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Mustered Musings

"The years teach much that the days never know." -- Emerson

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami havoc continues ...

Pic courtsey International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific

While Dr. George P.C.'s site provides comprehensive details of the earthquake and Tsunami of 26th December 2004 which struck almost ten countries in Southeast Asia, here is news about another earthquake which hit Northern Sumatra, Indonesia today at 04:27:38 UTC with magnitude of 5.3.

Surprisingly, Tsunami monitoring facilities at hawaii had issued only a Tsunami Bulletin on 27th December 2004 about the Tsunami which struck the Southeast Asia; as per the bulletin, there actually were no Tsunami warnings or watch in effect !

As per the head of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, U.S. researchers who detected a massive earthquake off Asia's coast on Saturday tried frantically to warn that the deadly wall of water was coming. But there was no official alert system in the region because such catastrophes only happen there about once every 700 years.

He added "We tried to do what we could, we don't have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world." Within moments of detecting the 9-magnitude quake, he and his staff were on the phone to Australia, then to U.S. Naval officials, various U.S. embassies and finally the U.S. State Department.

They were unable to reach the thousands in the countries most severely affected--including India, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka--because none had a tsunami warning mechanism or tidal gauges to alert people, he said.

"Most of those people could have been saved if they had had a tsunami warning system in place or tide gauges," he said. "And I think this will be a lesson to them," he said, referring to the governments of the devastated countries.

Tsunami warning systems and tide gauges exist around the Pacific Ocean, for the Pacific Rim as well as South America. The United States has such warning centers in Hawaii and Alaska operated by the U.S. Geological Survey and NOAA. But none of these monitors the Indian Ocean region.

Now that Red Cross has estimated the causalty figures to have already crossed 100,000, Indian Govt has decided to go ahead with set up of a Tsunami warning system.

While Indian High Commission, Lagos, Nigeria is also accepting donations for Tsunami Relief Fund, please do lend a supporting hand by spreading the message around about sites like Tsunami Relief Fund - Lend a Helping Hand for collection of donations and the relief materials.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Spreading the word of Tsunami relief

Pic courtsey International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific

While the casualty figures from tsunami strike in Indian Ocean are constantly rising, many organisations and individuals including those from blogger community have come forward in generating resources for collection of relief material, donations, aid and volunteer efforts.

Some of them can be reached at the South East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami, Tsunami Victims (site built by dubai based mohankrishnan) or at rupya. More information is available at kiruba's blog as well.

There are many more sites like ILP where donations can be made.

The scientific background on Indian Ocean Tsunami and other resources on Tsunami are available at wikipedia,NOAA, ITSU, and at National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Baazee.com case : Making sense of nonsense

Till recently considered the safest country to do e-business, India is now in news for all wrong reasons. Arrest of baazee.com CEO Avnish Bajaj has again brought the myopic understanding of law by the law enforcing agencies in India.
The way Bajaj was arrested displayed the draconian approach of law enforcement agencies when the company had offered full cooperation in investigating as to how the MMS clip featuring two school students came up for sale at the portal.I feel extremely dismayed at the arrest of Avnish Bajaj.
Going by the logic put forward by Delhi Police, the CEO of the Telecom service provider whose MMS service was being used by the boy in question should also be arrested ! Arresting a CEO for an offence he has no connection with is highly questionable.
Besides, it is a well-established legal principle that unless a suspect is required for custodial interrogation or is likely to flee or tamper with evidence, bail should not be denied.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Changed Times ...

On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the Escape key. - Anonymous

This is precisely what many people in Kenya have come to realise. The very people who criticised and opposed Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai and her Green Belt movement are now repenting and apologising. The reason for their change of heart is nothing but the international recognistion accorded to her by international community subsequent to her getting Nobel Peace Prize 2004.

Wangari Maathai

Born : April 1, 1940
Country : Kenya
Nobel Peace Prize, 2004

Fields: ecology, sustainable development, self help, tree planting, environment, member of Parliament, Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife

Firsts: first woman in central or eastern Africa to hold a Ph.D., first woman head of a university department in Kenya, first African woman to win the Nobel Prize in Peace.

Also known as: Wangari Muta Maathai

Prof. Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya in 1977, which has planted more than 10 million trees to prevent soil erosion and provide firewood for cooking fires. The program has been carried out primarily by women in the villages of Kenya, who through protecting their environment and through the paid employment for planting the trees are able to better care for their children and their children's future.

Wangari Maathai's
husband divorced her in the 1980s, complaining that she was "too educated, too strong, too successful, too stubborn and too hard to control." (quote from Encyclopedia of World Biography, 1999, Gale Group.)

She is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. She has addressed the UN on several occasions and spoke on behalf of women at special sessions of the General Assembly for the five-year review of the earth summit.

She and The Green Belt Movement have received numerous awards, most notably The Nobel Peace Prize 2004 "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace".

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Politics of Double Standards ...

It was subsequent to comments on my blog by Ingrid, that I got interested in going ons in Sudan, particularly through his sudan blog Sudan : The Passion of The Present.
Oil, ethnicity and ideology seems to have complicated the conflict in Sudan. Africa’s largest country faces conflict on many fronts — mainly in the south where rebels have been fighting the government since 1983 when Khartoum tried to impose Islamic law on the entire country. But violence has also erupted in the western Darfur region, triggering what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
I am not sure about how to express my feelings on going ons at Sudan. Not because I felt dejected, angry and helpless but just could not see the rationality behind action of international organisations like the U.N., African Union and the nations which really can influence the situation at the Darfur.
No action seems to be taking place in absence of the so called consensus amongst the nations and their unions. This time it seems the brothern african nations are playing the spoilt sport, and the reason for doing so is not because they are not aware of the genocide going on in Sudan but because they want to counter the double standards of the EU, and to signal a backlash against the U.S. abuse of the world body and international law !!
While US decided not to heed to any of the UN resolutions which were against its own interests in Afghanistan and Iraq, this time it finds it helpless (!) to do anything in Sudan since the United Nations General Assembly committee has rejected a resolution that would have condemned human rights violations in Sudan. The action drew a sharp rebuke from the United States and the European Union, and a spirited defense from African nations.
The General Assembly's committee on social, cultural and humanitarian affairs voted Wednesday to take no action on a measure that voiced grave concern at human rights conditions in Sudan.
Ninety one of the 191 U.N. member countries voted for the "no action" motion. The United States and European Union countries, which sponsored the resolution, were among 74 nations that tried in vain to save it.
Ambassador Scott called the refusal to condemn atrocities in Sudan "an indefensible parochially motivated action". He said "three consecutive failures of member states of the United Nations to present a unified front against well-documented atrocities would represent nothing less than the complete breakdown of the U.N.'s deliberative bodies related to human rights. If these bodies cannot speak with one voice on an issue as clear as Darfur, what can they do?"
Netherland's Ambassador Dirk Jan Van den Berg, representing the European Union, noted that the Security Council had passed several tough resolutions on Sudan in recent months, going so far as to threaten sanctions against Khartoum unless it took action to stop atrocities in Darfur. He said the General Assembly must follow suit or risk becoming irrelevant.
"How can we explain that the Security Council speaks out on the human rights situation in Sudan while the General Assembly remains silent," he said. "The European Union strongly urges delegations to vote against this motion to adjourn the debate, for reasons of principle, and to prevent the General Assembly from fading away into irrelevance."
But African countries, backed by many Islamic nations, stood firmly with Sudan in voting to kill the resolution.
South Africa, representing the African group at the world body, said it opposed all resolutions condemning a specific country.
Pitso Montwedi, director of human rights in South Africa's foreign ministry, denied that the "no action" motion constituted a defense of Sudan's rights record. He said condemning the Khartoum government would have undermined African efforts to end the country's long-running civil war.
"I should emphasize at the beginning that the African group had chosen to use this rule not as a denial of violations of human rights in Africa but only for the purposes of countering the double standards of the European Union," he said. (alas!)
The General Assembly also adopted a "no action" motion on a similar resolution critical of Zimbabwe.
Only yesterday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said close to 2.3 million people were in desperate need of aid, more than a third of an estimated population of six million in Darfur. In Darfur, chaos is looming as order is collapsing,” Annan warned.
All said and done, time and again the international happenings and the UN actions leaves one to wonder ... Is the United Nations going down the same ill-fated road as its predecessor, the League of Nations. The signs are not good.
Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) will launch a fourth round of peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels in the country's Darfur region, in the Nigerian capital Abuja on December 10.
The people of Sudan are not only victims of atrocities being committed by their own government but are also victims of the double standards of the international politics.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Flying President ...

One area where President Olusegun Obasanjo has consistently received condemnations is his frequent foreign trips. After his re-election, President Olusegun Obasanjo seems to have again resumed his much-criticized foreign trips at the expense of the grave socio-economic crises besetting the nation. His frequent overseas visits paints a very sad picture of a leader who pays more attention to foreign issues at the cost of local ones. Last month, when a nation wide strike call was given by the National Labour Congress and the already crippling economy was threatened, instead of resolving the issues involved, he preferred to visit India and China ‘for increased trade and logistical support for African Union’s troops in the Darfur region’.

The day president travelled to India, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the civil society had held a rally to mobilize workers and Nigerians for the November 16 strike which they threatened would be ‘total’. It was disturbing that the President found it more convenient to mediate in the crisis in Darfur when his own house was on fire. Moreso because President Obasanjo’s chairmanship of the African Union is because of his position as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not vice versa, the interest and welfare of Nigerians is expected to be his primary responsibilities. His schedule and duties as the African Union Chairman should therefore is expected to be carried out in a way that will not conflict with his domestic responsibilities. Foreign concerns always seems to have diverted the President’s attention from the onerous task of national rejuvenation which Nigerians voted him to perform.

As per the local news reports, even in the face of a crawling economy, the sum of Naira 1.56 billion was proposed for foreign trips by President Obasanjo and Vice President Abubakar Atiku in the 2005 budget, apart from the N4.6 billion proposed as ‘trial payment for the purchase of Boeing Business Jet for the President.

Everyone expects that the lawmakers should help the President to stay more at home by diverting these embarrassing travel expenses to areas that will impact meaningfully on the people’s living standard .

The President recently denied that 70 percent of Nigerians languish in abject poverty, it is difficult to fault UNICEF’s recent statement that child mortality rate has worsened from 168 deaths per 1000 births in 1999 to 217 death per 1000 in 2003. The administration seems to be busy engaged in self-glorification and delusion over reforms that have not translated into good roads, education, potable water, employment and other social indices.

It is also sad that most public institutions including NEPA, NNPC, NITEL and NRC, still reek in corruption and are waiting to be given the much-promised dose of reform. For producing an experienced African statesman, Nigeria deserves to enjoy more of the acclaimed services which President Obasanjo dispenses freely abroad. He has nothing to lose by staying here to attend to the nation’s burning issues. There is a competent professional as Minister of Foreign Affairs, paid in dollars to manage the country’s external image.

To restore Nigeria’s image abroad, the president already have had the globetrotting binge of total over 380 days while news about the non-payment of utility bills in Nigeria's foreign consulates, non-payment of salaries to diplomats keeps pouring in.

Ofcourse there are others, who see the President's shuttle diplomacy as a vital instrument of forging bilateral and multilateral collaborations for sustainable development and peaceful coexistence and that it took the shuttle diplomacy of a leader of Obasanjo's stature to reassure the international community of the seriousness of what was initially deemed as Nigeria's precarious try at democracy !

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Day ...

Time : 3.15 am
State : Sllleeeeepping
Action : Phone Call from Rana
News :Charvi's Yellow Fever Vaccination Card MISSING !!!
State : Confused...Shock..Confused ... means..she cann't board the plane today !
Action : Call to Sunil
State : Still confused
Result : Sunil also Confused
Action : Call Back Rana
Dialled - First Attempt
Call to a wrong Number
Conversation : Hello, Kaun, Bhabhi..Hellow..Bhabhiiiii
Haan Bhai..Bol rahee hoon, oye, kaun bol rahaa hai ?
Bhabhi, Main Hoon, Jittuuu
Kauuun ?
Hello Bhabhi, Main Jitu
oye kaun Jittu ? hain? uff, number check karo..wrong number ...
Whispered : Phittey Munh
State : More Confused
Action : Calls to Sunil, Anil, Rana..in same order
Result : Directions to Sunil, Instructions to Charvi
Action Plan I: Get a duplicate vaccination card
Action Plan II: Try to get her through without the yellow card
Action Plan III: Get booking postponed, and get the vaccination done :(
State : Not Sure
Action : Call to Sunil
Result : Sunil talked with someone senior at the ATC, given hope that
she will be able to board the flight on time
State : Happy
Action : Sleeeeppping again
Time : 10.00 am local
State : Ready for office
Action : Call to Sunil
Result : All on way to the Airport, vaccination done again, yellow card issued. Flight delayed by one hour, No more issues
Action : Call from Pinkoo
News : Charvi is through immigration
State : Relieved

मेरी पसंद ...

गीत साहिर लुधियानवी
गायक मोहम्मद रफी
संगीत जयदेव
फिल्म हम दोनो

कभी खुद पे, कभी हालात पे रोना आया
बात निकली तो, हर एक बात पे रोना आया |

हम तो समझे थे के हम भूल गए हैं उनको
क्या हुआ आज ये किस बात पे रोना आया |

किस लिए जीते हैं हम, किस के लिए जीते हैं
बारहा ऐसे सवालात पे रोना आया |

कौन रोता है किसी और की खातिर ऐ दोस्त
सब को अपनी ही किसी बात पे रोना आया |

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Fela Kuti: The Life & Times of Controversial Afrobeat superstar

"77 albums, 27 wives, over two hundred court appearances. Harassed, beaten, tortured, jailed. Twice-born father of Afro-beat. Spiritualist. Pan-Africanist. Commune king. Composer, saxophonist, keyboardist, vocalist, dancer. Would-be candidate for the Nigerian presidency. There will never be another like him." - Jay Babcock, Mean

Fela Anikulapo Kuti, born in Abeokuta, Nigeria in 1938, was a singer-composer, trumpet, sax and keyboard player, bandleader, and politician. Kuti was one of Africa's most controversial musicians and throughout his life he continued to fight for the rights of the common man (and woman) despite vilification, harassment, and even imprisonment by the government of Nigeria.

Born to Yoruban parents, Kuti was strongly influenced by both parents, his mother being Funmilayo, a leading figure in the nationalist struggle. Practically all of his records are dominated by political events and discussions from the approach of Pan-Africanism.

In 1954, Kuti joined the Cool Cats as a singer in that highlife band (highlife being the rage of the Lagos music scene at the time). During this period Kuti developed his own unusual sound which he described as highlife-jazz. In 1968 Kuti announced the arrival of Afro-beat, within the year was promoting his sound all over the USA on a 10-month tour where he became influenced by American jazz. When he returned to his homeland he opened a nightclub, the Shrine, and changed the name of his band to Africa 70 (and later to Egypt 80). His bands traditionally included the typical huge line-up consisting of many singers and dancers, numerous saxophonists, trumpeteers, drummers, percussionists, and of course, many guitarists blending African rhythms and jazz horn lines with politicized song lyrics. His music was intricate, rather than calling it Afro-beat you might more arguably consider it Afro-jazz. Entire recordings often consisted of just a few songs and this propensity for jamming set up a roadblock for Fela to attain commercial acceptance in the United States. He also abhored performing a song after recording it, and this led to audience disinterest in the U.S. where the people wanted their music to be recognizable hits.

Kuti continued his outspoken attacks on the Nigerian government. When the people returned to power in 1979, Kuti began his own political party - MOP (Movement of the People). The military returned to power in 1983 and within the year Kuti was sentenced to five years in prison on a spurious currency smuggling charge. He was released in 1986 after yet another change of government.

Fela was a man with great influence in the African music world, he is irreplaceable and his presence will be sorely misssed.

His son Femi Kuty is carrying on with the legacy of his father, and is an established musician himself. Here is a message on HIV/AIDS by Femi Kuty to the UN assembly.

Here is the first interview that Fela granted to after being freed from prison in Nigeria on Saturday, June 21 [1986], largely though the efforts of Amnesty International. He appeared the week prior at the concert held to benefit Amnesty.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti died on Saturday, August 2, 1997, at 4pm (local time) in Lagos, Nigeria. It had been rumoured for some time that Fela had a serious illness he was refusing treatment for, many said he was suffering from prostate cancer. But as it turned out, Fela died from complications due to AIDS.

His discography is available here and here, and an articles by one of his fans is here.