Showing posts from July, 2013

MPs' letters to Obama on Narendra Modi visa 'original and authentic'

The controversy over Indian MPs' letters to President Barack Obama for denying visa to Narendra Modi has taken a new turn with a California-based Forensic Document Examiner certifying that the signatures of the lawmakers are "original and authentic" and not a cut and paste job as claimed. "Using accepted principles and methods of forensic examination, it is my opinion that the Q1-Q3 (three pages of Rajya Sabha MPs' letter) document was created in a single event, and that the signatures found upon it are original/authentic wet ink signatures," said the report after a forensic examination of the letter. A similar finding was made in respect of the letter by Lok Sabha members. The forensic examination of the handwritings on the two letters to Obama by members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on November 26 and December 5 last year respectively, which were re-faxed to the White House on July 21, was done by Nanette M Barto, approved Forensic Document Examiner, in

IAS officer, heading anti-sand mafia campaign in UP, suspended

NB -property related criminal activities often take place behind religious identity of one sort or another. If this report is correct, then the UP government is guilty of a shameless protection of criminals and the age-old practice of transferring honest officers at the behest of the rich and powerful - DS Lucknow :  A woman IAS officer, who had recently taken on the powerful sand mafia in Uttar Pradesh, has been suspended barely six months after she got her first posting in the state.  Durga Shakti Nagpal, the Sub-Divisional magistrate of Greater Noida, was removed after she ordered the demolition of a mosque being built illegally on government land in Greater Noida on Saturday.  The state government justified her suspension, claiming that her order to stop the construction of the mosque during the holy month of Ramzan could have created trouble.  "To prevent communal tension and avoid dispute in village, sometimes we have to take such decisions," Uttar Pradesh Chief Min

Wings of desire: why birds captivate us

Our affections for wild  animals  are distributed very unevenly. Take insects. Some 750,000 species have already been documented worldwide and the great American naturalist  EO Wilson  called them "the little things that run the world". Through their recycling of nutrients and the supply of base-level protein to a vast array of higher life forms, insects underpin the existence of life on this planet. Yet when it comes to human concern for creepy-crawlies, forget it. BugLife  is Britain's most important invertebrate conservation organisation. Yet Matt Shardlow, its director, recently lamented: "We have a membership of about 1,000, and we are responsible for 40,000 species." Compare those figures with the statistics for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds , which today claims 1.3 million members, substantially more than the members of all the UK political parties combined. It tends to the welfare of 250 bird species. What is it about creatures with

Edward Snowden's not the story. The fate of the internet is

The press has lost the plot over the Snowden revelations. The fact is that the net is finished as a global network and that US firms' cloud services cannot be trusted.. "the rhetoric of the 'internet freedom agenda' looks as trustworthy as George Bush's 'freedom agenda' after Abu Ghraib." Repeat after me:  Edward Snowden  is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have escaped most of the world's mainstream media, for reasons that escape me but would not have surprised Evelyn Waugh, whose  contempt for journalists  was one of his few endearing characteristics. The obvious explanations are: incorrigible ignorance; the imperative to personalise stories; or gullibility in swallowing US government spin, which brands Snowden as a spy rather than a whistleblower. In a way, it doesn't matter why the media lost the scent. What matters is that they did. So as a public se

A fine Byzantine church in Turkey has been converted into a mosque

Religion in Turkey :  Erasing the Christian past ON JULY 5th the mufti of Trabzon gathered with other citizens for the first Friday prayers of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, not at a mosque but at an ancient Byzantine church. The gathering was a symbolic re-enactment of the conquest in 1462 of this ancient Greek Black Sea port by Mehmet II, the Ottoman sultan who had wrested Constantinople from the Byzantines in 1453. He marked his victory by converting the Haghia Sophia cathedral of today’s Istanbul into a mosque. Haghia Sophia’s sister of the same name in Trabzon is less grand. Yet with its dazzling frescoes and magnificent setting overlooking the sea, the 13th-century building is regarded as one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture. As with other Christian monuments, the Haghia Sophia in Trabzon has become a symbol in the battle between secularists and Islamists. It was converted into a mosque around the 16th century and, after other incarnations, became a museu

Book review: The Frankfurt School at War - the Marxists Who Explained the Nazis to Washington

Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort ,  by FRANZ NEUMANN, HERBERT MARCUSE, and OTTO KIRCHHEIMER. edited by RAFFAELE LAUDANI reviewed by  William E. Scheuerman War makes for strange bedfellows. Among the oddest pairings that World War II produced was the bringing together of William “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) -- a precursor to the CIA -- and a group of German Jewish Marxists he hired to help the United States understand the Nazis. Donovan was a decorated veteran of World War I and a Wall Street lawyer linked to the Republican Party. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt tapped him to create the United States’ first dedicated nonmilitary intelligence organization. At that time, many in the foreign policy establishment saw intelligence and espionage as somewhat undignified, even unimportant. So Donovan cast a wide net, recruiting not only diplomats and professional spies but also film direc

TONY CURZON PRICE - Commercial masters of our Voice

If you want to understand a magazine, read its advertisements. Here’s the example from my favourite weekend indulgence, the brilliant UK edition of “The Week”. When I read it, for that hour on a Saturday breakfast, I inhabit a new persona. Its voice addresses me as a member of an English middle class with all its best virtues on display - humour combined with seriousness; responsibility without self-aggrandisement; common sense and clarity that doesn’t for that reason dumb down; and lots of entertainment. And addressed as that person, I feel that’s who I am - that’s what an audience does, and that’s where the power of the Voice comes from: by convincing you are something, you become it just a little more. So when I pick up the postal cellophane wrap, I am about to enter an identity. Only the advertisement on the back cover shows. It’s for Patek Philippe. A watch I’m neither ever likely to desire or to afford. But if you do desire one, or even have one, you’ll associate your desire

WHAT ABOUT 1984? - Mukul Kesavan on pogroms & political virtue

'The Congress, by a kind of historical default, is a pluralist party that is opportunistically communal while the BJP is an ideologically communal (or majoritarian) party that is opportunistically ‘secular ’..' NB - as the highlighted section below suggests, the perpetrators of the violence actually boast about it . This is as true of the Congress behaviour in the 1985 elections, as it is of the symbolic meaning of the title Hindu Hriday Samrat accorded to Modi. Is it a big secret that his samrat status is a means of signalling his 'great' deeds in 2002? Rajnath Singh, president of the BJP asks us to forget 2002. Does he really mean what he says? Has his parivar forgotten 2002? If it has, what makes Narandrabhai  Hindu Hriday Samrat ?  And why should we forget 2002 when till the other day his parivar was urging us  never to forget 1528 ? ******** The stock response of the Bharatiya Janata Party to the argument that Godhra makes Narendra Modi politically unt

AHMAD HOSNI - Revolution and the limits of populism

revolution is too loose a category to describe what is happening in Egypt. The real fight is not between revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces but between different strategies that lay claim to the idea of revolution.   Since the deposition of the Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi by the military on July 3, debate has circled around whether to call this a coup or a popular uprising. History has traditionally placed the two concepts at opposing poles from each other. This time they have become entangled as never before. Unorthodox positions have been taken up by political players on both sides: revolutionary groups, despite their previous attitudes to the military, have hailed the generals’ decision, while the conservative Muslim Brotherhood decries it a military coup on the basic premise of defending democracy. But the convergence of interest between the revolutionary forces and the military requires an altogether new term.  Coup is an unambiguous notion: when an army in

Chitradurga Deputy Commissioner Office Swarmed by Villagers & Thousands of Sheep

Protest against illegal diversion of Grasslands intensifies ●  Over 1,000 people gather along with 4,000 sheep protest against handing over of Amrithmahal Kavals to DRDO, IISC, BARC and other institutes ● Noted Writer Banjagere Jayaprakash and others address the rally and condemn the government’s move in illegally diverting Amrithmahal Kavals ● Residents of 80 villages threaten to boycott Lok Sabha polls if illegal diversion of Amrithmahal Kavals not reversed ● Memorandum submitted to DC highlighting severe impacts on rural life and asking for their rightful access to Kavals to be restored ● DC assures that until the cases are settled in the court, access to grazing, water and other needs in the Kavals will be reinstated Background The massive diversion of around 10,000 acres of Amrithmahal Kavals in Challakere Taluk in Chitradurga District for a variety of industrial, defence, institutional and infrastructure developments by the Deputy Commissioner of Chitradurga

The struggle to save Egypt's revolution

There was a time in Egypt when many hailed "one hand", one square, one people rising up to make their own history. That one-ness is no more . In Egypt today, a people pulls apart, two public spaces in Cairo are seething, and many hands are now said to be at work. In the iconic Tahrir Square, where protesters played a key role in ousting President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, "one hand" now includes the army which ousted the elected President Mohammed Morsi last week. In this famous gathering space, green laser lights and fireworks are now on sale to celebrate what banners emphatically proclaim was "not a coup" but the biggest demonstration in Egypt's history to put democracy back on track. In eastern Cairo, in tented encampments plastered with Morsi photographs around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, people are selling thick bamboo sticks which they insist are for self-defence against soldiers and police.  A widening array of makeshift stalls are al

French MP accused of saying Hitler 'didn't kill enough' Travellers (Romanis)

A centrist MP is facing expulsion from his party and legal action by the state after he allegedly said of French Travellers: "Hitler maybe didn't kill enough of them."  Gilles Bourdouleix, MP and mayor of the town of Cholet in the Maine and Loire region of western France, was reported to have made the comments on Sunday during an encounter with a group of Travellers who had parked over 100 caravans in a field owned by the local authority.  According to the local paper Le Courrier de L'Ouest, the meeting, in which Bourdouleix told the Travellers they would have to move on, was tense, with some Travellers accusing him of racism and a few making a Nazi salute towards him. During the exchange, as reported by the newspaper, a man said to Bourdouleix: "You know how to talk better than [the former president Nicolas] Sarkozy." The MP replied that "the law must be implemented".  There was murmuring and Bourdouleix reportedly said in a hushed tone: "

Maoism in Jharkhand - For Latehar villagers, a hill once their lifeline now a death-trap // Maoists raise crores through extortion

Even after the end of the anti-Maoist operation in Kumandih forest in Latehar, nobody told villagers in Jharkhand's Barkadih panchayat to keep away from Beang, the hill on which they depend for their survival. Neither the state, nor the Maoists. Till Jaspatia Devi, 45, had her legs blown off by a landmine when she went up the hill with her husband on July 14.  Jaspatia had stepped on one of the many pressure bombs planted by the Maoists to fortify their position atop the hill where they set up a training camp. After the June 25-July 11 operation by the police and CRPF, they left this camp and escaped. Although the forces scaled the hill and destroyed the camp, no demining operation was mounted. As a result, an unknown number of landmines lie over a 100-sq-km area.  "My parents had gone to Beang hill, 10 km from our village Jobla, at 5 am to pick dori (fruit of the mahua tree). As they were walking back around 8 am, my mother was some three paces ahead of my father. She was sud