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The World as seen from United States

This presentation by the CEO of Public Radio International does not reveal any new information to people who are used to watching Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton every other day, while major events happen around the world. For an American resident looking for intelligent news, cable news offers no help. After watching World News on any of the major networks, you will realized that (a) it is not about news, but about the anchors (Hey I am Katie Couric, I am reading news!) and (b) World in this case means America.

The only place where you get intelligent, in depth analysis of world events is Public Radio, which is mostly funded by the listeners. Programs like Forum, Fresh Air, On Point, and Charlie Rosecover topics which are uninteresting to the MSM, but still none of them match Economist in terms of breadth.

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Kerala and San Francisco

Last month, members of DYFI and the Merchants association ransacked a Reliance retail shop in Paravur.The police did not bother to prevent this and no one was arrested. In
Kerala, the politicians and business groups have decided that a
consumer should buy only from shops run by them and not from
supermarkets run by Reliance or Spencers.

Over
the last one month I have been talking to people and visiting places to
find the reasons behind the agitation against retail shops.
Interestingly the retail shops targeted are all based in India
(Reliance, Spencers etc.). There are two main reasons behind this
agitation

1. The majority of big retail
business is controlled by certain groups. They are the main people who
are funding this. In Kerala if you pay money you can hire a lot of
anti-social elements. It is estimated that there are 4 million
unemployed youth here!

2. In many places,
politicians have a stake in the local retail shops or supermarkets.
They know that there substandard supermarkets cannot compete with the
efficient shops run by Reliance or Spencers. [Reliance retail shop ransacked by criminals at paravur]

Thus when a Malayali goes on his mandatory exile, a place he can settle
down comfortably and get the ambiance of the home state would be San
Francisco. This is a place where supervisors are working on legislation
to ban all chain stores

The city’s restrictions on new
chain stores have become increasingly tough over the past few years. In
2003, the Board of Supervisors approved a law requiring proposed
coffeehouses and pharmacies to provide notice of their intent to open.
That made it easier for opponents to request Planning Commission
hearings and to argue against the stores.

In
recent months, however, chain store owners with applications before the
Planning Commission have encountered renewed hostility and skepticism.
Some commissioners have stated flatly that they don’t like chain stores
under any circumstances. [S.F. grows ever more hostile to chain stores ]

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Politicians Finally Get It

United States is the largest consumer of bottled water and since water bottles are made of a type of plastic which is difficult to break down, 86% of the bottles become garbage. Landfill clogging by these bottles became a major issue and many city councils took action by banning the bottles in government meetings, replacing them with water pitchers and drinking fountains. Restaurants too joined in, encouraging the use of tap water.

The environmentalists started a campaign and the bottled water industry reacted by releasing advertisements. On radio programs, the bottled water industry spokesmen argued that the issue is consumer choice; if a consumer has the freedom to eat a mango grown in Philippines, he also has the freedom to drink San Pellegrino.

After all that initial posturing the bottled water industry is now trying to accommodate the environmentalists, so that they are not seen on the wrong side in this issue. The solution they came up did not make the bottle disappear, but made it eco friendly by featuring smaller labels and bottles made with less plastic.

The present trend is growing environmental awareness among private businesses to make up for unenthusiastic stance of the Bush Administration. Buying from farmers market is popular and Low Carbon diet is the new mantra. The rising popularity of the environmental movement has recognition among politicians on both sides of the aisle and nothing says it better than this advertisment.

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Lotta Examined Lives

Learning philosophy is in vogue. Students at various universities are registering for Philosophy 101 classes, reading Socrates and debating the metaphysics behind “The Matrix”.

David E. Schrader, executive director of the American Philosophical Association, a professional organization with 11,000 members, said that in an era in which people change careers frequently, philosophy makes sense. “It’s a major that helps them become quick learners and gives them strong skills in writing, analysis and critical thinking,” he said.

Max Bialek, 22, was majoring in math until his senior year, when he discovered philosophy. He decided to stay an extra year to complete the major (his parents needed reassurance, he said, but were supportive).

“I thought: Why weren’t all my other classes like that one?” he said, explaining that philosophy had taught him a way of studying that could be applied to any subject and enriched his life in unexpected ways. “You can talk about almost anything as long as you do it well.”[In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined]

If this trend stays, then reading Ravikiran will be required in many graduate schools.

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Prakash Karat's history lesson

Recently CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat called President George Bush a fool andsaid that he had a poor understanding of history. Mr. Karat was attending a function commemorating the 90th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution was angry that President Bush had compared Lenin to Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler. But guess who has a poor understanding of history?

Following an assassination attempt on Lenin, Stalin wanted a policy of “open and systematic mass terror” to be enforced and Lenin agreed. Red Terror was announced as a policy on September 1, 1918.

“To dispose of our enemies, we will have to create our own socialist terror. For this we will have to train 90 million of the 100 million of Russians and have them all on our side. We have nothing to say to the other 10 million; we will have to get rid of them.”

Do not look in the file of incriminating evidence to see whether or not the accused rose up against the Soviets with arms or words. Ask him instead to which class he belongs, what is his background, his education, his profession. These are the questions that will determine the fate of the accused. That is the meaning and essence of the Red Terror.[Purpose of the Soviet Red Terror]

According to some historians between 1917 and 1922 about 280,000 people were killed through summary executions and supression of rebellions. The repression was against peasants, industrial workers and any one who did not agree with the revolutionaries. Still such brutality is not called holocaust by historians because that credit goes to Hitler alone.

The Sunday edition of New York Times had two stories related to that era and the first one is about the last Russian czar Nicholas II, and his family whom Lenin ordered to be killed in July 1918. Eleven people (czar,the czar’s wife, five children, doctor and three servants), were  killed, but the remains of only nine were found. A bunch of amateur detectives have now found some bones and pieces of jars that held the acid used to disfigure the bodies and DNA tests will decide if they belong to Aleksei, 13 and his sister.

The second story is about the time of Stalin. In his book The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia, Orlando Figes writes about what happened to millions of ordinary people during the time of the great communist revolution.

Each story had its own disheartening logic. Stalin’s campaign to intimidate the population had no moral limits. Figes tells of Pavlik Morozov, a teenager said to have been killed by older family members because he had denounced his father for selling false papers to kulaks living in nearby “special settlements.” (The kulaks were a category of so-called richer peasants who were regarded as the principal obstacle to collectivization.) The father was sentenced to a labor camp and later shot. After the boy’s death, the Soviet press created “a propaganda cult” around his case. Maxim Gorky called for a monument to be erected because the boy had “understood that a relative by blood may also be an enemy of the spirit, and that such a person is not to be spared.”[Stalin’s Children]

Similar to how Jihadis around the world worship Osama bin Laden people like Prakash Karat worship mass murderers like Lenin and Stalin and they get offended when the truth about them is told. Mr. Karat may hate George Bush, but at least the latter has his history right.

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