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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Noam Chomsky & Subramanya Bharathi

The disconnect in US democracy
 
October 29 2004
 
AMERICANS may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalising the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalised quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, "That's politics." But it isn't. It's only a small part of politics.
 
The population has been carefully excluded from political activity, and not by accident. An enormous amount of work has gone into that disenfranchisement. During the 1960s the outburst of popular participation in democracy terrified the forces of convention, which mounted a fierce counter-campaign. Manifestations show up today on the left as well as the right in the effort to drive democracy back into the hole where it belongs.
 
Bush and Kerry can run because they're funded by basically the same concentrations of private power. Both candidates understand that the election is supposed to stay away from issues. They are creatures of the public relations industry, which keeps the public out of the election process. The concentration is on what they call a candidate's "qualities," not policies. Is he a leader? A nice guy? Voters end up endorsing an image, not a platform.
 
Last month a Gallup poll asked Americans why they're voting for either Bush or Kerry. From a multiple-choice list, a mere 6 percent of Bush voters and 13 percent of Kerry voters picked the candidates' "agendas/ideas/ platforms/goals." That's how the political system prefers it. Often the issues that are most on people's minds don't enter at all clearly into the debate.
 
A new report by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, which regularly monitors American attitudes on international issues, illustrates the disconnect.
 
A considerable majority of Americans favour "working within the United Nations, even when it adopts policies that the United States does not like." Most Americans also believe that "countries should have the right to go to war on their own only if they (have) strong evidence that they are in imminent danger of being attacked," thus rejecting the bipartisan consensus on "pre-emptive war."
 
On Iraq, polls by the Program on International Policy Attitudes show that a majority of Americans favour letting the UN take the lead in issues of security, reconstruction and political transition in that country. Last March, Spanish voters actually could vote on these matters.
 
It is notable that Americans hold these and similar views (say, on the International Criminal Court or the Kyoto Protocol) in virtual isolation: They rarely hear them in campaign speeches, and probably regard them as idiosyncratic. At the same time the level of activism for social change may be higher than ever in the US. But it's disorganised. Nobody knows what's happening on the other side of town.
 
By contrast, consider the fundamentalist Christians. Earlier this month in Jerusalem, Pat Robertson said that he would start a third party if Bush and the Republicans waver in support for Israel. That's a serious threat because he might be able to mobilise tens of millions of evangelical Christians who already form a significant political force, thanks to extensive work over decades on numerous issues, and with candidates at levels from school board to president.
 
The presidential race isn't devoid of issue-oriented activism. During the primaries, before the main event fully gears up, candidates can raise issues and help organise popular support for them, thereby influencing campaigns to some extent. After the primaries, mere statements make a minimal impact without a significant organisation behind them.
 
The urgency is for popular progressive groups to grow and become strong enough so that centres of power can't ignore them. Forces for change that have come up from the grass roots and shaken the society to its core include the labour movement, the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the women's movement and others, cultivated by steady, dedicated work at all levels, every day, not just once every four years.
 
But you can't ignore the elections. You should recognise that one of the two groups now contending for power happens to be extremist and dangerous, and has already caused plenty of trouble and could cause plenty more.
 
As for myself, I've taken the same position as in 2000. If you are in a swing state, you should vote to keep the worst guys out. If it's another state, do what you feel is best. There are many considerations. Bush and his administration are publicly committed to dismantling and destroying whatever progressive legislation and social welfare has been won by popular struggles over the past century.
 
Internationally, they are calling for dominating the world by military force, including even the "ownership of space" to expand monitoring and first strike capabilities.
 
So in the election, sensible choices have to be made. But they are secondary to serious political action. The main task is to create a genuinely responsive democratic culture, and that effort goes on before and after electoral extravaganzas, whatever their outcome.
 
Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author, most recently, of Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance.
 
NOT TOO LATE
 
WHAT GOES AROUND finally does come around, even if it takes years. With a court in Chile ordering the house arrest of General Augusto Pinochet, President of the country between 1973 and 1990, and charging him for the murders of his political opponents, the former dictator is closer to standing trial for the disappearances and killings that marked his brutal regime. The ruling is a remarkable victory for all those involved in the long campaign to bring a legal case against him. Human rights organisations estimate that more than 3,000 people were killed or had disappeared and up to 28,000 others were tortured for their political beliefs during Gen. Pinochet's 17-year rule. The 89-year-old General has so far managed to avoid standing trial by citing age and ill health. But the untiring efforts of those seeking accountability and punishment for those crimes have ensured that the law came back at him again and again, never allowing him to bask too long in the feeling of having got away. In its ruling, the court said it found Gen. Pinochet healthy enough to stand trial on the basis of an interview he gave to a U. S. television station in 2003, during which he appeared coherent, lucid and mentally alert. An appeals court upheld the verdict, rejecting renewed claims by the former President's lawyers that he was too ill to face the charges, and despite his hospitalisation two days before his appeal was to be taken up.
 
The charges in the case under consideration relate to Operation Condor, a clandestine joint mission by the military dictatorships of Latin America in the 1970s to hunt down and eliminate dissidents. Although Gen. Pinochet has claimed he was unaware of the mission, and that it was hatched and executed by junior officers in the Chilean military, it is quite clear that an inter-intelligence services plan drawn up by Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay to help one another kidnap and "disappear" political opponents must have had clearance from the highest levels in each of those countries. All these countries are now democracies but so far, none of the perpetrators has been brought to book. In Argentina and Uruguay, it may never happen thanks to amnesty laws. In Chile too, the Pinochet regime awarded itself an amnesty. But it is a measure of the fledgling democracy's determination to settle the unquiet ghosts of the past that the judiciary has refused to apply this amnesty. More than 200 military officers are on trial for human rights violations committed in the Pinochet era and 15 others have been convicted. Soon after the United Kingdom freed him from a
17-month house arrest in London and allowed him to return to Chile in 2000, Gen. Pinochet lost his personal parliamentary immunity against prosecution, which he held by virtue of his position as senator for life. But it was restored a year later on grounds that he was suffering from "mild dementia." Earlier this year, a court stripped him of the immunity, paving the way for last week's ruling.
 
Irrespective of the outcome of the case, the developments in Chile offer a morality tale. States cannot commit crimes against their people with impunity. Grievous wounds rulers inflict on their people do not heal with time. They fester and the quest for justice and truth only grows stronger as the years pass. Last year, Gen. Pinochet's son said what he wanted for his father was "for the country to forgive, but not forget... " The Chilean people have justly spurned his plea.
 
Bharati and his copyright
 
By Mira T. Sundara Rajan
 
Many problems affecting Subramania Bharati's works amount to clear violations of the author's moral rights under the Indian copyright law.
 
C. SUBRAMANIA BHARATI died in 1921 at the early age of 39. The copyright in Bharati's works was taken over by the Government of Madras State in 1949, and, after the appearance of some initial publications, given as a gift to the people of India. From this time onwards, anyone in India would be free to undertake publication of Bharati's works. Publishers of Bharati's works would not be required to pay a copyright fee, or to submit their editions to any external process of review, whether administered by the Government, the universities, or other bodies of scholars.
 
The public gift of Bharati's copyright led to an explosion of activity. Publishers saw an extraordinary opportunity, in both commercial and cultural terms. Eighty-three years after his death, Bharati's writings are indeed as readily available "as a matchbox," as the poet once dreamed. However, the publication rush has also led to numerous problems - problems that the Government failed to foresee, and that will now be difficult to remedy.
 
In dealing with Bharati's writings, the Government faced a classic copyright dilemma. On the one hand, it wanted to promote the widest possible access to, and dissemination of, these important works. On the other hand, it could not sidestep the challenge of protecting the integrity of these works, and the stature of the personality behind them. In Bharati's case, the most effective approach to copyright in relation to culturally-important works may actually involve the joint pursuit of objectives that are often thought of as contradictory in copyright parlance: attempting to fulfil simultaneously the goals of dissemination and integrity. These two fundamental objectives of copyright policy should be recognised as interdependent and complementary means of furthering the cause of Indian culture.
 
Over the past 75 years, numerous editions of Bharati's poetry have appeared. His works have been translated extensively, and both he, as a "character," and his works have been featured in a number of films. However, the expansion of public access to Bharati's works has been matched by a decline in the quality of publication, from both technical and critical points of view.
 
The problems that have accumulated over the years in the publication of Bharati's works include careless printing that incorporates both typographical and interpretative errors into the final texts; false attribution of the works of other poets to Bharati; inaccurate and inappropriate translations; misleading representations of the poet's personality; and erroneous statements about his life and works. How can such problems be resolved? It seems natural to turn towards the law, and towards copyright law in particular, for guidance.
 
Copyright in India is governed by the Indian Copyright Act of 1957. If Bharati's copyright had been allowed to run its course unimpeded under Indian legislation of the time - the landmark British colonial statute of 1911 - it would have expired in 1971, 50 years after the end of the year in which the author died. It is noteworthy that this period of copyright protection is well short of the accepted international norm today, lifetime of the author and 70 years after his death, as well as being shorter than today's Indian norm of life plus 60 years. By making the copyright public, the Government of India further curtailed the enjoyment of the usual period of copyright protection. It is important to be aware that the policy behind protecting copyright after the author's death is to ensure that his family is able to survive and, indeed, to enjoy the economic benefit of its ancestor's success. The Bharati family was never in a position to do so.
 
However, the expiry of copyright - not natural in this case but brought about by the conscious actions of the Indian Government - does not dispose of copyright matters in the poet's work. This is because copyright is not limited to the economic rights of the author. Rather, it includes something called a "moral right": the author may have sold his copyright, but he continues to retain other kinds of right in his work, including the right to be acknowledged as the author of his own work, and the right to restrain the mistreatment of his work. These rights seek to protect the author's personal relationship with his own work, and in doing so, they play a valuable role in protecting the integrity of important works of culture that make up a country's cultural heritage. Just as moral rights continue to stay with the author even after he has parted with the economic rights in his work, they continue to subsist in his work even after the author's death. The author can appoint someone to be the executor of his moral rights after his death; if he does not do so, his heirs will be entrusted with the protection of his moral rights. In theory, moral rights can last forever. In India, moral rights are protected in Section 57 of the Indian Copyright Act, and, in keeping with the theory behind these rights, they continue to remain in the author's works in perpetuity. The protection of moral rights in the Copyright Act is strongly supported by Indian judges, who view these rights as an important tool in the protection of Indian authors against unscrupulous commercial exploitation of their works, and in the preservation of India's cultural heritage.
 
Many of the problems affecting Bharati's works amount to clear violations of the author's moral rights under the Indian copyright law. What are the implications of moral rights for protecting his works today?
 
The expression, "moral rights," is itself a somewhat awkward translation into English of the original term in French law, droit moral. The connotations of this French expression are quite different from its English equivalent, evoking, rights of a "personal or spiritual" nature, above all.
 
The two main types of moral rights are the rights of attribution and integrity. The right of attribution allows an author to assert authorship of his work, and to prevent another person from claiming authorship of his work. In addition, an author may prevent the attribution of works to him which he did not create.
 
The right of integrity allows the author to protest any distortion, mutilation, modification, or other treatment of his work which is, in the language of the Berne Convention, "prejudicial to his honour or reputation." In contrast to the highly specific right of attribution, the right of integrity is a broad right which allows authors to object to a wide range of practices - including editing, publishing, performance, and possibly exhibition - which may not be compatible with the intentions of the author.
 
The Indian Copyright Act currently provides protection for authors' moral rights in conformity with the international standard established in the Berne Convention.
 
Many of the problems involving Bharati's works may effectively amount to violations of the author's moral rights. The false attribution of the works of other authors to Bharati contravenes his right of attribution. Faulty printing is a modification of his work that could prejudice his reputation, depending on the nature and extent of the errors, and violates his right to the integrity of his work.
 
In addition, the issue of appropriation of Bharati's personality is one that arises frequently in practice and must be considered. Arguably, it is logical for moral rights standards to include some kind of protection for an author's personality, since the moral rights doctrine is itself based on the idea that the author's personality is reflected in his works. The protections offered by moral rights clearly implicate a number of legal concepts outside copyright's traditional reach - for example, the laws of privacy and misappropriation of personality come to mind. Misrepresentation of an author's personality may have an impact not only on how his work is received, but also on how it is interpreted and understood.
 
Notwithstanding these pragmatic concerns, a strong case can be made for extending perpetual protection to Bharati's moral rights, as would have been possible prior to the 1994 amendments to the Copyright Act. Because Bharati's works entered the public domain only three decades after his death, protection of his copyright was actually curtailed long before the time when it would have expired "naturally" - that is, in accordance with statutory provisions. In effect, these immortal and incomparable works were denied even the level of copyright protection granted to ordinary works. Moreover, given that interest in the works of important authors often develops long after their death, it seems unnecessarily restrictive to limit the protection of their moral rights to the duration of their economic rights. In the case of cultural works of outstanding importance, the perpetual protection of moral rights would provide a valuable means of supervising the treatment of these works to ensure that their integrity is maintained on an ongoing basis. In Bharati's case, his works are not only outstanding examples of literature, but they are also historical and social documents of great value.
 
(The author holds a D. Phil from Oxford, and is a leading international expert on copyright law. She is a great-granddaughter of poet C. Subramania Bharati.
 
An uncondensed version of this essay can be obtained by writing to v_bharati@hotmail.com)



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Friday, December 24, 2004

25 Dec 2004

Expats Welcome Bahrain's E-Visa K. S. Ramkumar . Arab News

JEDDAH, 25 December 2004 - Local expats, especially those traveling for
business and leisure, have welcomed Bahrain's initiative to simplify the
immigration process with e-visa.

Both expats and travel agents said over the weekend that this was a positive
move. "This is something some of the other Gulf and Middle Eastern countries
could follow," said Arshad Muhammad Chaudhry, a Pakistani electrical
engineer.

Residents of 33 countries outside the GCC can apply online at www. evisa.
gov. bh, allowing them to download their visit visa anywhere in the world
before traveling to Bahrain. "While the ideal scenario is still a single
visa for the Arab world to facilitate travel between the Gulf states, we've
to look at new and innovative ways to make the immigration process as smooth
and simple as possible for international visitors," Nasser said. The visit
visas are valid for two weeks for a fee of seven Bahraini dinars
($18.50). As per the existing practice, GCC resident expats can get their
visas on arrival in Bahrain, but the e-visa facility, if utilized, can help
reduce the time involved in the completion of the visa process. In addition,
the downloaded visa removes the need to pay in local currency. The issue of
one visa for the Arab world is included for discussion at the first Arabian
Hotel Investment Conference being held in Dubai from April 30 to May 2,
Nasser said. "Indeed, a majority of our advisory panel of 50 regional
tourism leaders identified visa restrictions as a challenge in this
marketplace. This initiative from Bahrain has shown how governments can
harness technology to improve efficiency and therefore service," he added.

---

D. G. from Riyadh I had an accident while working in a factory and was
seriously injured. More than a half of my left thumb was cut off. It
happened two years ago. The company did not pay any compensation for the
physical damage to me. Now, I am going on final-exit and already signed a
final settlement. The final settlement did not include any compensation for
the physical damage I suffered while at work. Is the company fair in doing
so? What does the Labor Law say about it?

You have waited too long to ask this question. You should have moved fast to
preserve your rights. This is what the Labor Law and all laws enjoin. In
most procedural laws there are also time bars for filing a case before a
court. If you miss a time bar you may not be able to file your case. You are
entitled to full medical treatment for your thumb from your employer and
from the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), if your employer
had subscribed to it for you. Some employers neglect this and end up being
personally liable for medical expenses. Your medical case should be well
documented for you to claim your entitlement at this late hour. Basically
your employer is responsible for your medical expenses unless he has
subscribed for you (which is his obligation according to the law) to GOSI.
If your employer had not subscribed, he will personally be liable to pay all
your expenses.

You did not mention anything about your sick leave during treatment at the
time of the incident. For up to three months of the sick leave your employer
must bear your full salary for the first month and three-quarters of it for
the following two months. If GOSI is responsible, they have regulations that
enjoin you and your employer to have contacted them at the time of the
incident and submit to their procedures to carry out their medical
obligations. Usually they would refer you to their own doctors and
hospitals. If you apply now for your medical expenses with the help of your
employer, you may still have a chance to be compensated by GOSI. If your
employer is established to be responsible for your medical treatment, he
should pay you within the final settlement, when you service is terminated.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

V. A. from Riyadh I joined a turn-key company in March 2003 with a specified
contract of two years and a monthly basic salary of SR1,500. Now, I am
planning to go on final-exit when my contract finishes. I understand that
under a certain article of the Labor Law, after completing two years of the
contract I could get service benefits of one-month salary and vacation pay
of one month. But my employer tells me that I will get nothing. Is it right?
How can I claim my benefits? How does the Labor Ministry deal with those
employers who violate the law?

You are right that you must get one month (ESB) for both years of your
service (Article 86). It must be calculated on the basis of your monthly
wage. Wage is the salary plus all other allowances if any, monthly averaged.
These include housing, transportation food and schooling. You seem not to
have taken any vacation during these two years. Here, you should read what
your contract says and follow it; whether it is one month annually, more or
less. If vacation is not mentioned in your contract, the law (Article 153)
gives you a minimum vacation of 15 days for every 12 months of service. In
this case for 24 months of service, you are entitled to be paid one full
month's salary in cash, for your unused vacation. Note that the ESB is
calculated on wage, while for salary it is calculated on salary. As to how
companies that violate the law are viewed by the Labor Ministry, the answer
is that the ministry is carefully monitoring the performance of companies.
If a company is found to have repeated violations this attracts the
attention of the labor office to keep a closer watch on the company's
activities prompting frequent summons and trials.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

X from Jeddah I am working with a multinational company. On Nov. 28,
2004, I received a contract termination notice from my company stating that
due to staff reduction my contract was being terminated from Nov. 30, 2004.
The next day I was given all my dues along with one month's notice pay as
well and my flight schedule which was Dec. 3, 2004. Two days later and due
to some urgency the company requested me to work for 10 additional days.
Upon confirmation from the company for the payment of the additional days,
the company representative told me that since I have already been paid one
month's notice pay, I will be paid only the overtime hours, which are only
three hours per day. My question is: Does company have any right to oblige
me to work three hours overtime only while in reality I work 11 hours?

Since your service terminates on Dec. 30 you can always apologize and insist
on traveling to your country. You are not supposed to have any contractual
relation with your company and should deal with them as a complete outsider.
In this case neither your old hourly or overtime rate applies. The
calculation of your wage should be similar to the wage of any trained
outsider who may be requested to do the same work for your company. This is
legally known as the "similar wage". Having been with the company before, it
does not give the company the right to anything but a similar wage. I would
estimate your similar hourly rate to be three times your old regular
contractual hourly rate. Your regular hourly rate would then be your
previous salary multiplied by 12 months to get the yearly salary, divided by
52 to get the weekly rate, then again divided by eight to get the hourly
rate. Multiply this contractual hourly rate by three to get the similar wage
of an outsider. You multiply this similar rate by the number of extra hours
which you worked after the termination of your service. That is what you
should be paid and that is what a labor judge may order if the case goes to
him.

---

Rao's funeral site sparks row Saturday December 25 2004 08:20 IST IANS
HYDERABAD: Environmentalists on Friday opposed the government's decision to
cremate former prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao on the banks of Hussain
Sagar Lake here and erect a memorial there, saying it would deplete the
city's green cover.

NGO Forum for Better Hyderabad (FBH) claimed the state government's decision
violated Andhra Pradesh High Court order against using parks for cremations.

The court, in its order following the cremation of former chief minister M.
Chenna Reddy at Indira Park near the lake in 1998, had barred cremations in
parks and other public places, FBH convenor Capt. J. Rama Rao pointed out.

"The lake is already shrinking with concrete structures coming up around it.
If this is not stopped no park or open space will be left in the area," he
says.

The forum submitted a memorandum to state chief secretary Mohan Kanda to
reconsider the decision to have Rao's funeral by the lake as it violated the
court order and would further reduce the breathing space in the heart of the
city.



---
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The disconnect in US democracy by Prof. Noam Chomsky

The disconnect in US democracy
 
October 29 2004
 
AMERICANS may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalising the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalised quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, "ThatÂ’s politics." But it isnÂ’t. ItÂ’s only a small part of politics.
 
The population has been carefully excluded from political activity, and not by accident. An enormous amount of work has gone into that disenfranchisement. During the 1960s the outburst of popular participation in democracy terrified the forces of convention, which mounted a fierce counter-campaign. Manifestations show up today on the left as well as the right in the effort to drive democracy back into the hole where it belongs.
 
Bush and Kerry can run because theyÂ’re funded by basically the same concentrations of private power. Both candidates understand that the election is supposed to stay away from issues. They are creatures of the public relations industry, which keeps the public out of the election process. The concentration is on what they call a candidateÂ’s "qualities," not policies. Is he a leader? A nice guy? Voters end up endorsing an image, not a platform.
 
Last month a Gallup poll asked Americans why theyÂ’re voting for either Bush or Kerry. From a multiple-choice list, a mere 6 percent of Bush voters and 13 percent of Kerry voters picked the candidatesÂ’ "agendas/ideas/ platforms/goals." ThatÂ’s how the political system prefers it. Often the issues that are most on peopleÂ’s minds donÂ’t enter at all clearly into the debate.
 
A new report by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, which regularly monitors American attitudes on international issues, illustrates the disconnect.
 
A considerable majority of Americans favour "working within the United Nations, even when it adopts policies that the United States does not like." Most Americans also believe that "countries should have the right to go to war on their own only if they (have) strong evidence that they are in imminent danger of being attacked," thus rejecting the bipartisan consensus on "pre-emptive war."
 
On Iraq, polls by the Program on International Policy Attitudes show that a majority of Americans favour letting the UN take the lead in issues of security, reconstruction and political transition in that country. Last March, Spanish voters actually could vote on these matters.
 
It is notable that Americans hold these and similar views (say, on the International Criminal Court or the Kyoto Protocol) in virtual isolation: They rarely hear them in campaign speeches, and probably regard them as idiosyncratic. At the same time the level of activism for social change may be higher than ever in the US. But itÂ’s disorganised. Nobody knows whatÂ’s happening on the other side of town.
 
By contrast, consider the fundamentalist Christians. Earlier this month in Jerusalem, Pat Robertson said that he would start a third party if Bush and the Republicans waver in support for Israel. ThatÂ’s a serious threat because he might be able to mobilise tens of millions of evangelical Christians who already form a significant political force, thanks to extensive work over decades on numerous issues, and with candidates at levels from school board to president.
 
The presidential race isnÂ’t devoid of issue-oriented activism. During the primaries, before the main event fully gears up, candidates can raise issues and help organise popular support for them, thereby influencing campaigns to some extent. After the primaries, mere statements make a minimal impact without a significant organisation behind them.
 
The urgency is for popular progressive groups to grow and become strong enough so that centres of power canÂ’t ignore them. Forces for change that have come up from the grass roots and shaken the society to its core include the labour movement, the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the womenÂ’s movement and others, cultivated by steady, dedicated work at all levels, every day, not just once every four years.
 
But you canÂ’t ignore the elections. You should recognise that one of the two groups now contending for power happens to be extremist and dangerous, and has already caused plenty of trouble and could cause plenty more.
 
As for myself, IÂ’ve taken the same position as in 2000. If you are in a swing state, you should vote to keep the worst guys out. If itÂ’s another state, do what you feel is best. There are many considerations. Bush and his administration are publicly committed to dismantling and destroying whatever progressive legislation and social welfare has been won by popular struggles over the past century.
 
Internationally, they are calling for dominating the world by military force, including even the "ownership of space" to expand monitoring and first strike capabilities.
 
So in the election, sensible choices have to be made. But they are secondary to serious political action. The main task is to create a genuinely responsive democratic culture, and that effort goes on before and after electoral extravaganzas, whatever their outcome.
 
Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author, most recently, of Hegemony or Survival: AmericaÂ’s Quest for Global Dominance

20 dec 04

Dog meat, a delicacy in Mizoram

AIZAWL, DEC. 19. Man's trusted friend and guardian for ages, the dog is seen
in Mizoram as a source of tasty meat, more preferred than even the pork, the
widely available meat in the State.

No wonder dog meat is costlier at Rs. 140 a kg in the State's capital Aizawl
while pork costs only Rs. 120 a kg.

A five-member team of mediapersons from Kerala on a recent visit to the
northeast noticed the absence of stray dogs in Aizawl.

Inquiries revealed that dog meat is a prized food item here. Veterinary
experts and the Director of Animal Husbandry said there had been very few
cases of deaths due to rabies in Mizoram.

The mediapersons came across several meat stalls with dog carcasses hung for
sale interspersed with pork.

Dogs were brought in large numbers into Mizoram from Assam and Manipur for
butchering. Nagaland was another north-eastern State which consumed dog
meat.

---

Oberoi, Taj hotels among world's best
Sunday, 19 December , 2004, 21:51

New Delhi: Udaipur's Oberoi Rajvilas and Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel have made
it to the world's best hotels' list compiled by an international travel
magazine.

While the Taj Mahal hotel has been ranked 16th in the Conde Naste
Traveller's first ever Gold List 2005 in terms of location, Udaipur's Oberoi
Rajvilas has bagged the 8th place in terms of quality of services.

The magazine has given Oberoi Rajvilas the thumbs-up for its services,
which, it says, are way ahead of other Indian hotels' and praised the Taj
Mahal hotel for its "staggering view over the Arabian Sea, the Gateway of
India and the city of Mumbai."

"Rajvilas is a purpose-built palace hotel set in immaculate, 32-acre
grounds, which has services head and shoulders above other Indian hotels,
with 24-hour dining and butler services," it said.

Conde Naste described Taj Mahal hotel's services as "a satisfactory blend of
efficiency and hospitablity," and was especially appreciative of its
location (16th rank).

---


1984: Britain signs over Hong Kong to China
The British colony of Hong Kong is to be returned to China in 1997 after an
historic agreement was signed in Peking today.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signed the Joint Sino-British Declaration
with her Chinese counterpart Zhao Ziyang.

It formally seals the future of Hong Kong, transferring it from a British
colony of six million people to communist China in 13 years.

The agreement, which will end 155 years of British rule in the colony, also
launches a new era in trade and diplomacy between the two countries.

Chinese president Deng Xiaoping, who pursued the recovery of Hong Kong,
greeted Mrs Thatcher.

The champagne ceremony took place at the Great Hall of the People before
delegates who helped draw up the agreement, including 101 guests from Hong
Kong.

Mrs Thatcher said: "The circumstances are unique. The agreement is unique.

"It is right that we should feel a sense of history, of pride and of
confidence in the future."

The declaration outlines Hong Kong will be "restored" to the People's
Republic of China with effect from July 1 1997 and will apply for fifty
years.

It will be known as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).

---

Think of a high tech Indian village two years down the line.

a.. A village where everyone has easy access to information on
agriculture, education, drinking water, electricity and health.
b.. A village where farmers get latest updates on market prices, cropping
pattern and weather forecast at a finger-touch.
c.. A village where quality inputs on seeds, fertilisers and pesticides
are regularly supplied to farmers.
d.. A village where families can access their children's examination
results on computers.
e.. A village where everyone has access to all government forms and copies
of land records.
f.. A village where your electricity, telephone and water bills are
accepted electronically.
g.. A village where one person in every family knows how to handle the
computer.
Can all these things happen in a poor Indian village?

Yes.

All these things and much more are all set to revolutionise the villages of
Andhra Pradesh. Exactly two years from now, no villager in Andhra Pradesh
will need to travel to the capital Hyderabad with his or her grievances.

Four years ago, former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu scripted a unique
success story when he carved 'Cyberabad' out of Hyderabad.

But the current Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy says his
hearts beats for the rural heartland.

---




Saturday, December 18, 2004

"My son is gone but my fight for his cause will go on"

"My son is gone but my fight for his cause will go on"

By T. Lalith Singh



HYDERABAD, DEC.17. K. Venkatesh, the muscular dystrophy patient whose case
set off a debate following his request for euthanasia in order to be able
to donate his organs, died in hospital here on Friday.

According to doctors at Global Hospital, where the 25-year-old chess
enthusiast spent his last few days on a ventilator, the end came around 5
a.m. The cornea was harvested and taken by the L.V. Prasad Eye Hospital
for transplant.

The other vital organs — kidneys, liver and lungs — could not be used for
transplantation as infection had set in, doctors said. "The infection was
caused due to the extended use of a ventilator," a hospital spokesman
said. The body was shifted to his home at Mehdipatnam. Venkatesh's mother,
K. Sujatha, keeping her poise, said: "My son wanted to donate his organs
but his wish was not fulfilled. He is gone, but my fight on this issue
will continue. The attitude on euthanasia and organ transplant has to
change and I will not relent till then."

Following a plea made by her, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had on
Thursday ordered the setting up of a committee to reconsider the plea for
mercy killing to enable Venkatesh to donate his organs. A committee
constituted earlier under the Andhra Pradesh Transplantation of Human
Organ Act had decided that Sujatha's request cannot be conceded as her son
was not brain dead.

The last rites were performed at the cremation grounds in Mehdipatnam.

Fulfilling one of her son's last wishes, one that was in her own hands
unlike his euthanasia plea, Ms. Sujatha lit the pyre.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Court orders relief to Bhopal gas victims
By J. Venkatesan

A BIG VICTORY: Some of the gas victims show the victory sign in Bhopal on Monday after the Supreme Court ordered the Government to disburse Rs. 1,503 crores to the survivors of the tragedy. — Photo: A.M. Faruqui

NEW DELHI, JULY 19 . The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to disburse among the five lakh Bhopal gas victims the relief amount of Rs. 1,503 crores (with interest) lying with the Reserve Bank of India.
The money, given by Union Carbide, under a settlement with the Government of India, amounted to $ 470 million.
A Bench of Justices Shivaraj V. Patil and B.N. Srikrishna directed that the money be distributed on a pro rata basis among the disaster victims, who include the kith and kin of the dead and the injured. It ordered the Welfare Commissioner of the Bhopal Gas Relief Fund to file a report on the manner in which the money was distributed. It posted the matter for further hearing after two months.
The Union Carbide had given $ 470 million as its liability towards the victims in 1989 before the Supreme Court, which had directed that the money be put in a dollar account. This amount with interest has now accumulated to Rs. 1,503 crores. The Bench passed the order after hearing counsel S. Muralidhar appearing for petitioners, Abdul Samad Khan and 35 others of Bhopal. He submitted that the amount with interest was yet to be disbursed by the Government out of the total compensation amount of $ 470 million it received from Union Carbide.
He contended that the compensation was too meagre in comparison with the minimum amounts contemplated to be paid in terms of the settlement. Further, many of the claimants had to wait for over 12 to 18 years after the disaster to receive the meagre compensation and without interest.
On the intervening night of 2-3 December, 1984 the worst-ever industrial disaster of the 20th century occurred in Bhopal with the leakage of 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate and other lethal gases.
The leakage resulted in the death of over 4,000 people on the date of disaster itself and this figure swelled to 16,000 over the years and during the period people continued to suffer from the after-effects. Several lakhs in Bhopal, including unborn children, suffered from multiple systemic injuries.

The petitioners submitted that the present position, according to the records of the office of the Welfare Commissioner, was that a total of 10,29,431 claims were received up to March 31, 2002 of which 10,29,254 were adjudicated. Of these, 5,66,786 cases had been awarded compensation to the tune of Rs. 1151.51 crores and the balance available for disbursement was about Rs. 1,503 crores.
The petition sought a mandamus to the Union of India to distribute the remaining amount out of the compensation money retained by it among the victims and to ensure the payment on interest on the amount of compensation awarded to the victims in individual claims from the date of accident till the date of payment to the claimants at a rate determinable in accordance with the provisions of Interest Act, 1978.

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