28 December, 2014


Did you catch the “monkey reviving his electrocuted friend” video? If you didn’t, you can watch it in the link below. Do you think you could have reacted with that much common sense to heal a human who was electrocuted?

Monkey saves electrocuted friend:

While watching this video, I was struck by how calm and collected The Healer was. Besides being surrounded by a large audience of unruly, loud humans, and besides being aware that he (or she?) is in an urban environment which could turn threatening to a monkey any minute, he continues with the work of resuscitating his friend without missing a beat.

The Healer knows, first of all, that the monkey underneath his hand is alive. That despite looking like a potato crisp, his friend is alive and well. Secondly, he doesn’t rush in and use the Western method of resuscitation: thumping the monkey on the heart would have been so easy, and would have shocked him back to consciousness immediately. But note the monkey doesn’t do that.

What he does is interesting, especially if you follow his step-by-step method. Watching this monkey, you also realize that white men are not the only people who are trained in the linear method of thinking—this monkey too seems to have mastered the art of doing things one at a time, step by step, in a logical way.

First of all, he rolls the electrocuted victim from a flat surface, and with his mouth drops him in-between some railway pipes and sidings. Now this made me scratch my head for a bit—why throw an unconscious monkey into a pit? Well, if you watch carefully, you will see his next act is to pick him up again, with the mouth, and do this several times. Now anybody who’s done acupressure or any other form of massage knows, that pulling and pushing of the body is an essential part of reviving the flow of energy in the body. If you note carefully, the monkey actually pulls his friend up by the eyebrows—which to our superior human eyes, can look like a stupid monkey thing to do, but in fact if you’ve ever had a massage in which people have pulled and pushed at your ears, you realize there are some vital meridians right in in the appendages close to your head. I had an acupuncture session done to me by an Indian woman who worked, amongst other population, with people in jail who had never had mental health care. She would put five needles into people’s inner ears, and the people became so relaxed they fell asleep in these mass relaxed prisoner batch. This is known as the “Five Point Protocol” in acupuncture language. When she put those needles to my ears, I feel this unbelievable sense of relaxation and calm that I’d never felt before. In other words, The Healer knew that the ears were one of the first points of contact where he could revive the nerves that rule sensation.

Notice he then pulls his friend up, and places him on the pipe, in this sort of: “I’m about to give you a massage” posture. More pushing and pulling of limbs follow. If you go to Wat Po in Thailand, and ask for a medical massage, the massage therapist will do something pretty similar to you.

The second-last step is to dunk the body in the cold water, and it comes in the perfect sequence. Dunking the monkey earlier, before his blood had started to flow and his body temperature hadn’t risen, would have meant more shock and cold.

The last step is to lick the face. Why, you wonder, wouldn’t he have done this before? Surely the face is the place closest to the head, and you’d imagine a massage to the face would be the first step in reviving an electrocution victim? But no, the face comes last in these steps—because The Healer knows that the love and concern shown to the face, and communicated through “the kiss”, is less important than the pushing and pulling and monkey-handling that has come before.

My favorite part of the video came at the very end, when the victim revives, staggers up blearily and holds on to a bar, as if to say: what the hell just happened there? That’s when The Healer looks around at all the staring humans, and then gives the smallest pat to his friend, and does a brief groom and pretends to eat a lice or two, as if to say to the voyeurs: hey guys, all good here. You can stop staring now. Buddy here just had a little fall. And the pat, which so often human doctors fail to give, communicates: good job buddy. All good now.

It is that no-fuss attitude that got me thinking. Because lets think about it, the health care system as we know it now has just become way too chest-thumping for its own good. If that monkey had been human, somebody would have shocked his heart into action within a few minutes—instead of doing the long, slow revival of the nerves, blood and energy meridians, which in the long run was probably less of a shock to the monkey’s system, and brought him back to consciousness with less harm to his organs.

But alternatively healing, which probably is closest to how our ancestors healed themselves, is not seen as healing or “health care”, in most countries. In Nepal, the Western system of medicine has rapidly caught up and people are now so dependent on it they cannot even cure a common cold. I was sitting at a sweet-shop one cold winter day when I noticed a young boy with a wistful face sitting with an older man. The older man was in a big panic. He called up someone who turned out to be the boy’s aunt, and I overheard their conversation. “I’m in such a big panic I’m ready to leave my job,” the man said. The aunt berated him and said that he should have told them about the boy’s illness. “I just found out myself,” the man said. It appeared he was the father—it occurred to me Kathmandu was now an urban city like any other place, and once people started to work 9-5 jobs, they were distant from their children as in other major metropolises. During their phone conversation, I overheard him say the doctor had just told him that the little boy could “only inhale 78% oxygen.” The doctor had suggested they return the next day so he could use a fancy machine to test his oxygen intake again.

I looked at the gloomy and frightened little boy, who looked perfectly rosy and healthy, albeit with a winter cold, and I felt sorry for him. Obviously the father had never taken care of the boy’s little ailments, and the first cold was enough to send him into a major panic. The medical establishment, of course, banks on this parental panic to make a profit. “Can I ask you what’s wrong with him?” I asked. It sounded like a massive emergency, but my reading of the situation told me the boy had a cold. “You know, you shouldn’t believe everything the doctor says. In my house, we believe in Ayurvedic medicine,” I blurted a little tactlessly. The father, who obviously believed his son was on his deathbed, looked at me like I was a cockroach, and walked out abruptly. The sweet-shop owner looked at me reproachfully, and I felt guilty but also glad in a way I’d gotten my little word in.

In Dhulikhel, where there’s a very good hospital, I had a chat with an Austrian doctor, who told me that the biggest problem in Nepal was the massive usage of antibiotics. Parents self-prescribed antibiotics to their children for respiratory infections. This was causing resistance to the antibiotics, which were now useless for big operations. But more to the point, the antibiotics did nothing to cure viral infections, which is what most of the winter flus were.

Also in Dhulikhel, I had another nice chat with a German tourist who walked by with his girlfriend on a trek. He said he’d been brought up in East Germany, where there wasn’t much medication. His grandmother, he said, would make cammomile tea when they had a cold, and they would inhale the fumes before drinking it. “Who knows what ingredients caused the healing?” He said. “It was the heat, the steam, the herbs, a mixture of so many things—the loving hand of my grandmother on my brow, wiping away the sweat…”  Then he told me that in rural parts of Eastern Europe, people put yogurt on the back of the calf to lower fevers—but the fever has to be a certain temperature, and high enough, before it can go down again. Putting the yogurt too early wouldn’t work, or could actually be harmful. He also said that in certain countries, people use peach schnapps, an alcohol, for the same purpose. I said to him this was a marvelous remedy and would have saved so many children in Nepal from blindness—I know of a few people in Nepal who went blind from high fevers, and not knowing how to cure it. Yogurt is easily available in most Nepali communities, and it would be a wonderful new way to cure high fevers. We agreed that people all over the world have always known how to heal themselves of common remedies, and the way the medical establishment was trying to usurp this knowledge was getting very frightening.

In Nepal, I grew up with dozens of herbs that can be used to cure the common cold. Everything from turmeric tea, jwano and methi (ajwain and fenugreek), tulsi plants, ginger, garlic, salt-water gargle, and herbs from high altitude Himalayan pastures have been used to cure the common cold. Depending upon the nature of your cold-whether its dry, or mucous-full, or with a cough, or with a sore throat, different remedies have been used in different proportions to cure colds. According to Ayurvedic theory, colds can be caused, and show symptoms of, kapha, pitta or vata, the three doshas. There are different ways to deal with all three manifestations. Knowing even a little about the nature of the cough and cold, and being able to make simple home remedies, can keep parents out of the ominous medical grasp.

In the USA, there’s a major outcry about a “flu vaccine” each winter, as if the winter cold was something that had to be determinedly suppressed with a vaccine. This year, the hysteria is about how the vaccine no longer works! People have developed resistence! Of course, this is not the major emergency the pharmaceutical companies would like to make you believe. In fact, many people believe colds are necessary, and that healthy bodies get a seasonal cold a few times a year to build up their resistance and to build up immunity.

Watching the monkey healer video made me realize what I’ve always known-that we are fundamentally equipped with the knowledge to heal ourselves and others, even during seemingly unknown situations. And perhaps its time now to return back to natural way, rather than trying to handover our health to machines and chemicals.

21 December, 2014

The Global: A proposal for a new global currency

 I don’t understand economics all too well, beyond what a sporadically employed writer can be expected to understand.

Having said that, I think that puts me in a unique position to explain to you, in simple terms, what I see unfolding before me in the world of currency.

The American dollar, shored up by oil and its free access to the printing press, courtesy of the Federal Reserve, is under enormous pressure. Despite assurances that all is well, and despite the rising stock prices, insiders seem to think the dollar’s day is over. All over the world, nations have started to use their own national currencies to trade, which means that America’s middleman fees have been eliminated. In addition, there’s the questioning of where the “safe haven” is, in reality. With the USA printing 17 trillion dollars in the last decade, under the confident assumption that its economy would always be the eternal safe haven, there’s an oversupply of dollars. And what happens if you print too much money? Eventually, someone ends up with too much of it. And that means whoever’s hoarding dollars is going to see a serious dip in their stock when the dollar eventually plunges. Which many American commentators seem to think has already happened—but is being withheld from you for fear of what may transpire after this news comes out.

Insiders also seem to think the Feds are not going to change their ways. Despite telling the world they are finally going to quit their dollar printing habit, they will secretly continue to shoot up with the greenback. This sets a dangerous precedent, because this means all other nations (Japan, the EU, Thailand, etc) all want a hit of this good stuff. This is known as QE, or “quantitative easing”, and basically it’s a fancy term to mean that countries decide to print money even when their economies are not going all that well. Easy money, however, is rarely easy—when all nations start clamoring for easy cash, it means the initial nation who’d climbed up a bit above the rest is now in the position of finding out its easy cash is worth the same as before, because essentially everyone else has cottoned on and done the same as them. As you can see, this is a game that has no ending.

So who controls the printing of money? It appears that besides the Fed, there are a number of private banks able to set this operation in action. In addition, there seems to be a secret cabal of insiders, otherwise known as the Bank of International Settlement, that has been telling countries since the end of Nazi Germany how much money each nation can print. As you can see, this makes it easy for some countries to become richer than the rest—if you are printing a trillion dollar a year just to run your government’s expenses, and a lot of this is going to bailout private banks, and those banks are selling stocks to private citizens, this means that even when the stocks fall it doesn’t really matter because the government just keeps printing more money to shore up the banks. This means crappy Silicon Valley companies designing apps for head waiters, and crappy Hollywood making films about frankfurters having an existential crisis, and crappy military-industrial companies designing mosquito drones to torture political activists at night, will never run out of funding.

US dollars were so good that in 2008 George Bush was selling billions of worth of military crap to Saudi Arabia, where the sheikhs happily bought up the hardware. In 2014, however, even the Saudis seemed to have decided not to co-operate with the New World Order—allowing the oil prices to fall, in essence, is a way for OPEC to destroy the petro-dollar.

In other words, people have realized that the New World Order, headed by the US and supported by Europe and the rest, is no longer a tenable way to run the world’s finances. Not to mention its geo-political landscape, which has been riddled with one invasion after another of sovereign countries,  false-flag operations, and torture and genocide that the US takes as a divinely entitled right.

So how do we move forward, as a world community, now that people realize that this way of managing the world finances is no longer good enough?

The IMF and its SDR basket currency is a bad idea, because again this is the same Western dominated model, where a centralized authority decides on the value of currency.

I think therefore that whatever will come from this moment is not a centrally controlled currency. What has to evolve is a currency that is available to all countries, and that all countries are able to control it, in a way that is fair and equitable, according to their economic worth. I am unsure what the mechanisms of this will be, but it appears to me that having a currency that is not tied to a national currency is the best solution.

So lets call this new currency “The Global.” And lets say that it is slightly less than the euro in value, and slightly more than the dollar. It is available to the National Banks of all nation-states, which will print this international currency alongside its domestic currency. All countries will print this new international currency, which will be used to trade between different nations. The agreement of which country can print how many Globals will be set by international authorities more efficient than the UN. They will, after crunching numbers, decide each country’s economic worth and its concurrent Globals.

Nepal, for instance, has no money to speak of, but in the last decade it has exported almost all its youth to the Gulf countries, which in turn supply the USA with oil. The Gulf countries are not always good about paying their workers, which means in the last two decades, these countries in all likelihood owe the Nepalis about a trillion dollars in unpaid back pay. Now lets say this trillion dollars is the obligation of the international community to repay-especially the countries that have been consuming Gulf oil, and selling military hardware to the Gulf, and so on. So when this international authority that regulates the Global currency comes into operation, it has to factor in these non-accounted for currency transactions from the last few decades—allowing Nepal’s government, in essence, one trillion Globals to trade with other economies. That is just reparations for unpaid labor. Nepal should also get a separate package for climate change harm done to its environment and communities by oil-dependent economies. These two packages would be added to the other Globals Nepal can print due to the size of its economy. Ditto for India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and all those other labor exporting countries which have seen great suffering and exploitation for little gain.

To avoid African dictators and so forth from stealing all the Globals from their people, we could introduce a model in which the Globals can only be traded for certain goods and commodities, and not others. Meaning that Globals cannot go straight from a dictator’s bank account to the latest Lamborgini model or the latest Gucci bags—there will be certain checks and balances in place to ensure the trade is within limits and that the benefits of trading is shared, more or less, by the citizens of that country. Perhaps a certain percentage of the Globals’s profits must be reinvested back into health, education, social welfare, et cetera. 

As we have all realized, the idea of Western countries printing money and handing it out in dribs and drabs to Third World countries to “develop” themselves hasn’t really worked out in the long term. Nor has the neo-colonial model of rape and pillage of natural resources in the peripheries to feed the center.

Now that I have explained my nifty little concept of the Global for you, I hope some of you will take that into consideration the next time a nation decides the IMF is the way to go. And by the way, as someone beset by piracy and who has had her books and stories stolen multiple times by Western publishing houses, I would be glad if you could give me credit as the original source when the Global comes out.

Enjoy the last four months of the greenback’s supremacy—I predict this is the last 4 months before the dollar becomes just one currency amongst many others.


14 December, 2014


I recently read an The Economist blog post explaining homeopathy. The tone was condescending, and derogatory. I felt it didn’t do justice to a healing system that seems to have helped many people. I was also healed by a homeopathic doctor—rather to my surprise. I share the story with you so you can make up your mind about the intangibles that make up the process of healing.

In 2007, I attended the Berlinale Film Festival. I was part of a contingent of filmmakers that attended the Talent Campus, which was a “campus” aimed to bring together young filmmakers and provide them with access to mentors from different filmic disciplines. We saw Gael Garcia Bernal, Frederick Wiseman and Wim Wenders. We heard the composer who’d done the music for “Peter Pan,” and we met the cinematographer of “Red, Blue and White.” The time I spent in Berlin was fun, and took my mind away somewhat from an incomprehensible accident that had killed a close friend of mine from college on New Year’s eve.

On the way back from Berlin, I stopped over at Thailand for one night. Bangkok’s flea hotels can be bad. How I ended up at this windowless room I can’t say—all I know is that I paid $30 to spend one night in a room that felt like it was an enclosed box. It was hot and stifling, and I seem to catch a dry cold there. On return to Kathmandu, I came down with a severe case of fever, cough and cold. When I recovered, I could hear a wheezing deep inside my throat and lungs that didn’t seem to go away. The asthma may have been triggered by the extreme cold of Berlin, transition to abrupt tropical heat of Bangkok, then back to a colder Kathmandu. Underlying it all was the loss caused by my friend’s death. I could hear a rattle in the throat that was so loud it woke me at night.

I talked to my doctor, who prescribed an inhaler. The spray of chemicals in my system made me feel worse, and I felt a sense of despair at the thought I would be forever dependent on this medication. During college, I had a friend who also had childhood asthma, and who had overcome it as an adult, so I knew it could go away. It appeared to me there was a cure. But where was it?

During this time, I ran into a German musician who lives part-time in Bhaktapur, an old mediaval town close to Kathmandu. Gert Wegner was known to me through two of my friends. Sarina Rai, the most well known punk rocker of Nepal, had started her musical career by taking guitar and drum lessons at the Bhaktapur School of Music, which had been started by Gert. So I knew Gert as Sarina’s guru. On one memorable occasion, Sara, a friend who was managing study-abroad program for American students, had also invited me for a program at the Bhaktapur School of Music, and I had seen Gert in his element, in an old garden with wooden pavilions, encouraging girls to take up the big dhimmay baja drums, which traditionally were only played by men. So I knew Gert to be a kind, capable and thoughtful man, who had not just started an institution of great repute, but was also well-respected in the Newari community where he lived.

Bhaktapur retains its mediaval culture, and Gert is discreetly embedded in this town. His home is an old crumbling Newari home that looks like any other house from the outside. During one festival at Dashain, I learnt that Gert had been given the status of an elder, respected guru by the community of butchers he’d worked with for many years, and that he was in charge of leading a team of musicians to honor Nasa Deo. During that Dashain, we watched as team after team of highly drunk, out-of-tune, rollicking musicians went past—following by the ramrod straight, disciplined military march of Gert’s men, all playing their music in harmony. Needless to say, they won the competition that year.

I can’t remember how or when I ran into Gert again in 2007, but sometimes during this asthmatic days, I happened to go to Bhaktapur, and I ran into Gert at the yogurt shop. This is the famous yogurt shop of Bhaktapur, and I saw him casually chat with the owner in the local Newari language. I was impressed—clearly Gert was a local in this small town. As to how I told him I had asthma I don’t remember, but I wasn’t feeling good, and if he asked me how I was, perhaps I mentioned the asthma to him. Then, perhaps in that same conversation, or perhaps in another, he mentioned, in an off-hand manner, that he too knew homeopathy. I was curious now, and requested him for a diagnosis. He agreed. That same day, I walked with him through winding lanes and a little garden with flowers to the entrance of his old interconnected house. This is the kind of strange thing that looking back Hindus call “karma”—Gert is someone I have met perhaps 5 times in 10 years, but that moment, when I was most in need of a cure, I happened to run into him.

Gert had rented one of the floors of this old house. It still had its mud floor and walls, and on the floor on a straw mat I could see his tablas. We went up to his beautiful kitchen, and he offered me some tea. I admired the old kitchen utensils that he had placed around as objects of decoration. We had a nice conversation as he told me about his teaching at the Free University of Berlin. He explained to me he himself was not trained as a homeopathic doctor, but his former wife had been, and she had been the one to teach him.

After I’d drunk the tea, we went down again into another room. This had a cabinet full of small vial-like bottles, with the small white homeopathic medicine in them. They were all neatly labeled. I wanted to go closer and look, but didn’t want to appear too inquisitive, lest he think I was being invasive. I got the sense he didn’t want me to go too close to those neat bottles. I sat and watched him as he opened some big books, and started to read them. Then he took up a little metal instrument which was like a little metal pendulum. He swung this back and forth a few times, looking very intent. It looked like he was testing something, perhaps the magnetic direction of the poles—or perhaps the energy my body was putting out in the room. This looked like some wacky, New Age cure—not at all the rational, Germanic pharmaceutical solution I thought I was getting. I thought about Ouija boards. I felt an urge to laugh. But because he was an elder man who clearly had earned his respect, I maintained my composure. I sat there, curious but willing to see what he had to say.

This is what he had to say.
“Do you feel the sorrows of other people deeply?”

Rather surprised, I said that indeed I did feel the sorrows of other people deeply. He rifled the pages of his big encyclopedia-like book again, searching for something. Looking at the book, he asked me a few other questions that seem to me to be equally out of range of what a doctor asks a patient who has just told you they need a cure for asthma. It appeared he was trying to place me into a certain category. I felt slightly discomfited, wondering what that category was.

Then he said: “I think you are a causticum type. I am fairly certain you are a causticum type.”

He then rifled around in his closets till he found a small bottle. He put a tiny white ball in a small piece of paper. “All you need is one,” he said. I must have looked disappointed to see the tiny white ball. After the long process of diagnosis, the medication appeared incredibly small and token. Seeing the look in my face, he said: “But I will give you three, just in case you need it.”

I was grateful for this medicine, and eager to try it out. That night, I took one pill of causticum. The white sugar taste vanished on the tip of my tongue.

The next day, my asthma, which had been troubling me for a few months, vanished. And it did not return. This was too good to be true. Just to additionally sure, I took the other two white balls as well, even though I didn’t need it.

I have no idea how, or why. I have no idea why irradiating my throat with a broth of pharmaceutical chemicals didn’t help, and why a tiny white sugar pill did. That’s the mystery of healing. You can’t tell me I didn’t have asthma, because I know I did, and I was suffering from it. Perhaps it was the presence of this elder man who exuded an aura of wise healer energy. Perhaps it was his old adobe house, full of objects that seem to exude magical power. Perhaps it was the time and place of Bhaktapur, and the episodes of music that had followed before this one healing moment. All I know is that homeopathy worked for me, and I was grateful towards it.

Healing is a magical act, in many ways. Germ theory may explain one part of disease and healing, but it doesn’t explain everything. Which is why homeopathy, and other systems like it, find increasing adherents all over the world. This story is not aimed to make you “believe” in homeopathy. This story is only aimed to make you take a closer look at what makes people ill, and what heals them again. This story is also aimed at those policymakers who design healthcare programs in which pharmaceutical companies are given great importance, but ignore alternative systems of healing--in fact, oftentimes, the latter can be more effective than the former.

11 December, 2014


The CIA was the mastermind behind uncountable assignments that fell governments, assassinated heads of states, ran drug-smuggling cartels, caused the governments of small countries to collapse, derailed polio vaccination programs by using them as cover for covert operations, killed so many people observers estimate the total death toll of the US funded wars to be larger than the Nazis’ death toll combined, and in general caused mayhem and murder through 50 years of the last century, and a decade of this one.

The time has come to end this institution.

The reason is simple. The world has changed in the last 60 years. These sorts of tactics that worked in an era where secrecy was possible, are now actively visible, and dangerous, to the state utilizing these methods of covert warfare. These methods are dangerous because everyone can view them, and be cognizant of them, within the span of an hour, in this connected world. Countries all over the world have access to quick information through the web, and the notion of democracy has spread. The idea of a secret agency operating contrary to the covenant of human rights that all states have signed on to is simply not good foreign policy.

The Americans are still thinking they can keep this boat afloat a bit longer—but to do so would be a great foreign policy mistake. And this is why. Already there’s been a shift in economic power, as China comes into its own. This was nowhere as evident as this past year, when it was instrumental not just in setting up an infrastructure bank for the BRICS, but also in supporting large and small countries with economic support. This economic clout would have been unheard of even a decade ago, where Western countries were the exclusive agents to hand out monetary handouts. With the loss of America’s moral standing, the world looks for new leadership. Almost without appearing to, China has filled this void.

With China’s rise has come a corresponding understanding amongst nations in Asia and Africa that we need to work together to beat the common enemies—poverty, unemployment, and environmental disaster. Until and unless countries in Asia and Africa reach a certain standard of living, their rising demographics and uneducated population will be a threat to the environment of an increasingly crowded planet. Only with a certain degree of economic security do people slow the reproductive growth—and that means Asia and Africa have to focus now on infrastructure, employment, industrial and technological growth, and to establish academic  and cultural institutions the West takes for granted.

China’s economy is now the number one economy—this is inevitable, and natural, because it also has the largest population on the planet. Despite shrill accusations from human rights organizations, China has refrained from torture, mayhem and murder in other countries, activities to which the USA openly allocates more than half of its government’s budget. With its restraint has come cautious approval from traditional opponents, who now view it favorably. It has earned its moral leadership.

China has changed since the Fifties. The USA hasn’t.

The US continues to make covert and overt war, in line with foreign policy thinking of the Fifties. It also continues to secretly persecute critics and domestic opponents, and sometimes simply bystanders who were there at the wrong place at the wrong time, with new biological, genetic and nano-technologies; harass and kill people in far off countries with drones; and in general keep upgrading technologies to continue what used to be great strategy and warfare sixty years ago. This is simply not such a good idea at present, however, because a) persecution and secret torture will be discovered eventually b) somebody will have to be accountable for it and c) the world is recoiling in moral horror and pulling back from a state which they can see doesn’t operate within any known barriers of international law.

There are two roads now open to the USA. One is take the road of business as usual.   Which is the road lawmakers are taking at the moment, in the aftermath of the Torture Report. They have revealed their “stain on history.” They have confessed. In the act of this confession, the crime is expiated. This is enough for the USA, but it is not enough for the world, which wants to know why the USA doesn’t have to follow the norms of international law, in which torturers who operate outside of the boundaries of legality have to face the apparatus of justice. Nor does this explain how 50 countries in the world allowed the USA to illegally run secret prisons within their sovereign borders—investigations will have to follow, along with culpable individuals and institutions required to appear before their legal systems.

The second road open to the USA is to completely take the lid off the 600 billion dollar military-industrial complex that is running parallel to the government.  Who are these 100,000 people with security clearances working on a Global War on Terror? What are they doing that is so important there are more of them than Federal employees of the US Government? Why does 56 billion have to be ‘black budget’, and what are these black budgets hiding? What kind of torture programs have they designed with their mosquito drones, and their killer robots? What kind of biological warfare and chemical warfare have they already put in motion? What kind of brain-mapping activities are they doing, and for what purpose? What are the new brain-to-computer technologies being developed, and in what way are they being mobilized on people without their consent? How many people are they keeping awake at night with sleep deprivation technology? What kinds of white noise are they laser-beaming into the auditory channels of their own urban populations to keep them terrified?

Knowing the operational strategies of the military-industrial complex, and knowing that they have had no regards for the boundaries of sovereign nations, it must be obvious to US lawmakers and Congress that their parallel “Dark State” is working on a range of technologies that they will have no compunction on using on people. There cannot be any excuse for “not knowing.” Ethics, of course, is a word that is so foreign to this cancerous parallel state that has attached itself to the government of the United States that it is almost useless to bring it up here—but we will bring up international law, to which the USA is still bound. Much of what is happening in these secret agencies, of which 17 are known, and of which the rest are not known, will one day be revealed, in much the same manner as the torture.

The USA’s covert warfare may be more repulsive than the actions of the fascist governments of the 20th century. We don’t yet have the words to describe all the new technological warfare in operation. They may not yet be viewed as “torture.” But one day they will be explained through the lens of humanity’s capacity to understand ethics and morality, sooner or later.

Once those activities surface to the public, the USA will become a pariah state, a status it has taken such stern pleasure in imposing on states like Cuba and North Korea. Already the world has recoiled in moral horror. And with it has come a contraction of economic ties, business relationships, and goodwill. Countries have disentangled their currencies from the USA’s. This is going to continue, not lessen, in the coming years. The USA should listen to this advice, and pull back from what has been a heedless course towards its own destruction. The Superpower era has ended. As the USA slides down in all indicators of a developed nation, including education, childhood poverty, health, it is pretty clear that the parallel state has destroyed the USA from within.

Holding on to this parallel state, and giving it legitimacy to operate in the dark with black budgets, will further erode the USA’s last remaining shred of standing in the international stage. Shutting down the CIA can be the first step towards the US’s commitment to restore trust in the global community.

09 December, 2014

The Kerung-Rasuwagadh pass, and what it means for China-Nepal-India relations

A recent article by Sudheer Sharma in the Nepali press noted that unlike the 60s, when Jawaharlal Nehru protested vociferously when Nepal opened the Tatopani trading point with China, there was no protest from India this time around as China starts to build the Kerung-Rasuwagadh pass. This road links Lhasa to Kathmandu, and then via Birjung to India. India, in other words, has matured diplomatically since the days of Nehru. Modi’s vision of a pan South Asian neighborhood prospering together in many ways is the same as Xi Jinping’s vision of an interconnected Asia.

The Chinese have been very interested in the Silk Routes trading route, and in opening up ancient trade routes that used to link different parts of Asia. They want to reach markets that for historical reasons became closed to each other even though they are closer in geographical space. China and India are closer to one another than they are to Europe or the United States--indeed, they share the border in disputed Arunachal Pradesh, which often becomes the fault-line for emotive nationalists from India voicing fears of imminent Chinese invasion. The Chinese, however, have shown time and again that they are interested in peaceful trade. The time may now have come to take up that vision of a pan-Asian continent based on mutual values of peace, co-existence and economic prosperity.

In much the same way as the European Union, we need to figure out a way to share the wealth, and to think of joint ways to trade which benefit both sides. At present, Nepal remains at a disadvantage, tradewise. Although it produces some commodities in great quantities, for instance ginger, this ginger cannot get a fair market price. It ends up being sold for a pittance to Indian businessmen, who then resell it after processing to export markets at a steep price. This trade is neither fair nor beneficial for Nepal’s poor farmers. Kathmandu is too weak to negotiate with New Delhi about trade and tariff restrictions that have kept Nepalese locked-in to the dictates of the Indian market. With the opening up of trade with China, however, there is the possibility of more competitive pricing. In addition, it may be possible for Nepalese farmers to process their own ginger to export quality, once they gain some real income from their produce.

India doesn’t realize that to lose this small advantage-essentially, thinking of the Himalayas as its own private backyard where it grows its almost free Dabur herbs, and where it is now sourcing much of its fruit juice at immensely cheap rates—is holding back its progress. With the opening of the border trade with China, it would have access to a billion plus market. The trade won’t be one-way, of course. India also has a lot to offer, including its world-class educational institutions, its highly trained manpower well versed in English, and its ability to absorb technology like osmosis.

The only thing I do not see the Chinese buying from India and Nepal is sensitive food items like dairy. And the reason is this. I was browsing through the web when I realized the Chinese are now going to Australia to aggressively invest in the dairy industry there. They need about 12 billion litres of milk a year. The baby milk contamination scare has made the Chinese consumer wary of locally produced Chinese baby milk formula. It occurred to me that Nepal is quite near China, and we too have a longstanding tradition of raising cows and milking them for dairy products. In fact, I’d say our Himalayan, free-range, grass-fed cow’s milk tastes far better than Australia’s rather bland ranch-grown milk. So why are the Chinese not coming here? And the answer goes back to sanitation, or the lack thereof, in South Asia. The article I read quotes a Chinese businessman saying: “We found the Australian dairies very clean.” And that’s the crux of what’s holding back Nepal from partaking in a giant market. That despite our capacity to provide the 12 billion liters of milk, we would not be considered a suitable place for baby milk formula production because lets face it, the Nepalese, and the Indians, have a sanitation problem. Without toilets, and basic hygiene, how can the Chinese trust milk that has been produced for their children is healthy, as claimed?

South Asia needs to grow up—both in terms of the realities of the world market, as well as our capacities for trade with neighbors. There is great potential for trade in agriculture, herbal medicines, holistic healing, arts, culture, industrial goods and technology. But so far, Asia has not even touched the tip of this trade, which used to flourish during medieval times.

If we are to become like the European Union—a space where different countries share easy access by ground transport, and where the markets are interlinked, we have to stop fighting about history, and move on with the future. The future says there are 2.5 billion waiting for education, food of good quality, health care, and the basic amenities that make up life. Lets not deny people access to those basic necessities that leads to a good quality of life.

The one drawback of all this enthusiasm about trade, without ensuring the social security of the bulk of the population in a weak state like Nepal, is that there may be an exacerbation of poverty as the wealthy start to monopolize the trade. This was nowhere more evident than in a conversation I had with a herbal medicine maker in Bhaktapur. He told me that black elaichi, a spice essential for certain herbal preparation, had become so expensive he could no longer afford to buy it. The price shot up ten times within the span of a year. Indian businessmen came and bought up all the stock, and then reprocessed it and sent it to export markets. “I've never seen prices rise like this in my life,” he said. If almost every local delicacy ends up in the export market, there is not a whole lot for Nepalese to do other than end up working in the Gulf. Or in India as laborers in slave-like conditions. In other words, unrestricted trade which doesn't give a fair price to farmers, and a fighting shot to local consumers, is worse than no trade at all.

China and India will have to learn that “development” that destroys the water, air and climate is self-destructive. No amount of profit can trade for these. But if done in an environmentally and socially sensitive way, these two countries may be able to do massive trade with each other that would benefit both sides. Nepal, of course, is happy to facilitate this trade.

07 December, 2014

Gadhimai: Civilization versus barbarity, revisited

I have friends who don’t eat honey because they feel the pain of the bees, whose food is being stolen.

And then I have friends who come from communities where traditional ritual sacrifice is necessary to keep the wheel of life turning.

As a Brahmin, I grew up in a household where eating buffaloes, chicken and pigs were forbidden. Brahmins don’t eat buffalo meat because buffalo is considered to be a bovine animal. Cows cannot be killed, or eaten, by Brahmins. All we were allowed were goats, and that too a few times a year. That’s why Dashain was special: the goat sacrifice was eagerly awaited because the meat was a rare treat, and also because it did taste special because it had been offered to the goddess.

I now live in a mostly vegetarian household where only my father and I eat meat. We cook meat in the home—usually chicken, since ideas have changed, chicken being considered healthier—about 4 times a year. Before, Brahmins considered chicken dirty and forbidden because it would eat shit off the ground—including its own, as well as human feces. With the advent of industrial farming and stringy, hormone and antibiotics laden chicken, even this rare meat-eating episodes have been getting rarer.

The huge outcry from animal activists against the Gadhimai sacrifice, I feel, is an opportunity to keep the discussion going about not just this one event in Nepal, but about the whole notion of what “Civilization” means. It is easy to brand it “barbaric”—if you go back to the history of Western civilization, “barbarism” was an accusation that led to the decimation of entire population of Native populations in South and Latin America, as well as the United States. “Barbarism” has also been a useful excuse to keep Africans chained to wheels of Western capitalism, and to decimate their local religions and beliefs.

The Western world had a special claim to “civilization,” which was seen to the be the opposite of “barbarism.” But strangely, the West never once acknowledged its own barbaric histories, including genocidally decimating huge populations of indigenous peoples in the New World, often in the name of the Christian religion.

I believe Gadhimai is a good moment to bring up these histories and discussions, because often the West’s morally high ground has been used, in complex ways, to create hierarchies of human beings which allow it to continue its exploitation—including the economic exploitation of capitalism—to continue unchecked. Civilization is the monopoly of countries that don’t openly sacrifice animals to gods or goddesses—but often do eat meat grown in factories three times a day. Civilization where cars flow in an unceasing river and chemicals and pharmaceuticals cure all diseases. Civilization rests on the ability of Wall Street to create the illusion that money is printed fairly, and that it is distributed through some fair means. Civilized countries get to print more money in fancy programs called “quantitative easing.” Countries still mired in “barbarism” don’t get any. They have toil on for years in the oilfields of the Gulf for low or no pay, to fuel the cars of the West.

Capitalism relies on the “civilization versus barbarism” dichotomy to keep up its illusion of superiority. The Christian faith has often braided itself into this complex discourse over the centuries, being an inextricable strand of why the West continues to dominate other cultures.

Indeed, Brahmins of Nepal should be morally opposed to the sacrifice of Gadhimai, because its about the sacrifice of buffalos, amongst other animals. Buffaloes are a relative of the cow, and the cow is considered sacred to Hinduism, especially Brahmins. The reason why the Nepali Brahmins do not oppose this event, I think, is that there appears to be a heavy indigenous culture component to the sacrifice. And in general, local faiths and beliefs have always been allowed in Nepal, without heavy-handed control from hegemonic groups-despite new academic theory to the contrary. If that were not so, Nepal would long ago have become like the USA, where indigenous cultures are only a memory and struggle on in very tiny spaces. The fact that strange customs and rituals survive here is precisely because the Brahmins haven’t been as hegemonic as many US trained social scientists glibly proclaim them to be.

Mushahars are a group considered low on the caste hierarchy and face the most discrimination due to their culture of hunting “rats.” What are called rats are actually field mice that eat grain—Mushahar in turn hunt these field mice and eat them during certain food-lean seasons. Ten years ago, I visited a Mushahar village where the village headman proudly showed us the ways in which they used bows and arrows (from what I remember) during their annual festival, during which they went to hunt for field mice. Note these pests eat half the grain grown, and it’s a survival strategy—and protein-- for the Mushahar to eat them in return. These field mice are also offered as sacrifice to Gadhimai, which shows the complex interweaving of how religion is often an amalgamation of different faiths and beliefs. All of those opposing this event in a simplistic manner, calling it a “Hindu sacrifice,” often miss the fact that this is not an event that in any way could have endorsement from the detested Brahmins who are supposedly running the Hindu faith.

It appears to be a complex blend of sacrifice offered by Tharu, Mushahar and other indigenous groups in the Terai, which has taken on local significance after the Indian authorities closed down animal sacrifice in India, bringing huge amounts of followers to Nepal. Local goddess worship, of course, predates the evolution of Hindu gods. I have no doubt animal sacrifice to goddess existed long before Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva made their appearance in South Asia. Gadhimai is not a well-known goddess—she is a local diety known only to the people of that specific locale, meaning that the Hindus of Kathmandu, for instance, had not heard of her before media highlighted this specific phenomena. Many Indians are also appalled by this sacrifice—but because “Hinduism” is often a complex, broad, and flexible set of faiths, practices and beliefs that span a billion people, there is no central Pope or Bible to oppose local practices. The fact these practices are not regulated by a central authority points to how “Hinduism” may have kept indigenous faiths alive—despite accusations by indigenous groups who often claim that Brahmins have imposed their lifestyles on everyone.

If Brahmins dictated Hinduism’s tenets and their priests had as much power as claimed, Gadhimai would be shut down. But in a multi-cultural country with 58 different kinds of ethnic groups, all carrying various levels of beliefs and practices, this kind of behavior would not be tolerated.

I advise people who are interested to Gadhimai to read the history of how the “civilized versus barbaric” discourse has played out in the West, often with greatly tragic results for indigenous cultures. As someone trained in anthropology, in which this discourse played out in great detail, I am interested in ways “civilization”, and the discourse of it thereof, continues to play out in contemporary life.

05 December, 2014


A woman in my neighbourhood told me she went to the Ward Office to get her Depo Provera shot. The health worker there said: Have you had the medicine for elephantitis yet? She replied: No, we got some but my husband threw it away. So the woman gave her a dose of elephantitis vaccine, right then and there. Note this incident occurred in an urban area of Kathmandu. The woman in question resides miles away from the tropical area where elephantitis occurs.

Why was the Ward coercing people in Kathmandu to take elephantitis vaccines? According to the same woman, she went home and walked to the water tap, and she felt so dizzy and strange she “couldn’t recognize anybody.” Besides the side effects that nobody’s talking about, its also clear there are incentives for health workers to give unnecessary and inappropriate vaccines to people. These health workers are unknowing “marketers” in a chain of social marketing set up by a million dollar pharmaceutical company in some faraway country which has managed to exploit a public health crisis for its own benefit.

In much the same way, the ebola crisis is clearly a cash-cow for Western companies, some of them established pharmaceutical companies but oftentimes newly-minted front companies that seem to do nothing but offer ebola vaccines, all in their very early stages of development, and in a few cases, only on paper. The GM people were the first on board to publicly announce they already had a vaccine—and also to share the astonishing news that genetically modified tobacco was the panacea for this aweful killer disease. The stocks soared for companies that appear to be operating with a website and not much history--- they too claimed miracle results for their untested vaccines. These companies, it appeared, had big backing from the US military industrial complex.

Here is a “Stocks to buy” recommendation from Market Watch:

Stocks to Buy
All small Ebola-related stocks are highly speculative and carry extremely high risk of loss. Most promising are companies that are working on vaccines. If a vaccine is successfully developed, it may quickly become a sustainable big business. Two companies of note are NewLink Genetics NLNK, +3.71% and Inovio Pharmaceuticals INO, +1.62%
A company such as Tekmira Pharmaceuticals TKMR, +2.32%   carries a very high risk because its Ebola drug may or may not work and its other programs are in very early stages while the stock price has rocketed on speculation.
Companies such as BioCryst Pharmaceuticals BCRX, +2.63% Sarepta Therapeutics SRPT, +4.06% and Chimerix CMRX, +2.66% carry less risk than Tekmira because their programs are more advanced.
In general, buying stocks based on their potential Ebola drugs may be a good trade but likely to be a bad investment because even if there is a successful drug, after the initial stockpiling the market size is limited.
More Pumps
Whenever there is a crisis, unfortunately pumpers and dumpers take advantage of it. Investors are well advised to carefully study SEC filings, especially balance sheets and accompanying notes of the new wave of pumps on Ebola-related companies such as Dynatronics DYNT, +0.18% iBio IBIO, +6.74% Hemispherx Biopharma HEB, -2.72% Sharps Compliance SMED, +1.14% NanoViricides NNVC, +1.27% Sanomedics International Holdings SIMH, -9.76% American Heritage International AHII, +7.14% and PositiveID PSID, +0.00% For the most part, astute investors after reading SEC documents will stay away from these stocks.

More MarketWatch news on Novavax:
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Novavax's stock NVAX, +4.11% surged 12% in premarket trade Monday after the drug maker said it expects to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial of its Ebola vaccine in December. The company said it had recently initiated a non-human primate study of its vaccine candidate, named EBOV GP. Novavax said EBOV GP, modified with its Matrix-M adjuvant, helped induce neutralizing antibody levels within ranges reported to protect against Ebola viruses in rodent and non-human primate models. The stock was up 0.2% so far this year through Friday, compared with a 6.3% gain in the S&P 500.

The Motley Fool, a website that gives advice on investing, has this interesting tidbid:

Now what: If you've ever wondered what emotional trading looks like, you've found it! Not a single Ebola vaccine drugmaker is anywhere close to bringing a drug to market, yet all are soaring as if the potential patient pool just skyrocketed.
Although Tekmira Pharmaceuticals just over a week ago worked out the clinical and regulatory framework to allow its experimental TKM-Ebola treatment to be given to infected and suspected-to-be-infected patients, this study is merely in the ramping up of phase 1 studies. Similarly, Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRPT  ) noted earlier this morning that it has about 100 doses worth of its Ebola vaccine, yet its experimental drug is also in early stage development. NewLink Genetics announced the start of Ebola vaccine trials less than four weeks ago. Finally, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: BCRX  ) , also up as much as 6% today, hasn't even gotten its Ebola vaccine development off the ground yet!

And not just Big Pharma but everyone from AFRICOM to suppliers of hazmat suits seem to be benefiting. Not to talk about the UN’s IOM which glibly Twittered about the shelter it had set up in Sierra Leone with the help of the “Department of Defense”—totally violating all norms of UN impartiality.

Yesterday, Obama asked for 6 billion to fight the ebola crisis—giving us the strange deja-vu, reminding us of the moment in which Bush asked for 60 billion to start a war after 9/11. President Obama was looking particularly jaunty as he went shopping for books for Christmas presents shortly around the same time—making you wonder if he got some Chrismas shopping pocket-money from Big Pharma.

 Most of this 6 billion will go to AFRICOM, where he’s sent 3000 troops to “fight ebola.” Even the Washington Post ran an article questioning whether this humanitarian intervention had ulterior motives. It may not go unnoticed that Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are rich in resources, and that Chinese and other investors were partnering with the mining operations—before ebola came along and sunk the economy of these three West African countries. Read an article from The Economist that explains who was here, mining gold and iron. 

Perhaps not co-incidentally, there appears to be a patent on ebola that has been filed, and which appears to be linked to the US Center for Disease Control. This is publicly available for all to view on Google. The patent claims ebola is an invention, and that the CDC appears to be the institution that these "inventors" have deposited the virus in.  To me, the language of this patent also appears to have changed, ever so slightly, from what I remember reading six months before--I seem to remember the CDC being the direct inventor of this patent, and before there was no mention of this invention being invented to cure people. 

Biological warfare is not unknown in the history of Western civilization, but especially in America. White people knowingly gave Native Americans smallpox laden blankets which decimated the last remaining population. And in Africa itself, the polio oral vaccine distributed to Belgian controlled Africa in the late 50s had traces of maqaque monkey mitochondria—making observers wonder about how this mitchondria ended up in the vaccine. In 2000, the South African health minister went public with the belief that AIDS was invented by the West to depopulate Africa—and while he’s been criticized for causing misinformation and stopping people from accepting anti-retrovirals, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t examine, empirically, if there might be some truth to that statement. I would be interested to see a fact-sheet on the companies who’ve manufactured anti-retrovirals—and how many of those companies are linked directly or indirectly with people, agencies and corporations known to be part of the US’s military-industrial complex. 
The 2014 ebola epidemic in West Africa, and the history of people cured or killed after vaccine ingestion, is telling. Those who took the ZMapp vaccine haven’t always survived. And those who didn’t take the vaccine, but got oral rehydration therapy and good care, often did. So there’s no guarantee that untested vaccines are going to cure patients, and in addition they may have harmful side effects to kidneys, liver etc that at present we have no idea about.

Glaxo Smith Kline is on the point of announcing another new vaccine—coincidentally, just as its about to layoff thousands after a 1.57 billion cost cut.  

This follows the news that ZMapp maker Mapp Pharmaceuticals, with federal funding of course, is speeding up production of a vaccine made of genetically modified tobacco. Produced where? No other place than:

The drug is manufactured in tobacco plants at Kentucky BioProcessing, a unit of cigarette maker Reynolds American.

To  observers, it appears these public health crises are being used, especially by the most powerful country in the world, to extract profits through deliberate campaigns of biological warfare.

UNESCO has brought out a vague fact-sheet on ebola and ethics. But they fail to talk about what the consequences would be for these companies as well as the US military complex if it turned out there are clear and direct links between various actors. Serious investigations need to take place to see what exactly these connections are, and how much money was made by which companies.  The UN Office on Drugs and Crime need to investigate if this was a deliberate biological warfare campaign against West Africa in order for US pharmaceutical companies to gain financial benefits through the stock market.

Newspapers continue to run op-eds that raise noise about “ethics”. Should the drug be given to all? Do controlled drug trails leave out people whose lives could be saved from it? All of these pro-drug op-eds fail to even look at how ebola itself may be the tip of a genocidal biological warfare strategy. If we don’t question it this time, it may become a way of business--start an epidemic, then offer a vaccine-- for the ever-profit seeking companies and their parent body the military-industrial complex of the United States.