Showing posts from August, 2014

Hypersonic weapons and the new global arms race

As top-secret, super-fast missile experiments go, it wasn't the most successful. This week the US  tested its Advanced Hypersonic Weapons system , the Pentagon's latest attempt to create a weapon that can reach any target in the world, in just an hour. Instead it exploded within four seconds of takeoff and fell back down to earth, causing undisclosed damage to the test site.  The crash site of the US military's hypersonic weapon, which exploded seconds after its launch at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. Photograph: Scott Wight/AP Yet while the system failed this test, it's unlikely to cool the enthusiasm for developing such a weapon – which has already sparked a new arms race  between   China ,   Russia   and the US – and which critics fear could potentially spark a nuclear war. The need for faster conventional weapons was underlined for the US back in 1998. Osama bin Laden had been spotted in a terrorist training camp in the east of Afghanistan, but when

China struggles with mental health problems of 'left-behind' children

Yes, it is just a simple stuffed toy. But put it into a child's arms and watch as he pretends to feed it, talks to it, even crowns it as a monarch. First, it gives him security; then it allows him to role-play and develop social skills. Chinese authorities hope tips like these, included in a book for parents and nursery teachers, will help to stem  mental health  problems among the country's young. While  budgets for child and adolescent mental health services are being frozen or cut  in the UK,  China  is seeking to expand provision, promote psychotherapeutic approaches and adopt preventative measures. Since 2012 Beijing nurseries and schools have promoted mental health as well as physical fitness. Last year China passed its first mental health law and told paediatricians to screen patients for warning signs: Do the three-month-old baby's eyes follow moving objects? At 18 months, can she make eye contact? Officials have also enlisted foreign psychotherapists to help t

To really combat terror, end support for Saudi Arabia // Why Does the U.S. Support Saudi Arabia, A Country Which Hosts and Finances Islamic Terrorism?

Saudi Arabia is the British arms industry’s biggest market, receiving £1.6bn of military exports. There are now   more than 200 joint ventures   between UK and Saudi companies worth $17.5 bn. The so-called war on terror is nearly 13 years old, but which rational human being will be cheering its success? We’ve had crackdowns on civil liberties across the world, tabloid-fanned generalisations about Muslims and, of course, military interventions whose consequences have ranged from the disastrous to the catastrophic. And where have we ended up? Wars that  Britons believe have made them less safe ; jihadists too extreme even for al-Qaida’s tastes running amok in Iraq and Syria; and nations like Libya succumbing to Islamist militias. There are failures, and then there are calamities. But as the  British government ramps up the terror alert to “severe”  and yet more  anti-terror legislation is proposed , some reflection after 13 years of disaster is surely needed. One element has been mi

'Reconverting' churches and Christians: BJP's 'Hindu Samaj' strategy in UP

The Meerut case in which a young woman was allegedly gang raped and forcibly converted to Islam was obviously not the last we heard about religious conversions in the dramatically polarised state of Uttar Pradesh. Just weeks after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's 'Dharm Jagran Vibhag' or religious awakening department promised  a "homecoming ceremony" for youth "rescued" from conversions in western Uttar Pradesh, a church in the region's Aligarh district was overnight turned into a Shiva temple following a "purification" ceremony for 72 members of the Valmiki caste who embraced Christianity in 1995. The ceremony took place inside a 7th Day Adventist church in Asroi, 30 km from Aligarh town,  according to The Times of India . " A cross was allegedly remove from the church and placed outside the gate and a portrait of Shiva installed ," the report said. The RSS's Khem Chandra, also chief of the Dharma Jagran Vibhag, was

Purushottam Agrawal - Response from Ministry of Home Affairs to my RTI query

Dear Friends,  I am glad to say that, even though belatedly, I have got a response from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India on my RTI query regarding reported destruction of historically important files and documents.  The details of the response, along with photographs of the original letter I have received, are up on my blog:  http://www.purushottamagrawal. com/2014/08/response-from- ministry-of-home-affairs-to- my-rti-query/ I would like to very sincerely thank all of you for your support and encouragement to this petition. I believe the enthusiastic support this petition received by South Asian scholars worldwide, and the consequent press attention, certainly helped put pressure on the government to respond adequately to this matter and clarify that historically important files have been sent to the National Archives of India for preservation and scholarly study.  Regards,  Purushottam As some of you may know, in July I had filed an RTI query with the Min

Book review: - The Mystery of Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Reviewed by - NATHANIEL RICH Seasoned fans of  Haruki Murakami,  having patiently waited three years since the gamma-ray blast of  1Q84 , will have a few pressing questions about the master’s newest book, even though they may be able to anticipate the answers: Is the novel’s hero an adrift, feckless man in his mid-30s? (Yep.) Does he have a shrewd girl Friday who doubles as his romantic interest? (Of course; conveniently, she is a travel agent, adept at booking sudden international trips.) Does the story begin with the inexplicable disappearance of a person close to the narrator? (Not one person— four , and they vanish simultaneously.) Is there a metaphysical journey to an alternate plane of reality? (Sort of: the alternate reality is Finland.) Are there gratuitous references to Western novels, films, and popular culture? (Let’s see, Barry Manilow, Arthur Conan Doyle, the Pet Shop Boys, Aldous Huxley, Elvis Presley … affirmative.)

Lawrence Donegan - Joan Baez: Singer, activist, peacenik, lover, legend

"I went to jail for 11 days for disturbing the peace; I was trying to disturb the war."  Joan Baez, 1967 Photo by Matthew Rolston (1987) The breeze is warm, the incense sticks are billowing out smoke and the conversation is mellow. “Clear,” Baez says when asked to describe her current state of mind. Her eyes glow with the light of a teenager. “Very clear.” Ask a silly question. For more than 50 years, Baez has been a central figure in the cultural and political life of the United States. A singer, an activist, a peacenik, a beauty, a lover (of some iconic men, it must be said). She is far too self-aware to utter the phrase “been there, done that”, but if she ever did, no one would take issue. Name a significant date in American politics since the early 1960s and she will either know the characters involved or have been involved in some way herself. “Oh Lou, I knew Lou,’’ she says casually when the name of the late  Lou Reed  comes up. “I didn’t know him until

Ellen Brown - Colonization by Bankruptcy: The High-stakes Chess Match for Argentina

If Argentina were in a high-stakes chess match, the country’s actions this week would be the equivalent of flipping over all the pieces on the board. –  David Dayen , Fiscal Times, August 22, 2014 Argentina is playing hardball with the vulture funds, which have been trying to force it into an involuntary bankruptcy. The vultures are demanding what amounts to a 600% return on bonds bought for pennies on the dollar, defeating a 2005 settlement in which 92% of creditors agreed to accept a 70% haircut on their bonds. A US court has backed the vulture funds; but last week, Argentina sidestepped its jurisdiction by transferring the trustee for payment from Bank of New York Mellon to its own central bank. That play, if approved by the Argentine Congress, will allow the country to continue making payments under its 2005 settlement, avoiding default on the majority of its bonds. Argentina is already foreclosed from international capital markets, so it doesn’t have much to lose by thw