masala: the international spice
Flavor your world with masala

Monday, May 31

Bush After Bicycle Accident
Does the Bush administration
have a black eye over Iraqi

Halliburton Bills US for Empty Trips
Twelve current and former truckers who regularly made the 300-mile re-
supply run from Camp Cedar in southern Iraq to Camp Anaconda near
Baghdad told Knight Ridder that they risked their lives driving empty trucks
while their employer, a subsidiary of Halliburton Inc., billed the government
for hauling what they derisively called "sailboat fuel."

In addition to interviewing the drivers, Knight Ridder reviewed KBR records
of the empty trips, dozens of photographs of empty flatbeds and a videotape
that showed 15 empty trucks in one convoy.

"Sometimes we would go with empty trailers; we would go both ways," said
one driver who goes by the nickname Swerve and declined to be named for
fear of retribution. "We'd turn around and go back with empty trailers."

Iraqi insurgents have killed two civilian drivers.

Former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney Arranged Halliburton Deal, according
to Internal Email

Three days after the email, the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton
the contract, without seeking other bids.

Sunday, May 30

Rising Gas Prices
The high costs of crude oil
and refining
are two reasons
gas is so expensive.

Minnesota Gas Stations Fined for Charging too Little
A law the state adopted in 2001 in an effort to protect small service-station
businesses prohibits gas stations from selling gas without taking a minimum
profit. These days, they must charge at least 8 cents per gallon, plus taxes,
more than they paid for it.

On Friday, the Commerce Department announced a $70,000 fine against
Murphy Oil for breaking the law at its 10 Minnesota stations and fined Kwik
Trip Inc. $5,000 for violations at one station.

With US oil prices at a record high and many drivers cutting back on their
gasoline usage
, convenience store owners are feeling pressure to cut back
on profits
and keep prices low.

Check Gas Prices at Local Convenience Stores


Added June 1:
Oil Price Hits 21-Year High After al-Qa'ida Attack in Saudi Arabia

Saturday, May 29

Thurgood Marshall
Fifty years after Brown v.
, many Southern schools
are resegrating.

Resegregation an Alarming Problem in DeKalb County
(use login: cipher password: cipher)

Fifty years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools
were "inherently unequal," Southwest DeKalb's student body was all white.
Today, all but three of Southwest DeKalb's 1,570 students are African-
American. It is a scene being played out throughout metropolitan Atlanta
and the South--the region that fought hardest against desegregation and
then worked the hardest to make it work.

"Nine out of 10 times, all-black or all-Latino schools have concentrated
poverty." said Gary Orfield, co-director of The Civil Rights Project. "That
relates to lower test scores, a higher dropout rate, less-qualified teachers,
fewer course offerings and fewer connections with colleges."

Black Children might have been Better Off Without Brown v. Board, Scholar Says

Friday, May 28

Breakdancing for the Pope
In January, the Pope hosted
a breakdancing group at the

Pope Worries About 'Soulless' U.S. Life

Pope John Paul II said: "An effective proclamation of the Gospel in
contemporary Western society will need to confront directly the
widespread spirit of agnosticism and relativism which has cast doubt
on reason's ability to know the truth, which alone satisfies the human
heart's restless quest for meaning."

from April 2002: Pope Condemns US Church Sex Abuse

Thursday, May 27

Tiger animated
Electronic Arts is #9.
It's in the game.

The Wired 40
40 companies driving the global economy

Wednesday, May 26

Broken Rickshaw
Green rickshaws need
maintenance too
(view large)

Smog City to Clean Capital: How Delhi Did it
Ten years ago, Delhi was one of the world’s 10 most polluted cities, with
vehicles accounting for 70 per cent of polluting emissions. Since the city
mandated changes to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), carbon monoxide
levels are down 32 per cent and sulphur dioxide levels are down 39 per cent.

Could Natural Gas Work in America?
• Because there are abundant supplies of natural gas in North America, using
natural gas to replace gasoline helps reduce our country's dependency on
foreign petroleum.
• Compressed natural gas costs 50-cents a gallon before tax compared to
$1.50 per gallon (before tax) for regular gas.
• Proponents of CNG say there is enough in reserve to fuel every car and
home in the country for the next 200 years.

What is Compressed Natural Gas?

Tuesday, May 25

Lariam is used to prevent malaria
but recent evidence shows it may
have severe side effects.

Mosquitos in subtropical regions
give malaria to 500 million people
per year.

Pentagon Studies Lariam's Side Effects after Soldiers' Suicides
Lariam is suspected in two recent cases where military officers committed
suicide after taking the anti-malaria drug. While the Pentagon studies the
affect of the drug, the Defense Department will continue handing out the
drug to U.S. military service personnel in some regions where malaria is a

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of possible "visual
disturbances" associated with Lariam, also known by its generic name,
mefloquine. "Mefloquine has rarely been reported to cause serious side
effects, such as seizures, depression and psychosis," the CDC's Web site

Lariam has been prescribed to more than 20 million people since the FDA
approved the durg in 1989. Approximately 500 million clinical cases of
malaria occur every year with approximately 2.7 million deaths.

Lariam Side Effects Lawsuits Site

Monday, May 24

Tom Glavine won 11 division
championships as a member of
the Atlanta Braves. He signed
with the New York Mets before
the 2003 season.

Tom Glavine's First One-Hitter Comes in a Mets' Uniform
"After the warmup, I knew I had good stuff," Glavine said. "After the first
inning, I knew I had good location."

While the Braves miss starting pitchers Tom Glavine, who had five twenty
win seasons in 16 seasons with the Braves, and Greg Maddux, who won at
least 15 games all 11 seasons he was with the Braves, they have had
decent starting pitching this season.

But hitting has been a different story. Last year, the Braves scored the
most runs in the league. But Javier Lopez, Gary Sheffield, and Vinny
Castilla left in the offseason. The Braves offense is also battling injuries.

Last week, the Braves struck out 18 times against Ben Sheets on Sunday
and were on the wrong side of a perfect game by Randy Johnson on

Said Chipper Jones, "I think you can say, without a shadow of a doubt,
we've reached a new all-time low." The Braves, winners of 12 straight
division championships, are currently 20-22.

Sunday, May 23

Delta Song
Low-cost airlines, like Delta's
Song, compete by keeping
maintenance costs low

Free Delta flights for 'being nice'
Delta's low-fare carrier, Song, says it will offer customers free tickets
if they are nice to one another during flights.

Customers who, for example, help others with their bags, or remain
positive and upbeat during delays or difficulties are thought most
likely to be rewarded.

Song hopes the initiative will build customer loyalty and generate
more revenue for Delta.

Delta Forces Pilots to Take Pay Cut to Keep Prices Low
CEO Gerald Grinstein: "To [become profitable], our team must be
characterized by determination, agility and a willingness to run the
company in non-traditional ways."

DeGaulle collapses
A portion of Paris's Charles
De Gaulle airport collapsed

Paris Airport Terminal 2E Collapses, Killing 6 Travelers
"It's the structure that gave way, the structure itself," said the
president of the Paris airports authority.

The collapse happened just 11 months after the terminal opened
following several construction delays.

Terminal 2E, which has more than 50 flights a day, is intended
eventually to have a capacity of 10 million passengers a year.

Saturday, May 22

The Donald
Donald Trump got an
MBA from Wharton

Are Business Schools Teaching Anything?
Business schools may be important mainly as a screening mechanism—
their basic skill may be choosing students, not teaching them. Few are
ever thrown out for failing their exams even though they are much more
likely to cheat than students in other disciplines.

Business schools work much harder than other educational institutions at
getting their students into the job market. But many of America's most-
admired business leaders, including Warren Buffett, Herb Kelleher,
Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Jack Welch and Oprah Winfrey, do not have

Apply to Become the Next Apprentice


Added June 7:
Why an MBA May Not Be Worth It
Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, in a paper
titled The End of Business Schools? writes: "There is little evidence that mastery
of the knowledge acquired in business schools enhances people's careers, or that
attaining the MBA credential itself has much effect on graduates' salaries or career

Friday, May 21

Wedding Singer
The Wedding Singer

US Air Strike Kills Over 40 Iraqis in Southwest Iraq
Iraqis said the strike hit a wedding party. The US military has insisted it targeted
a safe house used by foreign fighters near the Syrian border.

Television footage has shown bodies, including those of children, wrapped in
blankets and loaded onto trucks.

A wedding singer was said to be among the victims.

AP Estimates At Least 1,361 Iraqis Killed in April
The tally is likely incomplete, because witnesses reported deaths in some attacks
that could not be confirmed by a hospital, the Iraqi police or U.S. officials.


Added May 24:
Video of 'bombed' Iraqi wedding party captures revellers dancing, singing
Video both before and after the US air strikes seem to show that a wedding party was, in fact,
taking place in the bombed area, despite military claims that a rebel safe house was attacked.

Thursday, May 20

Laptop Battery
Laptop batteries aren't
getting any better

Why Laptop Batteries Suck
Since the early 1990s, when the lithium-ion battery was first introduced, laptop
batteries haven't gotten much smaller, and worse, they don't last much longer.

Fuel cells that would provide a dramatic improvement in battery length are
still in development.

How Laptops Work

Wednesday, May 19

Chinese Farmer
Chinese Farmer

Reducing Poverty in Rural China (transcript)
This documentary looks at how China succeeded in reducing poverty on a large scale.

Many mountain dwellers have moved into cities and started working in factories.
While not all migrants get jobs, those that do can send money back to their villages.

In rural areas, the government is rehabilitating eroded land and returning land from
communal farms back to individual families.

Despite these efforts to reduce poverty, economic inequality is still a growing problem.

Is China's Economic Growth Sustainable?

China: Maturing Power
NYTimes Feature

China: A Maturing Power
In this audiovisual presentation, Nicholas Kristof investigates how globalization is
changing China.

Individual sections explore China's relationship with Japan and North Korea, the
changing face of the Communist Party, labor unrest in the cities, emigration from
the villages, and the role of the Internet in Chinese life.

Tuesday, May 18

Chamblee Bulldog
Chamblee Bulldog

Porn Switched With School's Announcement
Some Chamblee High School students expecting to see the usual
morning announcements instead glimpsed a hard-core prank this

School administrators are trying to determine who swapped a
pornographic videotape for the school announcements tape, sending
the images out to several classrooms.

Assistant Principal Becky Chambers said that with this being the last
week of school, a senior prank "would be my best guess at this point."

Monday, May 17

Gay marriage rally
From February Rally in
(more rally pics)

First State-Sponsored Gay Marriages in US in Massachusetts Today (Slide Show | NPR audio)
The state's Supreme Judicial Court issued a 4-3 ruling in November that gays and
lesbians had a right under the state constitution to wed. Today is the first day that
the ruling goes into effect. Comparable lawsuits are also moving forward in New York,
California, Washington and New Jersey.

Only in-state couples, couples that include at least one Massachusetts resident and
out-of-state couples who have an immediate intention to live in Massachusetts are
eligible according to the governor. Some cities and townships have said they will give
wedding certificates to out-of-staters who want to marry, however.

In February and March of this year, gay marriages were performed in San Francisco.
These marriages were halted by the state of California and declared illegal by
Governor Schwarzenegger.

Bush Calls For Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

Sunday, May 16

Smarty Jones
Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby at Churchill
Downs 2 weeks ago (bio)

Smarty Jones Wins the Preakness, Still Undefeated
Smarty Jones won the Preakness by a record 11 1/2 lengths two
weeks after winning the Kentucky Derby over Lion Heart.

The Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, is in three
weeks. Smarty Jones could become the first horse since Affirmed in
1978 to win all three races.

Smarty Jones is beloved in his hometown of Philadelphia.

Smarty's Story

Keith Primeau
Keith Primeau

Philadelphia Flyers Even NHL Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2
The Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Keith Primeau led the Flyers with a goal and an assist.

Game 5 in the Best of 7 Series will be played on Tuesday in Tampa Bay.

Series page


Added May 23:
Flyers lose series in 7 after amazing Game 6 comeback.

Saturday, May 15

Gap ad
Gap's ad campaign features
Missy Elliot and Madonna

Gap Releases Sweatshop Report (audio)
The Gap clothes chain released its first-ever social responsibility report
Wednesday, assessing working conditions in nearly 3,000 factories around
the world.

The report didn't pull any punches. According to the report, many Gap
factories were paying workers at a level below the local minimum wage.

The Gap says it canceled contracts with 136 factories last year because of
persistent or severe violations of its code of conduct.

Upon releasing the report, the Gap's recently appointed CEO explained: "We
feel strongly that commerce and social responsibility don't have to be at

View Full Report

Friday, May 14

Sapphire Infotech

Writing a Cover Letter
I have a BA in International Relations from Stanford University and was an editor for the Stanford
Technology section. I also produced the user's guide and training materials for TestSmart, a
Sapphire Infotech product that was subsequently licensed to Cisco Systems.   Currently I am writing
documentation for SourceForge projects, such as Amazon Product Finder and working on my
weblog: masala: the international spice.

Thursday, May 13

Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi (bio)

Sonia Gandhi-led Congress Party Upsets BJP in Indian National Election
Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, widow of assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, will likely
become Prime Minister. The Nehru-Gandhi family has led the Congress Party since before India's
1947 Independence.

Diary of the Election in Southern India
Why villagers voted against incumbent BJP's message of progress


Added May 18:

India's Stock Market Took Biggest Plunge in its 129-year History Yesterday
Investors were afraid of the role communists would play in new ruling coalition.

Sonia Gandhi Declines Prime Minister Post
Sonia Gandhi said she did not want to be PM and that she was not declining the post for safety reasons.

Gandhi's husband and mother-in-law were past prime ministers who were both assassinated.
Hindu nationalists have criticized Gandhi for being a foreigner and a Catholic.


Added May 19:

Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh (bio) becomes PM
after Sonia Gandhi declines

Manmohan Singh Chosen as India's Next Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh served as finance minister from 1991 to 1996.

Wednesday, May 12

Sholay - 1975 classic

What is life without masala?
What is a masala flick? Loud, even corny, it always has catchy dialogues, dramatic
twists, actors playing to the gallery, chartbusting music, cabaret or item numbers,
death-defying action, rib-tickling comedy, and a mother or sister, preferably a widow.

The idea is to entertain. No pretensions. No brains required. Sit back, breathe, see
what you like or like what you see and unwind.

Tuesday, May 11

Emmett Till

Emmett Till 1955 Lynching Case Re-Opened in Chicago (audio)
The Justice Department has re-opened the case of Emmett Till, a
black teenager from Chicago who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955,
reportedly for whistling at a white woman.

Two men who initially admitted committing the crime were found
innocent by an all-white jury. New data and a film documentary now
indicate that up to ten men were involved in the lynching, some of
whom may still be alive.

The Murder of Emmett Till

Monday, May 10

Southwest plane
Southwest 737 Plane
(view large)

Southwest Airlines Enters the Philadelphia Market (audio)
The Philadelphia airport has been dominated almost exclusively by US Airways for years. But if US Airways doesn't change its cost structure, it will not be able to compete with Southwest and may have to declare bankruptcy.

Philadelphia has been an underserved market, being the fifth largest U.S. city but ranking 17th in terms of passenger traffic.

Inside Hartsfield
Hartsfield-Jackson airport

Delta Considers Bankruptcy
Delta officials issued a statement today saying that if pilots do not accept a pay cut, Delta will have to declare bankruptcy. Delta's pilot costs are 50 percent to 60 percent higher than restructured pilot contracts at other legacy carriers.

The financial well-being of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is largely tied to Delta, as the carrier contributes 20 percent of the airport's yearly revenue of $250 million through passenger, landing and rental fees. Delta and its 30,000 employees have an economic impact of $11 billion on metro Atlanta each year.

How Hartsfield Became Hartsfield-Jackson

Friday, May 7

Rumsfeld Cobra
Rumsfeld's 'Twin Cobra Fist'

Rumsfeld Fighting Technique
The different hand gestures of our Secretary of Defense

Rumsfeld has come under fire over the past few days because of his failure to prevent
abusive behavior/torture conducted by American soldiers toward Iraqi prisoners at the
Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Rumsfeld received a March 3 US Army report detailing American abuses in Iraq but
neither he nor his senior aides read it until pictures of the abuse were circulated to CBS
last week.

Two of the central figures named in the report as most likely responsible for the abuses
are still in their jobs.


Added May 14:
More than 300 Iraqi Detainees Released from the Abu Ghraib Prison
The Red Cross had estimated that between 70 and 90 percent of Abu Ghraib detained were
arrested "by mistake".

Thursday, May 6

Spider Baseball
Spiderman ads on the bases

The tangled web of sports and advertising
As part of a marketing alliance between Major League Baseball Properties, Columbia
Pictures and Marvel Studios, webbed logos of the upcoming film "Spider-Man 2" will appear
on bases and on-deck circles in 15 stadiums of teams playing host to interleague games
June 11-13.

In response to the plans to place spiderweb patterns and ads on baseball fields,
advocacy group Commercial Alert is urging a boycott of Sony products and films.


Added May 7:
Baseball and Columbia Pictures scale back promotion in response to backlash
Spiderwebs will not appear on the bases

Michael Moore
Michael Moore

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush (audio)
The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new
documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush.

The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and prominent Saudis — including the family
of Osama bin Laden — and criticizes Mr. Bush's actions before and after the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks.

Disney CEO Michael Eisner said Wednesday that Disney did not want to sponsor a
partisan film in the midst of the presidential race, but that it was "a totally appropriate
" and should find another distributor fairly easily.


Added May 14:
Miramax chiefs buy back Moore's film from Miramax Films
Miramax Films chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein will distribute the movies
themselves, independent of Miramax and Disney.

Wednesday, May 5

Conservatives on the Administration's Policy in Iraq

George Will
George Will

Time for Bush to See The Realities of Iraq
This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think
and, having thought, to have second thoughts. Thinking is not the reiteration of
bromides about how "all people yearn to live in freedom" (McClellan). And about how
it is "cultural condescension" to doubt that some cultures have the requisite
aptitudes for democracy (Bush). And about how it is a "myth" that "our attachment to
freedom is a product of our culture" because "ours are not Western values; they are
the universal values of the human spirit" (Tony Blair).

John McCain
John McCain

Force Levels in Iraq Inadequate
McCain called it "irresponsible" to suggest "it is up to Iraqis to win this war" and
criticized Rumsfeld for trying to accelerate a turnover of the burden to Iraqi
security forces. He warned that proposing a reduction in U.S. forces now "will
cripple our ability" to stabilize Iraq by sending a signal "that the United States
is more interested in leaving than...winning."

Pat Buchanan
Pat Buchanan

Do We Go in Deeper or Cut Our Losses?
Americans supported Bush's war because we were persuaded that the malignancy of
Iraq's leader and the horrific nature of the weapons he had or was seeking meant
we must destroy his regime or our country was in mortal peril.

With that threat gone, what we are fighting for? Democracy in Iraq? Or is it now
just to avoid defeat in Iraq?

Monday, May 3

Voting Machine
E-Voting machines have been the
subject of much controversy all
over the world

California Bans E-Vote Machines (audio story)
California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley ended five months of speculation and
announced Friday that he was decertifying all electronic touch-screen voting
machines in the state due to security concerns and lack of voter confidence.

He also said that he was passing along evidence to the state's attorney general
to bring criminal and civil charges against voting-machine-maker Diebold Election
Systems for fraud.

Singer Votes

Singer Lata Mangeshkar
voting in Mumbai

India's First All-Electronic Election Currently in Progress

Every vote in the world's largest democracy is being recorded at the press of a
button. Voting will take place on four dates from April 20 to May 10.

Correspondents described the logistics of providing electronic voting machines at
all 700,000 polling stations as mind-boggling - helicopters, bullock carts and
elephants were all used to ferry the machines to the remotest corners of India.

more on the machines used in India


Added May 13
How the E-Voting Process Turned Out
The new electronic system would allowed the results to be announced within hours
-- a process that took almost two days in past elections. But there are valid
concerns about the machinery.


Added Sept 30
What the U.S. can learn from India's electronic voting machines.
While we in the United States agonize over touch screens and paper trails, India managed to hold an all-electronic vote. Americans seek solace in layer upon layer of technology. The problem is that each layer creates unintended consequences, plugging one hole but creating several new ones.

Sunday, May 2

Amitabh Bachchan (bio)

'What's so big about Hollywood?'
Amitabh Bachchan criticizes Indian actors for seeking Hollywood agents.

"What would an Indian be doing in a Hollywood film? We're the wrong color. I'm not
interested in playing a stereotype, " the distinguished Bollywood actor says.

"I firmly believe the Indian will not find a place in the West unless he's of some social
relevance to their society. We are not. They've no place for us in their films, and neither
have we a place for them in our films".