“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Show us your passports"

"They told everybody to stop and put their hands up and asked if there were any British or Americans," said Alex Chamberlain, a British businessman. "My friend said to me, 'Don't be a hero, don't say you are British'. I am sure that is what this is all about. They were talking about British and Americans specifically."


With the possible exception of the "floating" Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur which was made famous by the James Bond film Octopussy, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in Bombay is India's best-known and best-loved hotel.

For any serious foreign investor, businessman or wealthy tourist visiting India's commercial capital, "The Taj", as it is universally known by the cognoscenti, is always the first choice.

With best rooms in the superior old wing costing more than £250 per night - more than 250 millions Indians can expect to earn in a year - the hotel offers a world of secluded luxury, away from the grinding poverty and infrastructural decay of Mumbai.
Legend has it that its creator, a Parsi industrialist called Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, commissioned the building after being refused entry to the now-defunct Apollo Hotel, which had a strict Europeans-only policy.

However with its colonnades of shops stuffed with the world's most expensive brands, what Bombay's rich set consider the ultimate in cosmopolitan luxury, would equally be perceived by Islamist ideologues as a symbol of Western decadence.

Over the years guests have included The Queen, the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser and the Beatle John Lennon, to name but a few of the notable personalities to have checked in to the magnificent old wing.

More recently the hotel hosted the guests for Bombay leg of Liz Hurley's two-week extravaganza of a wedding, with guests dashing straight from the front door to waiting motor launches to take them to the privacy of waiting super-yachts in the harbour beyond.

To have pictures of burning Taj Hotel broadcast around the world will have a deeper impact than even perhaps the terrorists intended, striking a blow against a symbol of Indian wealth and progress and sending shivers down the spine of some of the richest and most powerful people on the planet.


  1. This is not the only thing going on in India. Alas, while Hindus have a general reputation for tolerance, in one Indian state, sorry forget which one, there has been some severe persecution of the local Christians going on for some time. They are hiding in the forests, the Hindufundis threatening to cleanse the whole place. There seems to be some Marxists in the area that have killed some Hindus, and in turn the Christians are getting blamed. But, you don’t hear much about all of this, though the casualties have been much higher than the current subject. Voice of the Martyrs and other Christian outlets have the story.

  2. Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan, is the problem.

  3. Voice of the Martyrs/Persecution

    I'm not disagreeing about Pakistan, that's for sure.

  4. It is hard to imagine the hell fellow human beings are going through at the hands of these obviously
    Islamic inspired sewers.


    MUMBAI, India (CNN) -- Indian police are still battling to release hostages the morning after gunmen carried out brazen attacks across southern Mumbai, killing more than 100 people and taking hostages in multiple locations.

    A standoff continued at the Oberoi Hotel, where about 100 members of a specialized unit of the Indian police undertook an operation to rescue four to five foreigners hostages on the 19th floor.

    About four to six people were believed to be holed up in the Taj, said A.N. Roy, the Maharashtra police chief.

    The death toll from the series of coordinated attacks was at 101 by midday Thursday authorities said. The number of people wounded in the attacks has also been raised to 314, said Pradeep Indulkar, deputy secretary for Maharashtra, the state where Mumbai is located.

  5. you really have to admire the bravery and valor of the Indian police. Eleven cops are killed including high level officers.

  6. The head Hindu anti-terrorism guy went in and tried to rescue some hostages, and died in the attempt, I heard.

  7. The Indians do not understand the US relationship with the Pakis. Neither do I.

  8. Neither do I. Hindus are, or could be, natural allies.

    Texas Darlin

    I tell you, there are lots of people out there upset about this constitutional question.

  9. ah, jees, this thing is getting confusing :)--

    on November 17, 2008 at 3:20 pm Mike
    Dr. Kate,

    Your case is very compelling and although I would LOVE for Obama to be disqualified I am disturbed about certain facts about Obamas life that puts a monkey wrench into the cases before the courts.

    It is a fact that his father was already married to a foreign woman when he came to the US. Anne Dunham agreed to marrying Obama’s father knowing about the other wife. Obama’s parents marriage would be null and void as it was not allowed by law. Polygamy was illegal in all 50 states in 1961.

    by law: TITLE 8 > CHAPTER 12 > SUBCHAPTER III > Part I > § 1409 § 1409. Children born out of wedlock
    (c) Notwithstanding the provision of subsection (a) of this section, a person born, after December 23, 1952, outside the United States and out of wedlock shall be held to have acquired at birth the nationality status of his mother, if the mother had the nationality of the United States at the time of such person’s birth, and if the mother had previously been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year.

    (FYI, subsection (a) does not apply)

    By law, Obama would assume the nationality status of his mother Anne Dunham.

    I have been following this since the beginning and I was very pissed off when I read this info on another website. Please prove this wrong. I would love to be able to post on that forum that this information is wrong somehow.

  10. The Indians do not understand the US relationship with the Pakis. Neither do I.

    Neither do I. These people are poison.

  11. Could be providing the most damning evidence in plain sight to support Leo’s conclusion?…


    When Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4,1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom’s dwindling empire. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. That same act governed the status of Obama Sr.’s children:

    British Nationality Act of 1948 (Part II, Section 5): Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth.

    In other words, at the time of his birth, Barack Obama Jr. was both a U.S. citizen (by virtue of being born in Hawaii) and a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (or the UKC) by virtue of being born to a father who was a citizen of the UKC.

    Obama’s British citizenship was short-lived. On Dec. 12, 1963, Kenya formally gained its independence from the United Kingdom. Chapter VI, Section 87 of the Kenyan Constitution specifies that:

    1. Every person who, having been born in Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963…

    2. Every person who, having been born outside Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall, if his father becomes, or would but for his death have become, a citizen of Kenya by virtue of subsection (1), become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963.

    As a citizen of the UKC who was born in Kenya, Obama’s father automatically received Kenyan citizenship via subsection (1). So given that Obama qualified for citizen of the UKC status at birth and given that Obama’s father became a Kenyan citizen via subsection (1), it follows that Obama did in fact have Kenyan citizenship after 1963. …

    But the paper failed to note that the Kenyan Constitution prohibits dual citizenship for adults. Kenya recognizes dual citizenship for children, but Kenya’s Constitution specifies that at age 21, Kenyan citizens who possesses citizenship in more than one country automatically lose their Kenyan citizenship unless they formally renounce any non-Kenyan citizenship and swear an oath of allegiance to Kenya.

    Since Sen. Obama has neither renounced his U.S. citizenship nor sworn an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically expired on Aug. 4,1982.

    Again, Leo Donofrio’s case is premised on Barack Obama’s citizenship at birth, regardless of what a COLB (certificate of live birth, which isn’t the full, “vault” copy) has to say. And, in theory, it doesn’t matter whether or not Barack Obama’s citizenship changed a day, month, year or years after he was born; it’s at birth, according to Leo, that counts.

  12. The Secret World of Modern Slavery

    Hundreds of thousands of workers toil without pay in Latin America, producing timber, gold and the charcoal used to make steel. Their labor goes into materials bought by major companies--including General Motors, Kohler, Toyota and Whirlpool.

    By Michael Smith and David Voreacos Bloomberg Markets December 2006

    Labor inspector Benedito Silva Filho and six armed police officers move cautiously through the gray smoke that hugs the ground in the Carvoaria Transcameta work camp near the city of Tucurui in the Brazilian Amazon. Enveloped in the haze is a solitary man, dressed in soiled red shorts and worn-out plastic sandals.

    Alexandre Pereira dos Reis stops shoveling charcoal from a kiln after working for eight hours and, wheezing, walks slowly toward the inspectors. The laborer says malaria, a chronic cough and the 95-degree-Fahrenheit heat have gotten the best of him. ``This hits you hard,'' dos Reis, 32, says. ``I would leave if I could, but I need the work.''

    Like hundreds of thousands of workers in Latin America, dos Reis collects no wages. He toils six days a week and can't afford to leave; he doesn't have enough money to get back to his home in Teresina, 500 miles (805 kilometers) away in northeastern Brazil. Dos Reis lives next to the brick kilns at Transcameta in a shack with no ventilation, running water or electricity.

    The charcoal he and the other laborers produce by burning scraps of hardwood will be trucked south to a blast furnace that's six hours away. It will be used there to make pig iron, a basic ingredient of steel.

    That pig iron will be purchased by brokers, sold to steelmakers and foundries and then purchased by some of the world's largest companies for use in cars, tractors, sinks and refrigerators made for U.S. consumers.

    Nearly 1 Million Slaves


  13. "We have total clues."

    Mumbai attackers may be Pakistani nationals
    27 Nov 2008

    MUMBAI: Preliminary investigations on Thursday pointed to involvement of at least some Pakistani nationals in the serial terror attacks in Mumbai
    that left over 100 dead and 270 others injured.

    "There are indications that the perpetrators of the crime, who arrived in Mumbai by boats, are Pakistani nationals," authoritative sources said.

    The indications are based on information gathered from captured terrorists, the sources said.

    Maharashtra deputy chief minister R R Patil, who also holds the Home portfolio, said revealing detailed information on the terror strikes could prove detrimental at this juncture. ( Watch )

    "We have total clues. But disclosing information would not help the case," Patil said. "This is an attack on the country. We will disclose information at an appropriate time," he said.

    Meanwhile, there are reports that Colaba police have impounded four boats allegedly used by the terrorists to reach the Mumbai coast.

  14. And we have a guy who says in his autobiography that he would--

    “stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction”

  15. And the current guy, we have, believes the same, bob

    "Americans understand we fight not a religion; ours is not a campaign against the Muslim faith. Ours is a campaign against evil."

    President George W. Bush Remarks by the President to Airline Employees
    O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois
    September 27, 2001

    It really is just about good and evil, bob, and the President of the United States, the one you support, the one whose policies led to the election of Barack Obama, stated that case, early and often.

    "We're taking action against evil people. Because this great nation of many religions understands, our war is not against Islam, or against faith practiced by the Muslim people. Our war is a war against evil. This is clearly a case of good versus evil, and make no mistake about it -- good will prevail."

    Remarks by the President George W. Bush at a Town Hall Meeting with Citizens of Ontario
    Ontario Convention Center, Ontario, California
    January 5, 2002

    Good will prevail

    No bigotry required.

  16. President Bush, bob, makes AMERICA's position cyrstal clear.

    "America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith

    America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected here, because we are one country.

    Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we're one country.

    Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country."

    President George W. Bush Promotes Compassionate Conservatism
    Parkside Hall, San Jose, California
    April 30, 2002

  17. In Ameica, bob,
    bigots are bad,
    Muslims are good.

    Please, get with the program.
    The Republican program.
    Mr Bush's program.

    "Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people. It inspires them to lead lives based on honesty, and justice, and compassion."

    Remarks by President George W. Bush

    Stand shoulder to shoulder with Mr Bush, bob.
    NOW! When it matters most!

    Don't jumps ship now, stay the course!

  18. I recall George using the term 'crusade', until his advisors told him not to.

    Been up all night, if I don't catch a wink, I'll fall asleep during dinner.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  19. Get right with America, bob

    "Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people. It inspires them to lead lives based on honesty, and justice, and compassion."

    It is, as duece said, Pakistan that is the problem, not Muslims.

    Or our success in Iraq, it's just a failure, seeing as how it is Muslims we have empowered, there. Setting up an Islamic Republic.
    In Afghanistan, too.

    No secular republics for them.

  20. from the September 19, 2001 edition

    Europe cringes at Bush 'crusade' against terrorists
    By Peter Ford | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

    "... On Sunday, Bush warned Americans that "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile." He and other US officials have said that renegade Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden is the most likely suspect in the attacks. ...

    And, you are right, bob, the word never crossed his lips, in public, again.

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Mr Bush, he saw the light and repented.

    Leaving bigitry, behind.

    Become a compassionate conservative, get with the program.

    Don't be a rino, support the Republican position that:

    Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we're one country.

    Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country."

    "Every immigrant ..."
    Each and everyone, regardless of previous legal status.

    America is one country, bob ...
    and Republican priorities ... Country First!

  23. Leaving bigitry, behind.

    Bigotry is good and should be encouraged. I'm all for strong opinions.

  24. But you are no Republican, mat, Never were, not even when you were an ardent fan of Mr Bush.

    j willie closed a thread describing Mr Rubin, at Citibank, as being as catastrophic as Mr Bush at the White House.

    Rubin's rule in his world (financial) has been just as catastrophic as Bush's rule in his world (political).

    To start, I suggested many threads ago, that Mr Rubin had been a "good" Treasury Secretary. The case for which can certainly be made.

    That was never meant to be a general commendation of Robert Rubin nor his stewardship of Citibank. But an acknowledgement that during the time he spent at Treasury there was not a finacial meltdown. Despite the problems in Mexico and Russia, which he and his team dealt with.

    While the seeds of the current crisis were planted and nutured during his tenure, subsequent Treasury Secretaries never weeded the garden. In fact they did not see the weeds, for they'd become the garden.

    And the entire financial elite bought into the fiction that liabilities could some how become assets.

    I seem to recall Mr Rubin denying that his actions while in Government were, in any way, responsible for the current crisis. That was an obvious lie on his part.

    The Rubin Economic Team, it is on its' way back to DC, to serve in the administration of Barack Obama.
    Without Mr Rubin.

    The Senate will confirm their appointments.

    Citibank has been rescued, nationalized, for our own good.
    Mr Rubin remains, there at Citi.
    A company I have no stake in, but for a $40 billion preferred stock position, that we US citizens hold collectively through the Federal Treasury.

    $40 billion, in non-voting shares.

  25. The on the scene reporter for FOX News says the battle is still going on, room by room. Fresh explosions and fires breaking out.

    These terrorists must have been reasonablly well trained, somewhere.

  26. Betcha is was not in Iraq or Iran.

    Two Ameros to a dozen doughnuts, Krispy Kremes, please.

  27. it's time to treat the terrorists they way the fear most...

    stitch them up in pig skins and feed them to sharks..

  28. One little lesson learned in Mumbai. Imagine gunmen going into a luxury hotel in....say...Houston, Texas where more than a few gentleman at the bar, wearing their Justin's, are packing heat.

    Government cannot protect us from such attacks. An armed citizenry can.

  29. 14. RWE:

    A couple of experts on TV the other day said that the attacks were due to Pakistan’s success in attacking militants in the lawless border region. The terrorists are trying to force a confrontation between Pakistan and India that will draw military forces away from their safe areas.

    In over 4 years in the Pentagon I learned the three little words that make the world go round: “Make it hurt.” Someone threatens to do something to you, then make the direct consequences of their actions something they can’t stand.

    India should not mass troops on the border with Pakistan but instead announce it is joining the coalition in Afghanistan and would be sending 20,000 troops to fight Al Queda and the Taliban. Another attack like this recent one, make that 30,000 troops, and so on. Pakistan would then have to send more troops to the border region to keep an eye on the Indians and to save face. And the Taliban and Al Queda get it in the shorts both ways

    Make It Hurt!

  30. JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.N. AMBASSADOR: Well, from the group that claims credit, it appears to be Islamic extremists, the Deccan Mujahideen, Deccan referring to the Deccan Plateau, the big triangle part of India that sticks out into the Indian Ocean.

    And they've clearly aimed this attack at the center of India's economic success, the financial capital. Many, many foreigner, investors and traders there designed, I think, to gain maximum international attention, so it looks to have been more extensive than earlier terrorist attacks and I think, clearly, intended to get a global audience.

    COLMES: And why the timing? Why do you think — at this particular time, Thanksgiving in the United States, certain time of the day, 10:00 at night, their time. Is there anything to that?

    BOLTON: I don't think it has any association with us. My guess is it's just the timing of this particular operation, but as you say, there's much that we don't know about this for the moment and probably won't until the hostage situation is cleared up and perhaps some of these terrorists are apprehended and can be questioned.

    COLMES: What do you think — what does it take to put together this kind of operation? It seemed very highly coordinates, sophisticated, and probably in the planning stages for quite sometime.

    BOLTON: Well, you know, many in India believe that a lot of the terrorist attacks that we've seen across the country really have been financed, organized, directed by extremists in the Pakistani government, particularly the Inner Services Intelligence director or ISI.

    The main flashpoint between Pakistan and India over the years has been Kashmir, where a lot of these terrorist attacks have occurred. Obviously, it's premature to conclude anything about where this group may have been supported, but this is the kind of suspicion that can lead to an increase in tensions right there on the subcontinent very quickly if this is not cleared up.

  31. But you are no Republican, mat, Never were, not even when you were an ardent fan of Mr Bush.

    I am not a Republican, but I am Right Wing in my political views. Nationalist, libertarian, conservative, green.

    It's too bad Bush and the GOP turned out to be a bunch of crony capitalist Commies.

  32. GE Ships 10,000th 1.5 Megawatt Turbine
    from by Yoni Levinson

    General Electric hit a milestone today by shipping their 10,000th 1.5 MW turbine to the Ashtabula Wind Energy Center, a wind farm in North Dakota run by FPL Energy. It's a pretty impressive figure, considering the fact that GE only entered this market six years ago. To get a better idea of where GE and the wind industry are going from here, EcoGeek sat down with Victor Abate, VP of Renewable Energy at GE to see what he had to say:

    10,000 turbines – what does this mean for the wind industry?

    When you have 10,000 turbines of the same megawatt class, that really provides a tremendous amount of quality to the industry. With renewable energy the fuel is free, and so in order to measure performance you really need to look at how well the asset (in this case, the turbines) runs over the course of their lifetime.

  33. Kewl!

    An electrifying solution for wastewater treatment
    October 12, 2008
    By Karin Kloosterman

    Industrial and municipal waste doesn't go away when we flush it down the drain.

    It takes an enormous amount of energy for treatment plants to process it, while massive environmental and financial costs go into disposing of the leftover sludge.

    Now, two Israelis are about to change the way we look at wastewater, by turning its constituents into a valuable source of power.

    Emefcy (M.F.C Microbial Fuel Cell) was founded in 2007 by Eytan Levy and his partner Ronen Shechter. It aims to harness a bacteria found in nature that produces electricity as it decomposes organic matter.

    Electric bacteria known to science

    "The idea was found about 100 years ago, that certain bacteria under certain conditions have the ability to generate electricity," Levy tells ISRAEL21c. "The reactor has to be structured in a certain way, and generate it while consuming organic matter."

    Over the years teams of scientists tried to harness the power of the bacteria. "But it was never turned into a product, possibly due to the natural barrier between academia and industry," explains Levy, Emefcy's CEO.

    Levy and his partner revived the idea, and are now working with a leader on microbial fuel cells, Bruce E. Logan from Pennsylvania State University. To optimize electricity production, the eight-man Caesarea-based company has created a network of tubes made from a special polymer - the cathodes - and a network of carbon brush anodes that together promote bioelectrochemical reactions.

    The net result is that bacteria form an electrical conductive biofilm over the surface of the anodes and cathodes, decompose organic matter, and produce electricity at the same time.

    This bioelectrochemical reaction is performed by three main bacteria, Geobacter sulfurreducens, Shewanella oneidensisand Rhodoferax ferrireducens, already present naturally in wastewater effluent. The company's main goal, however, is to give the "electrifying" bacteria optimal conditions to digest the human and organic industrial waste in sewage treatment plants.

    While the charge from each bacterium is tiny, about half a volt, the company can step it up to 220V, while each kilogram of organic contamination can produce 1-kilowatt hour of electricity, says Levy. In large industrial wastewater plants, Emefcy's solution can produce megawatts of electricity. A real power plant, Levy says.

    Tiny volts that add up

    He believes the enormous cost savings of about 30-50 percent per year on various practices, can allow a power plant to achieve a return on investment (ROI) within two to three years. The solution has a number of financial benefits, he points out: the sale of generated electricity, treatment plants save money on aerating the sewage, the process reduces the amount of raw sludge for disposal by up to 90 percent; and working with this system can generate carbon credits.

    The Emefcy solution can be an add-on to existing plants, and is expected to be on the market by 2010.

    Levy and Shechter are specialists at inventing solutions for making the wastewater treatment market more efficient, and environmentally sound.

    Before Emefcy, they founded AqWise, a company which specializes in creating tiny plastic beads to house and aerate bacteria, in order to increase the breakdown of biological waste in treatment plants. Today AqWise has 30 installations around the world.

    With Emefcy, Levy and Shechter plan "to reinvent the wheel in the wastewater world," says Levy. "We realized we were incorrect," he explains. "Treatment plants are spending energy to purify wastewater and there is something wrong with that. Wastewater has energetic value."

    Emefcy has received seed funding of $1 million from Israel Cleantech Ventures, additional undisclosed support, and a grant from the Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel.

  34. 10,000 turbines – what does this mean for the wind industry?

    When you have 10,000 turbines of the same megawatt class, that really provides a tremendous amount of quality to the industry. With renewable energy the fuel is free, and so in order to measure performance you really need to look at how well the asset (in this case, the turbines) runs over the course of their lifetime.

    My bet is they run in aggregate less than 18% of installed time, and even then at a fraction of rated power output. From observations at Tehachapi and eleswhere. What are the transmission losses from North Dakota? Can we say Subsidized Boondoggle? But if it makes Greenies feel warm and comfy as the arctic express blows down from Saskatchewan, who's to complain?

    To compare apples to apples, match this performance from the Diablo Canyon Nuke: It went online on 2 November 1984 and is licensed to operate through 22 September 2024. In 2006, Unit One generated 9,944,983 MW·h of electricity, at a nominal capacity factor of 101.2%.

    After 22 years of operation, still tickin' at 101.2% capacity, and providing off-peak power to replenish the pumped storage facilities at the Helms and Big Creek hydro systems, which by the way can be spun up almost instantly to provide peak demand current to the grid.

  35. While the charge from each bacterium is tiny, about half a volt, the company can step it up to 220V, while each kilogram of organic contamination can produce 1-kilowatt hour of electricity, says Levy.

    Steaming bullshit, with due respect. No pun intended.

    I truly hope it works for them, but don't hold your breath.

  36. But if it makes Greenies feel warm and comfy..

    It does. :D

  37. I truly hope it works for them..

    No, you don't. But that's ok. :)

  38. No, you don't. But that's ok. :)

    Yes, I do, mat. For many reasons you'd appreciate. I really do.

    Keep these news bulletins coming, take two asprins, and get a bigger cap in the morning.

  39. Yes, I do, mat.

    Nah, you're wedded to the old. But like I said, that's ok. History will pass you by, cap or no cap.

  40. Oh please Rat. Imagine if Bush actually did what you wish most fervently in our dreams and call out the Muslims for what they are.

    That'll be the end of Republicans for sure. The modern citizen, regardless of origin, is an idiot. He'll regard Bush as a rascist, a bigot, etc.

    Bush doesn't have a choice. Because you failed to give him one. Because you lost the battle of ideology.

    Too bad.