Showing posts from May, 2022

Rohini Hensman: Political Dimensions of the Crisis in Sri Lanka

Suppression of democracy; brutal majoritarianism and minority extremism in Sri Lanka are worth noting by concerned  Indians.  The following is a transcript provided by the author of her talk at a recent panel discussion.   The panel discussion may be viewed at:  What's Happening in Sri Lanka?   [Why did these self-professed [Sri Lankan] left leaders betray socialist principles in this way? There seem to be three reasons. One is their belief that nationalisation as such is a socialist measure, regardless of the character of the state that is carrying it out. For example, nationalisation of the plantations by a Sinhala supremacist state had a devastating impact on Tamil plantation workers, but they didn’t care, despite having fought for the rights of plantation workers in an earlier avatar. The second reason is their disdain for democracy, which they see as connected to capitalism and the bourgeoisie, whereas I see it as the product of struggles by working people and an essential pre

Chris Hedges: How to Defeat the Billionaire Class

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and the Socialist Alternative (SA) party have, for nearly a decade, waged one of the most effective battles against the city’s moneyed elites. She and the SA have adopted a series of unorthodox methods to fight the ruling oligarchs and, in that confrontation, exposed the Democratic Party leadership as craven tools of the billionaire class. Her success is one that should be closely studied and replicated in city after city if we are to dismantle corporate tyranny. Sawant , who lives on $40,000 of her $140,000 salary and places the rest into a political fund that she uses for social justice campaigns, helped lead the fight in 2014 that made Seattle the first major American city to mandate a $15 an hour minimum wage. Following a three-year struggle against Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s richest men, she and her allies pushed through a tax on big business that increased city revenues by an estimated $231 million a year. She was part of the movemen

If speaking against Savarkar is antinational, then put me in jail: Congress leader V Hanumantha Rao

“BJP is saying that if anyone speaks against Veer Savarkar then he is an anti-national. Yes, I am saying I am speaking against him. If I am anti-national arrest me and put me behind bars,” he added.  In a letter to the director of Salarjung museum in Hyderabad , Rao said that the name of former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was nowhere mentioned but the pictures of Veer Savarkar were adorned on the walls of the Museum.  Do our leaders want to certify political assassination? No one knows who Veer Savarkar was and what was his contribution to the struggle for Indian independence, said Rao and called him “just an RSS activist.” “It is nothing but suppressing the great contribution, and sacrifices of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who underwent imprisonment to fight against British rule during the freedom struggle. As everyone knows Nehru was not just the first Prime Minister of India, but also an architect of modern India. Distortion or diversion of history cannot be tolerated anymor

Book review: Charles Sobhraj, the Average and Slippery Bloke With Notions of Being a Super-Criminal

Farrukh Dhondy, who was Charles Sobhraj’s arm’s-length friend for much of his corpse-strewn career, leaves what the reader really wants to know for the epilogue: “How did he manage to seduce so many women ― is he really charismatic and charming?” Dhondy reports that he is “an average bloke”, but “there was something in his gaze which was vaguely compelling”. Elsewhere, he comments on his “joyless” eyes, but declines to play Freud or Desmond Morris. Hawk and Hyena; reviewed by Pratik Kanjilal It’s a pity, because Dhondy is one of the very few people who can explain the weird animal magnetism which still draws millions to the Sobhraj canon. He has maintained relations with the serial killer since 1997, when Sobhraj approached him at Channel 4 to get a book published and a movie made on his life. Dhondy introduced him to Giles Gordon of Curtis Brown, who fled rapidly. In Hawk and Hyena, Sobhraj says that he wants to write like Jean Genet, but since his life is essentially a series of fail

Bharat Bhushan - Stuffing separatists in jail: A muscular Kashmir policy will fail

Yasin Malik’s life imprisonment in a ‘terror-funding’ case again displays the Narendra Modi government’s muscular Kashmir policy. Separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) are either locked up or dead. Following the downsizing of the erstwhile state, its mainstream political leaders are being pushed to the margins, and the dialogue with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue is at a standstill – as if the only remaining issue were the return of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. In short, the Modi government acts as if it has solved the Kashmir problem. Today the funding of separatist leaders in J&K is being discussed as if it is something that only comes from across the border. Yet if the writings of retired intelligence officers are to be believed, separatist leaders in J&K have received funding from both the Indian as well as the Pakistani security establishment. Not only its officials but even prime ministers and cabinet ministers at the Centre have met them. Funding by the Indian e

“Hello darkness, my old friend…”

The story behind the first line of The Sounds of Silence      Adapted from Sandy Greenberg’s memoir : “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life."...   Lyrics It began when Arthur “Art” Garfunkel, a Jewish kid from Queens, enrolled in Columbia University. During freshman orientation, Art met a student from Buffalo named Sandy Greenberg, and they immediately bonded over their shared passion for literature and music. Art and Sandy became roommates and best friends. With the idealism of youth, they promised to be there for each other no matter what. Soon after starting college, Sandy was struck by tragedy. His vision became blurry and although doctors diagnosed it as temporary conjunctivitis, the problem grew worse. Finally after seeing a specialist, Sandy received the devastating news that severe glaucoma was destroying his optic nerves. The young man with such a bright future would soo

John Harris: Goodbye to the age of rage: why Piers Morgan’s outrage journalism is flopping

TalkTV is in trouble. Despite the millions Rupert Murdoch has invested in his newly launched television channel, and the supposedly magnetic presence of Piers Morgan, its numbers have sometimes been so low that the official broadcasting rating agency has not registered a single viewer. Last Wednesday, Piers Morgan Uncensored , the nightly showcase of debate and un-woke opinions intended to be TalkTV’s centrepiece, was said to have attracted 24,000 people, and then lost over half of them, leaving it with an estimated audience of 10,000. Over at GB News , the similarly right-inclined talk-based outlet that has survived its equally disastrous launch, it was presumably pints of bitter and sausage rolls all round: that night its competing offering – hosted by the somewhat niche Canadian pundit Mark Steyn – reportedly won the ratings battle with a princely initial viewing figure of 54,000. It was for research rather than recreation that I watched Morgan’s show that night. It was an underwh

William Hartung: Arsenal of Autocracy? The Major Weapons Makers Cash in Worldwide, Not Just in Ukraine

These are good times to be an arms maker. Not only are tens of billions of dollars in new military spending headed for the coffers of this country’s largest weapons contractors, but they’re being praised as defenders of freedom and democracy, thanks to their role in arming Ukraine to fight the Russians. The last time the industry gained such a sterling reputation was during World War II when it was lauded as the “ arsenal of democracy ” for fueling the fight against fascism. Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes recently underscored this point in an interview with the Harvard Business Review. While discussing how he should respond to criticism of his company benefiting from a rise in sales right now, he said: “Look, we don’t apologize for making these systems, making these weapons. The fact is, they are incredibly effective in deterring and dealing with the threat that the Ukrainians are seeing today… I think again recognizing that we are there to defend democracy and the fact is eventually we wi