Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: America

Thoughts on 28/9/2007

Pedro Zapeta

I came across this news item on CNN.
Pedro Zapeta was an illegal immigrant working in USA. He worked as a dishwasher for11 years and saved money. Two years back he wanted to return to Guatemala. He wanted to buy some land and build a house for his mother and sisters. When boarding the plane he was asked what he had in the bag. He said 59,000 dollars. Anyone with more than 10,000 dollars had to declare which Zapeta did not know. His money was confiscated. He started his fight for money. When people came to know they donated 10,000 dollars which was put in a trust. He was offered 10,000 dollars of his money plus 9,000 dollars from donations. He wanted his 59,000 dollars. Now the judge has ordered that by January 2008 Zapeta has to leave USA on his own. It is unlikely that Zapeta will get his money. His dream is shattered.
Though Zapeta was an illegal immigrant he should have been allowed to take the money as he had earned it the right way. He did not engage in crimes.
USA was founded and expanded by illegal immigrants and their descendants. The fact that they were conquerors does not make them legal immigrants. Crackdown on illegal immigrants has affected US economy. There is less demand for housing which is affecting other sectors. The value of dollar has gone down.

India Live TV

Ban on India Live TV for one month is a good thing. It should have been for at least three months. It was not a sting operation but an attempt at character assassination and framing. The channel must be asked to pay one crore rupees in compensation to Uma Khurana. It was not just a wrong story but a premeditated cold blooded conspiracy.

Reactions to victory and defeat

We should avoid extremes in reactions to outcome of sports events. India won 2020 World Cup. Taking players in open top bus from airport to Wankhede Stadium should have been avoided. Felicitation at Wankhede Stadium was right but seemed more an attempt by BCCI officials and politicians to bask in reflected glory as they occupied the front row. Among the cricketers only captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was at the front row.
When India was out of ODI World Cup in March 2007 i.e., just six months back, Dhoni’s house was attacked and it needed police protection. In 1971 Ajit Wadekar had an open car ride. Flowers were showered. In 1974 India lost to England and Ajit Wadekar was treated shabbily and he retired from first class cricket. In 1992 when India was out of the ODI World Cup Ravi Shastri’s house had to be protected. TV channels should exercise restraint. They should not build up hype and expectations. Victory and defeat should be taken in perspective.
Hockey players threatened hunger strike at their neglect as compared to cricketers. There is some substance in their grievance. State governments had discriminated. But the comparison was not fair for two reasons. First, hockey players had won the Asia Cup, not World Cup. Second, BCCI had organized the felicitation. BCCI is not a government body. IHF should have organized the felicitation for hockey players.
Suresh Kalmadi said Olympic Sports do not get recognition. Karnam Malleshwari and Leander Paes won bronze medals and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won silver medal at Olympics and they got due recognition.
Hockey players got some prizes after threat of hunger strike. Karnataka government and Air India announced prizes. State Bank of India announced prizes of Rs.5 lakhs for every player who represented India in Asia Cup.
Pankaj Advani, World Champion in Billiards, spoke about non-recognition by Karnataka government. His achievement is great. But billiards is not a popular sport. Many do not watch it on TV. Tennis is watched on TV. Pankaj Advani deserves recognition but neglect is understandable.

Human rights

USA is concerned about human rights and democracy in Burma but not in Pakistan. There are no sanctions against Pakistan. Al Qaeda and Taliban have supporters in Pakistan. Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of cross border terrorism. Benazir Bhutto has not come out against Pervez Musharraf.
Pakistan Supreme Court’s judgment allowing Pervez Musharraf to contest the post of President while continuing as General was shocking though not entirely unexpected after it had rejected Imran Khan’s petition.

Delimitation of constituencies

The Government of India should notify the delimitation of constituencies immediately. Some, like L. K. Advani, will lose their constituencies. That is fair and should not hold back the notification.


Rupee must be allowed to become strong. RBI should not take steps that present the rise of rupee. Dollar is falling against other currencies. It is at its lowest against Euro and Pound.

The end of Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was hanged at around 6.00 a.m. (8.30 a.m. IST) on 30/12/2006. He was sentenced to death for killing of 148 people in Dujail in 1982 by lower court on 5/11/2006, two days before American elections. He filed an appeal. His appeal was rejected on 26/12/2006 and he was to be hanged by 25/1/2007. He was hanged within four days, on Id-ul-Adha.

Iraq, under US occupation, did what George Bush wanted. The trial was not fair. It was not telecast live. It was not open. Three defence lawyers were killed. Presiding judge was changed.

When Iran-Iraq was going on Arab countries and USA sided with Iraq. When Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait in 1990 many Arab countries joined USA lead coalition. The decline of USSR as superpower and development of night vision technology caused additional difficulties for Iraq. Iraq was bombarded. Civilian facilities were destroyed.

USA has supported many dictators and toppled democratically elected governments. It tried to topple Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela. It supports Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.

USA invaded Iraq in 2003. UN and NATO did not approve it. Pope John Paul II, Archbishop of Canterbury and Catholic Bishops of USA opposed it. Many countries were opposed to it. In USA many people opposed the war. The people Saddam Hussein trusted most betrayed him in April 2003 and Baghdad fell.

The Americans were disinformed about reasons for 2003 Iraq war and many got brainwashed. Saddam Hussein was accused of having weapons of mass destruction. He was accused of 11/9/2001 attacks on USA though he was not a friend of Osama Bin Laden. USA had propped up Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan against USSR. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Colin Powell who made a presentation to UN justifying war later said the details were wrong.

Under Saddam Hussein Iraq was a secular state. After his downfall Muslim fundamentalists became powerful. Life became difficult for Christians and moderate Muslims.

Crimes committed by Saddam Hussein are no match for the crimes committed by Americans in Iraq in 1991 and 2003 onwards. Who will punish them? The Presidents, Generals, pilots, marines and others involved are guilty of many crimes.

The war in Iraq was for getting contracts to American companies like Halliburton. While Iraqis suffered greatly USA is not free from suffering either. The number of US servicemen killed in Iraq is now more than 3000. How many more American soldiers have to die before USA withdraws from Iraq?

After the downfall of Saddam Hussein the situation turned worse in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003. He was humiliated in many ways. Pictures of doctors examining him and while in prison in underwear made it to TV and newspapers. He was charged with many crimes and found guilty in Dujail case.

Civil war is going on in Iraq. Soon it will be split into three or more parts. The Americans wants to divide Iraq and rule it.

What some people call victor’s justice is victor’s vengeance or invader’s injustice. After World War II the Germans and the Japanese were punished. No one from USA, UK, USSR, France and other countries on their side was punished. The crimes committed by Allies were more than that of Axis powers but they were not publicised.

The crimes committed by Americans at Abu Ghraib and other places show the face of the aggressor. A few soldiers were punished. People at the top who knew it and allowed were not punished.

Saddam Hussein was not a saint. His brother-in-law and sons-in-law died in strange circumstances. He was not faithful to his wife. Like other dictators he was ruthless.

The testimony of some witnesses was doubtful. About one witness Saddam Hussein said he could not have been born at that time.

Once Saddam Hussein was overthrown he was not a force to reckon with. After his capture he could not carry on the fight. His sons and a grandson died in a gun battle. He wanted to be shot as he thought himself to be a military man. That wish was not granted.

Five points

USA and judicial encroachment

Judiciary in USA is going beyond its powers and encroaching powers of legislature. Massachusetts Supreme Court allowed gay marriages. The Supreme Court of New Jersey has ordered the Legislature of the state to amend laws within six months to allow same sex marriages. This is crossing the limit.

Many gay marriages that have taken place will end in divorce. It remains to be seen how courts will deal with disputes. USA Constitutions should have an article that states marriage is a union of a man and a woman for mutual love and procreation and education of children.

USA should have retirement age for Federal and State Supreme Court judges. There should be a provision for removal of judges by two-thirds majority of Legislature.

USA judges who dealt with Terry Schiavo case are responsible for the death of Terry Schiavo. Her right to life was violated. It was judicial murder. The self styled human rights groups who make lot of noise when murderers get death penalty were silent when Terry Schiavo was started to death.

Corrupt judges were there in all ages. Jesus spoke of such a judge in one of his parables. The story of Susannah mentioned two corrupt judges who threatened women and had sex with them. Susannah did not yield to their demand. She would have been put to death but for the intervention of Daniel. Protestant Bibles do not have this chapter as they consider it apocrypha.


USA and housing demand

Housing demand in USA has decreased and is the lowest in 35 years. It is the immigrants who were driving up the demand. Illegal immigrants outnumbered legal immigrants. Many entered as legal immigrants and stayed beyond the stipulated period. Other illegal immigrants entered USA illegally.

Crackdown on illegal immigrants stemmed their arrival. This resulted in decline in housing demand and of economy. There will be job losses for Americans and less value for existing homes. This will have a cascading effect on economies of other countries. Immigrants had a major role in the growth of US economy.

The birth rate of US local population is below replacement level. Decline in population leads to decline in economy. Australia, Singapore, Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Italy and some other countries want to increase their population.

If USA wants its economy to grow or remain stable it has two options. First is to encourage couples to have more children. Second is to allow more immigrants. The present limit of 20,000 persons per country needs to be relaxed. This has to be 10,00,000 for Mexico, 5,00,000 for Brazil and 1,00,000 for other Latin American countries, India and China. Then there will be more demand for housing in USA.


TV viewing

TV viewing since the end of September has become more dull. There was crackdown on cable operators. Telecast of HBO and Star Movies stopped. Not that they were interesting. They cut scenes and sometimes it became difficult to understand the film. Telecast of English films on cable channels stopped. Zee Studio carries the disclaimer that movies are suitably modified for family viewing which means scenes are cut. FTV’s midnight hot turned cold.

History channel shows jumbo movies on Saturdays and Sundays which have more fiction than fact. It seems some scenes are cut. On week days it is mostly repetition of what is shown before.

CNN has coverage of Iraq on a daily basis. For two Saturdays NDTV 24×7 did not have Big Fight. I do not know whether it is dropped.

How dance competitions become news defies imagination. Besides there is lot of rigging and manipulation in these competitions. One choreographer bought 200 SIM cards and distributed to persons known to her for voting for the pair she trained. Three of these were used by a man to send lewd messages to his wife who complained to the police and this matter came to light.

There is lot of coverage of films in news bulletins. This should be shown in a separate section for entertainment.

In spite of reduction in TV viewing cable operator continues to charge Rs.275/- p.m.


Islam and veil

There is a controversy about Muslim women wearing veil. Does banning of veil mean curtailing freedom of religion? There is no obligation for Muslim women to cover their faces. In the firm Nikah, which deals with divorce in Islam, no woman covers her face.

If a Muslim woman is in a profession that requires showing her face she has to do it or lose the job. A British Muslim teacher was sacked for covering face in the classroom.

A Muslim woman covering her face and sitting at home or moving around among her family members does not create a problem. A Muslim woman who is a teacher covering her face creates a problem. Jack Straw is right in refusing to talk to anyone who covers her face.

Besides security concerns demand that people are checked when necessary. If the face is covered the identity of the person is not known. A man can cover his face. In Bombay there were serial train blasts on the evening of 11/7/2006 and on 12/7/2006 one man was found wearing a burkha and talking on mobile phone. He was arrested. He said he was talking to his girlfriend. A terrorist could have got in and created havoc.


Blind imitation

Some journalists and newspapers have started to refer to fathers as Srs and sons as Jrs. In the West it is normal practice to give father’s name to eldest son and mother’s name to eldest daughter. Father is referred to as Sr and eldest son is referred to as Jr. If there are three generations of men with the same name, man of first generation is called I, man of second generation is II and man of third generation is III.

In India sons are not named after their fathers and hence it is incorrect to call father Sr and son Jr. Bal Thackeray is not Thackeray Sr and Uddhav Thackeray is not Thackeray Jr. Similarly Feroz Khan is not Khan Sr and Fardeen Khan is not Khan Jr.

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