The Middle East at night from space or the ancient borders of Cyrus’s Empire

The Middle East at night from space

I’m concluding with this map to look at the region without political borders, without demographic demarcations of religion or ethnicity, without markers of conflict or oil. Looking at the region at night, from space, lets those distinctions fall away, to see it purely by its geography and illuminated by the people who call it home. The lights trace the rivers that have been so important to the Middle East’s history, and the world’s: the Nile in Egypt, the Tigris and Euphrates that run through Iraq and Syria, the Indus in Pakistan. They also show the large, and in many cases growing, communities along the shores of the Persian Gulf, the eastern Mediterranean, and the southern end of the Caspian. It’s a beautiful view of a really beautiful part of the world.

ZackNote: please compare for reference the below map of Cyrus the Great’s Empire at it’s maximum extent.
Startling n’est ce-pas?

Lucrative job offerings (graduation not required)

The best jobs to have in India are that of the “dalals” or the go-betweens. You need not possess any skills and no investment is required. You just need to act as a bridge between two (or multiple) points of contact which sometimes help prevent jail-time for your contacts. There is a bit of risk (jail-time for yourself) but a little pain is tolerable when the gains are so considerable.

The mad gold rush continues in India and it will keep sweeping up poor people in its web of greed and deceit.
youth working as a cleaner at the international airport was caught by
the Customs trying to smuggle out 4 kg gold valued at Rs 1.04 crore
early on Sunday.

The accused, Yuvraj Solanki (21), who works
for a housekeeping firm, was caught red-handed trying to haul a bag
containing the gold bars from the toilet.

“Solanki admitted
that he had sneaked out of the airport with gold weighing 3 kg on two
occasions earlier. The accused said he received Rs 1.2 lakh for the
same,” said an official.

Earlier, two CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) officials were caught helping smugglers.



“I told them that Sri Lanka was not India”

Bad news for Bengali Hindus and Bihari Muslims who feel that they can escape housing discrimination by Marwaris/Jains in Mumbai by migrating to liberal and tolerant Singapore. The only problem: you will not find a house for rent.

Apparently the upper-caste Chinese (native) population does not even care for its lower caste brethren from mainland China (just like the British do not care for white Romanian migrants undercutting the job market). The government is however in panic mode because it needs a high number of coolies to offset the (pension and medical costs) burden of slackers. 

There are no good solutions, but for the first-world population to unite and organize isolationist political parties like UKIP (UK), develop a high-tech fence plus a seek and destroy mechanisms for tunnels (Israel/USA) and to forcibly evacuate boat-refugees to distant Pacific islands (Australia).


When Sunil first moved to Singapore, he had trouble finding
an apartment. “I called up several landlords who had listed rooms for
rent,” Sunil, a Sri Lankan who spent eight years living in the UK, said. “Things
would start out OK, maybe because of my [Western] accent – but the moment they
heard my name, they’d blank out. Many said ‘sorry, we don’t rent to these
people’, or ‘sorry, no room for Indians’.”
Sunil, a civil engineer who arrived in 2012, said he was rejected by at
least four landlords.
“I told them that Sri Lanka was not India, that I
wouldn’t eat or cook in the apartment, and that I would be outside all day. But
still, they wouldn’t offer me a room,” he said. 

“At that point, I got
fed up and decided to only try Indian landlords. I was invited to viewings
right away.”

Sunil is not alone. A quick glance at online rental listings shows many that
include the words: “no Indians, no PRCs [People’s Republic of
China]”, sometimes followed by the word “sorry”.

This print screen from PropertyGuru shows a property listing
with the words ‘No Indians/PRCs’

A count on 24 April found that there
were more than 160 housing adverts on the website PropertyGuru that clearly
stated that the landlord did not wish to rent to Indians and/or mainland

The issue appears more common with less expensive properties and on sites
where content is posted directly by users, such as Gumtree.

It was something I experienced too,
albeit indirectly. When I searched for a flat, my housing agent received a
phone call from one landlord who was worried that I was from mainland China,
presumably after they learned about my Chinese ethnicity….I listened to them
discussing my background for what felt like an agonisingly long time. After she
hung up, I asked her if it would reassure the landlord if they knew I was
British. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “They may still think
you’re a PRC who obtained a British passport.”

Charlene, an estate agent, said it
was common for landlords to prefer not to rent to tenants from India or
mainland China because such tenants “are not people who are house
proud”. “
Many don’t clean weekly, and they do heavy cooking, so dust
and oil collect over the months. They may use a lot of spices that release
smells people don’t like.” There are also fears that those tenants will
illegally sublet to others, she said, adding: “Cleanliness and culture is
a very strong factor.”

While many landlords appear to be concerned about heavy cooking in their
kitchens, tens of thousands of Singaporeans launched an online campaign to
“cook a pot of curry” in August 2011.

The campaign was prompted by media
reports of a disagreement between a Singaporean Indian family and an immigrant
family from China, over the smell of curry from the Indian family’s home.
Following mediation, the Indian family agreed to cook curry only when the
Chinese family was not home.

“At that point in time, there
was a sense among people that there was some kind of injustice committed,”
says Alfian Sa’at, a local playwright who wrote the play Cook a Pot of Curry
(pictured) following the incident.

“People felt it seemed as if it was OK for [the foreigners] to somehow
reject curry, which a lot of Singaporeans believe is part of Singapore’s
society, no matter what ethnic background you’re from. There was a sense that
the government had favoritism towards new immigrants at the expense of native,
Singapore-born residents.”

However despite the support expressed for the Singaporean Indian family, it
appears that both race and nationality remain important to many landlords.
“It is likely that people tend to want to rent out only to people of the
same race,” Mr Sa’at says. “This is a tricky issue, because obviously
a lot of landlords are [Singaporean] Chinese.”

Eugene Tan,
Associate Professor of Law at Singapore Management University, says: “In
the current state of ambivalence towards immigration in Singapore, my sense is
that race and country of origin have taken on a stronger accent with regards to
how landlords may view Indian/PRC tenants.”

Attitudes to race came to the fore in December, when hundreds of foreign
workers from India and South Asia rioted after an Indian national was killed in
a bus accident. The incident sparked a strong response on social media – many
made comments denouncing foreign workers, although many others also spoke out
against racism.

Of course, rental discrimination
exists in many countries. A BBC study in October found that several estate
agencies in London would refuse to rent to African-Caribbean people at the
landlord’s request.

However, while the UK has legislation banning discrimination on ethnic or
nationality grounds, covering situations including “buying or renting
property”, Singapore offers fewer legal protections. “There is no
specific anti-discrimination law that can be used by non-citizens,” says
Prof Tan.”Even if there is an anti-discrimination law, there is the
challenge of proving discrimination…
Indication of tenant preferences in rental
advertisements may not amount to discrimination.”

In a statement, PropertyGuru said
discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or nationality was “absolutely
not” allowed under its guidelines.
1% of listings on its site contained objectionable content, it added.




Too little too late on Snoopgate

Modi has been accused of e-stalking an young lady whom he was acquainted with. When the news portals leaked the story (taped conversations between Modi henchman Amit Shah and a police officer), it was generally understood that the revelations would crush Modi. But the Congress goofed up big time. They could not find a judge to conduct the inquiry for 5
Now that they have found a judge at the 11th hour, the allies have deserted ship like the proverbial rats.

Sharad Pawar and the National Congress Party (2nd largest coalition member) has also come out in opposition. Congress now looks isolated on this matter (and also petty and vindictive). Not good enough and most voters will not care at this point.

The Hindu editorial from Nov 23, 2013 examines the specifics of the case and the expectations of privacy of an individual in India (not much but better than the USA).

while the personal nature of the allegations and suspicions over the
motives behind the leak warrant extra care and scrutiny, they cannot
serve to push the troubling questions raised by the surveillance episode
under the carpet.
The surveillance and telephone- tapping appear to
have been ordered by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and
implemented by Mr. Amit Shah, but conversations now made public do not
seem to be consistent with the claim that they were undertaken at the
instance of the young woman’s father to protect her from some
unspecified threat.
Rather, they seem to have been mere
information-gathering exercises.

The law of privacy is inadequately developed in India, but it is
doubtful if the physical surveillance and massive intrusion into the
privacy of the young woman were warranted for any legally justifiable
reason. Telephone tapping is an altogether new dimension. The
Information Technology Act, 2000, through a 2008 amendment, provides for
interception in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the
country, defense, security, friendly relations with foreign states,
public order, and to prevent incitement to a cognizable offence or for
investigation of an offense.

The authorization has to come generally
from the Home Secretary, for reasons to be recorded in writing, and
detailed records have to be kept of the intercepted numbers, and on to
whom the intercepted information was provided.
Given the informal nature
of the Gujarat surveillance and interception, it is a moot question if
these essential procedural safeguards laid down by the Supreme Court to
protect the constitutional and common law right to privacy in telephone
conversations were observed.

The Congress Sunday dared BJP leader Narendra Modi and his aide Amit
Shah, both accused of illegally snooping on a woman architect, to come
clean by answering 10 questions on the entire issue.

that Modi, Shah and the BJP leadership are yet to make public the
“reason, purpose and motive” of tapping the phones and tracking the
movements of a young Gujarati girl, the party said in a statement the
audio tapes brought out by two news portals reveal “shocking, grim and
completely unacceptable level of surveillance”.

Citing the
fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by the Indian constitution, the
Congress asked if Modi and Shah had the right to “conduct surveillance
of the woman as also tapping her phones and those of her friends and
acquaintances with complete impunity in a totally illegal fashion?”

party, while accusing Modi of hiding the fact that he knew the girl for
“close to five years” before he allegedly snooped on her, also demanded
to know the reason behind putting her under surveillance on the basis
of an “oral, undated request” by her parents, as the BJP has claimed in
its defence of Modi.

The Congress also alleged in one of its
questions that the Gujarat government had given undue favours to a firm
floated by the father of the said girl and asked the prime ministerial
candidate, also the Gujarat chief minister to answer the charge.

Congress asked if any public purpose was served by allegedly snooping
on the girl and if the Gujarat government informed other states in which
these alleged activities carried out?

Asking the BJP to reveal
the money spent on the exercise and the resources utilized, the Congress
asked if this was not “stalking” and should it not be tried as an
offense under section 26 of the Indian Telegraph Act, “read with
section-120-B as also section 166 of Indian Penal Code”.



Kedarnath opens, death (by negligence) beckons

Indians never seem to be troubled by the fact that so many people die due to criminal negligence. Disaster management is a joke (for 2013 CAG report excerpts see below). The flash floods resulting from cloud-burst had devastated Uttarakhand on 14-17 June, 2013. The entire Kedarnath temple complex was littered with dead bodies. More than 100,000 pilgrims were left stranded by the flooding and 5700 are presumed dead (many are missing, never to be found).

This was not the first mass murder by negligence and neither it will be the last. But for now everything is forgiven/forgotten. The devotees will march up the hills once more and if mother Ganga wishes to carry her children away to the promised next life, that is just your karma-fal (destiny).


Sacred portals of the Kedarnath temple
were reopened to devotees amid elaborate rituals early this morning..
..Chief priest of the shrine (Rawal) Bhima Shankar Ling
presided over the rituals as its gates were opened amid chanting of vedic
hymns…About 1,252 devotees including eight foreign nationals visited the
shrine on the opening day…
Expressing happiness over the first day
turnout, Singh said it was much more than their expectations. Makeshift tents
have been pitched at several places en route to the temple to accommodate more
than a thousand people.

The tragedy in
Uttarakhand is symptomatic of a larger malaise. India is one of the 10
worst disaster-prone countries of the world.
Of its 35 states and Union Territories,
27 are disaster-prone. Over 58 per cent of the landmass is vulnerable
to earthquakes, over 40 million hectares—or 12 per cent of land—is prone
to floods and river erosion. Of the 7,516-km-long coast line, 5,700 km
is prone to cyclones and tsunamis, 68 per cent of the cultivable area is
vulnerable to drought, and hilly areas are at risk from landslides and
The combination of natural and human-induced factors—adverse
climatic conditions to environmental degradation fuelled by
non-scientific development practices accompanied by a burgeoning
population—make the risks worse.

Bhuj India woke up to disaster management post the earthquake (even though the seeds of the idea were embedded in the 1968 Civil Defence Act). In 2004, it formulated the idea of a National Disaster Management Authority
(NDMA) and empowered it with requisite legislation in 2005. 
which is chaired by the Prime Minister, was reviewed by the CAG between May 2012 and September 2012. Its findings submitted in March 2013 explain the chaos witnessed over the week.

  • The National Executive Committee of the NDMA which is
    supposed to meet every three months had not met between May 2008 and
    December 2012, and there was no advisory committee since 2010. This
    impacts evaluation of disaster preparedness.
  • The National Plan for Disaster Management had not been
    formulated till September 2012, six years after NDMA Act 2005, and there
    was no provision to make guidelines binding on states in preparation of
    state plans.
  • Only eight states have prepared emergency action plans for
    192 dams as against 4,728 dams in 29 states, and inflow forecasts
    critical to mitigate risks from floods are available for only 28
  • None of the major projects taken up by NDMA were completed.
  • The National Database for Emergency Management, which was to
    be completed by August 2011, was yet to be operational in September
  • Shelters on river banks are a serious risk but a 2004 draft
    plan for amending rules on construction in vulnerable areas—particularly
    for quake, flood and landslide-prone areas—approved in 2007 is yet to
    be formalized.

And there is more. The reason why the rescue teams were using satellite phones of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Army
is because six years after the receipt of the equipment, the satellite
communication network is not functional. The cloudburst could not be
forecast or sighted because the Doppler Weather Radars
bought for surveillance of severe and weather system is paid for but
yet to be operational.
The National Disaster Communication Network and
the National Disaster Management Informatics System are still in the
planning stage, seven years after conceptualisation. The army and ITBP
had to be called in because NDRF is hampered by shortage of manpower.
Worse, only seven states had a State Disaster Response Force.




Ali Zafar is not a patriot (also Ghulam Ali)

Ali Zafar is a traitor (so says Shaan) because he works in India/Bollywood. Indeed from the comments it appears that many Indians do not have a clue that Ali Zafar is actually from Pakistan. But that seems to be precisely the problem with other patriotic Pakistanis, the fear is that Ali himself will forget the proud ways of Pakistan-yat and get lost in a sea of Indian-ness. 

Who knows, perhaps one day Ali will even stoop so low as to marry a Hindu girl (like Sharukh Khan, Amir Khan, Saif Ali Khan) and/or celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in his house (like Salman Khan). But not to worry, we just saw first-hand the formula for redemption as road-tested by Veena Malik. A few kicks to the groin when departing India (for good) and a visible conversion to a sterner version of Islam will help get out the red carpet regardless of past sins.

Shaan is a patriot (so says Shaan), as he is directing a sequel of Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth in Pakistan.
Sunday’s ARY Film Awards will go down in history – not as a milestone
where the industry’s major players turned out in their finest for a
night dedicated solely to celebrating the best of Pakistani cinema, but
as the night when two A-listers host, Shaan and AFA honoree, Ali Zafar
had, for lack of (wanting to use) a less sensational term, a ‘catfight’
on stage.

For those that weren’t in attendance at
the ceremony, and were spared melting in the sweltering heat of the
outdoor event, Shaan used his opening monologue to address patriotism,
and the lack thereof, in the Pakistani industry. Specifically calling
out artists who accept work from across the Indian border, he labeled
all those who choose to work outside Pakistan as unpatriotic

Shaan’s comment was seen as a thinly veiled dig at
Ali Zafar, who was set to receive the International Icon Award of
Pakistan later that night. Undoubtedly, our biggest export, as far as
the entertainment industry in concerned, Ali chose to address the
statement in his acceptance speech.

Calling it a disrespectful
comment to make, he pointed out that artists the likes of Ghulam Ali,
Zeba Bakhtiar, Nusrat and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam are a few
of the illustrious names that have worked in the Indian industry.

Patriotism is indeed encouraging an ‘emotional
transaction’ between the Pakistani and Indian film industries, like
Shaan did when he bought the rights from Mahesh Bhatt to remake Arth in Pakistan. 



Verdict: BJP (229), +42 (revised estimate)

We have been consistent in our opinion that something really extra-ordinary has to happen to enable BJP to cross the 200 seat threshold. The experts group appointed by Outlook are a left-neutral bunch and they were in agreement on this point six months ago.  

A state by state analysis at that time came up with 187 seats. Now the experts have re-assembled and the revised seat count is up by (42) to 229.  

We happen to agree, this was a personal observation of the local electoral proceedings that the hindu vote has been effectively mobilized, at least in the North and West. In the South and the East the BJP may not get many seats but the voters are firmly in favor of Modi Raj. This will help remove the “untouchability” factor associated with the BJP (in reality  the threat of muslim votes evaporating).

What about the Congress? The battle plan called for a three-pronged (proxy) attack, hold the southern forts of Kerala, Karnataka and Telengana (also score a draw in Maharashtra), hope that the Aam aadmi party stops the BJP in Delhi and other urban centers, pray that the caste equations in Northern India enables Team B (Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal) to stop the BJP in rural seats.

In our opinion Congress will do poorly in Maharashtra and only a draw in Karnataka and Telengana. That leaves the star performers as Kerala and Axom. It will perhaps win only a single seat in each of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Odisha. It will be completely wiped out in the north except for Punjab where it may put up a strong showing (still a draw). 

All of this adds up to less than 100…a complete disaster for Rahul Gandhi. The prince is unlikely to recover from this as he has lost touch with the people and they are unimpressed by him (they are a bit more well disposed towards his sister…but only if the honorable jamai babu is held under lock and key).

J/K: Total (6) BJP 2004 (0), 2009 (0), 2014* (estimate, change after revision) (2, +2)
Punjab: (13) 2004 (3), 2009 (1), 2014* (7, -3)
Himachal Pradesh: (4) 2004 (1), 2009 (3), 2014* (2)
Uttarakhand: (5) 2004 (3), 2009 (0), 2014* (4, +1)
Haryana: (10) 2004 (1), 2009 (0), 2014*  (8, +5)
Delhi: (7) 2004 (1), 2009 (0), 2014* (2)
Uttar Pradesh: (80) 2004 (10), 2009 (10), 2014* (30, +10)

Rajasthan: (25) 2004 (21), 2009 (4), 2014* (16, +4)
Madhya Pradesh: (29) 2004 (25), 2009 (16), 2014* (26, +6)
Gujarat: (26) 2004 (14), 2009 (15), 2014* (19, +2)
Maharashtra: (48) 2004 (13), 2009 (9), 2014* (32, +7)

Karnataka: (28) 2004 (18), 2009 (19), 2014* (18)
United Andhra: (42) 2004 (0), 2009 (0), 2014* (10)

Odisha: (21) 2004 (7), 2009 (0), 2014* (4)
Bihar: (40) 2004 (5), 2009 (12), 2014* (14)
Jharkhand: (14) 2004 (1), 2009 (8), 2014* (7)
Chattisgarh: (11) 2004 (10), 2009 (10), 2014* (7)
Axom: (14) 2004 (2), 2009 (4), 2014* (4)




Indians getting drunk on Twitter

Perhaps a Modi regimen (no drinking allowed) will be good for executives like Gurbaksh Chahal and Rakesh Agarwal. Note to R.A. – stay away from Twitter if you cant handle technology after having imbibed a peg or two, and stop making up silly excuses if you cant handle the truth.

backlash is predictable. Alex Cutter: Between the roaming
gangs of rapists in India, that Indian CEO guy who was beating his girlfriend,
and this Indian guy — what’s going on with Indian guys?
Agrawal is no longer with the company. Treat everyone with respect. No excuses.
PayPal has zero tolerance,” the company tweeted on Saturday. Agarwal had joined
Paypal around two months ago as its global strategy head.

Earlier, he sent out a number of tweets, slamming his
co-workers. The language and (lack of) grammar in the tweets hinted that he was
probably drunk when he wrote them. The tweets were later deleted but not before
some Twitter users took screenshots.

In one tweet, Agarwal said, “Christina Smedley is a
useless. Piece of sh*t.” In another he noted, “Duck you Smedley you
useless. Middle manager.” Smedley is vice president of global
communication at PayPal.

In one more tweet, he wanted someone named Don Christmas to
be fired. “People who should be fire from Paypal Don Christmas a pool a

Agarwal was apparently at a jazz festival in New Orleans
when he made these tweets. Later, he realised what happened and tried to do
damage control. He blamed the tweets on a new phone he was testing.

“Last night I was using a new phone that I bought
because I wanted to test experiences on android. Those messages were meant for
a colleague,” tweeted Agarwal. “Note to self: don’t test a new phone
when sleep deprived after working your ass off for 20 hours a day while on
According to Agarwal’s website, he “is a product and
marketing strategist who has spent 15 years working in web and mobile media.
His areas of expertise include social networks, local, commerce, payments and
mobile technologies.”

Earlier in March in a guest post on VentureBeat, Agarwal
explained why he was joining PayPal. Among several reasons, he listed his
desire to find smart co-workers. “There’s the old joke about what you
should do if you find out you’re the smartest guy in the room: Find a new room.
I’ve always placed a premium on companies and roles where I can learn from
those around me (and they can learn from me),” he wrote.

Two months later, it looks like neither Agarwal found his
co-workers smarter than him, nor PayPal found him smart enough to be a part of
the company.

Agarwal is second NRI executive to be fired this week for
improper behaviour. A few days ago Gurbaksh Chahal, who founded RadiumOne, was
fired by the company board over allegations that he assaulted his girlfriend.

Audrey Hepburn presents Satyajit Ray

Today is the 85th birthday of Audrey Hepburn and Google is celebrating the most beautiful, gracious lady that we can remember.

It was 1992 and both Hepburn was dying from cancer (she passed away in 1993) and Satyajit Ray was also in his death-bed (he died 24 days later on 23 April). The Academy honored Ray with an honorary Lifetime Oscar award and he requested that his favorite actress present it to him (virtually). It is an emotional moment …even after all these (22) years.

Academy Awards   
Honorary Award 
To Satyajit Ray, in recognition of
his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures,
and of his
profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible
influence on filmmakers and audiences
the world. (accepted on tape from Calcutta, India) 
Audrey Hepburn 
& Venue:
March 30, 1992; Dorothy
Chandler Pavilion

SATYAJIT RAY: Well, it’s an extraordinary experience for me to be here tonight to
receive this magnificent award; certainly the best achievement of my
movie-making career. When I was a small, small school boy, I was
terribly interested in the cinema. Became a film fan, wrote to Deanna
Durbin. Got a reply, was delighted. Wrote to Ginger Rogers, didn’t get
a reply. Then of course, I got interested in the cinema as an art
form, and I wrote a twelve-page letter to Billy Wilder after seeing
“Double Indemnity.” He didn’t reply either. 

Well, there you are. I
have learned everything I’ve learned about the craft of cinema from the
making of American films.
I’ve been watching American films very
carefully over the years and I loved them for what they entertain, and
then later loved them for what they taught. So, I express my gratitude
to the American cinema, to the motion picture association who have given
me this award and who have made me feel so proud.
Thank you very, very

Google has celebrated Audrey Hepburn’s 85th birthday with a pink doodle.

The Breakfast at Tiffany’s star – and fashion icon – became a big screen legend during Hollywood’s so-called ‘Golden Age.’

was born on May 4th 1929 in Brussels to a British father and Dutch
aristocrat mother, before moving to London in 1948 to continue training
as a ballet dancer.

Widely considered to be the world’s most
beautiful women ever, Hepburn rose to film stardom after appearing in
several British movies.

She won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a
BAFTA for her lead role in Roman Holiday (1953) and starred in other
classics, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and My Fair Lady

She won a record three BAFTA awards for Best British Actress in a Leading Role.
appeared in fewer acting roles in later life, devoting much of her time
to working with UNICEF on good causes in the developing world.

She died in Switzerland aged 63 in 1993 after a battle with cancer.


Chicom cannons take aim in (Chinese) Jerusalem

As the backlash grows in Beijing (Christianity’s
growth… “too excessive and too haphazard”
), multiple
churches destroyed in (Chinese) Jerusalem.

The Chicoms will not be deterred by weak minded protests but why not hit them where it really hurts? It
is surely the case that the persecution of Christians in China is
multiple times as compared to Muslims in Palestine
(the first and most
important issue is freedom of worship). Even a visit by Ariel Sharon to the Western Wall was supposed to have been the trigger for the second Intifada.

Why not the people of the book(s) join and launch a BDS-II against China? They
can also think of a BDS-III against India if Modi comes too power. An
ever expanding BDS regime can be considered similar to the NATO expansion
movement in Eastern Europe (the results will be just as bloody). But
at least the faithful will live in hope that one day they will rule
heaven as well as all corners of the (yet to be civilized) earth.

A City known as China’s Jerusalem has had its holy statues depicting
biblical scenes destroyed, removed or “hidden” by authorities, adding to
fears of a renewed offensive against Christianity and drawing
comparisons with the Cultural Revolution.

About 50 government workers sealed off Wenzhou’s Longgang Hill, a
site of Roman Catholic pilgrimage, and used bricks to “hide” statues
portraying moments from the Passion of Christ, including the

Statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, each weighing up
to five tons, were “bricked around to hide them from public view” while
cranes were used to remove other holy statues and tablets from the park.

“All other religious decoration was demolished,” reported UCA news, a news agency covering Catholic issues in Asia. “About 100 Catholics who came to watch the removals were blocked at
the entrance,” said one witness, who asked not to be named because of
“security concerns”.

“Some who managed to sneak in sang hymns and prayed while watching. Some could not hold back their tears.

“The authorities’ behaviour is reminiscent of the smashing of church
property during the Cultural Revolution,” another member of the city’s
Catholic community told UCA News’s Chinese-language service.

The removals, news of which emerged Wednesday, took place on
Saturday, 48 hours, before government demolition teams razed a
Protestant church in the same city.

Wenzhou’s Sanjiang church became a symbol of resistance to the Communist Party’s draconian religious policies in early April.

Thousands of Christians formed a human shield around the place of
worship after plans to demolish it were announced, but the building was
eventually levelled on Monday evening.

Christians accuse Communist Party leaders in Zhejiang province of
attempting to slow their faith’s rapid growth by destroying churches
deemed too “conspicuous”.

They believe the “anti-church” campaign reflects Beijing’s extreme
discomfort with the rapid spread of Christianity in China, which one
leading academic recently predicted could have the largest Christian
congregation in the world by 2030.

A list compiled by Christian activists and shown to The Daily
Telegraph this week names more than 20 churches that are facing or have
already suffered some form of demolition work.

Officials deny the demolitions are an attack on Christianity,
claiming their campaign is aimed at illegal constructions “including
factories and Buddhist temples”.

However, in an internal address to party officials earlier this year,
a senior Communist official in Zhejiang complained that Christianity’s
growth had been “too excessive and too haphazard”.

A document purportedly issued last December by Communist Party
officials in Taizhou, another city in Zhejiang province, also appeared
to suggest that Christian churches were being singled out.

Local communist leaders should take “rapid actions” against illegal
buildings, “especially the Christian sites privately established without
proper paperwork or approval,” said the directive, which was obtained
by China Aid, a US-based Christian rights group. The demolition of
“Christian gathering sites” and nunneries are listed as key priorities.

Authorities this week indicated that the campaign was likely to
continue, promising to “aggressively push on with the demolition of
illegal buildings,” the state-controlled Zhejiang Daily reported.

The motive for what appeared to be a “widening crackdown” was unknown
but “an increasingly violent stand-off between authorities and the
Church” was taking place, UCA News reported.

Four Catholics were beaten and injured by government officials in
Wenzhou last week when an argument broke out during the forced
demolition of a church, the news agency claimed.