Skip to main content


Showing posts from December 27, 2009

World's Third Largest Free-Trade Zone Takes Full Effect Between ASEAN and China

31 Dec 09 A free-trade agreement between China and 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will come into force on 1 January 2010, liberalising trade and investment in an economic zone covering 1.9 billion people. IHS Global Insight Perspective Significance China and South-East Asian countries will tomorrow establish the world's third largest free-trade area, after the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). Coming into effect, the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) is set to cover 1.9 billion consumers and an estimated trade volume of US$1.2 trillion, with a combined GDP of US$6 trillion. Implications The FTA is a key milestone for Asian regional integration, heralding a more open market for goods and services in the region. While zero tariffs for 90% of the agreed products, and the removal of 6,682 import duties on Chinese goods, offer great business opportunities for some, not all are enthusiastic. Th

Many Karzai Afghan Cabinet Choices Are Rejected

January 3, 2010 By ALISSA J. RUBIN KABUL, Afghanistan — In a clear signal to President Hamid Karzai that he cannot count on Parliament for support, lawmakers resoundingly rejected most of his nominees for cabinet posts and expressed discontent with the candidates’ competence. Of Mr. Karzai’s 24 cabinet nominees, 17 were rejected and 7 approved. Of those who received votes of confidence, all but one are currently cabinet ministers. The president’s office had no comment on Saturday’s vote; the deputy spokesman, Hamid Elmi, said a news conference would be held on Sunday. After being declared the winner of an election tainted by fraud, Mr. Karzai has been under pressure from Western leaders and Afghan opposition figures to help make things right by choosing cabinet officials not linked to corruption or incompetence. Parliament’s action on Saturday made it clear that they felt he had not met those requiremen

Vedic village’s tryst with IT By Govind Krishnan V 02 Jan 2010 10:28:00 AM IST Vedic village’s tryst with IT A quarter century ago, AI magazine carried an article that evoked much curiosity among its readers — regular or casual. The 1985 spring issue of the California-based quarterly featured a write-up by an American called Rick Briggs on artificial intelligence (AI) and Sanskrit. Briggs, who compared its grammar with that of the computer, came to a startling conclusion: Sanskrit, which ceased to be a living tongue millennia ago, had such a logical meaning-structure that it could be a rich mining field for AI. The following year, Briggs and several academicians flew down to India to pick the brains of India’s Sanskrit pundits who had gathered at Bangalore for a conference inspired by his research. Had their trip happened today, those experts would have taken Bangalore as nothing more than a stopover. From the Garden City, they would’ve taken

India’s Scientific Contribution to Europe and other World Civilizations

India’s Scientific Contribution to Europe and other World Civilizations Prior to Industrial Revolution Many eyebrows were raised at the title of this seminar. Deep rooted disbelief that how can earlier civilizations can be contributors to any “Science”, as we understand it today? Science means rational, logical, objective thinking, something which did not exist in the earlier people in adequate quantity. The life of these earlier people was governed by religion i.e. superstition, which is inherently, devoid of “scientific temper” and ‘free will”, the hall mark and pre-requisite of scientific development. Once this premise is accepted without debate, then West as birth place of all Science is the forgone conclusion. Religion as anti science is 100% a modern western construct and we need to understand this thoroughly well. Religion in this case is Christian religion and Science means modern Western science. This incompatibility of religion with science in the West automatically gets


B.RAMAN An as yet unnamed (by the Danish Police) 28-year-old Somali, resident in Denmark, was arrested by the Danish Police on New Year's Day after they had promptly intervened and thwarted an attempt made by him to trespass into the house of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in the city of Aarhus with an alleged intent to kill him with an axe and a knife. He allegedly tried to attack the intervenig police party before he was overpowered. He thus faces two charges of attempting to kill the cartoonist and attacking the police. 2.The cartoonist had incurred the wrath of some sections of the Muslim Ummah in 2005 for drawing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad sporting a bomb in his hair. Since then, the cartoonist has been under high protection by the Danish Police and Intelligence. He escaped the attempt on January 1,2010, thanks to his alertness in noticing the intending assailant and calling the police through a pre-arranged drill. The credit for the failure of the attempt sho

How To Destabalize Countries - John Perkins

Author of The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption. "...there's no question in my mind that both Jaime Roldos and Omar Torrijos were assassinated by CIA-sponsored jackals. When we economic hit men failed to bring these people around, to corrupt these presidents, we knew that standing in the shadows were the jackals. And they either overthrew governments or assassinated leaders. And so, although it was deeply, deeply disturbing to me, I was not terribly surprised when this happened. I liked both of these men tremendously. I knew Torrijos especially well and was a great admirer of his. And I was caught in this very, very difficult situation, because my job was to corrupt him, and I really respected the fact that he wouldn't be corrupted. It gave me great hope. In fact, it changed my life. It got me out of being an economic hit man. On the other hand, I knew that if I wasn't able to corrupt him, somet

Change Blindness Plus (YouTube via Schneier)

Source: Sources and methods Change Blindness Plus (YouTube via Schneier) The Schneier On Security blog points today to an interesting video (embedded below) that demonstrates and discusses the phenomena of Change Blindness:There are several good videos and resources on this effect and you can find them all here . Posted by Kristan J. Wheaton at 9:16 AM 0 comments Links to this post

India Nod to US gun purchase minus bids

SUJAN DUTTA New Delhi, Jan. 1: The government has authorised an outright purchase of 145 ultra-light howitzers from the US, a highly-placed defence ministry source said today. The ultra-light howitzers are for the mountain artillery divisions of the Indian Army to be used in high-altitude frontiers opposite Pakistan and China. They can be transported slung from some helicopters. The defence acquisitions committee has decided to take the foreign military sales route. Foreign military sales is a US programme of government-to-government sales of military hardware bypassing a lengthy system of competitive bidding. But bidders who lose out to foreign military sales orders allege that the system lacks transparency. “We will also look at other options,” defence secretary Pradeep Kumar said. The Indian Air Force has taken the foreign military sales route to contract six Lockheed Martin-made Hercules C130J air lifters a

Balochistan: Ground Zero

—Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur Figures prove that Balochistan has perpetually suffered from neglect and wilful attempts to keep it in a state of deprivation. Blaming Sardars for obstructing development cuts no ice because the areas under the government’s writ haven’t prospered either Balochistan is virtually ‘Ground Zero’ because the political, social, economic and military policies there since partition have created an effect more akin to devastation by nuclear bombs and presents a picture of utter desolation and desperation, whereby the people have lost hope and resorted to use of means other than political. The ever-simmering insurgency is the direct consequence of the level of economic deprivation and the oppressive conditions obtaining today in Balochistan. Economic exploitation, unbridled use of force in frequent military operations and the ever-increasing number of missing persons have resulted in unparalleled misery for the people. A word of caution for this piece: loads of data

Online Activism Can Work Kristina Loring on December 22, 2009 at 10:00 am PST Despite what some say, getting involved on the internet can lead to meaningful change. design mind on GOOD is a series exploring the power of design by the editors of design mind magazine. New posts every Tuesday and Thursday. "Without community, there is no liberation." —Audre Lorde A lot of activists cringe at the idea of moving their efforts online. They fear the insulting label of “slacktivist”; one who joins a cause online and fades away. I get it. I’ve asked the same skeptical questions: Are we walking through the doors of a factory each time we sign into another "network"? Are we fragmenting our collective identity and yielding to the desire for empathetic unification with strangers who have never heard how heavy we breathe after protesting against the oppressive 'isms that silence us? Is my avatar really creating a change? Well, I think it’s

Afghan-Pakistan border: new centre of the ‘war on terror’

Source: Le Monde Diplomatiq

US secures drones market

Source: Le Monde diplomatique by Edouard Pflimlin The global market for drones was worth around £4.4bn in 2009, the lion’s share of which (70%) went to US companies such as Northrop Grumman and General Atomics. Northrop Grumman is the manufacturer of the Global Hawk, a long-endurance drone capable of 36-hour surveillance flights. General Atomics makes the Predator. European companies in this market, such as Thales, EADS, Dassault, Finmeccanica, Sagem and BAE Systems, are tiny by comparison: together they account for only 4%. Israeli firms make up a further 2%, though in reality they are bigger players than this suggests as they collaborate closely with the Europeans. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), for example, produced the Hunter (of which France has bought four) and the Heron (and its derivative the Eagle) as part of the SIDM Harfang programme used by the French air force. The other Israeli company, Elbit Systems, manufactures Hermes drones, used by the British. The remaining

Indian Education System - It Needs More Students Like The "3 Idiots" In our first article* on the differences between the Indian Education System and American Education System, we discussed the cultural importance of education in Indian families & society. This is one of the most important driving forces behind the success of India's middle class in education. But the laser-like focus has its dark side as well. Since education is the critical key to financial success and social status in Indian society, children are placed in what has become a system of educational silos. Each of these silos leads to a upwardly mobile profession like Engineering, Medicine or Law. These silos get narrower as you get higher in the silos. At each step in the silo, students have to pass rigorous exams and get high scores for admission to the best schools, colleges and universities. The scores are becoming so important that what one learns is getting less and