Showing posts from March, 2014

Book review - Out, Damned Nightspot - Shakespeare and the Countess

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe By Chris Laoutaris Reviewed by  Anne Somerset  Out, Damned Nightspot William Shakespeare had good reason to hope that 1596 would prove a prosperous year for him. At great expense the impresario James Burbage had recently acquired and refitted a magnificent theatre where Shakespeare's works could be staged. Unlike the premises at which Shakespeare's theatrical company was then based, the new theatre at Blackfriars was not open to the elements, so plays could be put on even in winter. Large sums had been invested to provide excellent lighting and special-effects technology. Seats would be pricey and Shakespeare would be entitled to a share of the profits. Unfortunately for Shakespeare the venture incurred the disapproval of Elizabeth, Lady Russell, a venerable Blackfriars resident who set about organising a petition against the theatre. She prevailed upon almost all her neighbours to sign it, including her

Book Review: JENNIFER SCHUESSLER - Heidegger’s Notebooks Renew Focus on Anti-Semitism

It has long been one of the most contentious questions in 20th-century intellectual history: Just how much, and what kind, of a Nazi was the German philosopher  Martin Heidegger ? To his strongest detractors, Heidegger was a committed National Socialist whose hugely influential ideas about the nature of being and the dehumanizing effects of modern technology and much of the modern philosophical tradition itself were fatally compromised by his membership in Hitler’s party from 1933 to 1945. To his staunchest defenders, however, he was a Nazi of convenience — a sometime personal anti-Semite, perhaps, but a philosopher whose  towering intellectual achievements  are undiminished by temporary political dalliances or everyday bias. Now, the recent publication in  Germany  of the first three volumes of Heidegger’s private philosophical notebooks has brought the controversy roaring back, revealing what some say is an unmistakable smoking gun: overtly anti-Semitic statements, written in

Ashish Kothari: Modi as India's PM is a cause for worry for environmentalists

Narendra Modi  as India’s prime minister will be a development disaster. In Gujarat, his tenure as chief minister has seen worsening or stagnation of the health and livelihood prospects of the poor, and widespread ecological damage.  In a recent campaign speech in Goa, he declared that as prime minister, he will re-open mining (never mind that it is stayed by the Supreme Court due to its severe impact on water, environment and livelihoods). And his aggressive pushing of a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, at a staggering cost of   Rs.  500 crore, is a scary indication of a megalomania with grave national implications. The UPA’s record on environmental and livelihood concerns has been poor, with 250,000  hectares forest land sacrificed for mining, industrial and infrastructural projects, and with stagnation in employment generation. But even this could be overshadowed if Modinomics is given free rein. That development cannot be successful at the cost of the natural environment is

Arvind Memorial Trust Documentary on Industrial accidents - मौत और मायूसी के कारख़ाने

मौत और मायूसी के कारख़ाने Factories of Death and Despair   दूर बैठकर यह अन्दाज़ा लगाना भी कठिन है कि राजधानी के चमचमाते इलाक़ों के   अगल-बगल ऐसे औद्योगिक क्षेत्र मौजूद हैं जहाँ मज़दूर आज भी सौ साल पहले   जैसे हालात में काम कर रहे हैं। लाखों-लाख मज़दूर बस दो वक़्त की रोटी के   लिए रोज़ मौत के साये में काम करते हैं।... कागज़ों पर मज़दूरों के लिए  250  से ज्यादा क़ानून बने हुए हैं लेकिन काम के घण्टे ,  न्यूनतम मज़दूरी ,  पीएफ़ ,  ईएसआई कार्ड ,  सुरक्षा इन्तज़ाम जैसी चीज़ें यहाँ किसी भद्दे मज़ाक   से कम नहीं... आये दिन होने वाली दुर्घटनाओं और मज़दूरों की मौतों की ख़बर   या तो मज़दूर की मौत के साथ ही मर जाती है या फ़ि‍र इन कारख़ाना इलाक़ों की   अदृश्य दीवारों में क़ैद होकर रह जाती है। दुर्घटनाएँ होती रहती हैं ,  लोग   मरते रहते हैं ,  मगर ख़ामोशी के एक सर्द पर्दे के पीछे सबकुछ यूँ ही चलता   रहता है ,  बदस्तूर... फ़ैज़ के लफ़्ज़ों में: कहीं नहीं है ,  कहीं भी नहीं लहू का सुराग़ न दस्त-ओ-नाख़ून-ए-क़ातिल न आस्तीं पे निशाँ न सुर्ख़ी-ए-लब-ए-ख़ंज़र ,  न रंग-ए-नोक-ए-सनाँ न ख़ाक

Pakistani columnist & anchor Raza Rumi attacked, driver killed // Journalists in Pakistan: Here be dragons

speaking out against religious extremists can, and does, get you shot. LAHORE: An attack on noted columnist and TV anchor Raza Rumi led to the unfortunate death of his driver Mustafa on Friday evening. Raza Ahmed, popularly known as Raza Rumi, was injured in an attack along with his guard and driver near Raja Market.  According to TV reports, Rumi escaped with a minor injury and managed to shift his guard and driver to the hospital in critical condition.  However, his driver succumbed to his injuries. The guard’s condition is also said to be critical. Rumi said he was distraught over his driver's killing, whom he described as “innocent” and a breadwinner for 10 other family members.  “God has saved me. I just heard the... bullets when we took a turn near Raja Market and put my head down,” he told AFP, adding his bodyguard leapt to save him.  “Extremists want no counter narrative in the state that is why they are attacking alternative voices.” Amnesty International's P

Coal, natural gas & oil put 32 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere

By Juan Cole:  Burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) is putting 32 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere. Since CO2 is a greenhouse gas that traps heat from the sun on earth and prevents it radiating back out to space, this unprecedented human output is causing climate disruption, a process that will accelerate over the next few decades and will prove extremely costly to human society (if the latter can even survive). The only energy source that has a hope of fixing this problem and of resolving the coming energy crisis is solar. The cost of solar panels is falling rapidly, raising the hope that we can put in enough panels quickly enough to avoid the very worst scenario of carbon-induced climate disruption. (I put in 16 Enphase microinverter panels at my place this winter and they generated 120 kilowatt hours in the past week; my house and electric car averaged 150 kilowatt hours usage per week last month; and that is in Michigan at the tail en

Rowan Williams attacks Western lifestyle on eve of major report into climate change

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has attacked the Western world’s continued reliance on climate change inducing fossil fuels, warning that present lifestyles are "pushing the environment towards crisis". Citing the severe winter storms the hit the UK this winter, Dr Williams, who is now the chairman of Christian Aid, said that Britain “got off relatively lightly”, compared with some of the poorest countries in the world, where thousands have died as a result of extreme weather attributed to global warming.  Writing in  The Sunday Telegraph   he said: “It is those living in the typhoon-prone Philippines or in drought-ravaged Malawi who are being forced not only to deal with the miseries of flooded homes and prolonged disruption, but to make fundamental changes in their way of life.” He continued: “The chaos experienced in Britain came as a shock to many; but for millions around the world, this is nothing new.  “And there is a particularly bitter injust

Israel Guilty of Apartheid, Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians: UN Rapporteur

Richard Falk, United Nations rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories accused Israel last week of “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians. Speaking at a press conference, he said that Israeli policies bore “unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”  “Every increment of enlarging the settlements or every incident of house demolition is a way of worsening the situation confronting the Palestinian people and reducing what prospects they might have as the outcome of supposed peace negotiations,” he added. Falk is an American who is Jewish, is an international law expert and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University in the US . According to Falk, more than 11,000 Palestinians had lost their right to live in Jerusalem since 1966 due to Israel imposing residence laws favoring Jews. At the same time, the Israeli government was revoking Palestinian residence permits. “The 11,000 is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said, “because many m

The US is paying the cost of supporting the House of Saud

President Obama flew to Saudi Arabia to patch up relations with King Abdullah at the end of last week in his first visit in five years. The alliance had been strained by Saudi anger over US negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme and Obama’s refusal to go to war in Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad last year. For its part, the US is upset by Saudi Arabia covertly supporting al-Qa’ida-type movements in Syria and elsewhere. The US-Saudi relationship is a peculiar one in that it is between a reactionary theocratic monarchy – it is the only place in the world where women are not allowed to drive – and a republic that claims to be the chief exponent of secular democracy. The linkage is so solid that it was scarcely affected by 9/11, though al-Qa’ida and the hijackers had demonstrably close connections to Saudi Arabia . The Saudis want to persuade the US to make a greater effort to overthrow Assad in Syria . Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz told the Arab Lea

Brunei brings in system of Islamic law with punishments that include dismemberment..

The Sultan of Brunei, one of the world’s wealthiest rulers and a close ally of Britain, will this week oversee his country’s transition to a system of Islamic law with punishments that include flogging, the dismemberment of limbs and stoning to death.  The 67-year-old absolute monarch declared last year that he wanted to introduce a full sharia system in his oil-rich nation and warned critics who took to social media sites to complain that they could be prosecuted using the new laws.  The decision to introduce sharia and reintroduce the death penalty has been condemned by NGOs and legal rights campaigners, who say the new rules will breach international laws. It has also triggered alarm among some of Brunei’s non-Muslim communities, who will also be subject to some of the rulings. The development could put pressure on Britain to rethink its close relationship with Brunei, a former colony. A British regiment based in the country – the last surviving UK regiment stationed in East Asi

Many BJP leaders not informed about Modi-Sabir Ali meet

The divide in the Bharatiya Janata Party is deepening ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Sources now say that BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi kept party leaders in the dark as he initiated the induction of expelled JDU leader Sabir Ali into the party.  Sources have told CNN-IBN that Modi met Sabir Ali in Gandhinagar on March 6 without the knowledge of other BJP leaders. Sources say Modi's supporters in Gujarat took the initiative to bring in Sabir Ali. His induction is part of the strategy to have more Muslim faces in the BJP, say sources. Sources also say that BJP leaders in Delhi were informed of his induction much later. M eanwhile, Sabir Ali has now said that his membership of the BJP should be put on hold till party leaders' charges against him are cleared. This comes after BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Vinay Katiyar accused Ali of being close to Indian Mujahideen terrorist Yasin Bhatkal. Sabir Ali had earlier also said that he will quit politics if

Rohini Hensman: The Gujarat model of development & what it would do to the Indian economy

Modi’s policies are exactly the same as those which destroyed the economy of the US, the richest country in the world, resulting in the global crisis: wholesale privatisation and deregulation, extreme disparities in wealth, and unsustainable indebtedness. And they would have the same results in India, such as massive job losses, and worse.. Christine Lagarde: ‘Let me be frank: in the past, economists have underestimated the importance of inequality . They have focused on economic growth, on the size of the pie rather than its distribution. Today, we are more keenly aware of the damage done by inequality. Put simply, a severely skewed income distribution harms the pace and sustainability of growth over the longer term. It leads to an economy of exclusion, and a wasteland of discarded potential’.. For years the BJP, Modi, the corporates which support him and the media they control have bombarded us relentlessly with propaganda and lies about the mess that the UPA has made of the