Saturday, September 18, 2010

link round-up 9/17/10-9/18/10

Do one better than the multi-billion dollar US military-industrial complex and teach yourself Pashto. [via]

From a Pashto discussion forum:
Hard dialect: spoken in areas like Peshawar, Mardan, Swat, Malakand, Dir, Kohat, Paracinar, Jalalabad, Bajawar, Mohmand, Khyber,etc mainly in northern part of Pashto speaking areas. Here the pure Pashto words are pronounced as kh and g not sh and j if the 
The word for fine is pronounced as kha not sha. The word for beard is pronounced as gira not jira. 
Soft dialect:  Spoken in Kandahar and ares like Banu, Karak, Waziristan, Baluchistan, Paktya etc. Here the above sounds are pronounced as sh and g . Fine is sha here and beard is jira here.
I will try for your orientation of both the dialects or accents.THERE IS NOTHING TO DO SPECIAL .Often the symbol/ in this course denotes the difference of dialects. However it is not necessary to learn both the dialects as both are easily mutually intelligible. Accents of Qandahar and Peshawar or Mardan are the standard accents through out the world.
Remember that both the dialects are written in the same script . Thats why you see special Pashto letters for khe and ghe.
I wonder how many active duty soldiers in Afghanistan know this difference?

With Chicago's notorious history of corruption, what other global city offers a model to copy?
The problem with being a major global city is that it's hard to find mentors. If the "Big Daddy approach to city government doesn't work anymore" — to quote the headline of Greg Hinz's column — what approach does work, and where can Chicago go to study it? Nine years ago, Governingmagazine named Christchurch, New Zealand the best-run city in the world. Just last year,Maclean's magazine named Burnaby, British Columbia, the best-run city in Canada. Saskatoon was second. Toronto is often compared to Chicago and held up as a place Chicago can gainfully learn from, but according to Maclean's it is only the tenth-best run city in Canada.

Slate's investigation of the possible causes of the growing wealth gap in America 
Income distribution remained roughly stable through the postwar economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Economic historians Claudia Goldin and Robert Margo have termed this midcentury era the "Great Compression." The deep nostalgia for that period felt by the World War II generation—the era of Life magazine and the bowling league—reflects something more than mere sentimentality. Assuming you were white, not of draft age, and Christian, there probably was no better time to belong to America's middle class.

The NDM-1 "Indian Superbug" has gone global
The news is not good. This new resistance factor has been found so far in the United States, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Germany, Oman, Kenya, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. Most of the isolates, the bacterial samples in which it has been identified, are susceptible to only one or two remaining antibiotics. One was susceptible to none.
“These resistant bugs,” Dr. Patrice Nordmann, a professor of clinical microbiology at the South-Paris Medical School, said in a briefing here, “have already spread all over the world.”

Anti-Islam blog Jihad Watch has more daily visitors than top American conservative and liberal blogs


The Neoconservative and pro-Israel think tank ties to the Park51 movement and anti-Islam bloggers
It’s important to note this because the likes of Geller, Spencer and Horowitz present themselves as organic activists. Geller, for instance, describes herself as a mere blogger. It turns out she and the other organizers are more like professional activists, organizing the equivalent of what in American politics is called “astroturf”--manufactured grassroots--backed by powerful interest groups. Politico ’s story revealed that Horowitz has paid $460,000 a year and Spencer $140,000 a year for these “activist” groups. In other words, they are clearly full-time, dedicated rabble-rousers.

The Indian land-grab in Ethiopia (while the population still struggles for food)
In recent months, the impoverished and chronically food-insecure nation has become one of the world’s leading agribusiness destinations after the government leased for 40-99 years one of its hottest commodities: farmland. As a result, a host of countries from South and Southeast Asia and Latin America rushed in to seize the opportunity. An estimated 50 million acres have been leased by them in the past two years, in a mad rush partly driven by last year’s global food crisis.
“Some tensions stem from local resentment, because many foreign companies have acquired huge tracts of land and started plantations. And the locals are not liking it for a host of reasons,” quips Dipo Dave Ifabaye, an African journalist.Consider this. New Delhi, troubled by lack of farmland at home, is encouraging Indians to buy mega farms across Africa. Saudi Arabia has shifted its total wheat production to Africa. The pace of the scramble for land has alarmed policymakers. Unsurprisingly, locals aren’t too happy about this. In fact, even the United Nations (UN) agrees, deals are being signed with little public input, and local ministers promising just about anything But even the UN has little choice. Food is scarce in Africa, and Ethiopia recently asked for food aid for about six million people, as drought devastated East Africa.

Brazillian election highlights flaws in the country's economic and democratic structures
Even with the election of more progressive governments, the Brazilian government maintains its anti-popular character, without making changes that address the deeper structural problems of the country. How do you assess democracy and the State in Brazil?
First, there is a natural logic to how the accumulation and exploitation of capital overrides governments and laws. Second, in the neoliberal period, what capital has done was to privatize the state. That is, the State became the hostage of the bourgeoisie so that it would work only in function of its economic interests. And it scrapped the State in the areas of services for the entire population, such as education, health, public transport, housing etc..
For example, we have 16 million illiterates. To educate them would cost no more than about 10 billion reais (US$ 5.8 billion). It seems a lot - the state with all its legal apparatus prevents the money from being used - but this represents two weeks of interest payments that the state makes to banks. We build bridges and roads in weeks, but to solve the deficit of public housing is impossible? We still have 10 million homes needed for the people.

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