Sunday, December 22, 2013

muslim americans exemplify diversity potential


gallup | In the first-ever nationally representative study of a randomly selected sample of Muslim Americans, Gallup reveals that Muslim Americans are the most racially diverse religious group surveyed in the United States, with African Americans making up the largest contingent within the population, at 35%.

This finding is one of many in Gallup's report, Muslim Americans: A National Portrait, which compares the opinions of Muslim Americans with those of the general U.S. population, revealing important differences in terms of gender equality, civic engagement, life evaluation, religiosity, and more.

Gender Equality
The report also reveals that Muslim American women are one of the most highly educated female religious groups in the United States, second only to Jewish American women. In addition, as a group, Muslim Americans have the highest degree of economic gender parity at the high and low ends of the income spectrum.

Muslim American women are equally as likely as men to say they attend mosque at least once a week, which stands in sharp contrast to the trend seen in some predominantly Muslim countries where men are more likely than women to report attending a religious service in the last week.

Civic Engagement Among Young Muslim Americans
The report also examines the views of Muslim American youths (aged 18 to 29) and how their levels of civic engagement compare with those of young Americans of other religious backgrounds. For example, the report finds that only 51% of young Muslim Americans are registered to vote, which is one of the lowest percentages among young Americans surveyed.

islamic fundamentalism is widely spread


wzb |  Religious fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon in Western Europe. This conclusion is drawn in a study published by Ruud Koopmans from the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. The author analyzed data from a representative survey among immigrants and natives in six European countries. Two thirds of the Muslims interviewed say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live. Three quarters of the respondents hold the opinion that there is only one legitimate interpretation of the Koran.

These numbers are significantly higher than those from local Christians. Only 13 percent of this group put religious rules above national law; just under 20 percent refuse to accept differing interpretations of the Bible. For Ruud Koopmans, this powerful tendency toward Muslim religious fundamentalism is alarming: “Fundamentalism is not an innocent form of strict religiosity”, the sociologist says. “We find a strong correlation between religious fundamentalism – actually among both Christians and Muslims – and hostility toward out-groups like homosexuals or Jews.” Almost 60 percent of the Muslim respondents reject homosexuals as friends; 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted; and an equally large group believes that the West is out to destroy Islam. The Christians’ answers for comparison: As many as 9 percent are openly anti-Semitic; 13 percent do not want to have homosexuals as friends; and 23 percent think that Muslims aim to destroy Western culture.

The Six Country Immigrant Integration Comparative Survey collected data in more than 9,000 telephone interviews in Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Sweden. The respondents were Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, as well as control groups of natives. This study is the first that allows analysis on an empirical base of the extent and impact of religious fundamentalism.

Ruud Koopmans’ article “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility. Comparing Muslims and Christians in Europe” has just been published in the December issue of the quarterly WZB-Mitteilungen. The issue presents various contributions on migration and integration topics, mainly in German.



runaway population growth fuels youth-driven uprisings...,


LATimes | Abdul Wahid, one of 10 children of an electrician, had little education beyond a few years in an Islamic religious school. There, his lessons consisted of memorizing every verse of the Koran.

When he finished school, he had no prospects for a steady job in rural Wardak province. He tried to make a living as a long-distance driver for hire, using a borrowed car. He often had to wait a month between customers.

At 18, he found employment of another kind.

"My life got better," he said, "when I joined the Taliban."

He and his fellow militants ambushed foreign supply trucks or military vehicles, then divvied up the food, blankets and other spoils.

"All of the work I was doing made my heart happy," said Wahid, 26, sitting cross-legged on the concrete floor of Pul-e-Charkhi Prison on the outskirts of Kabul, the capital. "I don't know how to use tools. I'm not very skilled. So for us, whatever we reaped from attacks, we would keep. It was enough for us to live on."

In many developing countries, runaway population growth has created vast ranks of restless young men like Wahid, with few prospects and little to lose.

Their frustrated ambitions can be an explosive force, as shown by the youth-driven uprisings that toppled autocratic regimes in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia in 2011.

About 80% of the world's civil conflicts since the 1970s have occurred in countries with young, fast-growing populations, known as youth bulges, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Population Action International.

Afghanistan is a stark example. Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the population has swelled from 23 million to 33 million. Nearly three-fourths of Afghans are under 30. The median age is 16.6, compared with 37 in the United States.

In a sluggish agrarian economy, few young men can find legitimate employment. Their lack of a steady income essentially closes the door to marriage in a society where sex outside of wedlock is forbidden. Tradition requires paying a dowry and staging a wedding celebration, which together cost as much as $5,000 — three times the average annual household income.

A young man can earn far more working for the Taliban than for the Afghan army or the police, according to Western intelligence reports and researchers. Planting a roadside bomb can pay 20 times more than a day's manual labor.

Similar youth bulges have emerged in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and the Palestinian territories — part of what security experts call an "arc of instability" reaching across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Of the 2 billion or more people who will be added to the planet by 2050, 97% are expected to be born in Africa, Asia and Latin America, led by the poorest, most volatile countries.

"We are literally going to see 1 billion young people come into the populations in the arc of instability over the next two decades," said Jack Goldstone, an expert on demography and revolutions at George Mason University in Virginia. "We can't fight them. We have to figure a better way to help them."

overpopulation: ingenuity won't save these extra humans...,


LATimes | It's easy to grasp that in a national park, balance must be maintained between predators and prey, lest the ecosystem crash. But when we're talking about our own species, it gets harder. The notion that there are limits to how much humanity this parkland called Earth can bear doesn't sit easy with us.

The "nature" part of human nature includes making more copies of ourselves, to ensure our genetic and cultural survival. As that instinct comes in handy for building mighty nations and dominant religions, we've set about filling the Earth, rarely worrying that it might one day overfill. Even after population quadrupled in the 20th century, placing unprecedented stress on the planet, it's hard for some to accept that there might be too many of us for our own good.

A recent essay in the New York Times by University of Maryland geographer Erle C. Ellis, argued that population growth is actually the mother of invention, that it inspires new technologies to sustain ever more humans and to coax more from the land. And as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his 2009 encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," "On this Earth there is room for everyone … through hard work and creativity."

In 2011, I visited the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which had warned in 1994 that it was "unthinkable to sustain indefinitely a birthrate beyond 2.3 children per couple…. The contrary demographic consequences would be unsustainable to the point of absurdity." Nevertheless, the church still encouraged population growth.

With a billion humans already malnourished, I asked the academy's director where would we get food for nearly 10 billion by midcentury? Clearing more forests for farming would be disastrous. Beset by floods and erosion, China alone has been spending $40 billion to put trees back. And force-feeding crops with chemistry has backfired on us, with nitrogen runoff that fouls rivers, deadens New Jersey-sized chunks of the oceans and emits large quantities of two greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.

The answer, I was told, would be through increased yields using new genetically modified crops from the centers of the Green Revolution: the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Texcoco, Mexico, and the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

The Green Revolution's high-yield, genetically selected strains more than doubled grain harvests during the 1960s. It is often cited as having triumphed over dire predictions of famines caused by population growth outpacing food production, which were famously made by economist Thomas Robert Malthus in "An Essay on the Principle of Population" and echoed by his latter-day analogues, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, who wrote "The Population Bomb."

However, when I went to the maize center in Texcoco and to the rice institute in the Philippines, I found no food scientists who agreed with that triumphalist scenario. Instead, I learned, Green Revolution founder Norman Borlaug had warned in his 1970 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech that his work essentially had only bought the world time to resolve overpopulation.

"There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort," Borlaug said.

india's dangerous food bubble


LATimes | India is now the world's third-largest grain producer after China and the United States. The adoption of higher-yielding crop varieties and the spread of irrigation have led to this remarkable tripling of output since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, a growing share of the water that irrigates three-fifths of India's grain harvest is coming from wells that are starting to go dry. This sets the stage for a major disruption in food supplies for India's growing population.

In recent years about 27 million wells have been drilled, chasing water tables downward in every Indian state. Even the typically conservative World Bank warned in 2005 that 15% of India's food was being produced by overpumping groundwater. The situation has not improved, meaning that about 190 million Indians are being fed using water that cannot be sustained. This means that the dietary foundation for about 190 million people could disappear with little warning.

India's grain is further threatened by global warming. Glaciers serve as reservoirs feeding Asia's major rivers during the dry season. As Himalayan and Tibetan glaciers shrink, they provide more meltwater in the near term, but there will be far less in the future. To complicate matters, the monsoon patterns are changing too, making these annual deluges more difficult to predict.

What India is experiencing is a "food bubble": an increase in food production based on the unsustainable use of irrigation water. And this is happening in a country where 43% of children under age 5 are underweight. A survey for Save the Children found that children in 1 out of 4 families experience "foodless days" — days where they do not eat at all. Almost half subsist on just one staple food, thus missing vital nutrients that come in a diversified diet.

Although poverty has been reduced for some, two-thirds of the population still live on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. And the population is growing by nearly 30 million every two years, equal to adding another Canada to the number of people to feed. Within 20 years, India's population is expected to hit 1.5 billion, surpassing China.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

is evangelism going out of style?

 barna | Gospel tracts, sidewalk evangelism, street preachers with bullhorns—all of these things seem like evangelistic efforts of yesteryear. But if this seems true, where does that leave the state of evangelism today? Is faith-sharing a fading practice, or does it simply look different today? In all their innovative efforts to engage culture, have Christians left this ancient practice so integral to their faith behind?

Barna Group has charted evangelistic practices and attitudes for more than two decades, and the latest study sheds light on the gaps between evangelism in theory and practice, the social groups who are sharing their faith the most, and the surprising ways economics color one's outreach efforts.

Evangelism in Theory and In Practice
When asked if they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others, 73% of born again Christians said yes. When this conviction is put into practice, however, the numbers shift downward. Only half (52%) of born again Christians say they actually did share the Gospel at least once this past year to someone with different beliefs, in the hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

As with most convictions, there usually lies a dividing line between theory and practice. When it comes to evangelism, that dividing line looks different among various demographics.

Barna defines evangelicals according to adherence to nine theological perspectives (defined in the details below), including one's personal responsibility to share their faith in Christ with others. So in this study, of course, evangelicals (100%) claim this responsibility by definition. Nearly seven out of 10 have acted on this conviction within the last year, meaning evangelicals have the highest rate of evangelism among the various religious segments that Barna examined.

What stands out among the data, however, is that evangelicals also have among the highest rates of failure in follow-through from conviction to action when it comes to sharing their faith. Nearly one-third (31%) believe they should evangelize, but have not done so—at least within the past year.
Catholics (34%), on the opposite end of the spectrum, are the least likely across Christian faith traditions to affirm their personal responsibility to share their faith. Yet, this minority is also the most consistent in linking their belief and behavior. Roughly one-third of all Catholics (34%) believe they should evangelize, while one-third of born again Catholics actually do.

Friday, December 20, 2013

india maids speak out....,


usatoday | But Richard's lawyer said Thursday that the housekeeper worked from morning until late at night, seven days week, for less than $3 an hour. Unable to get better pay, she made sure Khobragade's two children were cared for one day and walked out, lawyer Dana Sussman said.

Protests erupted in cities around India, where demonstrators burnt effigies of President Obama. The Indian government has since downgraded certain privileges granted to American diplomatic staff in New Delhi like withdrawing all airport passes and stopping import clearance of liquor to the US Embassy.

The Indian government snubbed a visiting American delegation refusing requests for a meeting till Ms. Khobragade was tendered an apology. Indian media has mainly focused on the humiliation of Khobragade.

"What's unsettling about this case is how little we know about Richard's side of the story," said Deepanjana Pal on the news website Firstpost. "While there are endless articles available on Khobdagade and how terribly she's been treated by U.S. officials, there's almost nothing on Richard."
Or for that matter there has been little said by the politicians going after the U.S. attorney about how maids are treated in India.

In large cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, most middle class families employ a maid or two, many have separate drivers, gardeners, and cooks. According to a report by the Indian government, nearly 5 million people employ at least two domestic workers.

Yet, except in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, domestic workers are not offered any legal protection. Seven Indian states have made efforts to standardize minimum wage but the recommended wage has been set low.

Also, there are no guidelines that govern working hours, or minimum wage, and no authority to turn to in cases of exploitation, say the workers.

"At the most I would complain to the local Resident Welfare Association if I had a problem – but even then I would be scared – chances are that they will side with my employers rather than me," said Manju Bahri.

wait for it..., wait for it...., you KNEW that other shoe was fitna drop?


ibnlive | After the death of his first wife under mysterious circumstances, he married Jagriti Singh. A trained dentist working at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, Jagriti used to allegedly torture all her maids. Police are trying to find out if she has killed anybody before this horrific incident. 

According to the survivors of this torture chamber, she was the cruellest woman, who could do anything to terrorise her maids. A police officer who is investigating the case said, "She would beat her maids and other servants regularly. She had no sympathy, no fear of anybody. She was like a devil." 

Her maid Rakhi, who died of injuries, was the most unfortunate poor woman. A widow with no backing and nowhere to go, she had to endure the most unbearable cruelty for months. She had branded her buttocks with a hot iron bar. Because of that she could not even sit or sleep. 

Another maid Meena, who is now undergoing a treatment at the RML hospital for multiple injuries all over the body, was also branded with hot iron bars and grilles. 

According to a 17-year-boy rescued by the police Jagriti had a iron grille at her flat. She would brand them with that regularly. He told the police that she would spit on their food and force them to eat from the floor like animals. She would even force them to look for food in the dustbins. 

The boy explained many such horror stories to the police. According to him Jagriti even tried to cut his tongue by using an iron clothes pin and he bled for hours. She never allowed her maids and servants to step out of the house and always kept them in a locked flat. 

The 'doctor death' Jagriti had told them that the guards posted outside the house would shoot them, if they dared to go out or escape.

One unfortunate domestic help, Rakhi, died of injuries allegedly inflicted on her by Jagriti, two others have been hospitalised.

serving the poor, pope francis style...,


theatlantic | Like a lot of millennial progressive Catholics, Katie Dorner feels like the days of having to defend her faith from the negative perceptions of her peers are coming to an end.

“When the Pope won [Time Magazine’s] Person of the Year I thought to myself, it’s like advent,” the time preceding Christmas when Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Christ, “but for the church. He’s bringing hope to the church and to the world,” said Dorner, currently serving as a Jesuit Volunteer in Los Angeles.

Catholic Millennials in the United States have come of age in a dark era for the Church, largely defined by child sexual abuse scandals and the associated sordid newspaper trial coverage. The challenge of keeping the faith has been arguably harder for young progressive Catholics, given the increasing gap between the Church and the general population on social issues such as contraception and homosexuality.

During the worst years of scandal, as progressive Catholic youths came of age they did what many Catholics have always done: they quietly served the poor. And in many cases, they did so through a program run by the very order Pope Francis came from: the Jesuits. Now, with Pope Francis in the Vatican strengthening the church’s anti-poverty message, they feel welcomed back into the fold.

inequality indian style - there is no such thing as society


NYTimes | Nowhere is inequality — what President Obama this month called “the defining challenge of our time” — more in your face than in India. Brand-filled shopping malls spread. So do shanties. A rich man builds a 27-story house for his family in a nation of 1.2 billion people where more than a quarter of them — or roughly the U.S. population — lives on less than two bucks a day. Outdoor defecation is still widespread. Yet when Gulati, a social activist engaged in teaching poor Delhi kids through a nongovernmental organization called Manzil, tries to interest his peers in the subject of inequality, he tends to find the conversation goes nowhere, drowned by talk of some juicy real-estate deal for farmland south of Delhi, the latest Bollywood hot item numbers, or the Silicon-Valley success story of yet another Indian immigrant. 

“We are giving aid to America. It’s crazy!” Gulati tells me. “We are sending our finest minds all over the world to help enrich the countries they adopt, but not India, which desperately needs them.” He points to a shanty where “children lie in the mud while their parents look for work.” 

He gets exercised over the impunity of politicians cutting sweet deals for themselves and walking off with suitcases of cash, the greed-is-good top 1 percent, the lousy infrastructure and inadequate schools, the first-world privatized services for the rich and substandard public service for the rest, the blindness of privilege — and it strikes me that globalization has thrown up the same issues of inequality everywhere as mobile capital outsmarts immobile workers, and mass culture enshrines money as the supreme value, and well-paid lobbyists burrow away in the interests of the cosseted few against any social compact. 

The debate around these themes in India follows lines you hear around the world, with a rising nationalist right insisting the poor must work harder, that they receive too many entitlements as it is, that deregulation and the animal instincts of the self-made man are the answer, that the left with its handouts (and in India’s case the heavy post-war state planning of Nehru) has failed. While, from the other side, voices like Gulati’s rise protesting a me-me-me world gone mad; insisting that society does exist; that the social compact is essential and hinges on acknowledgment of the commonweal; that a livable minimum wage is important; that solidarity alone can provide shelter, education, equal opportunity and social protection to the neediest, as well as hope for a future in which income distribution stops heading in a U.S. direction where, as Obama pointed out this month, the average C.E.O. now makes 273 times the average worker compared to 20 to 30 times in the past.

the runaway slave's family victimized by angry embarrassed indians....,

DailyMail Picture Exclusive Article

NYTimes | The latest development in the case came as American officials expressed concern that relatives of the victim, Sangeeta Richard, might be subjected to intimidation in India, where they lived. 

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office is prosecuting Ms. Khobragade, said in a written statement on Wednesday that it became necessary to “evacuate” the victim’s family, which has been brought to the United States. He said the family “reportedly was confronted in numerous ways regarding this case.” 

The State Department on Thursday confirmed, without offering details, that the government had “taken steps to reunite” the family and was aware of “allegations that the family was intimidated in India.” 

A person close to Ms. Richard’s family described several episodes that frightened family members. In one case, Ms. Richard’s husband, while bicycling with one of his children, was confronted by a man with a gun who demanded that his wife return home. 

Ms. Richard’s husband said he had been called more than once by Ms. Khobragade’s father, who asked him to make his wife return to India, the person said. Yet another time, Ms. Richard’s husband was interrogated by the police in India about his wife’s whereabouts in the United States.

the purported past and future of america's social contract...,


theatlantic | The low-wage social contract seeks to balance poor private sector pay with cheap consumer goods, low taxes, and government subsidies that boost after-tax incomes. What does this mean in practice? Cheap imports from countries like China are one big part of it, as are policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit that allow Washington to supplement low-income workers’ pay through the tax code.

Proponents of the low-wage social contract on both the left and the right have argued that the combination of inexpensive goods and low taxes should give consumers more spending power than they would have in a high-wage, high-price economy. In a famous paper entitled “Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story,” Jason Furman, now Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, argued that the low-wage model actually made low-income consumers better off overall.
For many, though, the bargain has clearly failed. It is true that tax credits and cheap goods have boosted the standard of living for otherwise impoverished workers. Yet, according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account wage subsidies and additional costs like taxes and medical costs, almost 10 percent of the total working population still lives in poverty. This includes roughly 5 million Americans who work full-time, year-round. 

A key reason for this is that the low-wage social contract does not do much to help families in the areas they need most. Clothing, food, and other items found at Wal-Mart might be cheap for low-wage workers. But other necessary services—health care, daycare, eldercare, and college—have simultaneously become less affordable and more important as most mothers work outside of the home and the wage premium for college remains high. In 1960, the average family spent about $12,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars on childcare, education, and healthcare over the course of 17 years raising a child. Four decades later, the average family spends almost $63,000 per child. Medical out-of-pocket expenses now push more people below the poverty line than tax credits can lift above it.

The low-wage social contract has also contributed to a lack of aggregate demand.  Because workers are also consumers, and because low-income households spend more of their money than do wealthier households, the low wage system limits the power of workers to help the economy grow by purchasing goods and services.

The Next Social Contract
That’s how we got here—but what might lie ahead?

While the “low wage” social contract may not be much of a bargain for many workers, there’s no pretending we can go back to the New Deal-era system of old. The combination of conditions that allowed for high wages, high profits, and low prices no longer exists in a service-based economy with more unstable employment and in which the declining number of manufacturing jobs are more subject to global competition. And while the welfare capitalist model did benefit many in the middle class, it often excluded African-American workers and was reliant on a family model based on a sole male breadwinner. The next social contract needs to adapt to these new economic conditions and further the huge strides we have made toward equality for women and minorities in the workforce.
What, then, would a better social contract look like?

criticizing the cathedral and the coronation of the cathedral's dynastic candidate...,


cnn | Brian Schweitzer, a former Montana governor and self-styled prairie populist who wants to be part of the Democratic presidential conversation for 2016, drew a bright line between himself and presumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton on Wednesday by raising an topic that has largely faded from the political spotlight amid rising economic anxiety: the Iraq War.

In a speech to Iowa Democrats in the Des Moines suburb of Altoona, and in remarks to reporters, Schweitzer repeatedly chided Senate Democrats who voted in 2002 to green light military action in Iraq.

Clinton, then a senator from New York, voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq, a decision that badly damaged her credibility with the Democratic base and allowed Barack Obama to win over anti-war liberals in their 2008 nomination fight.

“Anybody who runs in this cycle, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, if they were the United States Senate and they voted with George Bush to go to Iraq when I would say about 98 percent of America knows that it was a folly, that it was a waste of treasure and blood,
and if they voted to go to Iraq there will be questions for them on the left and from the right,” he told CNN.

Later, in his remarks to a holiday party organized by the liberal group Progress Iowa, Schweitzer asked the roughly 70 audience members to keep the Iraq war vote in mind as they begin to think about potential candidates passing through the state.

“When George Bush got a bunch of Dems to vote for that war, I was just shaking my head in Montana,” he said, noting that he opposed the war (though he didn’t have to vote on it). “I’m asking you to pick the leaders who aren’t going to make those mistakes.”

Schweitzer was reluctant to mention the former Secretary of State by name, but the target of his comments, delivered in the first-in-the-nation caucus state that derailed Clinton’s candidacy almost six years ago, was unmistakable.

In recent interviews, with The Weekly Standard and RealClearPolitics, he has urged Democrats not to give Clinton a free pass to the nomination in 2016. And asked after the speech who he had in mind when raising the Iraq issue, Schweitzer said “presidential candidates.”

Schweitzer, though, insisted he wasn’t attacking the presumed frontrunner.

“The point is that this is an election not a coronation,” Schweitzer said. “It’s been a long time since we have had coronations in his country. Democrats are always excited about tomorrow and we always want to know what the future is. We don’t want to talk about the past.

We want to talk about the future. We want to know that the people that we elect will move America forward, not move us in reverse.”

To observers of his sometimes-haphazard speech, which also touched on education and prison reform, along with transparently folksy Midwestern nods to cattle and 4H, his Iraq observations seemed somewhat dated.

“Are you tweeting from 2004?” one Twitter user wrote to a reporter covering the speech.
“The foreign policy stuff was good,” said Matt Sinovic, the director of Progress Iowa. “It was good, just unexpected.”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

i love it that an indian u.s. attorney is at the center of this indian runaway slave "crisis"


foxnews | U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who made the highly unusual move Wednesday of issuing a lengthy statement addressing the arrest and issues not in a criminal complaint, said diplomat Devyani Khobragade was afforded courtesies most Americans wouldn't get — such as being allowed to make phone calls for two hours to arrange child care and sort out personal matters — after she was discreetly arrested by State Department agents outside her children's Manhattan school.
Khobragade was arrested last week on charges she lied on a visa application about how much she paid her housekeeper, an Indian national. Prosecutors say the maid received less than $3 per hour for her work.

Bharara said Khobragade, who has pleaded not guilty, wasn't handcuffed, restrained or arrested in front of her children. And he said that while she was "fully searched" in private by a female deputy marshal, the move was a standard safety practice all defendants undergo.

Khobragade has been transferred to India's mission to the United Nations, according to her lawyer and a former colleague. It's unclear how such a move might affect her immunity from prosecution, and a U.N. spokesman said it hadn't received a necessary transfer request from her Wednesday evening.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters on Thursday that Khobragade should never have been arrested, and that the housekeeper should have been arrested instead.
Khurshid said he would speak to Kerry later Thursday.

"This is an extremely distressing and hurtful incident that needs to be addressed," he said.

Earlier Thursday, an official in India's External Affairs Ministry told the Associated Press that Khobragade claimed to Indian authorities in July that the maid had disappeared and was trying to blackmail her. According to the official, the housekeeper said she would not report Khobragade if she agreed to pay her more money and change her visa status to allow her to work elsewhere in the U.S.
Khobragade filed a complaint with New York police and New Delhi police, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly. It was not clear what action was taken in the U.S., but New Delhi police issued a warrant for her arrest if she returned to India.

News that Khobragade was strip-searched has chilled U.S.-Indian relations, and Kerry called India's national security adviser on Wednesday to express his regret over what happened. India has revoked privileges for U.S. diplomats in protest.

Bharara, who was born in India but moved with his family to New Jersey, defended his case.

modi an'em fitna go in on teh gey in the u.s. diplomatic corps...,


Time | But the fallout did not end with expressions of umbrage. Bulldozers removed security barriers outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, and U.S. diplomats and their families are being stripped of ID cards that make clearances easier. “We will deal with them exactly the same way they are dealing with us. Not anything more, not anything less,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, told reporters. “While the U.S. doesn’t provide many courtesies to our diplomats, we go out of the way not to withhold those facilities.”

Political leaders from both the ruling and opposition parties refused to meet with an American congressional delegation visiting Delhi this week; Narendra Modi, the BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister, explained his snub on Twitter, saying he “refused to meet the visiting USA delegation in solidarity with our nation, protesting ill-treatment meted to our lady diplomat in USA.”

Khobragade’s arrest is certainly not the first time American legal procedures have sparked outrage in the home country of a prominent international figure. In May 2011, when then International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York City on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, he was marched into the police precinct in handcuffs before an assembled bank of photographers. The so-called perp walk, which is standard fare in the U.S., caused outrage in Strauss-Kahn’s native France. Indeed, two years after the charges against him were dropped and he returned to France, Strauss-Kahn said he was still angry at his treatment while in custody. It also stands in stark contrast to the measures the U.S. itself often uses when its diplomats and government employees run afoul of the law overseas.

In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman said that the diplomatic security team that arrested Khobragade followed standard procedures and turned her over to the U.S. Marshals for processing. If the Strauss-Kahn incident is any indication, Khobragade isn’t likely to get any apologies from local authorities. The American process of law and order has sparked outrage before; the only question in this case is how long this diplomatic row will continue between two countries that have an important relationship.

india's 1% demands respect and indian peasants stuck in their shoe-treads protest indignities ...,

outlookindia | Is it a house or a home? A temple to the new India, or a warehouse for its ghosts? Ever since Antilla arrived on Altamont Road in Mumbai, exuding mystery and quiet menace, things have not been the same. “Here we are,” the friend who took me there said, “Pay your respects to our new Ruler.”

Antilla belongs to India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. I had read about this most expensive dwelling ever built, the twenty-seven floors, three helipads, nine lifts, hanging gardens, ballrooms, weather rooms, gymnasiums, six floors of parking, and the six hundred servants. Nothing had prepared me for the vertical lawn—a soaring, 27-storey-high wall of grass attached to a vast metal grid. The grass was dry in patches; bits had fallen off in neat rectangles. Clearly, Trickledown hadn’t worked.

But Gush-Up certainly has. That’s why in a nation of 1.2 billion, India’s 100 richest people own assets equivalent to one-fourth of the GDP.

The word on the street (and in the New York Times) is, or at least was, that after all that effort and gardening, the Ambanis don’t live in Antilla. No one knows for sure. People still whisper about ghosts and bad luck, Vaastu and Feng Shui. Maybe it’s all Karl Marx’s fault. (All that cussing.) Capitalism, he said, “has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, that it is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells”.

In India, the 300 million of us who belong to the new, post-IMF “reforms” middle class—the market—live side by side with spirits of the nether world, the poltergeists of dead rivers, dry wells, bald mountains and denuded forests; the ghosts of 2,50,000 debt-ridden farmers who have killed themselves, and of the 800 million who have been impoverished and dispossessed to make way for us. And who survive on less than twenty rupees a day.

Mukesh Ambani is personally worth $20 billion. He holds a majority controlling share in Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a company with a market capitalisation of $47 billion and global business interests that include petrochemicals, oil, natural gas, polyester fibre, Special Economic Zones, fresh food retail, high schools, life sciences research and stem cell storage services. RIL recently bought 95 per cent shares in Infotel, a TV consortium that controls 27 TV news and entertainment channels, including CNN-IBN, IBN Live, CNBC, IBN Lokmat, and ETV in almost every regional language. Infotel owns the only nationwide licence for 4G Broadband, a high-speed “information pipeline” which, if the technology works, could be the future of information exchange. Mr Ambani also owns a cricket team.

RIL is one of a handful of corporations that run India. Some of the others are the Tatas, Jindals, Vedanta, Mittals, Infosys, Essar and the other Reliance (ADAG), owned by Mukesh’s brother Anil. Their race for growth has spilled across Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their nets are cast wide; they are visible and invisible, over-ground as well as underground.
The Tatas, for example, run more than 100 companies in 80 countries. They are one of India’s oldest and largest private sector power companies. They own mines, gas fields, steel plants, telephone, cable TV and broadband networks, and run whole townships. They manufacture cars and trucks, own the Taj Hotel chain, Jaguar, Land Rover, Daewoo, Tetley Tea, a publishing company, a chain of bookstores, a major brand of iodised salt and the cosmetics giant Lakme. Their advertising tagline could easily be: You Can’t Live Without Us.

According to the rules of the Gush-Up Gospel, the more you have, the more you can have.
The era of the Privatisation of Everything has made the Indian economy one of the fastest growing in the world. However, like any good old-fashioned colony, one of its main exports is its minerals. India’s new mega-corporations—Tatas, Jindals, Essar, Reliance, Sterlite—are those who have managed to muscle their way to the head of the spigot that is spewing money extracted from deep inside the earth. It’s a dream come true for businessmen—to be able to sell what they don’t have to buy. Fist tap Bro. Makheru.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

us-india row ignores short-changed domestic worker...,


hrw | Despite wide coverage of the case in India, there has been little public outrage or shame that Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, who has championed women’s rights in other settings, allegedly paid her domestic worker a fraction of New York’s legal minimum wage.

Instead, many commentators have leapt to Khobragade’s defense, saying she could not be expected to pay her nanny US$4,500 per month, more than her Indian government salary. But no one has a right to a domestic worker. Yes, child care options in the US need to be expanded. But if you cannot afford to pay your nanny, you shouldn’t hire one.

In India the outrage has been over how New York City authorities treated Khobragade upon arrest for alleged visa fraud, handcuffing her outside her children’s school and reportedly strip-searching her. Indians across the political spectrum have expressed anger, viewing this as an insult to national pride. The Indian foreign secretary met with the US ambassador in Delhi to complain, and top officials have canceled meetings with a visiting US congressional delegation.

The common practice in the US of strip-searching people who the police take into custody raises important human rights questions about treating individuals with dignity and respecting their privacy.
But other human rights issues at hand – the allegations that Khobragade took advantage of her domestic worker – remain.

Human Rights Watch has documented exploitation of domestic workers around the world. They often face underpayment and long working hours with little hope of redress. Diplomats from many countries who abuse their workers have often used their status to skirt the law.

india, women's rights, and wages - all in one lying hypocritical package...,


gawker | An Indian diplomat who championed women's rights is being criminally charged in New York for paying her female nanny $3.31 an hour and lying about it on the woman's visa application.

Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial and women’s affairs, was arrested and handcuffed this week as she dropped her daughter off at a Manhattan school.
Although Khobragade was actually the acting head of the consulate at the time of her arrest, the United States is denying diplomatic immunity, saying that visa fraud isn't covered under the Vienna convention. 

In addition to the women's affairs part of her job title, Khobragade has repeatedly put herself out in the press as an advocate for “underprivileged” women’s rights.

According to the US Attorney's office, however, Khobragade was doing the opposite at home. Authorities say she helped her nanny fill out fake visa forms which said Khobragade was paying her $4,500 per month, or $3,927 a month more than the woman's actual $3.31-an-hour salary, which they documented in a secret contract.

Khobragade's nanny and husband will both be called as witnesses if the case proceeds to trial.
The arrest has caused diplomatic stir. India's Foreign Secretary has called on the US Ambassador to India to speak out against Khobragade's arrest. Khobragade's attorney is calling it political.

“I don’t know. I think there must be some political motivation, but I don’t know,” Daniel Arshack told CBS.

Khobragade was freed on a $250,000 bail. She's facing up to 15 years for fraud and making false statements.

an awkward silence...,


medialens | 'All governments lie', the US journalist I.F. Stone once noted, with Iraq the most blatant example in modern times. But Syria is another recent criminal example of Stone's dictum.

An article in the current edition of London Review of Books by Seymour Hersh makes a strong case that US President Obama misled the world over the infamous chemical weapons attack near Damascus on August 21 this year. Hersh is the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who exposed the My Lai atrocity committed by American troops in Vietnam and the subsequent cover-up. He also helped bring to public attention the systematic brutality of US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

After the nerve gas attack at Ghouta, Obama had unequivocally pinned the blame on Syrian President Assad, a propaganda claim that was fervently disseminated around the world by a compliant corporate news media. Following Obama's earlier warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a 'red line', he then declared on US television on September 10, 2013:

'Assad's government gassed to death over a thousand people ...We know the Assad regime was responsible ... And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.'

There was global public opposition to any attack on Syria. But war was only averted when the Americans agreed to a Russian proposal at the UN to dismantle Syria's capability for making chemical weapons.

Based on interviews with US intelligence and military insiders, Hersh now charges that Obama deceived the world in making a cynical case for war. The US president 'did not tell the whole story', says the journalist:

'In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country's civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack.'

Obama did not reveal that American intelligence agencies knew that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had the capability to manufacture considerable quantities of sarin. When the attack on Ghouta took place, 'al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.' Indeed, the 'cherry-picking was similar to the process used to justify the Iraq war.'

Hersh notes that when he interviewed intelligence and military personnel:

'I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration's assurances of Assad's responsibility a "ruse".'

whose sarin?


lrb | Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure who did what in the early morning of 21 August.