Showing posts from 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 i t is good that some of its alumni are protesting.  Meanwhile Erdogan enjoys a warm welcome from the government and corporate organisations:   DS The  deci

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 Shrilal Shukla, author of Raag Darbari, passes away 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 Haruki Murakami: On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning According to Murakami, “1Q84” is just an amplification of one of his most popular short stories, which (in i

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 th

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 s

“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. “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] Contents: 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 Literatu

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  pos

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

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.” How Wikipedia Is Cultivating an Army of Fact Checkers to Battle Fake News The online encyclopedia has been fact checking the Internet for more than 15 years.

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. MHA report links Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti of Dongria Kondh adivasis with ‘Maoists’ 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 vil

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

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, monitorin

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 r

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 r

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?” Deadly Fatwa: Iran's 1988 Prison Massacre Jesselyn Cook - More Than 100 Teens Have Been Sentenced To Die In Iran Majid Rafizadeh - Why Iran needs an ‘enemy’ to survive 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 stri

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 fini

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 administratio

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

'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. 'I Can Change My Password. I Cannot Change My Fingerprints': Advocate Shyam Divan Continues Compelling Argument Against Aadhaar 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

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

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

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.

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

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 st