Tag Archives: India

Happy New Year Chuckles.

Happy New Year To all at FOTM.   :D


A New Year Prayer For the Elderly

God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
The good fortune to run into the ones that I do,
And the eyesight to tell the difference.

New Year’s Day Prayer for One and All

Dear Lord

So far this year I’ve done well.

I haven’t gossiped, I haven’t lost my temper, I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I’m very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on I’m probably going to need a lot more help.


A New Year’s Wish

On New Year’s Eve, Marilyn stood up in the local pub and said that it was time to get ready. At the stroke of midnight, she wanted every husband to be standing next to the one person who made his life worth living.

Well, it was kind of embarrassing. As the clock struck – the bartender was almost crushed to death

Lecture Tour with A Difference

On New Year’s Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his van in the car park and walked home. As he was wobbling along, he was stopped by a policeman. ‘What are you doing out here at four o’clock in the morning?’ asked the police officer.

‘I’m on my way to a lecture,’ answered Roger.

‘And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year’s Eve?’ enquired the constable sarcastically.

‘My wife,’ slurred Daniel grimly.

Happy New Year



Persecuted by militant Islam, Christianity is close to extinction in Middle East

Nothing can be sadder in this Christmas season than the news that Christianity is facing imminent extinction in the land of its birth.

And the cause is the systematic and mounting persecution of Christians by militant Muslims. In fact, persecution by the “religion of peace” is now the greatest threat to Christians across the world.


reports for The Telegraph, Dec. 23, 2012, that a new report entitled Christianophobia, by the think tank Civitas says “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree. A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers” and suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group. As many as 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”

The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam. The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians is in countries where Islam is the dominant faith. “Muslim-majority” states make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance by Freedom House, the human rights think tank.

Quoting estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century, the Civitas report concludes “There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands.”

The report identifies a fear among oppressive regimes that Christianity is a “Western creed” which can be used to undermine them. The report catalogs hundreds of attacks on Christians by religious fanatics over recent years, focusing on seven countries: Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Burma and China.

  • Converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran, or risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.
  • In Iraq, the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq left Iraqi Christians “more vulnerable than ever”, highlighted by the 2006 beheading of a kidnapped Orthodox priest, Fr Boulos Iskander, and the kidnapping of 17 other priests and two bishops between 2006 and 2010. “In most cases, those responsible declared that they wanted all Christians to be expelled from the country,” the report says.
  • In Pakistan, the murder last year of Shahbaz Bhatti, the country’s Catholic minister for minorities, “vividly reflected” religious intolerance in Pakistan. Shortly after his death it emerged that Mr Bhatti had recorded a video in which he declared: “I am living for my community and for suffering people and I will die to defend their rights. I prefer to die for my principles and for the justice of my community rather than to compromise. I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us.”
  • In India, Christians have faced years of violence from Hindu extremists. In 2010 scores of attacks on Christians and church property were carried out in Karnataka, a state in south west India.
  • In Burma, while many people are aware of the oppression faced in Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy activists, little exposure has been given to targeted abuse of Christians. In some areas of Burma the government has clamped down on Christian protesters by restricting the building of new churches. Christians employed in government service who openly profess their faith “find it virtually impossible to get promotion.”
  • In China, where more Christians are imprisoned than in any other country in the world, state hostility towards Christianity is particularly rife. Ma Hucheng, an advisor to the Chinese government, claimed in an article last year that the US has backed the growth of the Protestant Church in China as a vehicle for political dissidence. Writing in the China Social Sciences Press, Ma claims that “Western powers, with America at their head, deliberately export Christianity to China and carry out all kinds of illegal evangelistic activities. Their basic aim is to use Christianity to change the character of the regime…in China and overturn it.”

But the persecution and oppression of Christians in Muslim countries is often ignored by the media because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”. Politicians, too, have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Rupert Shortt, journalist and author of the Civitas report who’s a visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, says:

“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood. The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”


Your Helpful Customer Service, At Last!

We’ve all talked to this guy.

At last, we have a picture of him.

Mujibar was trying to get a job in India.

The Personnel Manager said, “Mujibar, you have passed all the tests, except one. Unless you pass it, you cannot qualify for this job.”

Mujibar steeled himself and said, “I am ready.”

The manager said, “Make a sentence  using the words YellowPink, and Green.”

Mujibar said, “The telephone goes green, green,
And I pink it up, and say, Yellow, this is Mujibar.”

Mujibar now works at a call center.

No doubt you have spoken to him. I know I have.

H/t beloved fellow Joseph!


FaceBook for Seniors.


The 76-year-old woman walked down the hallway of Clearview Addictions Clinic, searching for the right department. She passed signs for the “Heroin Addiction Department (HAD),” the “Smoking Addiction Department (SAD)” and the “Bingo Addiction Department (BAD).” Then she spotted the department she was looking for: “Facebook Addiction Department (FAD).”

It was the busiest department in the clinic, with about three dozen people filling the waiting room, most of them staring blankly into their Blackberries and iPhones. A middle-aged man with unkempt hair was pacing the room, muttering,”I need to milk my cows. I need to milk my cows.”

A twenty-something man was prone on the floor, his face buried in his hands, while a curly-haired woman comforted him.

“Don’t worry. It’ll be all right.”

“I just don’t understand it. I thought my update was LOL-worthy, but none of my friends even clicked the ‘like’ button.”

“How long has it been?”

“Almost five minutes. That’s like five months in the real world.”

The 76-year-old woman waited until her name was called, then followed the receptionist into the office of Alfred Zulu, Facebook Addiction Counselor.

“Please have a seat, Edna,” he said with a warm smile. “And tell me how it all started.”

“Well, it’s all my grandson’s fault. He sent me an invitation to join Facebook. I had never heard of Facebook before, but I thought it was something for me, because I usually have my face in a book.”

“How soon were you hooked?”

“Faster than you can say ‘create a profile.’ I found myself on Facebook at least eight times each day — and more times at night. Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night to check it, just in case there was an update from one of my new friends in India . My husband didn’t like that. He said that friendship is a precious thing and should never be outsourced.”

“What do you like most about Facebook?”

“It makes me feel like I have a life. In the real world, I have only five or six friends, but on Facebook, I have 674. I’m even friends with Juan Carlos Montoya.”

“Who’s he?”

“I don’t know, but he’s got 4,000 friends, so he must be famous.”

“Facebook has helped you make some connections, I see.”

“Oh yes. I’ve even connected with some of the gals from high school — I still call them ‘gals.’ I hadn’t heard from some of them in ages, so it was exciting to look at their profiles and figure out who’s retired, who’s still working, and who’s had some work done. I love browsing their photos and reading their updates. I know where they’ve been on vacation, which movies they’ve watched, and whether they hang their toilet paper over or under. I’ve also been playing a game with some of them.”

“Let me guess. Farmville?”

“No, Mafia Wars. I’m a Hitman. No one messes with Edna.”

“Wouldn’t you rather meet some of your friends in person?”

“No, not really. It’s so much easier on Facebook. We don’t need to gussy ourselves up. We don’t need to take baths or wear perfume or use mouthwash. That’s the best thing about Facebook — you can’t smell anyone. Everyone is attractive, because everyone has picked a good profile pic. One of the gals is using a profile pic that was taken, I’m pretty certain, during the Eisenhower Administration. “

“What pic are you using?”

“Well, I spent five hours searching for a profile pic, but couldn’t find one I really liked. So I decided to visit the local beauty salon.”

“To make yourself look prettier?”

“No, to take a pic of one of the young ladies there. That’s what I’m using.”

“Didn’t your friends notice that you look different?”

“Some of them did, but I just told them I’ve been doing lots of yoga.”

“When did you realize that your Facebooking might be a problem?”

“I realized it last Sunday night, when I was on Facebook and saw a message on my wall from my husband: ‘I moved out of the house five days ago. Just thought you should know.’”

“What did you do?”

“What else? I unfriended him of course!”

~Steve~             H/T   Our Own Joseph.


Earth to satellite: When will you hit — and where?

By MARCIA DUNN – AP Aerospace Writer | AP – 11 hrs ago

I don’t know about you but 1 in 3200 is not that bad. You have a better chance of getting hit with space junk than the lottery or getting struck by lightning.

~ Steve~                                    H/T  igor


By MARCIA DUNN - AP Aerospace Writer | AP – 11 hrs ago

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — NASA scientists are doing their best to tell us where a plummeting six-ton satellite will fall later this week. It’s just that if they’re off a little bit, it could mean the difference between hitting Florida or landing on New York. Or, say, Iran or India.

Pinpointing where and when hurtling space debris will strike is an imprecise science. For now, scientists predict the earliest it will hit is Thursday U.S. time, the latest Saturday. The strike zone covers most of Earth.

Not that citizens need to take cover. The satellite will break into pieces, and NASA put the chances that somebody somewhere will get hurt at just 1-in-3,200.

As far as anyone knows, falling space debris has never injured anyone. Nor has significant property damage been reported. That’s because most of the planet is covered in water and there are vast regions of empty land.

If you do come across what you suspect is a satellite piece, NASA doesn’t want you to pick it up. The space agency says there are no toxic chemicals present, but there could be sharp edges. Also, it’s government property. It’s against the law to keep it as a souvenir or sell it on eBay. NASA’s advice is to report it to the police.

For rest of story Pls Go HERE!!!!

College Chancellor Has S-M Torture Dungeon in House

Higher education is so edifying!

In the course of a raid by federal immigration agents, it came to light that the Chancellor of the University of Northern Virginia (UNVA) — a controversial for-profit school suspected of aiding and abetting in immigration visa fraud — is a fetish of kinky sadomasochist sex who’s transformed the basement of his suburban home into a dungeon complete with bondage racks.

The Smoking Gun reports on August 1, 2011, that in addition to being UNVA’s chancellor, 64-year-old David V. Lee (pictured above) is also the chair of its board of trustees.

Lee and his girlfriend “polyfamilyinva2”recently advertised online on collarme.com, which describes itself as the “largest BDSM Community on the Planet,” seeking “attractive submissive” women who –

“wish to be part of our poly family. Ideally you will consider yourself a slave or a sub with slave tendencies. We enjoy almost all kinks, and are expert in most of them. But for us it is more the submission and commitment that matter. We provide a safe, sane home with a good balance of love and discipline. We are very serious about finding a permanent addition to our poly family. We are in excellent health and in excellent shape.”

The couple’s profile included an assortment of photos showing them in a variety of poses. In two pictures, Lee is placing a flame near the body of a naked woman wearing a bondage mask. In another photo, a shirtless Lee is seen flexing in a mirror. Another photo shows Lee’s immaculate dungeon with its polished wood floors and bondage racks. Other images from the couple’s online profile show Lee’s girlfriend attached to a wooden rack and caught in a metal spider web. Another image shows Lee’s girlfriend astride another woman, who appears to be gagged with an extension cord.

Other photos are more mundane, showing the couple at home in Santa hats and attending a holiday party.

UNVA is unaccredited, which means no accrediting body that is recognized by U.S. authorities has accredited this for-profit school. A March 2011 article in the authoritative The Chronicle of Higher Education compared UNVA’s enrollment practices and business model to those of Tri-Valley University, a California institution that was forced to close after facing an investigation for visa fraud. The Chronicle article states that UNVA enrolls Indian students who work full-time in “internships,” without being required to attend actual classes. About 90% of UNVA’s students were from India who paid between $5,000 and $10,000 for admission.

In a day-long exercise, dozens of officials from different federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and FBI, raided offices at UNVA’s Annadale campus and took away with them a large number of boxes full of documents and computer hard drives from its administrative division.

The ICE probe is examining whether UNVA, which was founded in 1998, has exploited visa loopholes to enroll foreign students. Investigators are seeking to determine whether some students attended classes or just used enrollment in UNVA as a method of gaining entry to the United States. During the July 28 raid, UNVA officials were served with a notice temporarily blocking the school from enrolling any new foreign students.

H/t Fellowship’s lowtechgrannie!


Mid Week Chuckle.

One Sunday the policeman was sitting on the side of the highway and was waiting
to catch speeding drivers. The police officer saw a car driving along at 22 MPH.
He thought to himself, “This driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!”
he turned on his lights and pulled the driver over. When he approached the car,
he noticed that there were five little old Indian ladies – two of them were in
the front seat and three in the back with wide eyes and they were white as
ghosts. The driver was obviously confused and said to him, “Officer, I don’t
understand, I was doing exactly! I always go exactly the speed limit. What seems
to be the problem?” “Madam,” the officer replies, “you weren’t speeding, but you
should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to
other drivers.”
“Slower than the speed limit? No sir, I was doing the speed
limit exactly! Twenty-two miles an hour!” the old Indian woman says a bit
The State Police officer, trying to contain a chuckle, explained to
her that “22″ was the route number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, the
woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.
before I let you go, Madam, I have to ask. Is everyone in this car OK? These
women seem awfully shaken and they haven’t muttered a single peep this whole
time,” the officer asks with concern.
“Oh, they’ll be all right, officer. We
just got off Route 119.”


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

A man and his wife were awakened at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on their front door.

The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push. “Not a chance,” says the husband, “it’s 3:00 in the morning!”

He slams the door and returns to bed.

“Who was that?” asked his wife.

“Just some drunk guy asking for a push,” he answers. “Did you help him?” she asks.
“No, I did not, it’s 3 a.m. in the morning and it’s bloody pouring rain out there!”

“Well, you have a short memory,” says his wife. “Can’t you remember about three months ago when we broke down, and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself!

The man does as he is told, gets dressed, and goes out into the pounding rain.
He calls out into the dark, “Hello, are you still there?”

“Yes,” comes back the answer.

“Do you still need a push?” calls out the husband.

“Yes, please!” comes the reply from the dark.

“Where are you?” asks the husband.

“Over here,” replied the drunk, “on the swing,”
~Steve~        H/T          Joseph

A World In Disarray

Turning and turning in the widening gyre 
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity.

-W. B. Yeats, The Second Coming

The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) wrote this poem in 1919, mere months after World War I ended and 18 years before the even more ruinous World War II began.

For me, the poem’s opening passage perfectly captures the disquiet and unease we are all feeling about our times. As humanity lurched toward WWII, there were identifiable monsters – Hitler, Hirohito, and their respective stormtroopers – who instigated the aggressions that would soon engulf the world in Inferno. Today, there are no monsters of Hitler’s dimensions to blame. The looming disaster is self-wrought….


Things Fall Apart
By Walter Russell Mead* – The American Interest – November 27, 2010

As World War Two broke out in Poland, WH Auden wrote about the despair of watching “the clever hopes expire/of a low, dishonest decade.” We are not yet at that pass, but Auden’s poem bears re-reading by anybody trying to read the signs of our increasingly dark and troubled times.

There are times when the ideas of the world’s rulers and the institutions through which they govern are adequate to the needs of the era, and there are times–like the present–when they are not. It is not just the Obama administration that seems mentally and even culturally unprepared to understand much less to guide the events now sweeping through the world. In Brussels, Beijing, Moscow, Tokyo and Delhi — to say nothing of Washington –  leaders seem equally clueless, equally committed to outmoded, inaccurate approaches to the issues of our time.

From my earliest posts on this blog, a major theme has been the approach of a dramatic time in human affairs when old certainties, old institutions and old habits of thought will no longer serve. Unfortunately the world’s leaders seem to cling ever more tightly to comfortable old certainties the less sense they make. The collective failure of leadership is most painfully on display at events like the G-20 and NATO summits when world leaders cluster nervously together to have their pictures taken and to issue vapid communiques.  As the year of grace 2010 moves towards its end, the leaders of all the world’s major power centers have lost their way. This makes it unlikely that 2011 will be a quiet year; the human race is headed into what looks more and more like a great storm with captains manifestly not up to the task.


The European Union is perhaps the most feckless of the world’s power centers. Its currency is built on a foundation of hopeful assumptions that haven’t panned out: for example that countries as disparate in culture and situation as Greece, Germany, Finland, Ireland and Italy can all live happily under a common currency. There has been no shortage of warning signs for the last decade: there was no secret about the housing bubbles in Ireland and Spain. The falsity of Greek statistics was well known, as were the imprudent habits of its governments and the dysfunctional nature of its economic culture.

Yet the Eurocrats in Brussels and their colleagues in the Union’s national capitals took no thought for the morrow: recklessly making no contingency plans for a day of reckoning. The chronic failures in planning and communication that have marked Europe’s deeply flawed response to the developing crisis for the last two years has deeply unsettled markets. Bank stress tests give banks a clean bill of health months before massive meltdowns; national leaders and banking officials make serial errors. In handling financial crises, unity of purpose and speed of action are the basic and irreplaceable elements of any workable strategy. Europe has neither and, I am sorry to observe, the uncoordinated and sloppy behavior of the Union’s various leaders (with a handful of honorable exceptions like Olli Rehn) has not improved as the crisis unfolds. The European political class is clearly not up to its job, and the accelerating decline of Europe’s world role is the natural and inevitable result of their failures to date.

Worse is clearly to come. The rickety Rube Goldberg contraption called the European Union simply cannot handle the stresses that threaten to shake it today. Europe will be very lucky to come out of the present storm without much deeper damage than it has so far sustained.

The key as always is Germany; and while there is no European country better fitted to take on the responsibility, it is far from clear that Germany will rise to the occasion. Germany is economically rich and the stolid determination of German political culture is admirable; the present German government for all its faults is much more competent and farseeing than its predecessor. Germany and its leadership have not, however, yet risen to the measure of Europe’s crisis. Rigidly self-righteous attitudes combined with political inflexibility will not allow Germany to lead Europe out of its current troubles.

Meanwhile, Europe continues its relentless failure to manage urgent challenges at home and abroad. The Europeans are unwilling (and in some cases, unable) to make the investments that would keep NATO strong; the continuing refusal to take Turkey’s application for EU membership seriously further and decisively marginalizes Europe in the Middle East. Wishful thinking cannot substitute for policy when it comes to the question of immigration, and Europe’s deepening demographic crisis ensures not only a future of population decline but of economic decline and welfare state bankruptcy as well.

This is a global tragedy and not merely a regional one; Europe has so much to offer the world, yet every day it is becoming less able to contribute to the common good, less able to play the role that only Europe can play in the construction of a more peaceful, more democratic and more prosperous human order.


Europe is not the only place where leaders don’t measure up to the problems. Although China is not as democratically governed as Europe, on the whole the technocrats of Beijing have handled the last twenty years better than the bureaucrats of the EU. Nevertheless Beijing is confronting a confluence of economic, environmental and social challenges that pose problems which even China’s leadership is unlikely to overcome. Arguments about China’s currency undervaluation, while real, miss the main point: Whether China revalues the renminbi or not, its model of rapid growth based on manufactured exports is reaching fundamental limits. China’s customers cannot absorb new products as fast as the Chinese want to make them; we Americans continue to struggle to Costco to do what we can, but our credit cards are maxed out and our home equity lines of credit don’t work that well anymore. We can’t increase our purchases of Chinese goods by ten percent a year — and neither can consumers in the EU. Rising raw material prices combined with consumer fatigue in the malls is squeezing the profitability of Chinese industry just as workers are demanding higher wages. Meanwhile, food price inflation in China is triggering mass anxiety and the financial system appears vulnerable to the kind of bubbles that have wreaked such havoc in the West.

China’s problems go beyond economics. Chinese public opinion, smarting from what it sees as two centuries of humiliation, and now elated by (overblown) press reports of China’s rise, wants its government to follow a more assertive and even aggressive foreign policy. Disputes with Japan, Korea and Vietnam over offshore islands stir deep currents of emotion, and public opinion judges the Chinese government by its ability to prevail in these disputes.

In fact, as I’ve pointed out in earlier posts, China has less room for maneuver in Asia than it appears. From India right through Southeast Asia and around to Korea, Russia and Japan, China’s neighbors worry about its rising power. Any signs of China becoming assertive encourage the neighbors to build up their armed forces and close ranks with Washington. India, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan all now look to the US to organize a regional response to perceived Chinese pressure.

Few governments have been as competent (yes, and sometimes as ruthless and harsh) as China when it comes to managing the challenges of the last twenty years; the problems now rising on the horizon, however, are so far challenging even China’s ability to cope. The rising expectations of its people, the rampant corruption and self-dealing of local officials, the clash between China’s internal reality and its constrained international position, and the growing complexity of an economy and society undergoing the most rapid and unpredictable series of transformations in the history of the world are combining to take the Chinese government well out of its comfort zone.

Looming environmental disasters threaten China’s future, with issues of water, air quality and the usual environmental devastation that accompanies communist governance on a massive scale already taking a toll. The consequences of the one-child policy threaten a demographic disaster as an aging Chinese population will place a growing burden on a society not yet affluent enough to support it.

I have never been one of those who heap criticism on China’s government without acknowledging the genuine difficulties it faces. China has the world’s largest population; between foreign invasion and domestic revolution it has been scarred by two centuries of upheaval and mayhem; the industrial revolution now convulsing the country is more rapid and far-reaching than the industrial revolutions that helped plunge Europe into a century of fratricidal war.

Perhaps China’s leaders look small only because the challenges they face are so large; but at the moment China appears to be groping for a way forward without a lot of success. The problems are mounting; the time available to solve them is not.


If Europe offers the most shocking example of incompetence, and China faces the greatest possibility of explosion and crisis, Russia’s current suicidal course may be the most tragic example of poor policy intersecting with cultural failure to drive a great people down.

Emerging from the sordid shadows of the Soviet Union, Russia faced four great challenges. It needed to come to terms with the horrors and failures of the past, recognizing the enormous evil that Russia both suffered and inflicted during the Soviet period. Just as Germany had to come to terms with the Nazi past to build a better future after 1945, Russia had to face the ghosts of Bolshevism and Stalin head on. It has failed, and Russian life and culture remain poisoned by the residue of unrepented horrors and uncomprehended crimes.

Second, Russia needed to build a modern and competent state that in turn could provide the framework for a new economy and a new society. Without a full reckoning with the Soviet past — and a full encounter in particular with the evils perpetrated by its security forces — this was not possible. Nevertheless Russia has fallen well short of what it might have accomplished. I remain glad that Vladimir Putin halted the disintegration of the Russian state that was visibly under way during the Yeltsin era, but with every passing year the critical failure of the Putin presidency to build the stable institutions and solidify the rule of law that a genuinely strong Russian state would require becomes more clear — and more costly.

The third task, of building the kind of capitalist economy that could provide its citizens with dignity and affluence, has also been left undone. There is no one who thinks that the rule of law is secure in Russia, or that investors (foreign or domestic) have any real security for their investments. Accumulating failures of governance ensure that Russia cannot enjoy the full benefits of its natural resources and this unhappy society remains a source of concern and confusion for itself and its neighbors.

The fourth task, of finding a suitable world role for a new Russia, has also been decisively botched. Russia has no real friends anywhere in the world; there are those it can bully and those (a much greater number) that it can’t. The United States, Germany and China all seek good relations with Moscow; no one trusts or respects it.  Prime Minister Putin’s recent visit to Germany, a country that quite recently hoped that stronger economic relations with Russia would be a cornerstone of its national strategy, was an embarrassing flop. Putin’s call for a free trade zone including Russia and the EU was dismissed by Chancellor Angela Merkel; the Russian leader reportedly spent more time with the discredited former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (who now works for Gazprom) than in substantive talks with German officials.

Russia’s failures in this department are not simply its own fault. The United States, NATO and the EU have been horribly shortsighted in their Russia policies. Since 1989 there have been two great western projects in Europe: the expansions of both NATO and the EU. NATO expansion was seen by Russia as a great threat; EU expansion has the effect of marginalizing Russia both economically and politically. While Russia’s own many failures and bad behavior did much to determine the west on this course, paying so little heed to Russian interests and sensibilities was unwise; now both Russia and the west must cope with the unpalatable consequences.

Other Powers, Other Problems

One can continue this depressing tour d’horizon. There is Japan, which has floundered for twenty years and is still no closer to rekindling the economic dynamism that once made it look like a credible rival to the United States. Dithering, incompetence, corruption and group-think have turned Japan into a pale shadow of its former self. Sadly, there is no sign of a change.

India’s growth and cohesion are challenged by a worsening culture of corruption and the country’s continuing inability to manage basic challenges like infrastructure. High profile scandals affecting the Commonwealth Games and the telecommunications industry, the persistence of utter misery and deep oppression in much of the countryside, the increasingly chaotic nature of the Indian political system, and the growing geopolitical strains of its rivalries with China and Pakistan are going to make life ever more complex for Indian policymakers.

Neither Israel nor its neighbors seems to have a clear vision for ending the Middle East conflict — or at least managing it. Turkey’s government seems to be missing the opportunity to become the kind of stabilizing force the region desperately needs. In a region that urgently needs rising standards of living for the majority and more cultural and political openness, there is little sign that anybody knows what to do.

About American shortcomings I have written in the past and will be writing again. Our propensity to elect charismatic but inexperienced leaders repeatedly lands us in trouble. We remain steadfastly blind to the deterioration of our long-term fiscal position as we pile unfunded entitlements on top of each other in a surefire recipe for national disaster. We lurch from one ineffective foreign policy to another, while the public consensus that has underwritten America’s world role since the 1940s continues to decay. Our elite seems at times literally hellbent on throwing away the cultural capital and that has kept this nation great and free for so many generations.

Our failings may not be as all-encompassing as Europe’s, as threatening as China’s or as sad and destructive as poor Russia’s — but America has a harder job than these other powers. It is our job, for better or for worse, to provide the world with some kind of security system that can allow the various peoples of the world to work out their destinies and to safeguard an economic system under which humanity as a whole can struggle forward into affluence and hope.

To do that, we must first of all take care of ourselves — and at that basic task we have signally failed.  Beyond that, we must gain a clear sight of our interests abroad, understand how those foreign and in some cases global interests relate to the core foundations of our prosperity and security at home, and then use what leverage we can to work with others to build a world system that works for us and our friends.

Building a better world is the common task of the world’s leading powers, and requires as well the support of the medium and small powers and peoples. At the moment not one power center on earth seems up to the task; it can hardly be surprising under these circumstances that William Butler Yeats’ prophecies about widening gyres and rough slouching beasts seem more compelling than usual.

Auden closed his grim poem with a flickering hope and a challenge. I hope and pray that the generations of today will not know the sick despair of September 1939; if we are to avoid that kind of fate under even uglier circumstances, we need to start demanding more of our leaders — and of ourselves.


*The author, Walter Russell Mead, of the above op-ed concluded with these words: “we need to start demanding more of our leaders — and of ourselves.”

How true. I suggest that Mead begin with himself. This is what Wikipedia says about Mead:

Walter Russell Mead (born 12 June 1952, Columbia, South Carolina) is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations] and was the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College, and is recognized as one of the country’s leading students of American foreign policy…. Mead currently teaches American foreign policy at Yale University. He is a Democrat, and voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election.


How to Create/Keep American Jobs

Beloved fellow Joseph received this e-mail. Help this to go viral!


I want to ask each of you to consider doing the following when you are talking on the phone to any US customer service representative who is based in a foreign country (like India). I have done this twice and it works! 

Any time you call an 800 number (for a credit card, banking, charter communications, health insurance, insurance, you name it) and you are transferred to a representative in a foreign country (like India), please consider doing the following:

After you connect and you realise that the customer service representative is not from the USA (you can always ask if you are not sure about the accent), please very politely (very politely – this is not about trashing other cultures) say, “I’d like to speak to a customer service representative in the United States of America .” 

The rep might suggest talking to his/her manager, but, again, politely say, “Thank you, but I’d like to speak to a customer service representative in the USA .” 

YOU WILL BE IMMEDIATELY CONNECTED to a rep in the USA. It only takes less than one minute to have your call re-directed to the USA. 

Tonight when I got redirected to a USA rep, I asked again to make sure – and yes, she was from Fort Lauderdale.

Imagine if every US citizen who has to make such a call and then requests a US rep, imagine how that would ultimately impact the number of US jobs that would need to be created ASAP. Imagine what would happen if every US citizen insisted on talking to only US phone reps from this day on. 

If I tell 10 people to consider this and you tell 10 people to consider doing this – see what I mean…it becomes an exercise in viral marketing 101.

Remember – the goal here is to restore jobs back here at home – not to be abrupt or rude to a foreign phone rep. If you agree, please tell 10 people you know and tell them to tell 10 people they know…etc…etc….