Sunday, January 8, 2017

RIP Om Puri; Russian Influence on US Elections; PanamaGate Hearings; Modi Demonetization

What is Om Puri's Legacy? Will he be remembered first and foremost as an accomplished actor? Or as a vocal peace activist pushing for better India-Pakistan ties through greater cultural contacts? Why was he so viciously attacked by right-wing Indian media? And mightily harassed by Hindu Nationalist trolls on social media? Did the mounting stress from these actions contribute to his death?

Om Puri

Is the US intelligence report on Russian campaign to influence US elections convincing? Did Donald Trump win because of the Russian disinformation campaign against Hillary Clinton? Why did US DNI Gen Clapper say "people living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"? Was he referring to covert American campaigns to influence elections in other countries?

Why is the Sharif family having so much difficulty documenting the money trail in the Panama case hearing in Pakistan Supreme Court? Was it because the money to buy London Mayfair flats did not come from legitimate sources? Who has the burden of proof in the case? The accusers (PTI) or the accused (Nawaz Sharif and family)? Can the Supreme Court judges reverse the burden of proof in money laundering cases in Pakistan?

Has Modi Demonetization been a disaster? What does the latest data show? Why did FMCG and motorcycle sales decline in November? Was it the impact of sudden demonetization of 86% of the currency in circulation? What will be its impact on India's GDP?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these question with Riaz Haq (

RIP Om Puri; Russian Influence on US Elections; PanamaGate Hearings; Modi Demonetization from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Hinduization of India Under Modi

India Media's Malice Toward Pakistan

Bollywood Eyes Pakistan Market

Impact of Trump's Appointments on US Policy

Planted Stories in Media

Pakistan PanamaGate

India's Demonetization Disaster


Ruski said...

Russian disinformation against Hillary? What kid of a joke is this? Post one thing that constitutes as disinformation by Russia.

The old hag committed multiple federal offenses, it's her reckless behavior that resulted into her emails being hacked. Everything about crooked Hillary in those emails was 100% authentic. Voters seen her for what she was, an above the law, corrupt politician with a history of poor decision making and bribery.

As for the US accusing Russia in meddling in the elections, as if the US has some stellar record of not meddling in other countries elections. In Ukraine they practically stole the elections and threw money at the opposition. The US has basically tried to rig the election in every country by throwing money at the opposition and launching propaganda campaign, as well as offering political support

Riaz Haq said...

Ruski: "Russian disinformation against Hillary? What kid of a joke is this? Post one thing that constitutes as disinformation by Russia."

Fake news reports have been a problem throughout the presidential campaign. We’re not talking about reports that are merely flawed or thinly sourced; we’re talking about stuff that is completely made up. The Fix’s Philip Bump wrote in April about a fake news site called Prntly that has routinely duped Donald Trump supporters — and even Trump himself.

As everyone knows, Trump’s doctor has stated “unequivocally” that his patient “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” So no one should have believed Trump was dead.

Hillary Clinton will be indicted
Many conservative news sites have been hoping to print those words for more than a year. The fake news site WorldPoliticus decided not to wait for reality to catch up to the dream and last week claimed to have the scoop — courtesy of unnamed FBI sources — that Clinton was going to be indicted in connection with using a private email server while she was secretary of state. Tens of thousands of people shared the “news of the millennium” on Facebook.

BuzzFeed reported that WorldPoliticus is just one of more than 100 pro-Trump websites originating from a single town in Macedonia, where online scam artists are pumping out fictional clickbait for the real estate mogul’s followers.

Clinton’s campaign chairman is into the occult
Among the hacked John Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks was one in which Podesta’s brother, an art collector, forwarded an invitation to a “spirit cooking” dinner party hosted by performance artist Marina Abramovic. Podesta appears not to have responded to the message from his brother, and he did not attend the dinner.

Never mind that. Infowars, the site run by 9/11 truther Alex Jones, used the original email to concoct a story last week about how Podesta “is apparently into spooky occult rituals involving menstrual blood and semen.” From there, the Drudge Report ran a banner that declared “Podesta practices occult magic.”

A postal worker in Ohio is destroying absentee ballots cast for Trump
This was a joke. Not a very funny one, perhaps, but no one should have taken it seriously. It came from a Twitter user who frequently makes ridiculous, obviously made-up claims on social media. Claims such as:

Conservative blogger Jim Hoft thought the ballot destruction was real and wrote about it. Drudge picked up the story. So did Rush Limbaugh. The U.S. Postal Service and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ultimately debunked the tweet.

President Obama is thinking about fleeing the country if Trump wins
This was also a joke. It originated on a Canadian satire site called the Burrard Street Journal, which in August published a story that pretended to quote Obama saying a move to Canada is “something Michelle, the kids and I have discussed as a potential solution to the Donald.”

“He's working very hard to make sure that nobody has to move — has to leave the country as a result of an electoral outcome that the president doesn't support,” Earnest answered.

The Daily Mail then used that exchange to report that the White House was refusing to give a straight answer to the “rumor” that Obama might leave the United States. Sean Hannity did the same thing on his radio show. But there was never an actual rumor — just a joke by a Canadian version of the Onion.

Obama unfollowed Clinton on Twitter
After the FBI renewed its investigation of emails that passed through Clinton’s private server, Your News Wire fabricated a report that Michelle Obama had unfollowed the Democratic nominee on Twitter and also deleted supportive messages. That led to additional false claims on the Internet that Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had done the same.

Ganesh said...

Modi does not want to admit that demonitization was an utter failure.Latest figures is that 97% of the money is back in the banks. Now the govt. will fish through millions of bank accounts for those black money deposits. Good luck with that.!

PSU banks who were holding bad loans or NPA's to tune of lakhs of crores will be the main benificiaries of this exercise. I would venture that this whole demonitization was an exercise in disguise to bail out NPA's of the PSU banks.

Now the new mantra post demonitization is digitization of transactions. With most ATM still not functioning we are being forced to use debit/credit cards or forced to go to bank to withdraw cash. When you don't have basic infrastructure to fecilitate digitization this will cause unwanted hardship to comman man. I am still waiting for check books from my bank and it is more than three weeks. How long are we endure this unproductive endeavour?

Riaz Haq said...

SRK: Use #MerylStreep's Golden Globes’ speech to condemn #Hindutva attacks on #Pakistan artists … via @IndianExpress

Meryl Streep’s powerful speech at the Golden Globes, to quote her own words ‘sank its hooks in my heart’. It also made me recall how our own award nites are nothing but blah. It is exactly what actor Govinda says it is: “One camp announces the award, another from the same camp receives it while a third one from their camp sits in the audiences and claps vigorously.” That’s a Bollywood awards night for you where nepotism rules supreme and God, along with corporate sponsors, find frequent mentions in thank you speeches. But never even once will anyone ever do what Meryl Streep did.

Will you ever see Karan Johar (an eloquent speaker) openly talking about the troubles he and Bollywood at large had to face from MNS, a political outfit that is not even in power? Shah Rukh Khan preferred a quiet settlement rather than taking the bull by its horns, which in the prevailing circumstances looked like a smart move. Their continued public silence emerges from the fact that every time they have aired their opinions on an issue that is political in nature, it has only earned them political wrath and calls for forcible bans on their films. Both Aamir and SRK have suffered for their statements on intolerance made in the past. Not wanting to invite anymore trouble, all major stars have now clamped up and adopted the ‘silence is golden’ method when faced with such questions.

Questions asked by the press on public podiums about such issues are either disallowed or met with ‘no comments’ response. For those who feel like reacting, opt for the safe way out – record a video in the safe confines of their luxurious house and post it on Twitter. This provides them the immunity from speaking about it on a public platform. “I have already said what I wanted to on Twitter,” is their terse response if ever asked about it by the press. While to expect Bollywood stars to speak their mind out will remain a Utopian dream, what I couldn’t avoid noticing is how Streep’s speech could be a perfect one for SRK to address the Pakistan controversy at an upcoming awards nite. And here is how it should go with some minor changes.

Riaz Haq said...

Right-wing Indian media claim love of Indian soldiers deployed in Kashmir. But they don't cover the poor treatment of these soldiers by their own Army:

#Indian Soldier Yadav on Insufficient Amount & Poor Quality Food. #India #Modi #Kashmir via @YouTube

Tej Bahadur Yadav serving with India's 29th battalion of Seema Suraksha Bal (BSF) in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir says,: “From morning to evening we work, standing in all weather conditions. No matter the rain, no matter the snow, in all conditions we do our duty, but neither the media nor any minister pay heed to our problems. This dal just has turmeric and salt, but no taste. There are times when we are forced to sleep off empty stomach. We get one paratha for breakfast in the morning and we have to eat it just with tea. We have been getting this same food for 10 days continuously. Can a BSF jawan do 10 hours of duty after eating such food?"

Anonymous said...

Amrish Puri was one of the rare Indians who was a realist. He would call a spade a spade. I was one of the rare breed of Indians who criticized India's Kashmir policy and Pakistan policy.

G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

Intel Reports Allege #Trump Has Deep Ties To #Russia. Speak of Trump's lewd conduct. #FSB … … via @kenbensinger

The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Obama and Trump.

Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.

Riaz Haq said...

Even #Trump Building Isn’t Immune to #India’s Real Estate Woes After #Modi's #Demonetization via @business

by Pooja Thakur Mahrotri
January 10, 2017, 1:00 PM PST January 11, 2017, 1:20 AM PST
Land prices may decline 25 percent, homes 20 percent: analysts
Cash component of home purchase often as much as 50 percent
After trying for four months to sell his apartment in a western suburb of Mumbai, Meher Verma decided to cut the price by 10 percent. With property demand plummeting in the wake of November’s sudden ban on high-denomination notes, he’s not sure the reduction will do the trick.

“I was hoping to sell my house soon,” said Verma, who put his two-bedroom property in Andheri on the market for $400,000 in September. “Now it looks like I might have to cut my price or wait much longer for the market to improve.”

Real estate has long been a place where Indians have parked cash, often using money on which taxes haven’t been paid. Now, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crackdown on so-called black money and the underground economy, real estate is taking a hit. The rate of home sales has fallen by about half since the government acted in early November, according to an estimate from Khushru Jijina, managing director of Piramal Fund Management Pvt. in Mumbai, who cited discussions with developers. Home prices may decline 20 percent and land prices could plummet as much as 25 percent, according to analysts’ projections.

“Those who were looking to buy property as an investment vanished overnight from the market after the cash ban,” said Aubrey Carvallo, a Mumbai broker who has never seen demand in Mumbai so low in his two decades of working in the industry. He’s been unsuccessfully seeking buyers for eight apartments with prices starting at 15 million rupees ($220,000). “They are thinking of moving to stock markets and other financial assets, as real estate prices are set to correct in the coming years with the government crackdown on unaccounted money expected to continue."

India’s largest developers, including DLF Ltd. and Lodha Developers Ltd., say they’re taking a hit on sales. Even an association with the U.S. president-elect hasn’t helped stoke sales at Lodha, which is building a Donald Trump-branded apartment tower in Mumbai’s Worli district. The 75-floor Trump Tower Mumbai includes a 24-hour resident manager and a fractional membership to a private jet service. The company has sold 226 of the 396 units in the project from its launch in 2014 through last June, said Lodha, which added that it limits the sale of its inventory at the Trump Tower.

Lodha said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News that while it has notched sales of more 3 billion rupees for all its properties since November’s demonetization, sales would have been higher without the policy change.

“No doubt that sentiment for real estate will be subdued over the next three to six months,” said Jijina at Piramal, citing the most pressure on luxury projects India-wide and in secondary cities such as Ahmedabad, Indore and Jaipur. Markets such as the region around the New Delhi area “where some developers took only cash will be in severe trouble,” he said.

India’s S&P BSE India Realty Index, comprising 10 property stocks, has dropped 8 percent since the cash ban on Nov. 8, compared with a 2.5 percent decline in the broader S&P BSE Sensex Index.

India withdrew 86 percent of the country’s banknotes in the nation’s biggest crackdown against corruption in almost four decades. Unaccounted-for money makes up as much as one-fifth of the Indian economy, according to Ambit Capital Pvt.

Demonetization of high-value currency notes may especially hurt luxury market and land transactions because the cash component ranges from 30 percent to 50 percent of the value of such deals, said Mumbai-based Pankaj Kapoor, founder of Liases Foras Real Estate Rating & Research Pvt.

“Land prices could drop as much as 25 percent once corruption is reduced and black money is out of the equation,” Kapoor said in an interview.

Riaz Haq said...

#India vehicle sales dropped 19% to lowest level since 2010 after #Modi's #Demonetization … via @bfly

What sort of auto market could be dealt the biggest blow in 16 years by a change in rules on banknotes? Ask Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Vehicle sales in December slumped 19 percent from a year earlier to 1.2 million, their lowest level since 2010. If that sounds like an outsized impact for a class of consumer goods that are mostly not paid for upfront in Western countries -- let alone bought with hard currency -- you can take it as a salutary reminder that India's isn't like any other automotive market.The drop was overwhelmingly driven by vehicles that are so peripheral in developed markets, they're often forgotten -- motorbikes and mopeds.

In the U.S., the 501,000 two-wheelers sold in 2015 came to about 2.9 percent of total vehicle sales. Even in China, roughly three passenger cars are sold for every two motorcycles. In India, more than seven two-wheelers were sold or exported last year for every passenger car.So when investors think about the country's growth to become the world's third-biggest automotive market by 2020, it's worth reflecting that about 90 percent of the increase in unit sales over the past five years has come from bikes, scooters and mopeds -- an extra 5 million, compared with less than 200,000 for passenger cars.
Two for the Show
Motorcycles and mopeds have accounted for 90 percent of the growth in Indian automotive sales since 2011

Why should this distinction matter? The main reason is embedded in those December sales figures: Just as the wider spread of vehicle finance gives the European and U.S. automotive industries a different character to that in China, so the importance of two-wheelers gives the Indian industry unique qualities that are easily underestimated. This tripped up no less an industrialist than Ratan Tata, who created an expensive white elephant for Tata Motors Ltd. when he bet the country's middle class would trade in their two-wheelers for the low-cost Tata Nano car.The core sales demographic is (like India itself) less affluent, more rural, and has less access to the sort of finance products that make Western automotive markets as responsive to movements in interest rates as they are to shifts in selling prices.KEY SALES DEMOGRAPHICRural poorEmissions rules have some unusual quirks, too: While passenger cars are being brought into line with current European clean-air levels by 2020, mopeds and three-wheeled auto-rickshaws still commonly use the dirtiest two-stroke engines -- a situation that ought to be a risk factor for manufacturers if rules are ever homogenized.So if you're looking for bellwethers for the Indian industry, it could be worth paying a little less attention to Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and Tata Motors and a little more to their smaller-cc cousins Hero MotoCorp Ltd. and Bajaj Auto Ltd. If you're impressed by Maruti's 18 percent year-on-year jump in sales volume in the September quarter, take a look at Eicher Motors Ltd., whose sales of Royal Enfield motorcycles were 42 percent higher in December than a year earlier.Even without two-wheeler sales, the country's rapidly growing auto market would be a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, though, it's a mistake to forget that in India, small is still beautiful.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan gasoline consumption up 18% in 2016. …

Pakistan's gasoline demand averaged 557,000 mt/month over July-October, according to latest government data. This was up sharply from 365,000 mt/month over the full fiscal year 2015-2016 (July-June).

The country (Pakistan) imported 4.2 million mt of gasoline over January-November this year, 18% higher than the same period of 2015.

India's gasoline demand rose 12.6% year on year to 21.69 million mt (483,000 b/d) over January-November 2016 and is expected to maintain the same pace in 2017. India exported 15 million mt (334,500 b/d) of gasoline over the same period, up 4.7% year on year.

Riaz Haq said...

#NSA's spying on #Trump's #Russia links are showing how #America's Deep State really works. #FlynnResignation

America's intelligence agencies aren’t operating outside the law – they’re using the vast power they’ve acquired within it.

We know now that the FBI and the NSA, under their Executive Order 12333 authority and using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as statutory cover, were actively monitoring the phone calls and reading text messages sent to and from the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.Although the monitoring of any specific individual is classified TOP SECRET, and cannot be released to foreigners, the existence of this monitoring in general is something of an open secret, and Kislyak probably suspected he was under surveillance.But a welter of laws, many of them tweaked after the Snowden revelations, govern the distribution of any information that is acquired by such surveillance. And this is where it’s highly relevant that this scandal was started by the public leaking of information about Mike Flynn’s involvement in the monitoring of Kisylak.The way it’s supposed to work is that any time a “U.S. person” — government speak for a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, even a U.S. company, located here or abroad — finds his or her communications caught up in Kislyak’s, the entire surveillance empire, which was designed for speed and efficiency, and which, we now know, is hard to manage, grinds to a halt. That’s a good thing. Even before Snowden, of course, the FBI would “minimize” the U.S. end of a conversation if analysts determined that the calls had no relevance to a legitimate intelligence gathering purpose. A late night call to order pizza would fall into this category.But if the analyst listening to Kislyak’s call hears someone identify himself as an agent of the U.S. government — “Hi! It’s Mike Flynn” certainly qualifies — a number of things have to happen, according to the government’s own rulesAt this stage, the actual audio of the call and any transcript would be considered “Raw FISA-acquired information,” and its distribution would be highly restricted. At the NSA, not more than 40 or so analysts or senior managers would be read into the classification sub-sub compartment that contains it, called RAGTIME-A,B,C D or P, where each letter stands for one of five different categories of foreign intelligence.For anything out of the ordinary — and this qualifies — the head of the National Security Division would be notified, and he or she would bring the raw FISA transcript to FBI Director James Comey or his deputy. Then, the director and his deputy would determine whether to keep the part of the communication that contained Flynn’s words. The NSA has its own procedures for determining whether to destroy or retain the U.S. half of an intercepted communication.In this case, there were three sets of communications between Flynn and Kislyak, at least one of which is a text message. The first occurs on Dec. 18. The last occurs on Dec. 30, a day after sanctions were levied against people that the Russian ambassador knew — namely, spies posing as diplomats.The factors FBI Director Comey and his deputy would have had to consider in this case are complex