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Category: 1203DC (March)

Yisroel Dovid Weiss the 55 year old US Haredi rabbi, activist and spokesman for a branch of Neturei Karta, an anti-Zionist group, has been interviewed on Aljazeera explaining why Zionism and Judaism are not the same, “This is against the will of the Almighty and this is not what it means to be a Jew.” Weiss is renowned for his stance against the legitimacy of the Jewish state and occupation of Palestine. Weiss is quoted as stating, “The Zionists use the Holocaust issue to their benefit. We, Jews who perished in the Holocaust, do not use it to advance our interests. We stress that there are hundreds of thousands Jews around the world who identify with our opposition to the Zionist ideology and who feel that Zionism is not Jewish, but a political agenda…What we want is not a withdrawal to the ’67 borders, but to everything included in it, so the country can go back to the Palestinians and we could live with them…” On the issue of Iran Weiss has stated that Ahmadinejad is not an enemy of the Jews, but is a “God-fearing man [who] respects the Jewish people and he protects them in Iran”.


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Rense

Meir Dagan the 66 year old former Israel Defense Forces officer and former Director of the Mossad has put his trust in US President Barack Obama to intervene where necessary, cautioning against attacking the Iranian nuclear sites. In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” program, Meir Dagan said he believes the Iranian regime along with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are “very rational”. “An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way… and (President Obama) said openly that the military option is on the table and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state, and from my experience, I usually trust the president of the US… But no doubt, they are considering all the implications of their actions… They will have to pay dearly… and I think the Iranians at this point in time are… very careful on the project… It’s our duty to help anyone who likes to present an open opposition against their regime in Iran… If I prefer that someone will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it.”


Inspired by france24 image source

David LaChapelle the 48 year old US fashion, advertising and fine art photographer has recently been interviewed by Alexandra Ilyashov for Fashion Week Daily on the unveiling of his recent work ‘Earth Laughs in Flowers’, described as “a vibrant, vanitas-inspired spate of photos … which include decayed flowers, balloons, and burning cigarettes—and some touching tidbits from [his] teenhood stint at Interview.” During the interview LaChapelle stated, “The series is inspired by vanitas works by the old masters; all the objects had symbolic value and told a story, whether it was a fish, a knife, or a quill pen. Everyone’s done their flower series, whether it’s early [Irving] Penn, Mapplethorpe, Caravaggio, or Warhol. Vanitas reminds us of our connection to nature, and that life doesn’t go on forever. We have seasons, just like flowers. Spring is about youth and beauty; we age, ripen, and mature in summer and autumn, and then we decline and die in the winter of our lives. The title, “Earth Laughs In Flowers,” is taken from a line in an Emerson poem that I came across when I was halfway done with the series.”


Inspired by Alexandra Ilyashov image source

Ben Keesey the US CEO of Invisible Children has released a video responding to concerns raised by critics over the slick web video Kony 2012 that has gone viral since its release. The initial video highlighted the atrocities perpetrated by Kony, the leader of a rebel group known as the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) that has terrorized northern Uganda. Keesey states “When we launched Kony 12, our intention was to share the story of Joseph Kony with new people around the world, but in the process, there have been a lot of questions about us. So, we want to be as transparent as possible and answer some of those questions right now. Because our goal has always been the same, it’s always been one thing, and that’s to stop the violence of the LRA permanently, and help restore the war-affected communities… I understand why a lot of people are wondering is this just some kind of slick, fly-by-night, slacktivist thing? When actually, it’s not at all, it’s connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign… I understand that people may have questions… but any claims that we don’t have financial transparency … just aren’t true.”


Inspired by Connor Adams Sheets image source National Post

Renata Salecl the 49 year old Slovenian philosopher, sociologist and legal theorist has discussed the challenge of choice confronting the Occupy movement with Nikolas Kozloff in reference to her book ‘The Tyranny of Choice’. Salecl states “I realised that the ideology of choice is a perfect pacifying mechanism for post-industrial capitalism in that it encourages this inward turn. People have the illusion that they can make it and are masters of their own destiny, and thus they feel guilty about disadvantages and experience anxiety and a constant feeling of inadequacy. In society, we have observed a shift from the notion of mere consumer choice to the idea of choosing oneself… Given the American ideology that anyone can make it and it’s all up to us, then you’d have to say that on a certain level Occupy was a surprise. I’ve always been perplexed how people who don’t have health insurance would still be against universal health insurance. In essence, what they’re doing is following the idea of choice, even though this winds up being very detrimental to their own well-being. It’s clear that something shifted in people’s perceptions with the Occupy movement…”


Inspired by Nikolas Kozloff image source

Neil deGrasse Tyson the 53 year old US astrophysicist and the director of the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History appeared before the US Senate Committee hearing submissions on NASA’s 2013 budget request & space program. Tyson stated “Exploration of the unknown might not strike everyone as a priority. Yet audacious visions have the power to alter mind-states — to change assumptions of what is possible. When a nation permits itself to dream big, those dreams pervade its citizens’ ambitions…  Epic space adventures plant seeds of economic growth, because doing what’s never been done before is intellectually seductive (whether deemed practical or not), and innovation follows, just as day follows night. When you innovate, you lead the world, you keep your jobs, and concerns over tariffs and trade imbalances evaporate … At what cost? … The 2008 bank bailout of $750 billion was greater than all the money NASA had received in its half-century history; two years’ U.S. military spending exceeds it as well… How much would you pay to “launch” our economy. How much would you pay for the universe?”


Inspired by Carl Zimmer image source NASA

Sueli Pini the Brazilian Judge who delivers “justice and medical care to the ‘invisible’ people of the Amazon Rainforest” has been featured in a film by Arne Birkenstock on Aljazeera. Pini for 13 years “has been travelling from the provincial capital Macapá to the remote villages on the Amazon Delta. To this day, the Brazilian state does not know exactly how many people live on the Amazon because many of them have no passport or birth certificate. To the authorities, these people who live in remote hamlets and villages are invisible: they have no access to social services, health care or the justice system. It is as if they do not even exist… With her ‘justice boat’ Pini brings a wide range of state services to the population of the North Amazon region. The steam boat houses a court with a public prosecutor, bailiffs and public defenders, a medical team, including a dentist, doctor and nurses, and a passport office with civil servants and ID card forms… “The cultural divide is even bigger than the geographical divide we have to bridge. Most of my colleagues and superiors have never been here, so they cannot appreciate how important our tours are for the locals and for the Brazilian state.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source naramazonie

Jonathan Edward Schell the 68 year old US author in an interview with Andy Kroll for Tomdispatch tackled the question of what exactly is nonviolent action? Schell stated “…I was led to see that there were forms of nonviolent action that could unravel and topple the most violent forms of government ever conceived — namely, the totalitarian. This went entirely against the conventional wisdom of political science, which taught that force is the ultima ratio, the final arbiter; that if you had superior weaponry and superior military power you were the winner… So I asked myself what exactly is nonviolent action? What is popular protest? How does it work? …a peaceful protest led by Mohandas Gandhi at the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa, on September 11, 1906. It’s rare that you can date a social invention to a particular day and meeting, but I think you can in this case.  Gandhi called himself an experimenter in truth. He’s really the Einstein of nonviolence.…before the Occupy movement here… We didn’t know how to drop a bucket into our own hearts and come up with the necessary will to do the things that needed to be done.”


Inspired by Andrew Kroll image source David Shankbone

Ana Rafaela D’Amico the 27 year old youngest Brazilian National Park director has been featured in a film by Thomas Wartmann as she declares ‘war’ on drug gangs, illegal fishing, and the logging mafia in the Amazon. D’Amico is the director of ‘The Campos Amazonicos National Park’, states “Our biggest problem here in the park – and all over the Amazon – is that we don’t know who the men behind this environmental crime are. We always find the poor man hired to occupy or clear the land. But we seldom find out who is really behind it, who provides the money, or which politicians support and fund these criminal acts… Unfortunately some people don’t understand the value of nature. It’s so short-sighted. They think only of profit…. Protecting nature is not a priority for the government. The economy always comes first, along with industry and the country’s development. Nature always comes second, or third… The law applies to everyone, rich or poor. We must implement the law and do our job.”

Inspired by Aljazeera image source

Timothy Zick the US Constitutional Lawyer, specializing in Federalism and  the 1st Amendment (freedom of speech) has published an article on Aljazeera stating “…some element of the Occupy Wall Street movement may continue to engage in public protests in order to raise public awareness and to remind fellow citizens and officials of their central claims. Democratic protests help the people to continually keep their rulers in check, to hold officials accountable and to remind governors that sovereign power lies not in the institutions of government or public officialdom, but with the governed… At some point, if a democratic protest is to become an effective democratic movement, its members will need to engage in indoor politics. They will need to occupy legislatures, agencies and boards. This will be a unique challenge for the Occupy Wall Street participants, who generally eschew formal hierarchies and engage in non-traditional forms of communication and political decision-making. The challenge for Occupy Wall Street, as for any democratic protest, is to remain true to its core principles while seeking systemic changes from within. The American occupation teaches us that in any democracy, public protest is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for systemic change.”           


Inspired by Timothy Zick image source W&M Law School

Eric Richard Kandel the 82 year old Austrian-US Professor and Neuropsychiatrist, the recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology Medicine research for his work on memory storage in neurons, has released his latest book, “The Age of Insight”. Kandel has been interviewed by Claudia Dreifus for the New York Times where he stated, “I’ve long been interested in memory. What does it look like on a physical level? …my mentor Harry Grundfest said, “Look, if you want to understand the brain you’re going to have to take a reductionist approach, one cell at a time.” He was so right. …in the 1960s, we went to a more reductionist approach. Instead of studying complicated mammalian brain cells, we studied the neural system of a simple animal — Aplysia, a snail with a very large nerve cell… We discovered that the snail’s reflexes could be modified by several forms of learning, and that learning involved alterations in how nerve cells communicated with one another. We next looked at short- and long-term memory in the snail…  It would turn out that short-term memory involves transient changes of the connections between the cells. There is no anatomical change. Long-term memory involves enduring changes that result from the growth of new synaptic connections…  When you see that at the cellular level, you realize that the brain can change because of experience. It gives you a different feeling about how nature and nurture interact. They are not separate processes.”


Inspired by Claudia Dreifus image source Eric Kandel

Ian McCurdie the UK medical practitioner specializing in Sport & Exercise Medicine, and the Director of Medical Services for the British Olympic Association and Chief Medical Officer for the British Olympic Team, has urged athletes of the British Olympic team to consider not shaking hands with other sports people, dignitaries and officials at the London Olympic Games. McCurdie claims the potential illness and possible injury from picking up germs are a serious threat to an athlete’s performance and suggests the alternative “maybe adopting the Japanese way and just bowing rather than shaking hands”. A spokeswoman for the team attempting to play down the controversy stated “It’s just basic, common sense. We are simply reminding athletes to take commonsense measures, such as washing their hands and using hand foam, to reduce the risk of catching a bug. …It’s the same type of advice many employers give to their employees. … As an official policy, we are not advising our athletes to avoid shaking hands with people.”


Inspired by Rachael Brown image source St Anthonys Hospital

Hector Xavier Monsegur the 28 year old Puetro Rican unemployed computer hacker living in New York has been identified as ‘Sabu’, the notorious founder of the hacking group LulzSec, turned informant for the FBI. Monsequr has apparently been working with the agency for the past ten months, aiding them to identify other hackers of the group. Monsequr the father of two maintained his pretence till the end, even tweeting on the final day of his outing his opposition to the government as five members of his group were arrested and his identity disclosed by the FBI. Tweeting “The federal government is run by a bunch of fucking cowards. Don’t give in to these people. Fight back. Stay strong.” The LulzSec hacker goup of about 10 people began with an attack on the Fox website, then Sony Pictures, followed by companies involved with online games, and News International changing The Sun’s website’s front page. However the FBI became extensively involved once they hacked into FBI’s affiliated InfraGard, the CIA website, US Congress and the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency. Anonymous, another hacker group reacted to Sabu’s outing and betrayal of LulzSec on Twitter, “#Anonymous is a hydra, cut off one head and we grow two back”.


Inspired by Adrian Chen image source New York Post

Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen the 55 year old Costa Rican Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has posted a message on the Climate Reality Project web site “At the UN Climate Conference in Durban, governments reached groundbreaking agreements. But were they enough to ensure that Antarctic ice will stop melting and that the people of Bangladesh are now safe? No — the fact is that no single agreement or set of agreements can provide a definitive answer to the challenge of climate change. Whilst the world does now have a clear vision and a pathway forward, the sheer magnitude of what we are dealing with means that all of civil society and every single government must do their utmost to stave off the worst effects of climate change… Action to combat climate change also needs to urgently increase in scale, scope and speed. I left the Climate Reality Project boat haunted by the moral challenge that was put before us: “Before you make a decision that affects the world’s climate, imagine the eyes of seven generations of children in the future looking at you, and asking … Why?”


Inspired by Christiana Figueres image source

Rebecca Solnit the 50 year old US writer has published an article on Tomdispatch questioning “why the Media Loves the Violence of Protesters and Not of Banks. The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter… All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police brutality… The most important direct violence Occupy faced was, of course, from the state, in the form of the police using maximum sub-lethal force… It has been a sustained campaign of police brutality from Wall Street to Washington State the likes of which we haven’t seen in 40 years …what Occupy came together to oppose, the grandest violence by scale, the least obvious by impact. No one on Wall Street ever had to get his suit besmirched by carrying out a foreclosure eviction himself. Cities provided that service for free to the banks… And the police clubbed their opponents for them, over and over, everywhere across the United States… This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose. Don’t ever lose sight of that.”


Inspired by Rebecca Solnit image source Maxeternity

Ari Berman the US investigative journalist for The Nation institute and magazine has published an article on Aljazeera referencing the 2012 US presidential election as “the year of the big donor, when a candidate is only as good as the amount of money in his Super PAC.” The “2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the one per cent. Or, to be more precise, the .000063 per cent. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80 per cent of the money raised by Super PACs… “This really is the selling of America,” claims former presidential candidate and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. “We’ve been sold out by five justices thanks to the Citizens United decision.” In truth, our democracy was sold to the highest bidder long ago, but in the 2012 election the explosion of Super PACs has shifted the public’s focus to the staggering inequality in our political system, just as the Occupy movement shined a light on the gross inequity of the economy. The two, of course, go hand in hand.”


Inspired by Ari Berman image source Businessinsider

Maurice Benayoun the 54 year old Algerian born French new-media artist and theorist whose recent works comprise large-scale urban installations and interactive exhibitions “hopes his recent work will in fact aid and engage the Occupy Wall Street movement, which he says is still more potent in the U.S. than in Europe — though not for long” according to Michael Kurcfeld in his recent article published on Huffington Post. Benayoun arrives in Manhattan to unveil the latest in an ongoing multimedia series called “The Mechanics of Emotion” — a 15-part opus which grew out of the idea that the Internet is the world’s nervous system, and that messages sent between users crossed “zones of pain and pleasure” near and far. Using various analytic and graphic tools in his ever-evolving tech arsenal, he set out to map the world’s emotions. In one part, he created a series of “frozen feelings” — machine-made sculptures of digitally carved disks in various materials. Each disk bore a topographic pattern that corresponded to real-time Web data which inventoried emotional states in the 3,200 biggest cities on the planet, by tracking word clusters …”


Inspired by Michael Kurcfeld image source MoBen

Michael E. Mann the 46 year old US physicist and climatologist director of the Earth System Science Centre has discussed with Suzanne Goldenberg the vast conspiracy by the fossil fuel industry to harass scientists and befuddle the public. “They see scientists like me who are trying to communicate the potential dangers of continued fossil fuel burning to the public as a threat. That means we are subject to attacks, some of them quite personal, some of them dishonest… It is now part of the job description if you are going to be a scientist working in a socially relevant area like human-caused climate change… Literally a day doesn’t go by where I don’t have to deal with some of the nastiness that comes out of a campaign that tries to discredit me, and thereby in the view of our detractors to discredit the entire science of climate change… It took the scientific community some time I think to realize that the scientific community is in a street fight with climate change deniers and they are not playing by the rules of engagement of science. The scientific community needed some time to wake up to that…Those of us who have had to go through this are battle-hardened and hopefully the better for it, I think you are now going to see the scientific community almost uniformly fighting back against this assault on science. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but I do know that my fellow scientists and I are very ready to engage in this battle.”


Inspired by Suzanne Goldenberg image source Greg Grieco

William Woodard “Will” Self the 50 year old UK satirical novelist and short story writer renowned for his commentary on contemporary life in the UK is to become a Professor of contemporary thought at the Brunel University. In a Guardian article by Jeevan Vasagar, Self’s career is described as “…nothing if not diverse. He has swept streets, drawn cartoons and made cold calls; he has written as a maverick political journalist, a psycho-geographer, satirist and self-declared flâneur. … Self said his teaching would reflect preoccupations such as the relationship between people and geography “I do think there are interesting things to be said about the relationship between different modes of transport, including pedestrianisation, and perceptions of the way the city has grown up, the way we experience it, and the impact of new technologies on that … I just think that architects should be made to walk.” He added that Brunel attracted him for “psycho-geographical reasons… It’s very near to Heathrow, and there’s a big British Asian community that has grown up around Southall.”


Inspired by Jeevan Vasagar image source Facebook

Krister Shalm the Canadian physicist who research includes the use of light to study the world of Quantum physics, loves dancing to demonstrate the correlations with his research. On his web site he states “I am working to develop the technologies of tomorrow based on todays breakthroughs in quantum mechanics. In my spare time I can be found dancing up a storm to the tunes of the twenties, thirties and forties… As physicists, we are weaving a compelling narrative about how nature works. I feel it is important that we share this story with others. Communicating my research to the general public forces me to distill ideas to their essence–a process that is difficult, but provides me with a deeper understanding of my own work. At the intersection between art and science there is a great opportunity for unique collaborations. This intersection is something that I am exploring in order to find new ways of communicating science. To help make some of the mind-boggling concepts in quantum mechanics more approachable I have teamed up with a magician, musicians, and dancers.”


Inspired by Ian Tucker image source quantumpie

Haim Saban the 67 year old Egyptian born Israeli-American television and media mogul has been noted by Charles Davis an activist writer in an article published on Aljazeera as “One of the wealthiest men in the US… regularly “gossips with Rupert Murdoch, vacations with Bill Clinton … and confers with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres… “When I see Ahmadinejad, I see Hitler,” Saban said of the Iranian president the same year he purchased Univision. …meanwhile, Saban hosted a “Friends of the Israel Defence Forces” fundraiser that, according to the Jewish Journal, was “teeming with Los Angeles’ most hawkish, hard-line lovers of Israel”. And, lest anyone think he separates his personal views from his businesses, at a 2009 conference in Israel he outlined “three ways to be influential in American politics,” which according to New Yorker magazine consist of “mak[ing] donations to political parties, establish[ing] think tanks, and control[ing] media outlets.” And in “targeting media properties”, the New Yorker noted, “Saban frankly concedes his political agenda, as evidenced by his repeated efforts to purchase the Los Angeles Times… I thought it was time that it turn from a pro-Palestinian paper into a balanced paper,” Saban said when asked to explain his interest in the paper.”


Inspired by Charles Davis image source Twitter

Marilyn Minter the 63 year old US artist whose photographic works often include sexuality and erotic imagery via staged photo shoots with film and conventional darkroom processes, has been interviewed by Kyle Chayka in the lead up to the debut opening of the new art space ‘Family Business’ in New York, a collaboration of Gioni and Cattelan. Minter has curated the opening group show ‘The Virgins’, and during the interview stated, “Gioni and Cattelan have been great. They gave me full control… Cattelan explained the project as an altruistic gesture, giving artists a free place to express themselves. He pays rent and electricity and supplies interns to attend the space. It’s a pretty cool way to give back. I was sitting next to [Cattelan] at a dinner, and since he was “retiring,” I suggested he might want to start teaching. A month later he asked me to curate a show. I think they expect artists to use the space as a laboratory, to go with the flow… I wanted to have something on a screen that could run 24/7… I asked them if they would become “born-again virgins” for the length of the exhibition and show the first video works they ever made. It’s an excuse to show work night and day.”


Inspired by Kyle Chayka image source facebook

Kwame Anthony Appiah the 57 year old Ghanaian born UK-American philosopher and cultural theorist has been awarded the National Humanities Award by Barack Obama, for advocating a school of thought he describes as ‘cosmopolitanism’. Appiah’s cosmopolitanism is an idea and way of being, the way we view ourselves in the world at large. Appiah describes the concept as, “A tradition of thought that tries to develop the metaphor of the idea that we are all citizens of the world.” The cosmopolitanist philosophical tradition has its beginnings with German philosophers such as Hegel through to Du Bois and others, Appiah defines his conception of cosmopolitanism as “universality plus difference”. Appiah states that different cultures are respected “not because cultures matter in themselves, but because people matter, and culture matters to people.” According to Appiah’s take on this ideology, cultural differences are to be respected in so far as they are not harmful to people and in no way conflict with our universal concern for every human’s life and well-being. Appiah argues there are two ideas that “intertwine in the notion of cosmopolitanism”. The first is the idea that we have obligations to others that are bigger than just sharing citizenship. The second idea is that we should never take for granted the value of life, and we become informed of the practices and beliefs of others.


Inspired by Aljazeera image source David Shankbone

Simon David Jenkins the 68 year old UK newspaper columnist and author and chairman of the National Trust has published an article in the Guardian stating “Inflation is falling, debt is rising, growth is static and credit is edgy. All these are facts. There must be an economic equation that says what to do next. So where are the economists when we need them? As usual they have taken to the hills. You cannot get a straight answer for love nor money, even … from the Bank of England. … The failure to take economic management beyond the diktats of austerity has become the great intellectual treason of today. For three years it has trapped governments, economists, bankers and media in a collective miasma of panic about inflation. Thousands of citizens across Europe are having their lives ruined and their children’s prospects blighted because a financial elite, once burned, is too shy to think out of its box. It refuses to stimulate demand merely because that is not the done thing to do.”


Inspired by Simon Jenkins image source twitter

Grayson Perry the 51 year old UK Turner Prize winning artist renowned for his ceramic classical form vases and cross-dressing female alter-ego ‘Claire’ claims in an interview with Anna Somers Cocks, that ‘Claire’ “gave me clarity. I always describe it as someone tidying up my tool shed so that I had everything easily to hand and wasn’t fumbling in the dark any more.” Perry states “She started as a spontaneous welling up of my sexuality when I was about 13. At first, I just tried to look like a woman. I would go shopping and wander about town, and it was a bit boring. …when I was about 40. I was having therapy and reconsidering everything, so I thought of wearing clothes that represented the extremes of femininity, and from that day on I indulged my fantasies… It’s brilliant the way society has embraced me, but it has taken some of the thrill out of dressing up. A side effect is that, in the past, when I dressed up and went out into the street, people would say, “Who’s that weird bloke?” while now I’m “Grayson Perry”, which means that I’m in danger of getting pestered.”


Inspired by Anna Somers Cocks image source

Otto Fernando Pérez Molina the 61 year old Guatemalan retired military officer and now President, has proposed in a radio interview to legalize the transportation of drugs through Guatemala. Pérez Molina will be meeting with other Central American leaders at a regional meeting and anticipates providing further details of his proposal at this time. Pérez Molina concluded the escalating violence and crime rate attributed to the US ‘War on Drugs” indicates the war with the drug cartels has failed. Although the US provides aid to Central American governments to fight the drug trafficking on their behalf, the aid is insufficient to offset the extensive loss of life and the burgeoning crime rates of the region. Pérez Molina stated, “I want to bring this discussion to the table … It wouldn’t be a crime to transport, to move drugs. It would all have to be regulated.” It is expected the US will pull out all stops to prevent Pérez Molina from instigating such a move via pressure publically and privately, the outcome at least will generate greater US attention to resolving the underlying issues Pérez Molina raises.


Inspired by Ralph Espach image source

Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond the 57 year old Scottish politician and current First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) has begun campaigning for the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence. Salmond in an interview with Sir David Frost stated, “I think the case for independence is a fundamental one. It is about Scotland as a nation and nations have a right to self-determination. [They] usually are better to govern themselves as opposed to let somebody else do it for them.” In the interview Salmond discussed the practical economic issues related to a Scottish independence including the lucrative oil and gas fields located in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland. The final date for the referendum is still to be confirmed for the small nation with a population of only five million people, with several October dates under consideration. Salmond and the SNP won a landslide election in 2011 with an overall majority, giving him the ability to call the referendum on Scottish independence.


Inspired by Simon Johnson image source

Patrick Doherty the US director of the Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation claims the US cannot become sustainable, nor can it induce global sustainability, without addressing the way it farms i.e. stop subsidies and switch to organic farming practices. In an article published on Aljazeera, Doherty states “Ill-conceived subsidies are at the heart of the obesity problem in the US and are undermining the family farm, depleting rural and maritime ecosystems, increasing our carbon emissions and suppressing agricultural exports from developing nations. The superiority of regenerative farming is now firmly established: organic agriculture outperforms and out-earns conventional industrial farming… Equally important, organic production produced slightly better yields than standard industrial techniques. Organic farming is also regenerative, rebuilding soils and retaining 15-20 per cent more water, in turn improving drought resistance… A shift from a policy of federally subsidised farmland depletion to regenerative agriculture would allow the farming families of the US to lead a prosperous life, caring for the land. Farmers would once again be stewards of the soil, rebuilding fertility, sequestering carbon, and protecting our waterways, all while feeding people wholesome food.”


Inspired by Patrick Doherty image source The Solutions Journal

Fayza Abul- Naga the Egyptian Justice minister is to form a fact finding committee to investigate NGO funding in Egypt. Abul- Naga stated “The committee will be responsible for compiling a detailed report over the amount of aid given to Egyptian civil society and the funding of unlicensed international organisations working in Egypt… The cabinet’s decision to form this committee comes to meet the requests of the Egyptian public who refuse such foreign funding, as it is considered an intervention in our internal affairs… The Egyptian government fully supports any measures which reinforce the role and activities of civil society as long as they comply with the regulations managing that process.” Abul- Naga’s committee will examine how much aid is given to Egyptian civil society organisations by foreign donors, perceived to be a fishing exercise to reveal any “foreign hands” they may be blamed for the street protests, and enable her to politically tap into anti-American sentiment. Abul- Naga’s committee will provide recommendations within three weeks as she jockeys for position in the lead up to the general election only months away.


Inspired by David D. Kirkpatrick image source Thinktanking

Datuk Masidi Manjun the Malaysian Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister stated that “One of the most important ingredients in arts is for an artist to have freedom of visual expression… This is important because it allows them to express their visual freedom and I would like to encourage for it to stay that way… With that in mind, I have already made my intentions known to the State government that we would like to put up another art gallery in the city centre at the site where the gutted building (formerly Public Works Department) used to be.  I have tried my very best although there are some legal impediment at the moment, that the site should be reserved for another art gallery for the State…” Masidi made the statement at an Art Patron appreciation ceremony where a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Sabah Cultural Board and Ming Garden Hotel. The objective of the MoU was to promote the development of visual arts in the Sabah State in line with Malaysia’s central government initiatives to raise the profile of art and culture throughout the nation.


Inspired by Daily Express image source Senjaliza

Paul Chambers the 27 year old UK Accountant awaits the outcome of a High Court appeal against his infamous ‘Twitter Joke Trial’ for which he was initially convicted and fined. Chambers was ordered to pay a £1000 in fines and costs resulting from an incident concerning England’s Robin Hood Airport. During early January 2010, cold weather had resulted in disruption across northern England. Robin Hood Airport was one of many airports forced to cancel flights. Chambers intending to catch a flight posted a message on Twitter: “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” Chambers was arrested by anti-terror police for making a bomb threat, after an off-duty manager at the airport found the message. Chambers had his mobile phone, laptop and desktop hard drive confiscated during a search of his house. He was later charged with “sending a public electronic message that was grossly menacing”. The conviction has been widely condemned as unfair, and referred to as a miscarriage of justice. The comedian and television presenter Stephen Fry has offered to pay Chambers’ legal bill.


Inspired by the Telegraph image source Carrentals

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