‘Now Just Five Men Own Almost as Much Wealth as Half the World’s Population’ by Paul Buchheit

Last year it was 8 men, then down to 6, and now almost 5.

While Americans fixate on Trump, the super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow. An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest five deciles of the world population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of 06/08/17, the world’s richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people.

Why Do We Let a Few People Shift Great Portions of the World’s Wealth to Themselves?

Most of the super-super-rich are Americans. We the American people created the Internet, developed and funded Artificial Intelligence, and built a massive transportation infrastructure, yet we let just a few individuals take almost all the credit, along with hundreds of billions of dollars.

Defenders of the out-of-control wealth gap insist that all is OK, because, after all, America is a ‘meritocracy’ in which the super-wealthy have ‘earned’ all they have. They heed the words of Warren Buffett: “The genius of the American economy, our emphasis on a meritocracy and a market system and a rule of law has enabled generation after generation to live better than their parents did.”

But it’s not a meritocracy. Children are no longer living better than their parents did. In the eight years since the recession the Wilshire Total Market valuation has more than TRIPLED, rising from a little over $8 trillion to nearly $25 trillion. The great majority of it has gone to the very richest Americans. In 2016 alone, the richest 1% effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves, with nearly half of the wealth transfer ($1.94 trillion) coming from the nation’s poorest 90%—the middle and lower classes. That’s over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich.

A meritocracy? Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos have done little that wouldn’t have happened anyway. ALL modern U.S. technology started with—and to a great extent continues with—our tax dollars and our research institutes and our subsidies to corporations.

Why Do We Let Unqualified Rich People Tell Us How To Live? Especially Bill Gates!

In 1975, at the age of 20, Bill Gates founded Microsoft with high school buddy Paul Allen. At the time Gary Kildall’s CP/M operating system was the industry standard. Even Gates’ company used it. But Kildall was an innovator, not a businessman, and when IBM came calling for an OS for the new IBM PC, his delays drove the big mainframe company to Gates. Even though the newly established Microsoft company couldn’t fill IBM’s needs, Gates and Allen saw an opportunity, and so they hurriedly bought the rights to another local company’s OS — which was based on Kildall’s CP/M system. Kildall wanted to sue, but intellectual property law for software had not yet been established. Kildall was a maker who got taken.

So Bill Gates took from others to become the richest man in the world. And now, because of his great wealth and the meritocracy myth, MANY PEOPLE LOOK TO HIM FOR SOLUTIONS IN VITAL AREAS OF HUMAN NEED, such as education and global food production.

—Gates on Education: He has promoted galvanic skin response monitors to measure the biological reactions of students, and the videotaping of teachers to evaluate their performances. About schools he said, “The best results have come in cities where the mayor is in charge of the school system. So you have one executive, and the school board isn’t as powerful.”

—Gates on Africa: With investments in or deals with Monsanto, Cargill, and Merck, Gates has demonstrated his preference for corporate control over poor countries deemed unable to help themselves. But no problem—according to Gates, “By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.”… continued

Continue to read at Common Dreams

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Nigar Ahmad – A Great Punjabi Woman

nigar-ahmad1Nigar Ahmad (1945 – 2017)

Nigar Ahmad, an educationist and a woman’s rights activist, was one of the founding members of Women Action Forum (WAF) established in the 1980s to fight General Ziaul Haq’s Islamicization policies that attacked women’s status in Pakistan. Later, Nigar founded Aurat Foundation and served as its Executive Director for many years.

Her contributions to the enhancement of the status of women include mobilizing women candidates to run for local government during the 1993 and 1997 general elections, organizing networks of citizens’ action committees in 70 districts to provide support to women; organizing national conferences and radio programs to inform peasant women on health and agricultural issues. ‘She was a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1991 on the gender impact of a watershed management project in Azad Kashmir. She presented a case study to the Asian Development Bank on a pilot on credit for rural women, and, as a consultant to the United Nations Development Fund For Women, has been involved in a rural credit and gender sensitization training program of UNDP staff. Nigar has also been involved with the National Commission on the Status of Women, and the South Asian Partnership. She was a coauthor for the report on Women’s Development Programs for Pakistan’s Eighth Five-Year Plan.’ (wikipeacewomen.org)

Nigar was awarded the Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah Life Time Achievement Award in 2010 for her work for the empowerment of women. She was one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, and a nominee from Pakistan of the Global Sisterhood Network.

Nigar was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. She was admitted to a hospital in Lahore for chest pain where she passed away on February 24, 2017. She was the daughter of Mian Riaz Uddin Ahmad, a prominent civil servant in the Punjab.

nigar-ahmad-2

This is what Nigar had to say for George Bush, i wonder what she would have said for Donald Trump.

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

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Memory Wall on the Strip: a Mirror for the Officials of the City of Surrey

memorywall-daveFriends We Remember, Lives We Celebrate

There is a place in Surrey where a ‘Celebration Of Life’ event begins and ends with memorializing the ongoing presence of death.

In the icy evening of Saturday 17 December, a few people were gathered on 135A, Surrey’s homeless Strip, to honor and remember those who had died here. The Strip is one of the few streets in Surrey that has no trees. Sparse one-level structures of a couple of auto parts shops, Front Room (drop in center, shelter and a food outlet serving the homeless), a couple more commercial units, and a small church across the street. In front of the closed auto shops, a group of 8-10 wonderful people, who said they were individuals ‘unalligned with any church or other group’, had laid out food on two long tables with boxes of pizza, cookies, juice and pop. On the sidewalk across the street, between a tent and a food table, a white board with some color markers and candles was propped up against the fence of the church.

Already, it had a few names.

I came to know of the Celebration of Life event in early December from a Surrey activist of Alliance Against Displacement (AAD), an organization helping the Residents of the Strip against homelessness. Scheduled for December 10, the event was moved to December 17th to avoid the snow storm; and, during that storm nine homeless people died on the streets of Vancouver, 13 in BC, in one single night.

The almost empty white board began to fill with names as people walked by, stopped to read, some came up and added names of their friends and relatives, some asked for other names to be added. A woman wanted ‘Jessy’ to be written as ‘Jessie’ because she said Jessie would turn in his grave if he saw it written like that; and, more than one person wanted to make sure that ‘Old Man Dave’ was indeed there along with ‘Dave’. A young woman touched a name on the board, cried and said, ‘My one best friend’.

The above photo and the two below were taken the next day, December 18, when a woman named CeeCee, who had the previous night added the name of her late partner to the Memory Wall, herself died in her tent.

memorywall-dave1Native / CeeCee / Dec 18, 2016

Tears are irrelevant in this place. The question is how many more people have to die before the prosperous City of Surrey yields a solution to the increased poverty and homelessness on its streets?

It is obvious to everyone except perhaps the high officials of the City of Surrey and its mouthpiece publications and organizations that these deaths are not ‘fentanyl’ ‘ODed’ deaths but deaths caused by homelessness and poverty. I say it because the ‘famed’ plan that the City was working on without consulting the Residents of the Strip, came out to be a plan totally off the mark- it’s as if people were dying because of hunger, and the City assigned more ambulances for a solution. The irony is, it’s not ‘as if’, this is exactly what has happened and is happening. The City’s new ‘plan’ for the Strip is to scare away it’s residents with increased surveillance and intimidation, but the problem is that there’s no place else to go from here.

There is a letter that a group of academics put together with regards to homelessness in Victoria, I find, it’s relevant here too. And so, Surrey! THIS WINTER – HOUSING FIRST!

The City of Surrey must provide the following to the residents of the Strip:
– Comfortable housing to the homeless people living on the Strip.
– Full assurance that until their housing needs are met, the people living on the Strip will not be required to unpitch their tents and leave each morning.
– A Memorial where the Memory Wall now stands.

memorywall-dave2Behind the Memory Wall

Uddari is grateful to Alliance Against Displacement (AAD) for supporting the Residents of the Strip in their demand for safety and housing, for organizing the Celebration of Life event, and for providing the photos for this post.

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Surrey Steals from the Homeless! RALLY AND MARCH – Oct 3/16

homeless-march-poster

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When: 3:00 pm, Monday Oct 3
Where: 135A Street (near 106th Ave), Surrey

Every day the RCMP, Surrey bylaw officers and city workers come to “The Strip” (135A Street) in order to force homeless residents to take down their tents, pack up their belongings and make everything moveable. And every day they confiscate somebody’s possessions because they consider them unattended or just garbage.

But homeless residents of “The Strip” are fighting back. We will be marching to Surrey City Hall to protest the city’s orchestrated and relentless theft of our belongings. We demand that the City of Surrey stop stealing our stuff.

FOOD
Food will be provided at the end of the event, around 5pm on the 135A strip

TRANSPORTATION
We will be organizing transportation to this march so other displaced and evicted communities can support the Surrey homeless in their struggle. To get a ride from Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, or elsewhere, and to travel together by transit from Vancouver, contact AAD: organize@stopdisplacement.ca or (778) 708-5006

Organized by
Residents of The Strip
&
Alliance Against Displacement

From: https://www.facebook.com/events/1937640533130081/
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‘Bits and Pieces: Edge City as Space of Exile and Refuge’ by Fauzia Rafique

Sound Thinking 2015 Symposium
Sponsored by Geist magazine and Surrey Libraries
Presented by Surrey Art Gallery, SFU English, South of Fraser Inter-Arts Collective (SOFIA/c)

Most of ‘Bits and Pieces’ was presented on the second day of Sound Thinking 2015 Symposium ‘Voicing the City In/verse: Reading Surrey and the Super Suburb’. The event was organized by a team of amazing volunteers and staff, and it was beautifully convened by Phinder Dulai (SOFIA/c) and Jordan Strom (Surrey Art Gallery). The first panel ‘Edge City as Space of Exile and Refuge’ had myself, Cecily Nicholson, Joseph A. Dandurand and Heidi Greco. The second panel ‘Kinetic City /City in Motion’ had Sadhu Binning, Taryn Hubbard, Kevin Spenst and Tom Konyves.

The second day began with the Traditional Kwantlen Welcome and Drum Song offered by Kwantlen Nation Elder Kevin Kelly with Michael Gabriel and Joseph A. Dundrand. After, M.G. Vassanji gave an insightful keynote on the marginalization of spaces, artists and art. It was great to have Vassanji and Noorjehan visit from Toronto where the two have been working for the last thirty or so years to develop literary communities through organizing, writing, editing (Toronto South Asian Review) and publishing (TSAR Publications). At the symposium, Vassanji provided us with a larger framework for the subject, and with the depth that had been created, it was easy for me to bring it right back to Surrey.

Bits and Pieces

Writing and reading Surrey is challenging because Surrey in Vancouver Lower Mainland is somewhat like Muslims in North America, we have to begin by saying what we aren’t and what it isn’t. So, yes, Surrey is not boonies, not rife with violent Punjabi gangs, not a hotbed of crime, no, it’s not in the third world. It’s right here on the south bank of Fraser River, the city of parks, of future, of the desis; the city of prosperity and abundance, of poverty and violence; it’s an edge city of exile and refuge. Sounds like any of all cities to me, and yet so unique. In the next twelve minutes, i’ll present a few bits and pieces that i have carefully collected to contribute to this discussion.

The first item is a paragraph from the fourth and the last section of my novel Skeena that takes place in Surrey where Skeena, a 37-year old Pakistani Punjabi Canadian woman, arrives after having lived the last thirty years in Toronto, Lahore, and a Punjabi village.

‘This building is sitting on a ravine on one side, and Scott Road on the other. Brenda came for a visit last year, and she asked me why I bought a condo here when better residential areas were also available in Surrey. I could not find an answer for her then. Now, as I look at the ravine, it appears to be a cluster of trees in my village, and away from my view, there also is the continuous hum of a busy Ferozepur Road in Lahore.’

Skeena, Libros Libertad 2011
novelskeens.wordpress.com

Next we have excerpts from a blog post on hijab, titled ‘Purdah Manifestations’, a contemplation on different forms of purdah and how it’s implemented in different places by different social segments of Pakistani Muslims, it touches my experiences in about six different cities in Pakistan before getting to Surrey.

‘In 2004, i saw a bearded male lead a burqa-clad and hijab-thrown woman at 72nd and 124th in Surrey British Columbia. For some reason, i got transfixed on the couple, and stood watching them till they walked out of my sight. First i tried to be the man to figure out why he would want his wife to be in hijab in a country where most women were showing their faces. What does he think is unique about the face and body of his wife that they must be so hidden. Then i tried to be the woman to see why i would accept an existence where when walking i can barely see the two-and-a-half-feet long road that culminates at the heels of my husband. My imagination was injured by imagining both roles…’

‘In 2009, burqa/hijab/purdah hit the Western news stands with intensity because of the controversy generated by the legislated ‘ab-use’ of it by the French government.’

‘Most recently, and as late as this last winter, i was confronted by a black member of the Muslim brotherhood at Scott Road Station in line for a bus to Newton Exchange. In love with his own voice, the Preacher went on and on about the absolute necessity for women to observe purdah and the unforgiveability of not observing it. As an illustration of his preferences, and of an exemplary state of a Muslim woman, he pointed out to me a burqa-wearing woman who was also in the same line. The ‘discussion’ became an argument; the woman in burqa did not participate…’

‘Last month, i spotted a woman in burqa at Broadway skytrain station who later chose to sit beside me while coming to Surrey. She caught my eye because though in burqa, she was standing straight without covering her face. From the fair color of her skin, i assumed she was Iranian or Lebanese. On the skytrain, she made patronizing attempts to converse with me that made me feel suspicious of her intentions. It seemed, she was hoping to convert a chadar-wearing brown woman to stricter disciplines. And then, it came out that she was an Anglo Saxon convert to Islam. I offered her my poetry chapbook that had just come out. She skimmed through it, stopping at ‘My Shariah-Compliant Bra’ and ‘My Drone-Dead Lover’, and then she shut it close producing a sharp noise; ‘I don’t read poetry’, she thrust it back at me. This is one of the rare instances when i was happy to be rejected as a poet. I consider it a compliment to be rejected by an Anglo-Saxon-woman-convert-to-Islam who was using the burqa to gain high moral ground so that she can preach purdah to wayward and ignorant brown Muslim women.’

A blog post on purdah:
Purdah Manifestations

The next item is a song by Mariam Zohra, a founding member and the Creative Director of Surrey Muse. The song is about East Vancouver’s Tent City that came up a few years back as a protest against urban poverty and homelessness. Tent City had activists camp out in a park during the summer. This is an excerpt, and the link to the song is at the end of it.

get your ensemble
oh teacher
wanna talk about
tent city
so,
what are people
doin in Oppenheimer Park?
Teacher
what are people doing
parking tents, tents at the park,

teacher
get up get up
oh
I don’t know you gotta find out for yourself
we can talk about
tent city

Lyrics/Vocals: Mariam Zohra D. Music: Michael Louw. Song Composition: Michael Louw & Mariam Zohra D. 
Tent-City Song

Next is a spoken word item that has become written text now, so i’ll just read it to you.

‘It was a beautiful, warm and golden summer day. I was visiting a home in East Vancouver, and while the host made tea, I stood by the window and enjoyed being part of a quite residential street lined with thick old trees. Narrower than most streets in Surrey, it had a small park on one side and prosperous and old single family homes on the other. As I took in the view, a man appeared from one end of my vision of the road, in the way he walked he seemed to be a part of the street, the trees, of leaves, and the breeze rustling through them. It was as if he was gliding, smiling for sure. Then he passed right in front of me, dancing on tiptoes, twirling something in his other hand. Just watching him was a privilege. Seeing his back, I noticed that he was wearing a white sleeveless tank top, arms full of black, blue and red tattoos, with white cotton shorts over tattooed legs. It was a tall white guy with brown hair. And just then, I heard sirens, shattering the peace on the street with shocking accuracy. A police car came out of nowhere, zoomed past me, and hit hard breaks inches from the guy. By the time, the police car stopped and a cop jumped out, two other police cars were already there blocking the road on the other side, and a couple of cops were making their way toward him from the park.
The next moment, the guy was pinned to the road, and cops were holding him down while another stood ready with a tazer aimed at him. They mauled him, searched him, and then came away. They had ‘recovered’ a long white feather.
‘Sorry, Sir, we received a call from a property owner on the street who thought you were wielding a dangerous weapon, like a long knife ‘with glittering white blade’, they said.’
And then after deliberating among each other, they returned the feather to the guy, and left while the guy stood bewildered amidst shattered shards of a peaceful sunny afternoon.
The white guy was on a rare summer vacation from Newfoundland.’

Unpublished item.
It was presented in readings at Surrey and New Westminster.

Now, we have Jamie Reid’s poem PRAYER that I first heard from Vancouver’s wonderful slam poet RC Weslowski at the September gathering of Surrey Muse, just after Reid moved on. Last night, Heidi Greco was kind enough to lend me the anthology with the poem in it. I’ll just present what occurs most often in the poem, the refrain. As well, not just the refrain but the whole poem is in capitals- a form of protest, shouting or both, i guess.

PRAYER
By Jamie Reid

LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE
LET THE SKY ESCAPE AT LEAST
AT LEAST LET THE SKY ESCAPE PLEASE AT LEAST
LET THE SKY ESCAPE

Pages 74-76.
‘Revolving City’, eds. Compton & Saklikar, Anvil Press 2015

So far:
In the first item, the migrant character Skeena sees the new place as a continuity instead of a break, an important distinction. Purdah Manifestations shows how specific issues are faced by each of us in all our different social locations, ‘us’ includes everyone, colored/white migrants and indigenous peoples. The Tent City song points to poverty as integral to the cityscape, an issue that seeks resolutions. In the so-called spoken word item, the white man with a white feather brings out class as an entrenched form of othering, and Jamie Reid’s poem touches the heartache where the city destroys the land and the landscape. And this brings us to our last two items: an image and a slogan.

The image is of a new city park in Seattle.

fromthehungsrsiteFrom the Hungersite.

Seattle’s new city park reminds us of Havana where in the decade after the sanctions were placed on Cuba the average Cuban adult lost 20 lbs. But by the end of that same decade…

The average Cuban was getting ‘2600 calories and more than 68 grams of protein, an amount considered “sufficient” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. By 2006 average caloric intake was up to 3356 calories. A lot of this food was produced not in the countryside (requiring transport to the cities) but in urban gardens, where food was grown and consumed in the same neighborhood. By 2002, 35,000 acres of urban gardens produced 3.4 million tons of food. In Havana, 90% of the city’s fresh produce came from local urban farms and gardens, all organic. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans were employed in urban agriculture. In 2003, Cuba had reduced its use of Diesel fuel by more than 50%, synthetic fertilizers by 90%, and chemical insecticides by 83%.’

Surrey, the City of Parks and of Future, is best-placed to turn some of its manicured parkland to nutritious food forests in anticipation of a delightful urban future.
the-worlds-most-sustainable-country-what-cuba

And now, the slogan. We have about three renditions of it, and i think we’ll be able to choose one easily.
The first:
A Tree For A Tree
The second:
A Tree For Every Tree
And the third:
A Tree For Every Profit-Damned Earth-Loving Brown Ass Tree

All in favor of the third one, raise hands.
On second thoughts, in the interest of brevity and simplicity, we better choose the first.

To view the context of slogans, check this poem presented the previous night at the Literary Cabaret.
‘Good news…’

Thank you, it was a great pleasure to be with you today and to participate in this 2-day event.
Fauzia
frafique@gmail.com
gandholi.wordpress.com
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.

An Evening with Arundhati

arundhati

Written by Randeep Singh

She came. She spoke. She conquered. Arundhati Roy filled the pews of St. Andrew’s Wesley Church on April 1 as part of the Indian Summer Festival 2014.

Roy began by criticizing “representative democracy” as too much representation, not enough democracy. Democracy has plenty of institutions, Roy remarked, but those institutions have turned into conduits for a short-term, extractive, economic philosophy. “Could it be that democracy is such a hit with modern humans,” she reads, “precisely because it mirrors our greatest folly – our nearsightedness?”

Capitalism controls culture too. Roy spoke of how corporations engage in “perception management,” deliberately not funding artistic projects which question the system. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy says, drew a connection between capitalism, imperialism and the Vietnam War; but American multinationals did not highlight this aspect of his legacy when they sponsored the Martin Luther King Junior Centre for Non-Violent Social Change, an organization which works with the US Department of Defence. The Indian mining group, Vedanta, Roy points out, recently sponsored the “Creating Happiness” film competition for film students to make films on sustainable development (in communities affected by the mining) with the tagline “Mining Happiness.”

Roy also questioned Gandhi as the mahatma or “great soul.” Roy recounted how the anti-imperialist, anti-racist Gandhi fought alongside Great Britain in the Boer Wars, refused to ride in the same railway carriages as Africans and wrote in prison that Indians deserved separate prisons from vile and immoral blacks and Chinese.

When asked whether she was an activist, Roy replied she was a writer telling the world’s stories. Her readings and discussion with The Tyee’s David Beers, brought to life the politics of development, resistance movements and the management of culture by corporations just as the arts have reenacted the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement or the experience of Canadian aboriginals in Residential Schools. As Roy puts it, “why wouldn’t we write about the critical issues our society is facing?”

‘“Brand Malala”: Western exploitation of a schoolgirl’ by Carol Anne Grayson

‘I think she is a very convenient person for us to really like. She’s the kind of Muslim girl that we want to show we like because we want to see them go to school. But in Pakistan, most girls do go to school.’ Says Birmingham poet Benjamin Zephaniah who was voted third in a BBC poll of the nation’s favourite poets, behind TS Eliot and John Donne (birminghampost.co.uk).  
As well, Malala helps US-NATO soldiers to believe that they are fighting for a ‘noble cause’ as opposed to Afghanistan’s riches and world colonization; and, it helps Pakistan’s ‘civil society’, whose salaries come from US/NATO-supported funding agencies, to justify their inaction both against US drone attacks and Taliban. Uddari.

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As Malala Yousafzai has told the media, that second when she was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan changed her life, (it is also changing the lives of others too), Malala has become a very marketable western commodity. My issue is not with Malala, I support and respect her wish of education for all, however (and it shames me to say this being British) I doubt she fully realizes the extent to which she is being exploited by her new “mentors” in the UK.

There is an element of risk to all now living in Pakistan since the US led War on Terror brought internal conflict to the region but there is only special treatment for some of those affected. Why not fly out every child harmed by US drones to the west for the most up to date medical care, there are plenty for wellwishers to assist.

Despite some victims trying to speak out on drones, for the most part we don’t even know their names, let alone details of injuries inflicted upon them. There are double standards on how terrorism is reported. Taliban terrorism is used to propel the “good west versus bad east” narrative in the media whilst US state terrorism is served up as “collateral damage” and is more likely to get buried along with its victims. All violence must be condemned.

Since the shooting of Malala, western politicians and media alike have seized upon a very profitable “alliance” with the young Pakistani schoolgirl. She fits comfortably into the well- worn narrative of “rescuing” women from the east. Let’s face it an entire war was waged according to some to “save” Afghanistan’s females from the Taliban. (Let’s hope Malala’s story will not be used to keep occupation going a little longer). What press usually fail to mention however is how Britain and its allies are failing miserably on “gender justice” back home.

Exploitation of women whether emotionally, physically, financially is so ingrained in our society and institutions that I am not even sure whether some men realize their actions. The old saying comes to mind… “in the valley of the blind, the one eyed ‘man’ is king”! Former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, Malala’s avid supporter, fits that description. He is known as a misogynist by his former work colleagues and to human rights campaigners for his refusal to address the plight of widows whose husbands were unlawfully killed by the state see my earlier story http://activist1.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/malala-becomes-poster-girl-of-western-government-double-standards-on-gender-justice/

How many men do you see studying gender to work with women for greater equality though it would benefit society for more males to do so. Division of labour need not be problematic if given the same value for both sexes. The one man on my gender course at university was a young Pashtun man who was determined in his aim to improve the situation of women in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan whilst at the same time respecting the culture.

The special treatment of Malala is highlighting divisions in many ways. Week in week out, when I peruse the British press, we are subjected to articles about asylum seekers “ripping off” the UK. These stories show scant regard for torture victims coming to Britain that often end up being held in detention centres or virtually penniless in the community living on vouchers with limited access to health care. Yet one young lady is flown in to the UK and provided with the best possible care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham appearing to bypass the hurdles faced by many. It would seem that there is something of a two tier system of care going on here and it is understandable that this will raise questions as to how we define a “deserving” case. I have met many juvenile survivors of torture, outspoken activists on human rights so what makes one person more deserving than another?

The commodification of Malala appears to have started at the time her father volunteered his daughter to the BBC to document life at school under the Taliban (this was before she was shot on a bus). She is seen on film at a younger age going to school and participating in lessons with her peers.

Media stories report that her father Ziauddin owns “for profit” schools which just happen to be high on the agenda of Gordon Brown, global envoy for education at the UN (again documented in my earlier article. One wonders why then, given that both Ziauddin and the BBC are so quick to warn of the dangers of the Taliban, they would put a child in the line of fire (albeit her identity thinly disguised) to write her diary for public consumption.

With regard to the question of another agenda, artist Jonathan Rao who painted the portrait of Malala that hangs in the National Gallery admits to his concerns in the Independent newspaper and states:-

 “I guess I was worried that she was probably a pawn in a bigger game and was being unduly influenced by the people around her.”

The Independent points out that:-

Those people include Edelman, the global PR firm that manages Malala alongside its work for clients that include Microsoft and Starbucks. Jamie Lundie, an impeccably connected senior executive for the firm and former speechwriter for Paddy Ashdown when he was the Lib Dem leader, leads a team of five who work with Malala on a pro bono basis.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/the-making-of-malala-yousafzai-shot-by-the-taliban-for-going-to-school-and-now-in-the-frame-for-nobel-peace-prize-8862588.html

During a BBC documentary this week, Malala’s former friends are shown in Swat valley, Pakistan continuing their education. However there is fear among children in the region. Fox news reports the following words from school principle Selma Naz:-

“We have had threats, there are so many problems. It is much more dangerous for us after Malala’s shooting and all the attention that she is getting,” said Naz. “The Taliban are very dangerous. They have gone from Swat, but still they have a presence here. It is hidden, but it is here. We all have fear in our hearts.”

What is disturbing also is that we are told in the film which area of Birmingham Malala now goes to school, careless words given threats to target her once again repeated from Taliban. Can we assume she will not be targeted in UK?

Safety is pushed aside for “brand Malala”. There is Malala the book, Malala the film, Malala the award nominee, Malala the portrait, with the schoolgirl being skilfully marketed by Edelman, the world’s biggest PR company. Wavering a fee will no doubt be compensated by the value of the publicity she will bring to the company. I wonder, how many people can name the other girls injured when Malala was shot? What quality of care and support did they receive? Are they represented by PR companies?

All this stage management behind the scenes strikes me as far removed from the image portrayed on our screens of a simple, very bright girl, with a love for school standing up for her rights. We are now into the dangerous cult of celebrity. To ease the entry into western homes via multimedia, we are told Malala likes pop star Justin Bieber, is championed by actor and UN ambassador Angelina Jolie and what transition would be complete without the obligatory photo with a smiling David Beckham. With the “A” listers behind her, Malala’s future looks rosy. How different to the many women that have been harmed in Britain and received no such support.

It is fascinating to see the establishment prizes Malala is collecting including “Pride of Britain”. Will we see her projected from Quilliam next, sat beside former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson. Even to Tommy, she must surely be the acceptable face of Islam. Then of course we are gearing up for the Nobel Peace Prize with Malala a firm favourite to take the award. Putin’s heart must be sinking with Malala predicted to follow in the footsteps of champion of drones, supporter of targeted killings, President Barack Obama.

I can’t help but think of another Nobel nominee two decades ago, one Rigoberta Menchu. Like Malala she was thrust into the limelight, pressurised by others. She also wrote a book and appears to have been so eager to fit the expected narrative that she is alleged to have altered facts to project her cause, that of Quiche people in Guatemala. Ten years after the Nobel she was mired in controversy, though allowed to keep her prize. I quote a newspaper story in the New York Times  December 15th 1998:-

In the autobiography ”I, Rigoberta Menchu,” first published in Spanish in 1983 at the height of Guatemala’s brutal civil war, Ms. Menchu, now 39, tells a wrenching tale of violence, destruction, misery and exploitation as moving and disturbing as a Victor Hugo novel. So powerful was the book’s impact that it immediately transformed her into a celebrated and much-sought-after human rights campaigner and paved the way for her being awarded the Nobel Prize.

Key details of that story, though, are untrue, according to a new book written by an American anthropologist, ”Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans.” Based on nearly a decade of interviews with more than 120 people and archival research, the anthropologist, David Stoll, concludes that Ms. Menchu’s book ”cannot be the eyewitness account it purports to be” because the Nobel laureate repeatedly describes ”experiences she never had herself.”

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/15/world/tarnished-laureate-a-special-report-nobel-winner-finds-her-story-challenged.html?scp=7&sq=rigoberta%20menchu&st=cse&pagewanted=1

Malala is a bright, articulate young woman. She comes across as caring and committed and has great potential to make a difference in this world finding her own route. She is not in the UK to boost careers or further the bank balance of those in the media. Those who claim to support gender justice should ask themselves why it is that some cases are projected into the media whilst thousands of other cases are suppressed by government including by one of the same politicians so supportive to Malala.

I recall one campaigner harmed by the state writing to Gordon Brown on his deathbed requesting a meeting in a last ditch attempt to obtain gender justice for widows left behind. The BBC spoke highly of this activist, noted how he “died a disappointed man” ignored by Gordon Brown. Such requests were repeated by others many times.

The support people receive after trauma makes a significant difference to how they recover and move forward in life. Malala has been surrounded by care, offered opportunities and her story given immense media coverage. That does not happen for most women. Many go unheard no matter how vocal they may be or what risks they take, they simply don’t fit in to a popular narrative, especially if victims of the state.

Malala should not be used as a diversion to distract away from other women that have been fighting in British courts for years to highlight injustice and the wrongdoing of government. This does not help the cause of any woman while one is exploited and others are being suppressed!

As an intelligent young role model, I don’t imagine Malala would want this. I would think all she wants to do is knuckle down and get on with her education and hopefully will be allowed to do so in peace.

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.

Original with images: http://activist1.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/brand-malala-western-exploitation-of-a-schoolgirl/

Related content on Uddari
‘The Jolly Trinity’ by Fauzia Rafique
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Matter of Survival: The Crisis at Fukushima’s Unit 4

In the past couple of months, i have posted some materials on the now happening or about to happen disasters and their possible impacts on our lives. There has been very little response. But all this is actually real, and since we are not our governments and their sponsored media, we are free to take note. — Fauzia

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Published on Friday, September 20, 2013 by Common Dreams

The Crisis at Fukushima’s Unit 4 Demands a Global Take-Over

We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focused on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.

The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.

Why is this so serious?

We already know that thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water are pouring through the Fukushima site, carrying a devil’s brew of long-lived poisonous isotopes into the Pacific. Tuna irradiated with fallout traceable to Fukushima have already been caught off the coast of California. We can expect far worse.

Tepco continues to pour more water onto the proximate site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool. Steam plumes indicate fission may still be going on somewhere underground. But nobody knows exactly where those cores actually are.

Much of that irradiated water now sits in roughly a thousand huge but fragile tanks that have been quickly assembled and strewn around the site. Many are already leaking. All could shatter in the next earthquake, releasing thousands of tons of permanent poisons into the Pacific. (Note: A relatively small earthquake struck Fukushima prefecture on Thursday, an indication of the inevitable occurrence of larger future ones in the area.)

The water flowing through the site is also undermining the remnant structures at Fukushima, including the one supporting the fuel pool at Unit Four.

More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more.

Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl.

Radioactive hot spots continue to be found around Japan. There are indications of heightened rates of thyroid damage among local children.

The immediate bottom line is that those fuel rods must somehow come safely out of the Unit Four fuel pool as soon as possible.

Just prior to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that shattered the Fukushima site, the core of Unit Four was removed for routine maintenance and refueling. Like some two dozen reactors in the US and too many more around the world, the General Electric-designed pool into which that core now sits is 100 feet in the air.

Spent fuel must somehow be kept under water. It’s clad in zirconium alloy which will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Long used in flash bulbs for cameras, zirconium burns with an extremely bright hot flame.

Each uncovered rod emits enough radiation to kill someone standing nearby in a matter of minutes. A conflagration could force all personnel to flee the site and render electronic machinery unworkable.

According to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with forty years in an industry for which he once manufactured fuel rods, the ones in the Unit 4 core are bent, damaged and embrittled to the point of crumbling. Cameras have shown troubling quantities of debris in the fuel pool, which itself is damaged.

The engineering and scientific barriers to emptying the Unit Four fuel pool are unique and daunting, says Gundersen. But it must be done to 100% perfection.

Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing horrific quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. The pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and possibly explode. The resulting radioactive cloud would threaten the health and safety of all us.

Chernobyl’s first 1986 fallout reached California within ten days. Fukushima’s in 2011 arrived in less than a week. A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries.

Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.”

Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet’s best scientists and engineers.

We have two months or less to act.

For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.

If you have a better idea, please follow it. But do something and do it now.

The clock is ticking. The hand of global nuclear disaster is painfully close to midnight.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Harvey Wasserman‘s Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show is at progressiveradionetwork.com, and he edits nukefree.org. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the US and Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth are at harveywasserman.com along with Passions of the PotSmoking Patriots by “Thomas Paine.”  He and Bob Fitrakis have co-authored four books on election protection, including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election, at freepress.org.

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7th Annual Women’s Housing March – Vancouver Sept 28/13

Sat. Sep 28 @ 1:30 pm
Starts at Cordova and Columbia, just west of Main St.
Unceded Coast Salish Territories

On FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/194962550671741/

Homes for Low-Income People, not Profit for Real Estate!
Homes not Jails!
Homes not Pipelines!
Rent Control and Community Control not Social Control!
Housing, Childcare, and Healthcare for All!

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dtespowerofwomengroup
The DTES Power of Women group – Mobile upload by Harsha Walia

On Saturday September 28th at 1:30 pm, join the Downtown Eastside Women Centre Power of Women Group in the 7th Annual March for Women’s Housing and March Against Poverty.

This year we continue to march for housing, childcare, and healthcare for all low-income residents in the DTES. We want no more evictions, no more displacement, and no more gentrification in our neighourhood. We know that the growing number of cops and condos in the DTES is part of a larger pattern to destroy and privatize neighourboods, communities, and the land. Meanwhile, women in the DTES continue to face the brunt of poverty, displacement, violence and apprehension.

We invite groups to bring their banners and anything else for our festive march. All genders are welcome and celebrated. Please bring your drums and regalia. This march is child-friendly and there will be a rest-vehicle for elders. Spread the word!

Emailproject@dewc.ca or Phone778 885 0040

The DTES Power of Women Group is a group of women (we are an inclusive group) from all walks of life who are either on social assistance, working poor, or homeless; but we are all living in extreme poverty. Our aim is to empower ourselves through our experiences and to raise awareness from our own perspectives about the social issues affecting the neighbourhood. Many of us are single mothers or have had our children apprehended due to poverty; most of us have chronic physical or mental health issues for example HIV and Hepatitis C; many have drug or alcohol addictions; and a majority have experienced and survived sexual violence and mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional abuse. For indigenous women, we are affected by a legacy of the effects of residential schools and a history of colonization and racism.

Harsha Walia 
https://twitter.com/HarshaWalia
https://www.facebook.com/NoOneIsIllegalNetwork

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Solar Flares & Drought – Come September what do WE do?

In view of the materials Snowden has provided, it does seem probable that a solar flares ‘event’ might begin to occur in September or after. Actually, there was a solar storm on Tuesday (space.com).

Just to say it again, climate change is happening faster than we were led to believe (truth-out.org/opinion/item/18301).

With reports that Fukishima-radiation has reached ground water and Pacific Ocean, we are looking at MORE than a drought. In May 2011, tuna fish tested in California already carried Fukushima radiation. Just this factor is enough to know that we are facing the worst drought in human history.

fukushima_radiation_nuclear_fallout_map
Photo from GlobalResearch.ca

This radiation, and a few other offshore corporate disasters are RIGHT NOW creating a situation where water species are being contaminated and fishing communities along the oceans will not be able to find food or livelihood. Farmers and land species will face the same crippling situation from contaminated ground water and rain. Our food, water and air are being poisoned for us while the majority of the people are suffering from poverty, war and displacement.

Researching possible solutions to the radiation/contamination, drought and solar flares was a worrisome process. Let me share some of it with you.

Our ‘Situation’

We discussed it in the previous post, but just to bring it back: solar flares will become deadly the moment they touch this planet because of our highly combustible lifestyle where we are surrounded by countless electronic gadgets and wires while the planet hosts thousands of nuclear/oil/tarsands digging-rigging-pipeline projects on the land and offshore, many of whom are melting, leaking or bursting.

The unstoppable melt/leak of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that began during an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, has not been contained. Yesterday’s news tell us that not only the deadly materials have reached the Pacific Ocean despite assurances that they’ll not get to it (huffingtonpost.ca ), but that the radiation levels are getting higher with passing time (rt.com/news/fukushima-sea-radiation-highest-686/). And here’s today’s update: Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation.

With contamination seeping into oceans and ground water, we are also looking at the beginnings of an acute water shortage where Yemen has declared an emergency even in it’s capital, and this is a bit about that: nytimes.com/2013/05/08/opinion/friedman-postcard-from-yemen.html?_r=0. The corporations are talking about privatizing water (http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-privatisation-of-water-nestle-denies-that-water-is-a-fundamental-human-right/5332238); and, not just one but a dozen towns in Texas are without water due to fracking where the individuals who do have water are wanting to sell it to neighbours instead of sharing. Some facts about water scarcity: http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/

Another remote viewing operation predicts a fatal-for-earth event in the near future involving secret digging operations in the Arctic that are mining too close to the core of the earth. The probable result may be ‘caving in’ of the planet. We will discuss this in another post.

Impact

US cities are going bankrupt beginning with Detroit with all its industry and casinos; melting glaciers are causing out-of-control floods and tornadoes around the world; we may be seeing the beginning of a famine in poorer countries; millions of bees and sea/air/land animals are dying or showing abnormal behaviours and symptoms due to radiation, contamination and GMO seeds/pesticides/herbicides, and if we haven’t felt any loss in our food supplies this year we will in the coming years while the US regime continues to protect Monsanto and the likes.

Interesting that Putin threatens a ‘global war’ over US negligence to the ‘bee apocalypse’, and the next day as if on cue, Great Britain comes out with a ‘conscription law’ that of course includes all the commonwealth countries. US is becoming a ‘police state’ with it’s spying operations, acquiring countless armoured vehicles and drones to be used within America. Peoples’ movements against poverty/discrimination/fracking/GMOs are catching fire while US government responds by using force against the protestors, and by extending more protection and privileges to the corporations. Global mainstream media of course is a share-holder in this system of exploitation and greed.

People are being forced to commit suicide because of economic want generated by the corporate greed, our policymakers are busy fighting their control-freaking wars and putting a whole lot of resources in ‘technological advancement’ that only benefits the 0.1%. These ‘advancements’ are being made in the fields of dirty energy, extreme mining of land and oceans, Genetically Modified Organisms, stemcells-based living beings, and Mars! Yes, Mars. And that’s what brings us to the Worst Obscene of 2013: A Stemcells-based beef patty that was gloatingly ‘served and tasted’ at the cost of Pound Sterling 250,000. Later, when anger subsided, I realized that a flight to Mars has been booked by 7800 (wealthy) passengers, and it won’t be much fun up there without the beef patty. Whatever the cost, they need it to go. The propaganda machine has begun working, and among other things, a documentary: One Way Astronaut.

MarsOne-hab10-BV
Set to go in the next 10. Photo from Space.com

So, the Global elites will depart for Mars (they call it a ‘colony’ already) while keeping their hold on the rest of us to fund their interstellar operations by keeping it going for them here. There are renewed efforts to fund missions to Mars, here’s one: (space.com).

Responsibility

The responsibility for this situation rests with energy, tech, food, defence and ‘development’ corporations but they are being protected by the Global Elites who establish and rule the Regimes that we bring into power with our votes.

These regimes do have the information, power and resources to do something about this situation but it seems they are not here for us. Instead, they continue to deny the damage that has happened and is happening, even climate change (science.time.com), because they plan to, and are, profiting from it http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.

If the governments/regimes continue to support their corporate agenda against their people, than the danger and the chaos of any ‘natural’ disaster will reach unimagined proportions.

What do we do?

Solar flares

Health effects of EMFs:
safespaceprotection.com
Anatomy of sunstorms
space.com/12047
The Sun’s Wrath: Worst Solar Storms in History
space.com/12584
Storm Clouds Gathering
youtube.com/

Safety
Find places with fresh water and food sources that are away from the ‘developed’ world, preferably nestled in mountains.

Work on a ‘self-help’ kind of lifestyle in case civic structures and services fail.

Remove items that emit electromagnetic radiation. They can worsen the impact of solar flares, and can be used to spy on us: abcnews.go.com/Business/household-products-spying/

Form neighbourhood committees to find ways to deal with the crisis and chaos.

Make elected governments:
Side with their people instead of corporations.

Stop all secret digging operations and costly high-tech projects till a consensus is reached regarding each.

Spend money on cleaning up the terrible money-mess instead of creating more useless yet deadly hi-tech and war projects.

Wishes

Yes, we wish this isn’t true and that nothing like this happens and we continue to enjoy, appreciate and inspire the beauty and abundance this planet still offers.

But when i think about it for myself, i find very little to be optimistic. It seems, Mayans were right, life on Earth and Earth itself will be different from what we know. Some of us who don’t fly to Mars may also survive but we will be radiated/contaminated beings. Some of us will be zombies like Russia’s newly found ‘zombie pigeons’, others may be crazy violent people with unknown deformities; all species diseased with no healing remedy, and nothing much to rejoice.

No poems for me neither.

Fauzia Rafique
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‘A Poem – Hik Nazm’ by Faiza

From Faiza’s Punjabi poem ‘Hik Nazm’

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A Poem
By Faiza

It may be inconvenient
But Respected Sister an application needs to be written
A sweeper’s position has become available
In the Angrezi* school
Put it forward in such a way that
It captures their gut
Tell them
The void growing in children’s stomach
Is hard for mothers to endure
I burn in scorching wind
But some things must remain secret
Keep the secret
My man cannot stand on his feet
Battered by the police
Make a story so gripping
They come looking for me
It is your writing that will count
Who are we, what our station
Two morsels of bread
Give them full assurance from my side
I’ll work more than is required
No dearth, no shortage
There will be in my labour
All chores done I’m leavin’
Filth removed floor mopped
Say Respected Sister shall i mix the dough before I go?

*English

Translation
Fauzia Rafique

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Hik Nazm
By Faiza

Khhechal taan hosi
Ek darkhast likhveni ae Baji
Choorrhi de saamee ae
Angrezi school vich
Gal ajehi jorreya je
Kaleja phhreejay agleyaN da
Dusseya je
BallaN de dhedh paindi kho
MawaN tooN jhalni aukhhi
Tatti va vich sarrni aaN
Per ohla rakhhna pausi
Ohla rakheya je
Banda mera pairaN bhaar khhlo nahiN sakda
Police da pinjeya
Banavo koi baat acharj
MainuN soodhday phhiran
Mul te paina tuhaday likhhan da
AsseiN keh, sadee hassti keh
Do graaNhiyaN Tukar
Tassalla kraya je mere valoN
Kam kresaN hadoN vadh
Kai ghhaTa kai thhorr
Na hosi mehnat de
Saaray kam muka challi aaN
Gand hoonj ke pochi la challi aaN
Akhho taaN aaTa ve ghunneeN jaaN Baji?

View original Shahmukhi version
Monthly Pancham, May-June 2000

faiza
Faiza is a Lahore-based poet, editor and publisher who is making valuable contributions to the development of Punjabi language and literature through her ongoing work with Monthly Pancham and Suchet Kitab Ghar.
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Snowden’s Solar Flare Warning for September

This post is a question: What does this warning mean to you? Uddari

flare_sxi_strip

Photo from NASA
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‘… a series of solar flares is set to occur in September, killing hundreds of millions of people. Documents provided by Snowden prove that, as of 14 years ago, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) remote viewers knew that the event was inevitable. Ever since, the world’s governments have quietly been trying to prepare for the sweeping global famine to result.’ (chronicle.su)

It is very likely that a series of solar flares may BEGIN to occur next month, and if we had known 14 years ago, it was possible to prepare to suffer less damage, but even then, and now, not solar flares but what we have for them here is what’s going to kill us. The famine seems to be one of the sure outcomes of the Killshot. Mainstream is not picking it up, that means, it’s not in the interest of the Global Elites and their Regimes to have people know about it. Or it means it’s just rumours. Whatever it is, we must decide for ourselves.

Consider that a solar flare thing came very close to earth at the end of July 2013: ‘The earth barely missed taking a massive solar punch in the teeth two weeks ago, an “electromagnetic pulse” so big that it could have knocked out power, cars and iPhones throughout the United States..’ (washingtonexaminer), one occured right here in Canada in 1989, ‘knocking out Quebec’s electric transmission system..’, NASA describes an 1859 ‘super flare’ on its webpage (science.nasa.gov), and below is some more information to take into account.

Nuclear Establishments

According to World-Nuclear.org, There are ‘432 operable civil nuclear power nuclear reactors around the world, with a further 68 under construction. Plus there are hundreds in operation around the world as ‘research reactors’, reactors used to power ships and submarines, and reactors used to make medical isotopes. (world-nuclear.org). In 2012, 32 countries were reported as having ‘nuclear shares’ from 5.9 Argentina to 770.7 USA. This excludes all the ‘other’ nuclear facilities that may be even more dense.

This is a Wiki definition of a nuclear meltdown:
‘A meltdown is considered very serious because of the potential–however remote–that radioactive materials could breach all containment and escape (or be released) into the environment, resulting in radioactive contamination and fallout, and potentially leading to radiation poisoning of people and animals nearby.’ (en.wikipedia.org)

Unfortunately, as we know, a few of nuclear outfits have already core-melted filling our environment with radioactive contamination that has not stopped contaminating our air, water or land. Here are some examples:
‘A number of Soviet Navy nuclear submarines experienced nuclear meltdowns, including K-27, K-140, and K-431.

‘There was also a fatal core meltdown at SL-1, an experimental U.S. military reactor in Idaho.
Large-scale nuclear meltdowns at civilian nuclear power plants include: the Lucens reactorSwitzerland, in 1969. the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., in 1979. the Chernobyl disaster at Chernobyl Nuclear Power PlantUkraine, USSR, in 1986. the Fukushima I nuclear accidents following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, March 2011’.

Other core meltdowns have occurred at: ‘NRX (military), Ontario, Canada, in 1952. BORAX-I (experimental), Idaho, U.S.A., in 1954. EBR-I (military), Idaho, U.S.A., in 1955. Windscale (military), Sellafield, England, in 1957 (see Windscale fire). Sodium Reactor Experiment, (civilian), California, U.S.A., in 1959. Fermi 1 (civilian), Michigan, U.S.A., in 1966. Chapelcross nuclear power station (civilian), Scotland, in 1967. Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant (civilian), France, in 1969. A1 plant, (civilian) at Jaslovské BohuniceCzechoslovakia, in 1977. Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Plant (civilian), France, in 1980’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_meltdown).

That’s pretty ‘regular’ even without the solar flares. Pointers to check impact on people, places and the environment: http://library.thinkquest.org/17940/texts/nuclear_disasters/nuclear_disasters.html, and a short one here: http://towardfreedom.com/environment/2328-the-health-impact-of-nuclear-meltdowns-from-california-to-chernobyl
Latest: fukushima-update-north-american-food-supply-poisoned-along-pacific-coast.html

Oil Extraction, Leaks and Spills

‘In January 1995 there was a total of 1738 oil and gas rigs drilling globally (excluding the former Soviet Union (FSU). By February 2012 that number had more than doubled to 3850. Global C+C+NGL production grew from 68 to 84 million bpd (24%) over the same period… Global drilling for oil and gas is dominated by North America, in particular the USA. In January 1995 there were 737 oil and gas rigs drilling in the USA, 42% of the world total. By October 2011 this figure had grown to 2010 rigs, 55% of the world total.’ (theoildrum.com)

Let’s say, over 4000 including the ‘former Soveit Union’- but that’s just surface. Think offshore.

‘Notable offshore fields today are found in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico (mostly offshore Texas and Louisiana, but also Mississippi and Alabama, California (in the Santa Barbara basin), the Caspian Sea (notably some major fields offshore Azerbaijan the Campos and Santos Basins off the coasts of Brazil, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, several fields off West Africa most notably west of Nigeria and Angola, as well as offshore fields in South East Asia and Sakhalin, Russia. Also major offshore oil fields are located in the Persian Gulf such as Safaniya, Manifa, and Marjan which belong to Saudi Arabia and are developed by Saudi Aramco.’ (en.wikipedia.org).

The above about covers our air, land and water. But no, we have more. The Tar Sands pipelines cutting across countries in North America! And, guess what? They have spilled, and leaked. The spills and leaks that had happened, have not stopped, just like the melted cores of nuclear reactors and generators.

Now think of all the gas filling stations in North America. There are about 60 companies providing thousands of gas filling locations. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_filling_stations_in_North_America)

Plus we are roped in electrical wires, poles, power generation plants, and surrounded by many electric appliances, tools, gadgets in our homes, schools and offices.

Sun’s Approaching Field Reversal

Another factor that may add to the intensity of this warning is sun’s own approaching 11-year-routine field reversal.

‘Something big is about to happen on the sun. According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun’s vast magnetic field is about to flip… The sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle…

‘During field reversals, the current sheet becomes very wavy…

‘As Earth orbits the sun, we dip in and out of the current sheet. Transitions from one side to another can stir up stormy space weather around our planet…’ and have an impact on cosmic rays that are ‘high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy’. Cosmic rays are a danger to astronauts and space probes, and some researchers say they might affect the cloudiness and climate of Earth.

‘The current sheet acts as a barrier to cosmic rays, deflecting them as they attempt to penetrate the inner solar system. A wavy, crinkly sheet acts as a better shield against these energetic particles from deep space.’ (realnews24.com).

Safe Places

In this general environment, an otherwise ‘manageable’ solar flare ‘event’ will become out of control where a touch, a fleeting kiss, will be enough to set large portions of the surface of this planet on fire. Safe places will be hard to manage with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in our foodbasket, and stemcell-created early-stage living organisms in our systems. As well, undeveloped countryside with drinkable water source will become prime property, and in that, other than who will be getting control of such natural resources, the question is if the countryside can accommodate the urban populations back in.

In my view, even if nothing is to happen in September, we still need to think fast and find ways to protect ourselves from unimagined chaos due to global warming, GMO foods, stemcells creations, pharmaceuticals, big money, and most of all the use of electronics in our daily lives. People with knowledge and hindsight are already building affordable, earth-loving self-sustaining communities that grow their own organic foods, generate their own small supply of solar energy, have water wells, just simple necessities.

September is my birthday month, and solar flares seems to be a gift too hot to handle. Also, without the solar flares, the concerns around the desirability of human-centric profit-hungry societies in a multi-species world are the themes of ‘Triple’, the novel I’m working on. So, may be this whole thing is having a larger impact on me. Actually, I don’t know what to think or do about it. I am convinced that this kind of some drastic situation may happen but I don’t seem to believe it because it’s so unbelievable. So then, this is what I’m going to do, is to put this out there, and see if a discussion takes place or a consensus emerges.

And now, a poem before September, after, I may not be able to write or at least not this one.

Solar Flare

A cold-touching solar
flare ignites smoldering
Imagination, torching it
Up in the limitless-ness
Of a night blue Sky
Blazing Interactions
On pathways of fire
My stardust pulses
Back into me.

We need to think and do because the caged monkeys have turned their backs on us, and they are silent.

..

Next: In Praise of the Global Elites – The Worst OBSCENE of 2013.

Fauzia Rafique
http://gandholi.wordpress.com/
frafique@gmail.com

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’16 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True’ by Michael Snyder

This is the first of three posts about the role of High-hightech industry and the US Government in damaging the lives of common people and pushing this planet to its destruction. Uddari.

Are you a conspiracy theorist?  If not, perhaps you should be.  Yes, there have certainly been a lot of “conspiracy theories” over the years that have turned out not to be accurate.  However, the truth is that a large number of very prominent conspiracy theories have turned out to actually be true.  So the next time that you run into some “tin foil hat wearing lunatics”, you might want to actually listen to what they have to say.  They may actually know some things that you do not.  In fact, one recent study found that “conspiracy theorists” are actually more sane than the general population.  So the next time you are tempted to dismiss someone as a “conspiracy theorist”, just remember that the one that is crazy might actually be you.  The following are 16 popular conspiracy theories that turned out to be true…

1. “They Put Cancer Viruses Into Our Vaccines”

When I first heard about this I did not believe it.  And of course not all vaccines contain cancer viruses.  But tens of millions of Americans did receive vaccines with cancer viruses in them, and now we have learned that even the CDC has admitted that this is true…

The CDC has quickly removed a page from their website, which is now cached here, admitting that more than 98 million Americans received one or more doses of polio vaccine within an 8-year span when a proportion of the vaccine was contaminated with a cancer causing polyomavirus called SV40. It has been estimated that 10-30 million Americans could have received an SV40 contaminated dose of the vaccine.

SV40 is an abbreviation for Simian vacuolating virus 40 or Simian virus 40, a polyomavirus that is found in both monkeys and humans. Like other polyomaviruses, SV40 is a DNA virus that has been found to cause tumors and cancer.

2. “ATM Machines Will Someday Use Facial Recognition Technology”

According to the Daily Mail, a new generation of ATM machines is being developed that will use cutting edge facial recognition technology…

Cumbersome and slow cash machines with clunky buttons and tiny hard-to-see screens could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a range of next-generation ATMs.

Ohio-based security firm Diebold has created a touchscreen cash machine that works like a tablet computer, uses facial recognition and QR codes to identify and authenticate users, and has built-in safety cameras.

3. “The U.S. Government And Monsanto Are Teaming Up Against Opponents Of Genetically-Modified Food”

The establishment does not like those that are trying to stand in the way of genetically-modified food.  The following is from a recent Activist Post article

A shocking new investigative report from the largest daily newspaper in Germany alleges that Monsanto, the US Military and the US government have colluded to track and disrupt both anti-GMO activists and independent scientists who study the adverse effects of genetically modified food.

As revealed yesterday by Sustainable Pulse, on July 13th the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detailed information on how the US Government “advances the interests of their corporations,” focusing on Monsanto as a prime example.

The report titled, “The Sinister Monsanto Group: ‘Agent Orange’ to Genetically Modified Corn,” described a ‘new fangled cyber war’ being waged against both eco-activists and independent scientists by supporters and former employees of Monsanto, who are described as “operationally powerful assistants” and who have taken up sometimes high-ranking posts in the US administration, regulatory authorities, and some of whom have connections deep within the military industrial establishment, including the CIA.

4. “Someday Scientists Will Be Using Millions Of Genetically-Modified Animals In Scientific Experiments”

Did you know that literally millions of genetically-modified animals are being experimented on in labs all over the globe?…

The number of genetically modified (GM) animals used in scientific research in Britain has exceeded the number of ordinary laboratory animals for the first time, according to official statistics that show a 9 per cent overall increase in the use of experimental animals last year.

Some 4,033,310 animals were used in scientific experiments started in 2012, an increase of 322,689, or 9 per cent over the previous year. There were 1.91 million scientific “procedures” used with GM animals in 2012 compared to 1.68.m procedures on normal animals.

5. “Scientists All Over The World Are Creating Extremely Bizarre Human-Animal Hybrids”

Should scientists be creating beings that are part human and part animal?  Well, it is happening all over the planet.  Just check out some of the things that a recent Slate article says is happening in labs around the world…

Not long ago, Chinese scientists embedded genes for human milk proteins into a mouse’s genome and have since created herds of humanized-milk-producing goats. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Michigan have a method for putting a human anal sphincter into a mouse as a means of finding better treatments for fecal incontinence, and doctors are building animals with humanized immune systems to serve as subjects for new HIV vaccines.

Pretty disgusting eh?

And here are some other ways that scientists are combining humans and animals…

Rabbit Eggs with Human Cells

Pigs with Human Blood

Sheep with Human Livers

Cow Eggs with Human Cells

Cat-Human Hybrid Proteins

For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Human-Animal Hybrids: Sick And Twisted Chimeras Are Being Created In Labs All Over The Planet“.

6. “Obama Is Making Government Employees Spy On One Another”

Yes, this is actually happening.  In a previous article, I described how Obama is forcing government workers to spy on the “lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors” of their fellow employees…

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

7. “Pro Wrestling Is Fake”

We have all kind of known this for a long time, right?  Well, now someone is actually leaking the results of pro wrestling matches on the Internet before they happen

A fan has provoked a furor in the world of professional wrestling after leaking the outcomes of 38 WWE matches ahead of the pay-per-view bouts.

The mystery fan, who identifies himself online as Dolphins1925, claims he has obtained the information from a source at Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and is revealing the results to highlight the organisation’s failure to keep its storylines confidential.

Dolphins1925 started posting the results on Reddit’s pro-wrestling forum after another fan launched a “prediction series”, asking users for their picks ahead of the matches. He has since maintained a perfect record, even leaking the results of contests involving wrestling superstars such as John Cena and The Undertaker.

8. “Someday Texas Is Going To Run Out Of Water”

Texas will always have plenty of water, right?

Wrong.

According to CNBC, the water crisis in some areas of Texas is rapidly reaching a breaking point…

Three straight years of blistering drought have strained Texas’ water resources. Some cities like Midland are already steeply raising their water prices. But it’s not just residents of the Lone Star State feeling parched. Texas-based companies are scrambling to reduce their water usage and enact long-term water management plans as a critical business concern.

“As the drought continues, industry’s eyes are opening,” said Jordan Furnans, senior engineer at INTERA, a Texas-based geosciences and engineering firm. Those eyes are opening to discover that more dry years are coming, he said.

There’s a desperate need for water to fuel industrial, chemical and energy operations in some parts of Texas. “If plants shut down, they’re losing millions of dollars per day,” Furnans said.

9. “The IRS Is Specifically Targeting Conservatives”

Only a small percentage of Americans would have believed this particular “conspiracy theory” last year.  But now it is all over the news.  In fact, we have just learned that applications for tax-exempt status from Tea Party groups were ordered to be sent to the only Obama political appointee at the IRS

IRS employees were ordered by their superiors–including Lois Lerner who pleaded the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination rather than testify in Congress–to send certain Tea Party tax-exemption applications to the office of the IRS’s Chief Counsel, which was headed by William Wilkins, who at that time was the only Obama political appointee at the IRS, according to a letter released today by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“As a part of this ongoing investigation, the Committees have learned that the IRS Chief Counsel’s office in Washington, D.C. has been closely involved in some of the applications,” reads a letter released today by the House committees on Oversight and Government and Ways and Means.  “Its involvement and demands for information about political activity during the 2010 election cycle appear to have caused systematic delays in the processing of Tea Party applications.”

10. “Fluoride Is Harmful For Your Teeth”

This is a conspiracy theory that was denied for a very long time.  But now even CNN is admitting the truth…

The Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency are proposing the change because of an increase in fluorosis — a condition that causes spotting and streaking on children’s teeth.

11. “Using A Cell Phone Can Cause Cancer”

Can you get cancer from using a cell phone?  Well, an increasing number of studies indicate that this is actually true

At the highest exposure levels — using a mobile phone half an hour a day over a 10-year period — the study found a 40 percent increased risk of glioma brain tumors.

12. “Prescription Drugs Kill Large Numbers Of Americans”

Every single year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are killed by prescription drugs.  The following is a brief excerpt from a Vanity Fair article entitled “Deadly Medicine“…

Prescription drugs kill some 200,000 Americans every year. Will that number go up, now that most clinical trials are conducted overseas—on sick Russians, homeless Poles, and slum-dwelling Chinese—in places where regulation is virtually nonexistent, the F.D.A. doesn’t reach, and “mistakes” can end up in pauper’s graves?

13. “The Elite Want To Dramatically Reduce The Global Population”

Yes, many among the global elite really do want to substantially reduce the population of the planet.  The following quotes are from one of my previous articles

David Rockefeller: “The negative impact of population growth on all of our planetary ecosystems is becoming appallingly evident.”

CNN Founder Ted Turner: “A total world population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”

Paul Ehrlich, a former science adviser to president George W. Bush and the author of “The Population Bomb”: “To our minds, the fundamental cure, reducing the scale of the human enterprise (including the size of the population) to keep its aggregate consumption within the carrying capacity of Earth is obvious but too much neglected or denied”

-Barack Obama’s primary science adviser, John P. Holdren: “The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births.”

HBO personality Bill Maher: “I’m pro-choice, I’m for assisted suicide, I’m for regular suicide, I’m for whatever gets the freeway moving – that’s what I’m for. It’s too crowded, the planet is too crowded and we need to promote death.”

14. “Innocent People Are Murdered, Skinned And Dismembered During Satanic Rituals”

Satanists really do exist, and sometimes they do really, really awful things.  The following is one recent example

Moises Meraz-Espinoza walked into the Huntington Park Police Department two years ago to report a crime: He had killed his mother.

Officers went to the Maywood apartment that the then-18-year-old factory worker shared with his mother, Amelia Espinoza, 42, and found a gruesome scene. A trail of blood led to the bathroom, where plastic covered the walls and floor. There, they found an electrical circular saw with pieces of bone, blood and flesh stuck to the blade. Nearby, in a freezer, police found skin and muscles stored in plastic bags. The woman’s skull, with all her teeth plucked out, her eyes removed and two upside-down crosses carved into the bone, was stashed in a backpack.

Prosecutors say that Meraz-Espinoza strangled his mother and then skinned, filleted and dismembered her body as part of a satanic ritual.

15. “The NSA Is Spying On Our Phone Calls, Internet Searches And Financial Transactions”

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we have learned much more about how the NSA spies on all of us.  And just this week it has come out that the NSA has no problem snooping on you if you are a friend of a friend of a friend of someone that might be a potential terrorist…

Chris Inglis, the agency’s deputy director, was one of several government representatives—including from the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence—testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this morning. Most of the testimony largely echoed previous testimony by the agencies on the topic of the government’s surveillance, including a retread of the same offered examples for how the Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had stopped terror events.

But Inglis’ statement was new. Analysts look “two or three hops” from terror suspects when evaluating terror activity, Inglis revealed. Previously, the limit of how surveillance was extended had been described as two hops. This meant that if the NSA were following a phone metadata or web trail from a terror suspect, it could also look at the calls from the people that suspect has spoken with—one hop. And then, the calls that second person had also spoken with—two hops. Terror suspect to person two to person three. Two hops. And now: A third hop.

16. “The Federal Reserve Is A Perpetual Debt Machine That Is Designed To Create Inflation”

he Federal Reserve is a private banking cartel that was created by the bankers and that serves the interest of the bankers.  It was designed to perpetually increase the U.S. national debt and to perpetually create inflation.  Unfortunately, it has done a great job on both counts.  Since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger, and the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen by more than 96 percent.

Are there any other “conspiracy theories” that you would add to this list?  Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

Read more at http://www.realfarmacy.com/16-conspiracy-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-true/#oqLr6LoQGuqlwOal.99

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Read more at http://www.realfarmacy.com/16-conspiracy-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-true/#oqLr6LoQGuqlwOal.99

Destination South Asia

Here’s a taste of some of the talks at Destination South Asia which took place at the University of British Columbia on March 23, 2013.

“Why is Poverty Declining so slowly in India,” Dr. Ashok Kotwal

  1. India continues to be so poor because most of its population continues to be employed in agriculture which pays so little if anything.
  2. Indians need to shift into non-farm jobs, like manufacturing but India does not have enough skilled labour partly because.
  3. Indians are so poorly educated or not educated at all

Some other points from Dr. Kotwal’s paper on the subject (http://www.ideasforindia.in/Article.aspx?article_id=110 )

  1. Most Indians (93%) have no job security nor access to credit, infrastructure or skills training as they work under the table (the ‘informal sector’), and;
  2. Unskilled and poor workers have benefited little from the “high growth” because they lack the skills to take part in such skill-intensive sectors as business services (which employ only a small part of the labour force anyway).

How will India reap its “demographic dividend” when its people are unskilled, undereducated, malnourished… ?

poverty_india

“Beyond Political Frames: Literary Voices on Partition,” Nabila Pirani

Short-stories on Partition are written by writers alive at the time of the event, offering the benefit of immediacy to the reader, but can bring out the human and social aspects of Partition more effectively than purely historical or political narratives.

Summarizing the stories “Siqqa Badal Gaya,” “Lajwanti” and “Khol Do” by Krishna Sobti, Rajinder Singh Bedi and Saadat Hassan Manto respectively, Pirani, and the following discussion, revealed the many textures and tones of the Partition era.

In “Siqqa,” Pirani underlines how for many Punjabis, the violence of partition was mostly in the background and how the experience of partition changes through the perspective of a woman writer and protagonist. In “Khol Do,” Manto upsets the apple cart by suggesting that men from a particular community may have raped their own women. Lastly, in “Lajwanti,” Pirani looked at the invisible walls that develop between a husband and a wife who had recently been returned to her husband after being classed as “missing.”

“Pakistan’s Fading Cultural Heritage,” Umair Jaffar

Pakistani singer

The Institute for Preservation of Art and Culture (IPAC) is a Pakistani non-profit organization which seeks to support struggling artists and ustads and to preserve and propagate the classical and folk musical and artistic heritages of Pakistan.

The soul of Pakistan can be heard in the ballads of Marwari women in the Southern Punjab anticipating the return of their husbands from war as it is in the Nur Sur tradition of Baluchistan, a folk story-telling tradition stretching back to the Greek period. There are the instruments, like the Sindhi “borindo,” have been found in excavations in the Indus Valley from over 4000 years ago. And, we see how ancient instruments like the Baluchistani “banjo” can produce the sounds of the modern electric guitar.

Jaffar points out that public media presentations of folk and classical music performances were banned during Zia’s time resulting in a growing number of Pakistani youth over the years who have become disconnected from those traditions. At the same time, some traditions have also enjoyed an upsurge, such as in Baluchistan where folk music traditions have revived as part of a general cultural revival in recent years. I argued that folk and classical music traditions are bound to decline in a country where the languages held in greatest esteem (Arabic, English and Urdu) are not connected to nor supportive of its folk traditions. On the other hand, the traditions of poetry and music connected to the mother tongue helped produce the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

 

“History of Intercultural Dialogue and Engagement in Vancouver,” Naveen Girn

Vancouver_Sikh_Temple-237x3001

Girn’s presentation including rare photographs, news excerpts and audio clips and now part of the public archive, serves as a reminder of the history of South Asians in Vancouver.

The story of South Asians in Vancouver can be said to begin with the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. To attend the Jubillee in London, England, the army regiments of the subcontinent had to first pass through Vancouver. By 1907, a sizeable number of South Asians had settled in the city and that year saw the opening of the 2nd Avenue Gurdwara in Kitsilano, the first gurdwara in North America.

More than a sacred space, the gurdwara was a meeting ground for Indians of different communities, including socialists, revolutionaries and members of the Ghadr party. The early community lived through the 1907 race riots in Vancouver and the Komagata Maru, published their own news magazine (associated with the Ghadr movement), forged associations with members of Anglo-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian communities and sent delegates to Ottawa to petition the government to grant South Asians the right to vote. The gurdwara also hosted Rabindranath Tagore, who Girn points out slept in the basement there after being turned away from the Hotel Vancouver and Nehru, who visited in 1949.

“India’s Principal Challenge”…An Interview with Christopher Jaffrelot

Serge: India is a democracy unlike China, so why compare it to Beijing?

Christopher Jaffrelot: I never make such a comparison in terms of their political systems. For we have effectively on the one hand, a country which combines economic liberalism and political authoritarianism, and on the other hand, despite its imperfections, the biggest democracy in the world.  The comparison suffers from Occidentalism: since we perceive these countries as threats, we put them into the same category without sufficiently seeing their differences.

Guest: In the ongoing economic competition between China and India, do you think the fact that India is democratic is an asset, a hindrance or that political system has no impact?

Christopher Jaffrelot: It’s a hindrance in the short term and an asset in the long-term. That’s to say that India today struggles to develop its infrastructure (roads as well as its railway network) due to the long legal process involved in acquiring land (there’s a respect for private property that frustrates the state’s actions).

On the other hand, India will not be split like China. Again, political authoritarianism and economic liberalism can’t coexist in the long-term. One has today, a debate in India which puts democracy on the hot seat. The middle class is exasperated over the slowness of economic development, tempted by some form of authoritarianism. But, in the end, the Indian trajectory could prove to be more positive than China’s.

Marc : Isn’t there a chance that India could become the leading world power, to China’s detriment when one considers the numerous challenges facing the latter?

Christopher Jaffrelot : From the Indian point of view, the prospect of becoming a major power is located in a far off time. If one looks at indicators, certainly crude but nevertheless important, such as Gross National Product, India’s is two and half times less that of China’s.

Moreover, India cannot stem the growth in its population which could see it surpass China between 2030 to 2040. This means that the GNP per capita will have a long ways to go in catching up to that of China’s.

But if looks ahead to the twenty-first century, one can effectively imagine that sometime this century, India benefits from political stability to catch up with China.

André : Is India, being a democracy and an English-speaking country, not better equipped to adapt to globalization than the communist and non-English speaking China?

Christopher Jaffrelot: English is definitely an asset in an age of globalization. It is moreover possible, that sometime this century, India becomes the biggest English-speaking country in the world. But one shouldn’t underestimate the capacity of the Chinese to achieve an English-speaking education (Chinese constitute the largest foreign-student community on American university campuses), and also, India has not devoted enough resources to mass education. Only seven percent of any given class go on to higher education.

It’s largely in terms of soft power that India takes advantage of its linguistic ability: it “monopolizes” the literary prizes in the United States and in England and this has a lot to do with English’s cultural influence.

Benjamin : What is India’s major asset in the face of Chinese economic power?

Christopher Jaffrelot : The major Indian asset, it’s the small ten percent of its population which comprises the elite, which we can call the middle class as a misnomer. A very well educated elite, skilled in science and engineering, globalized, enterprising, entrepreneurial that has no equivalent in China.  The question is whether knowledge is sufficient to pull the country upwards.  One can worry about the entrenching of inequalities that the blossoming of this elite generates.

Eleuth : What’s the reality of the caste system today in India? To what extent does this system weaken India’s development?

Christopher Jaffrelot: Caste is an extremely complex issue. One can, to simplify, say that caste system rests on a very strict hierarchy, so in terms of status (and even of purity) that of profession. This system has been undermined with the mobilization of the lower castes in favour of greater equality, including through political parties which finally took power in many regions.

In fact, castes, today, are groups of interest in competition more than static elements in a vertical hierarchy.  This contributes to lending a social dimension to Indian democracy. Where class especially hampers social modernization, is in the sphere of education. The untouchables, notably, do not have full access there.

Wolf:  In your opinion, what will India do in the globalization of the 21st century: play its card as the biggest democracy of the world, and so of Asia? Draw closer to China in an Asian partnership? Come to terms with the United States against China in a new “cold war?” Rediscover the paths of power through a traditional alliance with Russia? Or something else?

Christopher Jaffrelot: Something even different, but in the sense that will be a little of each all at once. In the sense that India remained fundamentally a non-aligned country, a country very attached to its sovereignty, to its independence. On the one hand, India did not break with Russia which remains its biggest weapons supplier. On the other hand, India has drawn closer to the United States which has become India’s biggest investor.

But India does not want to enter into a rivalry with China, which is India’s largest trading partner and with which a conflict could be very costly at a time when the credo of these two powers is “let’s get rich!” In any case, India will not enter not into a network of alliances, it will work more through ad hoc coalitions. The most durable one could be the one already informally formed since 2003 with Brazil and South Africa.

Abhwer:  To what extent is India ready to cooperate with Afghanistan to weaken Pakistan?

Christopher Jaffrelot : It’s a question to which there’s no specific response but which is the current question in the region.  In two years, at the latest, NATO forces will have withdrawn from Afghanistan.  India fears that Pakistan will put back not one but two feet in Afghanistan while reviving its support for the Taliban.

The theory that India considers consists of supporting Karzai’s government. Beyond the simple economic and social domain, the two countries already signed a strategic partnership last summer.  One could add to it a strong military dimension but that would come back to wave the red flag in front of the Pakistanis which could cost India dearly in terms of attacks in Afghanistan or on its own territory.

New Delhi:  What could stop Indian power? An economic crisis?  Communal tensions? The risk of war?

Christopher Jaffrelot:  I do not think that India can be stopped by domestic factors. These will simply slow it down. Among them, the entrenching of inequalities is detrimental.

Even if only in a limited sense, the fact that India’s large neighbours are nuclear powers would divert foreign investors of this country.

Salam: Do you believe that India has a special role to play in the Iran crisis with Indians close to Iranians but also possessors of nuclear weapons (without signing the NTP) but partners of the West, notably Americans, with on top of everything, a post of permanent member to the security council of the United Nations?

Christopher Jaffrelot: The Iranian landscape shows us just how uncomfortable India’s positioning can be. On the one hand, Indians don’t want to break with the Iranians because they depend on their hydrocarbons and their port to reach Afghanistan. On the other hand, they can’t ignore the western pressures and the risks of instability that a nuclear Iran could bring to the region. But rather than mediate and serve as a bridge between the West and Iran, India takes refuge in abstention, mortgaging her chances in appearing as a responsible power and in attaining a post of permanent member of the Security Council.

Polo:  In all these considerations, which is above all the principal challenge which India must confront?

Christopher Jaffrelot: India’s principal challenge is human development If India falls under the illusions of its elites, it struggles to reduce mass poverty with international rankings ranking India behind several sub-Saharan African countries in terms of malnutrition, infant mortality, literacy etc.

From: “Le principal défi de l’Inde s’énonce en termes de développement humain,” an interview with Christophe Jaffrelot in Le Monde Diplomatique, March 20, 2012,  http://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2012/03/20/le-principal-defi-de-l-inde-s-enonce-en-terme-de-developpement-humain_1672805_3210.html

Translated into English by Randeep Purewall