Showing posts from January, 2022

Charles Helm - Ancient human tracks on South Africa’s west coast: 3 reasons they are an exciting find

It’s been 27 years since geologist David Roberts identified some of  the oldest footprints of our species ever discovered . The trackway of three footprints was found on the surface of a cemented sand dune (called an aeolianite) near Langebaan on South Africa’s west coast. The tracks were later dated to 117,000 years and were attributed to  Homo sapiens ; they became popularly known as “ Eve’s footprints ”. They were airlifted to Cape Town, where they are housed in the  Iziko South Africa Museum . A replica is on exhibit at the Geelbek Visitor Centre in the  West Coast National Park . There has been international debate since then about whether or not “Eve’s footprints” really were human tracks, due to their relatively poor level of preservation. No further fossilised human tracks have been discovered in the area since then – but a  recent find  by our research team, also near Langebaan, changes this.  These two tracks, discovered in what is today the ceiling of a small cave, are a r

Book review: how Africa was central to the making of the modern world

Journalist, photographer, author and professor Howard W. French’s  Born in Blackness : Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War , is the most recent in a long career of thoughtful and significant literary and journalistic interventions. It demands an account of modernity that reckons with Africa as central to the making of the modern world. The book’s main aim, French explains early on, is to restore those key chapters which articulate Africa’s significance to our common narrative of modernity to their proper place of prominence. Reviewer:  Lauren van der Rede French intricately traces, from the early 15th century through the Second World War, the encounters between African and European civilisations. These, he argues, were motivated by Europe’s desire to trade with West Africa’s rich, Black  civilisations . These included the  Ghanaian  and  Malian  empires. The ancient West African region was perceived as an  abundant source  of both gold and

The age of intimacy famine: when we interact with our phones rather than our loved ones

Like most humans, I want intimacy. But as a developmental psychologist, I consider intimacy a fundamental human need. Sharing feelings, embraces, intellectual conversations, sex – these intimate moments are often the touchstones of a rich human experience. Yet millions of people worldwide are isolated and  lonely , woefully lacking in the meaningful and diverse social experiences that help support emotional and physical health. Teens  are spending most of their waking hours online, eschewing in-person gatherings for online chats, games and Netflix. And even those of us with socially rich networks sometimes long for flashes of intimacy, like hugs from friends or sex with lovers, amid the doldrum of our daily lives. As modern life has grown more distanced through technological innovation, our opportunities for deep, intimate moments have dwindled. The pandemic has only exacerbated this trend, prohibiting or impeding many types of friendly and professional  touch  and sending many of us

The Break-Up of Britain / The US today resembles the Soviet Union just before it fell

Because of the impact it has already had and because its influence continues to grow, Tom Nairn’s The Break-Up of Britain , first published in 1977, is the most significant book on British politics of the past half-century, even though it is not a famous best-seller. Today, its republication by Verso signals the post-Brexit renewal of a call to arms initially issued in the maelstrom of the 1970s.. The US today resembles the Soviet Union just before it fell I’m a Russia expert who spent several years living in post-Soviet Russia. I’ve talked to people who were young adults during the détente period of the Cold War (c. 1969 through the 1970s), when Leonid Brezhnev was in charge of the USSR. They remember those times with nostalgia and a certain wistfulness for the loss of their country’s status as a ‘great power’ – something the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has  sought to restore

Amit Bhaduri: The Farmers’ Protest Exposed the Limitations of Class Analysis

The farmers’ historic struggle and victory has upset not merely political arrogance but conventional wisdom in more than one way. It has shown the limitations of class analysis, and has thrown up new ideas for organizing peaceful protests in a democracy.  The fact that relatively better-off farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh often led the movement should teach us the lesson that class position is not always the determining factor. When pushed to the wall, dissent spread across all classes in the entire agricultural sector and inequality within agriculture became less important. Conditions were created for a movement based on an unprecedented solidarity. We witnessed this as small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers — mostly Dalits — as well as men and women cutting across caste, gender, religion and region joined the movement. That the better-off farmers had greater economic staying power was an advantage. To this was added the nature of agricultural activ

‘Sometimes angels do walk among us’: Teacher shares tale of stranger’s act of kindness

Amidst the gloom of the  coronavirus  pandemic, one thing that has kept people going are random acts of kindness. One such act of kindness by a stranger was recently shared by a US teacher. Maria Iorlano, an educator from Brooklyn, New York was on her way to school with “arms full of classroom supplies and doughnuts” for her students. Suddenly, she was stopped on the road by a person, whom she assumed had approached her probably looking for directions. However, the man’s query left her pleasantly surprised. He asked Iorlano if she was a teacher and when she answered in the affirmative, the kind man “proceeded to place a $50 bill on top of the doughnut boxes in my arms”, she wrote on Twitter. “He said he wanted to pay for the kid’s treats…and then he thanked me,” Iorlano added calling the encounter a “miracle”…   The kindest thing I ever saw ... The people help

Bharat Bhushan: Government as hacker / Proof of Pegasus use on phones, Cyber experts tell SC panel

Investigative journalists Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times (NYT) have revealed that the cyber-weapon Pegasus was part of a $2 billion defence package the Narendra Modi government purchased from  Israel  in 2017. A government minister has sought to dismiss it as a motivated conspiracy by calling the highly respected NYT, “supari” media, a colloquial term for contract killing in the Mumbai underworld. Described as the “largest defence contract” ever signed by Israel, the deal for medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology was awarded in April 2017 ahead of the first visit by an Indian head of government to  Israel  (July 4-6, 2017). The NYT report claims Pegasus was a “diplomatic sweetener”  Israel  used to win international support from recalcitrant countries and to “knit together right-wing nationalist governments around the world”. Proof of Pegasus use on phones, Cyber experts tell SC panel A retired Indian diplomat has denie

Sunita Viswanath: Why is the Indian Media Erasing 'Hindus for Human Rights' from the Republic Day Story?

Our board member Sravya Tadepalli moderated the briefing and opened with the words, “As a Hindu and part of a religious tradition that believes all human beings are inherently divine, I believe it is my religious duty to speak out when oppressed people face atrocities. As an Indian American, I feel a special obligation to stand up for democracy in both nations. Many Indian Americans share my feeling. As Americans, we have the power to take foreign policy measures that can make a substantive difference in promoting human rights abroad and empowering grassroots activists.”  Why is it that the only Hindu organiser of the briefing is being left out of the coverage and the brickbats are saved for a Muslim cosponsor and the only Muslim speaker?  Why is the Indian Media Erasing 'Hindus for Human Rights' from the Republic Day Story? Hindus for Human Rights is a US-based advocacy organisation. Along with 16 diverse organisations, we organised a congressional briefing on January 26, the

Remembering Mahatma Gandhi: उड जायेगा हंस अकेला // Abide with me: Gandhiji's favourite hymn

Remembering Mahatma Gandhi: उड जायेगा हंस अकेला / जग दर्शन का मेला ।। The Christian hymn has been played by the Massed Bands of the security forces every year since 1950 to mark the end of the Republic Day celebrations. Listen to some versions: ‘Abide With Me’: Listen to the hymn that has been dropped from the Beating Retreat ceremony Two AV talks: The Compass We Lost   Love at Work: Mahatma Gandhi's Last Struggle Some articles Soutik Biswas: Rare pictures of the last 10 years of Gandhi's life Martin Luther King on Mahatma Gandhi: "My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence", September 1958 1948: Assassination of Gandhi 1948: Supreme Court, RSS and Gandhi The Abolition of truth Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism The search for new time - Ahimsa in an age of permanent war Dennis Dalton - Gandhi During Partition: A Case Study in the Nature of Satyagra

Jillian Horton: A slap in the face to health care workers

Weiss is the former New York Times journalist best known for her  departure from that paper . In a  resignation letter  posted to her own website, Weiss complained that she had been subjected to constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with her views, and that the Times had "become a kind of performance space." A New York Times spokesperson then  said  the company is "committed to fostering an environment of honest, searching and empathetic dialogue between colleagues, one where mutual respect is required of all." I had followed Weiss' resignation with interest -- in no small part because I am drawn to nuanced conversations about the loss of nuance itself in academic and intellectual discourse. But as I watched Weiss' performance in the space across from Maher -- who was quick to testify that he didn't take the same Covid precautions as Weiss -- I did not see much in the way of nuance. I found myself comparing her comments to the quiet suffering of

Yemen civilians bear the brunt of escalating Houthi-UAE conflict

The escalation of tensions between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prompted humanitarian organisations on the ground to sound the alarm, as the United Nations forecasts January will “almost certainly” be a record-shattering month for civilian casualties in the country. Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) warned the  recent air raids  launched by the Saudi-led coalition following  drone and missile attacks  on the Emirati capital mark a dramatic escalation in violence… Posts about  Saudi Arabia

Sedef Kabas: Turkish journalist jailed for reciting proverb

A Turkish court has detained well-known journalist Sedef Kabas for allegedly insulting the country's president .  Ms Kabas was arrested on Saturday in Istanbul and a court ordered her to be jailed ahead of a trial. She is accused of targeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a proverb which she quoted on live television on an opposition-linked TV channel. She denies the charge. The charge carries a prison sentence of between one and four years. "There is a very famous proverb that says that a crowned head becomes wiser. But we see it is not true," she said on the Tele1 channel. "A bull does not become king just by entering the palace, but the palace becomes a barn." She also later posted the quote on Twitter.  Mr Erdogan's Chief Spokesman Fahrettin Altun described her comments as "irresponsible".  "A so-called journalist is blatantly insulting our president on a television channel that has no goal other than spreading hatred," he wro

BBC News हिन्दी: ‘पेट पर लात मत मारिए, पेट की लात बहुत ख़राब होती है’ / रेलवे भर्ती में खामियों को लेकर छात्रों का बिहार बंद / Bihar Bandh Highlights

‘पेट पर लात मत मारिए, पेट की लात बहुत ख़राब होती है’ रेलवे भर्ती में खामियों को लेकर छात्रों का बिहार बंद Bihar Bandh Highlights 'जो छात्र घर बार छोड़कर तैयारी कर रहे हैं, उनके साथ सरकार ने दोगला व्यवहार काशी विश्वनाथ मंदिर के महंत ने मोदी, योगी पर लगाया बड़ा आरोप, सुनकर रह जाएंगे हैरान! v=29cV_cz7RIk पंकज श्रीवास्तव से टकराई रिपोर्टर, फिर जो हुआ वो खुद देख लीजिए Bharat Bhushan: BJP losing the narrative in UP Bharat Bhushan - 'Entire political science' lesson: Peoples' power trumps people in power Bharat Bhushan: Burden of bigotry may break Indian democracy's back Bharat Bhushan - Incitement to violence: When will Supreme Court take note? Bharat Bhushan - Save the Election Commission: Common electoral roll can wait Bharat Bhushan: Frontier of warfare? Wrong to securitise civil society discourse Election Commission responsible for spreading Covid-19, should probably be booked for murder: Madras HC // Bharat

Bharat Bhushan: BJP losing the narrative in UP

NB : That citizens of UP are disgusted with the ruthless, cruel and incompetent BJP regime was to be expected. Equally expected is the desperate effort of this regime to stoke up communal animus and hatred. That senior ministers of the Indian Union should try and divide Indian citizens is truly an abomination, but this is what we have become used to. This is their one and only political strategy: government by means of hate and intimidation.  People of Uttar Pradesh and India in general should beware of this habit of the Sangh Parivar. They will use their governmental power to start trouble, because they are completely bankrupt, morally and intellectually. They worship only money and power. Indian citizens should do their best to uphold peace and harmony between people of different faiths. They should form Mohalla Aman Committees to prevent violence and commotion. We should remember the 2015 Bihar election, when mischief makers tried to stir up communal riots. Decent people of differen