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Monday, November 13, 2006

 

The 109th Congress - Final Session


More than a "Lame Duck" Session * Kiran Desai

The Republican legislators return to their last session. They are making noise about getting things done, and there are pending issues that need to be concluded. An editorial in the Post mentions some of them. It also points out important issues that are to be left for the 110th Congress. The surveillance program under the USA Patriot Act is an abomination that the Bush Administration, aided by a complaisant Congress, foisted on us. It needs thorough scrutiny.


We would like to see carefully crafted legislation to provide a legal framework for the administration's warrantless surveillance program, but the measures that have been proposed so far go overboard in giving carte blanche to the administration. This is an important subject -- and one that ought to be taken up by the 110th Congress. Meanwhile, the president's last-ditch push to win confirmation of controversial U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton during the lame-duck session isn't a particularly good omen of presidential willingness to compromise with Democrats. Mr. Bolton's nomination is a matter the White House would do better to drop, for the lame-duck session and beyond, if Mr. Bush is serious about that new tone he talked about the day after the election.

Citizenship in Bush's America


I get the feeling that here in the Silicon Valley a majority of the Indians are likely to be supporters of President Bush and the Republicans. Kiran Desai is not a resident of California. It was interesting to read comments by this year's Booker Prize winner -- that she put off going through the citizenship process because of her "disapproval of the president's foreign policy". Perhaps an extreme view but understandable. I love my adopted country. There are times though when I am not proud of what our government does.



By Martin Roberts Wed Nov 8, 12:31 PM ET

Indian novelist Kiran Desai said she may never have won the Booker Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards, had George W. Bush not been U.S. president - as he put her off becoming an American citizen.

The Man Booker Prize is open only to British and Commonwealth citizens and Indian-born Desai has yet to apply for a U.S. passport, although she has lived in New York for 20 years.

"George Bush won once and he won the second time and I couldn't bring myself to (apply)," Desai said late last month in an interview in Toronto as she voiced her disapproval of the president's foreign policy.

"So I really owe George Bush my Booker, in an odd way. It's really very funny."

Desai, 35, became the youngest woman to capture the 50,000 pound ($95,000) prize last month with her sweeping novel "The Inheritance of Loss." The book's narrative ranges from undocumented workers in New York to political violence in the foothills of the Himalayas during the 1980s.

The novelist divides her time between New York and New Delhi, and while she finds traveling difficult on an Indian passport, she said it helped her maintain an essential contact with her roots while penning her prize-winning book.

"I couldn't have written this book without being interested (in India), I felt very Indian while writing it," she said.

"With politics in the United States, my immediate thought is how is this going to affect India or the Third World, who are they letting into the country, who they happen to be bombing."

But Desai is quick to point out that her book deals with an underclass that is exploited in rich and poor countries alike.


Applause and a bouquet for Kiran Desai.


*****



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