Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Green Ghosts

Gandalf clumped his staff on the ground and looked around. He had no idea why he had been summoned here and by whom. The rock under the tree gave an air of knowing more than him and turned what passed for its back on him.

“Show yourself!!” he suddenly roared. “Who is it who brought me here? The Wizard’s Sign is never broadcast unless there is going to occur a dire disaster in the…” He broke off when the branches of the tree shook and a few leaves fell on him.

Gandalf sighed and looked up.

“I should have known it would be you, Virdi the Verdant. No one else would take me away from the Wizard’s Council.”

The wizard up in the tree stretched his arm and examined his fingers. Then with a lithe jump, he somersaulted and sailed to the ground.

“Gandalf the Grey, you could never resist a challenge. That is why you are here.”

“There is no challenge in what you propose.”

“All I ask is for you to place your hand on this and tell me what you sense,” said the young wizard.

Gandalf looked askance at the squat object on the ground.

“I do not foretell the future,” he said, impatiently.

Virdi stood with his hands on his hips and wiggled his eyebrows.

Gandalf flung out a hand.

“Very well, I do, I do, I will! Just don’t do that with your eyebrows. Why of all the wizards did you have to be the one who saw me …..do what I did,” he grumbled.

Virdi stretched his arms out, and looked up at the sky.

“Then how could I have had all this,” he said.

Gandalf raised his staff and said,"Quiet!”

Virdi the Verdant stepped back a pace. He might be the only one who could get around Gandalf’s iron will but he respected the older wizard’s powers. And his voice, he thought, as the old Wizard thundered:“Then the gloom gathered; darkness growing in Valinor, the red blood flowing Beside the Sea, where the Noldor slew The Foamriders, and stealing drew Their white ships with their white sails From lamplit havens ...”

“Don’t laugh!” said Gandalf breaking off in midchant. “I’ll have you know it works,” he fulminated.

Virdi had doubled up in mirth. But now he straightened up and said, his voice wobbling with the effort to keep his laughter in check, "You might as well as say cabbages and tomatoes, Gandalf! You know it works for you.”

Gandalf pointed the staff at him.

“No," said Virdi, backing away.

“I saw the future,” said Gandalf, “and you are in it.”

“NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo……………!”

“OH.”

There was a long pause.

Virdi’s tone changed.

“OHH. HO HO HO,”

Gandalf smiled to himself and walked away, in his Universe.

Virdi dusted himself off and looked at the people around him. It would not take long to look like them. But it would take a long time for them to come round to his way of thinking.

He spoke aloud,

“Well, I shall make a start and change their…..”

“ATTITUDE. Man you have that…your clothes, your walk…major man,” said someone passing by.

Virdi nodded.

“Attitude. Yes, that’s what it shall be.”

And he walked into the New Universe.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

RESUME : GEORGE BUSH

Hello. My name is George Bush and I'm running for President. Please consider my qualifications as set forth in the following resume.
EDUCATION:
I entered Yale in 1964 with a SAT of 1206 (Verbal 566, Math 640), 200 points below Yale's average freshman in 1970, scoring in the 70th percentile nationwide. No one knows how I managed to gain admission at a school I was so clearly unqualified to attend. One theory is that my father and grandfather had attended Yale, and their legacy influenced the admissions board.
I graduated Yale in 1968 with a 2.35 GPA
In the fall of 1970 I was rejected from admission at University of Texas Law School.
In 1973 I applied to Harvard Business School with a 2.35 GPA. 1973 admission statistics are unavailable, but for an incomplete comparison today's Harvard students average a GPA of 3.5 - no students were accepted with a GPA lower than 2.6. With such extremely low scores it is a mystery how I gained my undeserved admission. One theory is that Harvard was keen to offer an admission to the son of a former Senator and then-Ambassador to the UN.
I graduated Harvard Business School with an MBA and below-average grades.
CRIMINAL RECORD:
Two negligent collisions in July and August 1962 in Houston, TX (p20)
Arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in New Haven, CT in December 1966 (p20) for stealing a christmas tree while drunk
Convicted of drunk driving on September 4, 1976 in Kennebunkport, Maine.
MILITARY EXPERIENCE:
As a strong supporter of the Vietnam War I did everything in my power to avoid military service, both foreign and domestic:
In February 1968 I applied to the Texas Air National Guard after scoring the bare minimum of 25th Percentile (p25) for the Officer's Pilot Aptitude Test. With low scores, no other qualifications listed, and a long list of applicants ahead of me nobody is sure how I got into the guard. Ben Barnes offers one explanation, swearing under oath that he called Brig Gen. Jim Rose at the request of my father's friend Sidney Adger, allowing me a privilege I did not otherwise deserve.
I left the 111th "Champagne Unit" on May 24 1972, requesting a transfer to the Alabama 9921st Air Reserve, a postal unit with no airplanes and no pilots. I did not appear for any service in the 9921st.
On July 21, 1972, my transfer request was rejected and I was commanded to return back to the 111st in Maxwell, AL. I remained away and did not return to Texas. I refused to submit to a physical exam in August, four months after the Air Force made drug tests mandatory for pilots on April 21, 1972. I was suspended and grounded as a disciplinary measure, ensuring I would never fly again.
On September 5, 1972, I once again requested a transfer to Alabama, and once again I failed to appear (this time at the 187th). Neither my commanding officer nor Mavanee Bear, my girlfriend at the time claims to have ever seen me in uniform, though I did get a free dental checkup.
I never met the requirements for honorable discharge, earning only 38 documented points out of a required 50 in 1973-74. I also completed only 36 of 43 required inactive-duty training periods in 1972-73, and 12 of 43 required in 1973-74. Fortunately I "worked something out" and was issued an honorable discharge I did not earn.
My participation in the National Guard was so low that even by the end of the Vietnam Conflict I had flown only 336 hours, not meeting the minimum standards (500 hours flight experience) for combat duty. Even if I had been called to active duty I would have been unqualified to serve by military regulations.
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:
I founded Arbusto Energy in 1979 with money borrowed from family friends including James R Bath, representing Salem Bin Laden. Over the next five years I accepted at least $4.7 million dollars from my father's friends including George Ohrstrom and Russell Reynolds, Jr., returning $1.5 million to investors and taking on $3 million in debt. My company was rescued by a buyout from Spectrum 7 by my successful Yale classmates Mercer Reynolds and William DeWitt Jr. in 1984.
After the failure of Arbusto I was awarded a position as Chairman and CEO of Spectrum 7. My participation resulted in more failure as the company was driven to the brink of bankruptcy. I was rescued by a buyout from my father's friends Phil Kendrick and Stuart Watson at Harken Oil and Gas in 1985.
Impressed not by my abilities but by my connections to important people I was rewarded for my failure at Spectrum 7 with a seat on the Board of Directors at Harken Oil and Gas. Harken was a miserable failure during the time I spent there - it posted $23.2 billion in losses. I was investigated by the SEC for selling my shares one week before the loss announcement, and the resulting investigation explicitly did not exonerate me.
I was the owner of the Texas Rangers, made possible only by my father's friends William DeWitt and Richard E. Rainwater. My participation resulted in incredible success for myself and terrible misfortune for my neighbors. I used eminent domain to take taxpayers' land, paid for it with $4.9 million taxpayer dollars, and then spent $191 million more taxpayer dollars to build myself a stadium. I left the city of Arlington, TX with a $7.5 million debt that I still refuse to pay, even after I sold the Rangers to Thomas Hicks for $250 million (a 2500% profit).
POLITICAL RECORD (DOMESTIC)
I ran for the House of Representatives in 1978. My campaign was a miserable failure: I lost to Democrat Kent Hance after he criticized my family ties, prep school, Ivy League education, and jogging.
I ran for President in 2000. My campaign was destined to be a miserable failure until I used a whispering campaign of lies to destroy genuine war hero and fellow Republican John McCain, claiming he had fathered an illegitimate negro child and was emotionally unstable due to his torture as a POW in Vietnam.
In July 2001 I appointed Harvey Pitt to be the chairman of a "kinder, gentler SEC" to ease regulation of foreign businesses. The results have been the largest and most miserable failures of corporate accountability in modern corporate history: Enron, Worldcom, and now Fannie Mae.
The value of the dollar has collapsed 30% during my term.
I am the first President to unconstitutionally restrict my opponents' First Amendment rights by allowing my supporters to remain at the venue while restricting my detractors to "free speech zones," fenced-off areas up to half mile away from the media, the audience, and especially myself.
I've communicated less with the American people than any other president in the history of televised news, holding only one White House press conference every 3.25 months, compared to my father's 1.6 per month.
To prevent activist judges from rewriting the constitution to serve an agenda that Congress would never approve, I attempted to rewrite the constitution to serve an agenda they never came close to approving. My campaign for the Federal Marriage Amendment was a miserable failure: it failed to pass either house of congress. In the Senate the cloture call to end debate yielded only 48 votes, not the 67 required to pass the Senate, not the 60 votes required for cloture, not even the 50 votes of a simple majority.
My 2004 budget set the record for the largest deficit in history: either $477 billion or $521 billion (CBO and OMB numbers, respectively).
Nearly every major economic indicator has deteriorated since I took office in January 2001. Real GDP growth during my term is the lowest of any presidential term in recent memory. Total non-farm employment has contracted and the unemployment rate has increased. Bankruptcies are up sharply, as is our dependence on foreign capital to finance an exploding current account deficit. All three major stock indexes are lower now than at the time of my inauguration. The percentage of Americans in poverty has increased, real median income has declined, and income inequality has grown.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE (FOREIGN)
As president I ignored Clinton's warnings about Al Qaeda, mentioning that organization only once in public statements on national security between January 20, 2001 and September 10, 2001. In the same time period I mentioned Saddam Hussein 104 times and missile defense 101 times.
On August 6, 2001 I received a briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" which warned that "the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking." For one month I dealt with numerous other issues until the unfolding of the most successful terrorist attack in US history on September 11, 2001.
With broad international approval I temporarily disrupted the Taliban government, which has now re-emerged to control much of southern Afghanistan after I abandoned this campaign for Iraq.
I campaigned strongly for war in Iraq. I claimed that:
Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (none have been found).
Iraq had ties to Al Qaeda (Iraq opposed Al Qaeda and successfully kept their operatives out of the country before September 2001. The strongest claim to support a connection came from Czech intelligence services and is now retracted. The 9/11 commission "did not believe that such a meeting occurred".)
Iraq would give their weapons of mass destruction to terrorists (A secular Saddam would never give his "ace card" to religious elements he opposed throughout his life and could not control)
The war would be "self-financing" through oil sales ($200 billion total has been allocated, and $138 billion has already been spent with more to follow).
The war would end quickly, with troop deployments down to 30,000 troops by Autumn 2003 (March 2004 troop deployment: 114,000 US plus 23,000 Coalition troops in Iraq; 26,000 US and Coalition logistical support troops in Kuwait).
Americans would be greeted as liberators (Public perception of Americans as liberators dropped from 43% at the time of invasion to 2% after Abu Ghraib).
I punished those who spoke unwelcome truth:
I sent Joseph Wilson to Africa in February 2002 to investigate claims that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium, where Wilson determined that those claims were based on forged documents. Despite his report I continued to make public Iraq/Nigeria statements as late as January 2003. When Wilson publicly contradicted me, one of my senior officials exposed the CIA cover of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, in an article written by Robert Novak and printed in the New York Times on July 14 2003. No one is sure which senior White House official leaked the order or who was aware, but the fact that I hired James Sharp in June 2004 to represent me as a personal criminal defense attorney is significant when you consider that there is no attorney-client privilege between a president and a White House counsel that allows the counsel to withhold information from a Federal grand jury.
I fired Lawrence Lindsey as my economics advisor in early December 2002 for claiming that the Iraq War would cost between $100 and $200 billion. ($138 billion has been spent and $200 billion has been budgeted... so far)
I fired Jay Garner as US Administrator of Iraq in March 2004 for calling for immediate elections instead of allowing American companies to privatize government-owned assets. (American privatization and lack of a legitimate Iraqi government is one of the major reasons for unrest in Iraq.)
I threatened to have Medicare analyst Richard Foster fired if he replied to Congressional requests and reported that the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill would cost $551 billion, $156 billion over the White House's favored estimate of $395 billion.
After the Iraq Health Ministry released figures showing that US and Coalition forces killed twice as many Iraqis as the Insurgents the Iraqis are supposedly being protected from, I acted decisively by ordering the Iraq Health Ministry to not release any more figures.
I rewarded those who spoke welcome lies, paying Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress $340,000 per month for their false intelligence gathered about Iraq. Although Chalabi and the INC had been dropped from the CIA payroll in 1996 for being an unreliable source and also dismissed by the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) for the same reason, I continued to use Chalabi and the INC to support claims of WMDs in Iraq. Even after their information proved false and no weapons were found I remained so close to Chalabi that he sat with Laura Bush as my "Special Guest" during my September 2003 State of the Union address. I continued to pay the INC regularly until May 2004, when allegations surfaced that Chalabi had passed classified American intelligence to Iran.
I put tremendous pressure on the CIA to come up with information to support policies that have already been adopted (as determined by the Senate Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq). When the CIA and DIA refused to verify intelligence items I wanted to believe, Donald Rumsfeld and I created the Office of Special Plans. This independent department within the Pentagon was designed to bypass the CIA and feed the discredited and unreliable information I wanted to believe was true back into the intelligence stream in order to support conclusions that the CIA and DIA could not. The OSP took much of the discredited information from Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress.
I opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security for nine months, before turning around to take credit for its creation.
I opposed the creation of an independent 9/11 panel. After being forced to accept the commission, I gave it only $12 million in funding to do its work (compared to $50 million for Whitewater and MonicaGate) before turning around to take credit for its creation.
My war against Al Qaeda has been a miserable failure. The International Institute for Strategic Studies' most conservative estimate (May 25, 2004) is that the occupation of Iraq has helped Al Qaeda recruit 18,000 operatives in more than 60 countries. By my State Department's own estimates, world terror attacks are now at their highest level in 20 years, up 36% since 2001.
I have held 660 prisoners in Guantanamo, Cuba for over two years without trial or formal charge. My prisoners, several of whom were between the ages of 13 and 16, have never been formally charged. They are kept in steel cages, subjected to ongoing torture, and denied access to legal counsel in opposition to Supreme Court rulings (Rasul v. Bush). These prisoners are "the worst of the worst", "hard core, well trained terrorists" and their guilt is beyond doubt, which is why I've set 87 of them free without explanation or apology.
In the past year I claim to have trained 100,000 Iraqi police forces, but only 8,169 of those have passed the required 8-week training course. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained".
My Secretary of Defense is the first in US history to have acknowledged ordering an intentional violation of the Geneva Conventions, in which Abu Ghraib prisoners were held "off the books" and hidden from the Red Cross. When this order was made public I refused to discipline him in any way, instead complimenting him on his job performance.
After being informed of abuses at Abu Ghraib on January 16 (first reported on January 13) which included "Threatening male detainees with rape" and "Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick" I made "freedom from torture chambers and rape rooms" a centerpiece in my speeches until April 29 when the story finally broke on 60 Minutes II.
My administration is the first since the Civil War to imprison US Citizens (Jose Padilla) as "enemy combatants" without charges, trial, or access to legal counsel. In a 5-4 decision (Rumsfeld v. Padilla) the Supreme Court dodged the opportunity to rule on the legality, ruling that the case had been improperly filed.
My administration broke new legal ground by using material witness warrants to give effective life sentences to US citizens without charge, trial, access to legal counsel, or even plans to prosecute.
My justice department was the first in US history to attempt to enforce federal regulations while refusing to disclose what those regulations are.
My legal war against terror has been a miserable failure: I have detained more than 5,000 people on suspicion of terrorist ties, some of whom have been held without charge or without access to a lawyer. I have successfully convicted zero.
FUTURE GOALS:
Despite these mistakes and miserable failures I have never admitted error or expressed regret or displeasure at any outcome. Quite the contrary - at every opportunity I have called these outcomes successes, and voters can look forward to more of these successes in the future. Please consider my qualifications and record of accomplishments when you cast your vote this November.

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Friday, October 08, 2004

Jayalalitha's Interview to BBC World's HARDtalk India


Transcript of J. Jayalalitha's interview on BBC World's HARDtalk India. The interview will be telecast on BBC World on Friday 1st October at 2200 IST. Please give credit to HARDtalk India presented by Karan Thapar to be telecast on BBC World on Friday 1st October 2004 at 2200 IST should you be using excerpts from the interview.

KT: Hello and welcome to HARDtalk India. My guest today is the Chief Minister of India's southern state of Tamil Nadu. Just over three years ago her party won an astonishing 80% victory in the state elections, just over three months ago her party failed to win a single seat in the National elections. How does she explain this astonishing reversal of fortune? Is the Chief Minister misunderstood or has the Chief Minister made mistakes. That in a sense is the core question that I shall put today to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalitha. Chief Minister, how do you explain that humiliating outcome in May, not a single seat for your party?
JJ: I don't think it was a humiliating outcome at all. The results show that we have retained our vote bank. We got more than a crore of votes on our own which I think was a very good performance.
KT: But you got no seats.
JJ: Yes, but that is because we go by a simple majority system here.
KT: So the voting pattern of the country and the voting system went against you?
JJ: I would say that we retained our vote bank. There was no erosion in our vote bank. We did very well but there was a formidable alliance ranged against us.
KT: Let's talk a little about the image the press has built up about you which many people believe has gone against you this time around. Over the last three years the press has variously described you as undemocratic, as irresponsible. They've even talked about you as irrational, vengeful and maybe even irresponsible. Are you misunderstood or have you made mistakes you can admit to?
JJ: I'm not irresponsible at all. That is totally removed from the truth. Yes I am misunderstood. As for all these tags that is because the media have been against me, not just for the past three years but ever since I came to politics. Perhaps it is because the whole world is a stage and everyone is acting all the time and I tend to be straight to the point. Hypocrisy is not my forte at all. That way I must say I'm a bit unconventional for a politician. The rule of the game seems to require considerable play-acting. I have acted in films before the cameras but I'm incapable of acting in real life.
KT: You mean your honesty and straight forwardness goes against you?
JJ: I'm honest. Let me be very honest with you. I prefer to play straight and I prefer speaking the truth. If I appear to be blunt, so be it. Yes, I am misunderstood and the media have a large part to play in this.
KT: Let's explore that a little. You said that you weren't irresponsible yet within five days of your party failing to win a single seat at the May general elections you reversed a whole series of decisions that you had taken over the last three years.
JJ: Let me explain. The changes made in May 2004 were termed by the press and the media as rollbacks and they made it appear that these were done in the wake of the results of the parliamentary elections. But that is not really so. What I was attempting was a major calibration of the process of structural adjustment which had to be undertaken after I assumed office in May 2001.
KT: But you did it just after you lost seats rather than earlier.
JJ: No let me explain. I will explain. You must remember that I was bequeathed a shattered economy and total fiscal chaos by the previous DMK government. To put it mildly the state treasury was simply not making payments. I inherited a whole pile of unpaid bills. The fiscal balance had to be restored and these needed structural changes. It was...
KT: (Intervenes) But forgive me Chief Minister the reforms include economic and fiscal reforms which you reversed.
JJ: Yes.
KT: So far from making structural changes you are reversing your own structural changes.
JJ: No I was just explaining that I inherited a whole pile of unpaid bills and fiscal chaos. I had to make the people swallow bitter medicine. By 31st March 2003 all the earlier payments were cleared and by the end of the fiscal year 2003-2004 Tamil Nadu's fiscal heath was fully restored. As the fiscal situation turned from terminal decline to the pink of robust health I started making these calibrations even from January 2003, well before the parliamentary elections.
KT: Do you know what people say, the press says that Jayalalitha reversed her economic and fiscal reforms such as stopping power to farmers, such as stopping cheap access to easy grain for people earning over 5000 because she wanted easy popularity. She had lost, she was worried she would lose again.
JJ: That is not correct. You must remember that Tamil Nadu has been greatly affected by three years of continuous drought and people, particularly the poor farmers and agricultural laborers had to be insulated against the income shock caused by drought. In such a situation one cannot be dogmatic or opinionated. If change is warranted in a new situation, so be it. It has to be done.
KT: In which case why did you...
JJ: (Intervenes) I'm sure I have done well in protecting the farmers and the landless agricultural laborers and you must remember that Tamil Nadu has been free from starvation deaths and malnutrition deaths which have afflicted many other states.
KT: Chief Minister, why did you then reverse the anti-conversion bill? That was extremely popular when you first passed it.
JJ: That has nothing to do with economic reform.
KT: Yes but it was one of the reversions.
JJ: It was misunderstood and particularly it was blown up by the media.
KT: So in other words you buckled under media pressure?
JJ: No, not at all. It was misunderstood by many people. It was not an anti-conversion law, it was an anti forcible conversion law.
KT: But it was misunderstood for almost two years. You could have repealed it earlier, you didn't. You only repealed it after you failed to win seats.
JJ: It has nothing to do with that. If you insist on giving this interpretation I can't help it.
KT: What about the...
JJ: (Intervenes) As to why the media is biased, that is because I am a self-made woman. Politics has for long been a male bastion. Mrs. Indira Gandhi changed all that, but still you must remember that Mrs. Indira Gandhi had all the inbuilt advantages. She had the advantage of being born in the...
KT: (Intervenes) You're saying that media picks on you?
JJ: I do think so.
KT: Because you are a woman?
JJ: You are not allowing me to finish anything I want to say.
KT: No, is it because you are a woman?
JJ: I don't think it's because I am a woman. It's because I don't have a background like other women political leaders of Asia. If you'll allow me to complete a sentence, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was born into the Nehru family. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaiake was the wife of Bandaranaiake, Benazir Bhutto was the daughter of Bhutto, Khaleeda Zia was the widow of Zia-ur- Rehman.
KT: What's the point you are making?
JJ: Sheikh Haseena was the daughter of Mujibur Rehman. I have no such background. I'm a self made woman.
KT: And so you are picked upon.
JJ: Nothing was handed to me on a golden platter.
KT: But are you saying that because you are self-made you are picked upon?
JJ: I do not know the reasons. It's the media who have to explain why they have been so biased.
KT: Okay. You say that you are not irresponsible, you say that in fact calibrated changes...
JJ: (Intervenes) If you knew my routine you would be surprised. I get up at 4 o'clock in the morning and I am awake till one the next morning and all my time, all my attention is religiously devoted to work, work and nothing else but work. I have no time, no time to think of vendetta or think of vengeance against...
KT: (Intervenes) You are saying you have no time... It is interesting that you should pick the word vendetta. You say you have no time for vendetta. The press point out that when you arrested your predecessor you did it at two in the morning, on a Saturday although the case against him had already been filed a day before.
JJ: If you allow me a few minutes...
KT: But can I finish the question and then...
JJ: I know what you are getting at. So, the DMK's government foisted cases against me and threw me in jail. I languished in jail for twenty-eight days in a case in which I was ultimately acquitted...
KT: (Intervenes) So was it revenge?
JJ: When Mr. Karunanidhi did this the media gave him kudos for throwing me into jail portraying it as a triumph of good over evil. If only they knew the truth, later the people saw through Mr. Karunanidhi's mean game and they elected me to power in 2001 with a thumping majority.
KT: (Intervenes) But when you arrested him...
JJ: When I became Chief Minister Mr. Karunanidhi was arrested in a corruption case. At that time his family channel Sun TV played a big hoax with a very cleverly edited footage...
KT: (Intervenes) Can I interrupt because I think the important thing Chief Minister...
JJ: (Intervenes) And at that time the entire media was...
KT: (Intervenes) You are reading a statement...
JJ: (Intervenes) I'm not reading. I'm looking at you and talking. You can check it in the camera.
KT: But I want to say...
JJ: I'm looking at you and speaking. I'm not reading.
KT: I'm want to put out a concern to you. People say...
JJ: (Intervenes) You have notes before you. Shall I say you are reading.
KT: I have questions in front of me.
JJ: Alright I have notes in front of me. Nothing forbids me from having notes.
KT: Chief Minister...
JJ: I'm not reading. I'm looking at you straight in the eye. I look everyone straight in the eye.
KT: You arrested a man who was 77.
JJ: Age has nothing to do with corruption.
KT: A former Chief Minister of 14 years standing...
JJ: I too was a former Chief Minister when I was arrested.
KT: So was it revenge? It was vengeance?
JJ: It was not vengeance. He was involved in a corruption case.
KT: You don't regret the way it was handled?
JJ: I do not regret it at all because what was shown to the people was cleverly edited footage, it was a hoax played on the people. People in the media like you would not have seen through it, you may have taken it on phase value, but the people saw through it.
KT: Okay what about what the press calls your inconsistency and unreliability. They say that her relationship with Sonia Gandhi as an ally is an on-off affair.
JJ: I do not want to discuss Mrs. Sonia Gandhi in this interview.
KT: Why?
JJ: I have the choice to pick and choose the questions I want to answer.
KT: You have a choice to pick and choose the questions you wish to answer but don't you think...
JJ: It's my democratic right. I don't have to answer every question you put to me.
KT: Except...
JJ: I do not wish to discuss Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.
KT: Except for the fact that people will wonder why you don't want to talk about someone who was your ally in '99, who you publicly spoke against as a possible Prime Minister of the country...
JJ: If you have other questions you may ask them. I don't wish to answer these questions.
KT: Okay can I put one quote to you? The press say that she turned against Sonia Gandhi in 2003 to ingratiate herself to the BJP; today she is saying nice things about Sonia Gandhi because she wishes to ingratiate herself with Congress.
JJ: I have not said any such nice things. All that I said was I did not make any personal attacks and I have no reason to make any personal attacks. What happened during the parliamentary polls was an electoral confrontation and not a personal confrontation.
KT: Except...
JJ: (Intervenes) Now I'm looking you straight in the eye and you are reading from your notes.
KT: I'm reading a quotation of yours so I don't get it inaccurate. In '98 you said it would be a national shame if that foreigner comes to power. In 2003 you said it will be a crime shame and moral bankruptcy for the Congress to project Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister.
JJ: My feelings on the issue of a person of foreign origin ruling the country are well known.
KT: And unchanged?
JJ: My statements are on record. There is no change in my stand.
KT: So you remain by your position?
JJ: Yes I'm quite consistent.
KT: That Sonia Gandhi should not become Prime Minister of India.
JJ: Not just Sonia Gandhi. Not just Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, any person of foreign origin.
KT: Let's switch to another concern the media has. They say that Jayalalitha is undemocratic. In fact they go further. They say you are dictatorial. How do you respond to that?
JJ: I think people are the best judges.
KT: Why...
JJ: The media has never had good things to say about me. And you didn't allow me to finish what I wanted to say earlier.
KT: Why do your M.L.As ...
JJ: You'd be surprised to know my routine I said. I spend all my time devoted to work. I don't do anything else. I work all the time for the development of Tamil Nadu, for the good of the people of Tamil Nadu.
KT: I accept that completely. But why do your M.L.As and your Ministers in public prostrate themselves in front of you?
JJ: They prostrate before other political leaders. They prostrate before Mr. Karunanidhi too. His MLAs and MPs do that all the time.
KT: But they are people...
JJ: Except that you choose not to notice it. Whenever there is any small incident involving me it is blown up beyond proportion. It is an Indian tradition to seek blessings from elders.
KT: In this fashion?
JJ: Yes it is an Indian tradition. I think you are an Indian. I think you know enough about Indian tradition and culture.
KT: But is it fitting for ministers of the state...
JJ: I have asked them not to do it.
KT: They don't listen to you?
JJ: They do listen. They don't do it nowadays in public.
KT: It's been stopped?
JJ: It's been stopped.
KT: When you say they don't do it in public...
JJ: (Intervenes) I've given many statements to this effect. I have given public statements asking my party men and MLAs and Ministers not to prostrate in public. They don't do it. They've not been doing it for the last three or four years.
KT: The media also points towards the fact that in slightly over three years you have reshuffled your cabinet, as the Deccan Chronicle points out, over fifteen times.
JJ: That I'm allowed to do, for administrative convenience.
KT: You mean to say that you need to do it so often for administrative convenience?
JJ: I know what I need to do for the good of the state.
KT: The press says...
JJ: If certain persons are appointed to certain posts and if their performance is not satisfactory, for the good of the state, for administrative improvement I have to make a change. I cannot refrain from making a change simply because their will be carping criticism from persons in the media like you.
KT: Except for the fact that the media all the way across the country says that Jayalalitha does it to keep them insecure, to keep them dependent on her.
JJ: If they keep on making such unjustified remarks I have nothing to say.
KT: Let's talk a little about you. Your party the AIADMK is formally a part of the Dravida movement. The Dravida movement...
JJ: Not formally part of the Dravida movement, it is still part of the Dravidian movement.
KT: Except that the Dravidian movement is a rationalist, atheist, iconoclastic movement. Where do you personally fit into that?
JJ: It's not an atheist movement, it's not an atheist movement. You are totally wrong. You haven't read Dravidian history.
KT: Periyar was an atheist...
JJ: Anna said, 'ondre kulam oruvane devam', that means there is only one God. So Anna recognized the existence of God, so it doesn't mean atheism.
KT: Are you embarrassed by your belief in numerology and astrology?
JJ: Who said that I believe in astrology and numerology? You say it, people in the media say it. What is the proof you have of that?
KT: Don't you chose...
JJ: (Intervenes) Why should I be embarrassed?
KT: Don't you choose auspicious hours when you do things?
JJ: Many people in India do that. Have you asked this question of Mr. Vajpayee, Mr. Advani, many other leaders?
KT: I asked identical questions of Vasundhara Raje Scindia. The press says that Jayalalitha spends a lot of time propitiating gods, she spends a lot of time choosing auspicious hours. Are you superstitious?
JJ: I am not superstitious and I must say I am rather disappointed with the tone and tenor of this interview. You seem to preface almost every sentence, every question with the word the press says or the media says so. The press and the media have always been making uncharitable, unfair, unjustified remarks, comments without any basis. What do you expect me to say to all this?
KT: Can I ask you why did you believe in...
JJ: If people believed all that the media have said about me, have written about me, I couldn't have won a single election, I wouldn't be sitting where I am now.
KT: Except for the fact in 2001 suddenly you...
JJ: I'm sorry I agreed to do this interview. That's all I can say.
KT: In 2001, Chief Minister, you changed the spelling of you name. Can I ask you why? You added an extra 'a'.
JJ: It's my prerogative to do so. I don't have to explain. I don't have to explain anything to you for that matter.
KT: No but I asked for a simple reason. As Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, you set an example...
JJ: I changed the spelling of my name before I became the Chief Minister again. That is my prerogative. Did you ask Vaiko why he changed his name to Vaiko from Y. Gopalaswami? Go and ask him that.
KT: So when the press depict you, as I began this interview by saying...
JJ: (Intervenes) You are doing a good job of it again now.
KT: No I'm putting a question to you. When the press depict you as irresponsible for reversing your policies...
JJ: (Intervenes) I'm not irresponsible. I spend all my time working. I deny it totally.
KT: When they say you are vengeful you deny that?
JJ: I deny that.
KT: When they say you are inconsistent, you deny that?
JJ: I do deny it.
KT: And when they say that her attitude to astrology, numerology suggests she is irrational, you deny that as well?
JJ: I deny that also. I'm a perfectly rational, sensible, sober, very responsible leader. I can say with confidence that no other Chief Minister in Tamil Nadu's history has worked so hard for the development and progress of the state as I have been doing and as I am doing.
KT: Then let me put this to you. You face state elections in slightly under two years time in May 2006 at the latest.
JJ: Yes I am perfectly aware of that.
KT: Are you worried that after the problem you faced in May at the general elections when your party did not win a single seat that you will lose the state elections?
JJ: (Intervenes) I am not worried at all.
KT: But won't this press image that is widespread across the country, not just Tamil Nadu, work against you?
JJ: It's irrelevant.
KT: You are confident that you can reach out to the people above the press and convince them of the real Jayalalitha?
JJ: As I told you earlier if the people took seriously what the media persons have been writing about me and saying about me, I could not have won a single election.
KT: Except that you lost in '96 and you didn't win any seats at the national elections in 2004.
JJ: What about the '98 that came immediately after '96? What about the general elections then?
KT: But this is what I am saying. Your career in the last ten years, and particularly in the last three, has seen amazing roller coasters.
JJ: This is true of every political leader. It's true of life itself. Life is full of ups and downs. The political career of any leader is full of victories and defeats. No one is consistently successful, no one is a consistent loser.
KT: You've also faced cases in court. Does it worry you that now you have to go to court not just in Tamil Nadu but...
JJ: I have been facing a number of cases since 1996. All these cases were foisted on me. I have never run away from facing these cases. I've been acquitted in 12 cases so far. What does that show? That the cases were false.
KT: In one of the cases, the Tansi case, where you were acquitted and exonerated by the Supreme Court, the same court, in its verdict said it asked you to ponder on whether you have done the right thing in breeching the spirit of the code of conduct...
JJ: (Intervenes) I never comment on any judgment of the Supreme Court. I have never done so so far, I will not do it now.
KT: Except for the fact that many people felt, not just the press this time, but the court was actually saying that legally you were innocent but morally you had a case to answer at least to yourself personally.
JJ: I told you I do not comment on any judgment of the Supreme Court, whether the judgment involves me personally or any other matter of public importance. I never have commented on any judgment of the Supreme Court, I will not do so.
KT: You are a very tough person, Chief Minister.
JJ: People like you have made me so.
KT: You said that you were misunderstood.
JJ: Yes.
KT: Do you think that you are badly treated by the press?
JJ: I do not wish to say anything more on this. Anyway your interview is not doing anything to help matters.
KT: My aim, Chief Minister, was to get to the core of the misunderstanding. You said that the press...
JJ: Your aim seems to have been to put as many unpleasant questions as possible and try to provoke me.
KT: Not to provoke you but to put to you the questions that have been discussed for the last three years and which in many ways may be responsible for the electoral adversity...
JJ: Haven't you asked all of your questions? Have you got anything more to ask?
KT: I have come very close to the end of this interview, I have only one last question. Are you confident that you can see your electoral low point over with, and that you will win in 2006?
JJ: Wait and see. I told you already I don't believe in astrology. I can't predict what will happen in the next elections but you will be around I suppose. Wait and see what happens.
KT: Is that a yes, you will win?
JJ: I said wait and see.
KT: Chief Minister, a pleasure talking to you on HARDtalk India.
JJ: I must say it wasn't a pleasure talking to you. Namaste
Note: This is a verbatim transcript. Opinions expressed by the interviewee are personal and not those of the BBC.

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I know why the caged bird sings

A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.


Poet - Maya Angelou

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