From the media

Syrian forces have bombarded rebel held Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus. BBC reports that dozens of civilians including children have been killed. It says in its report that at least 98 people have been killed on Monday of which 23 are children. The BBC citing Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London based human rights group says the bombardment left 470 people injured, some critically. Almost 400,000 people live in Eastern Ghouta which has been under siege since 2013.

DW puts the civilian toll at more than 100 lives, since the beginning of the offensive which has intensified. Rebels say that the attack is a precursor to ground-offensive. The government forces used air strikes, rocket fire, and shelling of outer suburbs on rebel held areas of Damascus. The regional coordinator of the United Nations has said that the humanitarian situation has been spiralling out of control. He said that the “senseless human suffering” must be brought to an end. Many people have to take shelter in basements and underground bunkers.

The latest escalation began on Sunday. Last week the UN said that Syria was experiencing some of the worst fighting of the war. Last month 15,000 people fled their homes. They had taken refuge in make-shift shelters or basements in the enclave the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. Russian Foreign minister has said that Moscow and its allies could use their experience in freeing Aleppo. Russian troops along with its allies were successful in clearing Aleppo of rebels. Aleppo had been under rebel occupation for years. Andrei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister blamed the “armed provocation” by Nusra militants, formerly linked to Al Qaeda, for the current condition.

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Graffiti isn’t dead…yet!

Dear Reader,

After being in coma for a long time, technology has resurrected Graffiti. I am able to create posts on the large screen, at last. Much has happened in the interim. Brexit has become a messy divorce. Trump has gained notoriety, although he has been able to push through some legislation that is going to have far reaching impact on the US and global economy. India, despite failings on mny fronts, especially at the home front has been making waves…at Davos for one. Winter in Delhi has been quite frightening for me…the bones they sing a lot as the body shivers. I am waiting for spring.

There will be more posts, and God Willing (God Willing) would continue. Till, tommorow Au Revoir.

Jest the elections

Drama is dharma in Indian politics. Look at the war of words the current election in Gujarat has become. The old throne and the new throne – if you are not with me on this one just let me make it clearer – the old throne refers to the Gandhis’ represented by Rahul. And the new throne is of course the BJP represented by our beloved Modiji. The question is will this election bring us closer to a parliament where opposition was or will the opposition get more teeth.

We have our teeth clenched. We are witnessing the drama with bated breath. The prince royal has written a letter to the election commissioner alleging violation of code of conduct by Modiji for holding a “roadshow” on polling day. The Indian Express has called it a “strongly¬† worded” letter. it has accused the EC for blatant “prejudice” and “failure to act against the PM and BJP leaders.¬† The PM had, according to the newspaper walked in front of a crowd gathered outside a school that had been converted to a polling booth in Sabarmati district of Gujarat. The letter alleged that “the independence of the EC had been compromised.” It asked the EC to lodge an FIR against the PM and the BJP. According Shailaja Bajpai the TV channels had a field day siding one or the other party.

The out come you see mon ami is with the Good Lord. His Will is final. But I shudder to think what would happen if the BJP does win – the roadshow will continue to the general elections in 2019. There are other assembly polls lined up in 2018. Oh how this nation lives from election to election. In between there are scandals, accusations, activism of a sort.

From the media

A mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula was attacked with an explosive device and then sprayed with gun fire as the people were fleeing the mosque. There are reports that more than 230 worshippers were killed. There 109 were wounded, The New York Times reports. This attack has been called the deadliest in Egypt’s modern history. The ruthlessness of the attack has sent shock waves across Egypt. Attacks on mosques are rare and the ISIS usually targets Coptic churches and pilgrims, according to the newspaper.

Sinai peninsula has seen several militant attacks by Islamic extremists. The majority of the victims in this incident were Sufi Muslims whom the Islamic State and the other extremists call heretical. The attack flies in the face of the Egyptian President who cracked down on political freedom to combat Islamic extremism. Hours after the incident the Egyptian military launched several air strikes targetting fleeing militants using SUVs, according to New York Times citing military officials. No group has claimed the attack.

The attack started mid-day, during Friday prayers. Gun-men also set fire to cars parked outiside to hinder escape. They opened fire on ambulances as they arrived outside the mosque, reports New York Times citing TV reports.

Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe has stepped down from presidency. He ruled as a dictator for 37 years, he is 93 years old. He had been President since the nation became independent. He had proclaimed that “only God would remove him,” reports New York Times. The news about his resignation came as impeachment proceedings were underway in Zimbabwe’s parliament. The proceedings were halted when it became known that Mugabe had resigned. The speaker of the parliament read out a letter in which Mugabe had said he was resigning with immidiet effect, “for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe.” He also said that he was doing so for the peaceful transfer of power. Lawmakers are reported to have “erupted in cheers,” at the news.

The former vice president, Mr. Mnangagwa was sworn in as the new President. In his inaugural speech the President said that he will, “re-engage with the world.” He tried to reassure the investors, whose cooperation the nation needs badly. During the Mugabe era, the Zimbabwe currency had almost become useless as inflation soared. Mr. Mnangagwa’s dismissal had brought on the latest crisis, the military responded by putting Mr. Mugabe under house arrest. The Zanu – PF party had also intervened at this point. Mugabe had wanted the First Lady Grace Mugabe to assume Presidency after Mugabe retired. This would not transpire now, she was quite unpopular. Mr. Mugabe would not be tried and would be given diplomatic immunity within his country.

An anniversary of another kind

On November 8 2017, the nation celebrated an anniversary like no other. It was the anniversary of demonetization. Meghnad Desai in his weekly column in Indian Express, Out of My Mind: Keep Changing said that the old currency was not devalued it was converted into Bank deposits. He goes on to say that the total money supply remained unchanged, people on the other hand take it to be a failure of the policy. He lauds Modi government’s decision and says that it cleared decades of debris left over from the previous government. Lenin said, and Desai has cited him in his column, you cannot make an omellete without breaking an egg, or lead a successful revolution without breaking heads.

He has emerged as the upholder of neo libreral values; Graffiti also holds similar views and has denounced socialism as the chief cause of India’s state of affairs. However, Mr. Desai what about the pain it caused millions of people. The poor who had stashed their cash in the cardboard boxes or steel trunks. Demonetization stole their life’s savings from under their noses. What about the small businesses that coud not repay their creditors – the merchants and wholesellers, etc. They could not pay their employees. It is a time in history which should be mourned. He however clarifies that the problem was not demonetization but remonetization. There weren’t enough currency notes printed to fill the vacuum. The new Rs. 2000 notes did not fit the ATMs. The machines had to be recalibareted.

He also goes on say that the loss of GDP was 0.5 percent in the first two quarters. Coming to bank NPAs the popular view is that the banks were recapitalized thereby watering down Vijay Malaya episode – Vijay Malaya owed a public sector bank Rs. 9000 crores in loan repayment. The government has salvaged the banks thereby washing away Malaya’s sins. Weather one wears the neo liberal hat or the socialist hat a sin remains a sin even in the economy of our times. Mr Desai you have beautifully covered Mr. Modi in laurels, that too at a time when elections are due in Gujarat. Mr. Desai, the poverty of our people is only partly because of the socialist path India followed. The people were poor because of the catastrophic lack of governance in the centuries before independence.

The constant invasions during the centuries prior to the British rule, the lack of intervention during famines and droughts by the colonial government. The post independence government followed a ridiculous path of ignoring the people’s basic needs, depending heavily on industrialization and nationalizing these. The Modi government hasn’t exactly done any good for the people either. The promised “Acche Din,” are turning to be nightmare for most Indians.

Give me strength

The POTUS has said that guns don’t take lives the people do. Only gun lobbyists say those words. Give that argument to the morons in your circle, there are plenty there. How many mothers, daughters, men and boys, women and children would need to die before you take some feeble measure, we know that you are held back by your backers – National Rifle Association. We know that you will never come out with measures to stop mad men getting access to deadly weapons.

It is mayhem out there in the US. In Las Vegas 58 people died. In New York City 8 people died, in Texas 26 people are reported killed, figure is slated to climb. Despite this, the President of America says that tougher gun laws would not have prevented the Texas killings. He argued that more laws would have meant more dead. Mr. Trump’s arguments reminds one of a cat chasing its tail, like the chicken and egg conundrum – which came first?

These arguments expose the shallowness of the person, his mental state, his inability to consider all arguments and make a decision. He was speaking to pressmen in Seoul. How effective would he be as a leader in the crisis that is looming and casting a shadow on the lives of the people in east Asia? He actually said that the good samaritan if he had not (I salute his courage) been armed he would not have been able to take away the gun from the suspect, there would have been hundreds dead. Are 26 people who died in the shooting too few for you? Isn’t even one life precious to you. You seem to have suggested something on those lines in Puerto Rico, when you remarked to the governor there that only 16 people had died in his territory, and had the gall to congratulate him for that. Don’t you have any respect for human lives. Or are you so bedazzled by $ millions and billions that you regard mere 20 or 30 lives too menial a figure.

The Guardian reports that his response to the gun attack was more muted when compared with his call for legislative and military action after the vehicle attack in Manhattan. He called for the Congress to “immidietly” repeal the “diversity visa lottery program.” Sayfullo Saipov was an Uzbeg, he used the program to enter the country in 2010. Trump argued for more “extreme vetting” of new comers. In the Las Vegas shooting his response to calls for tougher gun control laws was that it was too soon to talk policy change as the people were still grieveing. Although he suggested openess to prohibiting bump stock that transformed a rifle into a near automatic…which killed 58 people.What is significant is that NRA also came out with a statement saying that bump stock device should be banned. However, there is no sense of urgency and no legislation has been passed. All pointing to one thing the NRA hand.

Another day of shooting

There has been a shooting incidence in Texas. A gun man opened fire at a church killing 26 people and 20 were wounded. The First Baptist Church is located in Sutherland Springs in Wilson County of Texas, the victims were aged 5 to 72. The gun man was found dead in his car some miles away. Police have identified him as a young white male.

According to a report in France24, the gun man was armed with an assault rifle, opened fire inside a church. This was the deadliest mass shooting incident in Texas. The man was described as being a white male in his 20s. The shooter was confronted by an armed resident who engaged the suspect after grabbing his weapon, France24 reports quoting an official of the state of Texas. It is not clear how the suspect died, although report says that he might have been shot by the resident who confronted him.

As in the case of Las Vegas incident, several weapons were found, this time in the suspects vehicle. The Texas incident comes close on the heal of the of the one in New York, where 8 people were killed. In this incident the suspect had rammed his vehicle into a crowd on a bike path. This incident occurred on November 1 2017 in Lower Manhattan. The suspect was shot by police and injured in the stomach, the incident was described as an act of terror involving a lone man. The man rammed his pick up truck into a crowd from behind and then crashed into a school bus. Two adults and two children were inside the bus and they were injured, one student critically. The man came out of his truck weilding what appeared to be a gun but turned out to be a paint ball gun and a pallete gun. A note found in the suspects truck made referance to ISIS.