Showing posts from 2021

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Brian Eno & David Byrne - Home Album: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today The dimming of the light makes the picture clearer It's just an old photograph There's nothing to hide When the world was just beginning I memorized a face so it's not forgotten I hear the wind whistlin' Come back anytime And we'll mix our lives together Heaven knows- what keeps mankind alive Every hand- goes searching for its partner In crime- under chairs and behind tables Connecting- to places we have known I'm looking for a Home- where the wheels are turning Home- why I keep returning Home- where my world is breaking in two Home- with the neighbors fighting Home- always so exciting Home- were my parents telling the truth? Home- such a funny feeling Home- no-one ever speaking Home- with our bodies touching Home- and the cam'ras watching Home- will infect what ever you do We're Home- comes to life from outa the blue Tiny li

Pratap Bhanu Mehta - Weaponising faith: The Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath dispute

There was something incongruous about the moment when I read the news on April 8 that the district court in Varanasi had directed the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a study of the Gyanvapi Mosque. This day also happened to be Kumar Gandharva’s birth anniversary. It was hard to resist playing his composition in Raga Shankara Sir Pe Dhari Ganga. There is a moment where he adds an extra “gang” before “Ganga”. The resulting “ganga/gagana”, is one of the most incandescent moments in all of Indian music - that extra Ganga literally drenching you in the full freshness and redemptive flow of the Ganga. It is always tempting to follow this exuberant rendition of Shankara, with another more meditative one - Pandit Jasraj’s Shankara. He sings “Vibhushitanaga Riputammanga”, the penultimate shloka of Panditraja Jagannatha’s Gangalahari. Reading the news of the Gyanvapi order, while these played in the background, almost felt like a defilement, a reminder that the spontaneous and erumpent

Bharat Bhushan: Burden of bigotry may break Indian democracy's back

Two recent events suggest that the Indian Republic could be hurtling down a slippery slope. Both relate to Uttar Pradesh but have national consequences. One is the Varanasi court judgement opening up the Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque dispute. The other comes from adjoining Allahabad where the High Court has red-flagged the misuse of the National Security Act. Most of the cases are against members of the minority community. Efforts to corner the Muslim community in India appear to be unrelenting. Less than 18 months after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Hindu petitioners in the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid  land dispute in Ayodhya, another smouldering ember from Hindutva’s agenda is being stoked to life. A Varanasi court has ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to ascertain “whether the religious structure standing at present at the disputed site is a superimposition, alteration or addition or there is a structural overlapping of any kind, with or over, any religiou

Milan Kundera's use of Kitsch

Kitsch is a German word that's been adopted by a number of other languages, including English. It refers primarily to art that is overly sentimental or melodramatic, and so refers to aesthetics. What's interesting is the way Kundera uses the concept in his novel, not to talk about art, but to talk about political ideology. Source: To begin, Kundera asserts that kitsch is an aesthetic ideal "in which shit is denied and everyone acts as though it did not exist" (6.5.4). He's not just speaking literally here, but about all the bad, disgusting, negative, violent, depressing things in the world. "Kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence" (6.5.5). Kundera then moves on to politics. "Kitsch is the aesthetic ideal of all politicians and all political parties and movements," he says (6.9.1). He gives the example of politicia

The New York Times: Complacency and Missteps Deepen a Covid-19 Crisis in India

The new wave will hurt global efforts and vaccine supplies, experts say. Researchers are scrambling to assess whether new coronavirus variants are playing a role in India.  When the coronavirus first struck India last year, the country enforced one of the  world’s strictest national lockdowns . The warning was clear:  A fast spread in a population of 1.3 billion would be devastating. Though  damaging  and  ultimately flawed , the lockdown and other efforts appeared to work. Infections dropped and deaths remained low. Officials and the public dropped their guard. Experts warned fruitlessly that the government’s haphazard approach would bring a crisis when a new wave appeared. Now the crisis is here. India on Saturday reported a daily record of 145,384 new infections as Covid-19 raced out of control. Deaths, while still relatively low, are rising. Vaccinations, a mammoth task in such a large nation,  are dangerously behind schedule . Hospital beds are running short. Parts of the country

George Monbiot: In 2008, we bailed out the banks. In 2021, we need to bail out the planet

COVID-19 is not a random event. It is a symptom of a global economic system that is destroying the living planet and killing off our magnificent wildlife. COVID-19 might be the first pandemic many of us have experienced. But unless we change course, it will almost certainly not be the last. So before we spend billions of dollars reinstating the status quo, perhaps it’s time for a rethink. In order to prevent future pandemics and tackle ecological and climate breakdown, governments must take a different path. What would this look like? It means investing to decarbonise the global economy as fast as possible, and shrinking our environmental footprint. It means bringing an end to destructive activities like deforestation and intensive mining. And it means ending our addiction to economic growth and putting the needs of people and the planet first.  After the financial crisis in 2008, we bailed out the banks. In 2021, we need to bail out the planet...

Bill Gates is the biggest private owner of farmland in the United States. Why? By Nick Estes

Bill Gates’ achievement, according to the report, is that he’s largest private owner of farmland in the US. A 2018 purchase of 14,500 acres of prime eastern Washington farmland – which is traditional Yakama territory – for $171m helped him get that title. In total, Gates owns approximately 242,000 acres of farmland with assets totaling more than $690m.  To put that into perspective, that’s nearly the size of Hong Kong and twice the acreage of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, where I’m an enrolled member. A white man owns more farmland than my entire Native nation!  The United States is defined by the excesses of its ruling class. But why do a handful of people own so much land?... Surinder S. Jodhka: Changing Modes of Agriculture in Punjab Indian Farmers' Protest - Work in progress videos Jatinder Kaur Tur & Mandeep Punia: Dalit activist Shiv Kumar's medical report describes illegal det

Third of Antarctic ice shelves ‘will collapse amid 4C global heating’

More than a third of the vast floating platforms of ice surrounding  Antarctica  could be at risk of collapsing and releasing “unimaginable amounts” of water into the sea if global temperatures reach 4C above pre-industrial levels, UK scientists say.  Researchers from the University of Reading said that limiting the temperature rise to 2C could halve the area at risk and avoid a drastic rise in sea levels.  The findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggest that 4C warming could leave 34% of the area of all the Antarctic ice shelves – amounting to about half a million square kilometres – at the risk of collapse…. Aseem Shrivastava: An Age gone blind // Mallika Bhanot - Char Dham Pariyojana: A High Risk Engineering Exercise This obscure energy treaty is the greatest threat to the planet you’ve never heard of Erin Brockovich - Plummeting sperm co

Northern Ireland unrest: why has violence broken out?

Northern Ireland has been rocked by six successive nights of violence with 55 police officers injured in a level of unrest “not seen in years”. Serious unrest has spilled on to the streets since Good Friday in pockets of unionist areas in Derry, Belfast and other towns in County Antrim. Cars have been set on fire and petrol bombs and masonry have been thrown at police, leaving 48 officers injured, including seven on Wednesday night during the  worst disturbances so far in Belfast . The Northern  Ireland  policing board said the attacks on officers were “truly shocking” while the Northern  Ireland  executive in a joint statement after an emergency debate described the events as “deplorable”....

Sankarshan Thakur: Bengal is in the throes of unalloyed bigotry

NB: "The criterion which makes the difference between a great man and a popular one consists in the great man's searching for what is nobly human in the masses, to raise them by its means, whereas a merely popular man looks for what is low and brutal so as to raise himself".. Rabbi J.S. Bloch;  My Reminiscences, 1923, p. 233 Bengal is in the throes of unalloyed bigotry One afternoon three or so years ago, I stepped out of our Calcutta offices for a smoke and a shot of  bhaanr  (earthen cup) coffee. Within earshot from where I stood is a small shrine to Hanuman that hugs the corpulent trunk of a banyan. The neighbourhood is a busy wholesale warren, scores pay obeisance to the deity as they pass by. That afternoon, a quite unusual devotee had arrived below the banyan. He wore a saffron shirt and a  tilak  emblazoned across his temple. There was a swagger to his manner. He hadn’t arrived to pray, he was hectoring the  mahant  of the shrine, a quiet, wizened man always turne

Donald Trump - Supreme white collar criminal

In the United States, there is one set of rules for rich people (especially if they are also white) and another set for everyone else. That unjust and anti-democratic system is reflected across American society. The country's wealth and income inequality is so extreme (especially the race-wealth gap) that it more closely resembles that of a Third World autocracy than one of the world's richest countries and a "leading democracy." There is the "legal" theft. The county's laws are literally written by the rich and the powerful. In turn, those laws represent their interests and goals over and above those of the average American. Political scientists have actually shown that America's elected officials on the national level are largely not responsive to the demands and needs of ordinary people.... Michael Roberts: The top 1% own 45% of all global personal wealth; the bottom 50% own less than 1%

YANN PHILIPPIN - Sale of French Rafale jet fighters to India: how a state scandal was buried

In 2016 France and India signed a 7.8-billion-euro deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters made by French defence group Dassault. Mediapart can reveal that, alongside this controversial deal, Dassault also agreed to pay one million euros to a middleman who is now under investigation in India in connection with another defence deal. The French anti-corruption agency Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA) discovered this separate arrangement during a routine audit of Dassault. The AFA nonetheless decided not to alert the prosecution authorities over the payment. This is the first part of Mediapart's investigation into a state scandal which also raises questions over the both the justice system and the political authorities. Yann Philippin reports. It was a great day for the French defence industry. In New Delhi on September 23rd 2016 the French minister for defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar, watched by Éric Trappier, CEO of French compa