country. Other countries go to extreme lengths to protect their citizens charged with crimes in foreign lands but never is the crime excused. Debates on Twitter and the media pontificated on the differences in wages in the two country for both the maid and the consulate staff.

However, the most ridiculous theory thrown out even by prominent journalists and TV anchors in India was how Preet Bharara, the prosecuting U.S. Attorney was conducting a witch-hunt to prove his “American-ness” by punishing “fellow Indians”. Even otherwise educated and aware Indians subscribed to this view and brushed it off as not trusting politicians. The thinly veiled racism was evident but was shrouded in subtleties unlike Gul Panag’s tweet above. Why would a U.S. citizen albeit a brown person be deliberately prosecuting other brown people to prove his “Indianness”? Are all brown people always Indian regardless of what their passport says? Isn’t that similar to likening the norm of being American as being an Anglo Saxon White Protestant (WASP)?

In the history of the United States, the norm has never been more different. It is the ultimate melting pot and although the corridors of power are still dominated by white men, increasingly people of other races and backgrounds have been making their way in there. People like Preet Bharara who otherwise would be lauded on India Shining slideshows on Rediff and Times of India have worked their asses off often in face of still-prevalent institutional discrimination to get to their position.

There were other socioeconomic issues [2] at play too but this painting of Bharara as a “brown traitor” troubled me the most. I fail to understand the underlying sentiment (resentment?) that leads to such reactions. At what point is a brown person no longer an Indian? Does it take 3-4 generations? Any person is free to hold on to his or her ethnic or cultural background as long as they want but is it the right of others to claim such people as their own?

When other brown people who have lived outside India dare to point out inefficiencies in India, it is mostly because they’ve had the opportunity to see better. They’ve had the opportunity to witness a well-functioning government which for the most part takes care of its citizens and provides the basic amenities without much hassle. In today’s globalized age, most urban Indians also seem to be aware of these shortcomings so why the reflexive anger when an NRI points them out? Improvements start with criticisms and that’s how political change comes through e.g. Aam Aadmi Party’s electoral success. So next time, when your cousin from the U.S. come visiting and dares to utter a barely negative remark about India, don’t label him a traitor and ask him to go back to “his” country.

  1. This post is not intended to target Gul Panag specifically but in fact, just to point out how otherwise sensible people harbor deep rooted resentment []
  2. underage and underpaid labor class in India and at times, among Indians outside of India []

Constantly Disappointed

For the past 5-6 years, I think we have been constantly living in a sense of disappointment. Perhaps the big financial crash scarred us and made us skeptical of everything around us even when things started to finally look up. The social media tools of quick feedback and need to comment on every issue you hear about often relied more on negativism. The tweets that bash people or make condescending puns tend to get retweeted more and hence subsequently get tweeted more. I’ve been guilty of this but over time, I realized the constant barrage of negativity around me. Part of the reason I stopped blogging as frequently was also because most of the posts we read during the heydays of blogging involved critical analysis, more often not constructive. So I decided to make a conscious effort of not doing that. The IIPM saga also hardened the cynic in me that nothing ever changes.

Among all the things we are constantly disappointed with, I think Obama’s presidency has to rank right at the top. More often than not, the right’s implication that he was considered a messiah by the left rings true. Things he never said or promised are often attributed to him e.g. ending all wars and waging none. What is easily forgotten that he in fact supported right until he got elected, the “good” war in Afghanistan. The drone warfare as illegitimate as it sounds is done with the complicity of the Pakistani and Yemeni governments (hence you don’t see drone strikes in Germany or India) and often result in a far fewer accidental civilian deaths. This is in no way a defense of the drone strikes. It should be subject to Congressional oversight and all legalities of conducting such strikes should be tested by the federal if not the Supreme Court; checks-n-balances and all that jazz.

However, this post tries to focus on the latest disappointment in the Obama presidency. I may often come across as an Obama apologist but this charge often comes from people who are more than willing to overlook the consequences of having the other side in charge [1] The rollout for Obamacare hasn’t been exactly smooth and the primary website where people can enroll has suffered from numerous technical glitches. If you use the relative scale, ten years ago, we couldn’t find WMDs that we were told existed before we invaded a Middle East country that cost thousands of American lives and countless civilian lives. Today, we have a slow website that can and is being fixed.

Obama clearly erred when he promised that no one would lose their existing insurance plans although such plans clearly are not up to the mark. He should’ve apologized and he did [2]. It’s like letting people drive around in cars without seat belts and unusually low emissions standards. The insurance companies have been conning people into a sense of complacency by offering junk plans and denying people benefits when it came time to pay for healthcare. How bad are these plans? Here’s one example:

Under her current junk plan, she would probably receive no more than a few hundred dollars of benefits for doctor visits and drugs. It wouldn’t cover her surgery, her chemotherapy, her many expensive medications, or the repeated diagnostic tests she’d likely require. She would end up with probably $119,000 of unpaid medical bills. With the Humana plan [from, those bills top out at $6,300 a year, no matter what.

The law addresses such plans but yup, Obama should’ve qualified his statements which I admit don’t make for good soundbites in a fast-paced media world of today. I’m no health policy wonk but the least the White House can do right now, is to let those people keep their plans (grandfathered-in) for the next three years but prevent insurance companies from offering them to new customers. The Landrieu Bill in the Senate, I believe fixes this while requiring insurance companies to also offer the higher priced alternatives and showing the additional benefits offered under them. But then, in my opinion, this would be the wrong policy choice. The overall negative impact is far worse than having to eat crow and admit you misspoke or lied earlier. But then again, there’s the reality to consider:

The other issue is that of the slow and sometimes non-responsive website. I believe that it won’t be fixed in time before the end of this month and while that is unacceptable, penalties if you don’t get insurance don’t kick in until March 31, 2014. Latest numbers suggested that nearly 500,000 have at least filled out an application but have not bought a plan. I guess they are waiting until they have to since coverage will not begin until Jan 1, 2014 anyway. But it’s a far cry from the single digit enrollments that media reported happened on the first day.

On the other side, I can totally relate with the problems experienced in launching a website that will contain information from multiple sources and be useful to all. Because I’ve been doing exactly that for the past few months. However, my task was a millionth times as small as the website but it gave me an in-depth understanding of how state procurement even for technical services worked and I suppose the federal one is even more convoluted. The state agency originally tasked with contracting out the development was restricted in the choice of vendors it could seek out. It could, by law, only select from the vendors in its database and the program manager had nothing to go by in the list apart from names of the vendors and she had to pick ten at random without even knowing if they were capable of developing what we wanted. Clearly this was a sub-optimal solution so the process of contracting a vendor fell to our office and we could reach out to many more people, lay out specific requirements, and eventually select a private development company after an exhaustive search that included an on-site demonstration.

In our example, we had to design the system such that it could accept data from four different data systems from our sites and yet be flexible enough to handle additional fields that we could factor in for research. People often told us one thing about their systems and the data they had and it turned out to be completely different when they eventually delivered the data. Luckily we could go back and redesign the interface to handle such inconsistencies. From what I understand, the directly connects to 50 state exchanges that have been developed independent of each other and may be subject to different requirements. To top it, it contained health data so was subject to HIPAA regulations that made it doubly complicated. Further, this development and testing was happening just as the other party was willing to shut down the government in order to defund the law that administered this venture. It would have been a massive surprise if everything worked perfectly from the start.

So as much as disappointed we want to be in our state of affairs, it’s always useful to place things in context and view it relatively. Of course, we should complain but to argue that we would be better off than what we are doing right now just makes me dismiss you entirely. Changes to the status quo may hamper one party’s political future but to use that to convince the otherwise-sensible among us that we are doomed is downright evil. And it’s sad that people are willing to outrightly dismiss the efforts rather than rolling up their sleeves and saying, ok lets fix this thing and get it going.

  1. They say, politics is about choosing between the lesser of the two evils so your choice is always relative. You have to constantly think about, ok, I don’t like this guy but then whom would I rather have in his place? []
  2. Remember when Bush apologized for the Iraq war? Yeah, neither can I []

Futile Efforts: Immigration Reform

There was much hope and optimism for a comprehensive immigration reform after Mitt Romney got romped in the Presidential elections. Republicans including the usual nut jobs like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly were coming to terms with the fact that they might have to reach out to the Hispanics. So the sense of hope for a solution wasn’t misplaced. But I was always a bit skeptical since the bill that tried to eliminate per-country quota died in the Senate, thanks to Chuck Grassley’s hold.

After months of negotiating and amendments, the Senate finally passed a bill that addressed most of the concerns from the perspective of skilled immigrants and the undocumented immigrants. It passed with a 67-23 vote that counts as overwhelmingly bipartisan in these frustrating times. All 23 No votes however came from Republicans. The bill then moved to the House that has a Republican majority. The House right now is practically defunct with even the usually bipartisan Farm Bill failing a vote. A bill to repeal Obamacare has been voted on 37 times and so have other bills on abortion and gay marriage. However, due to some strange machinations in the background, the Republicans now feel that they no longer have to court the Hispanic vote but in fact have to only convince more whites to vote for them. How is that a genuine long-term strategy is beyond me. Not all whites are racist conservative ideologues. Heck, even gay marriage enjoys majority support now across all race and ethnicities. In fact, even among the GOP representatives in the House, nearly 50% support immigration reform.

So why will the immigration bill fail if nearly all Democrats who hold 201 votes and 50% of Republicans who hold 234 votes support the bill? By simple math, that makes up nearly 300 votes and you need only 218 to pass a bill. Well, in a rational and logical democracy that would be the case. Not in a dysfunctional chaos that is now the U.S. Congress for whom denying Obama any legislative progress or modicum of governing is the goal. The bill will only get a vote if the Speaker brings it to the floor and he says, he won’t bring it to the floor unless a majority of Republicans support it. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why. He invokes a bizzarro rule called the Hastert Rule that is some kinda unwritten rule that a bill should have the majority of the majority party in favor.

If you really want to trace back the origin of the rot, it is not just the irrational hatred for Obama but the political process that makes such hatred potent. Gerrymandering, or using your party’s whims on redrawing the Congressional Districts is mostly to blame for this impasse. Any student of political science will tell you that the primary goal of an elected official is not to influence public policy or public service but simply to get reelected. Even the ones with noble intentions offer this excuse that in order to do good work, they’ve to be first reelected. Soon that goal becomes and end in itself. Congressmen smartly redraw the Congressional boundaries to ensure their victory so as not to rely on voters whims. Nearly 85% of Congressmen are elected from such districts. It’s only the other 15% that result in any turnover so you can imagine most Congressmen have lived in Washington forever. When you redraw the districts to suit your purpose, you can safely exclude people from other races and ethnicities that you know will not vote for you. You can then safely bash them and say the most racist things without any consequence. There are districts that are 95% white and with as much segregation that exists in this country, it is nearly impossible to exclude minorities unless you draw boundaries that shamelessly exclude them.

Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of this though. It doesn’t help to have a black or Hispanic-dominated districts because of course, the Congressman will protect their interest. The real skill in politics should be striking a balance and looking after the interests of all people in your constituency. So in terms of this immigration bill, you have Congressmen like Louie Gohmert from Texas and Peter King from Iowa saying the most outrageously racist things but they don’t have to fear any electoral consequences because they come from dominant white and conservative districts that in fact, like them saying such things. Add up such Congressmen and they make up enough to create noise to derail sensible bipartisan legislation. And guess what, this gerrymandering is perfectly legal and constitutional.

Even god cannot help this country in face of such tiring circumstances.

The Innocent Take the Fall

Sandy Hook Victims

News started trickling in on Friday morning about a shootout in a school. Initially, I thought it was one of those events that keep happening on a regular basis, as if that is any less disturbing. But as noon approached, more details flowed in and while I was at a holiday luncheon organized by the college, by the time I got out, the horror of it all was evident to all. A deranged shooter had forced his way into an elementary school and slaughtered nearly 20 kids, all aged 6 and 7, in two classrooms and 7 adults, most of them teachers and school administrators. Reading about the incident which lasted nearly an hour was gut-wrenching and although such mass shootings now happen on an alarming basis in the U.S., the young victims made it more painful.

As always, there were tales of heroism of teachers shielding the kids and falling in a hail of bullets. The shootout ended with the perpetrator killing himself [1]. Details were sketchy as people searched to make sense of it all. The perpetrator was clearly mentally disturbed and his needs were ignored by a gun-crazy mother. But there are crazy people in every country in the world yet in few instances, can they have such devastating effect. The United States holds its guns dear and has even enshrined their ownership in the vaguely worded Second Amendment [2]. But as the victims have gotten younger and younger, something has gotta give. An inept terrorist tried to light his shoe on fire and now we all have to take off our shoes at the airport. Another crazy guy tried to light a fire in his underwear and now we have to consent to walk through a ‘naked’ scanner. Surely after all these shootings over the past decade including that of a Congresswoman, there must be at least be a conversation on the need for heavy-duty assault weapons that gun aficionados feel they must own, not in a warzone, but in a Connecticut suburbia.

As new parents, we are definitely more disturbed by the events since no place now can be considered safe enough for your children. At least terrorists target airplanes and historically significant structures but the terrorists among us target shopping malls, movie theaters, and elementary schools. I know what kind of terrorists I am more scared of. Yet we spend a far disproportionate amount of our security resources on the former while letting their latter run amok and unaddressed. The NRA with its unabashed support for all types of guns and ammunition are directly responsible for abetting such actions. If the killing of innocent six and seven year olds cannot turn things around, I don’t know what will. This country has addressed several difficult issues in its short tumultuous history so I’m certain that the needs of the safety and security of the innocent shall eventually triumph. Until then, I sincerely hope that there aren’t anymore such avoidable incidents. I hope.

  1. The inevitable punishment of a death penalty for such a dastardly crime doesn’t seem to deter the ones determined to die in a self-determined blaze of glory []
  2. It’s all in the second comma, they tell me []

ObamaCare upheld

While I’m loathe to calling it ObamaCare, it has been referred to as such by both parties enough so as to negate any perceived negativity that it was intended to begin with. ObamaCare or Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was upheld (with caveats) by the Supreme Court of the United States today. In a surprising and unexpected move, the Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal judges in saving Obama’s landmark and signature legislative achievement. While the law in full is difficult to explain in its entirety, this Reddit comment comes close to explaining it like you’re a five year old.

However, the majority opinion on why the case was in front of the Supreme Court and why was it in danger of being stricken down can be best explained by SCOTUSBlog‘s succinct summary:

“In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.”

If you read the above two links, you will know more about ObamaCare than 95% of Americans who identify with it purely on ideological grounds. Of course, it is not the perfect solution but given the politics and the dire situation of healthcare, it is, in my opinion, a step in the right direction. If you aren’t satisfied by these two links, you are free to read the full official opinion as written by the Justices or the full text of the bill. You may be intimidated by the legalese. It takes reading more than half a dozen such opinions to get the hang of it; something that I had to do for my Law and Planning class (by the end of the class, I had actually begun to enjoy reading briefs and opinions).

What this means for Obama’s electoral chances is a secondary concern but for millions of uninsured and underinsured, it is a much-needed relief from the uncertainty of the past two years. If the GOP, that is head-scratchingly staunchly against any healthcare reform, gets to control both houses in the Congress and the White House, they may choose to repeal it (remote possibility but still a possibility). So in that sense, it is very important politically for those who care, to get out and vote in November.

Watching the World Burn

Alfred Pennyworth: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?

Alfred Pennyworth: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

[Source: The Dark Knight (2008) – Memorable quotes]

Does the quote in bold highlighted above remind you of a certain political entity in the United States today? After nearly demanded that the U.S. default on its debt by not raising the debt ceiling, the Republicans and more specifically the Tea Baggers are not livid that they are being blamed for being responsible for the S&P downgrade. As Charles Johnson over at Little Green Football says it, why shy away from it? Be proud and own it. You are now responsible for the United States losing its credibility. In fact, S&P explicitly points to Republicans as a reason for the downgrade although you’ll be hard pressed to see the media mention the fact.

Well, what can we say? These Tea Baggers just like to see their country burn. Yup, the GOP slogan was right – Country First. Maybe the world next? I hope not.

Roller Coaster of a Day

Seen anything more erratic?

I’m no expert on the stock market but any casual observer will also conclude that today was a one heck of a crazy roller coaster day on the market. After dropping nearly 5% yesterday, the market opened high on the news of 117,000 jobs added last month but a 0.1 percentage point drop in unemployment rate but fears of another economic recession persisted as the markets tanked to its lowest point before rising up and falling back down before finally settling merely a tad in the green.

Can anyone even make sense of this erratic behavior anymore and as I was discussing with someone on Twitter, are we just being taken for a ride here? Like most, I have some of my savings invested in the stock market (mostly bonds and ETFs) and it is by no means a fortune but even then it gives me palpitations to see such up and down behavior with no logical rhyme or reason. Whatever gains I had made in the past year have been wiped clean. Perhaps it is time again to stuff the mattress.

Failure to Understand

[blackbirdpie id=”5397487489646593″]

This astonishingly stupid tweet by Sarah Palin was followed up by David Frum’s response.

[blackbirdpie id=”5399657446383617″]

David is right. This encapsulates the steep decline in the conservative intellectual movement so much so that one of its primary proponents fails to understand free speech, fair use, and a host of other aspects that make this country what it is. She may never be elected as President but to paraphrase our 43rd, never ‘misunderestimate’ the stupidity of people.

Never Underestimate the Stupidity of Mankind

"In preliminary findings delivered to Congress on 58 incidents, investigators found that in 35 cases, the brake was not applied. In a further 14 cases there was only "partial braking". In one case, both the brake and accelerator pedals were depressed and another showed evidence of pedals getting trapped in a floor mat. But the investigation found no evidence of any electronic problem suggested by Toyota's critics as a likely cause of crashes."

Read that again – In one case, both the brake and accelerator pedals were depressed. I wonder which driving school produced this stalwart. Obviously, after causing a nationwide panic, these users will also be mocked on late-night TV, right? Right?

[Link to Never Underestimate the Stupidity of Mankind]

The Need to Build Something Quick

"(In point of fact, the best we have been able to do with the actual site, after almost a decade, is to create a huge, noisy, and dirty pit with almost no visible architectural progress. Perhaps resentment at the relative speed of the proposed Cordoba House is a subconscious by-product of embarrassment at this local and national disgrace.)"

My opinion on the mosque or cultural Islamic Center or whatever it is near Ground Zero should be plainly obvious to the readers of this blog so I'll not waste my breath. I was however waiting to see what Hitchens had to say about the whole matter and he doesn't disappoint. But the paragraph that I quote above and that he puts in parentheses is something that has baffled me too. Why is America, the country that can get things done and build stuff not been able to build something on Ground Zero for the past ten years?

[Link to The Need to Build Something Quick]

The Typo That Brought the Stock Market to its Knees

According to multiple sources, a trader entered a “b” for billion instead of an “m” for million in a trade possibly involving Procter & Gamble, a component in the Dow. (CNBC’s Jim Cramer noted suspicious price movement in P&G stock on air during the height of the market selloff.

Sources tell CNBC the erroneous trade may have been made at Citigroup.

[Source: CNBC] Are they fucking kidding me? You mean that these financial geniuses have come up with innovative financial products that generate wealth out of thin air but can’t tell if it meant billion or million? If our simple computers can ask us, “Are You Sure?” each time I hit submit on some random shopping site, why can’t these geniuses have a “Are you sure you mean a billion because you know this is going to cause a worldwide panic and decimate lot of people’s wealth?” Although I doubt, that person would hesitate even if he see such a dialog box. On the bright side, let us be thankful that ‘t’ isn’t next to ‘m’ on the keyboard.

This isn’t even the first time the stock market has reacted in panic over a trivial matter. Some months back, oil prices spiked significantly over the news that Nigeria, one of the world’s largest oil exporting countries had a coup. Except it wasn’t Nigeria but in fact, Niger. I guess, politically correct white financial analyst aren’t even sure such a country exists.

Disposable Miranda Rights

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

Thanks to the hajaar crime drama shows on American television, almost everyone, U.S. citizen or not, is aware of the Miranda warning. It underscored the importance of due process as granted by the Fifth and the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is merely one aspect of the U.S. law and order system that makes America what it is. No one is above the law and you will be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The process of prosecution is just as important as meting out of justice for the crime committed. The process can seem frustrating in light of heinous crime where guilt is beyond doubt but it keeps in check power of the police and the government which is easily susceptible to abuse.

Thus it is suprising that the party that allegedly supports the Tea Party Movement which is based on protesting the government’s reach into our daily lives can be so conflicting over these basic rights. The conflict arises over reading the Miranda rights to the alleged Times Square bomber, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan. Republicans ranging from the crazy wingnut Rep.Peter Kind to the so-called ‘maverick moderate’, Sen.John McCain have voiced their opposition to reading the Miranda Rights to a U.S. citizen and Sen.Joe Lieberman goes to the extent of proposing stripping him of his citizenship so the rights can be denied (imagine the precedent it may set). In a hell-freezes-over moment, Glenn Beck emerged as the voice of reason when he said, “[Shahzad] has all the rights under the Constitution. We don’t shred the Constitution when it is popular. We do the right thing.” The heads of Fox & Friends just exploded hearing this muttering, what the heck did just happen? If the Miranda warning can be excluded and individuals stripped off their citizenship for terrorist attempts then why not exclude them in crimes involving molestation of kids or rapes or even selling drugs? Can the citizenship be stripped only from naturalized citizens or is every citizen fair game?

The irony was that on the day this was being debated, the Indian courts in a rare display of speedy justice convicted Kasab, the sole gunman from 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai making an American blog say this:

Screen shot 2010-05-04 at 9.42.58 AM.PNG

I never thought I would see the day when the Indian judiciary would be held up as an example against the American one. So pigs can fly.

Update: There is in fact a ‘public safety exception’ to the Miranda warning which makes McCain and King’s mumblings even more bizarre:

Law enforcement officials can invoke a public safety exception and delay reading a suspect his rights to get information that would save lives. In Shahzad’s case, the FBI invoked the public safety exception. The agency called in its crack interrogation team, asked Shahzad questions with no Miranda warning, and reaped what the FBI says was “valuable intelligence and evidence.” Then Shahzad was read his rights. And lo and behold, he waived them and kept talking [source].