Posted on 13-01-2010
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

A country inured to misery and poverty has now been hit by another disaster.  The earthquake that rocked the island has devastated its capital. See link.  The image of the crumbled Presidential palace in the link above symbolizes in many ways the broken nation of Haiti.  The risk is that the collapse of the few government services will cause the death toll to spiral.  See here,  here and here for how and where to help.

Meanwhile in a sign that idiocy from the usual suspects (Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh) does not take a holiday in the face of terrible human tragedy see here and here.

Subscribe to Rashtrakut by Email

Follow Rashtrakut on Twitter

Share
(0) Comments    Read More   
Posted on 13-01-2010
Filed Under (Technology) by Rashtrakut

This one will be discussed in detail on the business talk shows in the coming days.  Stung by a cyberattacks originating in China and presumably from the Chinese government, Google announced that it may pull out of China and will stop censoring its Chinese search results.  Also see link.  Google has had a troubled relationship with the Chinese government and has received criticism for its willingness to go along with Chinese censorship.  See link.  However, Google has also struggled in China and this is probably more of  a  business decision to cut the cord on a struggling business and gain positive publicity by cloaking it in altruism.  See link.

The public announcement before attempting to work things out with the Chinese government is a slap in the face to the regime and will likely draw some strident denunciations in the coming days.   This public relations black eye for China also highlights the drawbacks of doing business in an authoritarian regime that wants to control the flow of information.   A clear winner in this imbroglio is Chinese search engine leader Baidu which itself was subject to a bizarre cyberattack earlier this week and does not have to worry about Google in its backyard anymore.

Subscribe to Rashtrakut by Email

Follow Rashtrakut on Twitter

Share
(1) Comment    Read More   
Posted on 13-01-2010
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

File this one under bizarre. President Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria went to Saudi Arabia in November last year for medical treatment.  Then for the next 50 days a curtain of silence descended about the President’s health with no public statements from him, until he provided a telephone interview.  See link.  In his absence he failed to delegate his powers to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan.  The result has been a constitutional crisis and uncertainty as to who is running the country.

Making things worse is the ethnic jumble that constitutes Nigeria. The President is a Muslim from the North, which has generally dominated Nigerian politics.  The Vice President is a Christian from the South, which has the oil and natural gas reserves.  This creates an inflammable mix of ethnic and religious tensions over a well of natural treasure.  While the North and South have alternated power since the end of military rule, as the article notes the failure to transfer powers to the Vice President may have occurred because Northern power-brokers may not want to give up power before the next election.

Nigerian democracy has creaked along in the decade since the death of Dictator Sani Abacha and has been very active in peace keeping missions across West Africa. However, domestically ethnic tensions have spiked as many Northern states decided to implement Sharia law.  The constitutional limbo caused by the President’s absence and the resulting rumors of his death were the last thing Nigeria needed.  While the President appears to be alive, the constitutional crisis is not over and turbulent times lie ahead for Africa’s troubled giant.

Subscribe to Rashtrakut by Email

Follow Rashtrakut on Twitter

Share
(0) Comments    Read More