Showing posts from June, 2017

Vietnamese blogger jailed for 10 years for 'defaming' regime

NB:  As a staunch supporter of the Vietnamese struggle against US imperialism, this comes as a terrible disappointment to me. Why can't communists in power tolerate criticism? Socialism that is inimical to democracy will dig its own grave. Democratic socialism is the need of the age - DS A prominent Vietnamese blogger has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of distorting government policies and defaming the communist regime in Facebook posts and in interviews with foreign media, her lawyer said. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, also known as “Mother Mushroom”, was sentenced at the end of a one-day trial in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, her lawyer, Vo An Don, said.\ The conviction related to the content of 18 articles on her Facebook page and interviews with foreign news outlets such as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, Don said. Quynh, 37, co-founded a network of bloggers and is very popular in Vietnam. She has written about human rights, civ

Arwa Mahdawi - Trump is constantly attacking women’s looks and clearly has a bizarre obsession with bodily fluids

Trump loves attacking women's looks. And America rewards him for it It’s official. America is stuck in an unrelentingly gruesome Groundhog Day. In the morning, Trump tweets something unhinged and/or misogynistic. Then a slew of commentators express their shock, even though Trump became president on a platform of unhinged misogyny. In the midst of all this, a member of the president’s band of female apologists (Melania, Ivanka, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway) is summoned to jump to Trump’s defense.  Then we spend the rest of the day enthralled in the reality-TV-style shenanigans while the  Trump administration  continues to dismantle democracy and hack away at healthcare. In case you somehow missed the latest drama, here’s a quick recap. On  Thursday morning  Trump, the man who is president of a supposedly civilized country, took to Twitter to attack the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He reserved most of his vitriol for anchor Mika Brzezinski who he described a

Allies of slain Putin critic Nemtsov allege cover-up after guilty verdict. By Svetlana Reiter and Andrew Osborn

A court on Thursday convicted five men of murdering Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, but the late politician's allies said the investigation had been a cover-up and that the people who had ordered his killing remained at large. Nemtsov, one of President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics, was murdered in 2015 as he walked across a bridge near the Kremlin after dining with his girlfriend. Aged 55, he had been working on a report examining Russia's role in Ukraine. His killing sent a chill through opposition circles. After more than eight months of hearings, a jury trial convicted five ethnic Chechen men of his murder, including the man prosecutors said pulled the trigger, Zaur Dadayev, a former soldier in Chechnya. The four others had acted as his accomplices, it said, and the group had been promised a bounty of 15 million rubles ($253,889.59) for the high-profile assassination, tailing Nemtsov around Moscow before choosing their moment to strike. Nemts

ISIS - Iraq declares end of caliphate after capture of historic Mosul mosque

After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque in Mosul from where Islamic State proclaimed its self-styled caliphate three years ago, the Iraqi military said. Iraqi authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in the coming days as the remaining Islamic State fighters are now bottled up in just a handful of neighborhoods of the Old City. The seizure of the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque is a huge symbolic victory for the Iraqi forces fighting to recapture Mosul, which had served as Islamic State's de facto capital in Iraq. "Their fictitious state has fallen," an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told state TV. The insurgents blew up the medieval mosque and its famed leaning minaret a week ago as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces started a push in its direction. Their black flag had been flying from al-Hadba (The Hunchback) minaret since June 2014. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

He Told His Class He Would Marry Her In Preschool. 20 Years Later, He Did

The pair first met as kiddos at a preschool in Phoenix where they would chase each other around the playground and stay up together during nap time. In a post on the Instagram account  The Way We Met , Matt said that one of his earliest childhood memories was standing up in front of his class and  declaring his love for his best friend Laura , writing, “I was enamored with Laura as a child, and I still am to this day.”… The two ended up going to different elementary schools and eventually lost touch. They reconnected years later during their freshman year of high school after Laura saw Matt’s name in a mutual friend’s phone. The friend wanted to set her up with Matt, but Laura was wary at first. “I was hesitant to go out with him,” she said. “But he texted me and we hit it off.” Within two weeks they were boyfriend and girlfriend. They attended different high schools and went to college in different states but they stayed together through it all…. In May 2015, Matt made goo

US quietly publishes once-expunged papers on 1953 Iran coup. By JON GAMBRELL

Once expunged from its official history, documents outlining the U.S.-backed 1953 coup in Iran have been quietly published by the State Department, offering a new glimpse at an operation that ultimately pushed the country toward its Islamic Revolution and hostility with the West. The CIA’s role in the coup, which toppled Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh and cemented the control of the shah, was already well-known by the time the State Department offered its first compendium on the era in 1989. But any trace of American involvement in the putsch had been wiped from the report, causing historians to call it a fraud. The papers released this month show U.S. fears over the spread of communism, as well as the British desire to regain access to Iran’s oil industry, which had been nationalized by Mosaddegh. It also offers a cautionary tale about the limits of American power as a new U.S. president long suspicious of Iran weighs the landmark nuclear deal with Tehran reached under his p

Jharkhand: 15 policemen stave off 1,000-strong mob to rescue dairy farmer whose cow died

NB: More of the same. The Sangh-instigated cow vigilantes now seem to be demanding that all cows owned by Muslim cattle-herders should be immortal. This is a plan to destroy livestock-farming by anyone other than RSS certified 'patriots'. DS A police team of just 15 managed to hold off a mob of around 1,000 people for around two hours before reinforcements from a CRPF camp nearby arrived to rescue a 60-year-old dairy farmer, who was attacked after the carcass of a cow was found outside his house at Barwabad village in Jharkhand’s Giridih district.  According to eyewitnesses and police, the mob also set fire to a portion of the house on Tuesday afternoon and wanted to throw the victim, Mohammad Usman, into the flames before police dragged him into their jeep and prevented attackers from pulling him out, twice. Basant Rath - We the Cows “We were only 15 personnel. The crowd, which was there for the weekly bazaar, had swelled to a thousand. Our first aim was to take

Dongria Kondh Tribal leader dies in police custody – as tribe denounce harassment campaign

A leader of a tribe in India, which made headlines around the world when it  won a David and Goliath battle  against a British mining corporation, has died in police custody – following a violent police campaign of harassment and intimidation against activists. Bari Pidikaka of the Dongria Kondh tribe was arrested and detained on his way back from a protest in October 2015, and died this week. The  Dongria  from central India report systematic “intimidation, abduction and wrongful incarceration” of their leaders by state police, who  they claim  are acting to “further the interests” of  Vedanta Resources , a British-based mining company. Local police also arrested Kuni Sikaka, a 20-year-old Dongria activist and relative of the two most  prominent Dongria leaders . She was dragged out of her house at midnight, despite the fact that police had no warrant. She was then paraded in front of officials and local media as a “surrendered Maoist [member of an armed resistance group]

A million bottles a minute: world's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change' - Sandra Laville and Matthew Taylor

Annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, far outstripping recycling efforts and jeopardising oceans, coastlines and other environments Humans produce almost 20,000 plastic bottles every second More than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300bn a decade ago. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun. A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change. New figures obtained by the Guardian reveal the surge in usage of plastic bottles, more than half a trillion of which will be sold annually by the end of the decade.  The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water and the spread of a western, urbanised “on the go” culture to  Chi

Sunita Viswanath - I refuse to cede Hinduism to those who want to make India a Hindu rashtra

NB: Thank you for writing this Sunita. Yes it is necessary for all decent people, whether they believe in a deity or not, of whatever denomination, of whichever political allegiance, to stand up, to speak out, to protest the violent speeches and acts of so-called patriots who are destroying not only the rule of law in India but the very dignity of humanity. Indeed, by doing what they do, they destroy their own better selves, their own consciences. Whatever they win as a result of this evil campaign, it will not be worth the price they - and all the rest of us - have paid for it. " Violation of truth poisons every-thing gained by the violation" . I wish you and Sadhana all the best.  And you are right: many who consider themselves progressive tend to be dismissive of the liberal democratic tradition generated within the ambit of Sanatan Dharma - represented most powerfully in modern times by Mahatma Gandhi . May the Almighty - if she or he still listens to human kind - bless

Memorandum to Prime Minister: Contain Religious Adventurism in Faridabad-Mewat-Alwar Belt

Memorandum to Prime Minister Contain Religious Adventurism  in Faridabad-Mewat-Alwar Belt Sir The merciless lynching of 16 year old Junaid (resident of Khandawali, Ballabgarh) in a crowded train in broad day light on June 12, 2017 is a high point of religious humiliation and violence being perpetrated on the Muslim masses by organized gangs in the Faridabad-Mewat-Alwar belt for the last 2 years. Junaid and his brothers were bitterly abused and vulgar aspersions were called on their religion while they were being brutally beaten and stabbed. His brother Shakir Hussain is struggling for life in Trauma Center, Safdar Jung Hospital, New Delhi. The incident is not an isolated event, it has a sinister pattern. In May 2015, an attack was mounted on 150 Muslim families of Atali (Ballabgarh)  when they were preparing to complete an unfinished mosque following court order in their favor. 25 people were injured and 25 homes burnt before police intervened and took the Muslim residents

The roots of poison: Mahadev Desai on communal strife. By Ramachandra Guha

In April 1941, communal riots broke out in Ahmedabad. The violence raged for three whole days, during which many people were killed, many more injured, and hundreds of homes razed to the ground. Mosques and temples were also desecrated. What happened in Ahmedabad in 1941 was a product of a countrywide polarization of religious communities. The Muslim League was growing in strength, challenging the Congress's claim to represent all Indians. Jinnah and the League had charged the Congress provincial governments that held office between 1937 and 1939 of following anti-Muslim policies. The Congress governments resigned when the Second World War broke out, but the polarization persisted. In March 1940, the Muslim League passed its so-called 'Pakistan resolution', demanding a separate nation for Muslims. On the other side, Hindu extremist groups such as the Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were priming themselves for action. The outbreak of rioting in a town he

A new rapid bioremediation process that can remove garbage hills. By Isher Judge Ahluwalia ,

Most Indian cities are surrounded by hills of garbage, which are a testimony to our neglect over a long period of managing and disposing of the waste we generate in the course of our household activities and commercial activities in the cities. The waste has been dumped for decades, dry and wet, plastic, textiles, and what have you, without sorting, on the outskirts of the cities. Even after the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 specified that landfill sites should be allocated on which sanitary landfills should be developed to receive the final residual waste, the sites have been used only as open dumpsites for all kinds of waste, mixed together. The proliferation of airless open dumps of garbage leads to emissions of methane, which absorbs the sun’s heat, warms the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Methane is over 20 times more potent as a heat trapping gas than carbon dioxide. At the same time, leachate, a black liquid oozing out from the w

Turkey’s Writers Face Yet More Trials. By Aysegul Sert

On a sweltering afternoon in Istanbul last summer, loud noises woke the Turkish novelist Aslı Erdoğan from a nap. “Open, police! Open, or we will break the door,” a voice called. When Erdoğan, an award-winning writer, unlocked her door, the cold muzzle of an automatic rifle was placed against her chest. Soldiers in black masks and bulletproof vests barged in, shouting “Clean!” as they moved through each room. Erdogan, who is fifty years old, was alone in her apartment. The men, Turkish special forces soldiers, left after the arrival of dozens of members of the Turkish counterterrorism forces. As Erdoğan watched, men scoured every corner of her apartment. Erdoğan, who is not related to the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was informed that she was going to be charged with supporting terrorism. The basis for the criminal case, she was told, was her five years of writing articles and serving on the advisory board of a daily newspaper,  Özgür Gündem , which the Turkish government

Basant Rath - We the Cows / Pratap Bhanu Mehta - May the silent be damned

NB : Thank you Basant. India needs police offers like you to uphold our constitution and the rule of law, which is being buried on a daily basis by the votaries of Hindutva - DS Who resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, secular, democratic republic on November 26, 1949? We, the People of India, or We, the Cows of some states of India? Does the protection of cow override the fundamental rights of Dalits and Muslims as the citizens of this nation? From Jhajjar to Jharkhand, from Dadri to Latehar and from Una to Alwar, a reign of terror in the name of cow protection has spread in some states in the country. Irrespective of the veracity of the claims – real, rumoured or WhatsApped – of the criminal mobs bent on taking law into their politically protected hands, the moment an Akhlaq in Dadri or a Naeem in Shobhapur is justified in dettol-sanitised TV studios, the cause for lynching becomes arbitrary. Any alleged harm to the cause of cow protection has suddenly become rea

Why the BJP has no incentive to stop the lynching of Muslims in India. By Sushil Aaron

NB: The brutal nature of RSS politics and the Modi government has never been so clear as today. This is a government that openly sympathises with and protects hooliganism in the name of religion and 'patriotism'. The Indian Constitution and Article 21 - which protects a citizen's right to life - has been rendered a joke by this regime. If we do not protest this galloping criminalisation of India we will have ourselves to blame for what happens next - DS There is no doubt that a form of  medieval madness  has taken over India in the shape of Islamophobia and regular lynching of Muslims in different states. The situation has moved quickly from not renting out homes to Muslims to refusing to tolerate their presence in public spaces. Muslims are being taunted on trains and streets, fights initiated and lynched. The lynchings have become so common that we do not know which one to respond to.  Should we weep for  Mohammad Naeem  in Jharkhand or  Hafiz Junaid  in Haryana? Ho

How the Judiciary Defied the Government to Uphold Constitutional Values During the Emergency BY ASHOK H. DESAI

The declaration proclaimed on June 25, 1975, under Article 352(1) of the constitution that a grave Emergency existed whereby the security of India was threatened by internal disturbance was the declaration of a phoney Emergency. Its real cause was the erosion of Indira Gandhi’s hold on power. The occasion to declare it on that day was an adverse decision of the courts. On June 12, 1975, in the election petition filed by Raj Narain, Jagmohan Lal Sinha, justice of the Allahabad high court, had found Gandhi guilty of corrupt practices. Prem Shankar Jha: 42 Years After the Emergency, India’s Democracy is Once Again in Danger The Supreme Court had risen for its summer vacation and Justice Krishna Iyer happened to be the vacation judge. On the very day of the decision, the judge received a curious telephone call from the law minister H.R. Gokhale (popularly known as Balasaheb) that he wanted to call on the judge. On inquiry, Gokhale mentioned that it was about the verdict in the pri

Reporter Recounts How a Mob In Delhi Assaulted Him When They Identified Him As Muslim

NB :  This is what happened earlier this month to my student Malik Abdul Basit, who works for Caravan, when he went to cover a story. A criminal assault on an innocent young man doing his job, and of course we know what will happen to the case. I am horrified and appalled, even though it should come as no surprise. The poison of communal hatred that makes any person suspect because of his or her name or place of origin is destroying our humanity on a daily basis. Abdul Basit is a Kashmiri, working in Delhi. Does he have no right to live and work without fear? Some people shout night and day about national integrity - is this the way to keep the country united? Hindutva is the mirror image of the ideology of the Islamists, and is the most potent method to prove the two nation theory correct. My heartfelt sympathy and solidarity with Basit for having undergone such a terrible ordeal. Don't lose heart my young friend. Humanity shall prevail against all odds - Dilip On 9 June, I w

Apocalyptic Vandalism - ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul. By Juan Cole

al-Hayat (Life)  reports that on Wednesday evening around 9:30 pm local time, Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) blew up the Nuri Mosque in Mosul. The destruction of the  800-year-old edifice  was undertaken at a time when Iraqi government troops were closing in on this area in Mosul’s Old City, the last remaining bastion of Daesh there, where 3,000 fighters are still keeping some 100,000 people as human shields. That is about a tenth the strength they initially had. The Palace Coup in Saudi Arabia I once called the destruction by the US Air Force of the annex to the Iraqi National Archives where 19th century administrative documents were housed a “cliocide,” a killing of history itself. The razing of the Nuri Mosque is another act of cliocide. Ironically, I also once  suggested that the main antecedent  for Daesh, of a state that held both Mosul and Aleppo, was the Zangid polity before the rise of Saladin Ayyubi. Daesh emulated the Zangids geographically and now they have wiped out one of th