Showing posts from April, 2018

Ali Abunimah - Israel's Massacres of Gaza Protesters Force Liberal Zionists to Face Oppressive Reality

As the Israeli military continues to mow down unarmed protesters in the illegally occupied Gaza Strip on a weekly basis, some of Israel's most high profile supporters have begun to speak out against its brutal oppression of the Palestinians.  Early this April, one of Hollywood's biggest actresses, Natalie Portman, ignited a firestorm when she announced that she would not be attending a major awards ceremony in Israel, in protest of its violence in Gaza.  In response, the Genesis Prize Foundation, which oversees what has been described as the Jewish Nobel Prize, cancelled its prize ceremony in Israel. Natalie Portman has been a longtime vocal supporter of Israel. She was born in Jerusalem, and has dual US and Israeli citizenship. But now, even some of the most prominent liberal Zionists, that is, liberal supporters of the Zionist political movement and the Israeli ethnostate, even they are publicly criticizing Israel's extreme right-wing government. Since March 30th,

Ten journalists among 36 killed in Afghanistan attacks

Ten journalists have died in  Afghanistan  in a coordinated double suicide bombing in Kabul and a shooting in the eastern Khost province, on the deadliest day for media workers in the country since the fall of the Taliban. Nine journalists died in the Afghan capital when they gathered at the scene of the first of two blasts. Ahmad Shah, a BBC reporter, was shot dead in a separate incident in Khost province, near the border with Pakistan. Committee to Protect Journalists In Kabul, a suicide attacker riding a motorbike blew himself up in the Shash Darak neighbourhood, near the  Nato  headquarters and the US embassy, at about 8am. A second bomber, holding a camera and posing as a journalist, struck 20 minutes later, killing rescue workers and journalists, including an Agence France-Presse photographer, who had rushed to the scene. At least 25 people were killed and 45 injured in total. Hours later, a suicide bomber targeting a Nato convoy in southern Kandahar province killed 11

Michelle Wolf has nothing to apologise for. Her critics do, though. By Arwa Mahdawi

Let me tell you a few deplorable things that happened in America this weekend. Nearly 43 million people woke up in poverty in the richest country in the world. And 3.2 million Americans woke up without health insurance. A further 36 people  died because of gun violence , bringing the total number of gun deaths in the US this year to 4,627. All of that is deplorable. What is in absolutely no way deplorable or shocking or outrageous or unacceptable is a joke about eye shadow. You probably know what I mean, it was headline news on Sunday. But if you missed the controversy, the summary is that a comedian called Michelle Wolf  made a gag  about Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner in DC. “I think [Sanders is] very resourceful,” Wolf said about the White House press secretary. “Like, she burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye.” Criticism of Michelle Wolf's speech shows we still hold female comedians to different

1968: When the Communist Party Stopped a French Revolution. By Mitchell Abidor

Part of a  series  reflecting on the tumultuous political events of 1968 and their legacy fifty years on  For fifty years, the events of May–June 1968 in France have had a collective hero: the striking students and workers who occupied their factories and universities and high schools. They’ve also had a collective villain, one within the same camp: the French Communist Party (PCF) and its allied labor union organization, the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), which together did all they could to put a brake on a potential revolution, blocking the students and workers from uniting or even fraternizing. This reading of the events is often found in histories, most recently Ludivine Bantigny’s  1968. De Grands soirs en petits   matins.  I heard it fairly consistently from rank-and-file student and leftist participants in the May events whom I interviewed for my oral history of May ’68,  May Made Me .  Prisca Bachelet , who helped the students at Nanterre organize their occu

Time for a riot: how the art of 1968 caught a world in turmoil

Photography:  ‘The moment a country lost its sense of self’:  On 19 August 1968,  Josef Koudelka   returned to Czechoslovakia from Romania, where he had been living among and photographing Romany Gypsies. The following day, Soviet tanks appeared on the streets of Prague. For seven days, the 30-year-old Moravian-born photographer roamed the city with his East German Exakta Varex camera loaded with movie film, the only stock he could find at short notice.  The resulting images , some of which were smuggled out of the country, but many of which were not seen until decades later, captured the tumult of a traumatised city. They are recognised as one of the most powerful photo-journalistic essays of the 20th century. Koudelka photographed teenagers blocking the paths of Soviet tanks, old people imploring the young Soviet soldiers to return home, flag-waving youths clambering over army vehicles. He returned to his apartment only to find more film or succumb to exhaustion. His images o

Book review: The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World by Catherine Nixey

Catherine Nixey - The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World  Reviewed by Tim Whitmarsh If there is a weakness in this book, it stems precisely from its Gibbonian roots. This is, fundamentally, a restatement of the Enlightenment view that the classical heritage was essentially benign and rational, and the advent of Christianity marked civilisation’s plunge into darkness... A more critical review : "this is a book of biased polemic masquerading as historical analysis.." “ The theologian,” wrote Edward Gibbon in his classic  The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ,  “may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption, which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.” Gibbon was a child of the European Enli

Samuel Osborne - Armenian genocide: Thousands march around the world to demand recognition for atrocity

Thousands of people have marched around the world to commemorate the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million  Armenians  by Ottoman Turks & demand recognition for the atrocity as a  genocide . Armenians and many historians consider the killings during the First World War to be a genocide. Although  Turkey , a successor to the  Ottoman Empire , accepts many Christian Armenians were killed in fighting during the war, the Muslim-majority country vehemently denies the killings in 1915 amounted to a genocide. Suman Keshari: The Ghosts of Ararat Robert Fisk: In the cases of two separate holocausts, Israel and Poland find it difficult to acknowledge the facts of history On Tuesday, thousands of Armenian-Americans took to the streets of  Los Angeles , waving Armenian and American flags and carrying signs reading “1915 never again” and “Turkish denial must end.” The city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, marched alongside the demonstrators, saying in a speech the genocide was “a human tra

Israeli Forces Kill 3 Gaza Border Protesters, Wound 400

GAZA, April 27 (Reuters) - Israeli troops shot dead three protesters along the Gaza border on Friday, Gaza medics said, hours after the United Nations human rights chief criticized Israel for using “excessive force” against demonstrators.  Israeli troops have killed 41 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,000 others since Gaza residents began staging protests along the border fence on March 30 to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The troops were holed up behind fortifications on their side of the 40km (25-mile) border fence and fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters at five locations on the Gazan side.  Gaza medical officials said two protesters who were struck by bullets were in critical condition in hospital and 600 others were wounded. The Israeli military said 10,000 Gazans were participating in what it described as “riots,” and that some had tried to breach the border into Israel. It said troops “had operated in accordance with the rules of e

Colin Gordon - A Dismal Report Card on Global Inequality

The global maldistribution of wealth and income is now so stark, we have taken to comparing the incomes or fortunes of  just a few individuals to vast swaths  of the world’s population. Behind those jaw-dropping ratios, there is a more complex story that plays out across time and across regions. The  World Inequality Report 2018  painstakingly documents the dimensions of income and wealth inequality, around the globe, within and across countries. Boiled down to one sentence, the conclusions of the 2018 Report echo those of  Branko Milanovic  and others: Wealth and income inequality are widening  within  countries, even as global development slowly narrows the gap  between countries. These patterns are evident in the summary of regional trends below. The share of income going to the top 10 percent has increased moderately in Europe; it starts high and stays high in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East; it has taken off—for different reasons—in the United States, Russia, and A

Book review: Where do atheists get their values? John Gray's Seven Types of Atheism

Reviewed by Patrick Freyne John Gray  is a self-described atheist who thinks that prominent advocates of atheism have made non-belief seem intolerant, uninspiring and dull. At the end of the first chapter of his new book,  Seven Types of Atheism , he concludes that “the organised atheism of the present century is mostly a media phenomenon and best appreciated as a type of entertainment”. He laughs when I remind him of this sick burn. “I wrote the book partly as a riposte to that kind of atheism,” he says. “There’s not much new in [new atheism] and what is in it is a tired recycled version of forms of atheism that were presented more interestingly in the 19th century. In the so-called new atheism people are [presented with] a binary option between atheism, as if there was only one kind, and religion, as if there was only one kind of religion. [It’s] historically illiterate. “They don’t even know when they’re repeating ideas from the 19th or early 20th century . . .They don’t

Van Badham: Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse

The pressing need is not to pray for intercession; Varoufakis’s call is right – “collective, democratic political action” is the genuine alternative, and it’s broader democratic investment in the institutions of parties, movements, academies and media that always builds the world to come. That is, after all, what the neoliberals did. And look – just look – how far they got. For 40 years, the ideology popularly known as “neoliberalism” has dominated political decision-making in the English-speaking west.  People hate it . Neoliberalism’s sale of state assets, offshored jobs, stripped services, poorly-invested infrastructure and armies of the forcibly unemployed have delivered, not promised “efficiency” and “flexibility” to communities, but discomfort and misery.  The wealth of a few has now swelled to a level of conspicuousness that must politely be considered  vulgar  yet the philosophy’s entrenched itself so deeply in how governments make decisions and allocate resources tha

Korea summit: Kim Jong-un promises 'a new beginning' as leaders meet – live updates

Kim Jong-un and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, come face to face at the inter-Korean meeting in the demilitarised zone. Follow all the developments and reaction with our live blog Rehearsals and realism ahead of historic summit  Analysis: all you need to know about the summit Kim and Moon: profiles of the key players Other than the leaders themselves, one of the few people allowed in on this morning’s intimate meeting was Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, proving how much of a close confidante she is to him. Kim Yo Jong has already become something of a celebrity in  South Korea  after she attended the Winter Olympics in February, making her the first member of her family to cross the border to the South. Moon mentioned this her celebrity status his opening comments, which apparently made her blush. Kim Yo Jong was also by her brother’s side during his inaugural visit to  China  to meet Xi Jinping, and it is very likely she will also attend the summit with Trump n

Govt has struck at the very heart of judicial freedom: former CJI RM Lodha

NB : Our 'patriotic' government is engaged in nothing less than the full-scale dismantling of the autonomy of the judiciary and the submission of justice - especially criminal justice - to ideological control. Crucial evidence disappears from court resulting in the acquittal of Hindutva activists accused of terrorist activities; the mysterious death of a sitting judge in a criminal case implicating the BJP Party chief has been hushed up ; and the suicide letter  of the ex-Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh has been consigned to oblivion. This letter contained allegations of corrupt practices against senior members of the judiciary (including the sitting Chief Justice); and personages across the political spectrum . All this is happening in front of our eyes, with the connivance of the country's highest judicial official and in blatant disregard of norms and conventions of lawful governance.  The Master of the Roster has magically congealed into His Master's Roster.

Eleanor Ainge Roy - World's longest penguin dive, of more than half an hour, is recorded

Scientists in  Antarctica  have recorded the world’s longest penguin dive, an astounding 32.2 minutes under the water; a full five minutes longer than the previous record. Emperor penguins, which live only in Antartica, are the tallest and heaviest penguins in the world, and have the best diving ability. They can dive as much as 500 metres down in some of the world’s harshest and coldest seas. The record dive emerged after 20 emperor penguins were tagged with satellite transmitters in 2013, to better understand their foraging and diving patterns. The research was conducted by Marine ecologist Dr Kim Goetz from the New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research, Dr Gerald Kooyman from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Dr Brigitte McDonald from Moss Landing Marine Labratories. Their findings have been  published in the Journal of Marine Ecology Progress Series. Although Goetz and her team were aiming to study the behaviors of breeding penguins, t

Dear Humanities Profs: We Are the Problem. By Eric Bennett

NB : This comment on the issues connected to 'multi-culturalism' and 'deconstruction' is written about American literary and media studies departments, but is relevant in other continents. DS Now that we have a culture of higher education in which business studies dominate; now that we face legislatures blind to the value of the liberal arts; now that we behold in the toxic briskness of the four-hour news cycle a president and party that share our disregard for expertise while making a travesty of our aversion to power, the consequences of our disavowal of expertise are becoming clear. The liquidation of literary authority partakes of a climate in which all expertise has been liquidated. In such a climate, nothing stands against demagoguery. What could? That English departments have contributed to this state of affairs is ironic to say the least. A lifetime ago, literary studies was conceived precisely in opposition to the specter of demagogues. The field was fu

Interview 'We're doomed': Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention. By Patrick Barkham

We’re doomed,” says  Mayer Hillman  with such a beaming smile that it takes a moment for the words to sink in. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.” Hillman, an 86-year-old social scientist and senior fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute, does say so. His bleak forecast of the consequence of runaway climate change, he says without fanfare, is his “last will and testament”. His last intervention in public life. “I’m not going to write anymore because there’s nothing more that can be said,” he says when I first hear him speak to a stunned audience at the University of East Anglia late last year. From Malthus to the Millennium Bug, apocalyptic thinking has a poor track record. But when it issues from Hillman, it may be worth paying attention. Over nearly 60

Zoe Williams - ‘Raw hatred’: why the 'incel' movement targets and terrorises women

When a van was driven on to a Toronto pavement on Tuesday, killing 10 people and injuring 15, police chief Mark Saunders said that, while the incident appeared to be a deliberate act, there was no evidence of terrorism. The public safety minister Ralph Goodale backed this up, deeming the event  “not part of an organised terror plot” . Canada has rules about these things: to count as terrorism, the attacker must have a political, religious or social motivation, something beyond “wanting to terrorise”. Why have the authorities been so fast to reject the idea of terrorism (taking as read that this may change; the tragedy is very fresh)? Shortly before the attack, a post appeared on the suspect’s Facebook profile, hailing the commencement of the “Incel Rebellion”, including the line “Private (Recruit) … Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161.” (“4chan is the main organising platform for the ‘alt-right’,” explains Mike Wendling, the author of  Alt-Right: from 4

Asaram case: Self-styled godman’s journey from puritanical preacher to rape convict // Asaram sentenced to life in prison for raping devotee // Police officer who led probe received 2,000 threats

Asaram case: Self-styled godman’s journey from puritanical preacher to rape convict Asaram started his own ashram in Ahmedabad with just ten followers. Asaram’s next big stop was Surat, where he found a large number of followers among tribals. As his followers grew, he attracted politicians to his crowded satsangs or religious discourses. The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party governments in the state gave Asaram land to expand his ashrams. His wife Lakshmi Devi, daughter and son Narayan Sai, who is in jail in a separate rape case, helped him manage the ashrams and other establishments. Asaram’s troubles began in 2008 when the mutilated bodies of two cousins and gurukul mates Dipesh Vaghela (10) and Abhishek Vaghela (11) were found from the Sabarmati river bank near his ashram in Motera. Some vital organs were missing from the boys’ bodies. Shantilal Vaghela, Abhishek’s father, staged an indefinite fast accusing Asaram of killing the boys for black magic rituals. He ended hi

Alex Ross: How American Racism Influenced Hitler // Book review: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

In 1928, Hitler remarked, approvingly, that white settlers in America had “gunned down the millions of redskins to a few hundred thousand.” When he spoke of Lebensraum, the German drive for “living space” in Eastern Europe, he often had America in mind. History teaches, but has no pupils,” the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci wrote. That line comes to mind when I browse in the history section of a bookstore. An adage in publishing is that you can never go wrong with books about Lincoln, Hitler, and dogs; an alternative version names golfing, Nazis, and cats. In Germany, it’s said that the only surefire magazine covers are ones that feature Hitler or sex. Whatever the formula, Hitler and Nazism prop up the publishing business: hundreds of titles appear each year, and the total number runs well into the tens of thousands. On store shelves, they stare out at you by the dozens, their spines steeped in the black-white-and-red of the Nazi flag, their titles barking in Gothic type, the

Hartosh Singh Bal - Death of Judge Loya: A critical examination of the ECG and the post-mortem demonstrates the failings of the Supreme Court verdict

NB : This article, along with Shanti Bhushan's petition listing  ten instances of bench fixing , shows who is committing contempt of court. You cannot utilise your formal authority to throw all principles of fairness (such as not sitting in judgement in a case involving yourself) - to the winds; and then behave as if your status precludes any fair criticism. It is for the Hon'ble judges to answer to their respective consciences as to who has undermined the authority of India's judiciary - the so-called Master of the Roster or those who are criticising his questionable behaviour. DS Hartosh Singh Bal - Death of Judge Loya The judgment repeatedly asserts there is no reason to doubt the testimony of the judges. But an inquiry would not have cast any doubt on their accounts - rather, it would have allowed the judges to dispel the lack of clarity on crucial points such as the ECG. The Supreme Court judgment on petitions demanding an inquiry into the judge BH Loya’s

Rana plaza, five years on: safety of workers hangs in balance in Bangladesh

Deep cracks had appeared in the eight-storey building outside Dhaka the day before. That morning, workers who had been producing clothes sourced by major international brands had begged not to be sent inside. Managers would not relent. More than 2,000 people filed in. Some time before 9am, floors began to vanish and workers started falling. Rana Plaza took less than 90 seconds to collapse,  killing 1,134 people . Unions called it a “mass industrial homicide”. Standing in the rubble, Khatun promised to quit her job in a nearby garment factory. “Even if I don’t have any other work, I won’t do it.” Revulsion over Rana Plaza forced brands and retailers to act. The full list of companies who were sourcing clothes from the building remains unclear, but had previously included  Primark ,  Matalan  and others.  About 250 companies signed two initiatives, the  Accord on Fire and Building Safety  in Bangladesh, and the less constraining Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Both were d

Call to Defend Rojava from Turkish attack - An Open Letter

A home in Afrin, March 31, 2018 Nazeer al-Khatib/AFP/Getty Images When Raqqa fell in 2017, after a long siege by the US-backed, Kurdish-led  Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) , it was generally thought that ISIS was defeated, save for some mopping up. But in January of this year, Turkey invaded Afrin one of three cantons in Rojava, also called the  Democratic Federation of Northern Syria . This meant that scores of SDF fighters had to leave the battle against ISIS in order to  defend their homes, families, and neighbors in Afrin .  After extensive air strikes, the city of Afrin fell on March 18 confronting the already troubled region with yet another humanitarian crisis, as thousands fled to escape the Turkish army and its Syrian National Army allies (which include jihadist rebel groups and some fighters who are either openly aligned with al-Qaeda or even  recent members of ISIS ) .  Many of those who fled Afrin are now sleeping in open fields or in tent cities, lacking the most e

Amelia Gentleman - Britain’s reputation has been shattered by the cruelty of the government’s immigration policy

Retirement-age citizens who have lived and paid taxes in the UK for decades have been detained, made homeless, sacked or denied benefits and NHS treatment because they have struggled to prove they are British. Seven days ago, the government had barely acknowledged the scandal. Everything changed this week. In the space of five days, the  prime minister was forced to apologise  twice for the hurt caused to victims, while the home secretary said she was  sorry for the “appalling” actions of her own department  and issued a strong rebuke to her staff. Amber Rudd said she was “concerned that the Home Office has become too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes loses sight of the individual”. See Labour MP David Lammy denounce official racism Son of Windrush couple refused passport and misses daughter’s wedding Home Office urged to act on Windrush in 2014 The shame, indignation and sadness caused by the Windrush scandal What happened to prompt this sudden

Kate Lamb - 'A vigilante state': Aceh's citizens take sharia law into their own hands

Everyone in the village saw it, either in the flesh or later when it was immortalised on YouTube. Local children even stuck their heads through the grates of a fence to watch, their attention trained on the spectacle in front of them: a young couple being doused in sewage. Humiliated but compliant, the couple sat on the edge of a well in Kayee Lee, a village in the Indonesian province of Aceh, as the liquid ran off them in  thick black streams . By the time Roswati arrived at the scene, about 70 people had gathered to watch her son and his girlfriend being publicly shamed in the courtyard of the mosque, the village equivalent of the public square. “They were standing there looking at them like thieves,” says Roswati of the local youths involved. “I asked them, ‘Why did you do this,’ and they said, ‘Wait till we burn your house down.’ Roswati and her husband, both rice farmers, had been visiting friends in a nearby village, leaving their son, 24-year-old Maulizan, and his girlfri

World's first ocean plastic-cleaning machine set to tackle Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Scientists are preparing to launch the world's first machine to clean up the planet's largest mass of ocean plastic. The system, originally dreamed up by a teenager, will be shipped out this summer to the  Great Pacific Garbage Patch , between Hawaii and California, and which contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic.  The Global Crisis of Plastic Pollution :  Scientists across the globe are increasingly finding wildlife that has been killed after ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic. Ninety percent of sea birds, for example, have been found to have  plastic in their bellies . And the problem is only getting worse: The estimated  19 billion pounds  of plastic that ends up in the ocean every year is expected to double by 2025. These plastics will not only kill more animals; they’ll decimate  coral reefs , and  damage human health  as microplastics enter the food chain. It will be the first attempt to tackle the patch since it was discovered in 1997. The ex

Master Of The Roster: Shanti Bhushan’s Petition Points To Ten Instances Of Chief Justice Dipak Misra “Hand-Picking Benches”. By KAUSHAL SHROFF

“One reason why the impeachment motion is important is because of the serious danger which emerges from the CJI being blackmailed by the government via the medical college bribery case.... The abuse of power by the CJI as the master of roster poses a serious threat to the democracy as the entire Supreme Court is being controlled by the government” : Prashant Bhushan Times are tough for the chief justice of India. On 20 April, 64 members of parliament from seven opposition parties submitted a petition to Venkaiah Naidu, the vice president and chairman of the Rajya Sabha, seeking the removal of Dipak Misra as the chief justice. The move marks the first time in India’s judicial history that an attempt has been made to remove a sitting chief justice of the country. Concurrently, the Supreme Court is presently hearing a petition filed by Shanti Bhushan, a senior advocate and a former union law minister, concerning serious allegations about the allocation of cases by the chief justice an