Showing posts from September, 2019

Trump ‘cannot be allowed to command the United States military’ after threatening civil war: Law and ethics expert // This isn’t a crisis of ‘civility’ – it’s the right whipping up violence

Noted law professor and former Bush chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter has issued a warning after President Donald Trump  effectively threatened a civil war via Twitter Sunday night .  Trump tweeted remarks from his top religious advisor, far right wing extremist  Dr. Robert Jeffress , saying, “If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Professor Painter warned that in light of Trump’s threat, he “cannot be allowed to command the United States military,” and “should be removed from office immediately.”An associate professor of international relations and national security at the U.S. Naval War College, David Burbach, says Trump’s comments cannot be dismissed as “he just talks that way.”....

Thousands take to streets in Moscow demanding release of political prisoners

‘No one can get a fair hearing in Russian courts - injustice and lawlessness can happen to anyone now’ Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets in  Moscow  to demand the release of Kremlin critics apprehended in the run up to the country’s local elections.  Waving flags while chanting “let them go” and “freedom for political prisoners”, monitors say 25,200 people marched in the Russian capital for a rally featuring opposition leader and Kremlin critic  Alexei Navalny . The protest was approved by the city’s mayoral office – a change from those of previous months which saw some 2,000 people briefly detained in one of the largest crackdowns against opposition supporters in the country’s recent history.  Activists assembled to challenge the detention of campaigners arrested at a series of rallies that flared across the city in July - when opposition politicians were barred from taking part in the local government poll. Since then several have been given four year pris

An ordinary person stood up to protect the university as a space of free expression. By Sourav Roy Barman

Anti-nationals, urban naxals — these epithets are recent additions to our public discourse, but the tendency to pigeonhole voices of dissent and resistance as “leftists” or “Maoists” predates the  Narendra Modi  government. Much before Babul Supriyo heaped scorn on the vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University,  Mamata Banerjee  had called my friend, a student of Presidency College, a “Maoist” on national television, for questioning her government’s track record on women’s safety. The disdain for critical thinking coming out of our universities aside, such statements advance the notion of a society besieged by inimical forces, in desperate need of a decisive and strong leader to tackle the imagined adversary. The project to demonise students of public universities as rootless elites falters on one count though. It fails to factor in the capacity of seemingly ordinary individuals, an intrinsic part of those ecosystems, to pull off extraordinary acts. Like one Pramod Sain did, nearly ei

Howdy Modi: The PM may be leading the Indian diaspora into uncharted waters. By Bharat Bhushan

Overseas Indians have long been seen as strategic assets. They can act as mediators and facilitators for improving ties with the countries they are settled in. In 1999, the Indian diaspora in the US played an important role in the withdrawal of the Burton Amendment which sought to cut US aid to India by 25 per cent over its treatment of minorities and human rights record in Kashmir. In 2008, it played a significant role in the smooth passage of the India-US Nuclear Agreement.  It was not always so. In the early 1990s, the Pakistan lobby dominated Capitol Hill. India could count support among Congressmen on its finger tips. Congressman Gary Ackerman and Senator Larry Pressler were among the few well-known names who spoke up for India. Finally, in the early 1990s, a young diplomat in the Indian Embassy in Washington DC went to the US Justice Department and sought an open document -- a list of people who made and mandatorily declared their donation to political parties. Then he caref

Greta Thunberg leads 500,000 strong climate march in Montreal: ‘We’ve become too loud for people to handle’

Greta Thunberg  has marched alongside an estimated 500,000 people  at a global climate strike demonstration in  Montreal , telling protesters she did not understand why adults mock children for campaigning against global warming. Donald Trump  had taken aim at the teenager earlier this week, tweeting sarcastically: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Mr Trump's favourite TV network, Fox News, was forced to apologise to the teenager after one of its guests suggested she was mentally unwell. And on Friday Bernard Arnault, the richest man in Europe, claimed the 16-year-old's efforts  were "demoralising" for young people ....

The latest New Yorker cover is a real hit job

The October 7 issue of The New Yorker Magazine features artwork by cartoonist Barry Blitt Very interesting. The "whistleblower" may not be just one person, but rather a group Richard Wolffe: The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get 300 national security officials say Trump’s actions are ‘unconscionable abuse of power’ Whistleblower report reveals how far Trump’s dubious ethics have spread Trump's mafia-style

Sally Weale: The Finnish education system is the envy of the world

Finland’s influence is spreading far and wide. Last month a school opened in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam based on the Finnish curriculum and pedagogical approach, with Finnish staff on the teaching team. Kuusimäki tells me Finland’s schools are well-funded and built around the principle of equality of opportunity for all pupils. He is baffled when I try to explain that some state schools in England are so strapped for cash that they are asking parents for donations. “As you may know, everything is free in  Finland ,” he says, university included. There is just one fee-paying school in the country, the International School of Helsinki, which has mainly catered for international employees of Nokia and other industries. Otherwise, charging fees is illegal and parents are happy by and large to send their children to their local school. “We really don’t have bad schools,” Kuusimäki says. In class children are listened to and respected, school lunches are free, detentions are rare

Open Letter from Iranian Workers and Labor Activists to International Workers, Labor Organizations, Syndicates, and All People of Conscience

International working class solidarity calls on workers of all countries,  especially countries in which workers still have the basic rights of free speech, protest and association,  to support the struggles of their fellow working class members, condemn the anti-labor and anti-democratic policies of the Islamic Republic. September 14, 2019 A Wave of increasing repression, arrests and  inhuman prison sentences of workers, teachers,  retirees, women, students, writers, journalists and environmental activists in Iran continues. The repression, imprisonment and court convictions of  workers are a clear and continuous violation of basic  labor rights and principles  by the Islamic Republic of Iran. As a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO),  the Iranian state is obliged to respect these principles and rights.    However, Independent labor organizations,  including the Syndicate of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers and the Syndicatie of Tehran Vahed Bus Workers which

Fresh wave of climate strikes takes place around the world

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are taking place in the latest wave of climate strikes to demand urgent action on the  escalating ecological emergency . Last week, millions walked out of schools and workplaces, uniting across timezones, cultures and generations in the biggest climate protests in history before a special UN conference in New York. Greta Thunberg's 495-word UN speech points us to a future of hope – or despair WORLD CLIMATE STRIKE Organisers said they were expecting another huge turnout on Friday, with demonstrations planned from Canada to the Netherlands, Sweden to Morocco, Italy to India. In New Zealand, record numbers of protesters were reported to have taken to the streets on Friday.  Greta Thunberg , the teenager who inspired the school strike movement with her solo protest outside the Swedish parliament last year, said 3.5% of the country were taking part. An open-letter signed by 11,000 New Zealanders was delivered to parliament

Samira Shackle - ‘The way universities are run is making us ill’. British student's mental health crisis

British universities are experiencing a surge in student anxiety, mental breakdowns and depression. There has been a sharp rise in students dropping out – of the  2015 intake, 26,000  left  in their first year, an increase for the third year running – and an alarming number of suicides. In the 12 months ending July 2017, the rate of suicide for university students in England and Wales was 4.7 deaths per 100,000 students, which equates to 95 suicides or about one death every four days. The crisis in student mental health hit the news in 2017 after a high number of  suicides at Bristol University . Over 18 months, starting in October 2016, 12 students are believed to have killed themselves. While the university tried to tackle the crisis, it struggled to keep up with the rising demand for help. In November 2018, a group of students gathered on a chilly Bristol street holding placards demanding better access to psychological support. The students told reporters that despite promises

Greta Thunberg's 495-word UN speech points us to a future of hope – or despair

Will you recognise the necessity of the enormous task which must start now, or will you say nothing, do nothing? Greta Thunberg’s address to the UN’s Climate Action Summit on Monday may well prove to be the climate change movement’s Gettysburg Address. Like Abraham Lincoln’s revered speech, which ran to 273 words, Thunberg’s was also very short, only 495 words long. Lincoln famously spoke at the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery, following the leading orator of the day, Edward Everett, who took two hours to deliver the official address, a 13,000 word oration. Lincoln’s speech, simply described in the day’s official program as Dedicatory Remarks, lasted less than three minutes. GretaThunberg showed the world what it means to lead WORLD CLIMATE STRIKE Thunberg would similarly have had some good acts to follow at a UN talk-fest, but her presence would not, at first glance, seem to be of the same significance as those of the various world leaders who had gathered for t

Nick Baumann: The Trump Whistleblower Scandal Is Proving Edward Snowden Right // Donald Trump has put whistleblower in danger, lawyers say

Edward Snowden did it all wrong, his critics thundered. The former National Security Agency subcontractor should have used “other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions,” then-President Barack Obama claimed in an August 2013 press conference , citing an executive order he had signed that - in theory at least  - gave intelligence officers some whistleblower protections for the first time ever. “Snowden could have come to me,” George Ellard, then the NSA’s inspector general, claimed in 2014 .  Donald Trump has put whistleblower in danger, lawyers say :  “I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right? We used to handle them a little differently than we do now.” Snowden did, in fact, try to report his concerns through offic

Richard Wolffe: The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get

NB : 'In some corner of his (Trump's) orange-tipped cranium there are surely a handful of brain cells that are fully aware that his entire family has engaged with foreign dictators and their oligarchs for personal profit ... Trump apparently knows nothing about his own officials lining his own pockets. But he does know a thing or two about Ukraine. '   Yes, this is the man whom India's Prime Minister chooses to endorse while in the USA! What would the RSS & Co. have said if the boot were on the other foot, and an American President had endorsed the Congress Party on an official visit to India? Speaking of boots, Modi's sickening display of sycophancy toward the racist neo-Nazi buffoon who currently occupies the White House must be a record in shameless flattery, even for patriots like him. What a joke. DS America has a grand tradition of the brazenly dumb criminal: the kind who is so desperately needy that he brags about his guilt. Back in the earliest da

Lily Kuo: China footage reveals hundreds of blindfolded and shackled prisoners

Drone footage  has emerged showing police leading hundreds of blindfolded and shackled men from a train in what is believed to be a transfer of inmates in Xinjiang. The video, posted on YouTube last week, shows what appear to be Uighur or other minorities wearing blue and yellow uniforms, with cleanly shaven heads, their eyes covered, sitting in rows on the ground and later being led away by police. Prisoners in  China  are often transferred with handcuffs and masks covering their faces.  Lily Kuo: Chinese journalists to be tested on loyalty to Xi Jinping Hong Kong protests: Joshua Wong and other pro-democracy figures arrested Nathan Ruser, a researcher with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s international cyber policy centre, used clues in the footage, including landmarks and the position of the sun, to verify the video, which he believes was shot at a train station west of Korla in south-east  Xinjiang  in August last year. Much of the focus of internationa

Ayush Chaturvedi: Main Gandhi ke saath hun // Samar Halarnkar: In the time of Godse, a search for Hindus who will stand with Gandhi

NB : Thank you Ayush. You are a brave and conscientious boy. Many of us are proud of you  - DS Ye kisne kahaa aapse aandhi ke saath hun //  Main Godse ke daur me Gandhi ke saath hun If the Danish child who swam against the adult tide to speak the truth about the  Emperor’s New Clothes is reborn in India, he will probably look like Ayush Chaturvedi. Ayush’s face is now familiar to many social media users, thanks to a speech the Class XI pupil delivered at his school on September 9 on Mahatma Gandhi. Among the lines that are making waves, two stand out: “I want to say that there was no bigger Hindu than Gandhi. But the people of other religions didn’t fear his ‘Hey Ram’ because Gandhi was a symbol of secularism in India.” Ayush had begun with a bang but the opening lines are not on the clip that has been circulated: Ye kisne kahaa aapse aandhi ke saath hun, Main  Godse  ke daur me  Gandhi  ke saath hun (Who told you that I am swept up in the storm I stand by Gandhi in

Bharat Bhushan: Now, govt's Kashmir rhetoric is directed at international audience

Having turned life upside down for the people of the Kashmir Valley, under siege for more than six weeks, what exactly did Prime Minister  Narendra Modi  mean when he said we will have to hug every Kashmiri? It rings even hollower than his “goli se nahin gale se” speech on Independence Day in 2017 when he first enunciated a policy of embracing Kashmiris rather than subduing them with bullets. This time Modi’s public rhetoric may not be directed at Kashmir or even the rest of India. The public relations exercise could be to counter the accusations against Modi of being a Hindu supremacist. There may be some urgency to refurbish his international image before his address to the UN General Assembly. The  New York Times  has carried an article by  Imran Khan  which refers to Modi as Hitler. It follows a series of tweets and speeches where Khan recalled the condition of the Jewish community in Nazi Germany and accused Modi’s government of emulating the Fascists in  Jammu and Kashmir 

Kenan Malik: Think only authoritarian regimes spy on their citizens?

The mass surveillance system installed by the French city of Marseille goes by the Orwellian name of Big Data of Public Tranquility Almost half the world’s countries now deploy AI surveillance systems. So says a new report,  The Global Expansion of AI Surveillance , from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Such technologies vary from “smart city” projects, which use real-time data on residents to aid delivery of public services and enhance policing, to facial recognition systems, to border security, to governments spying on political dissidents. SUBMARINE STATE The main driver is China. The tech company Huawei alone is responsible for providing AI surveillance technology to at least 50 countries. But it’s not just Beijing pushing such technology. Western companies, from IBM to  Palantir , are deeply involved. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, Huawei is helping create smart cities, Google and Amazon are building cloud computing servers for government surveillance an

'The mystery must be resolved': what befell Swede who saved Hungarian Jews?

Seventy-five years after the amateur Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg embarked on his desperate mission to rescue Budapest’s Jews, his descendants still do not know how, when or why he died. This week, they are travelling to Stockholm to demand the government finally does a bit more to help them find out. “I want specific answers to specific questions,” said Marie von Dardel-Dupuy, the niece of the young architect and businessman whose humanitarian operation is thought to have saved the lives of as many as 30,000 Hungarian Jews as the second world war neared its end.  Hungarian Jews March in Memory of Holocaust Von Dardel-Dupuy, who lives in  Switzerland , told the Guardian: “He was a great man who wasn’t afraid to do the impossible. He deserves for us to know what happened to him. His story is unfinished - the mystery must be resolved. There are still so many closed doors, and we must have help in opening them.” Raoul Wallenberg disappeared in 1945 after being  sum

Jharkhand again: A man is lynched, two injured over suspicion of cow slaughter

One man was killed and two others injured in Khunti district of Jharkhand Sunday after they were assaulted by a mob that accused them of “slaughtering” a cow. Police said the men were attacked around 10 am in Jaltanda Suari village, when villagers spotted them allegedly carving out meat from an animal carcass. “The three villagers, identified as Kalantus Barla, Philip Horo and Faagu Kacchap, are alleged to have been carving an animal prohibited for slaughtering. Other villagers spotted them and started beating them. However, police reached the spot as we got information and rushed them to hospital. Barla sustained grievous injuries and he died before reaching hospital.  The other two are said to be stable,” said DIG (Chhotanagpur Range) Homkar Amol Venukant. The DIG said that there was no clarity on the “sequence of events” and that the matter is under investigation. He said no arrests have been made and that “there are a few persons detained for questioning”. This year in A

F***ing sold out: Minister to editor

Union minister of state for environment Babul Supriyo on Saturday said the editor of The Telegraph had “f***ing sold out” after the journalist refused to apologise for a statement wrongly attributed by the minister to the newspaper. The minister, who is caught in a controversy associated with his visit to Jadavpur University on Thursday, tweeted on Saturday around 6.30pm: “This is the video which shows: 1. I WASN’T elbowing anyone rather I ws being pushed & manhandled with my shirt torn. 2. It wasn’t a girl either-it was BEARDED GUY as clearly seen in the VDO. If @Telegraph doesn’t apologise tomorrow for their false biased reporting, I’ll sue them.” The Telegraph could not find any article in the newspaper that said the minister had elbowed anyone. Around 7.50pm, the minister called The Telegraph editor R. Rajagopal on his mobile phone during the evening news meeting. Supriyo introduced himself and said he would like an “amicable apology”. ‘“What should we apologise for?’ I ask

Donald Trump is no hero of the working class. And the GM strikers know it : Robert Reich

Corporate profits have reached record levels but most Americans have not benefited. Profits now constitute a larger portion of national income, and wages a lower portion, than at any time since the second world war. These profits are generating higher share prices (fueled by share buybacks) and higher executive pay, resulting in wider inequality. The richest 1% of Americans own about 40% of all shares of stock; the richest 10%, around 80%. The demise of unions explains much of this. Donald Trump pretends to be a tribune of the working class, standing up for American jobs. Last week nearly 50,000  General Motors  workers went on strike to get what they see as their fair share of its profits and stop further layoffs. Trump’s response? A shrug. In 2009, when GM was on the brink of collapse, the United Auto Workers (UAW) agreed to let the company hire new workers at about half the prevailing hourly wage and with skimpier retirement benefits, hire temp workers at even lower rates, and o

The Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea: slavery in the Thai fishing industry

A survivor’s graphic memoir and a feature film reveal horrific exploitation and violence on the high seas – and the shame of the world’s complicity..    An estimated 200,000 migrant workers  from Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos are prone to such exploitation by the $6.5bn Thai fishing industry, according to the  Raks Thai Foundation In 2006, a young Cambodian sculptor, Vannak Anan Prum, left his village to look for labouring work. He needed to earn enough money to pay for his wife Sokun’s impending hospital stay to give birth to their first child. He intended to be away for two months.  He would not see his wife again for 5 years. After a middleman on the Thai-Cambodian border promised he could earn a lot of money drying fish, Prum was sold into slave labour, sent to sea on a fishing trawler. He was forced to work around the clock and through storms, allowed a maximum two hours’ sleep by day and two hours at night. Violence happened on the boat every day for the next 4 years as a w

Ruth Michaelson: Egyptian forces fire teargas on anti-government protesters

Hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets in Cairo and other cities in rare protests against the country’s president,  Abdel Fatah al-Sisi , responding to an online call for a demonstration against government corruption. Videos shared on social media showed protesters in central Cairo as well as the port cities of Alexandria and Suez, demanding that Sisi leave office. Protests also occurred in the towns of Damietta, Damanhur and Mahalla. Demonstrations are all but illegal in Egypt after a broad crackdown on dissent under Sisi, who seized power following the overthrow of former president  Mohamed Morsi  in 2013. Sisi’s rule has been marked by the repression of political opposition, civil society and any perceived criticism. Those taking to the streets risked arrest as well as the lingering threat of force by the Egyptian authorities. Security forces moved to disperse the small and scattered crowds in Cairo late on Friday using teargas but many young people stayed on the str

Lily Kuo: Chinese journalists to be tested on loyalty to Xi Jinping

Chinese journalists will soon be required to pass a test grading their understanding of Xi Jinping Thought, the socialist teachings espoused by the country’s leader. A notice from China’s media regulator has been sent to more than a dozen state-owned news organisations in Beijing over the last month. It instructs employees to prepare to take an exam on the  “study Xi” propaganda app ,  launched earlier this year, in order to have their press credential renewed. Most believe the regulation will soon apply to Chinese reporters across the country. Journalists from three media organisations, two of which were outside Beijing, told the Guardian their publications had also received informal notices to register on the app. “From the top down to the bottom, I don’t think anyone will be able to escape it,” said one reporter from a broadcaster in the eastern Shandong province who said he was not authorised to speak on the topic. The on-site, closed-book exam, to be administered by n

Across the globe, millions join biggest climate protest ever // As Millions Join Climate Strike, Top Activist Warns: ‘It Could Get Ugly’

NB : This is a political event of great magnitude. It is is also philosophically loaded. The quest to 'master nature' to serve human needs has come full circle; and a large section of humanity - especially the young - understands that the mindless technological poisoning of the air, water and forests will result; and has already resulted, in disaster. The world order hangs in a tension between a gobal economy and a political 'enemy system' founded upon nation-states. Unlimited growth based on limited resources will destroy the life-preserving capacity of the earth. The political focus on enmity as a defining feature of nationalism undermines the requirement of cooperation - and it is reflected in the massive expenditures devoted to armaments. ‘Students Have Led and We Must Follow’: Scientists From 40 Nations The Greatest Crime of All: Climate Emergency and Inter-Generational Genocide Sixth Extinction / Conservative groups spend $1bn a year fighting action on clim

Book review - Muhammad Qasim Zaman. Islam in Pakistan: A History.

Muhammad Qasim Zaman.   Islam in Pakistan: A History   Reviewed by  Justin Jones in  H-Asia (September, 2019)  Printable Version: How can Islam in Pakistan, with its overwhelming heterogeneity, be discussed meaningfully within a single study, if indeed it can be defined as a coherent enquiry at all? These are the questions hinted at by Muhammad Qasim Zaman in the early pages of this encyclopedic work. Trying to elucidate a subject so broad and complex is a feat so ambitious that no previous author has attempted it, and Zaman tries to make sense of this complex panorama through a series of densely detailed chapters. In doing so, he produces a rich intellectual history, focusing upon a range of Muslim thinkers and figureheads who inhabit the religious landscape of Pakistan and situating their formulations of Islam within Pakistan’s evolving social and political topography. Throughout the book, there is a tangible point of r

Ed Pilkington: Ukraine imbroglio confirms Giuliani's as Trump's most off-kilter advocate

On Thursday night  Rudy Giuliani , Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and troubleshooter-in-chief, went on CNN to defend his boss against the latest scandal swirling round him.  Hours before Giuliani went on air, it had been  reported  that Trump had provoked a whistleblower complaint within the US intelligence services by pressuring the government of Ukraine to provide dirt that could help his bid for re-election. The information is thought to have related to Trump’s main presidential rival, the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.  A few minutes into the interview, pugnacious anchor Chris Cuomo got to the point. Cuomo: “Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate  Joe Biden ?” Giuliani: “No. Actually I didn’t.” Crystal clear. Except that 83 words and about 30 seconds later, Cuomo asked the question again. Cuomo: “So, you did ask  Ukraine  to look into Joe Biden?” Giuliani: “Of course I did.” That Giuliani was prepared so blatantly to contradict himself on live TV in th