Category Archives: India

Wal-Mart–Still Evil? You Decide

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It’s been about a week since we all stopped to take a second look at Wal-Mart. Yes, Wal-Mart, watchword for American imperialist evil for decades, villain of countless books, documentaries and feature stories, silent shadowy hand of evil in so many more (think about it: where did Michael Moore buy bullets in Bowling for Columbine?), suddenly an outspoken and vehement  supporter of health care reform. Huh? (In other total oddities, they now sell Kosher meat, under OU supervision.)

If for some reason you missed this, the super-mega discount chain/evil empire/redneck Mecca took a break from screwing wage workers and quashing unions to become the Goliath hero of socialized medicine. Awesome? Or just a red herring for more dastardly business?

Probably both. With the recession giving it a boost , Wal-Mart can afford to shoulder a cause unpopular with its base (socialism) because, well, it’s time. After all, Wal-Mart knows better than anyone, recessions don’t last forever. A surge of good press won’t do a lot now, when people don’t really have a choice. But a strong stand on a serious liberal issue could help them in the long run.  Seriously, have you ever been inside a Wal-Mart? If you live in one of the densely populated, liberal urban centers like New York City or the SF Bay Area, chances are probably not. That’s because they’ve been zoned into places like Richmond, CA and Long Island, where you’re not about to shop if you live on Manhattan or the Peninsula. Wal-Mart busted into Amristar before it made it to the Big Apple. We’ll keep you posted on the Smiley Face’s progress in India–and

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Daily Oddities: Monday World Edition

There’s a lot to talk about in the World today, so lets jump right into it. You know about Tehran and you know about Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech, so we’re skipping that and getting straight down into the stuff you didn’t hear.

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GLOBE:
More than a billion people go hungry, says the World  Food Program. That’s about as many people who will contract malaria this year, a statistic that’s broken down masterfully by the country in a multi-part feature for the Global Post. Check out India. As long as we’re chatting about weird statistics, who knew that traffic was hazardous to your health? Well, ok, everybody, but who had a study to scientifically prove it’s hazardous to your health? The World Health Organization, that’s WHO. (hahahaha). Finally, a UN commissioned study with empirical evidence that climate change is effecting human migration. Which, if you’ve never heard of Tuvalu, might be news.
In other global news, the Cuban Five, whose pictures were emblazoned across whitewashed walls of local groceries and in the posh lobbies of upscale hotels when I visited Cuba in 2003-04 will not have another day in court, after what is at least five years (one for each of them!) of trying. The five stand accused of spying for Havana.
On the opposite side of the earth (and also in Brooklyn) the Guardian has a retrospective of female suicide bombers, more coverage of the refugees post-Tiger surrender and The New York Times has 4 Brooklynites (none of them M.I.A.) arrested and convicted of sponsoring the Tamil Tigers to the tune of millions. From Flushing or Staten Island, we might have expected…but this!
Some interesting stuff out of Russia: Global Post notices absurdly ostentatious oligarches reining it back. John Vinocur at the Times has some advice for Obama in Moscow next month. In sum: your shit will not work with the Russians, Mr. Smiley Pants President.
Finally, China still defies explanation, US Asians hate girls and Al Gore is once again the butt of a hilarious joke. (Guest Apperance by Rahm Emanuel.  Continue reading

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Daily Oddities, June 9th/10th

We’re starting this round of Daily Oddities with something everybody wants–a job! Today’s odd job listings include counting bees in New York City and catelouging controlled substances for the NYPD. Awesome much?

Now that you’re gainfully employed, lets take a quick gander around the globe.

GLOBE: Things are getting ridiculous in Russia, where the racing collapse of the post-Soviet economy (again) is producing the largest anti-Putin uprising ever, as even Russians admit Medvyedev has nothing to do with it. In other news, is this the fattest crime reporter you’ve ever seen? Is Moscow the best place ever to major in police blotter?

In India, small time farmers may soon be eligible for micro-insurance policies protecting against climate change. After much whining in at the UN, Sri Lanka has some revised numbers of this year’s war dead (cue streamers). It’s a lite news week for Mexico, where only one horrific, deadly event seems to be capturing headlines. Finally, even more  weirdness emerges on the Cuba front: today, we learn that a US couple in their 70s has been spying on the US for Havana for the past  several decades, before they were duped by American intelligence with Cuban cigars. Really? Continue reading

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Terror Couture

Recently, I’ve become obsessed by terrorist chic- not the kind defined so brilliantly by bradtriescriticaltheory – the sort that’s already been coopted and comodified to the point that Palestinians should be embarassed to wear the kaffieyeh, but things you could only hope to buy abroad or in the untouched pockets of outer borogh New York. After all, isn’t that what drives fashion? Having stuff others can’t? Terror chic are things I would wear if i lived in nihilist, party-obsessed Berlin, where no one gives a fuck about being PC and my friend Anna walks around in a fox stole and suspenders over a wifebeater. Granted, I’ve never been there, but if i were i think this is what i would don.

La Santa Muerte medal:

Two years from now, this will be on Vice Mag’s DOs/DON’Ts list. Today, I could only begin to start to tell you where you get it. Santa Muerte is the sculled and hooded figure of death, the patroness of narcotraficantes. Wear it on a gold chain, either over your cleavage creasing text-tat or in that bear-patch you’ve so artfully groomed to  sweat in full public view  over the collar of your V-neck 50-50 tee.

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MTA goes Delhi Style

Gothamist reports that the MTA may replace the ubiquitious yellow MetroCard with a fancy new smart-card, ala the Delhi Metro, within the  next two years. For anyone who has yet to dedicate a special pocket in their purse/backpack/skinny jeans to their MetroCard, this should be welcome news. To anyone who’s ever ridden the super-crowded metro in India, this should have been obvious. 

For those not in the know, it’s the slam your purse method–whereby commuters simply buzz through the metro without having to actually remove their card–has long been in effect (with great success and happiness) in much of the rest of the world. Except in Paris, where it is fashionable to litter the ground with little violet and teal metro tickets, we should be applauding any effort that would reduce the environmental impact, loss and theft factor and general suck of Subway commuting. When you ferry an average  of 5 million riders each day, efficiency is clutch.   Updates to follow.

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Roma vs. Gypsy: NYT Copy Fail

(VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP!!!)

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3rdWorldImagineer is back today with another instalment of ‘why language matters’. For the record, I am not a PC fascist, but I do think it’s critical to examine how we talk about certain subjects, particularly ones gaining steam in the media. Hence, my semi-annual beef with the AP Stylebook.

For the uninitiated, the AP Stylebook is the vanguard of American newswriting style. Most publications write their own additions, but few deviate markedly from the BOOK.  Hence, the press dictates everything from what to capitalize to which country/city/state name is preferred (as in Mumbai/Bombay, Burma/Myanmar) and is NOTORIOUSLY adverse to change. In the words of TJK, one of the book’s overlords, “we don’t want to have to change it back.” 

The stylebook’s aim is a noble one: to take the world’s most widely spoken and written language–the lingua franca for news–and standardize it. Doing so requires a certain degree of rigidity, but sometimes conservative (and condecending) attitudes about the intelligence and adaptibility of readers block changes that are long overdue. Case in Point: Roma vs. Gypsy

The Roma, once called Gypsies (gitano or tzigan in most Euro languages),  are Europe’s largest ethnic minority. I had written a whole graph about it, but suffice it to say, their various plights in the post-Soviet era make them probably the unluckiest ethnic minority in the world right now (trust me, nobody knows how to brutalize like the Euros). To quote the Guardian:

The evictions underline the plight of Europe’s 8 million Roma as the continent’s most downtrodden minority. Subject to entrenched harassment, discrimination, and ghettoisation, the Roma are liberty’s losers in the transformation wrought by recent free elections and free markets

Given all that, you’d be forgiven for asking what’s  in a name. 

Unfortunately, there’s a lot. 

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Sri Lanka vs Darfur: How We Read Conflict

*(reader note: since lots of my recent traffic seems to have an infants sense of irony, I’m marking anything I said ironic  with asterisks. ****)

I was asked in an interview recently why the Sri Lankan conflict (which has about 1/2 the deaths + 1/3 of the refugees of the Darfur crisis – 95% of the international attention) doesn’t get more press. Upon realizing that I knew the answer and could articulate it, I felt at once elated, depressed and fucking nerdy. I also felt a deep and abiding need to share.

1) Sri Lanka has precisely  * zero * strategic interest for anyone, ever (except India).
The island, though rich in culture, history, and foliage, lacks the natural resources of a place like, say Burma. As an island it borders nothing, and so threatens little. The only people Sri Lanka ever menaces are Indians, though they do that to great effect, since at least the time of the Ramayan, when the demon Ravaana came up out of its jungles to wreck Bible-style havoc. The Tamil refugee crisis has sparked civil unrest in India’s southernmost state, where the entire parlament resigned late last year to protest Delhi’s not doing of things. Then again, Tamil Tigers killed Rajiv Gandhi, so maybe it was, like, a thing. On the third hand, India’s protracted elections will probably reflect, at least in part, Tamil Nadu’s increasing distress at Delhi’s cold shoulder.

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