Sunday, 30 April 2017

Apoorvanand - By conferring a doctorate on Erdogan, Jamia is celebrating a regime that attacks academic freedom

NB: This is an atrocious decision by the Jamia authorities and will further worsen the climate of authoritarianism in India and the world. Erdogan is a communal dictator who holds intellectuals in utter contempt. He has ferociously attacked academics and journalists; against whom he launched a witch-hunt last July, closing over 100 newspapers and media outlets. Turkish intellectuals have denounced his regime as a dictatorship, whose elite is informed by a mix of neoliberal economic policies and political Islam. Apoorvanand rightly asks us to remember the smear campaign launched against Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University by those who hold power today. As Chomsky reminds us, it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak truth and expose lies. Jamia is lowering its status as a university by honouring Erdogan; and it is good that some of its alumni are protesting. 
Meanwhile Erdogan enjoys a warm welcome from the government and corporate organisations: DS

The decision of New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university to confer an honorary doctorate on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is extremely disturbing. The fact that he is not an academic is not the basis for the protests against the decision: there have been numerous occasions when personalities who are not professional academics have been recognised by universities for their work. Around the world, actors, business persons, journalists, writers and politicians have been honoured by universities for their achievements. This is done on the premise that they have chosen excellence as their pursuit and have made the world more humane through their work. These are the two values universities seek to inculcate in a society: excellence and humanity.

The university seeks to teach young people to do things with perfection. Success cannot be a matter of chance: things have to be done methodically. Training in method is important for scholarship. Even more important is the love or passion for the work that has been chosen as vocation. We gain our individuality at universities but also learn that knowledge cannot be created in isolation.

Universities value these principles and go out of the confines of their campuses to invite people who embody them. They seek to make them exemplars for their young scholars. This is the reason for the Dalai Lama or cricketer Rahul Dravid being honoured by universities. These people have made the world a better place, more beautiful, inviting and exciting. They give young people reason to believe in the possibilities of life. The business of scholarship or knowledge is also a quest for this possibility.

Education purge: No doubt, Erdogan is also a successful man. He is the head of a state. He has just secured for himself a mandate from the people of Turkey that gives him sweeping powers and makes it possible for him to be their dictator. However, under Erdogan, scholarship and the creation of knowledge has become a risky business.

Navigating love, navigating the Pacific - Haruki Murakami: On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning / Pius Mau Piailug, master navigator (1932-2010)

NB: Here are some selections from October 2011, the month I started blogging (you can see more posts by clicking the link). I thought of re-posting them because - well, they're interesting, and might prompt my readers to explore this blog a bit.. DS

The remarkable thing about Raag Darbaari is that he decried the system in spite of being an instrumental part of it - said a close friend of Shukla’s, former DGP Mahesh Chandra Dwivedi, an author in his own right.. It was ironical that the man famous for his sharp commentary on governance and administration should receive his final recognition, the Jnanpith Award, on his deathbed. NB: We can only imagine what he might have said about this belated recognition by the servants of the public

According to Murakami, “1Q84” is just an amplification of one of his most popular short stories, which (in its English version) is five pages long. “Basically, it’s the same,” he told me. “A boy meets a girl. They have separated and are looking for each other. It’s a simple story. I just made it long.”

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo's fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she's not that good-looking. She doesn't stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn't young, either - must be near thirty, not even close to a "girl," properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She's the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there's a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert..." read the story:

IN THE spring of 1976 Mau Piailug offered to sail a boat from Hawaii to Tahiti. The expedition, covering 2,500 miles, was organised by the Polynesian Voyaging Society to see if ancient seafarers could have gone that way, through open ocean. The boat was beautiful, a double-hulled canoe named Hokule’a, or “Star of Gladness” (Arcturus to Western science). But there was no one to captain her. At that time, Mau was the only man who knew the ancient Polynesian art of sailing by the stars, the feel of the wind and the look of the sea. So he stepped forward. As a Micronesian he did not know the waters or the winds round Tahiti, far south-east. But he had an image of Tahiti in his head. He knew that if he aimed for that image, he would not get lost. And he never did. More than 2,000 miles out, a flock of small white terns skimmed past the Hokule’a heading for the still invisible Mataiva Atoll, next to Tahiti. Mau knew then that the voyage was almost over. On that month-long trip he carried no compass, sextant or charts. He was not against modern instruments on principle. A compass could occasionally be useful in daylight; and, at least in old age, he wore a chunky watch. But Mau did not operate on latitude, longitude, angles, or mathematical calculations of any kind. He walked, and sailed, under an arching web of stars moving slowly east to west from their rising to their setting points, and knew them so well—more than 100 of them by name, and their associated stars by colour, light and habit—that he seemed to hold a whole cosmos in his head, with himself, determined, stocky and unassuming, at the nub of the celestial action.... read more

Whoever embraces a woman is Adam. The woman is Eve.
Everything happens for the first time.
I saw something white in the sky. They tell me it is the moon, but
what can I do with a word and a mythology.
Trees frighten me a little. They are so beautiful.
The calm animals come closer so that I may tell them their names.
The books in the library have no letters. They spring forth when I open them.
Leafing through the atlas I project the shape of Sumatra.
Whoever lights a match in the dark is inventing fire.
Inside the mirror an Other waits in ambush.
Whoever looks at the ocean sees England.
Whoever utters a line of Liliencron has entered into battle.
I have dreamed Carthage and the legions that destroyed Carthage.
I have dreamed the sword and the scale.
Praised be the love wherein there is no possessor and no possessed, but both surrender.
Praised be the nightmare, which reveals to us that we have the power to create hell.
Whoever goes down to a river goes down to the Ganges.
Whoever looks at an hourglass sees the dissolution of an empire.
Whoever plays with a dagger foretells the death of Caesar.
Whoever dreams is every human being.
In the desert I saw the young Sphinx, which has just been sculpted.
There is nothing else so ancient under the sun.
Everything happens for the first time, but in a way that is eternal.
Whoever reads my words is inventing them.

Book review: Hemingway and Dos Passos, great friends destined to be great enemies

THE AMBULANCE DRIVERS: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War
By  James McGrath Morris

Reviewed by Gary Krist

Being one of the premier literary figures of your generation can be a lonely business. Just ask Ernest Hemingway. According to Hadley Richardson, the author’s first wife, Hemingway always had trouble finding friends he could connect with “on his level, and with the same interests.” But there was one notable exception: “John Dos Passos,” she once told an interviewer, “was one of the few people . . . whom Ernest could really talk to.”

Certainly the two writers had a few significant things in common. Both born in Chicago, they each served a formative stint as an ambulance driver in Europe during World War I, distilling the experience into war novels that helped shape the postwar American consciousness. And for several decades around the mid-1900s, both would have appeared on virtually any critic’s list of the greatest American novelists of the century.

But there the similarities ended. Dos Passos, who was born out of wedlock, grew up in a series of European hotel rooms and was educated at Choate and Harvard. Sickly and physically awkward, he wore thick eyeglasses, spoke with a stutter and was never much of a ladies’ man. Hemingway, the product of a much more stable and conventional Midwestern family, never went to college but always exuded an intellectual confidence and insouciant athleticism that made him a great favorite with the opposite sex. Dos Passos was a lifelong political activist, while Hemingway (with one or two exceptions) typically steered clear of movements and causes. Books by Dos Passos seldom sold well; books by Hemingway seldom didn’t. And yet, as James McGrath Morris illustrates in his trim and absorbing new book, somehow the two writers managed to maintain an intense, often competitive friendship over many years — until one major disagreement in the 1930s tore them apart, leaving behind a bitterness that lasted until Hemingway’s suicide in 1961.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

1% Of Indians Own 53% Of Country's Wealth:

Indicating that inequality in India is increasing, a study by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission released here on Thursday said that the richest one percent own 53 percent of the country's wealth. It also said that unlike other countries, development in India is not moving across states. "In terms of wealth inequality, India is second only to Russia, where the richest 1 percent own 53 percent of the country's wealth," said the report, 'The Better Business, Better World' released here in a two day event of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) focussing on how through bold innovation, businesses can create solutions and tap new opportunities found within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UNGC, SDGs can open at least $1 trillion of market opportunity for the private sector in India. "This is out of a total global value of $12 trillion that could be unlocked by sustainable business models in four key areas, food and agriculture, energy, cities and health," she said. Kingo added that over 72 million new jobs could be created in India by 2030 by adapting a sustainable business model.

About addressing the disparity, the report says that to reduce the inequality, India needs a 'different economic model' -- one that is not only low-carbon but also recognizes poverty, inequality and lack of financial access. "As the second largest food producer in the world, India needs a more focused approach to developing and managing its agricultural sector and agri-based industrialisation," it says.
Stating that rising inequality leads to slower progress in reducing poverty, the report added that Oxfam has calculated that if India were to stop inequality from rising further, it could end extreme poverty for 90 million people as early as 2019.

“Only in America can a Muslim get on this stage and make fun of the President” - Hasan Minhaj’s Speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner

“The Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj was Saturday’s host at the Trump-less White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington. Minhaj ripped everyone from Bill O’Reilly to the 45th President (“In four hours Donald Trump will be tweeting about how badly Nicki Minaj bombed at this dinner”). He also turned serious to acknowledge the importance of free speech in America, a theme that echoed throughout the night at the annual media meets the White House event.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All
“Only in America can a Muslim get on this stage and make fun of the President,” Minhaj said. He added: “The man who tweets everything that enters his head, refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it.” 

Watch the video:

A mailer worth subscribing to: SACW - 30 April 2017 | Why they lynched Mashal Khan and Pehlu Khan / Patriotism of paranoia / Umbrella politics of Hindutva / 2016 World Defense Spending

For those interested in critical commentary in the region - South Asia Citizens Wire (SACW) has been the leading free source of news and information since 1996; and helped build links across borders. You can subscribe to it through this link 

South Asia Citizens Wire - 30 April 2017 - No. 2935 [via South Asia Citizens Web]

1. Why they lynched Mashal Khan and Pehlu Khan | Pervez Hoodbhoy
2. 2017 US report on religious freedom says minorties & secular intelligentsia under attack
3. Sri Lanka: Memoirs of a Christian and a Socialist
4. The patriotism of paranoia | Ramachandra Guha
5. Video: ’Emphasize citizenship over narrow identities’ - Dipankar Gupta interview
6. India’s Growing Consensus | Achin Vanaik
7. India’s New Face | Hartosh Singh Bal
8. India: Press Statement by Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) [A social movement opposed to displacement]
9. Video: Nationalism In Digital India - Who Defines and Who Decides | Dehradun Community Literature Festival 2017
10. India: The Conspiracy Behind Babri Mosque Demolition | Ram Puniyani
11. India: Umbrella politics of Hindutva | Apoorvanand
12. M.N. Roy Memorial Lecture: Free Speech, Nationalism and Sedition by Justice AP Shah (retired)
13. 2016 World Defense Spending Data Charts on Top Spenders
14. Recent on Communalism Watch:
 - Video: How the RSS poisons people's minds - Excerpt from Lalit Vachani's film "The Men in The Tree"
 - India: What has drawn women in the ‘right wing’ (Manu Joseph)
 - India: Hartosh Singh Bal Interviews D.N. Jha regarding his book 'Rethinking Hindu Identity' (2009)
 - India: Employers (public or private) should have no business asking personal information on citizen's caste or religion; Emplyess should refuse to give such data
 - Connecting the dots: The BJP, Hindutva and fringe organisations (Book Review) IANS April 26, 2017
 - En Inde aussi, l’extrême droite est en finale [In India too the Extreme Right is in the Final] (Guillaume Delacroix)
 - Wohin geht Indien? Rolf Bauer's Comment in Austrian Newspaper Wiener Zeitung
 - India: Ethics is the answer (Anand Patwardhan)
 - India: The chronicle of a visit to cow vigilante victim Pehlu Khan’s village (Harsh Mander)
 - Excerpt from 2017 Madhu Dandavate Memorial Lecture 'UP verdict: It’s impact on Indian Polity' by Saba Naqvi
 - India: Vigilantes Attack Cattle Transporters in South Delhi . . .
 - India: Just as in Kashmir, Policemen and institions of state are assaulted in UP -- by goons of BJP, Bajrang Dal, VHP and others from the Hindutva circuit
 - India: Supreme Court imparts some momentum to interminable Babri Masjid trial (Editorial, The Times of India, 21 April 2017)
 - India: UP under Adityanath - Hoardings asking Kashmiris to leave UP appear in Meerut (ANI)

::: URLs & FULL TEXT :::
15. India: We have failed to protect ‘Idea of India’ - An open letter to all opposition parties | Manoj K Jha
16. Fear and loathing: Can India be prevented from becoming another Pakistan? | Kanti Bajpai
17. A vote for radicalism in Indonesia | John McBeth
18. Brazil Paralyzed by Nationwide Strike, Driven by a Familiar Global Dynamic of Elite Corruption and Impunity | Glenn Greenwald
19. #Vanlife, the Bohemian Social-Media Movement | Rachel Monroe

How Climate Scientists Can Save Lives by Predicting Glacial Collapse By Bob Berwyn

Some global warming impacts, like sea level rise, creep up on you a millimeter at a time. But others hit fast and hard, like a pair of 2016 avalanches in Tibet, when two giant glaciers crumbled, unleashing walls of ice that raced downhill at 120 kilometers per hour.

The first of the two avalanches, last July, killed nine yak herders along with scores of their animals when it ran six kilometers down a slope of the Aru Mountains of the Tibetan Plateau. A second avalanche, just 2.6 kilometers south and nearly as big, broke loose last September. Each of the Tibet avalanches spread icy slurry across across more than eight square kilometers, piling enough debris to fill 2,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

“That one such event should occur is remarkable; two is unprecedented. The most likely explanation for the Tibet avalanches, and the associated glacial collapse, is climate change,” as University of Sheffield researcher Dave Petley wrote in an American Geophysical Union blog post last year.
Researchers describe these patterns as “a new kind of glacier collapse never documented before.”

Learning how and why the slides happened when they did has a very practical purpose. With enough information, experts could provide early warning for future large-scale glacier avalanches, potentially saving lives, according to French glaciologist Etienne Berthier, who spoke on April 25th at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, presenting an abstract of ongoing research into the Tibet avalanches.

“Other glaciers in the same range farther north have also been surging recently, which is an early warning sign. Could more such glaciers collapse in the future? We now have a recipe for how such disasters can happen,” Berthier said… read more:

Glenn Greenwald - Brazil Paralyzed by Nationwide Strike, Driven by Global Dynamic of Elite Corruption and Impunity

JUST OVER one year ago, Brazil’s elected President, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached – ostensibly due to budgetary lawbreaking – and replaced with her centrist Vice President, Michel Temer. Since then, virtually every aspect of the nation’s political and economic crisis – especially corruption – has worsened. Temer’s approval ratings have collapsed to single digits. His closest political allies – the same officials who engineered Dilma’s impeachment and installed him in the presidency - recently became the official targets of a sprawling criminal investigation. The President himself has been implicated by new revelations, saved only by the legal immunity he enjoys. It’s almost impossible to imagine a presidency imploding more completely and rapidly than the unelected one imposed by elites on the Brazilian population in the wake of Dilma’s impeachment.

The disgust validly generated by all of these failures finally exploded this week. A nationwide strike, and tumultuous protests in numerous cities, today has paralyzed much of the country, shutting roads, airports and schools. It is the largest strike to hit Brazil in at least two decades. The protests were largely peaceful, but some random violence emerged.

The proximate cause of the anger is a set of “reforms” that the Temer government is ushering in that will limit the rights of workers, raise their retirement age by several years, and cut various pension and social security benefits. These austerity measures are being imposed at a time of great suffering, with the unemployment rate rising dramatically and social improvements of the last decade, which raised millions of people out of poverty, unravelling. As the New York Times put it today: “The strike revealed deep fissures in Brazilian society over Mr. Temer’s government and its policies.”.. 
read more:

Another Way Facebook and Google May Be Undermining Democracy By Tom Jacobs

Google and Facebook have, in recent months, belatedly began to engage in the battle against fake news. But the fact so much misinformation has proliferated on their platforms is only one of the ways these technology giants may be endangering democracy. Newly published research points to another: It finds the tools these companies offer to customize our news feeds result in users getting less and less exposure to viewpoints that challenge their own.

“Originally conceived by computer and information scientists as a way to help users cope with increasing information overload, customizability technology appears to have a dark side,” writes a research team led by Ivan Dylko of the University at Buffalo. “It enables individuals to surround themselves with information supporting their preexisting political attitudes.”

The researchers report this effect was strongest for “ideologically moderate individuals,” potentially pulling them in a polarized direction. Such a dynamic “can undermine important foundations of deliberative democracy,” they write in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. The study - one of the first to address this issue - featured 93 students from a university in the southwestern United States. All began by filling out a questionnaire measuring their political attitudes and ideology. Four weeks later, they were asked to provide feedback on “a new political news website.”

The students were randomly assigned to try one of several versions of the site, including one in which they could select the ideology of their information sources, and another in which the computer software performed similar sorting. The computer’s choices of what to include and exclude were based on the information participants provided in their questionnaire; they were not informed that this automated customization had taken place. The researchers measured how often participants clicked on articles that supported or opposed the students’ political preferences, and how much time they spent reading each.

Not surprisingly, use of either customized technology decreased the number of clicks, and time spent reading, articles espousing viewpoints that differed from those of the user. More insidiously, the automated form of customization produced a stronger such effect than the one where the user consciously chose what sorts of articles he or she wanted to read. Why would that be? The researchers note that “actively and intentionally avoiding counter-attitudinal political information” diminishes our ability to see ourselves as fair-minded. Holding onto a positive self-image — which is a priority for virtually everyone — may inspire us to at least occasionally check out what the other side is saying... read more:

see also
Jacques Camatte: The Wan­dering of Humanity

AKASH BISHT - Tribals up in arms after govt links Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti with Maoists in Odisha

On 25 April, hundreds of tribals and several members of various civil society organisations protested outside the Vedanta's refinery plant in Lanjigarh, Odisha. Agitated with the recent Union Home Ministry's report linking Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) with the Maoists, the tribals called the report fabricated, demanding that it be withdrawn immediately and that no efforts should be made to link a democratic and constitutional body like the NSS with the ultra left outfit.

BASELESS ALLEGATIONS: Speaking to Catch from Lanjigarh, NSS organiser Lingaraj Azad said that these allegations are baseless and that the outfit has been loggerheads with the Maoists on multiple issues including the mindless violence carried out by them against innocent villagers.
“NSS is a democratic, constitutional and progressive front that has been fighting for the poor Dongaria Kondh tribes living in 160 villages. We have been fighting the cause of the tribals much before the Maoists came here. So Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government should stop linking us with the Maoist Front,” Lingaraj said. 

According to him, the government has linked the two to weaken the tribals’ resolve to stop Vedanta from exploiting the Niyamgiri hills, which are famous for their incredible biodiversity. “We defied the Maoists in 2013 when they threatened us with dire consequences if we held gram sabhas in 12 villages affected by mining. We still went ahead. We have been fighting the Maoists, government and Vedanta for more than 14 years and would not stop now,” Lingaraj claimed.

THE CONCERNS: The Home Ministry, in its report, claimed, “In 2016, the issue of displacement of local communities remained the main plank of mobilization by the mass organisations. In Niyamgiri Hills area (Districts Rayagada and Kalahandi, Odisha), the outfit (Maoists) continued to guide the activities of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti. Similarly in Jharkhand the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan a front of the CPI (Maoist), tried to take up pro-tribal issues and opposed amendments to the Chhotanagpur and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Acts, modifications in Domicile Policy etc. Maoist affiliates also undertook protest programmes and resorted to anti-Government propaganda over alleged atrocities by Security Forces.”.. read more:

Alexei Navalny on Putin's Russia: 'All autocratic regimes come to an end'

Alexei Navalny is in good spirits for a man who can hardly step outside without being insulted, assaulted or arrested. Earlier this month he was released from a 15-day stint in a Russian jail. And on Thursday, in Moscow, unknown assailants threw green dye in his face, the second such attack in recent months. But his habitual half-smirk never seems to waver.

Perhaps it is because, as Vladimir Putin prepares to stand for yet another presidential term in elections next March, Navalny is threatening to bring some life to the arid landscape that is Russian politics. Navalny was imprisoned because of a protest he called for on 26 March. It surprised everyone with its size. In Moscow alone, police detained more than 1,000 people, and jailed dozens. Although the numbers were small in absolute terms, people protested in dozens of towns across Russia, marking a worrying new development for the Kremlin.

For Navalny, the fortnight behind bars seems to have been an energising rather than a demoralising experience. “There were some others in the jail, and for all of them it was their first protest in their lives,” says Navalny when I meet him in his office in a Moscow business centre. “When they saw me walking past, they were calling out, ‘When’s the next protest?’ They weren’t asking if there would be one, they wanted to know when.”

Navalny, 40, is a lawyer-turned- campaigner whose Anti-Corruption Foundation carries out investigations into the wealth of Putin’s inner circle. After some years when he was on the fringes of liberal politics but known for his Russian nationalist views, Navalny emerged as the main opposition leader in the wave of protests that accompanied the build-up to the last Russian presidential election, in 2012. The day he was arrested, security agents showed up at his office, packed up all the electronics and walked off with them. When I visit, nothing has yet been returned. He is working on a MacBook with a sticker on it bearing the three-letter Russian word “VOR”, meaning “thief”. A grotesque caricature of Putin’s face peers at me through the O. 

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov looks down at us from a calendar released by the foundation, listing its key investigations. In 2015, Navalny alleged that Peskov had spent his honeymoon on one of the world’s most expensive sailing boats, and spotted him wearing a limited-edition watch worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. (Peskov denied the boat trip and said the watch was a wedding gift.) Navalny has also accused deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov’s wife of using a private jet to fly her pet corgis around Europe, and obtained drone footage of the palatial residences of other ministers and top officials.

Navalny’s most recent investigation was into the prime minister and one-time placeholder president, Dmitry Medvedev, alleging that the man who was once heralded as the beginning of a new liberal era for Russia in fact controlled an empire of luxury residences, vineyards and yachts. “It really pissed people off,” says Navalny. It was the Medvedev investigation that brought people to the streets in March. “Everyone already thought Medvedev was pathetic and pointless, but it turns out he’s pathetic, pointless and a billionaire.”.. read more:

Turkey blocks Wikipedia under law designed to protect national security

Turkey has blocked Wikipedia, the country’s telecommunications watchdog said on Saturday, citing a law that allows it to ban access to websites deemed obscene or a threat to national security. The move is likely to further worry rights groups and Turkey’s western allies, who say Ankara has curtailed freedom of speech and other basic rights in the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup.

“After technical analysis and legal consideration ... an administrative measure has been taken for this website,” the BTK watchdog said in a statement on its website. It cited a law that allows it to block access to individual web pages or entire sites for the protection of public order, national security or the wellbeing of the public. BTK is required to submit such measures to a court within 24 hours. The court then has two days to decide whether the ban should be upheld. 

A block on all language editions of the online encyclopaedia was detected 0500 GMT on Saturday, monitoring group Turkey Blocks said on its website. “The loss of availability is consistent with internet filters used to censor content in the country,” it said. When attempting to access the webpage using Turkish internet providers, users received a notice that the site could not be reached and a “connection timed out” error. Monitoring groups have accused Turkey of blocking access to social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook, particularly in the aftermath of militant attacks.

The government has in the past denied doing so, blaming the blackouts on spikes in usage after major events. Technical experts at watchdog groups, however, say they are intentional, aimed in part at stopping the spread of militant images and propaganda. Since last year’s failed coup, authorities have sacked or suspended more than 120,000 people from the civil service, police and judiciary and arrested more than 40,000. The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the measures were needed given the scope of the security threat Turkey faced. Turkey jailed 81 journalists last year, more than any other country in the world, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

JNU Students File Complaint Against Websites That Falsely Accused Them Of Celebrating Sukma Naxal Attack

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union on Thursday filed a complaint against two websites for allegedly spreading malicious reports that the students were glorifying the Sukma naxal attack.
"The websites and are spreading reports claiming that JNU students are glorifying the Sukma naxal attack," JNUSU president Mohit Kumar Pandey said.
The pictures linked with the reports are of celebrations in September 2015 and the 2013 JNUSU elections, and another picture was taken when former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar got bail in 2016, he added.

He alleged that the websites had ideologies similar to that of the BJP and the RSS and the reports were spread widely. "Spread of such content is maligning JNU students who are actively participating in several social service activities. Students and faculties are getting threats of murder, rape and are being abused because of this," Mohit said. "We request you to register an FIR against people who are behind such websites and make sure that such incidents are not repeated," he said in the complaint.

The police officials confirmed that the complaint is being currently examined.

Cassini's Last View of Earth

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows planet Earth as a point of light between the icy rings of Saturn. The spacecraft captured the view on April 12, 2017 at 10:41 p.m. PDT (1:41 a.m. EDT). Cassini was 870 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) away from Earth when the image was taken. Although far too small to be visible in the image, the part of Earth facing toward Cassini at the time was the southern Atlantic Ocean.

Earth's moon is also visible to the left of our planet in a cropped, zoomed-in version of the image.
The rings visible here are the A ring (at top) with the Keeler and Encke gaps visible, and the F ring (at bottom). During this observation Cassini was looking toward the backlit rings, making a mosaic of multiple images, with the sun blocked by the disk of Saturn.

Seen from Saturn, Earth and the other inner solar system planets are all close to the sun, and are easily captured in such images, although these opportunities have been somewhat rare during the mission. The F ring appears especially bright in this viewing geometry.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate,  Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit 

The Cassini imaging team homepage is at

SHIMA SHAHRABI - What do the Revolutionary Guards Have Against my Daughter?

When Masoumeh Nemati answers the telephone, I introduce myself. I say I’m calling for an interview. “I was waiting for the phone to ring,” she says, her voice sounding strange. “Atena calls on Saturdays. I thought it was Atena.” For the last 15 days, the imprisoned civil rights activist Atena Daemi, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for her human rights work, has refused to eat. Her mother, Masoumeh Nemati, is determined to make sure her daughter’s story is told.  “Last Sunday when we went to visit her she had lost five kilos. She must have lost more than ten kilos by now. What else can happen to somebody who has lived on sugar water for 15 days?”

If Atena’s story gets out to the world, Nemati says, maybe authorities will listen, and maybe her 29-year old daughter will break her hunger strike. “I worked hard to bring up my child,” she says, “and now she is melting away right before my eyes.” Daemi, who is detained at Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward, has been on a hunger strike since April 8. Her strike is a protest against a verdict — but not her own. She is protesting because of the verdict brought against her two sisters, Aniseh and Hanieh. In March, Branch 1163 of the Qods Criminal Court in Tehran issued a suspended 91-day sentence to Aniseh and Hanieh Daemi following a complaint by the Revolutionary Guards, who accused them of “resisting agents carrying out their duty” and “insulting agents while on duty.”

Psychological Torture: Insisting that the verdict is unjust, Daemi wrote an open letter to judicial authorities on April 8. She said she would continue her hunger strike until her sisters are acquitted of the charges. “I will not let the security agencies trample their own laws and abuse our families as a means of psychological torture to create a climate of fear,” she wrote.  Daemi, a defender of the rights of working children, was first arrested on October 21, 2014. The Revolutionary Guards held her for several months in “temporary detention” and in solitary confinement at Evin Prison in Tehran. On March 7, 2016, 

Daemi stood trial on charges of “conspiracy against national security,” “propaganda against the regime,” “insulting the Supreme Leader and the sacred,” and “concealing evidence of a crime.”
According to a source quoted by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, all charges against Daemi were based on her Facebook posts, information stored on her phone, and her participation in gatherings to oppose the death penalty and to support the children of Kobane in Syria.

In the lower court, Judge Mohammad Moghiseh – a man the European Union has accused of violating defendants’ human rights – sentenced Daemi to 14 years in prison. The sentence was consolidated by the appeals court and converted to a seven-year sentence based on the Penal Code of the Islamic Republic. (Under Article 134 of the Penal Code, some sentences can be served simultaneously.) After 16 months in detention, she was released on bail. In November 2016, she was instructed to begin serving her sentence. “I am worried about my family but I am staying the course that I have chosen,” she told IranWire. “This choice was not easy for me to make, but I have made my decision.”

Masked Agents, No Warrant: On November 26, 2016, Revolutionary Guards agents arrived at her home without notice and forcefully transported Daemi to Evin Prison. “When they contacted us and told us that her furlough was over and she had to start serving her sentence we contacted her lawyer,” says Daemi’s mother. “He said that we had at least five days after being informed. Her father and I went on a trip, but two days before she was to start her sentence, Revolutionary Guards agents came to our home. They forced their way in without showing a warrant or any ID. They had covered their faces as well. In such a situation it is only logical for family members to intervene. Atena’s sisters called 110 [the police]. Words were exchanged and a clash followed; one agent used pepper spray.”

After the ordeal, Aniseh and Hanieh Daemi and Hanieh’s husband Hossein Fatemi were summoned to the office of Evin’s Prosecutor. Fatemi was released without charge, but Aniseh and Hanieh were charged and released on a bail of around $12,000. When the court announced its verdict against her sisters, Atena Daemi first staged a sit-in next to the prison guards’ office for four days and three nights. She announced that she would go on a hunger strike if she did not receive a response to her demand. “We repeatedly went to Evin and talked to Assistant Prosecutor Mr. Haji Moradi,” says Masoumeh Nemati. “‘Please tell Atena not to go on hunger strike,’ I told him. ‘Convince her that you will review her demand.’ He promised to pursue the matter but he did not go himself. He sent the deputy prison head to see Atena and he told her that what she was doing was illegal and she could be sentenced for the sit-in. ‘You should have left Iran when you were out on bail,’ he told her. ‘People like you are hypocrites and turncoats.’”

“Private” Plaintiffs: Atena Daemi's family members have appealed to judiciary officials, members of parliament, government officials and other authorities in an effort to bring an end to her hunger strike. But she continues her protest, and cannot be persuaded otherwise. “The only thing that they had to say,” says Atena’s mother Masoumeh Nemati, was that “the plaintiff in your daughters’ case is not the Revolutionary Guard [Corps] itself but their agents,’ meaning that the plaintiffs are private individuals. I really don’t know what the Guards have against my daughter. Isn’t it the Guards’ duty to guard the country? Then what do they have against the people?”

According to Nemati, the Daemi family has filed a complaint against the Revolutionary Guards’ agents but to no avail. “Atena has complained against them and so has her father after the clash, but they have completely disregarded the complaints.” On April 21, Masoumeh Nemati wrote an open letter to Asma Jahangir, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, explaining her daughter’s situation and describing her condition. She appealed to Jahangir to help save her daughter.

“Atena called on Tuesday,” she says. “She told her sister, ‘I cannot stand. I feel faint, my heart is beating too fast and my blood pressure is low.’ She suffers from infection in her digestive system and kidneys. We are worried sick. Not only can we not eat anything, we can’t breathe either.”

“May god save any mother from going through this,” Nemati says, her voice broken.

see also

Review essay - What’s Left? Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 5 new books on the Russian Revolution

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China Miéville

The Russian Revolution 1905-1921 by Mark D. Steinberg

Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 by S.A. Smith

The Russian Revolution: A New History by Sean McMeekin

Historically Inevitable? Turning Points of the Russian Revolution by Tony Brenton

For Eric Hobsbawm, the Russian Revolution – which occurred, as it happens, in the year of his birth – was the central event of the 20th century. Its practical impact on the world was ‘far more profound and global’ than that of the French Revolution a century earlier: for ‘a mere thirty to forty years after Lenin’s arrival at the Finland Station in Petrograd, one third of humanity found itself living under regimes directly derived from the [revolution] … and Lenin’s organisational model, the Communist Party’. Before 1991, this was a fairly standard view, even among historians who, unlike Hobsbawm, were neither Marxists nor Communists. But finishing his book in the early 1990s, Hobsbawm added a caveat: the century whose history he was writing was the ‘short’ 20th century, running from 1914 to 1991, and the world the Russian Revolution had shaped was ‘the world that went to pieces at the end of the 1980s’ – a lost world, in short, that was now being replaced by a post-20th-century world whose outlines could not yet be discerned. What the place of the Russian Revolution would be in the new era was unclear to Hobsbawm twenty years ago, and largely remains so to historians today. That ‘one third of humanity’ living under Soviet-inspired systems before 1989-91 has dramatically dwindled. As of 2017, the centenary of the revolution, the number of Communist states in the world is down to a handful, with China’s status ambiguous and only North Korea still clinging to the old verities.

Nothing fails like failure, and for historians approaching the revolution’s centenary the disappearance of the Soviet Union casts a pall. In the rash of new books on the revolution, few make strong claims for its persisting significance and most have an apologetic air. Representing the new consensus, Tony Brenton calls it probably one of ‘history’s great dead ends, like the Inca Empire’. On top of that, the revolution, stripped of the old Marxist grandeur of historical necessity, turns out to look more or less like an accident. Workers – remember when people used to argue passionately about whether it was a workers’ revolution? – have been pushed off stage by women and non-Russians from the imperial borderlands. Socialism is so much of a mirage that it seems kinder not to mention it. If there is a lesson to be drawn from the Russian Revolution, it is the depressing one that revolutions usually make things worse, all the more so in Russia, where it led to Stalinism.

This is the kind of consensus that brings out the contrarian in me, even when I am to a large extent part of it. My own The Russian Revolution, first published in 1982 with a revised edition coming out this year, was always cool about workers’ revolution and historical necessity, and made a point of being above the political battle (mind you, I wrote the original version during the Cold War, when there was still a political battle to be above). So it’s not in my nature to come out as a revolutionary enthusiast. But shouldn’t someone do it?

Friday, 28 April 2017

Adam Johnson - NYT’s ‘North Korea Nuke Claim Spreads Unchecked by Media // Trump: The Madder he Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him: Robert Fisk

NB: What I find astonishing is the number of intellectuals who imagined Trump to be the world's Batman who would fix Islamo-fascism (has there been a blockage of arms supply by the US and UK to Saudi Arabia?); and non-interventionist when it came to military adventures abroad. This draft-dodging twit is so militaristic he will make pacifists of his own military. It's a crying shame that such dangerous war-mongering threatens all of us once more; and is being cheered on by vast segments of the very same media that was calling him out on his lies till yesterday. It's time for a global anti-war movement, larger even than the European Nuclear Disarmament movement of the Reagan era. DS

Adam Johnson - NYT’s ‘North Korea Nuke Claim Spreads Unchecked by Media 
Buoyed by a total of 18 speculative verb forms - five “mays,” eight “woulds” and five “coulds”, New York Times reporters David E. Sanger and William J. Broad (4/24/17) painted a dire picture of a Trump administration forced to react to the growing and impending doom of North Korea nuclear weapons. “As North Korea Speeds Its Nuclear Program, US Fears Time Will Run Out” opens by breathlessly establishing the stakes and the limited time for the US to “deal with” the North Korean nuclear “crisis”
Behind the Trump administration’s sudden urgency in dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis lies a stark calculus: A growing body of expert studies and classified intelligence reports that conclude the country is capable of producing a nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks. That acceleration in pace - impossible to verify until experts get beyond the limited access to North Korean facilities that ended years ago - explains why President Trump and his aides fear they are running out of time.

The Looting Machine Called Capitalism - By Paul Craig Roberts

The unambigious fact is that US capitalism is a mechanism for looting the many for the benefit of the few. Neoliberal economics was constructed in order to support this looting. In other words, neo-liberal economists are whores just like the Western print and TV media. Yet you will hear those who are being looted praise the merits of “free market capitalism.”.. So far we have barely scratched the surface of the external costs that capitalism imposes. Now consider the pollution of the air, soil, waterways, and oceans that result from profit-making activities. Consider the radioactive wastes pouring out of Fukushima since March 2011 into the Pacific Ocean. Consider the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico from agricultural chemical fertilizer run-off. Consider the destruction of the Apalachicola, Florida, oyster beds from the restricted river water that feeds the bay due to over development upstream. Examples such as these are endless. The corporations responsible for this destruction bear none of the costs.

If it turns out that global warming and ocean acidification are consequences of capitalism’s carbon-based energy system, the entire world could end up dead from the external costs of capitalism. Free market advocates love to ridicule economic planning, and Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers actually said that “markets are self-regulating.” There is no sign anywhere of this self-regulation..

I have come to the conclusion that capitalism is successful primarily because it can impose the majority of the costs associated with its economic activities on outside parties and on the environment. In other words, capitalists make profits because their costs are externalized and born by others. In the US, society and the environment have to pick up the tab produced by capitalist activity.

In the past when critics raised the question about external costs, that is, costs that are external to the company although produced by the company’s activities, economists answered that it was not really a problem, because those harmed by the activity could be compensated for the damages that they suffered. This statement was intended to reinforce the claim that capitalism served the general welfare. However, the extremely primitive nature of American property rights meant that rarely would those suffering harm be compensated. The apologists for capitalism saved the system in the abstract, but not in reality.

My recent article, “The Destruction of Inlet Beach,” made it clear to me that very little, if any, of the real estate development underway would be profitable if the external costs imposed on existing property holders had to be compensated. Consider just a few examples.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

'My Fingerprints Are Mine, Not The State's': Advocate Shyam Divan's Electrifying Argument Against Aadhaar To Continue In SC Today

Court Room 8 of the Supreme Court was the scene of an electrifying exposition by advocate Shyam Divan, a civil litigation expert, on the constitutional validity of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, that mandates linking of the Aadhaar number with the Pan card, and mandatory quoting of it for filing of income tax returns.
Divan's debate was tweeted by lawyer Gautam Bhatia, giving those outside the courtroom a sense of what is at stake. Divan was being heard by a Bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan. Section 139AA, introduced through the Finance Act, 2017, provides for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar or enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form for filing of I-T returns and making application for allotment of PAN with effect from July 1, 2017.

As Legally India noted, the general mood of the anti-Aadhaar campaigners was not particularly upbeat after the Bench observed that "Parliament, in its wisdom, has decided that Aadhaar should be made mandatory for PAN....It is not for this court to say that PAN was not working, so this is good. That is not permissible. We cannot question the wisdom of Parliament like this."

However Divan's brilliant argument seemed to have transformed the atmosphere and brought hope to the Aadhaar petitioners. Two writ petitions currently challenge the amendment to the Income Tax Act - one filed by CPI Leader Binoy Viswam, represented by Aravind Datar, and second one by retired Major General Sudhir Vombatkere & Dalit activist Bezwada Wilson, represented by Divan. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi is representing the Union of India and UIDAI. Divan argued that "the Aadhaar project alters the relationship between the State and the individual. It is an issue of civil liberty."

ELIANA JOHNSON - How Trump Blew Up the Conservative Media

Months before Donald Trump blew up American politics with his surprise win in November, he did the same thing to the conservative media. Through much of the campaign, two very different media moguls with colliding visions for the Republican Party vied for Trump’s soul: Roger Ailes, the longtime president and CEO of Fox News, and Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of the populist online tabloid Breitbart. Both were angling to be the media Svengali whispering in Trump’s ear.
At one point, it seemed they might have been allies: Bannon worked to insinuate himself at Fox, and Ailes’ network aired some of his populist documentaries. Then came the first Republican primary debate in August 2015, when Megyn Kelly, Fox’s feisty prime-time anchor, hammered the candidate from all sides. It was at that moment that Bannon says his relationship with Ailes began to sour. “The big rift between Breitbart and Fox was all over Megyn Kelly. She was all over Trump nonstop,” Bannon said in an interview. He says he warned Ailes that Kelly would betray him. “I told him then, I said, ‘She’s the devil, and she will turn on you.’”

By the summer of 2016, Ailes’ life lay in ruins: A blockbuster sexual-harassment lawsuit from former Fox host Gretchen Carlson forced his resignation from the network he had founded 20 years earlier. Since then, his legacy has been systematically dismantled, as several of the stars Ailes brought to the network have departed or been shown the door: Greta Van Susteren, then Kelly and, on Wednesday evening, Bill O’Reilly, whose dismissal under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations, some dating back decades, mirrored that of Ailes months earlier.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street Speech By Zach Carter

Former President Barack Obama will receive $400,000 to speak at a health care conference organized by the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald. It should not be a surprise. This unseemly and unnecessary cash-in fits a pattern of bad behavior involving the financial sector, one that spans Obama’s entire presidency. That governing failure convinced millions of his onetime supporters that the president and his party were not, in fact, playing for their team, and helped pave the way for President Donald Trump. Obama’s Wall Street payday will confirm for many what they have long suspected: that the Democratic Party is managed by out-of-touch elites who do not understand or care about the concerns of ordinary Americans. It’s hard to fault those who come to this conclusion.

Obama refused to prosecute the rampant fraud behind the 2008 Wall Street collapse, despite inking multibillion-dollar settlement after multibillion-dollar settlement with major firms over misconduct ranging from foreclosure fraud to rigging energy markets to tax evasion. In some cases, big banks even pleaded guilty to felonies, but Obama’s Justice Department allowed actual human bankers to ride into the sunset. Early in his presidency, Obama vowed to spend up to $100 billion to help struggling families avert foreclosure. Instead, the administration converted the relief plan into a slush fund for big banks, as top traders at bailed-out firms were allowed to collect six-figure bonuses on the taxpayers’ dime.

Nothing forced Obama to govern this way. Had he truly believed that prosecuting bankers for obvious criminal fraud would cause an economic collapse, Obama would, presumably, have tried to radically reshape the financial sector. He did not. His administration’s finance-friendly policies damaged the economic recovery and generated a new cohort of Trump voters. As Nate Cohn of The New York Times has demonstrated, nearly one-fourth of Obama’s white working-class supporters in 2012 flipped for Trump in 2016. Racism and misogyny were surely part of Trump’s appeal, but not all two-time Obama voters turned to Trump out of bigotry alone.

It’s easier for Democrats to denounce Trump supporters as morally unworthy individuals than to consider whether governing failures in the Obama era contributed to Trump’s popularity.. read more:

Orbán’s assault on academic freedom SHALINI RANDERIA

Another indicator of the malaise fallen over Hungarian education policy is the alarming decline in student applications and enrolments between 2010 and 2014, which fell by 24%. In 2016, the number of applications to state universities declined at en even sharper rate, from 160,000 to 110,000. This dramatic reduction amounting to a fall of 45% in student applications has been undertaken deliberately by the government. The less privileged, who are denied access to the education system in favour of middle and upper middle class students, are to fit themselves into Orban’s hierarchical corporate system as ‘simple labourers’ in the service or industrial sectors.

The legislation targeting the Central European University is part of the systematic erosion of the autonomy of Hungary’s universities. Instead of following the path paved by the CEU towards the internationalization of knowledge, the Hungarian government is committed to the nationalization and political control of science.

The very existence of the private, internationally renowned Central European University (CEU) in Budapest is under threat. Following attacks by the state controlled Hungarian press, a newly drafted law was passed on Tuesday 4 April by the Parliament that will extensively curtail the autonomy of the university, and indeed in effect aims at its closure. The CEU, which embodies the liberal spirit of its founder George Soros, is an attractive place to study for masters and doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences from Hungary and throughout eastern and central Europe, as it is for young scholars from all over the world. This makes it a thorn in Viktor Orbán’s flesh. In an ‘illiberal state,’ as Orbán’s himself describes the political system of his country, there can be no room for cosmopolitan, free thought.

While the new Legislation on the Regulation of Private Universities does not mention the CEU by name, it is nevertheless clearly tailor-made to it. The Andrássy University in Budapest, which has been supported by Austria and several German states, was carefully excluded from the purview of the legislation. The law requires, among other things, that a university maintain a campus in its country of origin, which, it is well known, is not the case for CEU. The CEU must comply by these conditions by January 2018 or cease functioning in Budapest. Orbán has succeeded in enforcing his new media regulations by means of similar legislation, which serve to obscure the authoritarian regime of control that is being established in Hungary. Will the EU tolerate this attack that calls into question the very freedom of thought and knowledge while rejecting the fundamental values of the Union?

Although this new amendment directly targets the CEU, the attack must be viewed in the context of the systematic erosion of the autonomy of all universities in the country. Since 2006, Hungary has spent less and less on education both in real terms and as a percentage of the GDP. Only Mexico and Turkey spend less among OECD countries. Large funding cuts to Hungarian state universities have created a budget deficit that has made it increasingly difficult to maintain their operations. The result of this fiscal policy has been the closure of many departments, and those that remain are entirely financially dependent on the benevolence of the state. State expenditure on higher education also declined by 25% between 2010 and 2013. This led to the establishment of a financial state of exception, which provided the occasion for the installation of state-nominated ‘chancellors’ at each university, in order presumably to consolidate the financial situation. Many of these chancellors are former FIDESZ functionaries with no expertise in financial management, and yet who are not only making financial and managerial decisions, but also determining academic appointments.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Hong Kong police detain pro-independence lawmakers after China protest

Hong Kong police have detained two former pro-independence lawmakers at their homes, amid a widening crackdown on dissenting voices in the former British colony. The pair, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung, were disqualified from the city’s legislature late last year after a dramatic anti-China protest during their swearing-in ceremony in October.

During that ceremony, Yau and Leung, who have both called for a complete split with mainland China, altered the text of their oaths, declaring allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation”. They also unfurled banners that said “Hong Kong is not China” and used an expletive to refer to China. The protest enraged officials in Beijing and led Hong Kong’s chief executive to launch an unprecedented legal challenge, seeking to remove the pair from office.

The two lawmakers were taken from their homes at 7am and are being interrogated over their attempt to retake their oaths, which were declared invalid. That attempt saw the pair storm the legislative chambers and ended in scuffles with security guards, three of which were treated at hospital. Pro-Beijing lawmakers called the police for assistance at the time.

Yau confirmed her detention today in a Facebook post. The detentions were also confirmed by their political party. At least one of their assistants, as well as “a few volunteers”, were also detained by police. “The actions of the Chinese communist party and their puppets in Hong Kong are pure evil,” the pair’s political party Youngspiration said in a statement. “Evil such as this deprives Hong Kong people of the freedom and democracy they cherish.” “Hongkongers attempts to achieve the democratic autonomy guaranteed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration have been in vain,” the statement added. “We shall struggle against evil on the streets.” Read more:

A government of death is plundering our ancient Munduruku lands. Help us stop it

We, the Munduruku people, send our thoughts and words to you who live far away. We echo the cry for help from our mother, the forest, and from all the indigenous peoples in Brazil. Our home of Mundurukânia and all 13,000 of our people are threatened by the Brazilian government’s plans to build more than 40 hydroelectric dams in the Tapajós basin, as well as an industrial waterway and other major projects.

This would destroy the rapids of the Tapajós river that have long protected us from the pariwat (white people). Construction of the São Luiz, Jatobá and Chacorão dams would also flood our territory and erase the history written in the land. Such a disaster has already happened on the Teles Pires tributary, where the government and companies blew up our sacred waterfall, Sete Quedas. This left the spirits of our dead without a resting place. What would you say if we destroyed your graveyards, or the Vatican or Jerusalem?

The mining of gold, minerals and precious stones also carries the suffering of our people to distant lands. Diamond extraction in Sawré Muybu threatens another of our most sacred sites, called Os Fechos (Dajekapap), which we see as our origin and the site of the footprint of our god Karosakaybu.
Loggers are entering our lands and destroying our agũkabuk (abandoned villages that are archaeological sites). This is why at the beginning of April, alongside riverine communities, our warriors prevented the government from holding a public hearing that would have advanced plans for timber extraction. We will not accept logging projects in our lands.

Some of the places are said by the government to lie outside our lands. But we have occupied these places, along with the riverine communities, for many generations. We have our own ways of learning and taking care of the forest. We have been doing this for more than 500 years. Yet we must still remind the white people of their own laws. Brazil’s 1988 constitution has an entire chapter dedicated to indigenous peoples. Brazil also signed the International Labour Organisation’s indigenous and tribal peoples’ convention and the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. Are these dead words?.. read more: