Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bhadrakumar is now blogging

A direct link to excellent insights into the Asian diplomatic scene. Of course I assume he'll still be published at Asia Times Online.

This one on the Pakistan-Bahrain relationship is worth a read.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Green Party Surges to 24%

From the FT:

The outcome in Baden-W├╝rttemberg could see the country’s first Green state premier elected, after the party more than doubled its vote. Claudia Roth, joint national leader of the Greens, called it a “turning point” in German politics, and a “slap in the face” for Ms Merkel’s centre-right coalition.

The Green vote rose from 11.7 per cent at the last state election in 2006 to more than 24 per cent in Sunday’s poll, while the CDU dropped from 44.2 per cent to 39.3 per cent, according to the latest forecast.

Not sure what their policy positions are anymore.....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And moving now to Syria

Lifted frm Al Jazeera's liveblog on Syria:

Following are some comments (via Reuters) on what may lie ahead for Syria.

Maha Azzam, associate fellow at Chatham House: "Frictions will increase between the Assad regime and some in the army. But it is difficult to say what direction the army will take. It has been closely controlled by the regime and it has vested interests in the status quo. If it sees the Assad family as a liability, the army may feel it is in its interests to move against the regime. But I think you would need a greater momentum on the streets for that to happen. For now they'll wait to see if the regime can bring reforms. My view is that the reforms would have to be drastic to be accepted by the people."

Faysal Itani, deputy head of Middle East and North Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis: "The regime really doesn't have any good options. It is placing enormous pressure on the mainly Sunni army by ordering it to fire on Sunni demonstrators. With the exception of the Alawi Republican Guard, the army is a Sunni conscript force. If the unrest continues at this pace the Syrian army is not going to be able to maintain cohesion."

Karim Emile Bitar, research fellow at the Paris-based Institute for International and Strategic Relations: "The Syrian regime will have to reform itself radically if it wants to survive. No country in the region is immune in the face of this revolutionary wind that is blowing from the Atlantic to the Gulf. The Syrian regime is attempting to make promises such as a potential lifting of the state of emergency, which has been in place since 1963, a record in the Arab world. But if this happens it will be the end of a whole system, prisoners will have to be released, the press will be free ... when this kind of regime considers relaxing its grip, it also knows that everything could collapse. I think the army and the secret services will remain faithful to al-Assad right until the end, for reasons that are essentially sectarian (i.e. preservation of minority Allawite rule)."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Runaway Climate Change

Humans think linearly, nature acts nonlinearly. If methane clathrates weren't enough (google it), now Siberian larchs (or more accurately the lack thereof) are the problem.

Larch trees drop their needles in the fall, allowing the vast snow-covered ground surface of winter to reflect sunlight and heat back into space. This helps keep the climate in the region very cold. But evergreen conifers, such as spruce and fur, retain their needles year round. These trees absorb sunlight, which causes ground-level heat retention. This creates ideal conditions for the proliferation of evergreens, to the detriment of the leaf-dropping larches. The result is a northward progression of evergreens and a farther-northward retreat by the larch forests.

What's not to like about more pretty christmas tree forests? Read the rest here:

Russian Boreal Forests Undergoing Vegetation Change, Study Shows

Preaching Austerity

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Foolhardy or Insane or Breathtakingly Confident?

This 9 minute footage is amazing. With the benefit of the hindsight of knowing what happened all over the Honshu coast, I kept wondering about this person's sanity.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

We Are One People

You have no idea how proud this makes me --- the Royals and I go way back.

Bollywood will meet English Waltz at the 'wedding of the decade', with Indian choreographer Sandip Soparrkar performing at the London reception of UK's Prince William and fiance Kate Middleton.

Soparrkar and wife, model Jesse Randhawa, will perform at the reception which will be attended by 600 of the world's most high profile leaders and celebrities, said sources close to the dancing couple.

The choreographer has already made a selection of 10 Bollywood numbers and the organisers will choose four songs from the repertoire for the performance.

"Bollywood is a big thing in the UK thanks to the Indian diaspora and the performance will be the last dance and they wanted it to be a fun way to end the evening," added the source.