Monday, August 22, 2005

If 4 times is too much, what is 400 times? Mangal Pandey

Disparity and Democracy
Chinese scholars have warned that the rising income disparities in their country will undermine social stability by 2010.
From a news report:

Annual urban incomes that are due to surpass 10,000 yuan ($1,200) on average are growing twice as fast as those in the countryside, the China Daily said, citing a report commissioned by the Labor and Social Services Ministry.

Rural incomes linger at around 3,000 yuan ($370) per year.

"We are going to hit the red light scenario after 2010 if there are no effective solutions in the next few years," it said. The team uses blue, green, yellow and red light indicators to track income disparity trends, with red being most serious.
Just by way of comparison, the salary gap between an average American worker and his CEO is around 400 or thereabouts (turns out I was being conservative -- it was actually 500+ even in 2001, and has likely increased since then, see article by Neil Pearce). No wonder the war is fought and billions are spent in Iraq, while America parties on (see Bob Herbert's article in the New York Times, Blood runs Red, not Blue, or Niranjan Ramakrishnan's in Counterpunch (Shaming the Shameless).

John Kerry - Serial Blunderer
John Kerry has sent around an email asking the President to answer some questions, in his address to the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) at Salt Lake City, UT. Kerry has a bunch of questions for Bush (copied verbatim from Kerry's message):
  • When will the President get it right in Iraq?
  • When will he deliver to the nation and those sacrificing so much in Iraq a concrete plan for peace and victory?
  • Why, at this late date, is the Pentagon still struggling to get the right supplies and body armor to America's troops?
  • When will the President support a military large enough to face the challenges of today's world?
  • And when will the President stop short-changing America's veterans? When will he stop closing hospitals, cutting benefits, and making veterans wait weeks for a doctor's appointment?
Talk about limp... Nowhere in Kerry's message is Cindy Sheehan or the protest in Crawford mentioned. Get it right in Iraq? Give us a break. To think this was the alternative to Bush so many of us worked for! Makes you want to crawl under a doormat and disappear.

FSTV and Democracy Now!
I recently discovered Free Speech Television, a channel that features, among other things, an excellent 1 hour news broadcast called Democracy Now! While the Big 3 and the little 3 (CNN, Fox, MSNBC) talk about Eric Rudolph, BTK and Aruba, Democracy Now! gives hard news with good quality presentation and graphics too. I know it is on Dish Network, and I believe it is also available on Cable and Direct TV. You can go directly to their website at They have streaming video where the show is also available. No commercials, and solid news.

The Rising -- The Ballad of Mangal Pandey
I paid little attention to the new movie starring Aamir Khan, featuring the first rebel of the First Indian War of Independence of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Mutiny). But an article by Rajiv Rawat (The Rising of the Rising) brings out a contextual view of the movie, which, he claims, uses the metaphor of 1857 British imperialism in India to hold up 2003 American Imperialism in Iraq to scrutiny. Whether by design, or by ignorance (the latter is more likely) the American media have almost wholly ignored what Rawat claims is a technically flawless film.

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