Monday, April 27, 2015

"Golf is a public relations tool that businessmen use to hook government officials"

Mission Hills, the world’s largest golf club, is located in Hainan.
This CNBC newsitem describes how President Xi Jinping is making his mark in the campaign against corruption, which has toppled senior party and military leaders.   

Now anti-corruption investigators have turned their eyes to golf : "sport for millionaires and a capitalist pastime," in line with state-run news media's depiction of golf as yet another temptation that has led Communist Party officials astray. Golf has been called the 'aristocrats' game because of its high cost and unique glamour. 

The government has shut down dozens of courses across the country built in violation of a ban intended to protect China's limited supplies of water and arable land. Communist party officials have been forbidden to golf during work hours "to prevent unclean behavior and disciplinary or illegal conduct."

According to  Xinhua - Chinese news agency - the Communist Party of China's (CPC) anti-corruption agency has opened a column on its website where corrupt officials' confessions are published to "warn, deter and educate". China, it appears, has declared war on golf courses. 

According to another press item, it is widely publicized that Xi Jinping does not want government men betting on golf games, he does not want them doing on-course deals or taking golf "jollies". In plain, he does not want them playing golf and being associated with the sport of Barack Obama, with the game that Chairman Mao dismissed as the "sport of millionaires". Golf is being bracketed with gambling, prostitution and drugs being used as a public-relations tool that businessmen use to influence government officials.

Recently, anti-corruption inspection teams from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Network visited central China's Electronic Information Industry Group Co., Ltd. (China Electronics) and found two top executives involved in golf related corruption. In the period from 2013 to 2014, they made eight repeated visits to Beijing for a golf course, using public money to play golf. The Party Discipline Inspection Commission is taking action in the matter. 

It is worth noting that after taking the helm of the CPC in November 2012, Xi Jinping vowed to fight corruption, targeting both high-ranking "tigers" and lowly "flies".

Friday, April 17, 2015

“As a celebrity/star I am not an individual — I am a spectacular representation of a living human being, the opposite of an individual”

LaBeouf at the premiere of
Fury in Washington D.C, Oct. 2014
(Department of Defense
photo by Marvin Lynchard)

Said : Shia Saide LaBeouf (Born: June 11, 1986 in LA), an American actor and director who became known among younger audiences as Louis Stevens in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens. 

He made these remarks in response to email to Variety‘s questions that appeared in NY Film Editor Ramin Setoodeh's post yesterday.

The 28-year-old actor believes that celebrities are ‘Enslaved’. When asked about his feelings as an artist, LaBeouf said : "The craft of acting for film is terribly exclusive and comes with the baggage of celebrity, which robs you of your individuality and separates you. The performance work is democratized and far more inclusive. As a celebrity/star I am not an individual — I am a spectacular representation of a living human being, the opposite of an individual. The enemy of the individual, in myself as well as in others. The celebrity/star is the object of identification, with the shallow seeming life that has to compensate for the fragmented productive specializations which are actually lived. The requirements to being a star/celebrity are namely, you must become an enslaved body. Just flesh — a commodity, and renounce all autonomous qualities in order to identify with the general law of obedience to the course of things. The star is a by-product of the machine age, a relic of modernist ideals. It’s outmoded."

LaBeouf is the executive producer of “LoveTrue,” an experimental drama from director Alma Har’el (“Bombay Beach”) that merges fiction and documentary, with vignettes set in Alaska, Hawaii and New York. 

See a clip of “LoveTrue” featuring actor Will Hunt below :

Thursday, April 2, 2015

"The majority of ultra rich Russians, who in some way may have something to fear have, a long time ago, prepared spare airfields and put in place plans for a quick emigration or, God forbid, evacuation of their family"

Alexei Koval

Said : Alexei Koval, operations director at City Magazine, which offers lifestyle and investment tips to "successful people" in Russia's main cities, reported a Moscow Times report of March 29.

According to the report "Russia's Super-rich Stay Loyal to Putin Despite Ruble Crisis Blow," wealthy Russians have resorted to self imposed modesty by cutting down their visible spendings on luxurious life style items e.g. cars,  jewellery, leisure holidaying overseas, ostentatious celebrity parties, etc. 

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly appealed to leading businessmen to bring their money from offshore accounts back to Russia warning them about the possibility of West expanding the sanctions over Ukraine which will close off the inflows further.

The report highlights the fact that Russia's super-rich are feeling the pinch from the economic crisis but they have so far remained loyal to Putin.

“The Russians can turn us into ash in less than an hour.”

(Picture Source)
Said : Martin Hellman, an emeritus professor at Stanford and adjunct fellow at the Federation of American Scientists who specialises in nuclear risk, as reported by the Newsweek’s Europe correspondent Elisabeth Braw in her yesterday’s post “Putin is ‘Playing the Madman’ to Trick the West.”

The Newsweek article quotes Hellmen saying that in the past couple of years, Putin has gone out of his way to keep Russia’s arsenal in the forefront of the public consciousness.

“Nuclear weapons are the card that Putin has up his sleeve, and he’s using it to get the world to realise that Russia is a superpower, not just a regional power,” he explains.
“The West should do as marriage therapists advise: admit one’s own mistakes, thereby making it easier for one’s spouse to admit his.”
Martin Hellmen
According to the article, Hellmen calls it the Madman Theory and confesses that a bit of perceived madness is essential to nuclear strategy. “The West hasn’t properly caught on to Putin’s Armageddon game. With Putin what is needed is to prevent the madman game from ending in tragedy”, Hellman argues warning that “The Russians can turn us into ash in less than an hour.”

The article analyses various aspects of Putin’s personality and the CIA’s role in preparing personality profiles of foreign leaders besides the work of independent personality analysis experts and psychologists in this area.

The article rules out the possibility of Putin stepping down to enjoy a pleasant retirement (like many world leaders) with his $200bn fortune that he’s reportedly amassed.

So, what’s the way out? Hellman is reported to have suggested that “the West should do as marriage therapists advise: admit one’s own mistakes, thereby making it easier for one’s spouse to admit his.”

The recent suicide-cum-mass murder by the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, of the Germanwings flight by crashing the plane in the French Alps is being largely seen as the result of his deep rooted mental condition. If, God forbid, Putin follows a mental trajectory similar to that of Lubitz, the whole world will perish. I find already there are serious discussions taking place, the world over (in pubic domain) about Putin's mental condition. A number of top influential people have even gone to the extent of calling him mad. One of the important lessons that we must learn from the Germanwings tragedy is that mental fitness is supreme and if we have diagnosed some one of the level of Putin having serious symptoms of mental disorder then it cannot, and should not, be taken lightly. The handling of such a person by the global community has to be quite cautious, coordinated, secret and aimed at preventing the worst while assuming the worst case scenario. This also requires top world leaders to be 24x7 ready to prevent the worst from happening and to promptly respond to any eventuality. 

"Be less grandstanding with Putin," Hellmen's advice can be quite handy in this case. Also, the suggestion of a recently departed Moscow ambassador, who was close to Putin, as reported in the Newsweek post, also deserves serious consideration. "If you’ve got a madman in power, a country’s nuclear weapons take on a completely new dimension.” 

In a nutshell, Putin, like any ultra high pressure glass vessel, is required to be handled with extreme care.