Showing posts from June, 2019

Canadian Cartoonist Michael De Adder's Contract Terminated After Viral Trump Cartoon

Michael de Adder , a Canadian cartoonist who has been drawing professionally for almost two decades, saw his contract with four newspapers terminated after his depiction of the U.S. president and the border crisis went viral.

Film review: Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen: the love affair of a lifetime

Just before her death in July 2016 of leukaemia, a friend of hers, Jan Christian Mollestad, contacted Cohen, who sent an email to his former lover, which Mollestad read out to Ihlen. It said: Dearest Marianne, I’m just a little behind you, close enough to take your hand. This old body has given up, just as yours has too, and the eviction notice is on its way any day now. “I’ve never forgotten your love and your beauty. But you know that. I don’t have to say any more. Safe travels old friend. See you down the road. Love and gratitude. Leonard Four months later, Cohen died after a fall at his home in Los Angeles. Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah (Live In London) André Rieu - Hallelujah Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen: the love affair of a lifetime In November 2016, the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, renowned for his plaintive ballads, died a few months after the woman who inspired many of them, his Norwegian lover and muse,  Marianne Ihlen . Theirs had been a lar

Tavleen Singh: I wish PM Modi had pointed out that without rule of law there can be no democracy

NB: I appreciate this opinion piece. (The only substantive issue I have with it is the assumption that Mr Modi favours the continuation of democracy). Ms Singh asks what message is sent by the failure of the BJP to suspend those indulging in vigilante violence. I venture to say the message is clear and in accordance with the overall project of the Sangh Parivar: the abolition of the distinction between legal and illegal violence . The local Sangh affiliates are welcoming the violence and congratulating the culprits .  The BJP has planned a celebratory march in Indore . Given this behaviour, who can say the trial court will not be intimidated?  Do we not recall that i n 2014 these people were celebrating Gandhi's    assassin  ? The government has protected  lynchers ; and covered up the  death  of a judge - a relative of the Maharashtra CM  threatened  a lawyer pursuing the matter. The Sangh and its allies have indulged in sabotage  of justice: in the Bhima Koregaon case, they

'Hear us, see us': a plea to the UN for Indigenous women - by Lorena Allam

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner has used a speech to the UN in Geneva to demand the federal government take action on the rising rates of Aboriginal women in jail. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women represent 2% of Australia’s female population but make up 34% of all women in prison, June Oscar told the Human Rights Council on Friday. “The root cause is that Indigenous women continue to experience disproportionate levels of trauma and intersecting forms of discrimination which cut across lines of race, gender and socioeconomic status,” Oscar said. “There is a direct connection between the fact that 80% of Indigenous women in prison are mothers and the rapidly  increasing rates of the removal of Indigenous children  from families into out-of-home care,” she said. Oscar called on the government to fully implement the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission report Pathways to Justice. The report was commissioned i

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met Greta Thunberg: 'Hope is contagious'

In the course of their conversation, Ocasio-Cortez and Thunberg discuss what it is like to be dismissed for their age, how depressed we should be about the future, and what tactics, as an activist, really work. Ocasio-Cortez speaks with her customary snap and brilliance that, held up against the general waffle of political discourse, seems startlingly direct. Thunberg, meanwhile, is phenomenally articulate, well-informed and self-assured, holding her own in conversation with an elected official nearly twice her age and speaking in deliberate, thoughtful English.  They are, in some ways, as different as two campaigners can get – the politician working the system with Washington polish, and the teenager in her socks and leggings, working from her bedroom to reach the rest of the world. There is something very moving about the conversation between these young women, a sense of generational rise that, as we know from every precedent from the Renaissance onwards, has the power to ignite

Scotland’s Green Energy makes Enough Electricity 1st Quarter to power 88% of Households

In the first three months of 2019,  Scotland produced 17 percent more electricity from renewables   than in the same quarter a year earlier. Driven mainly by onshore wind, Scotland’s burgeoning green energy sector keeps breaking records, making enough electricity the first quarter of this year to provide 88% of the country’s households with electricity for a whole year. In the past year, Scotland added just about a gigawatt of green energy, bringing the country total up to 11.3 gigawatts. One of four countries in the United Kingdom, Scotland’s population is only about 5.5 million. But in the UK as a whole, no one has gone in for renewables as the Scottish have. Its electricity production in this area is so extensive and inexpensive that Scotland has been exporting electricity to 70 other countries, including England. Wind energy is intermittent, blowing hard at one time and barely turning the turbines at another. Some of this challenge can be smoothed out  by new high dens

Chinese human rights lawyer ‘totally changed man’ after being jailed

The wife of the jailed Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang has described her husband as a “totally changed man” after she and her son were allowed to see him for the first time since he disappeared nearly four years ago. Wang, 43, was  sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison in January for “subverting state power”  after a closed-door trial. Wang Quanzhang and his wife, Li Wenzu, with their son. The lawyer’s family were  given access to see him for the first time in four years Photograph: Wang Quanxiu/AP The prominent lawyer, who defended political activists and victims of land seizures, vanished in a sweep aimed at courtroom critics of Communist authorities known as the “709” clampdown because the arrests started on 9 July 2015. Wang was held incommunicado for more than 1,000 days without access to his family or a lawyer prior to his trial and authorities have repeatedly denied requests by his wife, Li Wenzu, to visit him in jail. Wei Jingsheng THE FIFTH MODERNIZAT

Pehlu Khan was lynched, now he is chargesheeted by Congress government

NB: This action by the Congress-led Rajasthan government, is a marker of the barbaric cruelty of our justice system. We have created a heartless culture wherein murderers film themselves committing heinous crimes and high-class criminals and their thugs roam free with police protection. India's  political vocabulary, replete with terms like 'secularism', 'pseudo-secularism' and 'Hindu Rashtra', is nothing but meaningless chatter. It shows us once more that communalism is a question of ideology , and only secondarily a matter concerning xyz political party.  It's no longer 'the idea of India' we need to discuss, but the idea of political murder . No doubt the bulk of our learned media pundits will let this pass by, as they have let so many other crimes pass in front of their eyes without blinking. Even Pehlu Khan's ghost may not rest in peace. I am so sorry, Pehlu bhai, I bow my head in shame. May Allah give you peace. Glory to modern Indi

Alessandra Mezzadri: Informal labour, the majority world and the need for inclusive theories and politics

The majority of people on this planet labour in the informal economy, or are subject to labour relations that are greatly informalised. According to the International Labour Oganisation, 85.8% of total employment in Africa, 71.4% in Asia and the Pacific, 68.6% in the Arab States and 53.8% in the Americas is either informal – located in the informal economy – or informalised – in formal production realms but still  de facto  based on informal relations. The total estimate of informal employment for the whole emerging and developing economies bloc is set at 69.6%. Given the considerable weight of this bloc vis-à-vis the world’s total workforce, even at a world level (i.e. including developed regions) 61.2% of total employment is classified as either informal or informalised. This huge world of informal and informalised employment includes casual labourers and the self-employed, who can either be highly vulnerable petty commodity producers or various disguised forms of wage labour, a

The wilderness library

At 73, P.V. Chinnathambi runs one of the loneliest libraries in the forested wilderness of Kerala’s Idukki district. Its 160-books - all classics - are regularly borrowed, read, and returned by poor, Muthavan Adivasis  A library? Here in the forests and wilderness of Idukki district? This is a low literacy spot in Kerala, India’s most literate state. There are just 25 families in this hamlet of the state’s first elected tribal village council. Anyone else wanting to borrow a book from here would have to trek a long way through dense forest. Would they, really? “Well, yes,” says P.V. Chinnathambi, 73, tea vendor, sports club organiser and librarian. “They do.” His little shop - selling tea, ‘mixture', biscuits, matches and other provisions - sits at the hilly crossroads of Edamalakudi. This is Kerala’s remotest panchayat, where just one Adivasi group, the Muthavans, resides. Getting there had meant an 18-kilometre walk from Pettimudi near Munnar. Reaching Chinnathambi’s tea-s

Rahul Maganti - Mega capital city, underpaid migrant workers

Most of the construction labourers at Andhra Pradesh's upcoming capital city Amaravati are migrants from several states who work long hours for months away from home, earning modest daily wages On platform number 10 at Vijayawada Junction railway station, around 10 workers are waiting for the the Sanghamitra Express that starts from Bengaluru and goes up to Patna. The train will take them home to Belgachhi, their village in Bihar, after months of working to build Amaravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh. “We were asked to show our tickets thrice by different ticket examiners (TEs) in the last half hour,” says Mohammad Alam, 24. There are several TEs on the platform. “These ‘labour people’ don't buy tickets,” one of them tells me. “So for some trains we deploy more TEs and are extra vigilant about those headed to the north and the north east.” The labourers returning home to their village in Dagarua block of Purnia district have worked for big construction co

21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater by 2020 / ‘Clean water is a luxury we cannot afford’

The world's second-most populous country is running out of water. About 100 million people across India are on the front lines of a nationwide water crisis. A total of 21 major cities are poised to run out of groundwater next year, according to a  2018 report  by government-run think tank NITI Aayog. Much-needed monsoon rains have only just arrived in some places, running weeks late, amid a heatwave that has killed  at least 137 people  this summer. Groundwater, which has been steadily depleting for years, makes up 40% of the country's water  supply. But other sources are also running dry: almost two-thirds of India's reservoirs are running below normal water levels, the country's  Central Water Commission  said in June. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently created the Ministry of Jal Shakti (water power) to oversee water resource management, and reiterated his election campaign promise to provide piped water to every rural home by 2024. ‘Climate apartheid’: UN ex

Alabama: pregnant woman shot in stomach is charged in fetus's death

A woman from  Alabama  who was shot in the stomach while pregnant – with the bullets killing the fetus – has been charged with manslaughter. Marshae Jones was reportedly five months pregnant when she was shot by another woman in December outside a shop in Pleasant Grove, near Birmingham. On Wednesday, Jones, 27, was indicted by a Jefferson county grand jury on a manslaughter charge and is expected to be held in Jefferson county jail on a $50,000 bond, while the woman accused of shooting her walked free, reported . The case has raised alarm among pro-choice groups who say it is shocking evidence of how the state’s restrictive abortion laws are now being used against pregnant women. “The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ said Lt Danny Reid of Pleasant Grove police following the shooting, reported  in December. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unbo

Simon Tisdall - The heedless drift towards war with Iran shames Britain

Britain’s recent history with  Iran  is, for the most part, shaming. Nineteenth-century imperialists and traders exploited and bullied, redrawing its borders with the Raj. British armies invaded and occupied and, in the 1920s, helped to elevate Reza Shah to the peacock throne. The ensuing era of autocratic rule sowed the seeds of the anti-western 1979 Islamic revolution. At Persepolis, graffiti left by Victorian army officers still defaces its pillars. The US has since supplanted Britain as tormentor-in-chief, but  Iranians have long memories . Many would agree with Mohammad Mosaddegh who, before the 1953 Anglo-American coup that ousted him as prime minister, told the US envoy Averell Harriman: “You do not know how crafty they [the British] are. You do not know how evil they are. You do not know how they sully everything they touch.” Given this bitter legacy, and its other regional blunderings, it might be assumed Britain would fight shy of further intervention.  Not a bit of

Submission by Khedut Ekta Manch to the High Court appointed committee on Limestone mining in Bhavnagar

KHEDUT EKTA MANCH – GUJARAT Khet Bhavan, Near Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad 380027 Tel.: 7359051818 Email: 25th June 2019 To, The High Court Appointed Committee (Impact of Limestone Mining in Bhavnagar) Bhavnagar Respected members, As a non-profit farmers’ organization working on issues of agriculture and rural economy, we would like to draw your attention to the very serious issues emerging in the wake of sanctioning of mining lease in the area without the prior informed consent of the thousands of families and people who are to be divested of their livelihoods. The issue is not of livelihoods alone but of the loss of the entire ecosystem, water bodies, biodiversity and the endangered and protected lion population in the area. We therefore request you to carefully examine the issues we raise in our submission to you. We further request you to seek more information from the officials and the concerned departments on these issues. O

Angie Zelter: After 40 years of climate activism, I feel a surge of hope

I am now 68 years of age but when I was 21, in my final year at university, I became aware of major problems then facing the world: war, poverty, acid rain, ozonedepletion,  desertification ,  deforestation , species loss, civil and military uses and abuses of nuclear power, pollution,  population growth , consumerism and the climate crisis. I was determined to devote my life to helping solve these problems.  Nicky Hawkins: It’s time to change the climate disaster script. People need hope that things can change  After spending three years in Cameroon, learning about deforestation for timber and cash crops such as  palm oil , and the exploitation of the rich resources of Africa to the detriment of locals and enrichment of corporations and western societies, I returned home to the nuclear weapons crisis of the cold war. I joined the  Greenham Common protests , founded the Snowball civil disobedience campaign and then later the anti-nuclear weapons group  Trident Ploughshares . I

UNICEF Data: At least 200 million girls and women alive today living in 30 countries have undergone FGM

Female genital mutilation (FGM) refers to “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” [1]  FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s human rights. While the exact number of girls and women worldwide who have undergone FGM remains unknown, at least 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries with representative data on prevalence. However, the majority of girls and women in most countries with available data think FGM should end and there has been an overall decline in the prevalence of the practice over the last three decades, but not all countries have made progress and the pace of decline has been uneven... see also 240,000 girls a year die in India due to gender discrimination, excluding those aborted India: 40 million gender imbalance due murder of babies   Couple Set on Fi

Over 1 Lakh Excluded From NRC In Assam Ahead Of July Deadline

A total of 1,02,462 persons have been named in the additional exclusion list to the draft  National Register of Citizens (NRC)  published in Assam on Wednesday.   PTI  reported that the the names included in the exclusion list were part of the ones who were included in the draft NRC published on 30 July, 2018, but were later found ineligible.   NDTV  reported  that those excluded will be notified through individual letters and and can file their claims at designated NRC Seva Kendras by 11 July. The state coordinator of NRC said in a statement that the list was published as per provisions of Clause 5 of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003. The draft NRC published last year had left out around 40 lakh people. It included the names of 2.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applications.  The NRC in Assam is being updated under the monitoring of the Supreme Court and the final list is scheduled to be released on

Nicky Hawkins: It’s time to change the climate disaster script. People need hope that things can change

In recent months, Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strike have turned up the heat on the climate debate. They’ve both done an astonishing job of getting the climate change back on the public and political agendas. Their warnings of impending apocalypse, disruptive tactics and robust demands that others “tell the truth” about climate change have made huge waves. Parliament has  declared a climate emergency . The Guardian has updated its own editorial guidelines to  use language  that accurately reflects the threat that climate change poses. These demands and promises to tell the truth are based on a core premise: if people knew how bad this was we’d do differently. My organisation studies how we respond to and are shaped by the stories the we hear. I welcome the renewed energy within the climate movement – and the recognition of the power of language. But I fear we risk underplaying the part of “the truth” that could set us free. Most people in the UK know climate change

Andy Beckett: The new left economics

For almost half a century, something vital has been missing from leftwing politics in western countries. Since the 70s, the left has changed how many people think about prejudice, personal identity and freedom. It has exposed capitalism’s cruelties. It has sometimes won elections, and sometimes governed effectively afterwards. But it has not been able to change fundamentally how wealth and work function in society – or even provide a compelling vision of how that might be done. The left, in short, has not had an economic policy. Instead, the right has had one. Privatisation, deregulation, lower taxes for business and the rich, more power for employers and shareholders, less power for workers – these interlocking policies have intensified capitalism, and made it ever more ubiquitous. There have been immense efforts to make capitalism appear inevitable; to depict any alternative as impossible. In this increasingly hostile environment, the left’s economic approach has been reacti

The Decline of the West - Boris Johnson takes to the airwaves to lie, lie and lie again / Donald Trump has now said more than 10,000 untrue things as president

Bumbling Boris Johnson takes to the airwaves to lie, lie and lie again You can see why Boris Johnson’s carers have chosen to mothball him in recent weeks. His decline has been almost total. Johnson never did much care for the past or the future. Every day has always been a tabula rasa, one on which he was free to reinvent himself as he pleased without being bound by any commitments he may have made. Now though, he appears to barely have a present.  Unable even to maintain the most basic rules of conversation, his words are just a scattergun of free association. Nick Ferrari began Johnson’s LBC radio interview with a few easy rapid-fire yes and no questions as if to establish a benchmark for the lie detector. It proved hard work as Johnson was such a shambles he could barely even confirm his name. Was he a coward? That should have been a no brainer. That’s the one thing on which everyone – even his friends – agree. Johnson merely looked confused. The silence was interpreted as a y

Kelly Oakes: The light triad that can make you a good person

Do you tend to see the best in people, or assume that others are out to get you? And are you always honest in conversation, or do you prefer to turn on the charm? Your answers to these questions partly determine how much of an “everyday saint” you are, according to a group of psychologists who’ve come up with a new way of looking at beneficent personality traits. In order to qualify, it helps if you see humans, and humanity at large, as fundamentally good – and treat them that way too. Two decades ago psychologists came up with the  now infamous “dark triad” of personality traits  to understand  why some people don’t think twice before cheating on a test or picking on someone weaker than them . Since then researchers have seized upon this trio – namely narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy – investigating how they relate to a variety of things including  workplace success , relationship troubles, and even the seven deadly sins.  That’s exactly why Scott Barry Kaufman,

Trinamul's Mahua Moitra makes dissent heard in House. First-time MP lists the seven 'dangerous signs' of fascism

First-time Trinamul Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Tuesday humbly accepted the resounding mandate of the Narendra Modi government but pointed out that “the very nature of the over-whelmingness of this mandate, of the totality of this mandate, that makes it necessary for us to be heard today, the voice of dissent to be heard today”. Speaking during the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Lok Sabha, Moitra listed seven “dangerous signs” that suggest the country is being torn apart. Moitra referred to a poster in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum containing a list of all the signs of early fascism. “Each of the seven signs I have pointed to you featured in that poster,” she said as several Opposition members and at least one BJP ally thumped their desks in the House. The following are the seven signs Moitra listed:  The first sign : There is a powerful and continuing nationalism that is being speared into our national fabric. It is superficial, it

Angelique Chrisafis: France loses landmark court case over air pollution

The French state has failed to do enough to limit air pollution around  Paris , according to a landmark court ruling delivered after a woman and daughter with respiratory problems sued the nation. In the first case of its kind, Farida, 52, and her 16-year-old daughter, whose full names were not released by the court, sued the French state over the impact of living near Paris’s traffic-choked ringroad in Saint-Ouen.  She had told an association fighting for clean air: “For years I had respiratory infections.” What began as nasal and throat infections got gradually worse. “I repeatedly had bronchitis. Doctors gave me antibiotics but it wasn’t helping,” she said. “Three years ago I was sent to a lung specialist who said my problems were linked to air pollution. He advised me to move. My daughter had had bronchitis as a baby then asthma while growing up.” The woman and her daughter eventually moved to Orléans and the symptoms cleared up. The case, before the administrative court

MANTRA MUKIM - The Word and the World: Bimal Krishna Matilal on the epics

Bimal Krishna Matilal was a leading Indian philosopher and commentator of the twentieth century. Matilal does not treat the epics as the work of “seers” and his assessment largely concerns itself with the ethical tumult at the heart of these classical narratives. Besides commenting on specific episodes from the epics, there is an impulse in Matilal’s essays, as in commentaries from the more distant past, to restate these epics. Even when not transcribing them in their entirety, Matilal and his predecessors extensively quote and paraphrase the stories from them. This is to present evidence for the arguments being made, but this restating also brings back attention to certain aspects that might have been lost from public memory.  Indian commentaries on the classical epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana, tend to use a comparable critical language, one that combines close assessment of the epic with a creative recasting .  The long tradition of commentaries by Sanskrit authors on the whole

‘Climate apartheid’: UN expert says human rights may not survive

The world is increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said.  Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law. Alston is critical of the “patently inadequate” steps taken by the UN itself, countries, NGOs and businesses, saying they are “entirely disproportionate to the urgency and magnitude of the threat”. His report to the UN human rights council (HRC) concludes: “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”  The report also condemns Donald Trump for “actively silencing” climate science, and criticises the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, for promising to  open up the Amazon rainforest  to