You are browsing the archive for 2015 January 04.

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Ordinances Bad for Democracy but Opposition Disrupters Are Worse

January 4, 2015 in Economics

By Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

When I wrote last week about the government issuing ordinances on coal auctions and foreign investment in insurance, this seemed a one-off tactic. But now ordinances look like they are becoming a standard Modi strategy to overcome opposition obstructionism.

The last session of Parliament left Modi looking weak and hobbled. Opposition disruptions totally prevented the Rajya Sabha from functioning, so it could not even consider, let alone pass, Bills cleared by the Lok Sabha on insurance and coal auctions. This raised the possibility of similar disruptions session after session in the future, crippling the government legislatively.

Modi struck back by issuing ordinances on these two issues in December. Now, ordinances are supposed to be used only when an issue is so urgent that it cannot wait for the next parliamentary session. This was hardly the case.So, Modi was criticized for misusing the Constitution. Legal expert Rajeev Dhawan called his action “Constitutional terrorism”.

Unfazed, Modi has decided to use ordinances repeatedly. A third ordinance has now regularized e-rickshaws in Delhi. A fourth has amended the land acquisition law. A fifth is planned to ensure speedier arbitration. A sixth will ease visa and related conditions for non-resident Indians. A seventh, on mineral royalties in tribal areas, may also be in the works.

So, Modi’s ordinances are not defensive measures. Rather, he is using them as an attack strategy, to combat the opposition’s disruption strategy in the Rajya Sabha. He aims to show that he means business and will not allow Rajya Sabha disrupters to spoil his strongman image.

More important, Modi is laying the ground for something totally new. He may seek a joint session of both houses of Parliament to convert not just one or two but a vast array of ordinanc es into law in one go.

The Constitution provides for a joint session if a Bill is passed in one House but defeated in the other. This can also be done if the two Houses disagree on amendments to a Bill.

Till now, Modi has taken the position that a joint session of Parliament will be a last resort. The BJP has only 45 seats out of 250 in the Upper House, but has hoped to enlist the support of regional parties to get Rajya Sabha approval for sundry Bills. However, opposition disruption has put paid to that approach. The disrupters will not even let the House consider any Bill, let alone pass …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Celebrity Guide to Break-Ups and Divorce

January 4, 2015 in Blogs

By Peter Robinson, The Guardian

From Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s ‘conscious uncoupling’ to Piers Morgan’s drawn-out divorce from America, 2014 offers some unforgettable life lessons

Love may well be a many splendored thing, but the route to eventual romantic joy is strewn with disaster, distress and endless bloody moaning.

While breakups are inevitable, they needn’t destroy you, and learning from one’s own experiences is a vital part of this thing we call life. That said, if you don’t fancy the heartache, you can always skip it and take your lessons from some of 2014’s fractured relationships instead.

Use a meaningless phrase as a smokescreen

In March, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin hit on a novel way of diverting gossip away from the fact that they had split. Having “come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much, we will remain separate”, they explained: “We hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.” Inventing a new phrase that was as exciting as it was absurd, they achieved the breakup statement equivalent of setting off a firework halfway through a boardroom sacking.

Ignore the cries of ‘But I can change!’

When a relationship goes through a rocky patch – as in the case of “comedy pick-up artist” Dapper Laughs’ relationship with ITV (which canceled his show), gig venues, the denizens of social media and anyone else under the absurd impression that women exist as anything more than things to have sex with – it’s typical to insist that one can change.

And Mr Laughs did indeed change – into a black roll-neck top, for his appearance on Newsnight. What more did he have to do? Come on guys!

Know when to admit it’s all over

Piers Morgan had high hopes for his US chat show, Piers Morgan Live. And it was a ratings record breaker; sadly, the record it broke, in 2012, was for CNN’s lowest primetime ratings in a generation. At the start of 2014 came news few had not seen …read more


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Georgia Police Chief’s Wife Can Be Heard Crying On 911 Call After He Shot Her

January 4, 2015 in Blogs

By Arturo Garcia, Raw Story

The Chief of Peachtree City says he was moving the gun from the bed when it went off.

Georgia police chief’s wife can be heard crying in the background as he calls 911 to report that he shot her in their bedroom, NBC News reported.

“You having trouble breathing dear?” Peachtree Police Chief William McCollom asks the victim, identified as 58-year-old Margaret McCollom. Later he says to her, “You all right, dear? I know you’re not all right. Still breathing? Stay alert for me.”

McCollom called emergency dispatchers early Thursday morning saying he shot his wife twice with his service weapon. However, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations later said that Margaret McCollom had only been shot once. She is currently listed in critical condition at an Atlanta hospital.

Early on in the call, McCollom describes the shooting as an accident, saying his wife had been shot in the back.

“The gun was in the bed, I went to move it, put it to a side, then it went off,” he said. He identifies himself as the chief of police almost two minutes into the call.

“You’re the chief of police in Peachtree City?” the dispatcher asks.

“Yeah, unfortunately,” McCollum replies.

Shortly afterwards, the dispatcher instructs him to put a cloth on his wife’s wound and apply pressure. McCollum tells her that he was asleep at the time of the shooting. He also asks, “How the hell did this happen?”

McCollum, who has led his department for about a year, is currently on administrative leave.

Listen to the audio from the call, as posted by WSB-TV on Friday, below.

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How a MIT Science Prof Is Threatening to Undo Everything the Religious Right Holds Dear

January 4, 2015 in Blogs

By Paul Rosenberg, Salon

The brilliant new science that has creationists and the Christian right terrified.

The Christian right’s obsessive hatred of Darwin is a wonder to behold, but it could someday be rivaled by the hatred of someone you’ve probably never even heard of. Darwin earned their hatred because he explained the evolution of life in a way that doesn’t require the hand of God. Darwin didn’t exclude God, of course, though many creationists seem incapable of grasping this point. But he didn’t require God, either, and that was enough to drive some people mad.

Darwin also didn’t have anything to say about how life got started in the first place — which still leaves a mighty big role for God to play, for those who are so inclined. But that could be about to change, and things could get a whole lot worse for creationists because of Jeremy England, a young MIT professor who’s proposed a theory, based in thermodynamics, showing that the emergence of life was not accidental, but necessary. “[U]nder certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life,” he was quoted as saying in an article in Quanta magazine early in 2014, that’s since been republished by Scientific American and, more recently, by Business Insider. In essence, he’s saying, life itself evolved out of simpler non-living systems.

The notion of an evolutionary process broader than life itself is not entirely new. Indeed, there’s evidence, recounted by Eric Havelock in “The Liberal Temper in Greek Politics,” that it was held by the pre-Socratic natural philosophers, who also first gave us the concept of the atom, among many other things. But unlike them or other earlier precursors, England has a specific, unifying, testable evolutionary mechanism in mind.

Quanta fleshed things out a bit more like this:

From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that …read more