Indian Coppers Arrest Pakistani Pigeon On Charges Of Espionage

The pigeon was wearing an anklet inscribed with a series of numbers when it was captured on the Indian side of the India-Pakistan border…Because of the anklet and the sensitive area in which the bird was recovered, authorities are taking the incident very seriously. However, they have yet to decipher the message.

A Pakistani villager has since come forward as the bird’s owner. He claimed to have simply flown his pigeons to celebrate this year’s Eid-al-Fitr festival, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. He also explained that the numbers inscribed on the pigeon’s metal ring were not a code but rather his phone number.

Pakistani newspaper Dawn has since identified the man as Habibullah and confirmed that he does, indeed, own a dozen pigeons. The man told the publication that the bird was a “symbol of peace,” and that India should “refrain from victimizing innocent birds.”

Cops behaving like cops aren’t unusual anywhere. The greater the paranoia in whichever nation, the more likely is stupid or silly behavior by defenders of faith and Fatherland.

Who’s making the biggest hole in worldwide oil? Chinese electric buses.

❝ While electric cars are displacing global oil demand at increasing rates, new research shows electric buses are making a much bigger mark overall thus far.

Electric vehicles have displaced about 3 percent of total oil consumption growth since 2011, a larger share than ever before. And so far, more than three-quarters of that oil displacement has come from electric buses, Bloomberg reports.

❝ The report estimates that “for every 1,000 electric buses on the road, 500 barrels of diesel are displaced each day.” The same number of battery-powered electric vehicles only displaces 15 barrels of oil a day, by comparison.

Most of this is occurring in China, Bloomberg notes. A report last year found that of about 385,000 electric buses in the world in 2017, about 99 percent of them were in China, with rapid growth still taking place. The city of Shenzhen alone announced in 2017 that it had completely electrified its fleet of 16,000 buses.

Not that you’re going to see much about this on Fox News. Or most mainstream media for that matter.

The Standoff at Sabarimala


Click to enlargeAFP/Getty Images

❝ In India, they tell us that women can be anything we wish. We can be fighter-jet pilots, corporate CEOs, paratroopers, athletes — and, of course, prime minister. (We never get tired of reminding Americans of this, since the United States is still waiting for its first female head of state.)

But God forbid we dare to argue that, in 2019, menstruation should not bar us from praying at a temple. What sort of global power can the world’s largest democracy aspire to be when our monthly period is still used to make women feel like polluted pariahs who must be kept at a distance? Is this not repugnant modern-day untouchability?

❝ Last week, a 620-kilometer “women’s wall” made up of an estimated 5 million protesters drew global attention to the shame unfolding at the Sabarimala shrine in the southern Indian state of Kerala. For more than two months, there have been violent protests and riots over the entry of women at Sabarimala. According to mythology, Lord Ayyappa, the deity at the 800-year-old temple, was a bachelor god who took a vow of celibacy and set clear rules for the pilgrimage to seek his blessings. And thus, by custom, women in their reproductive years must keep away.

The women’s wall is a fight for what agitators are calling “renaissance values.” Mobilized by the left-wing government in Kerala, the women, with their arms outstretched in determined defiance, occupied all the national highways across the state to protest the brazen discrimination at the temple. It may well have been the largest single gathering of women in the world.

RTFA. Don’t tell me how India is going to surpass China as the leading economic force in Asia. Please.

As long as spooky religious ideology holds political sway in a nation in the modern era, that nation is guaranteeing minor status for itself on the world stage. Start that way – or convert – and you are done for unless government and law resume normal service with justice for all.

Traveling to Ladakh – part 2


Om Malik

❝ When I went to sleep last night, I was excited about the prospects of the new day. I had no idea that it would turn out to be one of those red letter days that teach you pretty much everything about life. Now that I think of it, it was a good parable for life, and a reminder of how despite our illusions, we are never really in control.

❝ The day started for me very early – at nearly 3 am. It is — in the words of my friend Liam Casey — the jet lag witching hour, when you lie wide awake in the bed, looking at the roof of the room. In my case, I turned and looked outside.

And what I saw was magical. A sky that was wholly adorned with stars. It was the most beautiful night sky I ever saw. I’ve never seen so many stars ever before. Never in California. Never in Death Valley. Never in Iceland. To be honest, never anywhere. It was simply fantastic. Stars were like the sparkling pearls embroidered with abandon into the black velvet that is the universe…

When Om is traveling, his letters, his posts are as magical as his photography. The talent he expresses with his vision of the world around us is as special and alive as any description or analysis.

Distant India in a Distant Time


Muslim refugees on a train from Delhi to Lahore, 1947 — Click to enlarge

Henri Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the most well-known photographer in India, or rather—an important distinction—the photographer whose work is most well-known. He first visited India in the fall of 1947. One of only two Western photographers granted access to Gandhi, Cartier-Bresson shot a series of portraits of the ailing leader the week before he was killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu chauvinist, in January 1948. Cartier-Bresson then covered Gandhi’s funeral and the national mourning that followed.

First published in Life magazine, these photos brought Cartier-Bresson worldwide recognition. They were also widely reproduced in India, and are today so familiar there that his authorship is usually forgotten. The same is true of many quieter, more tableaux-like photos he took on subsequent visits in 1950, 1966, and 1980. In “Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame,” the Rubin Museum brings together selections from each of these trips.

Whether the Rubin Museum is an easy trip – or not likely – this article is worth the read. History comes alive. The photographer’s eye is well understood. We learn, we learn more.

India’s caste system even includes access to cooking fuel and electricity

❝ Among their many privileges, India’s wealthiest households can rely on a consistent supply of electricity and access to cooking gas. The situation is rather different for other social groups, however. My research has shown lower caste and tribal households have 10-30% less access to electricity and clean cooking fuel, even when controlling for other factors like income or education.

This is just one outcome of India’s caste system, which divides the country’s population into rigid and hereditary social strata. Caste discrimination was declared illegal in the Indian constitution – and positive discrimination was introduced to correct historical injustices. Those assisted by the constitution are the “scheduled castes”. They make up about 16% of India’s population and, despite affirmative action, still face many disadvantages.

❝ The “scheduled tribes” are another disadvantaged group. They include tribal or indigenous communities throughout India, and are outside the Hindu caste system. They comprise about 8% of the population.

❝ Despite substantial progress since independence, India still contains the largest number of energy-deprived people in the world, especially among these marginalised social groups. Access to modern energy has obvious direct benefits (lighting, cooked food, and so on), but it can also help micro-enterprises flourish and improve health and environmental quality.

An article worth reading in its entirety. Democracy not only must confront right-wing ideologues from fascists to supposed republicans, a significant part of the problem in many lands is the history of the dominant religion.

China, India Reaching Climate Goals Early — Trump’s US Will Fall Short

❝ Gradual reductions in coal in China and India put the two countries on track to better their carbon emissions goals.

According to Climate Action Tracker forecasts, greenhouse gas emissions from both countries are growing more slowly than previously predicted. The difference projects roughly 2 to 3 billion tons annually by 2030.

That would be sufficient to offset the expected underperformance of the U.S. — the number two contributor to world carbon emissions, behind China and ahead of India.

❝ American President Donald Trump rolled back the country’s emission controls, putting U.S. on track to miss its Paris Pledge mark. The U.S. is now on track to emit 400 million metric tons more than previously projected by 2030…

❝ …The other two top emitters are ardently fighting climate change by cutting coal use and boosting renewables. “Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping — or even slowing — coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle…

The analysts rated both China and India’s climate plans as “medium,” but said that Trump’s planned policies could downgrade U.S. from “medium” to “inadequate.”

Like most of his projects, you can expect Trump to Fail or Go Bankrupt. Running the US government, he may succeed in doing both in record time.

Arms sales around the world are the highest they’ve been since the end of the Cold War


Noah Seelam/AFP

❝ Global arms sales over the last five years reached their highest level since 1990, with India continuing to top the charts as the world’s largest defense importer, a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has found.

Between 2012 and 2016, India accounted for 13 percent of global arms imports, followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China and Algeria, said SIPRI, which tracks global arms purchases. Between 2007 and 2011, India accounted for 9.7 percent of global imports, still more than any other country…

❝ Despite rising threats, and a ‘Make in India’ program to encourage local arms production, India’s domestic defense sector is not capable of meeting New Delhi’s growing requirements…

“They spend a lot of time and also money trying to develop weapons in India and things just go hopelessly wrong,” Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with SIPRI, said, adding that leaves them relying on imports…

❝ …The shift under Modi to rely more on private Indian companies for defense procurement, could lead to success. India signed an $8.7 billion contract to buy 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation SA…Analysts also warned that structural changes to India’s defense purchasing would take a long time, given the lengthy timelines involved in defense R&D and manufacturing, as well as the necessity of meeting the military’s pressing requirements for combat-ready equipment.

RTFA for the gory details. Getting caught in the same sort of military-industrial complex that only shares ownership of the US economy with fossil fuel barons doesn’t seem like forward-looking economic design or planning. India might have more of a chance at long-term economic success working at building a mutual relationship based on peace with neighbors in the region. After all, they all were shoved into the same trick bag by departing Imperial England back in the day.