The year of living dangerously —Mahmud Sipra

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The year 2008 will also be remembered for some momentous events, events that will determine the way the free world conducts itself in the near future. Barack Obama’s election as the 44th President of the United States of America is one of them

2008 has come and gone. It didn’t start on a cheery note and it has certainly not ended on a happy one.

The Israelis made sure of that. By the time this column appears in print, some 500 men, women and children would have died in Israeli air raids with hundreds more languishing in hospitals and scores probably still lying buried in the debris of bombed-out buildings, a sort of belated Christmas gift to the inhabitants of the Gaza strip.

Around the same time last year, Pakistan was reeling from the shock of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. That the year has ended with war clouds hovering over India and Pakistan and the Israeli military machine relentlessly bombing the Gaza strip is not exactly what one would describe as an auspicious start to the New Year.

The year 2008 will also be remembered for some momentous events, events that will determine the way the free world conducts itself in the near future. Barack Obama’s election as the 44th President of the United States of America is one of them. Running parallel to that event is the tumult of the global financial meltdown that saw the fall of America’s financial power houses, sending its mortgage lenders and minnow banks across the country in a tailspin.

Toxic debt and liquidity problems brought Detroit, the cradle of the motor car industry and home to GM, Chrysler and Ford, scurrying to Washington with hat in hands pleading for a ‘bailout’. Japanese car giant Toyota declared its first loss in its 71-year history. Britain is facing its worst financial and economic downturn since 1948. The list grows with each passing day.

There were other notable momentous events that somehow paled in an atmosphere of global uncertainty. China played host to the world by splendidly staging the Olympics. It also sent a manned mission into space, its first. This was closely followed by India that sent its own unmanned moon probe aloft.

Rattan Tata, one of India’s major corporate players, unveiled the world’s cheapest car, the Nano, and almost simultaneously announced the takeover of two of Britain’s iconic marques, Jaguar and Land Rover.

Pakistan saw the departure of President Musharraf and the Presidency being occupied by Asif Ali Zardari, the spouse of the assassinated Ms Bhutto. The Zardari presidency received its baptism of fire with US drones venturing into Pakistani airspace to take out Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters hiding in Pakistan’s northern regions.

Dubai celebrated the 5th birthday of The Dubai International Film Festival, with the star-studded presence of celebrities on the red carpet from Hollywood, the Arab world and, of course, Bollywood.

It was with a sense of some pride that I attended the premier of the Oliver Stone film “W”. I recall that some six years ago, while on a short visit to Dubai, I had submitted a filmed presentation of the DIFF concept to Mr Saeed al Mutafiq and Mr Abdul Hamid Juma, who had just taken over as CEO of Dubai Media City. The concept was approved and following a luncheon hosted by me at The Claridges in London, Mr Juma appointed the company I headed at the time as the official event managers of the festival. The launch of the DIFF took place in Cannes the same year. The reception on board a yacht was a huge success and the entertainment world welcomed Dubai as “the new player on the film festival circuit”. This was followed simultaneously by a well-aimed advertising and PR campaign in the international media.

I handed over the festival to Dubai Media City in the same year and it is Abdul Hamid Juma, who has been the driving force behind its success since. There are some individuals who, despite the fact that the DIFF had already been launched and was an established brand name, make the dubious claim of having “sired it”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The DIFF was and always has been a Dubai Media City endeavour with Abdul Hamid and his team’s unstinting efforts to bring it where it stands today. Perhaps it is Abdul Hamid Juma’s humility that restrains him from saying: “Success has many fathers!” I on my part am privileged to have played a part during its embryonic days.

The year 2008 witnessed oil prices reach an unprecedented USD150 per barrel, triggering a meteoric rise in the price of industrial commodities, raw materials and ocean transportation. Spiralling oil prices also led to energy shortages and outages, with calamitous results on the global food-chain.

2008 was also the year of earthquakes, hurricanes, pandemics.

Hurricane Bertha, which started as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa, rapidly gained strength as it headed for the Atlantic coast as a full-blown storm. In less then 24 hours it had become a Category 3 and for a while a Category 4 hurricane as it headed for the Gulf coast, the epicentre of America’s oil-refining nerve-centre. But then something strange happened. As rapidly as it had gained strength, Bertha suddenly ran out of steam and dissipated over the Gulf coast and blew over in to the Atlantic.

No such luck was to visit Myanmar that was devastated by a Category 4 mega cyclone that killed 80 thousand as it made landfall on May 2, 2008. “Given its proximity to the Andaman Sea its anger continued unabated for another week. It finally turned towards the Burma/Thailand border and was downgraded to a low intensity tropical storm”.

On May 12, a massive earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck Chengdu in China. Official death toll: 80 thousand.

Disaster watchdogs present some interesting facts and features and they all point to the ability to manipulate weather, re-route hurricanes and generate earthquakes. It is no longer a secret that a powerful nest of such facilities now exist in Alaska (HAARP & HIPAS), Norway (EISCAT), Japan (MU Radar) with the most powerful one located in Central Russia called “SURA”.

Can HAARP or any of these facilities manipulate storms and earthquakes? Is there a correlation between these “Natural Disasters as we perceive them to be and such top secret facilities whenever they are ‘active’?”

While there is “no causal relationship, the physics of HAARP and other similar facilities and the political agenda behind their activities would suggest that to manipulate weather and generate earthquakes is both possible and likely.

On that cheerful note, I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Mahmud Sipra is a best selling author and an independent columnist. He can be reached at

Reproduced by permission of the author and DT\01\01\story_1-1-2009_pg3_2


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