Putin considers plan to unplug Russia from the internet ‘in an emergency’

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin /Picture from The Guardian

 

 

TEXT AND PICTURE FROM THE GUARDIAN UK DATED: SEPTEMBER 19 2014 BY LUKE HARDING

The Kremlin is considering radical plans to unplug Russia from the global internet in the event of a serious military confrontation or big anti-government protests at home, Russian officials hinted on Friday.

President Vladimir Putin will convene a meeting of his security council on Monday. It will discuss what steps Moscow might take to disconnect Russian citizens from the web “in an emergency”, the Vedomosti newspaper reported. The goal would be to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty in cyberspace. The proposals could also bring the domain .ru under state control, it suggested.

Russian TV and most of the country’s newspapers are under the Kremlin’s thumb. But unlike in China, the Russian internet has so far remained a comparatively open place for discussion, albeit one contested by state-sponsored bloggers and Putin fans.

The move comes at a time when Russia has been bitterly critical of the western media, which Moscow says has adopted a biased attitude -Read more

Russia cries foul over Scottish independence vote

Ballot boxes are opened as counting begins in the Scottish referendum in Aberdeen

Ballot boxes are opened as counting begins in the Scottish referendum in Aberdeen /Picture from The Guardian, UK

 

TEXT AND PICTURE FROM THE GUARDIAN, UK DATED: SEPTEMBER 19 2014 BY LUKE HARDING

In an apparent attempt to mirror persistent western criticism of Russia’s own elections, Igor Borisov – an accredited observer – said the poll failed to meet basic international norms.

Borisov and three other Russians arrived in Edinburgh on Wednesday evening, the state news agency Ria Novosti reported. The team from Moscow’s Public Institute of Suffrage watched voting take place in the Scottish capital and the surrounding area. It also met with Scottish politicians, voters and representatives from non-governmental organisations, Ria said.

Borisov said he was unimpressed by what he saw. He said the room where he watched the count on Thursday night was a cavernous “aircraft hangar” next to an airfield. It was difficult to see what was going on, he said, adding: “The hangar is approximately 100m by 300m. There are tables, with voting papers stacked upon them, but the observers are – Read more

Why Asia is probably poorer than we think

MDG : Poverty matters : Poverty in Asia : An Indian man drinks water, India

A man drinks water from a roadside tap in Allahabad, India. Has Asia been a success in reducing poverty? Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

TEXT AND PICTURE FROM GUARDIAN, UK DATED: SEPTEMBER 9 2010 BY JAYATI GHOSH

The first target of the first millennium development goal (MDG) is to halve extreme poverty. It has been interpreted in terms of income poverty alone, relying on counting people living below the arbitrary global poverty line of $1.25 per day. According to this measure, there has been a global reduction of income poverty that indicates the target has already been met.

Most of this is due to rapid poverty reduction in Asia, especially east and south-east Asia and more recently in south Asia, so it is generally felt that the region is a success story. But does this rather basic measure leave out some important aspects of poverty?

A new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) makes important points about the nature of poverty in Asia and how this widely used measure is inadequate to capture it. At least three more elements should be factored in: the costs of consumption for poor people; food prices, which have been rising much faster than the general price level, and vulnerability to natural disasters, climate change, economic crises and other shocks.

The $1.25 poverty line has been questioned by many observers, and it is good that the ADB has joined this chorus. This line is quite arbitrary – it is simply the average value (in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms) of national poverty lines of the world’s 15 poorest countries. Most of these -Read more

Hungary’s Crackdown on the Press

FROM NEW YORK TIMES DATED:SEPTEMBER 8 2014 BY PHILIP N. HOWARD

The European Union faces a challenging conundrum. While Hungary has embarked on building Europe’s most controlled media system, the European Commission just agreed in August to provide the country with nearly 22 billion euros of economic assistance.

Hungary has become a disturbing example of how a political elite can roll back democracy, even in the heart of Europe. Leveraging an electorally successful right-wing populism, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has staged an autocratic crackdown on the nation’s press, which the independent watchdog Freedom House now ranks as only “partly free.”

Mr. Orban’s media strategy has several components. First, de facto control of the nation’s Media Authority has -Read more

The Economist explains: Why India’s Muslims are so moderate

TEXT AND PICTURE FROM THE ECONOMIST DATED: SEPTEMBER 7 2014

ON SEPTEMBER 3RD Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s chief, released a video message in which he promised to “raise the flag of jihad” across South Asia. Many analysts responded with little more than a shrug. The extremist group looks increasingly desperate. Since Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, al-Qaeda’s impact has been limited. It is overshadowed by the brutal Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, which draws volunteer fighters from a wide range of countries and has said that Afghanistan and Pakistan will be brought under its yoke too. Yet the biggest reason for scepticism about al-Qaeda’s threat is that neither it, nor the IS, are likely to get support from more than a tiny handful of Muslims in India.

India’s Muslims are numerous, but moderate. Though barely 15% of the total, at some 180m they roughly number the same as Pakistan’s entire population. Many are disaffected. In the only Muslim-majority state, Kashmir, residents are embittered by years of heavy-handed rule by Indian security forces, and protests frequently erupt. Occasional terrorist attacks take place in Indian cities, blamed on a home-grown group, the Indian -Read more

- See more at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/09/economist-explains-3?fsrc=nlw|newe|8-09-2014|5356ccfe899249e1ccc832e5|#sthash.7pfmPAi4.dpuf

Mining Act does not bar police from prosecuting people found removing sand illegally, rules SC

image from down to earth

FROM DOWN TO EARTH

 TEXT AND PICTURE FROM DOWN TO EARTH DATED: SEPTEMBER 7 2014 BY ARUNA P SHARMA

Apex court expresses serious concern over damage to the environment and water sources caused by indiscriminate sand mining

Lawyer for the appellants in the case had argued that MMDR Act puts a bar on even registration of FIR and there can be no investigation in this respect unless the magistrate gives such a direction on the complaint of an authorised official.

The bench, however, disagreed with this. “We are of the definite opinion that the ingredients constituting the offence under the MMDR Act and the ingredients of dishonestly removing sand and gravel from the river beds without consent, which is the property of the State, is a distinct offence under the IPC,” says the judgement. The judgement adds that a magistrate having jurisdiction can take cognisance of such an offence on a police report “without awaiting the receipt of complaint that may be filed by the -Read more

Come back Aristotle Onassis – all is forgiven

Aristotle Onassis in 1967

Aristotle Onassis in 1967

Picture from Wikipedia

 

TEXT FROM SPECTATOR, UK DATED: SEPTEMBER 6 2014 BY  TAKI

Onassis was a much misunderstood character. He had great charm, spoke many languages and was very streetwise, but his looks were against him. His propensity to wear dark-blue double-breasted suits, white shirts and dark, wraparound sunglasses added to the Mafioso aura. The gomina slicked-down mane did not help and his inclination to date very famous women landed him in the wrong kind of gossip columns of the time. When he married Jackie Kennedy, the most famous woman in the world in 1968, the Onassis name became known even among Amazon tribes who had never seen a white man.

I thought of Onassis recently when a Swiss friend went to stay with the Russian oligarch whose daughter bought Skorpios last year. The oligarch is the king of shit, a manure tycoon whose wife was awarded something like four -Read more

Justice as a Socratic process

FROM THE HINDU DATED: SEPTEMBER 06 2014 EDITORIAL

It may appear to be a mere question of procedure, but by mandating an oral hearing the Supreme Court has imparted greater substance to the disposal of review petitions of those sentenced to death. With a finesse that has come to be the hallmark of the Court in dealing with the issue of death penalty in recent years, a five-Judge Constitution Bench has carved out a significant exception to the general rule that review petitions need not be heard in open court, but instead may be disposed of by circulation among the judges. Faced with an earlier Constitution Bench verdict upholding the rule, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, writing on behalf of the majority of four judges, has adopted the only mode of reasoning by which the Bench could have allowed the prayer for an oral hearing: by making open court hearing a constitutional requirement under Article 21 and anchoring the rule on the irreversibility of carrying out the death sentence. Secondly, the majority has concluded that oral hearing is an integral part of ‘reasonable procedure’, by considering the possibility of two judicial minds coming to diametrically opposite conclusions on the same facts and circumstances as to whether the death penalty would be warranted. The scope for reviewing a decision that has attained judicial finality is indeed narrow, and is confined to the ground of error apparent on the face of the record. However, even the remotest chance of altering it is enough to justify an oral hearing.

Oral hearing in review matters was dispensed with in the light of the docket explosion and a ‘baby boom’ in review petitions. Normally, given that a full trial and hearing at two appellate levels precede the resort to review jurisdiction, denying oral hearing at that stage may not violate the objective of public justice or reduce disposal to the outcome of a ‘secret conclave’. However, death sentences -Read more

The Economist explains: Why are no-frills airlines so cheap?

 

FROM THE ECONOMIST DATED OCTOBER 17 2013

IN THE 1950s flying was a privilege enjoyed by only the wealthiest. The costs of flying were simply too high for most ordinary folk. In 1952 a London-to-Scotland return flight would set the average Englishman back a week’s wages; a trip to New York might require saving up for five months. But in 2013 flying is a mass market, due in no small part to the growth of “no-frills” airlines offering flights at very low prices. Ryanair, an Ireland-based no-frills airline, has even been known to give tickets away for free. How can no-frills airlines be so cheap?

Southwest Airlines, the world’s first successful no-frills carrier, pioneered ways of reducing operating costs that are now used all over the world. To reduce costs Southwest filled its planes with more seats, made sure each flight was packed and flew its aircraft more often than full-service airlines. No-frills airlines also cut costs by using only one type of aeroplane. Both Southwest and Ryanair fly only Boeing 737s, whereas British-based easyJet flies mainly Airbus planes. Business class was abolished. Fees for non-essential services like carrying luggage in the hold were introduced. Innovative sales strategies -Read more

- See more at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/10/economist-explains-13#sthash.AucWA812.dpuf

No One Wants to Fly Malaysia Airlines Anymore, for Some Reason

PICTURE FROM NEW YORK MAGAZINE

PICTURE FROM NEW YORK MAGAZINE

FROM NEW YORK MAGAZINE BY JOE COSCARELLI

Odds are, if you fly Malaysia Airlines, you’ll be just fine — and probably get your seat upgraded for free. But after the loss of two commercial jets this year, including the still-unsolved disappearance of Flight 370 and the rocket attack on MH17 over Ukraine, try telling that to actual travelers.

“The southeast Asia air carrier burns its cash reserves at nearly $2.16 million each day. Operations are losing about $1.6 million a day,”according to one estimate. Fares are bargain-bin low, Mashable reports, while Australian travel agents have seen their commission offers nearly double if they can sell the unsellable. And as if public perception of the -Read more