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Showing posts from November, 2013

Daniel J. Zarin - Where the trees are disappearing

(CNN) -- The loss of native tropical forests accounts for more than 10% of the carbon emissions responsible for the changing climate, receiving much-deserved attention at the recent U.N. climate change conference in Warsaw.
When forests are cleared and burned, the carbon contained in the trees and other vegetation -- roughly half of their dry weight -- is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. Most of the carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity come from fossil fuels. But native tropical forests average about 150 tons of carbon per hectare, and millions of hectares are cleared and burned every year. Over the past decade, governments and industry have responded to growing pressure to reverse deforestation, sometimes committing to reducing it to zero. But with few exceptions, we've lacked the tools to assess accountability.
This changed when Science magazine published a groundbreaking analysis of annual deforest…

Thailand clashes: PM forced to flee as violent demonstrations escalate

A Thai government supporter was shot and killed early on Sunday at protests in Bangkok, raising the death toll to two as protesters invaded a police compound and forced the evacuation of the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, to a secret location. Some reports said anti-government demonstrators had seized control of the broadcaster Thai PBS. Police backed up by the military were attempting to protect government buildings amid the deadly street clashes between supporters and opponents of Yingluck and her billionaire brother, the ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Anti-government protesters on Sunday broke into the compound of a police sports club where the prime minister had been during the morning but she was able to leave the premises and went to an undisclosed location, an aide said. In another area of the city police fired teargas at protesters near Government House, where Yingluck's office is located, a Reuters witness said.

On Sunday about 70,000 government support…

Shamim Ahmed & Faruk Wasif - BANGLADESH: Debate on "The Hindu Question"

Hindus are nearly wiped out in Bangladesh. In 1941, the percentage of the Hindu population was 28%, in 1951 it was 22%, in 1961 it was 18.5%, in 1974 it was 13.5%, in 1981 it was 12.1%, in 1991 it was 11.6% and in 2001 it came down to 9.6%. The percentage of Hindus is reducing by about 3.2%, in every 10 years. Accordingly, in 2011 there should be around 6-7 Hindus in every 100 people. Although, the national dailies estimate that the rate of reduction to be higher – if that estimate is accepted, by now the percentage of Hindu population would be about 5%.

Truly, it is very difficult to read the minds of ‘discriminatory Bengali males’. They want equality, but do not want to give up their claims on ‘the greatness’. As ‘Bengali’ they are better than ‘Jummas’; as ‘Muslims’ they are better than ‘Hindus’; and as ‘Men’ they are better than ‘Women’. To change this situation we need law, a law that would safeguard ‘Hindus’, ‘Jummas’, ‘Women’ and all other ‘Inferiors’ from the superiority of the …

Bharat Bhushan - Project Modi Inc.

Project Modi Inc.
Asian Age. Nov 28, 2013 How does one understand the electoral project of promoting Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party? If “Project Modi” presents a candidate who is a champion of development and efficiency, it also portrays him as a corporate-friendly flag-bearer of aggressive Hindu nationalism. His image is contrasted to the ruling Congress Party’s, which is seen as effete, corrupt and dynastic.

“Project Modi” is first of all a personal project. Mr Modi has systematically ousted or marginalised all opponents within the party before emerging as its “tallest” leader. Organisational coups and expulsions left Mr Modi as the sole leader of stature in Gujarat. When his ambitions began to be directed towards Delhi, he managed to show up L.K. Advani as an aging contender unfit for the Prime Minister’s job. The second-rung central leaders of the party have either chosen to fall behind him or are nursing bruised egos unable to check his rise.…

London 'slave' group went from figures of fun to tiny underground commune // Tariq Ali - What the Maoist slavery sect tells us about the far left

The description in the February 1977 edition of the South London Workers' Bulletin is dramatic and breathlessly rhetorical. A hard-working young mother is harassed by a government social security officer over her involvement in a Maoist group. The woman defends herself, and then her young daughter raises a fist and starts singing The Internationale. The story concludes: "Faced with this militant solidarity, the welfare woman ran out like a rat." The woman in question later cut her ties with the group, the south London-based Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. Two others, however, did not – and seemingly lived with the group's charismatic leader, Aravindan Balakrishnan, for 30 years in conditions police allege amounted to a form of domestic slavery, until they left last month with the aid of a charity. The astonishing story of Aisha Wahab, now 69, and 57-year-old Josephine Herivel, along with a 30-year-old named in reports as Rosie Davies, ha…

Dhaka's vital clothing workers toil on despite teargas and death in the streets

Political turmoil has paralysed Bangladesh's capital – and some fear top western firms will pull out of the garment industry

The workers return long after the sun has set. Some walk across the concrete bridge which is the only link between the slum and the old city of Dhaka, then head towards the tenements on the far side. Others simply step off the high embankment beside the stinking river and, leaving the orange glow of three flickering street lights, disappear into the slum's narrow lanes. In one alley, behind a mosque and a carpenter's workshop, is a row of tin shacks which are home to about 200 people. As elsewhere across Kamrangir Char, one of the biggest and poorest slums in the world, most of the men here work on construction sites or pedalling rickshaws. Women are employed as domestic staff for the city's growing middle class or, increasingly, in the booming garment industry which supplies tens of millions of cheap shirts, trousers, sweaters and socks to high st…

Egypt’s Counter-Revolution: 21 Women and Girls Harshly Sentenced, Liberal Bloggers to be Arrested

The new anti-protest law in Egypt is roiling the country. On Thursday, a student at Cairo University was killed by police using live ammunition against a student demonstration. Youth leaders of the 2011 revolution are now also being targeted for calling for demonstrations against the law, including Ahmad Maher of April 6 and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah. Maher and other members of the left of center April 6 youth organization had also been prosecuted for protesting by the deposed government of Muhammad Morsi.
On Wednesday, an Egyptian court sentenced 11 adult women to 14 years in prison for protesting, and the teenaged girls arrested with them (one 15) were ordered to juvenile prison until they turn 21. They are members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s military-backed government, which deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi on July 3, has just passed a Draconian anti-protest law. Ironically, it has much in common with a law proposed by the deposed government of Morsi,…

Tom Bartlett - THE SCIENCE OF HATRED

What makes humans capable of horrific violence? Why do we deny atrocities in the face of overwhelming evidence? A small group of psychologists say they are moving toward answers. Is anyone listening?
The former battery factory on the outskirts of Srebrenica, a small town in eastern Bosnia, has become a grim tourist attraction. Vans full of sightseers, mostly from other countries, arrive here daily to see the crumbling industrial structure, which once served as a makeshift United Nations outpost and temporary haven for Muslims under assault by Serb forces determined to seize the town and round up its residents. In July 1995 more than 8,000 Muslim men, from teenagers to the elderly, were murdered in and around Srebrenica, lined up behind houses, gunned down in soccer fields, hunted through the forest.
The factory is now a low-budget museum where you can watch a short film about the genocide and meet a survivor, a soft-spoken man in his mid-30s who has repeated the story of his escape and …

Book review: FREDERIC RAPHAEL - Hitler and the hits

Ben Urwand THE COLLABORATION
Hollywood’s pact with Hitler
Reviewed by FREDERIC RAPHAEL
We begin, as film treatments so often say, in a screening room in Berlin in 1933. “At the front of the room was Dr. Ernst Seeger, the chief censor from long before Hitler came to power. Next to Seeger were his assistants: a conductor, a philosopher, an architect and a pastor. Further back were the representatives of a film distribution company and two expert witnesses. The movie they were about to watch came all the way from America, and it was called King Kong.” After the projection of the film, Dr Seeger asked Professor Zeiss, from the German Health Office, “In your expert opinion could this picture be expected to damage the health of normal spectators?”. Zeiss inquired whether the company trying to sell the film was German or American. When told that it was German, “Zeiss erupted. ‘I am astounded and shocked,’ he yelled, ‘that a German company would dare to seek permission for a film that can only …

Shefalee Vasudev -The rise of misogyny // Tejpal’s identity politics

The thousands of comments pouring in as responses to reports on the Tarun Tejpal rape accusation case as well as other crimes against women point to an intensifying tide of misogyny in society. In the many obstacles that the evolution of India as a feminist state will face—if it ever becomes one in the long run—this could be the biggest one. A large number of male readers with time and inclination to post comments on the Internet believe that a majority of rape victims are “crazy” women out to misuse the laws framed to protect them. While some freely abuse female victims of heinous and degrading crimes, calling them perpetrators of “injustice” against men and thus endangering the “future” of Indian society, others still continue to believe that every woman who has been molested has been deservedly punished for inviting a certain attention to herself. Some comments on Internet sites go as far as to suggest that organizations stop hiring women employees. According to them, that’s the onl…

Amulya Ganguli - Why an inquiry commission won’t solve Modi’s problem

The Narendra Modi government’s decision to set up a commission to inquire into the allegations of snooping by Gujarat’s official agencies of a young woman, reportedly at the behest of an unnamed “saheb”, will not mark the end of prevailing suspicions and innuendos. What is more, in its haste to defuse misgivings about the charges, the state government appears to have neglected to take into account the possible effects of its decision. 

For instance, what if the commission identifies, or fails to identify, the “saheb”. If it does, then the matter will be deeply disconcerting for the chief minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for the belief is that the “saheb” is none other than the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. The question will then arise as to why such a wide-ranging surveillance by several state agencies, including an anti-terrorism unit, was ordered. And, if the commission is tight-lipped about the identity, it will only substantiate the suspicion that its purpose was…