NEW DELHI (Reuters) – More than half of the languages spoken by India’s 1.3 billion people may die out over the next 50 years, scholars said on Thursday, calling for a concerted effort to preserve the tongues spoken by the nation’s endangered tribal communities.
Project dubbed as ‘the third symbol of Tehran’ earns international recognition for architect Leila Araghian.
As an architecture student, Leila Araghian, 31, recalls roaming the sycamore-lined boulevards of her hometown, Tehran, looking for the next adventure. Once, she and a friend were passing by a bridge along Zafar Street, when they spotted a brown leather sofa outside a building.
So they got an idea, and dragged the sofa onto a small bridge, one of many that dot the creeks running through Tehran. As they sat there watching the water flow beneath them, they thought how much better it would be, if people could actually hang out on bridges, rather than just cross over them.
That friend, Alireza Behzadi, would become Araghian’s collaborator in her most important project so far, the Pol-e-Tabiat, or Nature Bridge, which opened in late 2014, and is now being called “the third symbol of Tehran“. The pedestrian bridge has won three awards in Iran.
And on Tuesday, it picked its first international recognition, winning a 2015 A Popular Choice prize in highways and bridges category, from a New York-based architectural organisation, Architizer. A panel of international jurors also nominated it as one of the top five finalists in architecture and engineering category.
Araghian recalled that late afternoon stroll with Behzadi many years ago, as she explained the inspiration behind her project, which she designed when she was only 26.
“Usually, bridges are designed in a straight line. And that straight line will produce a one point perspective that will tell you to just go. But we want to keep people on the bridge,” she told Al Jazeera.
“The bridge is not just a structure to connect from one point to another, but also a place to stay and enjoy.”
Soaring 270m across Modarres Highway, Pol-e-Tabiat, which connects two parks in the northern district of Iran’s capital, reflects her aspirations about Iranian architecture, Araghian said.
Mohammad Mohammadzadeh, an architect, author and critic, told Al Jazeera that projects like Araghian’s “reveal a huge capacity in the emerging generation of architects, who have been willing to form a progressive trend in Iran”.
Read more » Aljazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/04/award-winning-bridge-connecting-iranians-150414121934153.html
In a bid to limit the rivalry between India and Pakistan to sports grounds, a Delhi-based entrepreneur earlier this month launched a new app to improve relations between the two South Asian rivals.
‘India or Pakistan’ is an innovative application, available on Google Play store, that questions the reader, after showing pictures of the two nations. The idea is to make people focus on what unites them by making them guess whether the photographs were taken in India or Pakistan.
In light of recent events, it is a welcoming gesture that is part of the wider movement called ‘India Loves Pakistan’ that was launched in 2013. The Delhi-based social movement aims to ‘add .. human element to the India-Pakistan relationship.’
The initiative operates primarily on Twitter through #DearNeighbour and #IndiaWithPakistan.
Where the former was launched as a generic hashtag to initiate dialogue across the border, the latter was trending post-Peshawar massacre in Pakistan, with thousands of Indians expressing solidarity with Pakistanis after the terrorist attack.
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1166300/
IN RECENT weeks, economists at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs, a bank, have tentatively suggested that within a year or two, India’s economy might be growing more quickly than China’s. The day came sooner than they had imagined. Official statistics published on February 9th revealed that India’s GDP rose by 7.5% in 2014, a shade faster than China’s economy managed over the same period (see chart). Narendra Modi, India’s publicity-savvy prime minister, could scarcely have hoped for a better endorsement of his first few months in office.
Read more » The Economist
See more » http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21642656-indias-economy-grew-faster-chinas-end-2014-catching-dragon?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/catchingthedragon
The Typical Millennial Is $2,000 Poorer Than His Parents at This Age
More young people are living in poverty and fewer have jobs compared their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, in 1980
The past is another country. In 1980, the typical young worker in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, earned more than his counterpart in San Francisco or San Jose. The states with the highest median income were Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska. Nearly 80 percent of the Boomer generation, which at the time was between 18 and 35, was white, compared to 57 percent today.
Three decades later, in 2013, the picture of young people—yes, Millennials—is a violently shaken kaleidoscope, and not all the pieces are falling into a better place. Michigan’s median income for under-35 workers has fallen by 26 percent, more than any state. In fact, beyond the east coast, earnings for young workers fell in every state but Hawaii and South Dakota.
Read more » The Atlantic
Learn more » http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/young-adults-poorer-less-employed-and-more-diverse-than-their-parents/385029/
A yeast infection, also known as Candida, is basically caused by a group of microscopic fungi or yeast called Candida albicans. It generally affects the vaginal area but can also develop around dentures, under the breasts, lower abdomen, nail beds, and beneath skin folds.
Factors that can increase the risk of getting a yeast infection are pregnancy, stress, chronic health conditions, diabetes, use of oral contraceptives, steroids and antibiotics.
Women can also get yeast infections after menopause due to declining estrogen levels, which thin the vaginal walls. Most men and women suffer from a yeast infection at least once.
Some of the signs of a yeast infection are itching, burning or swelling in and around the affected area. If it is a vaginal yeast infection, there will be pain or discomfort in the vagina during sex, a burning feeling when urinating, and odorless vaginal discharge. There are many simple home remedies that can eliminate the infection in a relatively short time.
When many Americans think of Germany, images of WWII soldiers and Hitler often come to mind. But what many people don’t realize is that Germany is the industrial powerhouse of Europe, and is a leading manufacturer of goods for export to developing Asian nations. We don’t hear about the superiority of German engineering in Volkswagen commercials for nothing!
The economic engine of the EU, Germany single-handedly saved the Eurozone from collapse in 2012. At the same time, German workers enjoy unparalleled worker protections and shorter working hours than most of their global counterparts. How can a country that works an average of 35 hours per week (with an average 24 paid vacation days to boot) maintain such a high level of productivity?
Instead of fleeing 1930s Europe to British-controlled Palestine like many other Jews, the Kahan family moved to Lahore on a whim.
When Hazel Kahan went back to Lahore, Pakistan, in 2011 for the first time in 40 years, her childhood homes were completely different. Her first home, formerly a tan stone mansion covered in flowery vines, was now completely painted in white and inhabited by the Rokhri family, one of Pakistan’s most powerful political clans. Her second home, where her parents had run a medical clinic, had become the Sanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts.
Pakistan is still close to Kahan’s heart. She explained that she has been graciously welcomed back into the Pakistani community every time she has visited. “I feel because I was born there that in a very profound way it’s my home,” she said. “Even though I’m not of it, I’m from there.”
After living in England, Australia and Israel, and having worked in market research in Manhattan for years, Kahan, 75, now lives in Mattituck, on the North Fork of Long Island. She produces interviews for WPKN radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and has recently begun discussing her family history in public presentations, telling a story that illustrates how complicated citizenship and allegiances were for Jews during and after World War II in Pakistan and beyond. She has presented her piece “The Other Pakistan” in Woodstock and Greenport, New York and twice in Berlin. She plans to bring her performance to Montreal in November.
Kahan said that her parents wanted to spend their entire life in Pakistan, and dreamt of dispensing free medical care to people throughout the Middle East after they retired.
“I never really cared about it, I never bothered, until [my father] died [in 2007],” Kahan said of the project. “Then I realized there’s no one left to tell this story. He did his best to pass it on to us. And we’re responsible, you know?”
The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted to feeling doubts over the existence of God.
In a recent interview at Bristol Cathedral, Archbishop Justin Welby said on a recent morning run with his dog he had questioned why God had failed to intervene to prevent injustice.
“The other day I was praying over something as I was running and I ended up saying to God ‘Look this is all very well but isn’t it about time you did something – if you’re there.’”
Earlier in the interview, when asked if he had moments of doubt, Archbishop Welby replied: “Yes. I do, in lots of different ways.”
“There are moments, sure, when you think is there a God, where is God?”
Via Vince Sparks
Last month, I was sitting on my sofa with my laptop when I saw the headline “Robin Williams Found Dead.”
I was shocked and deeply saddened by the news and the loss. It seemed like such a conundrum as to why someone with his persona would commit suicide.
As more information was revealed about his addictions, his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, and his dealing with severe depression, I totally understood how this unfortunate incident could occur. Of course, the naysayers had to emerge and utter incoherent ramblings about cowardice and his leftist views that made him unhappy. All of the unintelligent garbage that gets reported needs to be tossed away promptly.
Suicide is not an act of cowardice, but a result of depression or other mental illnesses.
Robin Williams’ death is a tragedy, but if it can help start a national conversation about Depression and Mental Illness than something positive can come from an untimely death. It seems that many people view mental illness through a stereotype of straight jackets and padded cells.
Mental Illness encompasses many forms and can be as blatant as someone with agitated, incoherent behavior or very subtle cue which make a person appear to have nothing wrong with them.
I understand the symptoms and the impact, because I suffer from severe depression and anxiety. It is a hard condition to understand because it affects emotions. This makes it difficult for people, not familiar with the disease, to comprehend as a real illness.
Believe me, it is just as real as diabetes, cancer, hypertension or any other disease that hides beneath the surface. It requires treatment just the same as a diabetic requires medication to keep their condition stable.
The illness is as old as recorded history.
Years ago people thought of it as melancholia. The prevailing notion would be “he just needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps.” It was an uneducated thought that if you were sad, you would just get glad again. It was a self-inflicted pity party. The more the condition was studied and as medical advances were made, clinicians realized that there are many factors and conditions involved with the illness. Depression has many causes and can stem from genetic predisposition, life events, faulty mood regulation by the brain, and medical problems.
Whatever the specific cause for depression, there are always chemicals in the brain involved. There are many drugs available for treatment, but each person can react differently due to internal chemical reactions to the medications. The complexity of the illness is daunting for practitioners. They can’t simply review similar symptoms and think that the treatment will be the same for each patient.
Director Mohammed Naqvi,and British producer Jamie Doran’s film Pakistan’s Hidden Shame depicts the shocking reality of sexual abuse faced by small boys in the Northern areas of Pakistan.
The documentary premiered on September 1 on Britain’s Channel 4 and shows the “dark reality of a society living in denial.”
Set mainly in Peshawar, the film shows homeless boys of different ages recalling their experiences of sexual exploitation.
In an interview with CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour, the director of the documentary told her what puts children at risk in Pakistan and around the world.
“Pedophiles by their very nature are inadequate, it’s about power over children.”
“Where these individuals are able to use and abuse vulnerable children, Pakistan in particular because of the poverty. That’s one of the other factors that really plays here.”
The following video will hopefully make you stop and think for a minute about how the homeless are treated. YouTube user QuietAssassins and his friend Sandy, who also happens to be homeless, had a fantastic idea for an experiment — they’d have Sandy panhandle as a homeless man, and then give him a haircut, stick him in a suit, and have him ask strangers for money in the same area. Which do you think would get more results? Here’s the video:
In what is the most shocking and heartwarming part of the video, around 2:12, a homeless man gets visibly frustrated when he can’t find a quarter to give to Sandy — despite the fact that Sandy is wearing a suit. Sometimes those with the least understand the feeling of lacking better than anyone else. On the other hand, at 3:10, a man says “no” before Sandy can utter a word, and when Sandy starts to speak, cuts him off with a “stop.” The lack of empathy is horrifying.
Whether or not you think that money should be given to those begging on the street, this video is troubling. It shows how deeply ingrained it is in our society that poverty is something dirty. Homeless people are treated like disease, and laws are made to put them out of sight — because, for the record, laws criminalizing homeless don’t get rid of homelessness. They just punish poverty.
If you would give a man in a suit money when he asked, but you wouldn’t buy a homeless man a cup of coffee, you need to seriously check your moral compass. A quote at the end of the video sums up the rebuke well:
“People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.” — Sheila McKechnie
WORK TOGETHER “WAR may dominate the headlines, devastating nations and killing thousands of innocent people, but the future belongs to nations which decide to Work with each other, not against each other.” ~ (SHADA, DAWN)
The Folklore and Literature Project, the forty-two-volume Sindhi folklore collection compiled by the scholar, philologist, and folklorist Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch (1917–2011) and published by the Sindhi Adabi Board, is one of the great treasures of world heritage. This literature spans the historic land of Sindh, home to the Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1300 BCE), situated in present-day Pakistan. It is likely that in the folktales preserved in the Sindhi language, we can find the structures and traces of the earliest stories from the Indus Valley Civilization
Baloch divided this literature into several broad categories: “Fables and fairy-tales; pseudo-historical romances; tales of historical nature; folk-poetry; folk songs; marriage songs; poems pertaining to wars and other events; riddles; proverbs; wit and humor; and folk customs.” Of this collection, seven volumes were dedicated to folktales: The Tales of Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses (vol. 21), Tales of Kings, Viziers, and Merchants (vol. 22), Tales of Fairies, Giants, Magicians, and Witches (vol. 23), Tales of Kings, Money-lenders, Wise-Men, Thugs, and the Common People (vol. 24), Children’s Tales (vol. 25), Fables of Animals and Birds (vol. 26), and Even More Folktales (vol. 27).
Collected from both the oral tradition of the villagers and written records, the stories were gathered and compiled over five years from 1957 to 1961. A network of field workers stationed in each district transcribed the folktales from the oral accounts of villagers in different parts of Sindh. The field workers were instructed to transcribe the tales exactly as they heard them. At the compilation stage, different versions of the same tale were compared, the variants noted, and a final version prepared for publication. Where only a single version for a folktale was found, it was retained with minimum verbal modification necessary to make it readable.
The Spanish Town Where People Come Before Profit
In the south of Spain, the street is the collective living room. Vibrant sidewalk cafes are interspersed between configurations of two to five lawn chairs where neighbours come together to chat over the day’s events late into the night. In mid-June the weather peaks well over 40 degrees Celsius and the smells of fresh seafood waft from kitchens and restaurants as the seasonably-late dining hour begins to approach. The scene is archetypally Spanish, particularly for the Andalusian region to the country’s south, where life is lived more in public than in private, when given half a chance.
Specifically, this imagery above describes Marinaleda. Initially indistinguishable from several of its local counterparts in the Sierra Sur southern mountain range, were it not for a few tell-tale signs. Maybe it’s the street names (Ernesto Che Guevara, Solidarity and Salvador Allende Plaza, to name a few); maybe it’s the graffiti (hand drawn hammers-and-sickles sit happily alongside encircled A’s, oblivious to the differences the two ideologies have shared, even in the country’s recent past); maybe it’s the two-storey Che head which emblazons the outer wall of the local sports stadium.
Marinaleda has been called Spain’s ‘communist utopia,’ though the local variation bears little resemblance to the Soviet model most associate with the phrase. Classifications aside, this is a town whose social fabric has been woven from very different economic threads to the rest of the country since the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the mid 1970s. A cooperatively-owned olive oil factory, houses built by and for the community, and a famous looting of a large-scale supermarket, led by the town’s charismatic mayor, in which proceeds were donated to food banks, are amongst the steps that have helped position Marinaleda as a beacon of hope.
As the Spanish economy continues its post-2008 nosedive, unemployment sits at 26 percent nationally, while over half of young people can’t find work. Meanwhile, Marinaleda boasts a modest but steady local employment picture in which most people have at least some work and those that don’t have a strong safety net to fall back on.
But more than its cash economy, Marinaleda has a currency rarely found beyond small-scale activist groups or indigenous communities fighting destructive development projects: the currency of direct action. Rather than rely exclusively on cash to get things done, Marinaleños have put their collective blood, sweat and tears into creating a range of alternative systems in their corner of the world.
When money hasn’t been readily available – probably the only consistent feature since the community set out on this path – Marinaleños have turned to one another to do what needs doing. At times that has meant collectively occupying land owned by the Andalusian aristocracy and putting it to work for the town, at others it has simply meant sharing the burden of litter collection.
While still operating with some degree of central authority, the local council has devolved power into the hands of those it serves. General assemblies are convened on a regular basis so that townspeople can be involved in decisions that affect their lives. The assemblies also create spaces where people can come together to organise what the community needs through collective action.
“The best thing they have here in Marinaleda, and you can’t find this in other places, is the [general] assembly,” says long-term civil servant for the Marinaleda council, Manuel Gutierrez Daneri. He continues, “Assembly is a place for people to discuss problems and to find the solutions,” pointing out that even minor crimes are collectively addressed via the assembly, as the town has no police or judicial system since the last local cop retired.
In his time as mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has managed to leverage considerable financial support from the state government, a feat which Gutierrez Daneri attributes to the town’s collective track record for direct action. “If you go ahead with all of the people behind you, that is very powerful,” he says.
As a result, the small town boasts extensive sports facilities and a beautifully-maintained botanical garden, as well as a range of more basic necessities. “For a little village like this, with no more than 2,700 people, we have a lot of facilities,” says Gutierrez Daneri.
British ex-pat Chris Burke has lived in Marinaleda for several years, and he explains that access to the public swimming pool only costs €3 for the entire summer. Burke recounts Mayor Sánchez Gordillo saying to him, “The whole idea of the place being somewhere good to live is that anyone can afford to enjoy themselves.” Burke adds pragmatically, “You can’t have a utopia without some loss-making facilities.”
From Occupation to Cooperation
In 1979, Sánchez Gordillo was first elected as the town’s mayor. He led an extensive campaign to change Marinaleda’s course, which began with hunger strikes and occupying underutilised land.
In a World filled with war, the greatest weapon is Love. Make love, not war.
By Emily Hauze
I was honored to receive these beautiful Sindhi clothes as a gift from Sindh. It was a touching and generous gesture of friendship and cultural exchange. It is a joy to wear them, and am happy to share this pic. with you all!
Courtesy: Emily Hauze’s facebook wall
A few weeks ago was when a psychologist told me that I was exhibiting symptoms of a mood disorder. Less than a week ago I went to meet a psychiatrist. I was prescribed medicines for bipolar disorder and anxiety issues. At the time I had no idea what those medicines had been prescribed for- I had simply presumed that they were anti-depressants. That they would numb me. That I wouldn’t get all violent with my friends anymore. That things would be alright. Perhaps I would be the spicy tangy minx that I always have been but the storms inside me would calm down to a certain extent. That perhaps the fierce edges would smoothen out. Not realizing, that those fiery aspects are what make me who I am.
Read more » http://prernakalbag19.blogspot.in/
Family awarded $3 million in first US fracking trial
After three years of legal wrangling, a Texas family has won its case against a company engaged in hydraulic fracturing near their home. The family, which suffered tangible health deterioration after the fracking began, was awarded $3 million.
A Dallas jury ruled Tuesday in favor of the Parr family, which sued Aruba Petroleum in 2011 after each member of the family noticed a decline in health that, their attorneys argued in court, was the result of dozens of gas wells surrounding their home in Wise County, Texas. The family was awarded nearly $3 million in what is believed to be the first fracking trial in US history.
Interview is in Hindi (urdu) language.
Courtesy: Bilatakalluf with Tahir Gora Ep138
OTTAWA – Canadians have much to learn from Germany’s famed apprenticeship system despite doubts it could succeed in Canada, Jason Kenney said as he wrapped up a fact-finding mission into how the European powerhouse streams its youth into skilled trades.
“Sure, we can’t pick up the German system and transplant it to Canada — that would be ridiculous,” the employment minister said in a telephone interview, adding it was a “lazy point of view” to be dismissive of the long-established German partnership among government, schools and business.
“Closer collaboration between the education system and employers is so important. Giving kids relevant information about what kind of education is likely to lead to promising careers and remuneration — these things don’t have to be unique to Germany.”
Kenney said Ottawa and provincial governments can also look at “ways of massively expanding paid co-op opportunities for students during post-secondary education” and consider “reinventing” vocational high schools.
The minister has been leading a 30-member delegation of Canadian politicians from five provinces, along with business and labour union representatives, on a trip to Germany and Great Britain to learn about their apprenticeship programs.
Petition by Mohammed Bugi Ansari, Breda, Netherlands
United Nations is celebrating DECADE of Indigenous People from 2004 till 2014-A PETITION TO THE Sec General and all Heads Of States-
Please treat this as an urgent appeal to support the historic Kalash people of North Pakistan. Our aim, with your assistance, is to have the Kalash territory declared as a “World Heritage” site.
The Kalash (or Kalasha) is an ethnic non-Muslim group that exists in the Hindu Kush mountain range located in the Chitral District of North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Although their numbers were quite significant before the 20th century, they have however, gradually dwindled over the past century. This is very unfortunate and is in large part due to the fact that they have been assimilated by the larger Muslim majority of Pakistan. Today, more than half the Kalash people have been made to convert to Islam thus losing their ethnic and historical originality in the process.
It is, therefore, absolutely vital and imperative to save and protect this ancient culture and, therefore, we implore you to assist us in having the Kalash territory declared as a protected World Heritage site.
The president of Uruguay has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. According to his advocates, José “Pepe” Mujica’s much talked-about marijuana legalization is in fact “a tool for peace and understanding.”
France’s Constitutional Council gave the green light on Sunday to a ‘millionaire’s tax’, to be levied on companies that pay salaries of more than one million euros, or about $1.4 million, a year.
The measure, introduced in line with a pledge by President Francois Hollande to make the rich do more to pull France out of crisis, has infuriated business leaders and soccer clubs, which at one point threatened to go on strike.
It was originally designed as a 75 per cent tax to be paid by high earners on the part of their incomes exceeding one million euros, but the council rejected this, saying 66 per cent was the legal maximum for individuals.
The Socialist government has since reworked the tax to levy it on companies instead, raising the ire of entrepreneurs.
Under its new design, which the Council found constitutional, the tax will be an exceptional 50 per cent levy on the portion of wages exceeding 1 million euros paid in 2013 and 2014.
Including social contributions, its rate will effectively remain roughly 75 per cent. The tax will, however, be capped at 5 percent of the company’s turnover.
The Council, a court made up of judges and former French presidents, has the power to annul laws if they are deemed to violate the constitution.
You can’t deny Al Gore’s knowledge & intelligence. A thought provoking book, every page of his book offers new insights. A must read book. In his book “The Future: What are the drivers of global Change”, he writes; “The dominance of wealth & Corporate influence in decision making has so cowed most politicians that they are scared to even discuss this existential threat in any meaningful way. (Page 323)
“With rare exceptions, the majority of legislators are no longer capable of serving the public interest because they are so dependent on Campaign Contributions from these corporate interests & so vulnerable to their non-stop lobbying.” — “It is profoundly troubling that special interests have been able to Capture Control of decision making & policy formation.” (page 326)
“ … Greece is only the best known of many examples of countries no longer able to make decisions for themselves. It must first get permission from the European Union, which supports it, and international Banks, which holds its debt.”
“U.S self-government is now about completely dysfunctional, incapable of making important decision necessary to realm control of its destiny.”
“The inequality in the distribution of wealth, property and income in the United States is now larger than at any time since 1929. The outbreak of the Occupy Movement has been driven by the dawning awareness of the majority of Americans that the operations of democratic Capitalism in its current form are producing unfair & intolerable results. But the weakened state of democratic decision making in the U.S. and the enhanced control over American democracy by the forces of wealth & corporate power, have paralyzed the ability of the county to make rational decisions in favour of politicians that would remedy these problems” (Page 121)
“Corporate “Persons” on the other hand now often seen to have little regard for how they can help the country in which they are based, they are only concerned about how that country can help them make more money.”
“Some political Scientists have asserted that the influence of corporations on modern governance is now almost analogous to the influence of the medieval Church during the era of feudalism” (page 125)
“Ruther Ford B – Hayes, to complain that, “this is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is government of corporations, by corporations & for the corporations.” (Page 106)
“It is now common for lawyers representing Corporate lobbies to sit in the actual drafting sessions where legislation is written and to provide the precise language for new laws intended to remove obstacles to their corporate business plans – usually by weakening provisions of existing laws & regulation intended to project the public interest against documented excesses and abuses. Many U.S. state legislatures often now routinely rubber stamp laws that have been written in their entirely by Corporate Lobbies.
Having served as an elected official in the federal government for the last quarter of the 20th century, and having observed it closely before that period, and since, I have felt a sense of shock and dismay at how quickly the integrity & efficacy of American democracy has nearly collapsed. There have been other periods in American history when wealth & corporate power have dominated the operations of government but there are reasons for concern that this may more than a cyclical phenomenon particularly recent court decisions that institutionalize the dominance & control of wealth & corporate power. “(Page 104-105)
Beware nostalgia. It’s unavoidable. It’s bad enough when we sit back and think of the “happy days of childhood” and sigh, oblivious to the fact that they were, at the time, experienced as nothing of the kind. But in the political context, deep nostalgia should set off the loudest alarm bells: in almost all cases, something is going badly wrong or a gigantic con is under way.
The toxin of nostalgia is at the heart of much of the worst political rot in the contemporary Middle East, and, indeed, much of the rest of the world.
As the historian Joseph Ellis explained in the Los Angeles Times, the right wing American Tea Party movement is positively 18th century in its mindset and instinctively dislikes and distrusts the Constitution as too centralising a political structure.
They would, he convincingly argues, prefer a return to the catastrophic Articles of Confederation of the 1780s.
Meanwhile, some Germans are presently experiencing “Ostalgie” – a portmanteau neologism that means nostalgia for communist East Germany, including the infamous Stasi secret police.
Even the worst of times can be reimagined, particularly in the context of present day alienation, as recuperable and, potentially, the loss of a “golden age” or a “time of innocence”.
Certainly many Americans who disparage the 1960s and their cultural impact conveniently forget the racism and sexism of the pre-civil rights era.
So there’s nothing unique about the poisonous nostalgia that is informing a great deal of the worst politics in the Middle East. But in any situation in which everything is in flux, insidious influences such as nostalgia and constructed histories can become particularly powerful and therefore damaging.
The entire Islamist movement is built on various forms of nostalgia and constructed, manufactured histories. The one thing that all Islamists have in common is a rejection of the overwhelming bulk of Islamic religious and political philosophy and traditions in favour of a “return” to some supposedly “pure” form of the faith as practised by the earliest generations of Muslims. There is a tendency to chronologically privilege the periods closest to Revelation as less prone to corruption by misinterpretation or non-Islamic cultural norms.
Islamists of all stripes reject the heterogeneous and pluralistic traditions of most mainstream historical Islam in favour of an assertion of a return to a “pure” past or the re-creation of some sort of fictional seventh century “golden age.”
Nostalgia has also poisoned key aspects of the Arab uprisings. When post-dictatorship Egypt finally went to the polls, voters proved significantly uninterested in individual personalities who might have offered new political approaches, such as former Muslim Brother Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, former foreign minister Amr Mousa or former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
Instead Egyptians turned to the warm but false familiarity of political nostalgia. They mainly voted for the two most well-established institutions of the country: the heirs of the regime set up by Gamal Abdel Nasser and the long-standing and equally familiar opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Neither has changed much since the 1950s.
It’s hard to avoid speculating that Egyptians felt a certain comfort in seeing their primary choices in terms of large, recognisable and established groups – neither of which showed any sign of innovation – rather than individuals who might have had some new ideas or approaches.
In other words, the Egyptian election was basically a gigantic exercise in misguided nostalgia that set the stage for the disastrous failed presidency of Mohammed Morsi and the current uneasy period of transition.
Many societies can’t exist without telling themselves elaborate and preposterous lies about their founding, because the truth is always too ugly to be collectively inspiring or induce patriotism. And societies imagine deep and organic roots for their contemporary political identities that are either largely or entirely fictional.
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When people ask me about my experience studying abroad in India, I always face the same dilemma. How does one convey the contradiction that over the past few months has torn my life apart, and convey it in a single succinct sentence?
“India was wonderful,” I go with, “but extremely dangerous for women.” Part of me dreads the follow-up questions, and part of me hopes for more. I’m torn between believing in the efficacy of truth, and being wary of how much truth people want.
Because, how do I describe my three months in the University of Chicago Indian civilizations program when it was half dream, half nightmare? Which half do I give?
Do I tell them about our first night in the city of Pune, when we danced in the Ganesha festival, and leave it at that? Or do I go on and tell them how the festival actually stopped when the American women started dancing, so that we looked around to see a circle of men filming our every move?
Do I tell them about bargaining at the bazaar for beautiful saris costing a few dollars a piece, and not mention the men who stood watching us, who would push by us, clawing at our breasts and groins?
When people compliment me on my Indian sandals, do I talk about the man who stalked me for forty-five minutes after I purchased them, until I yelled in his face in a busy crowd?
Do I describe the lovely hotel in Goa when my strongest memory of it was lying hunched in a fetal position, holding a pair of scissors with the door bolted shut, while the staff member of the hotel who had tried to rape my roommate called me over and over, and breathing into the phone?
How, I ask, was I supposed to tell these stories at a Christmas party? But how could I talk about anything else when the image of the smiling man who masturbated at me on a bus was more real to me than my friends, my family, or our Christmas tree? All those nice people were asking the questions that demanded answers for which they just weren’t prepared.
When I went to India, nearly a year ago, I thought I was prepared. I had been to India before; I was a South Asian Studies major; I spoke some Hindi. I knew that as a white woman I would be seen as a promiscuous being and a sexual prize. I was prepared to follow the University of Chicago’s advice to women, to dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets. And I was prepared for the curiosity my red hair, fair skin and blue eyes would arouse.
But I wasn’t prepared.
There was no way to prepare for the eyes, the eyes that every day stared with such entitlement at my body, with no change of expression whether I met their gaze or not. Walking to the fruit seller’s or the tailer’s I got stares so sharp that they sliced away bits of me piece by piece. I was prepared for my actions to be taken as sex signals; I was not prepared to understand that there were no sex signals, only women’s bodies to be taken, or hidden away.
I covered up, but I did not hide. And so I was taken, by eye after eye, picture after picture. Who knows how many photos there are of me in India, or on the internet: photos of me walking, cursing, flipping people off. Who knows how many strangers have used my image as pornography, and those of my friends. I deleted my fair share, but it was a drop in the ocean– I had no chance of taking back everything they took.
Huge gap between rich and poor in Britain is the same as Nigeria and worse than Ethiopia, UN report reveals
Britain is now the most unequal country in the Western world, an authoritative new United Nations report reveals. The gap between rich and poor is as great as in Nigeria.
Detailed statistics in the Human Development Report published last week also demonstrate that inequality has grown sharply during Conservative rule and that the poor in Britain now have to live on much the same incomes as their equivalents in Hungary and Korea.
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Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings
By ADAM LIPTAK
WASHINGTON — In a pair of major victories for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there.
The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation, and the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to such unions. But in clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow it.
The decisions will only intensify the fast-moving debate over same-sex marriage, and the clash in the Supreme Court reflected the one around the nation. In the hushed courtroom Wednesday morning, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced the majority opinion striking down the federal law in a stately tone that indicated he was delivering a civil rights landmark. After he finished, he sat stonily, looking straight ahead, while Justice Antonin Scalia unleashed a cutting dissent.