Monday, February 23, 2009

An Eye for an Eye: Is It Really Worth It?

Human rights groups have been investigating the Gaza attacks for violations of international law. There is no doubt that the Hamas has intentionally fired its Qassam rockets at civilian areas. However, Israel regularly asserts its stand of 'targeted attacks' on Hamas areas. What I fail to understand is that how can anybody claim to know exactly where the Hamas is hiding and isolate them through the use of 'shrapnel bombs'? Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. How 'sophisticated' or should I say 'accurate' is the Israel weaponry?

According to Amnesty, studies reveal the Israeli forces used 'unfair' weapons. By 'unfair', they refer to weapons that cause harm to civilian population as well. White Phosphorus (WP) bombs, tank shells, anti-tank Hellfire missiles (popularly known as 'fire-and-forget' missiles, fired from unmanned aircrafts) and shrapnel bombs were used to target 'Hamas supporters'.

One does not really need to explain what shrapnel bombs are all about...but just in case you think the 'pipe bomb' is a home-made explosive used by small time terrorists/criminals...you are mistaken. These insidious devices have been part of military warfare since the Chinese created gunpowder. In the Gaza conflict, Israel used U.S.-supplied munitions to drop bombs that exploded in air blanketing an area with sharp-edged metal objects. White phosphorus, on the other hand, is supposed to play the part of a 'white blanket.' The thick white smoke is supposed to cloud enemy fire and obfuscate infantry movements. However, its secondary characteristics seem to be more preferred. Used from the days of the Vietnam war (or should I say, Police Action?) the WP bomb is capable of burning and smoking till the end, poisonous and can cause second/third degree burns. Apart from the burns, the body may absorb Phosphorus leading to organ damage or failure.

Most of the victims have been civilians including working men, women and children. According to Amnesty International the ammunition is U.S. made. This is because of a "10-year agreement to 2017, the USA is due to provide $30 billion in military aid to Israel, a 25% increase compared to the period preceding the Bush administration."
Effectively — "paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money."
The Hamas is reportedly to have used or assembled ammunition components made abroad and within Israeli areas.

I have been sporadically reading about the Israel-Palestine conflict...I own a 'journalistic comic' called Palestine by Joe Sacco — that book opened my eyes to see a side of armed conflict that is so influenced and dominated by "popular" Western media. I do not know the answer to this conflict. I do not know who is right and who is wrong...I don't think many scholars can claim to do so either...
But I do know that if there is one way to resolve this conflict, it will have to be through adjustment, lots of it. Everyone wants their kids to see a better tomorrow but we all know that the compromise will alienate a whole bunch of people who will continue to be disgruntled for the rest of their lives and fill future generations with the same sense of suspicion and hatred. After all, the compromise will not bring justice to the ones who lost their loved ones in the blink of an eye.

What is amazing is the uncanny ability for a conflict-torn area to procure weapons to carry out large-scale destruction under the pretext of protecting its own land. (If Africa is considered for a moment, you only need to watch Lord of War to get a basic idea.) How effective is a "neutral" organisation like the U.N. in ensuring that neither side is able to source weapons? At the end of the day does it always depend on the veto power? And what are the vested interests of all the nations that covertly support and fund the conflict?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oodles of Noodles — Freestyle

This was cooked up late last month. It does not contain any meat (yes, I agree...there should have been some) but it is loaded with lots of yum vegetables and loads of mushrooms.

If you think the pictures are not good enough then blame the photographer for doing a lousy job!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Incredible India! The 'Postcard' Commercial

It is time for yet another TV ad. I think it has become a game for me. I try to find advertisements that really interest me — probably has to do with the crappy show airing at that time. This one is an ad promoting Indian tourism. Now, there is another advertisement I just love and it's on Madhya Pradesh. It is not in English, not an easy job for me to translate the recital (to me it was like almost folkish rap) but it was brilliant. A domestic tourism ad that was innovative, fun to watch and easy to remember.
This ad which is part of the Incredible India! campaign is apparently made by Nirvana Films. It features a foreigner who is trying to think of how to put down everything he has experienced while travelling across the sub-continent onto a postcard. Watch the video to see what he wrote and why.

Finally Spotted Some Birds in Mumbai

By "birds" I do not mean to say there aren't any pigeons (rock pigeons, to be precise), crows (the house crow and common raven) or sparrows (which includes the house and tree sparrows) in the city.
I attended an induction program today — held by the company I joined recently. While eating lunch on the open air terrace, I found myself peering into a pipal tree...which is when I noticed some movement. After focusing a little more I realized it wasn't a leaf! It was a Coppersmith! A former colleague had told me about them, I had read about the bird and even looked at a few pictures but never have I ever spotted one!

Pretty soon, I was able to spot two more coppersmiths (adult barbets) swaying on the branches of the tree. I was so excited! As usual I did not have my camera with me. I kept looking at him, consciously trying to etch his image into my mind...suddenly I noticed someone else on a lower branch. It was a bulbul! A red-vented bulbul, I am sure! He had his wings spread out, quivering them...as if to attract a mate's attention. I noticed another little chap nearby. This was a lucky sighting for me! Add to that the fact that I was able to even name them!
I wish I had my camera...instead I have to rely on somebody else's photographs...but thanks to these websites we can learn about these beautiful winged creatures.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What Would Play in your Porsche 911 Turbo?

This morning, while on my way to the pediatrician, my taxi slowed up against a shiny red Porsche 911 Turbo (probably 2008-edition because an official showroom now exists in this city).
Thankfully, it was not chauffeur-driven. I did not get a clear look at the man behind the wheel but the music he was playing reached my ears..."What's love got to do, got to do with it? What's love but a second hand emotion..."

Since I happen to be a citizen of a 'developing nation' who has watched too many of them cheesy Hollywood flicks, the song and the car just did not go together? "...know what I'm sayin'?"
I would listen to something more spirited. I like Tina's songs but it just felt so weird, coming out of a Porsche Turbo...know what I'm sayin'?
What would your playlist be if you were behind the wheel of a red Porsche 911 Turbo?

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