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News Update for the Day

Let's take a 'pulse' on the many news items of today. Why today? No reason really.

The heroic Edward Snowden continues to look for a 'safe' place and a safe country to live in as the U.S. government — I don't know whether to describe the Obama administration as Fascist or Soviet-style — continues to try and arrest him and put him in jail for life.

Mr. Snowden left Hong Kong and we know now that the U.S. government got a 'secret' arrest warrant from a court in Virginia and tried to get the Hong Kong government to arrest him. He has landed in Moscow and his future destination remains unknown although the speculation is that he will leave Moscow and go to Cuba en route to Ecuador which is considering giving him asylum.

The Snowden saga is of course one-of-a-kind. Here are the other events that the news media is tracking.

The floods in Uttarakhand in North India have killed upwards of 1,000 people so far ... of course, these things are quite uncertain at this point in time. The government tends to put out a lower figure and the media may have a higher figure and the public tends to be skeptical of the government figures.

The wheels of justice continue to grind ever so slowly in the Salman Khan hit-and-run case from 2002. The lower court has decided he is to be tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. But of course, this means essentially nothing. He is out on bail and roaming the world and making movies. By the time, the legal process reaches a judgment about his guilt, his lawyers will be able to sufficiently manipulate the system so that it will take another 20 years for things to reach finality. Then he may get a month's time to 'surrender' before the courts after which he will convene a press conference and shed some tears and the hearts of the good people of India will melt. He may even ultimately get into jail in 2033 and then be out in a month's time on 'humanitarian grounds' or some other such provisions of the law. It's more a farce then anything else considering that often there are undertrials in this country who spend a decade waiting for a trial to begin when the 'maximum' sentence for whatever 'offense' they committed was only 2 or 3 years. Just because the under-trial happens to be poor, he may not be able to get a lawyer or bail bond or essentially engage with the judicial system in an effective manner like people with money (such as Salman Khan) can.

As far as other celebrity news goes, the repercussions of the recent Jiah Khan suicide continue in terms of the son of Aditya Pancholi being still held in jail as he is accused of aiding her suicide. Another silly sort of a travesty of justice considering that if a couple in a 'love affair' have a break-up for whatever reason, then clearly, the parties who are adults should be mature enough to move on and not commit suicide. We do not know whether the 'suicide letters' "discovered" at Jiah Khan's home by her 'mother' are real or not. Of course, the High Court has now given bail to 'Suraj' after I wrote the first part of this para.

In more 'celebrity' news, it's indeed the case that Mr. Shah Rukh Khan has had a baby via surrogacy ... odd. India is clearly becoming quite 'advanced.' Who knew that Mr. Aamir Khan had already gone for the same procedure.

In even more celebrity news, Sanjay Dutt is still in jail. I am sure he will be out in less than a year.

Another 'judgment' that has to do with relations between a man and woman came out of the Madras HC recently which said that two people having sex can be 'assumed' to be married even though there may be no documentary evidence of the same and even if no socially mandated or religious sorts of rituals had been conducted. This judgment is both progressive and at the same time troubling.

The SuperMoon hype happened again. The media continues to promote this unscientific 'misnomer' — as is the media's habit, I guess. Scientists like Dr. Neil Tyson continue to battle bravely to try and highlight the 'truth' of the matter which is that the 'difference' between a 'normal' Moon and this SuperMoon is hardly perceptible to the human eye. Probably, the bigger mystery remains why the Moon appears larger while it's rising and is close to the horizon. Oddly enough, there does not appear to be a clear, scientific explanation of that. It seems to be psychological.

Rupee continues to fall and now it's somewhere around 60. It really reflects the fact that India is an import-dependent nation and the money it gets by exporting IT services and textiles and leather and gems & jewelry is not sufficient to cover the money it needs to import the petroleum and much else.

Gold prices are falling and Indians presumably must be lining up to 'stock up' on this favorite item of theirs causing much headache to the Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram. He tries vainly to explain to the Indians not to 'hoard' gold but I am sure Indians are not amenable to logic on this matter as they are not amenable on other matters such as their obsession with religion, cricket, and Bollywood.

Meanwhile Musharraf is enjoying the hospitalities of the government as its 'guest' in a guest house. But I guess it's still his own home where he's under 'house arrest.' Reminds me of the days when Laloo was under 'arrest' in a similar guest house.

Another infamous politician, the excessively colorful Silvio Berloscuni of Italy has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his 'bunga-bunga' weirdness with under-age girls and what not. Strange are the ways of Italian politicians and the Italian public which elects such politicians! Reminds you of something? YESS! Right —> INDYAAAAAHHHH!!

Truly, India and Italy are bhai-bhai.

James Gandolfini's death at 51 has led to an outpouring of columns describing The Sopranos as the greatest TV show ever. Well, having never seen the show myself, I have no opinions to offer. But at least, a show about Italian-Americans in the mafia business (talk about stereotyping!) is at least grounded in the real world rather than a fantasy world such as depicted in the Game of Thrones. Other 'highly rated' TV shows include Breaking Bad about which Umair Haque keeps gushing endlessly saying it's not just a TV show but art. I guess I will check it out eventually. I became immediately gripped by Homeland but by the end of Season Two, I was hating it like anything. So, that's there ...

Paula Deen and Serena Williams both have committed verbal blunders. While Paula Deen got into hot water for racist stuff, Ms. Williams got into trouble for blaming the girl indirectly for getting raped. Well, if you are a public figure, I guess you have to be careful about what you say. Unless of course you are Obama or the DNI, James Clapper, in which case you can lie through your teeth to the people or the U.S. Congress and yet nothing will happen.

Mr. Nelson Mandela's health continues to be frail even as Obama made his trip to Africa.

Justice seems to be finally getting done in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case as the CBI has finally filed a chargesheet confirming it to be a 'fake encounter. If a watertight case is made out against DG Vanzara and the IB guy Rajinder Kumar, clearly they deserve the death sentence. Police officers and intelligence personnel getting involved in law-breaking and murder of innocent people who they are supposed to protect is dangerous beyond words in a democracy. We do not wish to see India converted into Communist Romania or Communist East Germany or the Communist Soviet Union.

And on the day of this writing, Egypt is back in crisis with the military saying Morsi is no longer the President but the President not yet out. Hope we do not see similar scenes in India —> say, a group of Congress supporters and a group of BJP supporters facing each other near the India Gate. UPDATE: Morsi of course has been ousted now by the military.


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