Category: Analysis

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 43,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 2046 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 2752 posts.

The busiest day of the year was October 12th with 654 views. The most popular post that day was TIMELINE – Euro zone debt crisis.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were alphainventions.com, blogsurfer.us, en.wordpress.com, webcache.googleusercontent.com, and in.yfittopostblog.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for nithyananda, dr congo giant ‘impact’ crater, rahul mahajan, prince mutaib, and jackie kennedy.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

TIMELINE – Euro zone debt crisis July 2010
1 comment

2

Yes, it was me in the video: Swami Nityananda – Interview with TIMES NOW March 2010
19 comments

3

Video: A Devotee Serving Swami Nithyananda March 2010
3 comments

4

J F Kennedy’s Funeral October 2009

5

Another case filed against Swami Nityananda March 2010

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New Zealand Threatened Fiji Army Chief against Coup

One of the US diplomatic cables revealed that New Zealand threatened Fiji’s Army Chief Bainimarama and his wife with preventing them visiting their grandchildren living in New Zealand if he staged a coup to dethrone the government of Laisenia Qarase. Stuff.co.nz quoted the cable as saying that Bainimarama and his wife Meli came to New Zealand in November 2006 to attend a granddaughter’s First Holy Communion in Wellington.

His statement prompted then New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to set up urgent meetings with Bainimarama and, later, Qarase to discuss the issue. Unusually, New Zealand’s "talking points" were then put to Bainimarama by the British Defence Attache based in Wellington, Nigel Lloyd, at a lunch. "I gather you are down here on a private visit for your grand-daughter’s first communion – a significant family occasion. I hope you enjoy your visit," the cable says Lloyd was instructed to say.

Lloyd further warned that if Bainimarama did not listen, New Zealand would change its travel advisory to discourage tourism to Fiji. Bainimarama returned to Fiji, staged his coup and has since then expelled at various times three New Zealand diplomats. His grandchildren are reportedly backed in Fiji.

Greece’s debt crisis strains European unity

Washington Post | May 2, 2010 | Sunday

When European leaders laid the foundations of the European Union with the 1957 Treaty of Rome, they spoke optimistically of an "ever-closer union," a "pooling" of resources and "concerted action" to bring the diverse nations together. The problem is that the Europeans have never, to this day, been willing to accept the consequences of this assertion of unity. They wanted a single currency but refused a common fiscal policy that could keep the books balanced; they wanted a common flag but rejected a Europe-wide constitution; they desired the benefits of community but not its limitations or responsibilities. This tapestry of European integration, woven so nobly by the post-World War II generation, has been fraying over the past decade. Last week you could hear it begin to rip at the seams as Germany and other financially strong nations struggled to decide whether to rescue Greece, their weakest and most profligate member.

The seriousness of the European crisis is illustrated by the fact that there are no good solutions to the Greek mess. The short-term fixes that investors are clamoring for would carry significant long-term costs. What’s worse is that the institutions that could create a framework for long-term stability don’t exist and aren’t likely to be created now. What makes sense, in theory, is to let the Greeks default on their debts, decouple from the European monetary union for long enough to restructure their economy, and then rejoin the union on a more honest and sustainable basis. As one hedge fund manager warns: "Investors had always regarded the euro as a de jure German deutsche mark; it is dawning on the world that it is becoming, de facto, a Greek drachma." The one-size euro obviously doesn’t fit all members.    

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The Iraq war: still a massive mistake

CSMonitor | Malou Innocent | Mon Apr 5 | 11:08 am ET

There is a growing narrative that Iraq’s solidifying democracy makes the seven years of US war and occupation a worthy enterprise. Some observers have even spun Iraq’s March 7 elections as proof that democracy promotion via military occupation can succeed. Don’t believe the hype. The Iraq war remains a mistake of mammoth proportions. And Iraq’s election represents a pyrrhic victory, as the economic, political, and moral costs of the occupation far outweigh any benefits. First are the sacrifices in terms of blood and treasure. The broad consensus is that the war has cost the US economy well over $700 billion – with the meter still running. The Iraq war has also left nearly 4,400 American troops dead, more than 31,000 physically disabled, and countless more psychologically traumatized. According to most estimates, more than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion. More than 2 million displaced Iraqi Sunnis, who fled into neighboring Jordan and Syria, are adding instability to an already politically precarious region of the world.

The war also upset the regional balance of power, as it substantially strengthened Iran’s influence in Iraq and severely limited US policy options toward Tehran’s clerical regime. No amount of prewar planning or “boots on the ground” could have prevented the Islamic Republic’s political push into a neighboring country with a 60 percent Shiite majority. The removal of Saddam Hussein as the principal strategic counterweight to Iran paved the way for the expansion of Iranian influence in Iraq, and has enabled Tehran to back, with far greater impunity, its political allies in Baghdad.     

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What Would Make China Budge on Iran

The country is facing increasing international pressure to support sanctions. But China will require something in return.

Newsweek | Feb 9, 2010

President Hu Jintao at the United Nations last year

Has Iran finally gone too far, pushing China into changing its mind about sanctions? Maybe not just yet. Tuesday, after Iran ratcheted up its uranium-enrichment program—elevating the purity of its enriched product to 20 percent—Beijing looked increasingly isolated in its calls to continue negotiations. “To talk about sanctions at the moment will complicate the situation and might stand in the way of finding a diplomatic solution,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at a conference in Europe. Western countries have been lobbying China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, to join them in supporting increased sanctions against the Tehran regime. The U.S. in particular has made known that it hopes to push through a regimen of “crippling sanctions” early this year. But Chinese officials have stuck to their guns, arguing that sanctions don’t work.

The haggling could go on for months. On Tuesday, Chinese officials renewed calls for the international community to support a proposal backed by the International Atomic Energy Agency that would allow Tehran to procure nuclear fuel for its medical-research reactor in exchange for its low-enriched uranium. “We expect and back all sides to reach an early agreement on the IAEA-raised draft proposal regarding the Tehran research reactor, which will help solve the issue,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular briefing.

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FII inflows and their impact in 2010

Reuters | Mon Jan 11, 2010 | 1:49pm IST

(The writer of this article Rajan Ghotgalkar is Country Head – INDIA at Principal International and Managing Director of Principal Pnb Asset Management Company (in association with Vijaya Bank). The views expressed in this column are his own)

The year 2008 has been one heck of a roller coaster ride which left us with the kind of feeling when we are nearing the peak of the ride and it’s time for us to clench at the hand bars in anticipation of a ride to base. Everyone missed the huge stock market rally following the May 2009 election results and whilst most waited for a correction, the market went on to scale new highs. Not many would disagree that, the market was ahead of its fundamentals but then it had nowhere to go but up when there was a flood of money chasing limited stock. It was liquidity driving the prices up. Looking back everyone in the business came up with seemingly rational explanations for this phenomenon. Someone once told me that, experts are people who can offer better explanations for their failure – here it was the failure to recognise the rally early enough for anyone to capitalise on it. It is therefore hardly surprising that, we are anxious about the coming year – will it make us look good or bad in the eyes of the investors when they look down from peak Sensex 17500!

Year 2007 saw FIIs bring in about USD 17 Bn. In the year 2008, USD 12 Bn exited and that too in a real hurry; only to have USD 18 Bn come back in year 2009. The details are interesting – about 50% of the inflows subscribed to QIPs and only about 25% went      Continue reading

ANALYSIS – Climate deal won’t cap warming, big gaps

Reuters | COPENHAGEN | Sat Dec 19, 2009 | 6:04am IST

A climate deal among world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama puts off many tough decisions until 2010 and sets the planet on track to overshoot goals for limiting global warming. Obama spoke of “the beginning of a new era of international action” but many other leaders said it was “imperfect”, “not sufficient” and at best a “modest success” if it gets formally adopted by all 193 nations in Copenhagen on Saturday. Problems faced by China and the United States — the world’s top emitters — stood in the way of a stronger deal for the world’s first pact to combat climate change since the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

In big advances, the deal adds a promise of $100 billion a year to help developing nations from 2020 and promotes the use of forests to soak up carbon dioxide. But it is unclear where the cash will come from. European leaders fell in reluctantly after Obama announced the deal with China, India, South Africa and Brazil. It was drafted by 28 nations ranging from OPEC oil producers to small island states. A drawback is that the deal is not legally binding — a key demand of many developing nations. The text instead suggests an end-2010 deadline for transforming it into a legal text that had long been expected in Copenhagen.     Continue reading