29 thoughts on “Open Thread”

  1. Another jihadist attack on a Parliament
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45180120

    Today one guy crashed his vehicle on the Westminster parliament. 2 years back , another jihadist drove his 4×4 into the crowd near the same parliament killing a number of people. 15 years back, the same jihadists attacked Indian Parliament.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_Indian_Parliament_attack

    This is only the latest on a long line (in modern memory i.e. say 20 years) of jihadist terror attacks in different countries
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks

    One public places like Parliament, Downing Street , airports , etc were free to walk around even close quarters. Due to these jihadist attacks, there are so many blockages in the free movement of ordinary people in well-known public places

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    1. One could walk in front of 10 Downing Street like any other city house. From 1970 due to IRA scare , restrictions began to be put. After 1990s, it is due to Islamist attacks. Entire public places are practically in lockdown due to terror threats

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    1. So CIA killed Mujib. This is actually a common knowledge in South Asia. Word on the streets also has that CIA killed Bhutto too. Indira Gandhi was next. She pipped them to post by a preemptive strike – emergency.

      Bhutto, Mujib and Indira were all left leaning political leaders. Due to their presence america was having a hard time establishing a foothold in south Asia. By bumping off two of the three leaders they did succeed in clawing back some of their influence in south Asia.

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  2. According to this account, Kissinger might have encouraged the coup against Mujib in a non authorized operation without using the normal channels of inter-agency or even his own State Department. If there is anything to this, the US congress should authorize an investigation into Kissinger’s conduct, which may have included treason. Is this worth investigating further? Too bad President Ford has now passed. It might be hard to prove Kissinger’s possible misconduct now.

    Why do you think the CIA killed Bhutto? What possible edge might come from that? I don’t see it.

    What year do you think the CIA tried to do what to Indira? This strikes me as fanciful. By late 1973 Nixon had de facto lost a lot of power and credibility and was facing an increasingly hostile US congress. How could the US have done any major operation in the late 1973 to 1977 time frame. Unless Kissinger just acted on his own without informing the President or anyone else? Do you think Kissinger did this? Wouldn’t this open Kissinger to prosecution for treason?

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    1. Are you joking? There are hundreds of skeletons in CIA’s cupboard, they won’t bother about what happened about 40 years ago. Why should they act on this at all?

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      1. How familiar are you with the CIA? The CIA is one of many intelligence agencies in the US, and not the largest one.

        There have long been allegations that Kissinger acted on his own between late 1973 and 1977 without consulting the President, NSC or Congress. This is no small matter.

        In 1973 the US Congress expanded her powers and oversight. The CIA cannot engage in actions without consulting with and informing the Congress. The US Congress authorizes each part of the CIA’s funding in a granular way and jealously guards her control. Any CIA officer or operation that is hidden from the Congress can lead to criminal prosecution. Any CIA officer who lies to Congress can be criminally prosecuted. And you better bet this happens.

        Perhaps you are not American and don’t care about this. But Americans care deeply about this sort of thing.

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  3. CIA/MI6 assassinations of leading political leaders around the world are well known and many of them (older cases such as Patrice Lumumba or Salvador Allende) well documented. Assassinations of Kennedy brothers is about to be uncovered. Every world leader who was inclined to implement politics based on his national interests was a target of Anglo-American ‘deep state’. The list of leaders is very long – Castro, Sadam Hussein, Gadhafi, Chavez, Kim Jong…

    It was the case with Serbia, too. US politics (exactly the same as Cominterna’s before) was to break down Serbian national corpus, create artificial nations, give them Serbian territories and make them dependent vassals. These new banana states immediately started terrorising local Serbs, killing and expelling them. This happened in Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo. They used strong media machinery and unprecedented campaign to satanise Serbia, Serbs and President Slobodan Milosevic. They killed several leading local figures blaming Milosevic for political killings. Later, they found a puppet who succeeded Milosevic and who sent him to NATO’s tribunal in Hag. For several years they could not find his alleged genocide plans and had to kill him there instead of liberating him.

    His successor Djindjic, whom CIA installed after the coup similar to Ukraine, was their vassal and former spy. However, when it came to surrender another part of Serbia (Kosovo) he wasn’t so quick to implement this and they assassinated him as well. Now there is a new president. The public secret is that he was also installed in this position under the condition to surrender Kosovo. The resistance in Serbia is getting bigger and bigger. He is very nervous because he knows the game. Some say that he needs to deliver by the end of this year. We will see what will happen.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. Will take some reflection. I don’t think the boys and girls at CIA are particularly informed about history and international politics between third countries (meaning between the UK and Germany versus any countries and the US). Their ability to act as you imply might be limited.

      This said, it is possible that the Europeans are acting in this way and manipulating their naive but very arrogant, smug and dumb CIA colleagues. It is possible that some individual members of Congress and policy makers are acting in the way you suggest.

      In general the more stupid, misinformed and uninformed you regard the CIA in particular to be; the accurately they can be understood.

      I would like to learn more from you on what the heck happened in the 1990s in Yugoslavia. Did Madeleine Albright have and push a personal agenda? If so, what was said agenda.

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  4. A brilliant expose of Pakistan’s economic situation esp CPEC by Prof Atif Mian , Economics prof in Princeton. I am glad a hard headed econ prof has validated what I have understood myself from other readings
    https://scholar.princeton.edu/atif
    @AtifRMian
    Aug 13

    1/ On Pakistan’s #IndependenceDay2018 , why is the country still far from economic independence? (e.g. seeking its largest bail out ever this year)

    I’ll focus on last 5 years as an example … it will get a bit technical but i’ll try to be clear.

    2/ Economic growth is almost entirely a function of *domestic* productivity growth. What matters is investment in building your institutions and people.

    Instead pak govts have increasingly looked *outside* in what i’d call an attempt at “import-led” growth … it doesn’t work

    3/ The idea is to borrow from outside, and task another country with building your infrastructure or institutions, and hope some magic others .

    The latest example starts in 2013, when PML-N comes to power and decides to outsource growth to China. I’d explain why it doesn’t work

    4/ Gov funds large infrastructure projects through China’s Belt and Road Initiative (CPEC in pakistan), external debt rises from 62 to 90 billion $. The borrowing raises domestic demand “artificially”, making Pakistan more expensive and less competitive globally.

    5/ This is a variant of the famous “dutch disease” and Pak suffered an extreme version of it. Poof?

    Real effective exchange rate (pak prices relative to trading partners) increased by 20+ % and total exports DID NOT INCREASE over past 5 years.

    6/ To make matters worse, Pakistan’s “in-law” finance minister strips away independence of the central bank and sets the terrible policy of keeping the exchange rate appreciated. Now Pakistan has the dutch disease, on steroids.
    7/ Meanwhile there is a blanket ban on any objective assessment of CPEC. Ask a question, and you’d be accused of conspiring against national interest.

    Media feeds the frenzy that its a “game changer” & a big bubble develops in the port city (currently largely sand) of Gawadar.

    8/ Real estate bubbles further artificially raise domestic demand, & given the senseless exchange rate policy, it makes the dutch disease sclerotic

    Notice we haven’t even gotten into whether the $$ borrowing is “sustainable”, the damage is being done before any repayment is due

    9/ So lets talk about debt sustainability now.

    The first thing to remember is, you are borrowing in dollars, while most revenue from the projects are in rupees (think domestic transportation use and local energy consumption)

    This is a big problem for two reasons.

    10/ First, the whole enterprise is exposed to exchange rate (ER) risk. A future depreciation of the currency, which is almost certain to happen given the inane ER policy, will jeopardize profitability.

    11/ Second, the country must generate sufficient additional exports to pay back, or else it will be forced to become poorer in order to generate an export surplus to pay back.

    This, again, makes things more difficult given the dutch disease in the first place.

    12/ Another big ? on sustainability is that the borrowing and spending deals are highly opaque. No one really knows what’s going on.

    For example, what is the cost of capital in CPEC? A loan contract may report a “concessional” rate of 2%. But is it really 2%? Consider this …

    13/ There is no open bidding and Chinese companies decide everything. They charge 100$ for equipment, but put in place lower quality equipment worth only $80.

    Guess what, the “true” cost of capital just went up to (2+20)/80=27.5%!

    14/ There is a lot China and Pakistan can gain from each other. But deals have to be structured properly, with proper macro-prudential framework. Unfortunately, none of that was done.

    The govt wanted a shiny new road real bad before the next election, which they lost anyways.
    15/ Let’s hope for better economic sense this time.

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  5. Belt and Road Initiative just increases Chinese hegemony in Asia and Africa. It builds huge infrastructure projects in many poor countries which are not justified by Cost-Benefit analysis . It advances huge loans to those countries. The construction work is done by Chinese companies. All the deals are opaque, Chinese have no compunctions in bribing right people to get the projects moving, and these bribes are added to the cost of the projects. When the huge debt servicing bills come to the paid Chinese would push the country to approach IMF i.e. the world to bear the costs of the projects or take over sovereignty over juicy bits of the poor country like 99 year lease.

    As this article wars ‘ all these Chinese-led investments would be driven by political, rather than economic, considerations. ‘

    https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/25522/how-debt-traps-from-china-s-belt-and-road-initiative-could-upend-the-imf

    China accused the west of gunboat diplomacy in the 19th century to take over it’s sovereignty. Now it ses ‘loan boat diplomacy’ to achieve hegemony.

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      1. Agreed. Global free trade, free investment, free cross border product development is good. The Chinese are economically developing large parts of the world. This is good. Just as Americans and Europeans economically developing large parts of the world are good.

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      2. If you say there is nothing wrong in one country exploiting another country economically and politically after shouting from rooftops exploitation by imperialists, and basically colonialism of the last 4 centuries was a good thing, I have nothing to say.

        In many countries in Asia and Africa, investment must be made where it brings maximum bang for the buck. That only each country has to be determine. The Chinese initiative seems to be supply side and supply driven – in terms of capital , goods and services – than what the country demands i.e. demand driven from another country.

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        1. An example of Chinese initiative.
          It built a massive airport in Srilanka which nobody uses

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2016/05/28/the-story-behind-the-worlds-emptiest-international-airport-sri-lankas-mattala-rajapaksa/#3a8323fb7cea

          SL has spent so much money which shows no return – zero, zilch, nada. All that money is a loan from China – . Since SL could not pay the interest the Chinese have taken a 99 year lease on the Hambantota port.

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          1. Sri Lanka’s roads and highways are a sight to behold, they’re of top quality and going a long way towards bringing the various parts of the country together. On questioning the people in various parts, both Tamil and Sinhala, I got the same answer – that the Chinese built infrastructure has made their lives easier and is viewed positively. China to them is synonymous with quality and quick delivery. Indeed, Chinese expats are everywhere to be seen in Colombo, and I can see Chinese investment only increasing in the medium term.

            More power to the Lankans, they’ve hitched their wagon to an engine of growth and progress. Indians wish their country could be as efficient and cut-throat, but that’s not to be. Instead it’s so much easier to complain about Chinese authoritarianism or imperialism, etc.

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          2. Siddharth + 108
            As befits the Buddha!

            China’s economic integration with Sri Lanka, India, the rest of Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe has been a win, win, win! The rise of China benefits the world.

            Love Chinese people and how there are growing Chinese communities living all over the world.

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          3. VijayVan,

            There is a section of the urban elite in Sri Lanka that think the west/europe/IMF can do no wrong.

            If you read MSM western media and English media in Sri Lanka, everything that China does is wrong.

            The current govt, apparently won the elections funded by the US. At the beginning current govt bad mouthed the Chinese, said they were cancelling Colombo Port City, stopping the Hambanthota Port and Mattala Airport.

            So when this govt went to the US and West for fDI/loans they said nada. The govt had to bend backwards and ask China, and they got their pound of flesh,

            VijayVan, Hambanthota was offered to India first. Mattala Airport is apparently has been sold to India.

            Something I wrote in 2013
            http://sbarrkum.blogspot.com/2013/05/myanmar-china-pipeline-opportunity-for.html

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          4. There are reports that Mr President/War hero might be back next election. Also he bizarrely alleged that it was India’s RAW which plotted his downfall. Considering how much “effective” RAW is i wouldn’t bet on it.

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    1. India has funded/trained terrorism and separatists and to destabilize neighboring countries in the 30-40 years (e.g. the LTTE).

      When the China gset accused of directly meddling in internal politics of a country, I will have a hard look. Yes, sure the China is maybe getting their moneys worth with the help of local govts.

      It would be quite easy for China to train say Kashmiris or Assamese in terrorist methods. They have not done that and in that sense more honest than India.

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      1. “India has funded/trained terrorism and separatists and to destabilize neighboring countries in the 30-40 years (e.g. the LTTE).”

        Hey man, just did it for a while. No hard feelings! If its some solace we too lost army men and a Prime Minister.

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  6. Vijayji,

    “If you say there is nothing wrong in one country exploiting another country economically and politically after shouting from rooftops exploitation by imperialists, and basically colonialism of the last 4 centuries was a good thing, I have nothing to say.”

    This is basic virtue signaling inbuilt to all nation and empire building exercises. How can one “fault” the Chinese for this? Americans do it with “freedom and democracy”. All Euro colonizers thought of themselves doing the noble deed of carrying the “white man’s burden”. Islamists were saving us from jahannam onlee.

    In this world of maya and particularly in kaliyuga there is only one thing that is of virtue…strength. In all animal sacrifice traditions around the world, one never comes across a tradition where large carnivorous beings are sacrificed. At least I’m not aware. Only chickens, goats, sheep, buffalos, cows and camels. Nobody sacrifices tigers and lions.
    There’s no virtue in weakness.

    The Chinese did temporary suspension of the excessive and impractical and narrow application of Dharma while getting their crap together, and by getting it together they really got it together. Now they are strategically reinvoking Chinese Buddhism etc.

    Everything is leela. Some agents are active and they are the footballers, others are passive and happy to be the footballs.

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  7. Bharotshontanji, I agree with your prognosis. Slogans like Freedom, Democracy, White Man’s burden, now Belt and Road , Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere during Japanese Occupation etc verbal smokescreens under which economic and political imperialism spreads.

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  8. I believe in freedom. I believe that every human is entitled to freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling. Believing this does not make me an imperialist or colonialist.

    Post Modernists as a matter of principle oppose freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling since they believe freedom is oppressive and harms people.

    Bharotshontan and VijayVan; you are too smart to fall for post modernist propaganda. 🙂

    +++++++++++++++++++
    On the question of economics; I support free trade in goods and services and capital. I support free skilled labor mobility and free cross border collaboration in product development and process innovation. I think economic freedom facilitates higher living standards for most people around the world. I know that post modernists oppose me on this.

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    1. I just see shakti bondhu. All the rest labels are just power plays either by the “side” that is “down” and/or the “side” that is “up.”

      I will essentially whine about imperialism or racism or dogmatism while I’m “down”. That’s my stick to beat the others with while I’m down. When I can and do start projecting power in the push-pull nature of how power works, I will say “Bharat is going to be vishwa/jagat guru”. I will let the other guy figure out or start whining that I’m turning him into my intellectual and spiritual subordinate. At my core I know both myself and also my “enemy” are hypocrites, and neither of us is actually either superior nor inferior to each other, at least not on a “moral” plane. Only superiority or inferiority is in the material world, and that is in the aforementioned field of strength (and here I have control over the future trajectory via my own actions).

      All this is part of His leelakhela. In this there is nuance to literally everything and then nuance to the nuance and absolutely no room for ideological absolutism. The nuance also comes down to not only the object (however illusory) but also the observer and his/her basic bhaavas and the array of their potential roopas. In this us Hindus readily understand the concept of multiple prescriptions depending on the patient. For myself a strong identity of janama jaati might “work” whereas for another a strong belief in karma yoga might work, in achieving the same ends that is… the approaches may counter productive to the opposite end, for they undergo the hypothetical application of said yantra in their minds to find it is counter productive to their constitution… But that doesn’t mean it isn’t working for the original maker/user of the yantra 😉

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  9. Any insights on the Kerala floods?

    I have a very pessimistic outlook on the ecological time bomb that the Indian subcontinent is sitting on… all the more worsened (in a spiritual plane) by just how much nature-worship is in-built to the ethos of the land and how nature is the historical leg on which Indian civilization stood/stands.

    Today one is better off doing praanayanama in some ashram in Colorado than in Delhi for sure. Okay one may say Delhi is a major metropolitan city and the comparison should be more to a Hrishikesh… in which case one is likely to suffer from a landslide due to unmitigated and unplanned deforestation and housing going on in mountain/forest areas of the areas where the Vedanta was spouted.

    I’m envisioning, a repeat of the disaster that the Sindhu-Saraswati dessification had on the proto-Bharat evolution, except at a much much larger and terrible scale.

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    1. The pollution in some Indian cities is bad. Not fun doing pranayama in polluted air.

      What do you think caused the Kerela floods?

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