Posts Tagged ‘New York’

The Devyani Khobragade case: Ambitious prosecutor seeks publicity while India objects to an attack on privilege

December 19, 2013

The Devyani Khobragade case is causing waves in India -US diplomatic relations but I have difficulty to generate much sympathy for any of the parties involved.

The diplomat: Devyani Khobragade is a consular official and not a full-diplomat and she was trying to get her maid very cheaply. She was certainly subject to treatment which was  humiliating and undignified but the affront is primarily to her pride and the culture of privilege which prevails in India (and not only India of course).

The maid: Sangeeta Richard and her husband (and their advisors) are opportunists who are trying to circumvent visa restrictions and are trying to achieve a more permanent status to stay in the US. (There is little chance that she will retain her job with Khobragade). But the maid’s behaviour is rather suspect. “Why did the US grant visas to her husband and children and fly them out to the US two days before Devyani Khobragade was arrested in full public glare and strip searched? And Sangeeta’s father-in-law is apparently on the staff of the US embassy in New Delhi. A little blackmail and massive publicity  is seen as being a “good” thing in achieving their objective. In fact the fuss being made by the Indian establishment suggests that their lawyer could even make a claim for political asylum!

The prosecutor: US attorney Preet Bharara has been remarkably voluble in justifying his actions. That itself illustrates his clear political ambitions. No US prosecutor acts without an eye to the resultant publicity and his career development and – in many cases – his political ambitions. It is inconceivable that the particular prosecutor in this case (also of Indian origin) did not calculate the boost he would get.

The Indian political establishment: The entire Indian establishment (politicians and press) have had their nationalistic hackles aroused. Their culture of privilege is being attacked. The diplomat was subjected to a “cavity search”. Good grief! This is rape! Clearly a case of official rape by rampant US officialdom on a defenceless Indian woman!! To be seen to be fighting for a “raped woman” is very politically correct these days in India. Fighting for an underpaid maid – who is not from the privileged classes – does not win the same number of brownie points. (Note that a crime against a privileged person is always much much worse than the same crime against one of the lower classes).

The US political establishment: The US is probably a little bemused at how this has got out of hand. Kerry has expressed his regret  and “empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India” but has not apologised. He cannot chastise an over-ambitious prosecutor who has used due process to further his political ambitions. Bharara could have behaved in a civilised manner but chose not to. He himself – of course – belongs to the privileged class of the US.

It has all the elements of a conspiracy and en entrapment (Sangeeta Richards, her father-in-law, unnamed US officials at the US Embassy in Delhi and the New York prosecutor Preet Bharara). For a lawyer specialising in corruption, Bharara’s behaviour is close to being morally corrupt in itself. No doubt Devyani Khobragade tried to get her maid cheap but some “entrapment” and publicity-seeking is apparent.

Interesting behaviour but all rather inconsequential.

 

Pro-fracking health report suppressed by New York Governor

January 7, 2013

When a report produces a conclusion you don’t like, political correctness has a simple solution. Suppress the report and commission a new report to reach the “correct” conclusions because the original report “is out of date”.

WNYC NewsA document from Governor Cuomo’s Administration assessing the health impacts of hydro fracking, written in early 2012, says the gas drilling process is likely safe if proper precautions are taken by the governor’s environmental agency. ….

While the report says there are potential health risks involved in hydro fracking, it concludes that in each instance, proper mitigation measures that will be required by the state Department of Environmental Conservation will minimize any potential harm and reduce risks. The report, written in February of 2012, says “significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF (hydro fracking) operations.”

…… The report appears to have been intended for inclusion in the state’s ongoing environmental review of fracking. It also advises against trying to do a site specific quantitative risk assessment of fracking, saying there are too many variables and that too many assumptions would have to be made.

The Administration did not like the conclusion and now a spokeswoman for the DEC says the report is “outdated,” and that no conclusions should be drawn.

“The document is not a health assessment, is nearly a year old, and does not reflect final DEC policy,” said DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis in a statement. “The final SGEIS will reflect the review currently underway by DOH and its outside experts. No conclusions should be drawn from this partial, outdated summary.”

Goodness gracious! A year old!

I suppose the required conclusions have already been written and the review will continue until the desired conclusions are reached.

It’s only politics.

“The Irene show” bombs – media disappointment high

August 29, 2011

The much-hyped Hurricane Irene fizzled to a tropical storm and failed to deliver the massive devastation that the media was hoping for.

The wall-to-wall coverage of the expected destruction has now left the media desperately trying to show that apocalypse was only narrowly averted. But they cannot hide their terrible disappointment. Politicians are implying that “crying wolf” was not only the right thing to do but might actually have dampened the storm. Millions lost electricity as areas were shut down as a precaution against flooded sub-stations.  But the 20 – 30 foot storm surges expected only managed to reach some 2 or 3 feet.

But water and gas and batteries and candles all sold very well.

The muted headlines on the day after cannot hide the disappointment –

Telegraph – Perfect Storm of Hype: US politicians, the media and the Hurricane Irene apocalypse that never was 

New York Times – ‘Some Hurricane,’ New Yorkers Grumble as Danger Passes

Boston Globe – Tired Irene slaps N.E.

Washington Post – Hurricane Irene was not the powerhouse most expected 

According to my son – “Well it was windy and quite wet”. Oh well!

First Observations

May 16, 2011

Visiting New York  after a break of 3 years.

  1. Changing planes at Munich far more effective and smooth than at Frankfurt. Huge line at JFK immigration but completed immigration and customs in less than 25 minutes. On-line ESTA registration together with machine readable passports actually works.  Entire process was quite painless.
  2. Warm but drizzling in Manhattan. Traffic was horrendous and almost gridlocked on a Sunday afternoon. Our taxi driver demonstrated the ability to accelerate to 70 mph and come to a screeching halt at the traffic lights at the end of every block. But he never managed to get more than one vehicle ahead of the sedate bus he was following for over 10 miles.
  3. All news channels are covering the arrest of the head of the IMF on rape charges. True or not, Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s aspirations in French politics would normally be ended. But one never knows. The macho image has not hurt Berlusconi! And Sarkozy clearly believes that a macho image helps him with the French voters!!
  4. Coverage of the Louisiana flooding was not as overwhelming that I expected it would be and I had to surf through many channels to find some coverage.

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