Category Archives: Links Around the Web

Indian Guesthouse Owner and Rapist Freed!

If you are visiting Udaipur City, India, do not stay at Pardeshi guesthouse (also known as Nayan Palace). The owner was charged raping a British lady however is now scott free due to the corruption and inadequate legal system in India. It is absolutely deplorable how women are treated in modern fast developing country like India. Spread the news and make sure it is posted all over the blogosphere! This man should be stoned to death middle-ages style for such a violent horrid crime!

India: Guesthouse owner and rapist Parbat Singh free after 3 months

From The Timesonline
August 5, 2008
Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent

Parbat Singh was jailed for 21 years for the brutal attack

An Indian guesthouse owner who was convicted of raping a British tourist in the northern state of Rajasthan has been released three months after he was given a 21-year sentence, The Times has learnt.

Parbat Singh, 32, owner of the Pardeshi guesthouse and restaurant in the city of Udaipur, has resumed running his business, which is popular among tourists from Britain and other countries.

“The solid professionalism along with the nature skills of the owners assures the overall safety,” says its business card. “Lean back and enjoy.”

The release of Singh last week raises fresh concerns about the safety of women tourists in India after the rape and murder of the British girl Scarlett Keeling, 15, in Goa in February.

Singh, also known as Rana, was jailed on April 30 for forcing his way into a 40-year-old British woman’s room at the Pardeshi on December 23 and raping her with such ferocity that she passed out and suffered bleeding and convulsions for days.

Unlike many foreign rape victims in India, the freelance journalist stayed in the country and endured harassment from police, medical staff and even her own lawyers to secure her attacker’s conviction before returning to Britain.

However, on July 29 a court in the city of Jodhpur released Singh on bail pending an appeal, according to Sandeep Mehta, his lawyer, and a court official.

Bail is usually never granted for violent offenders and Singh could remain free for years given the inefficiency of India’s courts, which have a backlog of 29.2 million cases.

The British woman, who has asked not to be identified, is convinced that Singh’s supporters paid bribes to secure his release. “This gives a whole new meaning to ‘incredible India’,” she said. “I can only believe that the judicial system is totally corrupt if a man like this can be let free. He is a convicted rapist and he is running a guesthouse. No woman is safe there.”

The Pardeshi guesthouse, also known as the Nayan Palace, is situated at 60 Hanuman Gap, next to the Hotel Sarovar in Udaipur

The victim accused officials of deliberately failing to inform her of Singh’s bail application and appeal because she had refused to pay bribes. She said that a lawyer had asked her to pay bribes of more than 25,000 rupees (£300) to a government legal officer during Singh’s trial, as well as gifts to all the court officials.

Singh’s lawyer said that he was “very surprised” that the victim had not been represented at the bail hearing. The victim said that she was trying to find a new lawyer to fight Singh’s bail and appeal. She also appealed to Renuka Chowdhury, the Minister for Women, and Ambika Soni, the Minister of Tourism, to intervene in the case.

Senior Indian officials have expressed concern that India’s tourist industry has been tarnished by a series of sexual assaults on foreigners, including several Britons, in the past year.

The National Crime Records Bureau says that rape is the fastest-growing crime in India, with 19,348 cases reported in 2006, a 22 per cent increase on 2005.

Women’s rights groups say that tens of thousands more are not reported and that the conviction rate, although rising slowly, averages only 27 per cent.

Indian authorities say that they have set up fast-track courts and a tourist police force to help to protect the more than five million foreigners expected to visit India this year.

Singh’s victim said that when she tried to contact the tourist police, they did not appear to exist, and that her treatment by local authorities was almost as traumatic as the rape itself. “Now I feel I have to start all over again,” she said. “This monster’s life has gone back to normal, while mine will never be the same again.”

Swaziland best known for its King and his many wives

“Without the King, there will be no culture”, shares Swaziland Princess Sikhanyiso. She hosted at the annual Reef Dance.

Umhlanga festival commonly known as the Reef dance where young women from all over the country comes together to celebrate their chastity of being virgins, dancing topless.

This is also where the King of Swaziland comes to choose his next wife. Last count with 13 wives and 3 fiances although 2 of his wives left him by running away.

The polygamous King took a new wife at the festival who was 2 years younger than the Princess in 2006.

Last weekend, I watched a documentary “Without the King” about Swaziland. The documentary directed by Michael Skolnik gives a subtle view of the country without vomiting its western judgements onto the viewer.

Skolnik’s documentary follows Princess Sikhanyiso, eldest child of the Swaziland ruler from her country to her first year of christian college in California and the plight of Swaziland people.

The documentary contrast the lavish lifestyle of the royal family, the multiple palaces to house each of the king’s wives and his offsprings to the disparity of the Swazi people living in impoverished shacks. There are glimpses of the growing political revolt and mis-content of its starving people. One shocking scene at the beginning shows a Swazi village where people cook raw animal intestines that they ravage a garbage dump and the mis-management of the government who fail to provide running water to an agriculturally fertile land.

Swaziland is a tiny country nestled between South Africa and Mozambique, is the last remaining functioning monarchy of the African Nations. Ruled by King Mswait III, the last absolute African monarch, Swaziland has one of the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, about 35-40% of its population. Swazi people face a startling life expectancy around 31 years of age.

It is also one of the poorest country in Africa where people face starvation and poverty, GDP per capita was $5,500 (estimated in 2005), 34 per cent of the population are unemployed. 69% of its Swazi people live with less than us$1 a day.

Politically, there is a constitution. the King has a nominal government with the prime minster, cabinet and legislative body chosen by him. Opposition parties are banned, any protest or rallies for a more constitutional democracy is often squashed by the police. The country’s human rights record is also one of the worst in the world which is largely ignored by the International Media.

The documentary also shows while the King becomes more oblivious to the dire situation plaguing the country, the Princess self-indulgent views of her country slowly falters. She gives a hint of insight about the monarchy troubled by its internal power struggles between the royal family, about her mother Queen LaMbikiza, often anointed as the Rebel queen. Sidenote what the documentary didn’t mention and soap opera potential: The Queen received a law education via a correspondence degree from a South African University. Married at age of 16 when she met the King at an annual reef dance. She was once accused by the royal family of attempting to poison the king and had fled to London before returning to the country upon the king’s request.

In the last scene of the film, the Princess shows her concern and ponders about the possibility of having a revolution in her lifetime while she visits a AIDS children orphanage casting a little hope of a monarchy reform and political consciousness.

A high task for her if she ever tries to reform her country against the wills and political aspirations of a large royal family filled with 200 of the King’s own siblings and their families, 25 children of the King and his growing number of wives. A more likely scenario would be a civil war and the abolishment of the monarchy altogether. An optimist would prefer a monarchy reform, but if history has proven over centuries, power corrupts and for those in power throughout history of mankind, who has ever gave up their wealth and riches for poverty and obscurity?

Update : Apparently this documentary is banned in Swaziland for being seditious.


Why so many fakes at The Opening of Beijing 2008 Olympics?

And so, all the nasty little secrets from the Beijing 2008 Olympics starts surfacing.

First at the Beijing Olympics Opening, there were the fake CGI fireworks of the Bird’s Nest.

Then they had a fake little girl lip-synching a national song in one of the performances. I pity the little girl who was doing the real singing, being told she had a beautiful voice, but she doesn’t have the looks.

Fine, it was a terrific show, who cares if it is a fake even Luciano Pavarotti faked his singing at Turin Winter Olympics 2006. But still it was his own voice!

Me the viewer was being misled that it was a live show with real people doing real stuff!
Didn’t the career of one pop band in the 1980s sank when they lip-synched. I felt short-changed!

I am shocked even more so of the reply from the guy who admitted about it at a television interview. The poor chap can kiss goodbye his music career in China and probably banished forever back to France.

“The reason why little Yang (real girl singing) was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation,” Chen said in an interview that appeared briefly on the news website before it was apparently wiped from the Internet in China.
– Chen Qigang, the general music designer of the ceremony

Tsk tsk Beijing, what else is there you are not telling us?

Here’s the news from AP

Olympic child singing star revealed as fake

AFP – Wednesday, August 13

BEIJING (AFP) – – The little girl who starred at the Olympic opening ceremony was miming and only put on stage because the real singer was not considered attractive enough, the show’s musical director has revealed.

Pigtailed Lin Miaoke was selected to appear because of her cute appearance and did not sing a note, Chen Qigang, the general music designer of the ceremony, said in an interview with a state broadcaster aired Tuesday.

Photographs of Lin in a bright red party dress were published in newspapers and websites all over the world and the official China Daily hailed her as a rising star on Tuesday.

But Chen said the girl whose voice was actually heard by the 91,000 capacity crowd at the Olympic stadium during the spectacular ceremony was in fact seven-year-old Yang Peiyi, who has a chubby face and uneven teeth.

“The reason why little Yang was not chosen to appear was because we wanted to project the right image, we were thinking about what was best for the nation,” Chen said in an interview that appeared briefly on the news website before it was apparently wiped from the Internet in China.

Lin was seen to perform the patriotic song “Ode to the Motherland” as China’s national flag was carried into the stadium, a key moment in the three hour ceremony.

“The reason was for the national interest. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings, and expression,” said Chen, a renowned contemporary composer and French citizen.

“Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects. But in terms of voice, Yang Peiyi is perfect, each member of our team agreed,” he said.

He said the final decision to stage the event with Lin lip-synching to another girl’s voice was taken after a senior member of China’s ruling Communist Party politburo attended a rehearsal.

“He told us there was a problem that we needed to fix it, so we did,” he said, without disclosing further details of the order.

The Beijing Olympic organising committee confirmed the episode with spokesman Sun Weide saying the decision was taken in the interests of providing the best possible show.

“A number of girls were on the short list for the show and Lin was the best actress while Yang had the best voice,” he said. “So at the end of the day they decided to have both.”

The ceremony directed by China’s Oscar-nominated filmmaker Zhang Yimou and featuring more than 15,000 performers won high praise in China and overseas for its breadth, scope and flawless execution.

However criticism began to build after it emerged that another part of the opening ceremony had been faked.

Supposedly live pictures of fireworks depicting footprints moving from central Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to the Olympic stadium in the north of the capital were actually partly computer-generated or pre-recorded for TV, organisers have admitted.

Wang Wei, vice president of the organising committee, Tuesday insisted the fireworks had actually exploded on the night and that most of the television images used were genuine.

“However, because of the poor visibility of the night some previously recorded foots may have been used,” he said.

Xiao Qiang, the director of the China Internet project at the University of California at Berkeley and former dissident, said the two incidents illustrated the political nature of the Games for China.

“I do not think the Chinese state realises how unethical this is, they don’t understand what kind of values they are reflecting,” he said.

Earlier this year Olympic organisers preoccupied with the right image for the country were criticised for insisting that only tall, slim, young and attractive women could serve as medal award ceremony hostesses.

Copyright 2008

From Telegraph Uk
By Richard Spencer in Beijing
Last Updated: 8:29PM BST 12 Aug 2008

Beijing Olympics: Faking scandal over girl who ‘sang’ in opening ceremony

Chinese officials have admitted deceiving the public over another highlight of the Olympic opening ceremony: the picture-perfect schoolgirl who sang as the Chinese flag entered the stadium was performing to another girl’s voice.

The girl in the red dress with the pigtails, called Lin Miaoke, 9, and from a Beijing primary school, has become a national sensation since Friday night, giving interviews to all the most popular newspapers.

But the show’s musical designer felt forced to set the record straight. He gave an interview to Beijing radio saying the real singer was a seven-year-old girl who had won a gruelling competition to perform the anthem, a patriotic song called “Hymn to the Motherland”.

At the last moment a member of the Chinese politburo who was watching a rehearsal pronounced that the winner, a girl called Yang Peiyi, might have a perfect voice but was unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth.

So, on the night, while a pre-recording of Yang Peiyi singing was played, Lin Miaoke, who has already featured in television advertisements, was seen but not heard.

“This was a last-minute question, a choice we had to make,” the ceremony’s musical designer, Chen Qigang, said. “Our rehearsals had already been vetted several times – they were all very strict. When we had the dress rehearsals, there were spectators from various divisions, including above all a member of the politburo who gave us his verdict: we had to make the swap.”

Mr Chen’s interview gave an extraordinary insight into the control exercised over the ceremony by the Games’ political overseers, all to ensure the country was seen at its best.

Officials have already admitted that the pictures of giant firework footprints which marched across Beijing towards the stadium on Friday night were prerecorded, digitally enhanced and inserted into footage beamed across the world.

Mr Chen said the initial hopefuls to sing the anthem had been reduced to ten, and one, a ten-year-old, had originally been chosen for the quality of her voice. But she, too, had fallen by the wayside because she was not “cute” enough.

“We used her to sing in all the rehearsals,” Mr Chen said. “But in the end the director thought her image was not the most appropriate, because she was a little too old. Regrettably, we had to let her go.”

At that point Yang Peiyi stepped up to the plate.

“The main consideration was the national interest,” he said. “The child on the screen should be flawless in image, in her internal feelings, and in her expression. In the matter of her voice, Yang Peiyi was flawless, in the unanimous opinion of all the members of the team.”

That was until attention turned to Yang Peiyi’s teeth. Nevertheless, Mr Chen thought the end result a perfect compromise.

“We have a responsibility to face the audience of the whole country, and to be open with this explanation,” he said. “We should all understand it like this: it is a question of the national interest. It is a question of the image of our national music, our national culture.

“Especially at the entrance of our national flag, this is an extremely important, an extremely serious matter.

“So we made the choice. I think it is fair to both Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi – after all, we have a perfect voice, a perfect image and a perfect show, in our team’s view, all together.”

One question remains: why was Lin Miaoke allowed to give interviews in which she lapped up the praise for her singing. Mr Chen said she might not have known that the words she was singing could not be heard. She had, in fact, only known she was going to perform at all 15 minutes beforehand.

Yang Peiyi is said to have reacted well to the disappointment. “I am proud to have been chosen to sing at all,” she is reported to have said.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2008

Amazing opening at the Beijing 2008 Olympics

8th August 2008

Watched the Beijing Olympics at home.
You may ask if I was tempted to visit Beijing for the Olympics?
No, I did not. Had predicted that visiting Beijing, China was going to be one sore disappointing trip.
For most of the suckers who paid tons of money visiting the place, bet you are going to have mega restrictions on EVERYTHING.

Mark my words, visitors are going to have a tough time there, you probably be restricted in visiting major sites, meet up with tons of road blocks and checks etc etc.

When you have China officials restricting tourist visas and blacklisting protesters visiting China, you should have just stayed home and watched the Olympics from the comforts of your couch.

Maybe Beijing officials took the suggestion of Singapore who did the same when Singapore had the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks. Beijing had their very own ‘Protest Zone’ and impossible to get protest permits for foreigners. Very similar to Singapore government’s handling of the WTO.

That’s enough of politics from me.

Meanwhile enjoy these amazing photos from the New York Times.

fireworks at birdnest

Photo: Doug Kanter for The New York Times

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Phil Walter/Getty Images

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Photo: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Photo: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

Photo: Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

Photo: Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Travel News : Royal Balinese Funeral 2008

I missed this spectacular funeral in Bali Indonesia. Had always wanted to witness a traditional Balinese royal funeral. The photos are amazing, check out the audio slideshow here at
New York Times July 16, 2008
Ubud Journal

At Royal Balinese Funeral, Bodies Burn and Souls Fly

UBUD, Indonesia — In a roar of orange flame, the body of Agung Suyasa, head of the royal family of Ubud, was reduced to its earthly elements on Tuesday, liberating his soul to fly upward, in a spray of sparks, through the night sky to the heavens.

In the most spectacular royal funeral in Bali in at least three decades, the energy, mysticism and creativity of this Hindu island came together in the mass cremation of three royal figures and 68 commoners.

It was the highest moment — but not the final one — in months and sometimes years of funerary rites as bodies were buried or preserved waiting, according to local belief, for their souls to be freed through cremation.

The bodies of the commoners had waited to join Mr. Suyasa and two other members of his extended family in a royal cremation, although the pyres of the commoners were in a separate location. All were on a journey of purification and renewal in which, according to Balinese tradition, the soul can return to inhabit a new being, generally a member of the same family, until, once again, it is freed through cremation. In the coming months, more ceremonies lie ahead, to further cleanse both the soul of the departed and the people left behind.

“None of us is brand new,” said Raka Kerthyasa, the younger half-brother of Mr. Suyasa. Mr. Kerthyasa oversaw the cremation and is now the guardian of the ancient but symbolic royal family. “We are part of the cycle of life,” he said. That ever-changing cycle may one day claim the cremation rites themselves, and some here say that in the face of a globalizing world, Bali may never again see a cremation ceremony to match this one.

“They’ll have things in the future, but elaborate and grand like this one, I don’t think so,” said I Nyoman Suradnya, an artist, whose older brother was one of the commoners cremated Tuesday.

“Cultures come and go,” he said. “It is just a matter of time. Don’t be afraid of change. There is nothing absolute.”
In that spirit, Tuesday was a day of raucous energy as thousands of volunteer porters in purple shirts carried the giant emblems of the ceremony like armies of ants bearing impossibly large objects.

Hunched under a giant bamboo platform, 200 at a time for 100-yard shifts, the porters bore an 11-ton tower, as tall as a three-story building, that carried the coffin of Mr. Suyasa under a nine-tiered pinnacle.

Whooping and laughing, sometimes breaking into a run, the porters swung the platform crazily from right to left to confuse the spirits.
Along with it came a huge, undulating dragon, terrifying to behold with its bulging eyes and splayed teeth. After that came a giant black, wood bull, hung with gold necklaces, that would serve as the sarcophagus at the cremation.

“Strange as it seems, it is in their cremation ceremonies that the Balinese have their greatest fun,” wrote Miguel Covarrubias in his classic work, “Island of Bali,” published in 1937.

“A cremation is an occasion for gaiety and not for mourning, since it represents the accomplishment of their most sacred duty” to liberate the souls of the dead, he wrote.

For most of the time since Mr. Suyasa died on March 28, his body had been lying embalmed, as if asleep, in his palace. The family brought daily offerings and symbolic meals. Coffee and tea were prepared by the bier. A comb, toothbrush and mirror were kept handy nearby. On Tuesday, poised between heaven and earth, his white and gold coffin entered the cremation site in the funerary tower, which glided on the backs of its 200 porters as smoothly as if it were on ice.

Porters carried the coffin down a soaring white chute, then paraded it three times around the waiting bull, trailed by men and women with pyramids of offerings on their heads.

On the crematory platform, the hollow back of the bull was opened and the body was placed inside, its final stop on its earthly journey. A second, smaller bull stood by its side holding the body of another royal relative, Gede Raka.

The sun was sinking as the back of the giant bull was closed and the crematory plaza, packed with thousands of onlookers, twinkled with the flashes of cameras.

Suddenly bright shoots of flame appeared under the belly of the bull, quickly caught the gold necklaces and traveled upward. Smoke seemed to pour from its nostrils and flames shot from its eyes. Its curved horns and ears were on fire.

As the bull fell away, the iron bars that formed its frame remained, and within them hung the burning skeleton, its skull tilted downward, its right foot spurting flames.

Acting with ritual disrespect for the now-useless body, workers poked and prodded at it with long bamboo poles to stoke the fire, and it swayed slightly in the flames.

The body disintegrated into its five earthly elements: earth, wind, water, fire and ether. Its soul disappeared into the night sky.
One of Mr. Suyasa’s sons, Indrayana, sat on the ground nearby, dressed in ritual gold, holding his hands in prayer toward his father. Then, fire to fire, he put a match to a cigarette, looked up, and inhaled.


Photos from bigpicture

Last Tuesday, on the island of Bali, the head of the royal family of Ubud named Agung Suyasa was laid to rest in a rare, spectacular Royal Funeral – the largest in decades. Suyasa, two other members the royal family, and 68 commoners were cremated in a large Hindu ceremony – their bodies having been previously preserved, awaiting cremation, which is traditionally believed to free their souls for future reincarnation. (13 photos total)

Balinese men prepare a giant bull sarcophagus in which a deceased member of the Ubud royal family will be cremated before the cremation ceremony Tuesday July 15, 2008 in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Balinese royalty and dozens of other prominent Balinese from Ubud were cremated Tuesday in a rare and elaborate ceremony for deceased royals. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)

Ubud Funeral

Balinese men prepare to lift a giant bull in which a deceased member of the Ubud royal family will be cremated during the funeral procession Tuesday July 15, 2008, in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)

Ubud funeral crowd

Thousands of people join the procession prior to the Balinese royals cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali on July 15, 2008. The remains of two Balinese royals were cremated before some 250,000 loyal subjects after being carried through this hillside town in huge spinning pyres representing the universe. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Balinese dancers perform during a procession of Pelebon or The Royal Cremation Ceremony in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, July 13, 2008. The bodies head of Ubud Royal family Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa, his nephew Tjokorda Raka, his aunt Desak Raka, and 68 Ubud villagers will be cremated on July 15. The cremation ceremony is a ritual, believed by locals, to send the dead to their next lives. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)

People carry the black bull sarcophagus and a tower prior to the Balinese royals cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali ilsand on July 15, 2008. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Men play “sulings”, traditional music instruments, during the procession of Pelebon or The Royal Cremation Ceremony in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, July 14, 2008. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)

People welcome and watch the black bull sarcophagus en route to the Balinese royals cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali on July 15, 2008. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

People carry a bull sarcophagus during a procession of Pelebon or The Royal Cremation Ceremony in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, July 13, 2008. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)

Balinese men walk away after setting alight a giant bull in which a deceased member of the Ubud royal family is cremated in during the funeral ceremony Tuesday July 15, 2008, in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Balinese royalty and dozens of other prominent Balinese from Ubud were cremated Tuesday in a rare and elaborate ceremony for deceased royals.(AP Photo/Ed Wray)

A bull sarcophagus in which a member of the Ubud royal family was cremated burns during the funeral ceremony Tuesday July 15, 2008 in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)

Black bull sarcophagi are set alight during the cremation of two Balinese royals in Ubud, Bali island on July 15, 2008. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

A black bull sarcophagus is set alight during the cremation of two Balinese royals in Ubud on Bali island on July 15, 2008. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

A Balinese man attends a cremation fire as the last bit of a mythical dragon known as a Naga is burning during a ceremony for a deceased member of the Ubud royal family on Tuesday July 15, 2008 in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)

Seen : The Great Anti-Social Train Travel

Subtitle : A individual capsule train form design

I like the concept of travelling alone without having to deal with crappy passengers with bad attitude, bad body odours, noise, passengers having no sense of personal space.

Hamit Kanuni Kuralkan, an Australian designer took 5 weeks to come up with this futuristic concept of Personal Rapid Transit -individual train compartments.

Apart from some design flaws, this is a great concept where each passenger would have their own personal space in individual capsules without the hassle of dealing with other passengers and their idiosyncrasies.

Some issues such as toilets, claustrophobia and problems arising from long distance travel need to be worked out.