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Exxon Urgently Digging for Oil in Central African Republic to Create Business Case for Intervention

As you may have read in the papers, the situation in the Central African Republic is threatening to descend into total chaos. Mass slaughter and ethnic cleansing are likely if there is no international intervention. How will the US respond to this humanitarian crisis coming on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide? This is how the conversation between key figures in the White House is likely to go-

People in the room: President Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Obama’s daughter Malia.

Obama: If that’s everything, I need to leave for Malia’s school play now.

Kerry: Mr. President, there is one more thing on the agenda.

Obama: What is it? I thought we covered everything.

Kerry: It’s the civil war in the Central African Republic.

Obama: Can’t it wait?

Kerry: I suppose. It’s not like a few more thousand dead due to sectarian violence in Africa is going to make much of a difference at this point.

Obama: Alright then. Have a good evening, gentlemen.

Kerry: I was kidding Sir.

Obama: So was I? Let’s talk about it then. Can one of you quickly fill me in?

Biden: That’s what she said!

[Biden gets a glare from the President and quietly sinks into his seat]

Malia: Let’s go daddy.

Obama: In a minute, sweetheart. Go on, John.

Kerry: Our diplomats tell me that we could be looking at another genocide like Rwanda here.

Malia: What’s a genocide?

Biden: Well, Malia. A genocide or a holocaust is when something really bad happens to Jewish people. And we can never have that again. Never. But this is OK since it is happening in Africa.

Kerry: That’s not true. It’s also OK when it’s happening in Burma or Syria or China or North Korea or Chechnya or….

Obama: Thank you, both. What happened in Rwanda 20 years ago was a terrible event like 9/11, Malia. We can’t have another Rwanda just like we can’t have another 9/11. Do you understand?

Kerry: (coughs) Ahem. Actually Mr. President, I would phrase it differently. We will do everything humanly possible to not have another 9/11.

Obama: And Rwanda?

Kerry: Well, it would be quite nice if we dint have another Rwanda. But it’s not up to us, really.

Biden: (at Kerry) Where is this country anyway?

Obama: Yeah, where could a country named the Central African Republic be located? Why don’t you look it up on Google Maps and stop interrupting us. John, what do you recommend? Deploy boots on the ground?

Kerry: Already done, Sir. We have over 500 fine folks from Exxon Mobil digging for oil in the country as we speak.

Obama: Oh. I meant troops.

Kerry: We can’t send troops till we find oil first. That’s a bedrock principle of our foreign policy.

Obama: Seriously?

Kerry: I don’t make the rules. Deploying troops is expensive. They are to be used only if we have strategic assets to acquire or protect. Like oil reserves, mineral deposits, shipping routes etc.

Obama: Fair enough. But don’t we have like 150,000 troops stationed around the world? Can’t we move some of them to this country?

Kerry: Not exactly. Those men only serve a symbolic purpose.  Show and intimidation.

Obama: But Putin just invaded Crimea!

Biden: And I bet he was really intimidated while doing it.

[Obama and Kerry glare at Biden]

Obama: Fine. We’ll just send in some drones then. Cheap and easy.

Kerry: I don’t know about that. It’s risky. We could end up killing lots of innocent civilians.

Biden: So what? It’s not like anybody here wants to win another Nobel Peace Prize or anything.

Obama: Can’t we re-classify the civilians posthumously as terrorists like we do in Pakistan and Yemen?

Kerry: Maybe. I am more concerned about the precedent it would set. We can’t have impoverished countries assuming that the US will intervene each time there is a genocide. It would be highly irresponsible on our part to encourage that kind of thinking.

Obama: So we just sit back and watch the horror unfold?

Biden: The good news is, we don’t have to watch. CNN is not going to give up on the Malaysian plane anytime soon.

Kerry: We just ask the UN to handle it. Standard operating procedure.

Obama: But the UN is not capable of handling this.

Kerry: Obviously not. But they issue statements, move a few soldiers around, transfer diplomats. The UN is good at conveying the impression that someone else is doing something about it. That’s the sole reason for its existence really.

Obama: So you just want me donate $100 when I get a call from UNICEF and get back to guessing where that plane is on Facebook?

Biden: Yes. And the best part is – that $100 is tax deductible.

Obama: I don’t know, something about this isn’t right. Aren’t we morally obligated to act?

Kerry: I can see why you might think that. But morals are complicated. Keep in mind that the Pope and the Catholic Church have already killed millions of Africans by ordering them not to use condoms.

Obama: (sighing) But surely we have to do something?

Biden: How about we buy a few red iPod’s for Christmas gifts this year?

Obama: I need an idea that doesn’t involve any real financial or military support but still shows we care just a little bit?

[They all look at each other for a few seconds. Then they smile and nod.]

Obama: Get me Angelina Jolie on the phone.

Headlines: April 10th, 2014

The Election Commission of India needs to issue the following public service announcement – If your Election lasts more than 4 days, please call a doctor.

Yep. India’s elections involving nearly a billion people takes over a month to finish voting. On the other hand, look what happened in Crimea. It had snap elections completed in a few hours and now they have no McDonald’s anymore. Disaster.

The Indian democratic process is a largely pointless and wastefully expensive undertaking since votes are typically cast on the basis of caste and religion. The only purpose it serves is to make us wonder if China and North Korea are doing something right after all.

Ukraine update. Putin has now amassed an enormous 40,000 troops on the Ukranian border claiming it’s an act of “self-defense”. When he heard about it, even Oscar Pistoruis was like ‘Dude, seriously?’

Russia is also threatening to cut off gas supplies to Europe in response to the weak sanctions and G8 expulsion. And we all thought the Afghanistan war was an over-reaction to 9/11…

The latest on MH370. Chinese ships may have picked up pings from the black box of the missing plane, which has raised people’s expectations. There hasn’t been this much fuss over pings and last-seen-at updates since Facebook bought Whatsapp.

A silver lining? Search crews have picked up so much floating waste and garbage from the Indian Ocean thinking its plane debris that Greenpeace is now telling CNN that Amelia Earhart’s plane is somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Comic book character and teen favorite Archie Andrews is going to die in the upcoming issue. Fox News is reporting that Archie’s existing insurance plan was cancelled due to Obamacare.

One of the key architects of Obamacare – Kathleen Sibelius – is going to lose her job due to the botched rollout last year. Unfortunately for her, that’s one pre-existing condition that is apparently not covered by the law.

It does seem oddly fitting though. Sibelius somehow got to keep her job despite the disastrous website launch last year and is now getting fired when the site has miraculously exceeded its targets.

This is big. A woman hurled a shoe at Hillary Clinton during a speech in Las Vegas yesterday. In other words, move over Ted Cruz and Chris Christie. We have a new frontrunner for the 2016 Republican nominee for President.

Hope you are sitting down for this. Ex-President George Bush is now a painter. He just held an art exhibition of 30 portraits at the Presidential Center. The next time you visit The Louvre, remind yourself that Bush is likely to sell more paintings than Van Gogh did in his lifetime.

When asked what his biggest challenge was in learning to paint, Bush said that he found it quite tricky to properly hold the paintbrush. You know, because of all the blood on his hands.

A security flaw in Internet encryption has been reported – called Heartbleed – that may have let hackers steal all kinds of sensitive user data for the last 2 years. Oh boy. Between this, the NSA snooping and FaceBook selling our data to advertisers, we as a society these days have less privacy than a Pamela Anderson sex tape.

There is some good news though. For men, that is. Experts have reassured us that when we delete our Internet browser history, it is definitely gone. Phew.

Headlines: March 25th, 2014

If you are in NYC this week, make sure you check out its latest tourist attraction that is drawing more traffic than Times Square or most porn sites. The top of the new WTC building.

Yep. After last week’s teen who sneaked past security, a group of base jumpers released a YouTube clip of them leaping off the top of the World Trade Center at night. Sure. Because if there is one thing New Yorkers really need, it is to randomly look up and see mysterious dark objects flying around the WTC building.

The Crimea fallout. The US got Russia kicked out of the G8 yesterday. In retaliation, America was thrown out of the USSR by Putin. Both moves are expected to roughly have the same impact on each country.

Obama also warned Russia that he was ready to impose more penalties if it kept up the aggression. For starters, Putin and his cabinet ministers would be barred from signing up for Obamacare.

Obama was recently on Zack Galifianakis’ show on FunnyorDie.com to promote Obamacare among youngsters. Bill O’Reilly criticized him claiming Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have done something like this. Ha! Lincoln was watching a three-act farce in a theater when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. He is better positioned than most ex-Presidents to relate to the concept of Funny or Die.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is on a trip to China pushing ‘soft diplomacy’ via innocuous clichés about human rights, press freedoms etc that are not really expected to make much of a difference. She has also been practicing drawing red lines in the sand as preparation for the trip.

It wasn’t all bad. After her husband’s battles with the Palin’s and the Romney’s for the Presidency, she told the Chinese she now understood and appreciated their one-child policy.

Mrs. Obama will actually have a unique distinction from this trip. She will be the first American woman to leave China with the same number of kids she came in with.

The football world cup in Qatar is in doubt after it was revealed that a senior FIFA official received $1.2 million in bribes. Just so we are clear, this is a country that doesn’t think twice about casually blowing $250 million on a painting. The real scandal is they were only extorted a million dollars in bribes.

You know what’s an easy job? Being the Editor of the NYT in Pakistan. On Sunday’s paper, the entire front page was just a blank sheet.

Apparently, the article blanked out was a lengthy report on what Pakistan knew about bin Laden and the support he got from the ISI and Taliban. Really? If this is breaking news to anyone, Assange and Snowden must consider themselves failures and explore other career options.

Bernie Madoff has confessed in an interview that JPMorgan executives knew all about his criminal activities for years but kept quiet as he brought in a lot of money. In other words, this is the Wall Street version of the Pakistani ISI keeping bin Laden safe in Abbottabad before the raid.

Madoff also warned investors to protect their money and stay away from the stock market. This is not unlike God giving Noah the heads up to start building an Ark five years after unleashing the massive flood that had already drowned the entire world.

Pope Francis has issued a stern warning to the Italian mafia that they are “going to hell” unless they change their ways. When asked how they would recognize hell, the Pope pointed out most members of his Vatican would be there too.

On the other hand, by repenting and living a pure life, the Pope said we can create a heaven here on earth. Right on cue, Starbucks announced it will also be serving wine and beer in its coffee shops from April.

Headlines: 21st March, 2014

I don’t want to unnecessarily alarm anyone but when I tried to look up Russia on Google today morning, it asked if I meant USSR instead.

VP Joe Biden met with the leaders of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to assure them of US support against expansionist Russia. He told them Obama had drawn a clear red line at Putin moving troops beyond Crimea, which somehow seemed to make them more jittery.

Putin might also try to capture the whole of Ukraine following his chilling claim that Kiev is the “mother” of all Russian cities. So if he does invade and annex Kiev with brute force, it would literally make Putin the baddest motherf***er on the planet.

Russia has gotten the sternest criticism for unilaterally marching troops beyond its borders from the US, which only has a modest 275,000 active-duty military troops stationed in 150 countries around the world at the moment. Moral high ground FTW.

The US and the EU have targeted Putin’s inner circle and placed travel and bank account freezes on 33 of his close friends. Bizarrely, this will affect the outcome of the English Premier League more than the Russian economy if Jose Mourinho can’t buy Diego Costa.

France’s Hollande had strong words as well – ‘Borders cannot be redrawn and a region can’t pass from one nation to another without a response’. A shame Palestinians in the West Bank have no access to TV or the Internet. They would have really enjoyed this joke.

John McCain fired a zinger too, calling Russia a ‘gas station masquerading as a country’. Very funny. But I doubt if anyone in the Kremlin is laughing. The US has the annoying tendency to invade any country which fits that description (see Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran).

Russia’s Foreign Ministry reacted to the sanctions vowing to ‘respond with equal force to every aggressive thrust’. If it’s ok with you all, I’ll take this one. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID! THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!

So yeah, Putin has hit back at the US with sanctions of his own banning several US officials from travelling to Russia. This is sadly not expected to sting as much given that Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova are already in America.

In a sanctions tit-for-tat, the US said it will ban the works of Russian writers Dostoevsky, Chekov and Tolstoy in its colleges and universities. Shortly after, #LoveYouPutin was trending on Twitter.

Canada is chipping in. Many provinces are considering removing all Russian vodka off store shelves. In the middle of the worst winter in decades. Really? Memo to Canada – the way sanctions work is it should hurt the other country more than it hurts your own people.

This week, the cast of the hit TV show ‘Lost’ had a reunion. However, all MH370 questions were barred. Several cast members wanted to share their thoughts on the police brutality on hapless Venezuelan protestors, but all journalists had left the building by then.

Donald Trump has sent out an obnoxious tweet questioning if the US should be spending money tracking down a plane with mostly Chinese passengers. It’s at times like this that Turkey’s Twitter ban, despite its blatant political motives, comes across as a public service.

The Justin Bieber deposition. The lawyer who questioned Bieber is under fire for repeatedly asking Biebs if he was sleeping with Selena Gomez or not. Bear in mind that the 40 million teenage girls following Biebs on Twitter (who can vote in 2016) are more interested in the answer to that question than they are in the new Fed Chairman’s views on monetary policy.

Meanwhile, another teenager yesterday sneaked past security at the new WTC building, got all the way to the top – just to take a bunch of selfies. It was called a ‘massive missed opportunity’. No, not by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. By Samsung’s marketing department.

India elections update. The Congress party wanted Sachin Tendulkar to run against Narendra Modi in Varanasi. Sachin refused saying he doesn’t openly support any political party. This, incidentally, marks the first time Sachin has ever turned down an endorsement deal.

Headlines: 19th March, 2014

Day 12 MH370 update: CNN’s flight simulator guy has been locked up in there for so long that he has asked the backstage crew to smuggle him a bible, a hammer and a Rita Hayworth poster.

Drama! Turns out the Thai military also picked up radar data from the plane but waited for a week to release the information. When asked why, Air Marshall Montol explained that his team had to cut themselves off from all external communication to avoid ‘True Detective’ finale spoilers.  

It has been revealed that the co-pilot’s last words from the cockpit were ‘all right, good night’. This has investigators very concerned. Even more ominous was the next bombshell that the air-hostesses had performed a safety demo for emergency water landings before take-off. What did they know??

More dirt on the pilots. There is now a picture circulating of the chief pilot Zaharie Shah wearing a t-shirt with a political slogan susceptible to misinterpretation- “If you like your plan(e), you can keep it”.

Despite a coalition of 25 countries, search efforts by international military teams have been haphazard and confused. Understandably so. They are not trained for operations of this nature. If only their mission was to bomb some Middle East country into rubble. A pity.

CNN’s obsessive, over-the-top vacuous coverage of the missing plane has drawn widespread criticism. As a last resort, desperate protesters in Crimea, Syria and Venezuela are planning to hijack a NASA rocket and fly it to the moon for CNN to acknowledge their existence.

Somewhat surprisingly, CNN has missed out on the juicy Oscar Pistorius trial as well.  He continued to stubbornly claim he mistakenly shot his girlfriend thinking she was a burglar. The sobbing began after the judge reminded him that defense only works in Florida.

Update on Crimea. The US has imposed weak sanctions on Russia which Putin has laughed off. When John Kerry was asked what counted as success for the sanctions, he said – ‘If we can cripple their economy enough to get Snowden fired from his fulltime job, we’ll take it’.

As expected, the Crimea referendum results showed 97% of the population voted ‘YES’ for the motion. However, closer inspection of the voting booths revealed serious irregularities. The question on the ballot was actually ‘Should David Moyes be fired with immediate effect as the manager of Manchester United?’

Economists predict that Russia may have to spend about $30 billion over the next decade to support the economically backward Crimean region. When he heard about it, Mark Zuckerberg posted a status update calling it a fantastic bargain.

Zuckerberg rationalized the costly WhatsApp purchase by arguing it gave him much-needed access to millions of teenagers who were deserting his service. One can imagine thousands of Catholic priests across the world nodding their heads in agreement at this line of thought.

The Facebook CEO also called up President Obama to voice his complaints about the NSA. He conveyed his strong conviction to Obama that violating the privacy rights of billions of people is only morally admissible in the critical pursuit of delivering targeted ads.

Toronto will be having elections later this year to try and replace its controversial Mayor, Rob Ford. All the other candidates have agreed to use the same campaign slogan – ‘To watch a freak show in Toronto, go to the Cirque de Soleil’.

Yet another video has emerged showing Rob Ford drunk and slobbering. His brother shrugged it off saying no one cared if Rob had 10 beers if he did his job well. Fair enough. When Rob is sober, he really really wants to install a giant Ferris Wheel in the middle of downtown.

Stephen Hawking stunned the scientific community recently by declaring that according to quantum theory, there is no such thing as a black hole. His statement has been greeted with a great degree of skepticism and denial. Mostly by Bitcoin investors.

Headlines: Malaysian Airline MH370 Update

Day 11: Latest update on the search for the missing Malaysian Flight MH370*

*Refer to update on Day 1

In today’s press briefing, the Malaysian Prime Minister kept up the theme of constant denials and contradictions from his govt by claiming there never was a MH370. He accused international news organizations and search crews of binge-watching too much ‘Lost’ on Netflix.

Many suspect the Malaysian govt of deliberate misinformation and foul play. They are vehemently denying it. I believe them. Its not like the Malaysians have a thriving illegal migrant trade routed through their airports or anything. Nothing to hide.

Lots of theories on what happened. The latest, based on radar data, claims the plane flew North as far as Kazakhstan. Another scenario based on the same radar data indicates its somewhere South in the Indian Ocean. A baffling paradox? Not if you know your physics. Its a simple case of Schroedinger’s Plane.

Rupert Murdoch tweeted out loud that he believes the plane has been hijacked and hidden safely in North Pakistan (much like bin Laden). Wolf Blitzer on CNN reacted by saying this theory was not wildly speculative enough to bring Rupert on CNN as an “expert”.

On re-reading his tweet the next day, Murdoch wrote a follow-up wishing he had tweeted something less embarrassing to the entire world, like a bunch of dick pics under the pseudonym ‘Carlos Danger’.

Despite the two Iranians with fake passports on board, terrorism has been more or less ruled out as a possibility. I don’t know who is more disappointed – the Ayatollah Khamenei or Fox News.

Since MH370 could have flown for 2,200 nautical miles from its last known position, it had a potential 364 runways in 26 different countries to land in. On a positive note, Vladimir Putin has already sent thousands of Russian troops to Ukraine to inspect and cross it off the list. 1 down. 25 more to go.

With no other leads, the focus is on the pilots. Chief pilot Zaharie Shah is suspected of hijacking the plane as a protest against the ruling party. Only people with no political beliefs or core convictions whatsoever should fly planes from now on. On the downside, this just leaves us with the population of Switzerland. And Manmohan Singh.

His co-pilot, Fariq Hamid, has been known to bring women into the cockpit for fun on previous flights. Despite the obvious security risks, any young Muslim man driving a plane who seeks the company of virgins on earth as opposed to the afterlife is fine by me.

With the search expanded to the Andaman sea, India has joined in the hunt as well. The Malaysian govt called it a welcome development – ‘We know people are saying there is no way the search effort could have been handled more incompetently or shoddily than we have so far. We are quite confident they will be made to eat their words soon’.

India has thrown in an astrologer in the mix to “help”, which has led to plenty of ridicule. Mostly from people who dismissed the idea as absurd in the age of satellites, radar etc. Instead, they have been fervently “praying” to their favorite deity for divine intervention. Much more rational.

Meanwhile, China has urged Malaysia to be more open in sharing information accurately and in a timely manner. Ouch! You know you are in trouble when the Chinese are demanding you be more transparent.

In a desperate measure, a Shaman performed rituals at Kuala Lumpur airport with coconuts, a magic stick and carpet. On the bright side, whatever the witch doctor mumbled at those coconuts arguably made more sense than the Malaysian government’s official statements.

Since everyone has a theory on what happened, here’s mine- ‘At 165 million square kms in area, the Pacific Ocean covers about 50% of the Earth’s water surface and about 1/3rd of its total surface area’. Much larger than the average swimming pool, you know.

Headlines: Weekly round-up

Here’s how bad the recession has got. India is now outsourcing business to other countries.

Yep. The second season of IPL will be played outside India due to security concerns. I don’t get it. The event is conducted by some of the most-feared terrorists in the word – the BCCI and Lalit Modi. We have their explicit support. They assure us they have no interest in harming the players. What more do we need?

Ironically, more people would have turned up for the IPL games than the voting booths. By that logic, shouldn’t we be holding the elections outside India instead of the IPL? Nobody cares anyway. You know, just have the elections in the UK or America or something. We have enough desis there. Ask Karan Johar.

This will surprise you. Barack Obama has sent out a conciliatory message to the Iranian people through YouTube. How cool is that? He then proceeded to add Ahmedinijad as a friend on Facebook. And reports indicate that Ayatollah Khameni is now following Obama on Twitter.

Has it come to this? The Iranians brushed it off as a joke. Seriously, can we just go back to the days when Obama pledged to talk to the leaders of rogue states with no preconditions? We’ll take that over YouTube diplomacy.

Did you watch Jon Stewart interview Jim Cramer from MSNBC? Jim Cramer was on mea culpa-mode from start to finish. The last time a Wall Street insider got beaten up like that on TV was……actually, it was only two days ago….when Tim Geithner was left with no option but to plead guilty on the AIG bonus fiasco.

Turns out Geither included a clause in the bail-out bill that allowed banks to pay out the bonuses. He figured that the Treasury can always print more money over weekends. AIG wants to pay out 160 million in bonuses? Not a problem. We’ll just print a Trillion dollars in new cash and make up for it.

I wish Obama would spare us the fake “outrage” over the bonuses. I mean, what else do you expect when you hand a bunch of crooks 170 billion dollars with virtually no strings attached? He’s obstinate, aint he? Just won’t give up on that whole no-preconditions policy.

Having said that, you’ve gotto admire the folks at AIG. They took massive risks knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to go under by the Fed. And now, they’ve got hundreds of billions in taxpayer money to pay for their f**ked up bets. When you think about it, they’ve sold the ultimate Credit Default Swap agreement to the American taxpayers without them even realizing it.

What’s more, AIG is now suing the Fed to recover $306 million of taxes it paid in 2008. So the company is suing its biggest shareholder (taxpayers) with taxpayer money to get back some tax dollars, which would be re-distributed to its shareholders (taxpayers) as dividends. Why can’t AIG do us all a favour and not file taxes at all? You know, like Tim Geithner?

The worst part – some AIG executives took these so–called “retention bonuses” and still quit the company. Their contracts allowed them to collect massive bonuses before the crisis in 2008 and even after it. In some ways, I can see why these ass***** are called the best and brightest people in America.

Obama was on the Tonight Show on Thursday. The interview was quite light-hearted, you know…..joke after joke from the President. Like when he told Leno that Tim Geithner was doing an “outstanding job” as the Treasury Secretary. That was my favourite.

He then went to confess that banks were just keeping the bail-out money to maintain certain capital ratios. No wonder the credit markets are still frozen. Not counting all the credit Obama is giving Geithner for doing such a fabulous job, of course.

Some quips dint go down well with the audience though. Like the one where Obama compared his poor bowling score to athletes in the Special Olympics. And given the huge budget deficit, his government’s credit score is worse than his bowling score.

Pope Benedict, travelling in Africa, created a furor by saying that condoms “increase the problem” of AIDS. And with just one statement, he’s moved himself into the list of the top 3 dangers facing humanity. Just behind Dick Cheney and marginally above global warming.

The Pope argues that his statement is backed by solid empirical evidence. He points out that all his bishops in churches worldwide have religiously used condoms will having sex with children and nuns but still got infected with HIV.

 

Top 10 List: 16th March, 2009

Everyone’s talking about AIG. And the outrage over $165 million in bonuses paid to executives at the company. This was after AIG received close to $175 billion in federal bailout money and is at the heart of a global financial crisis. So all the brouhaha is understandable. No one has any clue why these bonuses are being paid.

Luckily for us, AIG CEO Edward Liddy was able to clarify some of these questions. Apparently, there are plenty of good reasons why AIG has to pay its executives these bonuses on time.

In Ed Liddy’s own words, the Top 10 reasons why the bonuses had to be promptly paid with taxpayer money-

10. “Tim Geithner owes you guys more in unpaid back-taxes. Deal with him first, will ya?”.

9. “The Execs threatened to defect to the Third Front”.

8. “Its paid out in Canadian dollars. Its a lot less than you think, really”.

7. “We took away their jets. At least give them this.”

6. “If we don’t do this, then the terrorists win.”

5. “We need to do this to retain the best and brightest talent, who just lost us 61 billion in Q1”.

4. “Yes, we can”.

3. “You cant hate us more than Bernie Madoff, surely?”

2. “Nawaz Sharif threatened to march into the Arabian Sea with his supporters”.

1. “AIG Execs are taxpayers too”.

Headlines: 13th March, 2009

It’s Holi. The festival of colours. The one day politicians can change shades every minute with no questions asked. Ominous signs for the BJP – no takers for the saffron dyes.

No one was spared. Even LK Advani was left red-faced at the end of the day. But it had nothing to do with Holi. Just that all his allies are bailing on him at the last minute.

Speaking of which, Naveen Patnaik is facing another flood crisis in Orissa. This time around, his office has been inundated with frantic calls from every single Prime Ministerial candidate in the Third Front.

Its ridiculous how everyone in the Third Front is considering himself / herself PM material. Having said that, its good to have choices. Last time, we had to pick between an Italian and someone who’d never won a Lok Sabha seat.

The scary part? Mayawati has thrown her hat in the ring. She is virtually holding the Left Parties to ransom threatening to leave the Front if she is not nominated. Am slowly starting to buy into the whole karma philosophy.

But the Third Front leaders say they wont project a PM candidate till the elections are over. In effect, we are asked to vote for them now to afford them the right to make up their minds later.

And what a motley crew at that! The beard (Naidu), the nay-sayer (Karat), the fat one (JJ), the retard (Mayawati), the sleeper (Gowda)…. its like watching the Lagaan XI contesting the elections.

Given recent developments, the Election Commission is now faced with a great challenge. Its dysfunctional team has been entrusted with the task of scheduling and securely conducting IPL matches while sneaking in a general election in between, if possible.

Doesn’t it feel like that? Why are we negotiating back and forth with Lalit Modi on the verge of arguably the country’s most important elections ever? Taken collectively – with Pak-Taliban, Lanka-LTTE, Bangladeshi Army-defectors, India- Modi – the entire Asian subcontinent is involved in negotiating with terrorists. Not our proudest moment.

India has handed over its replies to the 30 questions from Pak. Just to be safe, it has handed separate copies to everyone currently in charge of Pakistan – the Taliban, Zardari, Gilani, the Army Chief, Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan.

This raises some serious concerns for Obama. If the Commies take over India and the Taliban topple Zardari, the US wouldn’t know which country to invade first.

Pranab defended himself in a recent interview with Karan Thapar. He said the economy was under pressure and struggling to cope. The Congress had done all it could but the road to recovery was slow and painful. No wait….. this was about Manmohan in hospital.

Anybody even remember him? Manmohan’s completely disappeared from the public radar. He’s done his bit for the party but the spotlight is totally on Sonia and Rahul these days. He got a note from Resul Pookutty that said ‘Been there, done that’.

Mulayam finally admitted that it was a mistake to hand out money to voters as part of Holi celebrations. So the mistake count, as per Amar Singh’s calculations, currently reads Mulayam – 1, CBI – 288.

Reacting to criticism from the Dalai Lama, China contended that Tibet was in fact a ‘paradise on earth’, rather than hell. The Govt spokesman said China would only take that back if we stopped calling SWAT valley the Switzerland of the Far East.

Update on the Iraqi shoe thrower. He’s been sentenced to 3 years in jail. And grandpa Bernie Madoff, who swindled more than 50 billion, has been handed a lifetime sentence. Or 3 years, whichever is shorter.

Headlines: 4th March, 2009

Everyone’s in shock over what happened to the Lankan team. None more so than the Taliban/LeT. They are utterly shocked that the rest of us assumed sportsmen would not be targeted.

This was after the Lankan team was promised President-level security. Really? If this is the protection President-level security gets you, I don’t blame Zardari for signing that pre-emptive deal with the Taliban.

No more sports in the country. If it’s any consolation, Pakistan can continue playing mind games with India and ‘double-games’ with the US.

Yep. A call intercepted by the CIA confirmed that the Pakistani military is still actively supporting the Taliban. So Pakistan is happily absorbing billions in free aid whilst merely pretending to help America in return. Kinda like AIG, when you think about it.

It’s been 2 days and no real leads. Zardari has assured everyone that the state is the doing the best it can. Sure, but no resignations. None so far. Shivraj Patil was not reachable for comment.

Condemning the attack, the Congress sneaked in a comment that Pakistan could fast become the Somalia of Asia. Pretty rich, coming from a country currently in the international spotlight for A) terrorism and B) its slums.

In terms of the fallout, this will affect the staging of the IPL next month and cost the BCCI and Lalit Modi millions of dollars in losses. So victory for one bunch of terrorists has been balanced out with substantial losses for another. Poetic justice.

Digest this. Pakistan expects to tour Bangladesh as scheduled this month despite what happened in Lahore. Any and all military personnel still alive after the Army mutiny last week will try providing security.

Chidambaram issued a warning that militants might attempt to do something during the elections. Given that Maulana Sufi Mohammad openly denounces democracy as ‘sin and infidelity’, PChid might want to re-think the word ‘might’.

I mean, Pakistan has just succumbed to the Taliban. The Bangladeshi Army is busy playing good cop-bad cop. The Lankan assault on the LTTE is still on. Cant ask for a better moment to hold a month long election. In 5 phases. Involving a billion people. Perfect timing.

Btw, Navin Chawla will take over as the next Chief Election Commissioner on April 20. Unlike Gopalaswami, Pratibha Patil can actually pull off the suo motu stunt.

And it aint gonna be cheap. Its going to come at a staggering cost of 10,000 crores! In other words, it’s the fiscal stimulus that never came in the interim budget. Clearly, the electoral process is more important than the result this year.

The Congress has drawn first blood. It has acquired exclusive rights to use the song ‘Jai Ho’ during campaigning. Not to be outdone, the BJP is buying a symbol of national pride of its own– Gandhiji’s blood test report that’s up for auction.

Top Ten List: 26th February, 2009

Am a big fan of the Top Ten List segment in the David Letterman Show. Something along those lines today.

Enough has been written about the negative implications of the Taliban’s deal with the Pakistani government. But what about the people of the valley? How would their lives be affected? Today’s list compiles the top 10 indications for the citizens of SWAT that the Taliban is now in charge of the place.

The entries are in reverse, countdown order. Here goes –

Top 10 signs that the Taliban is in now charge of SWAT valley:

10. Suddenly, all your neighbours are named Maulana something.

9. The leading economic indicator in the province is the Foreigner Exchange Reserve.

8. Bin Laden is a regular guest lecturer at the local madrassa.

7. 9/11 and 26/11 are celebrated as state holidays.

6. The district Qazi consults the Quran to decide if you are allowed to wear pink chaddis.

5. The town’s head count does NOT refer to the town’s population size anymore.

4. AK Antulay’s pic is featured on the local currency notes.

3. The valley’s new tourist brochure starts with ‘SWAT is not a bad place. It’s much safer than Mumbai. Really.’

2. A typical classified ad reads – Radical Islamic hardliner room-mate wanted.

1
. A fatwa is declared on AR Rahman for being a Pro-American infidel.

Headlines: The week that was – Part 2

The vultures are out. Both the BJP and Congress want to take credit for Slumdog’s success at the Oscars. The Congress has a good case. Without its negligence, there would have been no slums for Danny Boyle to work with.

Advani called Rahman’s win a great achievement for all Indians. You know its election year when the BJP jumps into the Muslim appeasement business.

Pakistan’s concessions on 26/11. Lets face it, Zardari made them after a whole lot of diplomatic arm-twisting. First it was India. Then Holbrooke did some more twisting. Followed by the Taliban. Even David Blaine agrees that all this twisting is making him nauseous.

Pakistan has given 30 really tough questions of its own for Pranab. And it wants the answers ASAP. Poor Pranab. It must be like going on Karan Thapar’s show again. But without the condescension.

30 questions and limited time to respond to them? That’s like Rahul Gandhi’s worst nightmare from his college days. He dropped out from Harvard then and he’s definitely dropping out of the PM race now.

I don’t think its fair though. They gave ONE answer and expect us to tackle THIRTY questions in return? I say forget Zardari and follow the conventional wisdom – directly strike a deal with the Taliban. I think we’ll get much better terms with them.

The much talked about Pakistan’s “deal” with the Taliban. Its the most disturbing instance of a sovereign nation openly signing a deal with terrorists since…since….. Lalit Modi was given anticipatory bail by the High Court last week.

The investigators in the Mumbai terror attack have booked Ajmal Kasab for entering the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) without a railway ticket. Bravo. Lets follow this up and book his 9 deceased colleagues for staying three days at the Taj without paying room charges.

Am not saying the police are being over-zealous in performing their duties, but did they have to go to this extent? Did they really have to accuse Kasab of being the elusive ‘kala bandar’?

No kidding. The Mumbai police have compiled a massive chargesheet that’s more than 10,000 pages long!! Needless to say, it’s still shorter than the transcript of Kate Winslet’s speech at the Oscars.

Zardari made a trip to China last week. You know, to the land of censorship, restrictions on public assembly, limited freedom of speech, and the repression of independent religious groups. Poor Zardari. He’s faced with Sharia Law wherever he goes.

Some good news. ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education’ Bill has been cleared by the Cabinet. So children can now enjoy their fundamental right…. to be forcibly educated?? Semantics anyone?

Compulsory education bill? Call me cynical but this just sounds like an elaborate scheme by Sonia to send Rahul Gandhi back to college and complete his course.

In Sri Lanka, the LTTE had retaliated by air-bombing civilians in Colombo. India has strongly condemned the attacks. Of course we did. We prefer it when it’s the Army bombing and shooting down its own civilians.

Lot of talk about the shift in balance of power from the US to Asia. Is there is any substance to it? Reports indicate that the “slumdog” kids from the movie are getting their own flats in Bombay. Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s ancestral home got foreclosed. You decide.

Headlines: The week that was – Part 1

I know I haven’t blogged for a week. A quick recap of last week’s news……

First off, the Oscars. A big relief for all Indians. What a billion people were hoping and praying for came true – Anil Kapoor got minimal camera time. Phew! Oh, and AR Rahman won a couple of Oscars, which was a bonus.

In his speech, Rahman confessed ‘Meri paas bas meri maa hai’, meaning ‘I have nothing with me but my mother’. Quite touching. He was, of course, borrowing heavily from Rahul Gandhi’s campaign slogan.

Rahman also said ‘All my life, I had a choice between love and hate. I chose love and here I am’. Which makes you wonder what happens to those who chose hate. Lets see….you probably end up presenting an award with your ex-husband and his new girlfriend sitting in the front row laughing at you.

Brad Pitt was gutted after Benjamin Button got nominated in more than 10 categories with Slumdog but won only 3 awards. Danny Boyle stepped in and let Anjelina adopt Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto. They called it even.

Looks like the Oscar committee has also signed a deal with the Taliban. You know, with them asking a Non-States actor, Hugh Jackman to be the host this year?

There was a lot of talk of this being the “recession-Oscars”. With the low-budget sets and scaled-back stage. Plus, the event was sponsored by the Federal Reserve.

The signs were there. You know it’s the recession-Oscars when the event was given a sub-primetime slot on NBC. You know it’s the recession-Oscars when the Kodak Theatre got foreclosed midway through the show and everyone was asked to leave.

While presenting his award, Ben Stiller spoofed Joaquin Phoenix’s awkward appearance on the Letterman Show last week. Did you see that? Joaquin was drunk, incoherent and replied in monosyllables to questions. Obama immediately named him USA’s representative to next year’s G-7 summit.

More showbiz news. Did you catch the latest show on Broadway? It’s the Detroit adaptation of Oliver Twist. Including the classic scene where Oliver asks Mr.Bumble ‘Sir, can I have some more bail-out money?’

That’s right. GM and Chrysler want $20 billion more from the Fed. You know, its odd how the roles have changed here. The automakers are the ones collecting all the taxpayer money while Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, is the one paying all the taxes.

GM also wants a line of credit for as much as 8 billion. Really? By the time GM and Chrysler can pay back the debt, the line of credit would be stretched so far into the future that it would just be a dot.

Baby-faced Alfie Patten of Britain, who is 13, became a father last week when his girlfriend Chantelle Steadman,15, gave birth to their child Maisie. Scary, eh? Or as they call it in Andhra, a ‘grand alliance’.

Yep. Rivaling factions TDP, TRS, CPI and CPI(M) have formed what has been dubbed the ‘grand alliance’, to oust the Congress from Andhra. Did you see these guys who hate each other sit side by side and grin for the sake of winning some votes? God, it was like watching the Oscars all over again.

The boring politics news tomorrow…..

Headlines: 16th February, 2009

Here’s how bad the recession is. Americans can’t even work for peanuts these days.

The day started with an elaborate paean in praise of Congress Party President Sonia Gandhiji that lasted a couple of hours. Also known as the Interim Budget.

But the stock market crashed once the interim budget turned out to be a damp squib. What else would you expect from a substitute (Pranab) of a substitute (Manmohan) of a substitute (Chidambaram)? It should have been Manmohan all along.

In his defense, Pranab argued that he did not have the mandate do anything more with the budget. No mandate? Does this mean Prakash Karat is the one we should be blaming?

Pranab termed his interim budget as one for the ‘aam admi’. Unfortunately, for the ‘aam admi’, the government is now the ‘baam admi’.

Did you read about that? A farmer in Rajasthan claims that an Army aircraft bombed his 5 bhiga field and home. No statements from the Army. Guess the IAF’s policy is not to ‘kisaan-and-tell’. Or it’s in a real kisaan jam. Or it doesn’t think it’s that bhig-a deal. Take your pick.

The bombing did not result in any loss of life or property. And that’s not always a good thing. Think about it. The IAF “bombed” an innocent, unsuspecting civilian in broad daylight without causing any damage to him or his property. Aren’t you glad we’ve ruled out military retaliation against Pakistan?

This also explains why we are stocking up on smart bombs. Because the pilots are not. It also begs the question – why this proactive approach in bombing farmers? The Centre’s previous policy of just letting them commit suicide was working well so far.

US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke in India. His only achievement on this trip is coining the catchy term, ‘Af-Pak’ to describe the disappearing boundary lines between the two countries, as far as terrorists as concerned. In that case, shouldn’t it be ‘Af-Pak-Ind-Bang-Lankistan’?

Poor Holbrooke is faced with the unenviable prospect of deciding which is worse – the Hindutva Talibanisation of India or the Talibani Talibanisation of Pakistan.

Pakistan is signing agreements with the Taliban. Britain is openly imploring militants not to target its people. India is bombing its own citizens. I hate to be the bringer of bad news but it looks like the terrorists, of all people, are winning the war on terror. Since 9/11, the score reads Terrorists 15, Rest-of-the-World 0.

And Sharia law is tough. It’s a theocratic society with extreme restrictions on women and many aspects of day-to-day life like politics, business, sexuality etc. Kinda like Vasundara Raje and Rajasthan for the last 4 years under the reign of Lalit Modi (also known as Profit Mohammad).

Modi is now threatening to take IPL away from Jaipur if the cases against him are not dropped. First, Mangalore took over as India’s ‘pink city’. And now, Modi is threatening to leave the place. Finally, the tide is turning for the citizens of Jaipur…..

LK Advani is getting an IIM student as an intern in his election team. Why not? There are no investment banks in Wall Street anymore to reward self-indulgence and incompetence with obscene salaries. Indian politics is the next best thing.

The Iron Maiden concert in Bangalore was a success. Am surprised. I mean, if we wanted to listen to senile octogenarians singing the same old tunes for decades, we could tune into Pranab’s budget speech instead.

Headlines: 12th February, 2009

The CPI-M has openly asked Kerala CM Achyuthanandan to forget ethical considerations and toe the party line by dropping the corruption case against ex-CM P.Vijayan (also of the CPI-M). Elsewhere, Gandhiji’s personal belongings are going to be auctioned off in NY. As a country, we’re selling out on his principles. No great harm in selling off his specs, watches and sandals too, right?

The unholy nexus between the Congress and SP on the brink of collapse over the Mulayam-CBI investigation. The ramifications are enormous. For starters, Aishwarya Rai’s Padma Shri will be taken away.

According to Amar Singh, the CBI has made at least 288 errors in its report on Mulayam. 288 mistakes?? Poor Mulayam – it must be like reading Satyam’s annual report.

The image of the CBI is supposedly at stake here. What image? It’s nothing more than a perennial source of embarrassment for the country. CBI members can happily wear pink chaddis in public without any impact on its image.

Am sure you’ve read about the Pink Chaddi campaign. It’s got a great response. More than 30,000 members on Facebook alone. Funnily enough, all 40 of Muthalik’s followers will be voting in the coming elections while none of these 30,000 are likely to.

The group claims itself to be ‘A Consortium of Loose Pub-going and Forward Women.’ Incidentally, there is a similar club for men too. Represented by the entire cast of the movie Dev D.

Based on Pakistan’s partial admission on the 26/11 attacks, Chidambaram went on to praise their report as “an exceptional and tightly argued document”. The UPA is big on Muslim appeasement, yes. But to the best of my knowledge, Pakistani Muslims can’t vote in the coming elections.

It’s not just the Congress. Narendra Modi chips in with his comment on Indians being involved in 26/11. LK Advani is campaigning in Pakistani websites. I don’t blame them. At the moment, Hindutva is likely to win the BJP more votes in Pakistan than India.

Hindutva has taken a real beating of late. First it was Col. Purohit and the Malegaon blasts. Then Shiela Dikshit trumping the BJP in Delhi. Followed by the Ram Sena show. Now, if only the RSS came up with a new cola that has cow urine as the main ingredient…

Key quote from the RSS spokesman – “Don’t worry, it won’t smell like urine and will be tasty too”. The argument better known in political circles as ‘the Morarji Desai fallacy’.

Basically, consumers have to pick between drinking pesticides and drinking cow urine. And we thought VS Achyuthanandan had a tough choice to make!

It’s possible that cow dung and urine may have some medicinal properties. But the “output” also depends on the intake. On a diet consisting of plastic bags, Lays chips, broken bottles and dry grass? I don’t think so.

P.Chidambaram now wants to sit and sort out our differences through cordial talks. He wasn’t referring to Pakistan though. This was about the ugly fistfights that erupted between MLA’s in Uttar Pradesh. Not to forget, Andhra Pradesh.

Even our commercial planes are clashing. OK, almost clashing. Two major collisions averted in Mumbai and Guwahati respectively. Small mercies.

Reports indicate that Dawood’s gang has been roped in to kill Ajmal Amir Kasab in jail. And yet, Pranab keeps complaining that Pakistan is not doing enough to get rid of terrorists.

Headlines: 9th February, 2009

Pakistan’s report is out. The 26/11 attacks were planned in Europe, of all places. In other words, this is Pakistan’s way of telling our NSA that we are barking up the wrong tree.

Europe? The attack on Bombay planned in Britain, perhaps? Last time I checked, the East India Company was definitely defunct. France, maybe? That should explain Sarkozy’s lousy approval ratings- you know, attacking Bombay with London right next door.

Pakistani Prez Zaradari has accused India of trying to diplomatically isolate the country from the international community. It’s not entirely clear what he meant – but he wants India to immediately stop the ‘emotional hatyachar’.

Since no one seems remotely interested in volunteering, Kalyan Singh has offered to take full moral responsibility for 26/11. Admirable.

Faheem Ansari, an accused in the 26/11 attacks, has alleged that a female agent from the FBI sexually harassed him while he was in custody of the Mumbai Police. Maybe she was just checking his background using some coercive methods? Taken out of context, the phrase ‘Who’s your daddy??’ and some good-natured spanking can mean a whole lot of things.

Coming on top of the winter Olympics in Tihar and the bindas lifestyle of Ramalinga Raju in jail, this is a shocker. Criminals in this country have never had it so good… I mean, sex, games, luxury? …. It’s a dozen AK-47s short of living in Sanjay Dutt’s basement in 1993 all over again.

The moral of the story – if you carry out the job and get killed, the pay-off is 72 virgins. If you fail and get caught, you are allotted a slutty cop to sex you up in jail. Not a bad business to be in, this jihad thingy.

P Chidambaram has condemned the Ram Sena and indicated that the Congress would not allow any organization to “operate as a self-styled police force”. You know, like the Congress under Indira Gandhi in 1975. Or the Congress under Indira Gandhi with Operation Blue Star.

The BJP issued a statement saying that Ayodhya would NOT be a key poll plank for the party. Amazing. With a single strike, Pramod Muthalik has achieved the impossible – the BJP wants to have nothing to do with ‘Ram’ anymore.

In a shocking case of caste discrimination, Dalit families in Rajasthan were asked to purify themselves by drinking cow urine to participate in a yagna at the local Hanuman mandir. The Dalits have not been insulted this badly since the HRD Ministry gave their kids those 10-dollar “laptops” last week.

SRK was forced to defend himself after hundreds of hairdressers slammed his film’s title “Billu Barber”. SRK argued that if he wanted to use a real derogatory term, he would have named the film “Billu Election Commissioner”.

Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, is planning to run for governor of California. Awesome. She can teach Rod Blagojevich a thing or two about auctioning Senate seats without getting caught.

After much drama, the US Senate passed the bailout bill 61-36. But not before N. Gopalaswami threatened to suo motu sack the entire Republican Party.

Headlines: 5th February, 2009

The old adage still holds. If something sounds too good to be true, then don’t believe what Ratan Tata is saying. Now we need to add the HRD to the list as well.

The 10-dollar laptop that the Department of Human Resources announced yesterday – an utter joke. Its barely a computing device and can hardly perform any useful function. The new Board at Satyam has ordered 500 of these laptops.

It was designed by students of Vellore Institute of Technology, scientists in Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, IIT-Madras, UGC and HRD. So the best minds in the country worked for months to come up with a bulky 2GB USB stick. How we ever got Chandrayaan to orbit the moon is beyond me.

I mean, its nothing more than an overhyped brick. The only way we can build a better future for our children with them would be to construct housing facilities using these ‘laptops’. In this light, I don’t blame Obama’s ‘Buy American’ clause in the bailout package.

India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan has warned Obama that he would be “barking up the wrong tree” if he subscribes to views linking Kashmir to 26-11. Ouch. Even David Miliband was going –‘Can he say that??’

On the bright side, the NSA wont be embarrassing the UPA anymore with his interviews. You know, its so much harder to speak when you have your foot in your mouth.

The IRS has a new method to track down tax evaders in the US. It’s going to wait for Obama to pick them in his Cabinet. Simple.

Yep. Following Tim Geithner, it’s the turn of Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer to resign following admissions of tax evasion. Clearly, when Obama talks about offering tax breaks in the stimulus package, he’s talking to his Cabinet members.

Obama openly admitted his mistake with the Tom Daschle nomination. He actually said – ‘ I screwed up’. No wait… that was Kalyan Singh.

Sucking up to Muslims in a heartfelt speech, Kalyan took full moral responsibility for the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. He then got so carried away by the emotions of the moment that he broke down in tears. No wait…that was Roger Federer.

Given the extent of Kalyan’s groveling, aimed at the Muslim minorities, can someone tell me why he’s with the Samajwadi Party, and not the Congress??

Tough decisions from Obama. He’s slapped a 500K limit on executive compensation for bailout companies. But the good news – they’ll be compensated with stock options. The bad news – its Citigroup stock.

The Dalai Lama was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Delhi on Monday. He was discharged later once the doctors convinced him that he had NOT been offered the position of Finance Minister in the UPA.

India has signed its first commercial pact with the French nuclear giant Areva to make nuclear reactors. That’s odd. Don’t we have enough nuclear react-ors in the country already? You know, the CPI, the CPI(M), the Revolutionary Socialist Party…..

Headlines: 2nd February, 2009

Here’s how bad the recession is. Even with the Lok Sabha polls coming up shortly, the Election Commission is downsizing its workforce.

CEC N. Gopalaswami has suo motu recommended that Navin Chawla be removed from office on the alleged grounds of ‘partisanship.’ Gopalaswami almost pulled it off before the Congress realized that suo motu meant that he dint have to give a damn about anyone else.

First the EC announces the election dates. Then the CEC wants to fire his co-worker. Fascinating. This, incidentally, explains why we need more than a month to conduct elections even though we’ve upgraded to electronic voting booths.

Lots of focus on Article 324(5) and its interpretation. I don’t see what the fuss is all about. The relevant passage reads ‘ the CEC cannot act on his own and must await a ‘reference’ from the President, if only to justify Pratibha Patil’s existence in the Universe’.

On the plus side, it’s good to see the Congress and BJP studying the Constitution again. That book was starting to collect some dust.

When asked if he could have timed the announcement better, Gopalaswami enigmatically replied that it was just a case of ‘Luck by Chance’.

With Gopalaswami retiring in April and Navin Chawla possibly removed, the EC would be reduced to one member – SY Quraishi. It suddenly becomes clear why TN Seshan called him a lucky b*****d.

Since the election dates have been announced, the Congress is henceforth not allowed to make any major policy decisions. Great. First it was the Left. Now the EC. Will someone let the Congress make some policy decisions already?

Good news on Satyam. The govt. has identified a replacement for Ramalinga Raju. The new CEO is Hashmatullah Khan, an unknown exporter of shawls from Kashmir.

Did you read about it? This guy was somehow nominated for a Padma Shri in the category of ‘art’, while he is not a craftsman is the slightest sense of the word. He sells shawls. While this does not reflect well on the awards process, I don’t feel that bad about Aishwarya Rai winning it anymore.

But I am worried about rumours that she might contest in the coming elections with the Samajwadi Party. In Bihar, of all places. For once, Bal Thackeray was not complaining that the Bachchans were not doing enough for Maharashtra.

Looks like the SP wants to match the RJD in terms of candidates with similar profiles. You know, like the IQ. Enter beauty contest winner. It all fits.

Michael Phelps, who won a record 8 gold medals for swimming at the Beijing games last summer, has been caught smoking cannabis. Amazing, isn’t it? I dint even know he was planning to run for President!

Obama blasted the Wall Street bonuses and asked execs to show some ‘restraint, discipline, and responsibility’. For some reason, ex-deputy CM Chandar Mohan and actress Priety Zinta also ended up apologizing to him.

After Bush, it was the turn of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to have a shoe throw at him during a speech. I know that Tim Geithner really wants China to re-evaluate its currency, but this is hardly the way to go about it.