Showing posts from September, 2021

Heather Barr: For Afghan Women, the Frightening Return of ‘Vice and Virtue’

There is no better symbol for the disappearance of women’s rights in Afghanistan than the end of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the return of the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. When the Taliban on September 7 announced their new interim government, the vice and virtue  ministry  featured on the list, with a cleric as its newly appointed minister. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs had disappeared, and there were  no women  in the new cabinet. The situation has a feeling of impending doom as a largely unchanged Taliban comes into direct conflict with a generation of young women who grew up hearing about the abuses that the Taliban inflicted on their mothers and older sisters and seizing the opportunities those older women were denied. On a chat group of people who have worked many years in Afghanistan, a journalist friend wrote, “Does anyone else fear these protests are going to end in a massacre?” This possibility seems all too real… https://www.juancole

Sanjiv Krishan Sood: It Is the Need of the Hour To Understand Police Brutality in India and Take Action

The police all over the country is increasingly brutal in their approach towards common people. Flouting law rather than protecting the rule of law is becoming the norm. When the chief minister of a state says  “thok diya jayega”  (will be shot), it is an open call to the police to ignore rule of law in dealing with the public. Even criminals are entitled to due process of law It Is the Need of the Hour To Understand Police Brutality in India and Take Action What happened in Sipajhar town of Darrang district, Assam on  September 22  is shameful, to say the least, and reflective of the unprofessional conduct of police in dealing with a routine law and order situation. The horrific conduct of the photographer employed with the district administration jumping on the individual fallen on the ground after being shot has been commented upon by all and sundry. However, what appears to have been missed or deliberately ignored by almost everyone is the act of a policeman mercilessly hitting the

Anita Hill on sexual harassment and survival: ‘You have to think: what is my life for?’

In the pantheon of women shamed for exposing the actions of high-profile men - before  Christine Blasey Ford  in 2018 and Monica Lewinsky in 1998 – there was Anita Hill. In 1991, the US president, George HW Bush, nominated Clarence Thomas to the supreme court. Senate hearings for his confirmation were completed without incident, until an interview of Hill by the FBI was leaked to the press. In it, Hill accused Thomas of sexual harassment while he was her supervisor in two separate jobs, at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Among other claims, Hill said that Thomas discussed women having sex with animals, and pornographic films depicting group sex or rape scenes, and described his own sexual prowess and anatomy. According to Hill, Thomas’s behaviour forced her to resign from her job. The Senate hearings reopened, and Hill repeated her claims in a series of televised sessions. Not only was she not believed, her character and motivation were impu

‘Blah, blah, blah’: Greta Thunberg lambasts leaders over climate crisis

Greta Thunberg has excoriated global leaders over their promises to address the climate emergency, dismissing them as “blah, blah, blah”. She quoted statements by  Boris Johnson : “This is not some expensive, politically correct, green act of bunny hugging”, and Narendra Modi: “Fighting climate change calls for innovation, cooperation and willpower” but said the science did not lie. Carbon emissions are  on track to rise by 16% by 2030 , according to the UN, rather than fall by half, which is the cut needed to keep global heating under the internationally agreed limit of 1.5C. “ Build back better . Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah,” she said in a speech to the Youth4Climate summit in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday. “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”…

Bharat Bandh Today Live Updates: Highways, rail tracks blocked; strike successful, says Rakesh Tikait / Bharat Bhushan: Time for farmers' movement to launch a political party

Normal life was hit as farmers blocked highways and squatted on railway tracks at many places on the occasion of the Bharat Bandh called on Monday against the three contentious farm laws. The bandh began at 6 am and ended at 4 pm on Monday. BKU leader  Rakesh Tikait  said, “Our Bharat Bandh was successful. We had the full support of farmers…We can’t seal down everything as we have to facilitate the movement of people. We are ready for talks with the government but no discussions are happening.” In both Punjab and Haryana, national highways, state highways, link road and railway tracks have been severally blocked, bringing road and rail traffic to a halt. In Punjab farmers protested at over 350 places. Punjab’s Additional Director General of Police(AGDP) has issued instructions to the police forces of the state to ensure law and order at protest places. A close watch is being kept at all the dharna sites. In Haryana too, highways are blocked 25 places alone in the Jind district. In

Mukul Kesavan: Photobombing death and the banality of evil / Evil, framed. By SLAVENKA DRAKULIĆ

NB : India's Prime Minister has warned the world of the threat of ' regressive thinking .' The  rhetorical artistry of our Great Leader is indeed admirable; although I think his camp-followers will miss the irony. The article below describes what can happen in India in the name of politically correct nationalism. And here's another:  A Grateful Nation . We should be thankful we live in such a progressive nation.  DS Photobombing death: Narcissism is a useful example of the banality of evil The photographer jumping on a man shot dead by policemen in Assam on Thursday is a creature of two intersecting histories. The first is the history of State-sponsored majoritarianism, which in India generally and Assam particularly, is beginning to devolve into a form of fascism. The photographer knew that stomping on Muslims, dead or alive, was sanctioned by the zeitgeist. But he was also performing for the camera in a way that is the signature behaviour of this digital age. The clip

The Nazi everyman: Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels

The most striking aspect of the persona that Goebbels composes in the diaries is that it doesn’t try to conceal traits that any halfway decent morality would condemn. He is not ashamed of the abject servility that he shows in relation to Hitler; he glories in it. He registers no flicker of remorse regarding the targets of Nazi terror: he crows over their fate. What liberal civilisation – with all its flaws – regarded as vices, he displays as virtues.  Goebbels: A Biography by Peter Longerich Reviewed by John Gray The thoroughly repellent figure that emerges from the diaries is not simply Goebbels as he was in fact. It is Goebbels as he wanted to be. He actively embraced barbarism as a way out from the chaos of his time, and in this he was at one with multitudes of educated Europeans. Viewing him as the victim of a personality disorder is a way of denying a more chilling fact that his life reveals – the perilous fragility of civilisation.

The West isn’t dying – its ideas live on in China. By John Gray

NB:  I agree with much of Gray's argument about the fragility of liberal democratic values, but would like to underline one of his sentences, containing the phrase about earlier generations of 'liberal and socialist thinkers downplaying the colossal human toll of communism in Russia and China '. There's no denying this, but let us also remember that of the approximately 65 million fatal casualties in World War 2 , the USSR alone bore over 20 million deaths, and China close to 11 million. No country, army or society paid such a gigantic cost for defeating Nazism. Compared to the USSR and China combined, the costs to the USA and UK were minimal. Let us keep humanity in focus, not 'communism' and 'capitalism.' And  if we were to add the impact of Western colonialism to the mix, its imposition of 'free-market economics' led to tens of millions of dead Indians and Chinese, memorialised in  Late Victorian Holocausts .  DS The West isn’t dying – its ide

Nancy Lindisfarne & Jonathan Neale - Afghanistan: The Climate Crisis

Last month we wrote about  the end of the American occupation of Afghanistan and the Taliban victory . This piece is about climate change in Afghanistan. The topic is urgent. Afghanistan is one of countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change. This year a long-running drought caused by climate change has reduced the harvest by almost half. Hunger and famine threaten unless Afghans receive a great deal of aid, quickly. But there is the looming danger that US financial sanctions will make aid work impossible and combine with hunger to create economic collapse. This article begins with the effects of climate change in Afghanistan over the last 50 years. Then we talk about the situation now. We argue that instead of making war for twenty years, the Americans could have worked to create climate jobs and prevent the climate crisis. We end with ideas of what people in other countries can do politically to help Afghans facing climate disaster. In many parts of the world people s