Saturday, April 30, 2005

Iraq: Putting the Fox in charge of the Henhouse

The USA's only notable achievement in Iraq thus far, and the most important one for the Cheney oil gang which includes Ahmad Chalabi, has been the forceful use of its money and influence to place the Pentagon’s favourite lackey, Ahmad Chalabi, into the new Iraqi cabinet as Oil Minister.

Anthony Cordesman said sarcastically of Chalabi’s appointment, though not entirely unexpected, as akin to “putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.”

That spells even greater gloom and trouble ahead.

The people of the USA, through their elected President, have invested heavily in Iraq. Samples of down-payments thus far are this, this, this, this and this - the actual list of down-payments is far longer but too many to exhibit in one posting.

But then, the prizes for Bush's neo-cons are oil, wealth and of course security for the State of Israel.

Dumb or Devious? But Certainly Despicable!

When asked about the probability of Saddam Hussein having WMD, former CIA chief , George Tenet told Bush that it was a slam dunk Iraq had those weapons. He now regrets those, in his admission, “two dumbest words” he had ever said.

That assurance from the CIA boss gave the Bush Administration the prime justification for the illegal war.

Perhaps it was more than just been dumb. There have been continuous accusations that the neo-cons in the Administration, particularly chickenhawks Cheney and John Bolton, had demanded, bullied and threatened intelligence officers to come up with the required intelligence output that justified the Iraqi invasion and occupation.

Like many other officials, George Tenet might have decided to fall into line.

The result of the Bush Admnistration connivance for America? Read and see this.

Who was Abraham? (11)

Based on the works of scholars, who will be revealed when the blogging for this topic ends. Works of other authors may be included, but where these are done, full acknowledgement will be made.

Advice: Those who may take offence in seeing biblical (OT) quotations or liberal discussion of OT biblical characters should not read this topic.

Before he changed his name to Akhenaten, Amenhotep IV was co-regent to his father, Amenhotep III. According to Nicholas Reeves, author of the book Akhenaten, it was a short co-regency (about 12 years), with the son assuming complete powers after his father died. That was also when his far more famous wife Nefertiti came into prominence. She was a very beautiful woman, whose discovered bust lies in the Berlin Museum. It was stated that even the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, was taken by her beauty.

In his book, Reeves discussed the various theories of her origin, including the possibility of her being a non-Egyptian, and concluded that, based on available evidence, she was Egyptian, and probably the daughter of Kheperkheprure Ay who was better known by his official title of the God’s Father, Lord Ay, the Grand Vizier to Akhenaten. The 'God' was a reference to the Pharaoh, thus the title 'God’s Father' could have meant the 'Pharaoh’s father-in-law'.

This made Nefertiti the cousin sister of Akhenaten, as Lord Ay was the brother of Akhenaten's mother, the Lady Tiye.

Amenhotep changed his name to Akhenaten (the glory of Aten) in honour of Aten, the sole god he worshipped, which was represented by the sun disk. Some historians suggested that it was the sunlight, or just light that he revered rather than the sun disk or the sun. But he was certainly the first historical figure to practise monotheism, much as Jews or Christians for obvious and understandable reason may wish to dispute.

The sun cult in Egypt, like sun cults of other countries, was very ancient, and manifested in the worship of Ra (or Re), and various other representations of the sun, such as Nefertem. The sun cult had its centre in Heliopolis, where among many sun temples, the priests of On served this god.

The politics in Egypt was not only influenced by the royal family but also by the clergy. During the times of Amenhotep III and the all conquering Tutmoses III (Akhenaten’s father and grandfather respectively), the Amun cult, with its base of worship in Thebes rose into political prominence under the patronage of those Pharaohs. In Egypt a compromise between religious cults, when it became necessary, was not unusual. Their gods would syncretised, as it did with the two most influential sects, into Amun-Ra, which became the 'chief' god. In fact their syncretism was already noticed much earlier, around the 5th Dynasty.

From whatever religious revelation, Amenhotep IV chose to worship only Aten (an earlier aspect of Ra or Re), making Aten-worship the official and only religion in Egypt. After his father’s death, he built a completely new city dedicated to Aten at modern day Tel al Amarna, and named it Akhet-aten, meaning 'the city of the horizon of Aten’.

To pursue his monotheistic doctrine, he banned all other Egyptian gods and even set about defacing or destroying them completely, hence he was later known as the ‘heretic’ Pharaoh. Some said he conducted the desecration to snub the powerful priesthood of Amun, with the intention of curbing their political powers. His reign was short-lived, when he either died or disappeared after a brief 17 to 20 years rule (the exact length of his reign is still uncertain).

After his reign, all evidence of his rule and his magnificent city Akhet-aten were destroyed to erase the memory of his unpopular monotheistic rule. It took nearly 3,000 years before an Egyptian woman digging for fertile soil for her garden accidentally stumbled upon some 300 clay tablets with hieroglyphs known as the Amarna letters, thus leading to the lost city of Amarna or Akhet-aten.

While it was known that he had several daughters, historians still debate whether he had sons. The growing consensus seemed to that the most famous Pharaoh in the world, discovered by Howard Carter in 1922, Tutankhamun was his second son.

After Akhenaten’s highly unpopular rule, Lord Ay removed all reference to Aten in an effort to re-consecrate the old gods, even changing the name of the new Pharaoh, Akhenaten’s second son Tutankh-aten to Tutankh-amun to placate the angry priests of Amun.

Sigmund Freud analysed that one of Akhenaten’s Egyptian believer, a high official named Tutmoses, was the ‘Moses’ of the Bible. Tutmoses apparently 'adopted' the Hebrew tribes, converted them to the monotheistic Aten-ism, and led them out of Egypt.

Graham Phillips, author of The Moses Legacy also suspected the same thing, however suggesting that the biblical Moses was a composite of two members of Egyptian nobility, both named Tuthmoses, but living one century apart. One of them was probably the same Tutmoses identified by Freud.

However, Keith Laidler, author of The Head of God, disagreed.

To be continued ........

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Desert Storm beomes Deserting Storm

The men and women of Desert Storm are now becoming the men and women of Deserting Storm. More than 5500 US soldiers have ran away from their military units, or refused to return to Iraq after on leave in the States.

A soldier, Camilo Mejia, reflected the views of the deserters:

"The commanders wanted us to get into firefights because they wanted to put that on their resume to make them look better. Thirty people were killed by my unit. About three of those people had weapons."

"Once you come home it's really hard not to think about it. You start going back to those moments and it's really hard to justify that."

Maybe we can help – by sending some Malaysians, who advocated and still advocate war in Iraq, to replace the deserters.

And don’t forget those chickenhawks like Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Bolton, or their kids.

Remember their motto? “We, the Few, the Rich, the Elite – Born to Kill, Not Serve”

Australia Now Wants to Sign Friendship Treaty

John Howard eats crow after his earlier refusal to sign the Treaty of Amity & Cooperation. Yesterday his Foreign Minister stated that Australia will sign the Treaty but wants an assurance that she’ll get invited to the East Asian Summit.

BolehTalk post - AAB tells Howard: Sign Up or Stay Out

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Veggie, Animal & Not-quite-Mineral

Bush was sneered at as a dill, while Howard was accused of being Bush's lapdog. But Blair takes the cake as a liar.

How Does the US Military Plea: Never Guilty!

Early last month I posted the case of a kidnapped Italian left wing journalist, Guiliana Sgrena, who was freed by insurgents after successful negotiations.

While being driven to Baghdad arport to be flown home to Italy, the car carrying her was shot up by US troops.

Nicola Calipari, an Italian agent who had negotiated her release, and was with her in the car was killed in the shooting. He shielded her with his own body when the Americans started spraying bullets at their vehicle.

Sgrema and her party accused the US soldiers of deliberately targeting her and shooting to kill, as they didn’t want her alive for a variety of reasons.

Diplomatic relations between Italy and the USA were strained, with the US promising a full inquiry. As expected, the US has just cleared those troops responsible for the indiscriminate and murderous gunfire.

Italy has refused to endorse the report but what the hell can she do? When you deal with the crimes of American troops, whether it’s indiscriminate firing, bombing, missile attacks, tank or artillery shelling, napalming, chemical spraying etc that killed innocents, you will never get a conviction.

Remember the My Lai massacre, the gungho killing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, the Falluja cold blooded murder of an unarmed wounded Iraqi in a mosque, the deliberate shelling by a US tank of particular journalists at a Baghdad hotel known to house international journalists, the bombing murder of Afghans and Iraqis at weddings, and the peacetime episodes of the Marine Air Corp Prowler aircraft cutting the cable of the ski car, killing 20 people (the Marines were swiftly flown back to the safety of the USA, much to the fury of the Italian Prime Minister and people), the sinking of a Japanese fishing training ship by a US submarine off Hawaii, and during the 1st Gulf War, the shooting down of an Iranian civilian airline by the USN Vincennes, killing more than 290 civilians (the US courts refused claims of compensation by the victims' Iranian families, while awarding generous payouts to victims of a KAL airline shot down by USSR fighters - subsequently after the Cold War ended, tapes released by the USSR proved that Korean Airlines was correct in its claims of non-culpability, but tough luck, the compensation of several hundreds of millions had already been paid out as ordered by the US courts).

Monday, April 25, 2005

The NW Frontier: Sharia versus Lust!

Shah Jahan Noori, the provincial police chief of Badakhshan province in Afghanistan denied that a woman in Gazan village was stone to death for adultery .. wait, let me rephrase that … for alleged adultery.

Noori stated that because a woman had been stoned to death in the same village in the 1990s, when the Taliban was in power, people assumed it must have happened again. He rejected this notion, reminding reporters that under the new government of Afghanistan, the judges, not the people, should decide who was at fault.

However, Noori didn’t offer any explanation as to why the woman had been executed, purportedly by her father … or perhaps even stoned to death by the villagers, as was reported, before the Afghan judges had a chance to determine the allegation.

The alleged male offender escaped. I wonder whether the woman’s husband will demand 'revenge rape' which is commonly practised among the tribesmen of NW Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A couple of years back, village elders including those who judged the case raped an innocent woman on the basis that her young brother had an affair with an older woman. That was an example of how Pakistani tribesmen applied the law of revenge rape. It was subsequently revealed that the charge against the brother was a frame-up, a lie, and that her brother was actually sodomised by one of the accusers. It appears that Sharia, the rule of Islamic law in force in Pakistan and Afghanistan, didn't help that unfortunate woman or her brother.

I have no doubt the village elders, who judge such matters, will support the husband's demand, and may even … let me rephrase that … will certainly join in. Up there in the NW frontier, they don't let issues like facts, evidence or the Sharia, that they claim to observe and practise, stand in the way of some free nookie.

The saga of Muktaran Bibi, the rape victim, exemplified the lie of PAS, the Islamic Party of Malaysia, that adoption of the rule of Sharia will stop "endemic social decadencies and rampant injustices."

US: How to win enemies and piss off people

The famous Dale Carnegie wrote his best seller "How to win friends and influence people" nearly 70 years ago. Today the Bush Administration has set a new theme "How to win enemies and piss off people".

Read about another person who would have cause to hate the US for its unwarranted ‘terrorism’ against innocent people.

Carnegie also wrote another best seller titled "How to stop worrying and start living". The Bush Administration should consider another theme "How to stop terrorising and start worrying."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

US Moves Trade Goalposts Again!

Once again the politicians of the USA, so-called paragons of free trade, market competition and respecter of international trade laws are now prepared to buck World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to gain a trading edge over China, and indulge in a trade campaign of China-bashing. The US did the same thing against Japan in the 1980’s.

Last year it applied the same unfair tactics against, for crying out loud, a 3rd world nation, Vietnam, by imposing inappropriate and unfair tariffs on the Asian country’s catfish fillet exports just to please its own catfish producers. It even tried to ban the Vietnamese from calling their catfish what those fish were/are, catfish. The whole affair smacked of so much unfairness that even Senator John McCain, a POW held in the notorious Hanoi Hilton, argued against such discriminatory action.

Whenever its own inefficient producers cannot hold their own in trade competition, the US law makers would attempt to, and frequently succeed in moving the goalposts to suit their own selves, while demanding other countries open complete market access to their exporters.

The USA has reneged on WTO trade laws in steel, lumber and textiles against virtually every trading country around the globe. The supposedly free-trade Bush administration, in its first term, had tried to limit open trade, enraging even its allies, invited threats of retaliation and basically demonstrated to the world the president has abandoned his free-trade principles.

Even faithful ally Australia had from time to time lots of frustration with the USA over issues like agricultural subsidies favouring American producers, unfair tariffs on Australian lamb and flight rights. As one Australian trade official said, “what can you do when you’re in a cage with a 500 kg gorilla?”

Well, with China, the story may be slightly different as the Asian giant is also another 500 kg simian in terms of financial powers, holding credit to the US massive debts. All Beijing has to do to retaliate is to spurn US Treasury bonds and American interest rates will rise nastily.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Koizumi Says Sorry But ...

In Jakarta Koizumi said sorry about Japan's WWII atrocities, while in Tokyo 80 legislative members (though no Cabinet Minister) visited the Yasukuni shrine to revere war criminals.

This mixed Japanese behaviour seems to indicate that while Japanese leaders are keen to defuse Asian hostility towards Japan, there exists a hard core right wing element within the Liberal Democratic Party who are still unrepentantly arrogant about Japan’s wartime record and insensitive towards her neighbours’ resentment.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Who was Abraham? (10)

Based on the works of scholars, who will be revealed when the blogging for this topic ends. Works of other authors may be included, but where these are done, full acknowledgement will be made.

Advice: Those who may take offence in seeing biblical (OT) quotations or liberal discussion of OT biblical characters should not read this topic.

My recount of Sigmund Freud’s investigation into Moses is based on a third party source, from Keith Laidler’s book ‘The Head of God’.

So Moses was left by his mother in a floating basket along the banks of the Nile.

“And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.” (Exodus 2:4)

The Egyptian princess came along and discovered him, knowing straightaway he was a child of the Hebrew slaves.

“Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?” (Exodus 2:7)

Freud did not believe the story of Moses’ sister Miriam approaching the daughter of Pharaoh with an offer to look after the baby, whom the princess had then just picked up from the river, for the obvious reason it was impossible for a slave girl to ever approach any member of the Egyptian royalty unless he or she allowed it. Her personal bodyguards would not only have prevented that but probably made mincemeat out of Miriam.

The Egyptian royalty was matrilineal. This means that ascension to the Egyptian throne was decided by who married the principal daughter of the Pharaoh, thus explaining why sons of Pharaohs married their sisters to hold on to the throne. Should the crown princess marry someone outside the family, then that outsider and not the son of the previous Pharaoh would become the new Pharaoh.

Freud was absolutely correct in his observation that a girl of the depised Hebrew slaves would never ever have a chance of approaching a member of the Egyptian royalty, let alone such an august personality who was heir to the throne of Egypt.

“And the child grew, and she brought him unto the Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.” (Exodus 2:10)

Again, Freud thought that name and the biblical explanation of its significance was very dodgy. Freud was a Jew, so he knew a few things about Hebrew names. For the Hebrew baby’s name to bear the meaning the Pharaoh’s daughter intended, he would have been called Moshui, and not Mosche (Moses).

(I’ll stop here on the issue of names as the technicalities of Jewish names are best left to people who know Hebrew, but suffice to say Freud knew an etymological error when he saw one)

Freud also considered that it was utter nonsense to credit an Egyptian princess with knowledge of Hebrew etymology.

In Egyptian the name Mose means child. When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, the extra s was added to its end. The name Mose was patently Egyptian and a very popular one too in compound names.

One hears of Amon-mose, Ahmoses, Tutmoses, and Ra-moses (or Rameses).

Remember these names well, for we shall hear of some of them again.

Freud also knew that circumcision was an Egyptian rite called Sebi, that predated the Hebrew custom. The father of European history, Herodotus mentioned this in his first volume of Histories. Archaeologists noted the many mummies and wall paintings discovered, bore testimony to Herodotus revelation. Laidler mentioned that during biblical times the Semitic tribes were known as the uncircumcised, while most Egyptian males, particularly highborn and priests, subscribed to the rite-practice.

Why then would Moses, if he was Hebrew, impose an Egyptian custom on his Semitic people?

Freud remarked:

“If Moses gave the Jews not only a new religion but also the law of circumcision, he was no Jew but an Egyptian, and the mosaic religion was probably an Egyptian one.”

Laidler commented that on the face of it, there was one problem to Freud’s assertion. The Egyptians were polytheist, and thus monotheism was not an Egyptian practice. From the 1st Dynasty until the last, lasting some three thousand years, the ancient Egyptians worshipped many gods.

With one exception …

In those 3,000 years, for a brief 20-year period during the Egyptian 18th Dynasty, coincidentally around the time of the Exodus, a Pharaoh considered to be religiously heretic did practise monotheism.

The Pharaoh was Amenhotep IV, or more famously known as Akhenaten.

To be continued ……..

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Japan To Be Reminded of Her Heinous Past!

While a Japanese court has rejected a compensation claim by victims of Japanese germ warfare atrocities during WWII, China ups the ante in the current war of grievances by asking UNESCO to consider the ruins of the Japanese germ warfare site, well-known among Chinese as the very notorious Unit 731, as a world heritage protected site.

The Chinese referred to the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan as precedents for UNESCO protection of war ruins.

Related posting:
Rich, Powerful but Unrepentant – A Vexing Japan

Disloyal Chickenhawk a Tautology?

If there is anything worse than a chickenhawk, it’s a disloyal chickenhawk. But then, am I not indulging in tautology to call such an animal a ‘disloyal chickenhawk’?

John Bolton’s supporters suggested that as US Ambassador to the UN he would bring discipline to that organization, but how can a man who had lacked discipline to be a loyal team player in his country’s Administration ever achieved that in an international agency?

Bolton has notoriously sabotaged his erstwhile superior officer Colin Powell by deliberately withholding vital information that consequentially embarrassed the former Secretary of State on the diplomatic front. He tried that with Condoleezza Rice but the smart lady booted him out of the State Department.

His intentional withholding of information on the UN Security Council’s disinclination to investigate Iran's nuclear program the way the US wanted it done, and the worldwide for the re-election of Mohammed ElBaradei as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had caused the US to lose enormous political face and prestige, when deprived of those important intelligence assessment and thus essential prior negotiations, the US blundered unwittingly against global preferences, and lost humiliatingly.

It has been one thing to bully intelligence officers into ‘reorganizing’ their reports to ‘suit’ Bolton’s secret agenda but it is certainly another, in any language or culture, to disadvantage his own government by deliberately withholding information vital to the conduct of the country’s diplomatic business.

Bolton did both, and took his misconduct to a higher level than mere browbeating of public officers. That has been why Rice had him out of her hair like a flash the moment she was Secretary of State.

This man ought to be sacked for his maverick misconduct that has caused untold political damage to the USA. But unfortunately the Republican Party who holds the majority (by one) in the Senate hearing on Bolton’s appointment is likely to confirm his nomination along party lines because it doesn’t want to lose an inch to the Democrats, even on an appointment that has been fraught with stupidity from the start, and may bring future adverse fallout for the USA.

Related posting:
US send Chickenhawk to Dovecote

A Great Red Over A Red Giant Anytime!

Last 5 days I was on holiday, free from the stress of work. I was even Internet-free. All I had were 5 bottles of red, a dessert wine, a nice tawny port, two books that I meant to read (just managed one-third of one), two fishing rods and a pair of thongs (Japanese slippers).

I drove to a seaside town, booked into a holiday unit, paid $10 for a week's fishing licence, and spent some glorious time either strolling on the magnificent beaches or sitting on one of the jetties of the harbour, with my fishing lines out for no apparent reason than the pretence of fishing.

While on the beach I became a bit philosophical and wondered when our G2 sun becomes a growing red giant, how the golden sand will start to melt into glass crystals before vaporising into some sort of noxious fumes. Needless to say, by then the sea would have boiled away.

Mankind itself will also be gone unless it has the commonsense to pool its resources and invest it into searching for an alternative home among the stars and building the transportation to get there, for future humanity. Being children of the stars, we must return to the stars for our survival.

But alas, perhaps that event is just too far into the unforeseeable future (5 billion years more) and thus not sufficiently motivating for today’s world leaders, politicians and big tycoons to care about.

OK, that was too mind boggling, so instead of worrying about a solar red giant, I opened a bottle of red every night and savoured it with appreciation.

While at the jetty, I indulged instead in visual enjoyment, the sight of hundreds, if not thousands of multi-hued minnows darting in and out among the pier pilings, nibbling eagerly at the crumbs I gently showered on them. I even caught a few, not out of skill but due rather to the sheer avarice of those greedy little fellows, chomping mindlessly on the hooks of my fishing lines.

One species looked like a small (approx. 2/3 palm-size) bawal putih (silver Pomfret or pampas argenteus), though it was dark purplish in colour. Its shape was definitely more like a bawal putih than a bawal hitam (black Pomfret or parastromateous niger). I threw them back to live another day and returned to my visual examination of the various shades of shadow and darkness among the small boats, fishing trawlers, schooners, the bottom of the jetties and the darker dancing waves. It was very therapeutic.

Great getaway!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Who was Abraham? (9)

Based on the works of scholars, who will be revealed when the blogging for this topic ends. Works of other authors may be included, but where these are done, full acknowledgement will be made.

Advice: Those who may take offence in seeing biblical (OT) quotations or liberal discussion of OT biblical characters should not read this topic.

The Book of Genesis shows so many discrepancies and inconsistencies that many wondered why or what the authors were up to. Even Sigmund Freud, yes that famous father of psycho-analysis, noticed the puzzling way the biblical personalities and events were written up.

As a Jew, Freud was invariably interested in the story of the Jews’ greatest prophet. He wasn’t satisfied with the biblical tale of Moses. He might not have been the first to notice the weird and bizarre discrepancies, but he was probably the first to put his observations into print. In 1937 he published his thoughts on the matter in a book titled Moses and Monotheism.

Let us leap forward from the Abraham story to Moses because of the involvement of Freud, one of the greatest minds in modern history. His observations will also have a bearing on our discussion.

As the Book of Exodus tells us, the reigning Pharaoh was getting worried with the way “the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.” (Exodus 1:7)

After a number of failed attempts to curb their population explosion, he decided to kill all male Hebrew children.

"And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive." (Exodus 1:22)

Moses was born of a Levi family. His mother hid him for as long as she could from the massacre commanded by Pharaoh. When she felt she could not do so successfully any more, she built a small ark made of bulrushes, water proofed it, placed Moses in the floating basket, and set it among the rushes near the Nile’s bank, whence the Pharaoh’s daughter chanced upon the basket, saw and adopted the child, named him Moses meaning ‘I drew him out of the water’.

Now, a royal person such as the Pharaoh’s daughter wasn’t exactly given to nursing an infant, so Miriam, Moses' sister, who was strategically lurking nearby and waiting for the right moment, approached Her Royal Highness, offering a wet nurse service which the princess happily accepted. Of course Moses' real mother played the role of the nurse. Everything fell comfortably into place, and Moses grew up not only safe from the Pharaoh’s slaughter but as an Egyptian prince.

Sigmund Freud thought it was all a bit fishy, and that was not because of the Nile. In his book Moses And Monotheism, he wrote on his personal feelings regarding his exposé on Moses:

"To deny a people the man whom it praises as the greatest of its sons is not a deed to be undertaken light-heartedly, especially by one belonging to that people"

He agonised that as a Jew, he was about to disabuse the Jewish people with his discerning observations on the true origin of their greatest prophet.

Sigmund Freud believed Moses was not a Hebrew but an Egyptian.

To be continued ……..

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The not-so-humble Basil

The Hindus considered the basil plant (ocimum sanctum) as sacred. They called it Tulasi or Surasah in Sanskrit, Tulsi in Hindi, Tiruttizhai, Tiruttilai or Tulasi in Tamil, Sivatulasi in Malayalam and Oddhi in Telugu - I have added just the Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu names for the plant as these are the three major southern Indian languages spoken in Malaysia.

In Malay, ocimum sanctum is called Oku, Ruku-ruku or Sulasi. As in the case of Malay, languages of countries with significant Hindu influence in their culture, like Thai, Khmer, Indonesian, Laotian, and Burmese also have their own versions.

The above names are those for the sacred basil, as obviously there are other types of basil, for example, Kemangi, Daun selaseh, Selasi jantan in Malay.

The Hindus believed the basil or Tulasi is sacred to Lord Vishnu and a reincarnation of his consort Lakshmi, or that of some of his avatars, like Rama and Sita.

Steward Lee Allen in his book, In The Devil’s Garden – A sinful History of Forbidden Food, provided a variation to the Hindu myth. An Indian girl named Vrinda (incidentally also another name for Lakshmi) was so distressed by her husband’s death that she committed Sati, the Hindu act of devotional self immolation by widows.

The title Sati means 'Righteous' - Hindus believe the first Indian woman to commit Sati was Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva. She did so to protest strongly against the wrongs and insults to her husband, rather than as a devoted widow joining her deceased husband in death. When a woman commited Sati, she would hold a sprig of Tulasi in her hands.

Back to Stewart Allen's story, the gods was so impressed by Vrinda’s devotion that they turned the ashes of her hair into the Tulasi, the sweet and fragant basil or ocimum sanctum (photo of sacred plant). They ordered their priests to revere the sacred plant.

It seems that some Indian courts still make Hindus take an oath by placing their hands over this holy plant, akin to Christians doing so with the Holy Bible. Apart from its use by Hindus as a purifier during religious ceremonies, the sacred basil is also employed by Indians to keep snakes and mosquitoes away, and for general health purposes.

Alexander the Great was responsible for the basil going from India to Europe, where it became popular as a herb, particularly with the Italians. Steward Allen humorously narrated how the Italians, being Catholics, slowly modified Vrinda's unacceptable suicide into a tale of an Italian maid, Lisabetta, deeply distressed by the death of her lover. She cut off his head, buried it in a pot, grew a basil in the container, and watered the plant with her tears. The plant grew by leaps and bounds because of the special fertiliser. Its amazing growth attracted pilgrimages from people.

The name basil is derived from Greek basileus (king), because of the royal fragrance of this herb.

I frequently partake of the delicious Vietnamese dish Pho Dac Biet (combination beef noodles soup), which uses fresh basil as fragrant garnishing. The next time I do so, I’ll certainly treat the basil with its ancient and amazing pedigree with more respect.

Rich, Powerful but Unrepentant - A Vexing Japan

The Chinese showed their outrage at the very thought of a Japan, unapologetic about its barbaric acts of genocide and savage war crimes against the Chinese (and other Asian people) during WWII, being considered for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council (UNSC). They conducted massive protests in Beijing and variosu Chinese cities.

The protestors grew violent and indiscriminately harassed the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, while vandalising other Japanese establishments. Other Chinese cities saw the same emotional outbursts. What may have aggravated the Chinese (and Korean) anti-Japan emotions has not been only the evil cruelty of WWII, but Japan's unrepentance shown in its attempt to revise its barbaric and heinous past.

The Japanese government's mantra of not being able to interfere with the publication of revisionist books on Japan's wartime history or approval of these books for use by its Education Ministry is unsupportable when viewed in stark contrast to Germany's policy of legislating anything Nazi, including even the denial of the Holocaust, as illegal. The Japanese behaviour has been diametrically opposite to its WWII Axis partner, further emphasised when its prime minister, Junichiro Koizuma even had the insensitive audacity to visit the Yasukuni shrines to pay respect to Japanese war criminals, those very people who had perpetrate savage atrocities on the civilian citizens of Japan's neighbours.

Unfortunately, the thing about Chinese, and indeed other East Asian nationalities, has been their incorrect belief that violent or vociferous acts, like the ones perpetrated by the Malaysian so-called Reformasi movement inspired by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in September 1998, would make their targets take notice and succumb. The terrible side effect of violent demonstrations is that these would be viewed by the rest of world as hooliganism at best, or state-instigated or personality-instigated hooliganism under more critical or cynical assessments. Thus, violent protests may well end up being counter-productive.

They could achieved better results if they had demonstrated peacefully and in dignified silence, with sensible placards or posters of Japanese WWII acts of atrocities. They could emphasise their deep revulsion with similar massive protests, regularly and unrelentingly but all conducted with solemn restrain and dignity.

Anger or outrage is best served cold.

If the aim of their campaign is to deny the seemingly unrepentant Japanese a seat in the UNSC, then they should conduct their activities more meaningfully, like writing to governments, especially to those countries that would have a say in the selection of new members for the proposed expanded UNSC, and powerful lobby groups around the world and especially the media.

If the Chinese intends to be a major voice in the international community, they must play the game of the West. Whether the East likes it or not, it is the West that sets the benchmark for what is considered acceptable behaviour. Japan recognises that and has been singing along with the western tune in its decade long bid for a seat in the UNSC. In typical Japanese fashion, as it had done with the International Whaling Commission, Japan has also advertised a little sweetener (bribe) for potential supporters.

Actually I see one easy solution to all this brouhaha, but will a recalcitrant Japan participate?

Japan needs only to extend a full apology to its former victims!

Asia Times Online China’s quandary over Japan’s UN bid
Previous Ktemoc Konsiders posting: Japan Unfit for World Leadership
BolehTalk posting Japan Must Look to Germany’s Example

Friday, April 08, 2005

US sends Chickenhawk to Dovecote

Bush’s nominee to the US Ambassadorial post in the UN, John Bolton has been accused by a former State Department official, Carl Ford, of interfering with and attempting to influence intelligence reports on targeted countries like Iraq, Cuba, Syria, etc.

Bolton was alleged to have intimidated intelligence officers, and even barred those who disagreed with him from intelligence policy meetings. He has even resorted to have the professionals who dissented posted out.

Bolton is of course a core member of the notorious right wing think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which has advised President Bush, through its belligerent policies and its members serving in the Bush Administration, to attack and invade Iraq. The American global diplomatic disaster for the last several years could be traced to PNAC members in the Administration.

But typical of right wing hawks, Bolton has been correctly identified as a chickenhawk.

Bolton is known for his hatred of the UN. It may seem strange that the US would want such a man at the UN as its representative at a time when President Bush, in his second term administration, wants to re-build bridges with the World.

Probably the principal reason why he has been nominated as the US Ambassador to the organization that he loathes, despite several career demerit points - being part of the coterie who had misled Bush on Iraq, interfered with intelligence processes, sabotaged his previous boss, former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, on the Korean nuclear disarmament issue, and worked towards dismantling a host of international treaties that had contributed to US interests as well as global peace and stability for the past several decades - may be related to the report that Condoleezza Rice doesn’t want him in her State Department.

Like Wolfowitz, Bolton may have been kicked sideways to the outer. Can you blame Rice?

The Law of Might is Right!

The USA and Colombia has an extradition agreement, which allows for criminals to be send to the country, where the offence was committed, to face trial.

200 Colombians have since been extradited to the US to face criminal charges for drug trafficking.

But the US Ambassador to Colombia said recently that a group of American soldiers who have been arrested for drug smuggling will not stand trial in Colombia. Apparently the agreement allows the American troops to be above Colombian law.

Bogota has to tread carefully because it’s so dependent upon American aid. It is the third largest recipient of US aid after Israel and Egypt. Undoubtedly it will and must kowtow to Washington’s stand that no US troops will ever stand trial in Colombia even if they commit serious crimes.

The United States has a ’status of forces agreement’ (SOFA) with many host countries where US troops are deployed, that denies the host nations from prosecuting US troops for crimes committed on their soil, except in the most minor of cases.

While US apprehension at the arbitrary and draconian legal system of some nations may be understandable, the agreement even extend to countries whose legal systems are, according to Chalmers Johnson, every bit as, and perhaps more sophisticated than the US’. This just goes to prove it’s not so much the fear of US soldiers receiving unjust treatment, but rather the US government putting its personnel above the laws of sovereign countries.

Some countries have termed SOFA as an unequal treaty, which only works to the benefit of criminally inclined US troops, while some, particular those in the Middle-East, have been so embarrassed at the insult to their sovereignty that they have remained silent about its existence.

The US has frequently used a combination of threats and bribery to force countries to put American troops beyond the reach of their laws.

Might is Right!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

US Ambassador for Oil

US oil interest will continue to be well looked after in Iraq. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador in Afghanistan has been nominated as the new US ambassador to Iraq, replacing John Negroponte.

Zalmay Khalilzad is of course closely linked with Cheney. He worked for UNOCAL, a US oil conglomerate, and was instrumental in arranging deals between the oil company and the Taliban, with the Administration's approval of course, before the Americans attacked their erstwhile ally, the Taliban Afghans.

He is also a core member of the Project For A New American Century (PNAC), a right wing pro-Israeli think tank, whose core members include Wolfowitz, Pearle, Eliot Abrams, Feith (some of the most powerful Jewish American chickenhawks), Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton, etc, who all called for the US to attack Iraq during Bill Clinton’s time. Except for Pearle, who fell on his own sword and left last year, all of them remain part of the Bush Administration.

We can see why Bush was so easily led by his nose into invading Iraq on a fabricated casus belli, that of non-existent WMDs and the invented al-Qaeda link.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Who was Abraham? (8)

Based on the works of scholars, who will be revealed when the blogging for this topic ends. Works of other authors may be included, but where these are done, full acknowledgement will be made.

Advice: Those who may take offence in seeing biblical (OT) quotations or liberal discussion of OT biblical characters should not read this topic.

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? (Genesis 17:17)

This tells us that the age gap between Abraham and Sarah was 10 years.

So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him: and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. (Genesis 12:4)

Abraham was already 75 years old when he was instructed by God to leave Haran after his father died. Therefore Sarah was sixty-five years old. It also tells us that there was a gap of at least 25 years between entering Egypt and having their son Isaac.

And it came to pass, that, when Abrams was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.

The princes also of Pharaoh also saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.
(Genesis 12:14-14)

When entering Egypt, Abraham wanted Sarah to pretend she was his sister. The biblical reason was that he was afraid of being killed if it was known she was his wife, for he anticipated Sarah would attract lustful attention. And he was right. Pharaoh was told of her beauty, took her into his Palace and rewarded her ‘brother’ generously.

Here, two questions begged to be asked.

(1) What did Egyptians see in a 65 year old Hebrew woman that made them acclaim she was fair, and recommend the beauty to the Pharaoh, and why would a Pharaoh, who could have any woman in the land, want an old crone as his lover?

(2) Did the Pharaoh have his naughty ways with Sarah after taking her into the Palace?

Other questions that popped up are:

(3) What was a pastoralist like Abraham doing in a cosmopolitan city like Ur? One would expect him to live in a tent in a rural area, but we are told he came from Ur of the Chaldees? (Genesis 11:28)

(4) But the Chaldean civilization came about in 900 BC, more than half a thousand years after the biblical Abraham. So, was Abraham really from Ur of the Chaldees?

(5) Then, what would be the likelihood of a foreign commoner, a mere pastoralist even allowing for his beautiful wife, coming into contact with the royal house of Egypt, namely the princes and the Pharaoh? (Genesis 12:15) Can a great empire like Egypt be so 'small' that a mere foreigner, on entering its border, would come into contact with or to the knowledge of its princes?

(6) Why is there a leitmotiv surrounding Abraham and Sarah of the man and wife pretending to be brother and sister, a King taking (or attempting to take her) the wife, God intervening to return the wife to the husband, and the husband profiting greatly from the separation? The leitmotiv may be discerned in:

(a) Abraham and the Pharaoh (Genesis 12:11-20)
(b) Abraham and Abimelech of Gerar (Genesis 20:2-18) – Sarah was even older by then, around 90.
(c) Isaac and Abimelech of Gerar (Genesis 26: 7-16) – we aren’t too sure whether this was the same Abimelech for it was then more than 50 years later, but the King had a chief captain of the army named Phichol (Genesis 26:26) as was in the case of the earlier or Abraham’s Abimelech (Genesis 21:22).

(7) Why was Sarah told to change her name from the original Sarai to Sarah, in Hebrew meaning Princess? (Genesis 17:15)

What were the authors (or author) of Genesis trying to say, or do?

To be continued ……..

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Two Generals from North America

This is a re-published posting - my previous (same) posting appeared to be corrupted, losing some vital sentences. I have retained the same publishing time stamp.

Tonight I saw two TV programmes, each about a general. Both are North Americans – one from the United States of America and the other a Canadian.

The first was a documentary about the Abu Ghraib torture scandal titled ‘Big Storm – the Lynndie England Story’. The synopsis in the TV guide stated she joined the army to see the world, but the world saw Lynndie England instead – in graphic photos and films of prisoner abuse in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison.

It was a documentary about US Defence leaders shoving responsibility and blame downwards - apparently they weren't believers of Truman's "the buck stops here." My earlier topic showed that Lt General Ricardo Sanchez, the US top military man in Iraq, had in fact authorised those illegal interrogation techniques.

In the programme, viewers also saw Senator John McCain slicing Donald Rumsfeld up at a Senate Inquiry on the Abu Ghraib torture. The latter and one of his generals were attempting to evade a question by McCain about the ‘line of command’, but the Senator, a former military man himself with extensive military and combat experience, and a stint in the notorious ‘Hanoi Hilton’ didn't allow them to get away with it. One could see the sorry saga of the cover-up and the delegation of blame downwards. The documentary also indicated that the use of torture was not an isolated case at Abu Ghraib but a widespread and systemic problem in the US military stretching from Guantano Bay to Afghanistan.

The director of the documentary Twan Huys stated "Is she guilty? Yes. Is she ultimately responsible? No. This (American) government is very clever at painting reality as they see it, or as they want it."

Huys added that Lynndie England has been made the poster child of torture in prisons. This reminds me of how the Pentagon fabricated the Jessica Lynch heroic rescue, and stage-managed her image into that of an iconic American heroine.

The second documentary was a focus on Lt General Roméo Dallaire, a Canadian general serving with the UN in Rwanda, and his valiant but futile efforts to stop the genocide. His repetitive appeals for intervention by the major western powers were ignored. It seemed that Rwanda-Bururndi didn’t have any strategic interest for the West. The tragic consequence was the genocidal slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis by the governing Hutus.

George Moose, then U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, in an interview revealed how the US actually blocked any effective response by the world to the genocide. He mentioned U.S. preferred decision to support a drastic reduction of U.N. peacekeeping forces and to evacuate Kigali. He exposed the rationale for rejecting General Dallaire's appeals for reinforcement and the US evasion in referring to the word ‘genocide’.

Dallaire was so traumatised by the slaughter and blamed himself for his ‘failure’ to stop the genocide that he attempted suicide and took to drinking. He mentioned the genocide in these terms:

"My soul is in those hills, my spirit with the spirits of all those people who were slaughtered ..... Lots of those eyes still haunt me, angry eyes, or innocent eyes. But the worst eyes that haunt me are the eyes of those people who were totally bewildered. They're looking at me with my blue beret and saying, ‘What in the hell happened?’"

He resigned from his UN post, and now dedicates himself to the wretched Darfur genocide. He was recently recognised for what he actually has been, a hero, who was let down by western nations ignoring the crisis (no oil in Rwanda-Burundi?). The Canadian Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson (don't let her name fool you - she's of Chinese ethnicity) decorated him with the Pearson peace medal.

The film Hotel Rwanda attempted to depict his story, but critics complained that the film has unfairly and inaccurately put Dallaire in a bad light as a weak UN commander. However, Dallaire said he didn’t mind as the film would be good in highlighting to the world about a tragedy that ought not to have happened.

He said rather succinctly that Africans like Rwandans don’t have the sort of powerful lobby the Jews enjoy, thus the film would be excellent in reminding people they shouldn’t just stand by the sideline as unconcerned onlookers while a genocide was going on.

Israel Chucking Garbage Over its Fence

We have all heard of the word NIMBYNot In My BackYard. People don’t want nuclear stations, hugh rubbish incinerators, radioactive waste dumps, rubbish tips or airports in or next to their neighbourhood.

But have you heard of CISBYConveniently In Someone’s BackYard? Well, I wonder whether Israel should be accorded the dubious honour of creating this term.

No prize for guessing where Israel is using as its garbage dump!

International law? Israel hasn’t heard of it.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Bolivian Human Rights 0 : US Mining Rights 1

The US authority has refused entry to a prominent Bolivian human rights lawyer, Fernando Rodriguez, because they claimed he has met with Bolivian terrorists. His US visa which was valid for the next 10 years has been cancelled. With that, he was immediately put onboard a plane back to La Paz.

However, the US authority has not provided any details of Rodriguez’s connection with so-called Bolivian terrorists, nor has it identified any terrorist groups in that country. Maybe that's due to the fact that there is NO terrorist activity in Bolivia.

Oh, incidentally what was Rodriguez going to the States for?

Well, he is the co-founder of the Bolivian chapter of the Inter-American Platform of Human Rights, Democracy and Development. He was to present evidence of abuses by US petroleum, mining and logging companies against indigenous groups before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Washington. The Commission is an arm of the Organization of American States. Rodriguez had made a similar presentation to the Commission last year.

Looks like he won't be able to do that now - how fortuitous for the US companies.

It has also been known that the former US ambassador to Bolivia had threatened Bolivians against voting for Evo Morales, the indigenous leader of a major opposition party on the eve of the 2002 presidential elections. Evo Morales is an indigenous rights campaigner, and a thorn in the side of the US companies.

Maybe there is an al Qaeda link, or WMDs in Bolivia? Perhaps Osama bin Laden is lurking there? On the other hand, the Iranian ayatollahs could have a secret nuclear enrichment plant in La Paz?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Israeli Goose, Palestinian Gander!

Israel honours Egyptian Jews who operated as terrorists in Egypt in the 1950s. Egypt is of course pretty miffed at this double standards.

The Jewish terrorists were operating 50 years ago in Egypt, by carrying out bomb attacks for the political objective of destabilizing relations between Egypt, the United States and Britain.

Back in 2002, the Israeli Knesset honoured the memory of a killer thug like Avraham Stern, leader of the terrorist group LEHI, who murdered a civilian, a UN diplomat named Count Bernadotte of Sweden.

Count Bernadotte was the United Nations Security Council appointed mediator for peace in the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine. It is ironical that Bernadotte, as head of the Swedish Red Cross during WWII, successfully obtained the release of 21,000 prisoners, including 6,500 Jews, from extermination in Nazi camps, only to die at the hands of a Jewish terrorist assassin Yehoshua Cohen.

It needs to be noted also the honoured Israeli hero, Avraham Stern wanted to collaborate with the Nazis – just beat that, the Knesset honouring a turncoat who elected to fight on the side of the Holocaust perpetrators.

Among the group planning the assassination of Count Bernadotte was a man named Yitzhak Shamir, who went on to become PM of Israel. The first Jewish terrorist who became PM of Israel was of course Menachem Begin.

Then, there is the third notorious Israeli PM, Ariel Sharon, who has been associated with the Sabra-Shatila massacre, Sharon has been indicted as a war criminal. He is well-known for his over-the-top Nazi-like brutalities against Arabs, yet ironically elected by the children of the Holocaust to be the Prime Minister of Israel.

So what’s the difference between these Jewish terrorists and Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, PLO, Hezbollah, etc?

Why US is anti-ICC! (2)

US torture of Iraqi POWs sanctioned by top US military commander, now also accused of perjury.

No worries Ricardo, the ICC will not be involved.

Agent Orange II?

Narcotic-stan and Agent Orange II?

Also - US reneged on Agent Orange medical-scientific studies for Vietnamese and American veterans who served in Vietnam.

Vale Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II has passed away today. I won’t elaborate on his papal achievements or failings as the world press will be teeming with these. But I like to list 3 major issues that I personally reckon as the main issues of his career:

(1) His reconciliation efforts with the Jews, Muslims, Greek Orthodox Church, Coptic Orthodox Church, (his unsuccessful attempt with) the Russian Orthodox Church, and other Schools of Christianity.

(2) His somewhat belated but still-welcomed willingness to confront and purge the Catholic Church of perverts, paedophiles and scoundrels, instead of burying the Church’s head in the sand of infallibility.

(3) His refusal to give in to liberal Catholics on the ‘pill’. This issue is something for the Catholics to debate among themselves as to whether the Pope had been resolute in his faith or merely stubborn in an out-of-date ideology.

Requiescat in pace, papa!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Why I am Against the Death Penalty!

This is why I am against the death sentence, an irreversible barbaric act of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ which could wrongly execute the innocents.