Thursday, September 17, 2009

While millions starve.... Belgian farmers dump milk

Even as millions of people in third world countries in Africa, Asia, South America and a small population of poor in the US and EU member nations starve to death due to hunger, angry Belgian farmers dump 3 million litres of milk into agricultural fields. What kind of idiocy, expression of anger is this? I fail to understand. I have seen farmers dumping tomatoes onto the road in rural Karnataka (India) due to the same exasperation about prices. Though the quantities are never this much, it nevertheless is a great loss for not for the individual farmer or the country but the entire humanity.

In Sub Saharan Africa, thousands of people are starving to death. There are riots when Red Cross volunteers distribute food. A few thousand miles away in Europe this kind of gross wastage of milk is happening because a few politicians and corporations are fighting over the price of milk. Farmers are complaining that milk prices have dropped below production costs. The solution is simple stop producing so much milk and switch to other products. Process the milk and sell butter, cheese, and whole lot of milk products. For God's sake don't waste the milk and dump it into agricultural fields.

I guess the financial value of 790,000 gallons of milk is just $4 million not much for many European powers who continue to live on the wealth they looted from rest of the world during the past few centuries.

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Looking for a used car? Look no further!!!

Buying a used cars can be quite difficult, considering how dealers try to manipulate the prices, conceal the records etc. I recently came across an automobile portal on the internet which offers a completely different perspective to car sales. The site focuses on used cars, new cars, leasing and research. The unique features of this site is that you can search cars, research cars, ask questions, compare prices from various dealers, read car reviews and do a whole lot of other stuff related to cars. There is an entire section on insurance and maintenance too. In this era of websites and car dealerships which focus entirely on selling and buying here is a different portal which provides a low down on the whole gamut of things. If you are in the market for a car, used or new check it out before you sign the dotted line.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Orleans Visit and Lessons

A little over ten days ago it was the Labor day weekend which was an extended holiday across the US. We decided to take this opportunity to accomplish two things at the same time. Visit family in New Orleans and also take in the sights and sounds of this recently hurricane devastated city. It sounded like a good plan and this time we decided to undertake a road trip instead of an flight. I am glad we did it because the drive showed me a completely different part of the US, something which is yet wild, sparsely populated and still relatively natural.
The trip to Louisiana's Katrina-ravaged city helped me learn several lessons. The biggest lesson was that even in America the government doesn't bother about its poor and underprivileged. The trip exposed the murky underbelly of American capitalism and how the government, corporations, and the majority of this continent-sized country have simply ignored the small minority of people (estimated 1.5 million) who were affected by the Katrina. Despite the fact that US receiving millions of dollars of aid in cash from several countries including the poorest nations of the world. Here is a list of countries which provided cash-aid to the US when Katrina hit.

Kuwait$500 million
Qatar$100 million
United Arab Emirates$100 million
South Korea$30 million
Australia$10 million
India $5 million
China $5 million
New Zealand $2 million
Pakistan $1.5 million
Bangladesh $1 million

When I saw these numbers I was surprised to note that the developed nation of New Zealand contributed much lesser than India, which is a much poorer and still a third world nation and has a much larger population. Even Bangladesh which reels under its own floods, hurricanes, every year has given $1 billion towards aid. Apart from these contributions, US and international nonprofits have raised about $4.5 billion and corporations pledged about $1 billion.
According to the Wikipedia article the total devastation in New Orleans has been estimated at about $90 billion. Federal aid to provide relief to affected people a mere $16.7 billion for housing, $5.5 billion for roads, and $2 billion for highways and bridges. A few million here and there for other purposes. I am surprised that despite such widespread damage, fatalities and devastation the federal government has not done enough.

Even after five years of Katrina the lower 9th ward of New Orleans looks like a ghost town, broken down houses, uninhabited neighborhoods, home sites overgrown with weeds and brush, etc. If this were the scene in a third world nation I would not have been so surprised, but in the US which has flattened two nations in the past decade and which claims economic, military, infrastructural supremacy over all other nations in the world, this is pathetic.

Anyway I guess this is the way poor and oppressed are treated even in the heaven of freedom and equality.

This is where I will end today. I will be posting pictures and experiences of a swamp tour, handling alligators, a wild party night on Bourbon street and the return journey in the next few days.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

DFW edition of Tour De Cure

Despite the heavy downpour bicycle enthusiasts across the DFW area participated in the four bicycle rides organized in various parts of the metro area. I volunteered for Tour de Cure organized by the American Diabetes Association, I was at the very first rest stop which was visited by all the riders except those who did the 5 mile route. I guess because of the many rides in the area riders were split between the events and there were only about 500-odd riders participating in the Tour de Cure. Organized to raise funds for diabetes research this ride has special meaning to me personally because both my parents are diabetic and I hope a cure is discovered soon so they can get off the pill and lead normal lives.
What I saw at the ride was even more surprising. There were several young children riding and volunteering for this ride who were diagnosed diabetic. But they were spirited and wanted to do something about it and hence they were there braving thunder storms and the sudden cold to cheer riders or to ride themselves.
I managed to capture some good images of the riders from my vantage point at rest stop 1. It was bad lighting and incessant drizzle so the pictures have not come out all that good, but here is perhaps the best of a bad lot. Do let me know what you feel about it.

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