Thursday, 31 May 2018

Jessica Glenza - Doctors welcome possible 'holy grail of cancer research'

A blood test for 10 different types of cancers could one day help doctors screen for the disease before patients show symptoms, researchers at the world’s largest gathering of oncologists have said. The test, called a liquid biopsy, screens for cancer by detecting tiny bits of DNA released by cancer cells into blood. The test had particularly good results for ovarian and pancreatic cancers, though the number of cancers detected was small. Researchers hope the test will become part of a “universal screening” tool that doctors can use to detect cancer in patients.

“This is potentially the holy grail of cancer research, to find cancers that are currently hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure,” said Dr Eric Klein, lead author of the research from Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute. “We hope this test could save many lives.” The study, by a research team that also included scientists from Stanford University, was presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists in Chicago. 

Pratap Bhanu Mehta - Where anything goes. Cobrapost sting: Media subservience to power, its contempt for the citizen

NB: There's an even graver lesson here - and this goes for everyone who prefers to look the other way when confronted with an elephant in the drawing room. And that is this: India's ruling class and a significant proportion of its citizenry have no problem with violence and lawlessness in the name of 'community' interests. For them, Naxalite violence is terrorism, whereas hooliganism, vigilantism, hate-speech and violent incitement are not just acceptable but desirable when committed by so-called patriots. The sting records ranking media barons willing to incite riots for money. This is evidence of criminal conspiracy, and we know nothing will be done about it. Here are video-recordings of 'Sangh parivar' cadre issuing murderous threats against a popular news anchor. 

The rot is old, and extends across the political spectrum. Naxalites never confronted communal groups nor bothered to understand communalism - for them, all political currents are the same. They have never even warned the vigilante gangs who have spread untold havoc in the country. There is no record of the communist parties resisting the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits and the communal temper of the so-called Azaadi movement. This despite the that one of the first victims of terrorism in Kashmir was a CPI leader, A S Ranjoor; not to mention scores of democratic-minded Kashmiri Muslims. Stark hypocrisy stares us in the face, but we always look away. Soon after the Modi government came to power, some of the Sangh cadre were praising Mahatma Gandhi's assassin, and wishing that Jawarharlal Nehru too, had been murdered. Despite all this, many of us like ex-President Pranab Mukherjee, will smile and attend RSS functions - after all its only culture, is it not sir. 

Neither Mukherjee nor any of our top opinion-makers will focus on the central issue - the violence that is committed with impunity in the name of nationalism and 'deshbhakti.' This hypocrisy has gone on for so many decades that it has become normalised. None of them care that by undermining the rule of law and bending criminal justice to the dictates of a private army that has been banned three times - beginning with the ban order of February 4, 1948, when Sardar Patel was the Home Minister - they are destroying India's reputation as a law-governed democracy, not to mention the integrity of our society and its institutions. Don't grumble about Maoists, ladies and gentlemen just look in the mirror. You have no problem with violence do you? Just as long as it can bring about communal polarisation and strengthen the rule of the 'Sangh Parivar'. Is that not the simple truth? DS

Where anything goes. Message of Cobrapost sting
The credibility of India’s news-producing infrastructure has long been in tatters. There are brave journalists, risking even death, who still have some fidelity to truth. But a number of prominent media institutions have over the years become a toxic amalgam of venality, fanaticism, irresponsibility and subservience to power. The media has gone from being the saviour to democracy to being one of the principal threats to it. This perception does not require a back story; the content peddled speaks for itself. In such a context, the Cobrapost sting operations will be seen as exposing the rot in Indian media. But it is unlikely that the operation will be the beginning of soul-searching. It will cast a shadow even over the good institutions without producing accountability in the bad ones. It will deepen a cynical nihilism.

There are legitimate concerns about such sting operations: The ethics of the operation, the credibility and antecedents of those conducting it, the murkiness of their motives, and the indeterminacy of what the taped conversations might have led to in terms of actual contracts or content. But even after acknowledging all those concerns, it is hard to escape the rotten odour that comes through in these tapes from so many media houses. Some conclusions are hard to brush off. Content in Indian media houses is for sale, not just at the margins, but whole-scale. These deals are struck not just by low-level marketing operatives, but seem to be negotiated by India’s biggest media barons and are constitutive of the business model.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Book review: The first English translation of ‘The Odyssey’ by a woman

THE ODYSSEY By Homer. Translated from the Greek by Emily Wilson
Reviewed by By Madeline Miller

Attempting a new translation of “The Odyssey” is like directing “Hamlet.” Much of your audience knows the work well, and they take their seats with entrenched expectations and the intonations of favorite performances reverberating in their heads. At the same time, though, you will have audience members who have never seen the play, for whom you provide the introduction to a giant of Western literature. And let us not forget those who are there under duress, dreading the upcoming hours of boredom. You must find a way to speak to these disparate groups, sneaking past the defenses of the devotees while drawing in those less familiar. It’s an ambitious task, one that calls for skill, cleverness and strong nerves, qualities that define “The Odyssey’s” wily protagonist himself.

The poem of Odysseus’s epic journey was composed in about the 8th century B.C., and its tale of a brilliant, exhausted veteran beset by dangers and yearning for home has been collecting admirers ever since. It is tradition, when reviewing a translation, to set a passage alongside its predecessors in translations by Fagles, Lattimore, Pope, etc. The reviewer then lays out the ways that the new translation either falls short or excels, quibbling over word choice and linguistic effects. This is a fun exercise and not without merit, but in the end, such a piecemeal approach is like judging productions of “Hamlet” on their “To Be or Not To Be.” It does not answer essential questions about the work as a whole: Does the translator have a thoughtful, comprehensive vision? Does she have the skill to sustain it? Does she chart a coherent course between often mutually exclusive virtues such as literalism, musicality, clarity, beauty and readability? And, most importantly, does she tell the story well?

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Ritika Jain: Months after son’s murder by his Muslim lover’s family, Delhi man plans iftar for love

Yashpal Saxena has continued to reject the attempts to politicise his son’s death, and wants Ankit to be an inspiration for those in inter-faith relationships... The event, he said, was a “starting point” for the trust he has established in Ankit’s name to help couples who want to marry outside their faith

The father of a young Delhi man killed over his relationship with a Muslim woman is organising an iftar this Ramzan to ensure love, not hatred, marks his son’s legacy. Ankit Saxena, a 23-year-old photographer, was stabbed to death by the family members of his long-term girlfriend in February this year, a cold-blooded murder fundamentalists hijacked to push their agenda of polarisation.

But Yashpal Saxena has continued to reject the attempts to politicise his son’s death, and wants Ankit to be an inspiration for those in inter-faith relationships. With this in mind, on 3 June, Saxena will organise an iftar in his locality, west Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar. The event, Yashpal said, was a “starting point” for the trust he has established in Ankit’s name to help couples who want to marry outside their faith. Even though the trust has not yet been registered - it will be in “just a few more days”, Yashpal says - the iftar can be considered its first event, he added. “Arrangements for the iftar are being made by members of the trust along with other family members and friends… Since we are inexperienced in these matters, we will reach out and seek help from like-minded people,” he added.

“The iftar will be held at the local park near our society. We keep going to the local police station to follow up on the progress of the investigation and hence our first invite went to the officers there,” Yashpal said. Others on the guest list include the representatives of a few NGOs. “Only like-minded people are invited,” he added. “We are talking to whomever we meet and extending our invitation. We hope that the invitation goes around through word of mouth and like-minded people join us,” he added. “This is just an attempt to further our cause of communal harmony,” Yashpal told ThePrint, “We want our son’s name to be synonymous with this cause.”

With communal passions seemingly easy to inflame of late, and self-styled moral policemen reportedly disrupting inter-faith weddings, does Yashpal fear a backlash against his initiative? “So far, there has been no negative reaction to our initiative,” he said, “If anybody does (oppose it), it is going to be by those who are anti-social and want to create an issue.” “We will pass on our message of tolerance to whomever we meet. To those who do not agree with me, I simply fold my hands before them and wish them well,” he added.

Police in Khyala, where Ravinder Nagar falls, said they doubted anyone would try to create trouble at the iftar. Talking to ThePrint, Khyala (West) station house officer Sunil Kumar Bamnia said the situation in Raghubir Nagar was now normal, with no communal tension in the area. “There were attempts to communalise the situation, but it never took hold here,” he added. “And now that this party is being held for Muslims, the issue is pretty much over.”

Moral Policing in Bhilai: A Case Study for Hindutva Lab

Moral Policing in Bhilai: A Case Study for Hindutva Lab
Surabhi Singh (with inputs from Akshay in Bhilai)

“If you cannot bear these stories then the society is unbearable. Who am I to remove the clothes of this society, which itself is naked,” stated Sadat Hassan Manto the great author and playwright, who would lay bare the society’s double standards and particularly its hypocrisy when treatment meted out to women. Its good that Manto did not live long enough to see the dwindling character of this society, post independence era. Its 21st century now and why then, we are forced to go back to Manto? Because, in this era of globalization and neo-liberalization, there is a pulse beating to the tune of chest thumping nationalism and rabid Hindutva fanaticism. Things that were normal a few years back, have now suddenly become crimes. Like eating beef, kissing in public, love marriages, dating, studying.. On the contrary, things that used to be crimes a few years back, have now become increasingly acceptable as the new normal. Like lynching, flogging, kidnapping, shooting men, women and children in a peaceful demonstration, blinding, gang rapes and child marriages.

At a time like this, a group of 100 youngsters, both girls and boys decided to stay together in a upscale neighbourhood at Bhilai, the quintessential Steel City in the heart of Chhattisgarh. They were living on rent and preparing for higher studies, competitive exams et al. It was almost a year since they lived in the Talpuri International Society, paying rent and minding their own business. However, all was not well in this neighbourhood, where middle class men and women, considered them “too free and independent” for their “sanskari” life. Things began going awry, after a few elderly people observed these youngsters enjoying a sip of liquor or an evening of music. The “Live-in” relationships became a bane for their regressive everyday life.

On Saturday, 27th of May, a group of 100 Policemen landed in the society at 3 am in the morning and began conducting door to door searches. What were they searching? Apparently, young men and women living together. After nearly three hours of this “search-operation”, around a 100 youths were rounded up and forced to huddle together in the Lawn. Additional Superintendent of Police, Shashi Mohan Singh, who is a celebrity cop, having acted in over 50 Bhojpuri and Chhattisgarhi Movies, sat these youngsters down and “advised” them on “Morality and Life Ethics.” The Next day newspapers screamed with headlines “Around a 100 youths caught in Suspicious circumstances with bag full of condoms, empty liquor bottles and hukkahs.”

The newspaper clipping shows a group of young men and women huddled together, with their faces covered, with the Cop hovering over them. The newspaper article published in Patrika newspaper, goes on to claim that the youths had been creating unnecessary trouble in the area, and that the society people were “upset with their dubious charades.” Neither the newspaper article nor the cops interviews mention what exactly are these “dubious and suspicious” acts?

One of the local Bhilai youths contacted India Resists and stated that, “ The youths have been booked under Section 151 of IPC for living together and roaming around freely.” India Resists could not ascertain whether the youths who had been taken to the police station were bailed out even after 48 hours of their arrest. The local shopkeepers asserted that there was prostitution happening in one of the houses. Some of the girls tried to reason out with the Police, that Live In relationship is now legal after Supreme Court has categorically sanctioned it last year. But, neither the media, nor the Cops or even the people in the Gated Community would have any logical explanation coming from them. The future of the women rounded up and the young men who were being detained in the police station remains dubious.

A state that has at least 7 farmers killing themselves everyday, that has one of the worst maternal mortality rate, that has its Adivasi villagers dying from the fact that they were forced to dig out a dead cow and eat it-because they had nothing to eat for days- has its residents losing their sleep over “Live In” relationships of a few youths. The hypocrisy of Hindutva State, the moral compass of its police, the generic patriarchy of its lawmakers and the offensive high handedness of its police has its youth huddling in a corner with covered faces, trying to navigate a future.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Bihar’s new sorrow Nitish Kumar’s prohibition policy is visiting pain on those it was supposed to help

While Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar portrays the lower castes as the primary beneficiaries of prohibition, the figures of jail occupancy tell exactly the opposite story. Two years after the policy was introduced, an investigation in this paper has revealed, a disproportionately high proportion of OBCs, SCs and STs is behind bars on charges related to liquor. STs constitute only 1.3 per cent of the state’s population, but more than five times that figure have been arrested. One in four of Bihar’s citizens are OBCs, but over one-third of those cooling their heels in jail are from that category. 

The pattern is sustained across all of the backward and depressed castes, who appear to have borne the brunt of prohibition. Ironically, about 80 per cent of those arrested were regular drinkers or alcoholics. Meanwhile, the liquor mafias, which should have been targeted as a priority, appear to have been spared the attention of the law. Internationally, the enforcement of prohibition has focused on cutting off supply. Punishing consumers has generally been a secondary priority.

The data, drawn fom 21 jails and sub-jails under three circles in Bihar, was apparently compiled to map drinking habits to caste and socio-economic indicators. However, there are obvious fallacies at work here. It is easier for the police to sweep a dragnet through poor areas, and the catch will be reliably bigger than similar raids on more prosperous zones. Besides, the poor are more vulnerable to police action and may not have the capacity to seek bail, which would be reflected in a dispropor-tionate number of arrests. Understandably, no one is claiming responsibility for commissioning this census of those arrested for violating prohibition. Both the chief minister’s office and police officials have denied knowledge of it, preferring to classify it as “unofficial”. The nanny state, which ventured upon an ill-conceived policy with a poor success rate, could not even keep its focus right.

But whatever its status within the administrative system, the survey has had the effect of revealing that history is repeating itself: Prohibition is visiting pain on the very people it was supposed to help, the poorest, most disempowered sections of society. The promise of easy pickings among consumers appears to be diverting the attention of the enforcement machinery from suppliers, though politicians and officials must know that the key intervention of prohibition is to turn off the tap, rather than to punish a thirsty public. For the Nitish Kumar government, to continue to launch punitive actions principally on consumers, simply because it is easier, would only generate more embarrassing data.

‘Heretic’ in the Vatican - Pope Francis faces pushback from the church’s arch-conservatives. By HANNAH ROBERTS

“They call me a heretic.” Not the words you’d expect to hear from the head of the Roman Catholic Church. But that’s what Pope Francis told a group of fellow Jesuits in Chile earlier this year, acknowledging the fierce pushback from arch-conservatives in the Vatican. Celebrated by progressives around the world for his push to update and liberalize aspects of church doctrine, Francis is facing fierce blowback from traditionalists who take issue with his openness to Muslim migrants, his concern for the environment and his softer tone on divorce, cohabitation and homosexuality. Opposition has become so heated that some advisers are warning him to tread carefully to avoid a “schism” in the church.

Father Thomas Weinandy, a former chief of staff for the U.S. bishops’ committee on doctrine, has accused Francis of causing “theological anarchy.” Another group of bishops has warned Francis risks spreading “a plague of divorce.” Last fall, more than 200 scholars and priests signed a letter accusing Francis of spreading heresy. “This was not something I did lightly,” Father John Rice, a parish priest in Shaftesbury in the U.K. said, claiming the pope’s liberal push has caused “much division and disagreement, and sadness and confusion in the church.”  It’s not merciful to let people continue to sin and say nothing,” Rice said. “If you see a child trying to put his hand in a fire you say stop.” 

Deviating from doctrine is bad enough. But Francis is also under fire from the Vatican’s civil service, known as the Roman Curia. On becoming Pope, Francis set a new tone by setting up his headquarters in a humble guesthouse for priests rather than the grand apostolic palace — a gesture of humility that carried with it an implied criticism of past excesses. He also did away with the system of automa-tically giving a cardinal’s hat to bishops in certain posts. Conservatives have been irked by some of his more liberal stances. In 2015, Francis ordered every parish to host two refugee families. And last week, in his most explicit acceptance of homosexuality yet, he told a gay Catholic that God had made him that way and that his sexuality “does not matter.”

The focus of most traditionalist dissent has been Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, an “apostolic exhortation” -  a type of papal communication - in which he called for a “merciful” approach to divorcees and opened the door for those living with new partners to take communion with their priest’s permission.. read more:

Saturday, 26 May 2018

FRANK BROWNING - Paris, May '68: You Say It Was a Revolution?

Paris ’68 was not about power so much as it was about breathing. Drawing life in the fullness of each moment.

PARIS—Fifty years. Half a century since what’s been called France’s second Revolution:  May ’68 when millions of angry students and workers filled the streets and brought the nation to a halt. And already the memories are beginning to fade once again. For weeks this spring, you couldn’t go anywhere in France, watch any TV or listen to any radio without being transported back to la révolution du temps passé.  Le Centre Pompidou, Le Musée des Beaux Arts, the Palais de Tokyo, the National Archives, La Bibliothèque Nationale, bookshops and private galleries everywhere.  “The events of May ’68 remain anchored in France’s collective memory because they embody an optimistic moment of concrete utopia,” declared the director of the Beaux Arts, Éric de Chassey, a scion of France great noble families.

So it would seem as all the now creaky-kneed heroes of ’68 were carted out to celebrate the “revolutionary” memory.  Several of those heroes, however, were having no part of it. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, one of the key “revolutionaries” spoke for half an hour one recent morning on France Inter, the country’s leading news station, about ’68. His message: Forget it! ’68 was never a real political revolt but rather a cultural scream against a top-down, stuffy cabal of old men who, bowing to church dogma, suppressed women, beat up gays, and treated France’s one-time Arab subjects like dirt.  

Paris ’68 was not about power so much as it was about breathing. Drawing life in the fullness of each moment. In the United States there were the movements for civil rights, and for free speech at Berkeley, and against the Vietnam war. But in America “The Movement” was rooted in the resistance to death by lynching or the fear of death as your broken skull oozed out your brains into the jungle mud of Southeast Asia.  Hell No, We Won’t Go was about surviving American insanity, while for French students and workers le mouvement was about throwing off the shackles of moribund cultural codes and opening the class-bound educational system to everyone—a streetwise cry to enact Jean-Paul Sartre’s call to live fully within each second of your existence. Vive Le Moment!

Or to recall one of the most memorable of ’68 slogans, also credited to Cohn-Bendit, “It is forbidden to forbid,” a direct reaction to the stuffy, quasi-Catholic moral dogma that dictated which hours boys and girls could visit each other’s dorm rooms. It was also a blunt rejection of a law that forbade divorcés from even entering the presidential palace.  Even the sale of birth control pills then was barely legal… read more:

Alfred McCoy - The Hidden Meaning of American Decline

Month by month, tweet by tweet, the events of the past two years have made it clearer than ever that Washington’s once-formidable global might is indeed fading. As the American empire unravels with previously unimagined speed, there are many across this country’s political spectrum who will not mourn its passing. Both peace activists and military veterans have grown tired of the country’s endless wars. Trade unionists and business owners have come to rue the job losses that accompanied Washington’s free-trade policies. Anti-globalization protesters and pro-Trump populists alike cheered the president’s cancellation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The idea of focusing on America and rebuilding the country’s tattered infrastructure has a growing bipartisan appeal.

But before we join this potential chorus of “good riddance” to U.S. global power, it might be worth pausing briefly to ask whether the acceleration of the American decline by President Trump’s erratic foreign policy might not come with unanticipated and unpleasant costs. As Americans mobilize for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential contest, they might look beyond Washington’s mesmerizing celebrity scandals and consider instead the hidden consequences of the country’s ongoing withdrawal from the global arena. Indeed, this fitful, uncontrolled retreat carries with it such serious risks that it might be time for ordinary voters and political activists alike to put foreign policy, in the broadest sense, at the top of their electoral watch list.

First, let’s just admit the obvious. After 18 months in office, Trump’s one-man style of diplomacy, though potentially capable of a few “wins,” is clearly degrading American global stature. After surveying 134 countries, Gallup’s pollsters recently reported that worldwide approval of U.S. leadership has plunged from 48% in 2016 to a record low of 30%, a notch below China’s 31% and significantly under Germany’s 41%... read more:

WHAT IS REAL? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics

Adam Becker - WHAT IS REAL? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics

Reviewed by James Gleick

Are atoms real? Of course they are. Everybody believes in atoms, even people who don’t believe in evolution or climate change. If we didn’t have atoms, how could we have atomic bombs? But you can’t see an atom directly. And even though atoms were first conceived and named by ancient Greeks, it was not until the last century that they achieved the status of actual physical entities — real as apples, real as the moon.

The first proof of atoms came from 26-year-old Albert Einstein in 1905, the same year he proposed his theory of special relativity. Before that, the atom served as an increasingly useful hypothetical construct. At the same time, Einstein defined a new entity: a particle of light, the “light quantum,” now called the photon. Until then, everyone considered light to be a kind of wave. It didn’t bother Einstein that no one could observe this new thing. “It is the theory which decides what we can observe,” he said.

Which brings us to quantum theory. The physics of atoms and their ever-smaller constituents and cousins is, as Adam Becker reminds us more than once in his new book, “What Is Real?,” “the most successful theory in all of science.” Its predictions are stunningly accurate, and its power to grasp the unseen ultramicroscopic world has brought us modern marvels. But there is a problem: Quantum theory is, in a profound way, weird. It defies our common-sense intuition about what things are and what they can do.

“Figuring out what quantum physics is saying about the world has been hard,” Becker says, and this understatement motivates his book, a thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science. The debate over the nature of reality has been growing in intensity for more than a half-century; it generates conferences and symposiums and enough argumentation to fill entire journals. Before he died, Richard Feynman, who understood quantum theory as well as anyone, said, “I still get nervous with it...I cannot define the real problem, therefore I suspect there’s no real problem, but I’m not sure there’s no real problem.” The problem is not with using the theory — making calculations, applying it to engineering tasks — but in understanding what it means. What does it tell us about the world?.. read more:

‘We Did It For Her’: Savita’s Death Remembered As Ireland Votes Yes To Abortion

“This is a celebration but it’s bittersweet. We failed Savita. Ireland failed Savita. But hopefully we won’t let what happened to her happen to anyone else.” 

“I voted for you Savita, I’m sorry we failed you” 

“If I have a daughter I will name her Savita after you”.

PA WIRE/PA IMAGES A woman kneels at a mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin

IRELAND - As many Irish people celebrate what appears to be a landslide victory for pro-choice campaigners in Ireland’s abortion referendum, tributes were paid to a woman whose death has haunted the country since 2012.  Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist, died of sepsis when she was refused an abortion during a protracted miscarriage. She had travelled to hospital complaining of back pain when she was 17 weeks pregnant, and was told by staff that she was going to lose the child.  But because there was a foetal heartbeat, they were barred by law – governed by the eighth amendment of the constitution – from terminating the pregnancy, forcing to her endure a week-long miscarriage. She suffered an infection and later went into septic shock, resulting in her death.

On Saturday, as it emerged that the country had overwhelming voted to repeal the amendment, which will pave the way for the government to relax the laws on abortion, many women were remembering Savita and her legacy.  A mural bearing her image in the busy Portobello district of Dublin was adorned with notes, flowers and tributes as people flocked to pay their respects.  Jill Jordan, 38, who was there with her baby daughter Ivy, told HuffPost UK: “It’s not yet official but I’m feeling sheer relief. “It means we can go into the future knowing that the people of Ireland actually trust us and realise women are not shameful objects. “The result means we won’t be exporting women for abortions, it gets rid of that hypocrisy. It just adds another layer of distress in crisis.” She patted her daughter, adding: “She doesn’t know it yet but we did this for her.”

Speaking to the Irish Times, Savita’s father, Andanappa Yalagi, said he hoped the new legislation, promised to be enacted before the end of the year by the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, should be called “Savita’s law”.  Speaking from the family home in Belgaum, Karnataka in south west India, he said the family was “really, really happy” the Irish people were on course to deliver a strong ‘Yes’ in the abortion referendum. “I want to thank you so much. I want to say ‘Thank you’ to our brothers and sisters in Ireland for voting Yes. It is very important. There has been really a lot, too much struggle for the Irish ladies.”

Anne Marie Roche, 37, said: “Savita and I were pregnant at the same time. When she died I wasn’t able to march. Now I have the strength, I wanted to come and pay tribute to her. “She should be at home with her five-year-old like I am. She should never have been made a martyr in this country.” Ali, who asked for her surname not to be published, laid flowers at the makeshift shrine. She said: “This is a celebration but it’s bittersweet. We failed Savita. Ireland failed Savita. But hopefully we won’t let what happened to her happen to anyone else.” Other tributes read: “I voted for you Savita, I’m sorry we failed you” and “If I have a daughter I will name her Savita after you”.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Death Threats To Ravish Kumar: How Journalists Are Hounded

For award-winning journalism, for exposing the truth, for standing up for the idea of India, NDTV's Ravish Kumar gets death threats. His family threatened with violence. At a time when the debate around intolerance and the threat to free speech is peaking, a special look at what journalists must risk to do their jobs everyday. See video:

see also
Democratic Liberties Only Belong To The Bold And Vigilant, Says Justice Chelameswar
Posts on Judge Loya's mysterious death
The law of killing - a brief history of Indian fascism
Ajmer blast case: Two including a former RSS worker get life imprisonment

Naxalites should lay down their arms and challenge the ruling class to abide by the Constitution

Cobrapost sting on saleable Indian media
Cobrapost has exposed owners and high-ranking personnel of more than two dozen media houses, both mainstream and regional.. ‘Operation 136: Part II,’ shows Indian media’s underbelly in its most visceral form, where even the “big daddies” do not mind agreeing to undertake a campaign that has the potential to not only cause communal disharmony among citizens but also tilt the electoral outcome in favour of a particular party. This they will do if they are paid the right price, and sometimes they have no compunctions to quote a price as high as Rs. 1000 crore, as did the Times Group owner Vineet Jain, while others showed a propensity to indulge in any kind of illegality bordering on criminality. The media houses agreeing to run the campaign are Times of IndiaIndia Today, Hindustan Times, Zee News, Network 18, Star India, ABP News, Dainik Jagaran, Radio One, Red FM, Lokmat, ABN Andhra Jyothy, TV5, Dinamalar, Big FM, K News, India Voice, The New Indian Express, MVTV and Open magazine.

Book review: The Tragic sense by Algis Valiunas

Maya Jasanoff: The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World
Reviewed by Algis Valiunas

Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) remains the greatest English language novelist since Charles Dickens, and many of the best writers of the 20th century, including H.L. Mencken, Ernest Hemingway, and T.S. Eliot, paid homage to his excellence or came under his influence. And as one learns from the Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff’s new book, The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World, Conrad was a hero to William Faulkner, André Gide, and Thomas Mann. What’s more, “He has turned up in the pages of Latin American writers from Jorge Luis Borges to Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Juan Gabriel Vásquez. He’s been cited as an influence by Robert Stone, Joan Didon, Philip Roth, and Ann Patchett; by W.G. Sebald and John le Carré.”

A Pole by birth, for 20 years a merchant seaman by profession, a late-blooming novelist for whom English was his third language (after French and his native Polish), a spinner of yarns about seafaring ordeals and romances with dusky beauties, Conrad has been thought of by some as an exotic, a mere curiosity. Virginia Woolf denigrated his claims to high seriousness and - equally important in her snobbish milieu - to Englishness: his principal appeal was to “boys and young people,” he couldn’t properly speak the language he wrote in, and he had the “air of mystery” of the perpetual exile, a person of no fixed address.

But what Conrad really possessed was an imagination of global reach, a far departure from Woolf’s Bloomsbury insularity.

Democratic Liberties Only Belong To The Bold And Vigilant, Says Justice Chelameswar In Moving Farewell Speech

Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the Supreme Court judge who retired on Friday, urged the younger generation to question what they believe to be wrong and help fix systems, including the legal system in India. "I am convinced that democratic liberties only belong to the bold and vigilant people," the 64-year-old said during a farewell gathering organised by Lawyers Collective. "The docile and timid don't have liberties. Liberties are not something to be granted."

He said that it was the young people of India who had to take this upon themselves. "It was pointed out to me that over the last year and a half, I have undertaken to democratize the institution," he said. "It's the younger generation that has stood by me. The established and acknowledged constitutional lawyers and jurists attacked me from every side." Justice Chelameswar was one of the four Supreme Court judges who addressed a press conference earlier this year, criticising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and raising questions on how cases were allocated to various judges. "If something is good, it is to be preserved; if something is doubtful, it is to be checked and rectified; if something is bad, it is to be destroyed," he said. "I worked with that belief; I had nothing personal against anyone in the system."

The former chief justice of the Kerala and Gauhati high courts had turned downa farewell program that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) wanted to organise for him. However, he attended a farewell by Lawyers Collective, an advocacy NGO founded by activist senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover. He described how young lawyers came forward where established seniors did not support him, and encouraged this questioning, reminiscing how he had learnt to ask "why" from his father, to whom he dedicated Friday's speech. "The established systems are such, that any questioning will not be taken kindly," he said. "You are required to have the courage, the determination to fight the system if you are to bring about a good change." He described how several former judges of the Supreme Court and various high courts congratulated him for his attempts to question the current functioning of the apex court, but chose to stay mum themselves. "Those who still have opinions but wish to remain anonymous is a problem," he said. "Speak up. That is what is stopping this country. Perhaps the younger generation will wake up."

Benedetto Croce, the Italian philosopher who defied Mussolini and called fascism a 'moral illness', believed that liberty is not a natural right but an earned right that arises out of continuing historical struggle for its maintenance. Croce defined civilization as the continual vigilance against barbarism..

see also
Posts on Judge Loya's mysterious death
The law of killing - a brief history of Indian fascism
Ajmer blast case: Two including a former RSS worker get life imprisonment

Sudan Is About To Execute A Teen For Defending Herself Against Rape

What do we know about Noura Hussein? The 19-year-old Sudanese woman is currently on death row in Omdurman, Sudan, for killing a man in self-defense. She was convicted of murdering her husband, who raped her on their “honeymoon.” When she was 16, Noura’s family attempted to force her to marry a man, despite the fact that Islam prohibits marriage without consent. Refusing the marriage, she ran 155 miles away from her family home to a town called Sennar. She lived with her aunt for three years, determined to complete her high school education and with her eyes on further studies. 

In 2017, she received word that the wedding plans had been cancelled and that she was safe to return home. It was a cruel trick. On her return, Noura found the wedding ceremony underway and was given away to the same groom she had rejected three years earlier. Defiant, Noura refused to consummate the wedding for a number of days. Her husband became increasingly aggressive, and before the week was over, forced himself onto his teenage wife. With the help of his two brothers and a cousin who held her down, her husband raped her.

When he returned the next day to attempt to rape her again, Noura escaped to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. In the altercation that followed, the man sustained fatal knife wounds. Noura went to her family; they disowned her and turned her over to the police. She was held in Omdurman jail until April 29, 2018, when she was found guilty of premeditated murder. On May 10, the man’s family was offered a choice: either accept monetary compensation for the injury caused, or the death penalty. The family chose to sentence Noura to death. Noura’s legal team has until May 25 to submit an appeal...
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प्राइम टाइम : चैनलों का भारत बनाम लोगों का भारत

मंत्री जी अपने फैन्स को चैलेंज दे रहे हैं कि पुशअप करें. फिट रहें. ज़रूरत यह भी है कि हम उन्हें चैलेंज करें ताकि सिस्टम फिट रहे. क्या आप दुनिया में एक भी ऐसा देश जानते हैं जहां परीक्षा पास करने, मेरिट में आने के बाद नौजवानों को दस महीने तक नियुक्ति पत्र नहीं मिलता हो. you can name any country in english from ghana to russia. सरकार के चार साल पूरे होने पर अगर इन नौजवानों को जिनकी संख्या 3287 है, नियुक्ति पत्र मिल जाए तो प्राइम टाइम से ज़्यादा डाइनैमिक मंत्री का नाम होगा. लोग दुआएं देंगे. यह बात मैं इसलिए कर रहा हूं कि ये नौजवान वाकई बहुत परेशान हैं. अगर वित्त मंत्री पीयूष गोयल इन 3287 जवानों को आयकर विभाग में नियुक्ति पत्र नहीं दिला सकते तो फिर प्रधानमंत्री को बताना ही पड़ेगा कि मंत्री जी से ये काम नहीं हो पा रहा है. अगर पीएमओ में कोई भूले भटके प्राइम टाइम देख लेता हो उनसे भी रिक्वेस्ट है कि वे प्रधानमंत्री को बताएं कि दस महीने हो गए 3287 छात्रों को अभी तक नियुक्ति पत्र नहीं मिला है...

Beauty is in the Street: May 68 posters

The May '68 uprisings in Paris were notable for the artistry of the poster campaign which came out of the Atelier Populaire. A new book celebrates them

Before Twitter and Facebook provided that window into the consciousness of a ready made audience of thousands, would-be activists needed to work a little bit harder to grab people’s attention. The beautiful posters which came out of the Atelier Populaire (popular workshop) in support of the May ’68 uprisings in Paris are a wonderful reminder of this and a collection of the best can be seen in a new book, Beauty is in the Street. The fabulous collection of colourful screen prints... is the fruit of years of rummaging through flea markets, persuading other collectors to lend them and a degree of “delightful detective work” by the book’s editor Johan Kugelberg. When the wildcat general workers strikes paralysed the French capital in May 1968 it was in large part thanks to the role played by artists and art students who set up subversive poster factories such as the one in the lithographic department of the Ecole des Beaux Arts. The posters were colourful, spontaneous and produced rapidly bearing witty and, now often ubiquitous, slogans like ‘We are the power’, ‘Be young and shut up’, and ‘They’re poisoning you!’

“The posters are truly ephemeral and were rarely saved,” Kugelberg said. “It was actually frowned upon by the students and activists to save them.” Which, of course, made Kugelberg’s job as a collector all the more difficult. But with the help of an Atelier Populaire founder Philippe Vermés, he managed to track down a big enough body of work to stage an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London three years ago to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the uprisings. He decided to stage the exhibition having noticed that the “beauty and immediate communicative tone of the posters” was little known about outside of France and rarely documented. In both the book and the exhibition the iconic posters are accompanied by rare photographs of the students who made them and documentary images of the rallies.

“One of the most powerful ideas that resonates from Paris ’68 is the solidarity among the protesters which repeatedly transcended whatever societal strata a person could be pigeon-holed into,” he says. In the book’s foreword, Vermés quotes an old French motto: “Au mois de mai, fais ce qu’il te plait” which means “In the month of May, do whatever you like”. He writes, “[That saying] captures the fun and frolic of that time of year but May ’68, as it was branded, broke like a maverick from those carefree clichés. The 60s were serious, emblematic times for many of us who strolled into them in our mid-20s.” ..

Israeli court approves razing West Bank Bedouin village

NB: This is not justice. It is tyranny. DS

Israel’s supreme court has ruled in favour of demolishing a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, despite a campaign by European governments to save it. Campaigners said the hearing had been the final appeal open to the village of Khan al-Ahmar, located close to several Israeli settlements east of Jerusalem. It was unclear when the demolition of the village, home to about 180 residents, would take place. 

In its ruling on Thursday, the court said it found “no reason to intervene in the decision of the Minister of defence to implement the demolition orders issued against the illegal structures in Khan al-Ahmar”. The residents would be relocated elsewhere, it added, in a move critics say amounts to forcible transfer. The court ruled that the village was built without the relevant building permits. Such permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank.

“This verdict takes away the absolute minimal protection the Bedouin communities received until recently from the court,” Shlomo Lecker, the lawyer representing the village, said in a statement. “By any standard of international humanitarian law, the verdict is an approval by the Israeli court of a crime against humanity.” The decision was likely to be met with anger by European governments, which had been fighting to save the village.

Last week the head of the British consulate-general in Jerusalem visited the village and said in a video clip published online that the planned demolition was a “matter of great concern for the UK and indeed for the European Union”. Earlier on Thursday, Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, announced 2,500 new settlement units in the West Bank. All settlements are considered illegal under international law.

CLAUS LEGGEWIE - Reappraising the politics of ’68

Retrospectives of 1968 tend to dismiss its socialism and instead to see identity politics as its primary legacy. Rightly so? Leggewie asks how far the New Left achieved its political goals and whether identity politics were necessarily incompatible with its anti-capitalist & social-revolutionary agenda.
Let it be emphasized: no social scenario, however desolate, justifies abuse of or discrimination against minorities. Nor, however, does the mere affirmation of cultural diversity, together with politically correct language, remedy deleterious social and employment conditions, which are again affecting women and minorities disproportionately. One has to keep an eye on both things – there are no major and minor contradictions, as Marxism-Leninism once saw it. Sexism and racism are one side of the story, the voters who defect to the far-Right because for decades they have not felt represented by established parties are the other... There can be no alternative between collective identity and class, between artistic and social critique, between equality and difference, between universalism and particularism. An ambitious politico-social movement must consider both strands in combination. Capitalism is more than an economic subsystem. As Karl Polanyi argued some seventy years ago, it is a mode of socialization that posits difference as inevitable. Today, not for the first time, it blames inequality and exploitation on those whom they affect.

February 1968. Radical leftists from all over the world are in West Berlin to attend the International Vietnam Congress. The main auditorium of the Technical University is packed to the rafters. A banner has been draped over the edge of the viewing balcony demanding the ‘liberation of all people from oppression and exploitation’. Hanging next to it is the resplendent image of Ho Chi Minh. The Tet offensive has just demonstrated the vulnerability of the US military in Southeast Asia and an American defeat has become a real possibility. 

Among those attending the conference is the little known French anarchist, Daniel Cohn-Bendit. The main attraction, however, is Rudi Dutschke, the charismatic leader of the Socialist German Student League (SDS). Dutschke delivers his speeches with deep pathos and is fond of citing Marx’s mantra about ‘the categorical imperative to overthrow all relations in which man is a debased, enslaved, forsaken, despicable being’. ‘Comrades! We don’t have much time!’ he exclaims on the second day. ‘Every day, we too are being crushed in Vietnam, and not just figuratively speaking.’ At this very moment, Dutschke is vacillating between giving up the fight or becoming a ‘real’ urban guerrilla. Shortly afterwards, he is vilified for appearing on the cover of the magazine Capital for a thousand deutschmarks. Then, in April, he is shot three times by a neo-Nazi on the Kurfürstendamm.

Josh Gabbatiss - One of world’s most endangered forests originally planted by ancient South Americans

Critically endangered swathes of forest found across parts of South America owe their existence to the indigenous people who have lived in harmony with them for centuries. Experts assumed monkey puzzle trees had expanded centuries ago due to wetter and warmer weather spreading across the region. However, new research suggests Southern Je communities played an active role in their creation, cultivating the trees for food and other purposes.

"Our research shows these landscapes were man-made,” said Dr Mark Robinson, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter.  “Communities settled on grassland, and then – perhaps because they modified the soil, protected seedlings or even planted trees – established these forests in places where geographically they shouldn't have flourished." Together with an international team of scientists, Dr Robinson realised that in areas of intense archaeological activity these trees were everywhere – where the trees had grown independently from humans they only grew on south-facing slopes.

Deciding to explore this further, the researchers found that monkey puzzle trees had undergone two massive expansions across the region. The first, which occurred around 4,480 to 3,200 years ago, was likely due to an increase in moisture – but this did not explain the second major pulse in tree growth that took place more recently, peaking around 800 years ago... read more:

Mexico's unmapped underwater caves - in pictures

Photographer Klaus Thymann has been exploring the underwater cave system of the Yucatán peninsula, diving 1km underwater to where salt and freshwater meet. By mapping areas that have been untouched by modern civilisation, he hopes to raise awareness of the natural and human heritage of this unique ecosystem that will hopefully result in greater protection. He talks to Eric Hilaire about making his journey into a film, Flows, featuring music by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke

Om Thanvi: The roving revolutionary -. Che Guevara in India

Che Guevara visited India at the end of June 1959 and stayed for two weeks. In the course of that official visit, he met Nehru, traveled around India, and was interviewed on All India Radio by K.P. Bhanumathy. When she prodded him, saying, “You are said to be a communist but communist dogmas won’t be accepted by a multi-religious society” , Che apparently replied, “I would not call myself a communist. I was born as a Catholic. I am a socialist who believes in equality and freedom from the exploiting countries. I have seen hunger, so much suffering, stark poverty, sickness and unemploy-ment right from my very young days in [Latin] America. It is happening in Cuba, Vietnam and Africa – the struggle for freedom starts from the hunger of the people. There are useful lessons in the Marxist-Leninist theory. The practical revolutionary initiates his own struggle simply fulfilling laws foreseen by Marx. In India, Gandhiji’s teachings had its own merit which finally brought freedom”. 

In other words, Che seemed to be saying that Marxism didn’t prescribe any specific trajectory of revolutionary emancipation whether from capitalism or from imperialist or colonial domination.

The ‘mysterious Krishna’ whom Che met (see link below) and was so impressed by was clearly V. Krishna Menon who was a passionate opponent of nuclear weapons and had liaised with Bertrand Russell throughout the fifties. We have at least one photo of Che conversing with Krishna Menon. They met on 3 July. About that conversation Che said, “While talking with Krishna, the learned Indian, we became aware of the evils of the means of mass destruction”. Strangely, when Che visited Calcutta, none of the leaders of the then undivided Communist Party of India went out of their way to meet him...

Che left Havana on 12 June 1959. He celebrated his 31st birthday in Madrid, and flew to Delhi via Cairo. His plane reached Palam on the night of 30 June. Since Che had no official position in the Cuban government, this “national leader of Cuba”, as he was described in official communications, was received at the airport by a welcoming committee of one, Deputy Chief Protocol Officer D S Khosla, who later accompanied him to the newly built Hotel Ashok in Chanakyapuri.

The Cuban delegation accompanying Che was likewise small: a mathematician, an economist, a party worker, a captain of the rebel army, and a single bodyguard. Pardo Llada, a rightwing broadcaster, also joined the delegation in Delhi. Though Llada was ostensibly sent to assist Che, it is rumoured that Castro wanted some respite from his popular daily radio programme in Havana. In any case, Che was not happy to have him, and Llada ended up returning home midway through the trip.

On his first morning in Delhi, Che met Nehru in Teen Murti Bhawan, the prime minister’s residence. Nehru had a soft spot for socialist countries, and Che clearly admired the Indian leader. “Nehru received us with an amiable familiarity of a patriarchal grandfather,” Che wrote in his report, “but with noble interest in the dedication and struggles of the Cuban people, commending our extraordinary valiance and showing unconditional sympathy towards our cause.”   

Formal talks took place before lunch, and Che explained that Cuba wanted to establish diplomatic and trade relations with India. Though Cuba did have a consulate in Calcutta, India had no diplomatic set-up in Cuba, with the Indian ambassador in Washington instead attending to Indian affairs in Cuba. The two delegations agreed to establish diplomatic missions as soon as possible, and post-lunch plans were made for the Cuban delegation to meet with Indian trade officials… read more: