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Category: 1207DC (July)
The Lily-Pad Strategy (July 31 2012) The Lily-Pad Strategy (July 31 2012)

David Vine the American Assistant professor of anthropology and currently completing a book about the more than 1,000 U.S. military bases located outside the United States, has published an article on TomDispatch titled ‘The Lily-Pad Strategy’ on how the Pentagon is quietly transforming its overseas base empire and creating a dangerous new way of war. In the article Vine states “You might think that the U.S. military is in the process of shrinking, rather than expanding, its little noticed but enormous collection of bases abroad. …Washington still easily maintains the largest collection of foreign bases in world history: more than 1,000 military installations outside the 50 states …In total, the U.S. military has some form of troop presence in approximately 150 foreign countries, not to mention 11 aircraft carrier task forces — essentially floating bases — and a significant, and growing, military presence in space. The United States currently spends an estimated $250 billion annually maintaining bases and troops overseas. …Despite the rhetoric of consolidation and closure that went with this plan, in the post-9/11 era the Pentagon has actually been expanding its base infrastructure dramatically …While relying on smaller bases may sound smarter and more cost effective than maintaining huge bases that have often caused anger in places like Okinawa and South Korea, lily pads threaten U.S. and global security in several ways …bases have a way of growing and reproducing uncontrollably. Indeed, bases tend to beget bases, creating “base races” with other nations, heightening military tensions, and discouraging diplomatic solutions to conflicts.”


Inspired by TomDispatch image source Zocalopublicsquare

The Earth is running a fever (July 30 2012) The Earth is running a fever (July 30 2012)

Stan Cox the American senior scientist at The Land Institute and author of Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘Air-conditioning: The cold reality’€™. Cox discusses how the use of power-hungry appliances is skyrocketing in the developing world, and is a major factor of CO2 emissions. Cox states ‘The Earth is running a fever. So with summers growing hotter (and with affluence rising) year by year, our world is becoming more and more dependent on air-conditioning. The possibility that air-conditioning could go universal has, in turn, raised ecological alarms, prompting a scramble for more eco-friendly cooling. …Those countries around the world that still have a low degree of dependence on air-conditioning should think twice before moving toward the United States’ industrial comfort standards. Energy consumption is not the only burning issue. The cool, still, dry atmosphere of the standard US home or office has a variety of other unpleasant and sometimes hazardous side effects. …If we are ever to gain some control over fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse emissions, a massive worldwide adjustment of thermostats will be required. But most importantly, we’ll need to adjust our own internal thermostats. By taking a more flexible attitude toward comfort and finding alternative ways to make the indoor environment livable, we can not only save energy but also become more resilient human beings. And we will need that resilience. The coming decades will test our ability to adapt and create, and we cannot leave it to technology to bail us out next time.”€


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Giornalettismo

The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate (July 29 2012) The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate (July 29 2012)

Nina Rosenwald the American Chairperson of the Board of the Middle East Media and Research Institute and Vice President of the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs has been profiled by Max Blumenthal in an article published on The Nation titled ‘The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate’. In the article Blumenthal states ” An heiress to the Sears Roebuck fortune, Rosenwald spreads her millions through the William Rosenwald Family Fund, a nonprofit foundation named for her father, a famed Jewish philanthropist who created the United Jewish Appeal in 1939. His daughter’s focus is more explicitly political. According to a report by the Center for American Progress titled “Fear Inc.,” Rosenwald and her sister Elizabeth Varet, who also directs the family foundation, have donated more than $2.8 million since 2000 to “organizations that fan the flames of Islamophobia.” Besides funding a Who’s Who of anti-Muslim outfits, Rosenwald has served on the board of AIPAC, the central arm of America’s Israel lobby, and holds leadership roles in a host of mainstream pro-Israel organizations. As groups like AIPAC lead the charge for a US military strike on the Islamic Republic of Iran, threatening to turn apocalyptic visions of civilizational warfare into catastrophic reality, Rosenwald’s wealth has fueled a rapidly emerging alliance between the pro-Israel mainstream and the Islamophobic fringe. …Who is this benefactor of Islamophobia? According to those familiar with Rosenwald, she is anything but a sophisticated Machiavellian operator—“a babe in the woods,” as one of her longtime acquaintances described her to me.”


Inspired by The Nation image source WarInContext

The Greek crisis as racketeering (July 28 2012) The Greek crisis as racketeering (July 28 2012)

Despina Lalaki the Greek Sociology doctoral candidate in Hellenic Studies and University Lecturer has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘The Greek crisis as racketeering’ citing the Greek government’s classic mobster tactic of offering citizens protection from threats it has itself created. In the article Lalaki states “Sociologist Charles Tilly drew a compelling analogy between the state as the place of organized means of violence, and racketeering. He defined the racketeer “as someone who creates a threat and then charges for its reduction”, in order to gain control and consolidate power. In this regard, a state and its government differ little from racketeering, to the extent that the threats against which they protect their citizens are imaginary or are consequences of their own activities. Considering the pain, the humiliation, and the social degradation that the economic and political policies of the Greek government have inflicted upon the country the past four years, Tilly’s analogy may offer us a useful tool to both describe and evaluate the current crisis and the regime of fear that the state has unleashed on the Greek public. …In defiance of this fear, an awakening of political consciousness is taking place in Greece’s squares, streets, and online social networks, not merely condemning the policies of austerity and social degradation but collectively working towards new types of political resistance. It is becoming clear that only the people of Greece can deliver and ultimately save themselves from the racketeering, criminal practices of their “protectors”.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Academia

Puerto Rico's outlaw police force (July 27 2012) Puerto Rico’s outlaw police force (July 27 2012)

Belén Fernández the 30 year old American magazine editor and feature writer has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘Puerto Rico’s outlaw police force’ describing how police in the US territory have been accused of civil rights abuses and overzealous crackdowns on peaceful protests. In the article Fernández states “…intense crackdowns by Puerto Rican police on peaceful protests that began in response to fiscal austerity measures, the firing of 30,000 state employees, the suspension of collective bargaining rights, and a 50 per cent increase in tuition fees – rendering education prohibitively expensive for many students. …the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD)’s rampant violations of human and constitutional rights range from beatings with batons and nightsticks to sexual harassment of female protesters, from the administration of pepper spray at point-blank range and potentially lethal rubber bullets to the indiscriminate use of chemical agents – including tear gas dispersed from helicopters and a highly toxic form of gas not used in the US in 50 years. …As for disproportionate police-to-resident ratios, the PRPD’s employment of more than 17,000 officers for a population of 3.7 million is more than twice the national average. However, the expansion of both mainland policing activities and of a reality in which those tasked with the protection of civil rights are often the ones violating them – indicates that Puerto Rican struggles may indeed increasingly “mirror those across America”.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source

Something’s gone terribly wrong (July 26 2012) Something’s gone terribly wrong (July 26 2012)

Moustafa Bayoumi the Swiss-American award-winning writer and associate professor has published an article in The Nation titled ‘Something’s gone terribly wrong’. In the article Bayoumi states “Every group has its loonies. And yet the idea that American Muslim communities are foul nests of hatred, where dark-skinned men plot Arabic violence while combing one another’s beards, persists. In fact, it’s worse than that. In the past few years, another narrative about American Muslims has come along, which sows a different kind of paranoia. While the old story revolves around security, portraying American Muslims as potential terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, the new narrative operates more along the axis of culture. Simple acts of religious or cultural expression and the straightforward activities of Muslim daily life have become suspicious. …What happens when ordinary life becomes grounds for suspicion without a hint of wrongdoing; when law enforcement premises its work on spying on the quotidian and policing the unremarkable; and when the everyday affairs of American Muslim life can so easily be transformed into nefarious intent? Something has gone terribly wrong for American Muslims when, more than a decade after the terrorist attacks of September 11, anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States continues to grow. …There is a real danger that the same tools that enable today’s Islamophobia will continue to migrate and expand with little or no public outcry. …mission creep is as good a reason as any to pay attention to Islamophobia today – because when the ordinary affairs of the United States include such actions, the stakes are nothing less than extraordinary.”


Inspired by The Nation image source Neville Elder

Cover up between shoulders and knees (July 25 2012) Cover up between shoulders and knees (July 25 2012)

Jenifer Fenton the American freelance reporter based in Doha UAE has published an article on her own blog titled ‘Cover-up campaign hits Gulf streets’ in which she discusses how Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are encouraging expatriates to dress modestly and respect the local culture. Fenton states “…the “One of Us” public awareness push, which hopes to educate expatriates about appropriate dress. …to cover up between the shoulders and the knees. …Most local women in Qatar and the UAE wear an abaya, a black garment that covers most of the body. The men wear the kandura, which tends to be ankle-length and a shade of white. The “UAE Dress Code” campaign … began out of disgust at the sight of foreigners dressed in what they deemed to be inappropriate attire …While the awareness campaigns are not focused on creating dress code laws, they are about respecting cultural norms. But modesty and taste are subjective and without clear laws, what is acceptable attire is often left to the discretion of the wearer. Article 30 of the UAE Constitution says, “Freedom of opinion and expressing it verbally, in writing or by other means of expression shall be guaranteed within the limits of the law.” But to what extent does “other means” cover clothing – or lack of it? There are also no laws that explicitly spell out the do’s and don’ts of dressing in Qatar.”


Inspired by Jenifer Fenton image source Linkedin

The idea of a "responsibility to protect" (July 24 2012) The idea of a “responsibility to protect” (July 24 2012)

Joseph Samuel Nye the 75 year old American political science Professor and co-founder of the international relations theory neoliberalism, developing the concepts of asymmetrical and complex interdependence. Nye has published an article on the Project Syndicate where he discusses with reference to Syria, when should States intervene militarily to stop atrocities in other countries. Nye states, …The idea of a “responsibility to protect” (R2P) was adopted unanimously at the UN’s World Summit in 2005, but subsequent events showed that not all member states interpreted the resolution the same way. Russia has consistently argued that only Security Council resolutions, not General Assembly resolutions, are binding international law. Meanwhile, Russia has vetoed a Security Council resolution on Syria, and, somewhat ironically, Annan has been called back and enlisted in a so-far futile effort to stop the carnage there. …In fact, R2P is more about struggles over political legitimacy and soft power than it is about hard international law. Some Western lawyers argue that it entails the responsibility to combat genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes under the various conventions of international humanitarian law. But Russia, China and others are reluctant to provide a legal or political basis for actions such as what occurred in Libya. …There are other reasons why R2P has not been a success in the Syrian case. Drawn from traditional “just war” theory, R2P rests not only on right intentions, but also on the existence of a reasonable prospect of success.”


Inspired by Project Syndicate image source TED

Limited only by ability to imagine possibilities (July 23 2012) Limited only by ability to imagine possibilities (July 23 2012)

Kerry James Marshall the 56 year old American artist painter known for his large-scale paintings, sculptures, and objects that take African-American life and history as their subject matter. His work often deals with the effects of the Civil Rights movement on domestic life, in addition to working with elements of popular culture. Marshall developed a signature style during his early years involving the use of extremely dark, essentially black figures. These images represent his perspective of African Americans with separate and distinct inner and outer appearances, while at the same time confronting racial stereotypes within contemporary American society. Marshall has been profiled by Rachel Wolff in an article on Artinfo, where he states “€œIf you look historically at the way painting has moved from representation to abstraction, the implications of that, in some ways, erased what people can identify as political and social content in a work, one of the quickest ways you can erase what they saw as limitations of ethnicity and race was to do abstract work, and by doing so, you would find your way into the mainstream of the art world. I am trying to demonstrate that there is a great deal of potential left in the black aesthetic and within the specificity of the Black Nationalist position as represented by the colors red, black, and green. That you can transcend what is perceived to be the limitation of a race-conscious kind of work. It is a limitation only if you accept someone else’s foreclosure from the outside. If you go into it yourself, you can exercise a good deal. And you are limited only by your own ability to imagine possibilities.”€


Inspired by Artinfo image source Ulrich Musum of Art

Learning wrong lessons from Latvia (July 22nd 2012) Learning wrong lessons from Latvia (July 22nd 2012)

Mark Weisbrot the American economist, columnist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘Learning the wrong lessons from Latvia’ referring to Europe’s use of the Baltic state’s austerity programmes as an example. In the article Weisbrot states “Latvia, a Baltic country of 2.2 million that most people could not find on a map, has suddenly garnered attention from economists involved in the debate over the future of Europe and the global economy. …This is terrible, because if there’s one simple lesson that most of the world – if not the European authorities – seems to be learning from the prolonged crisis in Europe, it is that fiscal tightening is not the proper response to a recession. …Latvia lost about a quarter of its national income. Unemployment rose from 5.3 per cent to more than 20 per cent of the labour force and, …under-employment peaked at more than 30 per cent. Official unemployment remains at more than 15 per cent today, even after the economy finally grew by 5.5 per cent last year, and about 10 per cent of the labour force has left the country. …the bottom line is that no country with three times the unemployment rate that it had before the world recession, and Latvia’s huge income losses, should be considered even a qualified success story. It would be a shame if these unwarranted conclusions from Latvia’s experience were to help prolong the unnecessary suffering in the eurozone.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Twitter

The Wrong Austerity Cure (July 21st 2012) The Wrong Austerity Cure (July 21st 2012)

Laura D’Andrea Tyson the 65 year old American Economist Professor and former Chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration, has published an article on the Project Syndicate titled ‘The Wrong Austerity Cure’. In the article Tyson states “Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and French President François Hollande are right: Europe needs bold, coordinated policies to promote growth, along with market-based structural reforms to foster competition and an easing of fiscal targets until output and employment recover. But how can significant new growth initiatives be financed? The reality is that the rest of Europe cannot succeed in restoring growth without Germany, and Germany remains wedded to the austerity cure. With a modest fiscal deficit, record-low borrowing costs, and a huge current-account surplus, Germany has the financial firepower to unleash a significant stimulus. But Germany sees no need to stimulate its own economy, and is willing to consider only modest eurozone measures… Despite pleas from the IMF and the OECD, Germany also remains implacably opposed to Eurobonds, which could ease the funding constraints of other eurozone members… the worsening banking crisis, with deposits fleeing from the eurozone periphery, is further strangling Europe’s growth prospects. It is probably too late to save Greece. But a shift towards policies to promote growth, supported by the easing of deficit targets and the issuance of Eurobonds, is essential to bring Europe back from the brink of sustained recession, to stabilise Europe’s financial markets, and to prevent another significant disruption to global capital markets.”


Inspired by Project Syndicate image source World Economic Forum

Obama is morphing Into Dick Cheney (July 20th 2012) Obama is morphing Into Dick Cheney (July 20th 2012)

Michael T. Klare the American Professor of Peace and World Security Studies has published an article on TomDispatch questioning if Barack Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney, highlighting four ways he is pursuing Cheney’s geopolitics of global energy. In the article Klare states “As details of his administration’s global war against terrorists, insurgents, and hostile warlords have become more widely known — a war that involves a mélange of drone attacks, covert operations, and presidentially selected assassinations — President Obama has been compared to President George W. Bush in his appetite for military action. …When it comes to international energy politics, however, it is not Bush but his vice president, Dick Cheney, who has been providing the role model for the president.  …it is possible to reconstruct the geopolitical blueprint that Cheney followed …a blueprint that President Obama, eerily enough, now appears to be implementing, despite the many risks involved.1. Promote domestic oil and gas production at any cost to reduce America’s dependence on unfriendly foreign suppliers… 2. Keep control over the oil flow from the Persian Gulf … in order to retain an “economic stranglehold” over other major oil importers. 3. Dominate the sea lanes of Asia, so as to control the flow of oil and other raw materials to America’s potential economic rivals, China and Japan. 4. Promote energy “diversification” in Europe, especially through increased reliance on oil and natural gas supplies from the former Soviet republics of the Caspian Sea basin… This four-part geopolitical blueprint, relentlessly pursued by Cheney while vice president, is now being implemented in every respect by President Obama.”


Inspired by Tom Dispatch image source Twitter

Pretext to muzzle artists and creativity (July 19th 2012) Pretext to muzzle artists and creativity (July 19th 2012)

Héla Ammar the 43 year old Tunisian photographic Artist a participant in the Printemps des Arts [Springtime Art Festival] has been interviewed by Yasmine Ryan for Aljazeera in regard to the rise of conservative moral and violent religious censorship of her home land’s artists and intellectuals. In the interview Ammar states “A misleading video montage showing a painting has been widely shared online, presenting artists as non-believers. It’s this diffusion of dishonest information and images which has provoked hatred and condemnation from a fringe of society. …The concept of national or sacred values is just a pretext to muzzle artists and creativity. These concepts can be interpreted in many different ways, especially the most restrictive, which will ultimately result in Tunisia having official art and dissident art. This is very serious and echoes dark periods in history… In reality, the artists have been used as scapegoats. This affair has been entirely manufactured to eclipse more serious issues. We are in the middle of a war between several political movements, with the Salafists and other reactionary movements which are pressuring the present government against moderation and appeasement. …What is happening is definitely very serious because the personal details of some artists have been published on extremist [Facebook] pages which have thousands of fans. They are calling for the murder of these artists. My friends are receiving endless phone calls and insulting messages and death threats. We are very worried because we don’t have any protection, and even the cultural ministry, which should be defending us, has abandoned us.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Twitter

Concept that beauty comes from the inside (July 18th 2012) Concept that beauty comes from the inside (July 18th 2012)

Cara Christopher the 24 year old American Fine artist and Graphic Designer whose work centers around self portraits and vibrant pop art, has been interviewed by Summer Dawn Hortillosa for the Jersey City Independent. In the interview Christopher states “I am very much inspired by the concept that beauty comes from the inside. I think the concept that many have of true beauty is only what the advertising and entertainment industry is leading us up to believe… I believe that real beauty is conveyed through a work of art when the depth of intensity and emotion is shown is very high, especially through the use of very vibrant color combinations. …I have made a number of collages in which I gathered a large amount of images from many different sources. Many of these sources are fashion magazines, mainstream music magazines, celebrity tabloids, etc. …I collage them all together, not based at all on subject matter, but solely based on how the form of the space fits with the other shapes. With these pieces, I am aiming to show how the media is constantly saturating us with all of these printed images and how powerful of an effect that can have on our consciousness. …there are many things to experience that give human life redemption and a great deal of meaning and importance, such as painting, music, dance, etc. I want people to experience my art and feel that they are more connected with the world, other people, and themselves.”


Inspired by JCIndependent image source Facebook

White Black & catch-all Mongoloid group (July 17th 2012) White Black & catch-all Mongoloid group (July 17th 2012)

Khaled A. Beydoun the American Attorney and author has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘The business of remaking Arab-American identity’ in which he provides an overview of racial categorization within the USA. Beydoun states “Since its inception, the United States government has had a fixation with race. The judiciary was the government’s arbiter of making and molding racial designations, and subsequently, classifying new immigrant communities into the fluidly shifting and arbitrary American racial taxonomy. Racial categories were shaped, and reshaped, according to shifting demographics. Initially, three primary categories, White, Black, and the catch-all “Mongoloid” group were created to distinguish between Americans, and segregate the latter groups from full-fledged citizenship. These categories were incessantly morphed, by American courts, and new titles such as “Caucasian” and “Hispanic”, for instance, were introduced. …The first major wave of Arab-Americans, who arrived in America circa the turn of the 20th century, was largely Christian natives of the Ottoman-colonised Levant. Religion, and the physical appearance of this wave, facilitated racial passing, and American courts ruled that (this pioneering) influx of Arabs were “part of the white race”. …Arab-Americans would ultimately be racialised differently, creating a divided landscape where American courts facilitated the early wave’s pursuit of whiteness and white privilege, and established jurisprudential baselines that denied the subsequent wave of largely Muslim, “ethnic” Arabs that same path. Caucasian was a legal term imposed on Arabs-Americans, while whiteness as an on-the-ground status was only enjoyed by those Arabs the courts – and the court of public opinion – deemed worthy of inclusion.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source

Feigned friendship and ill-disguised mistrust (July 16th 2012) Feigned friendship and ill-disguised mistrust (July 16th 2012)

Andrew J. Bacevich the 65 year old American Professor of International Relations and retired career officer in the US Army has published an article in the LA Times titled ‘Divorcing Pakistan’ which contends the interests of Washington and Islamabad do not align, and neither do their preferred forms of paranoia. Bacevich states “The history of U.S.-Pakistani relations is one of wild swings between feigned friendship and ill-disguised mistrust. When the United States needs Pakistan, Washington showers Islamabad with money, weapons and expressions of high esteem. Once the need wanes, the gratuities cease, often with brutal abruptness. Instead of largesse, Pakistan gets lectures, with the instruction seldom well received. …But seldom has a marriage of convenience produced greater inconvenience and consternation for the parties involved. Simply put, U.S. and Pakistani interests do not align. Worse, neither do our preferred forms of paranoia. Pakistanis don’t worry about Islamists taking over the world. Americans are untroubled by the prospect of India emerging as a power of the first rank. The United States stayed in this unhappy marriage for the last decade in large part because Pakistan provided the transit route for supplies sustaining NATO’s ongoing war in landlocked Afghanistan. … A recently negotiated agreement with several former-Soviet Central Asian republics creates alternatives, removing Pakistan’s grip on NATO’s logistical windpipe. …As with most divorces, the proceedings promise to be ugly. Already, the U.S. is escalating its campaign of missile attacks against “militants” on Pakistani soil. U.S. officials dismiss complaints that this infringes on Pakistan’s national sovereignty.”


Inspired by LA Times image source Facebook

Population of totally locked-in patients (July 15th 2012) Population of totally locked-in patients (July 15th 2012)

Adrian M Owen the 46 year old British neuroscientist has discovered a way to use brain scans to communicate with people previously written off as unreachable. David Cyranoski in an article published on describes how he is attempting to make his methods available in a clinic environment. Cyranoski states “Currently, there are tens of thousands of people in a vegetative state in the United States alone. Owen reckons that up to 20% of them are capable of communicating; they just don’t have a way to do so. “What we’re seeing here is a population of totally locked-in patients” …Owen now wants to put his technique into the hands of clinicians and family members. … Even if a person in a vegetative state is ‘found’, there is no guarantee that he or she will later be able to return a normal life. Owen nevertheless insists that “clarifying” a patient’s state of consciousness helps families to deal with the tragedy. “They want to know what the diagnosis really is so that they can move on and deal with that. Doubt and uncertainty are always bad things.” …Owen’s methods raise more difficult dilemmas. One is whether they should influence a family’s or clinician’s decision to end a life. …Even more ethically fraught is whether the question should be put to the patients themselves. …Owen hopes one day to ask patients that most difficult of questions, but says that new ethical and legal frameworks will be needed.”


Inspired by image source Simon Strangeways

Exercise great caution in playing the "India card" (July 14th 2012) Exercise great caution in playing the “India card” (July 14th 2012)

Robert L Grenier the American former CIA director of counter-terrorism who was dismissed from the position, and now Chairman of ERG Partners, an independent financial and strategic advisory firm focusing on the security and intelligence sectors, has released an article on Aljazeera discussing implications of the USA playing the ‘India card’ in Afghanistan. Grenier states “Involving India in the US war in Afghanistan could further polarise Pakistan and turn the country into a proxy war. …US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta’s visit to New Delhi, in which he pressed the Indians to raise their level of engagement in Afghanistan. No longer satisfied simply with Indian provision of economic and development assistance, the American defence chief indicated he would like to see India engaged with Afghan security forces as well. In so saying, he was apparently not unmindful of how this message would be received in Islamabad. …But the US government should know that to the extent it is successful in pressing India into high-profile security engagement in Afghanistan, the more likely it is to produce the very situation it fears most: A renewed Afghan civil war in which India and Pakistan are actively engaged in support of their respective proxies, and in which Islamabad’s ties to the Taliban are strongly reinforced. …it should likewise exercise great caution in playing the “India card” in Afghanistan.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source University of Delaware

I want people to stop and look at my art (July 13th 2012) I want people to stop and look at my art (July 13th 2012)

Sarah Sze the 42 year old American contemporary artist who uses ordinary objects to create sculptures and site-specific installations, states “I want people to stop and look at my art”. Sze’s latest installation profiled by Vanessa Thorpe for the Observer at the London Victoria Miro gallery, Thorpe states “…known for the involving intricacy of her sculptural work, but this dramatic piece, which now dominates a room … seems in danger of hypnotising even her. It is a theatrical construction that plays with light and water and yet is made entirely of household items. …The installation reminds me of student storage, with desk lamps, electric fans, paperclips, stepladders, books, chairs, and the added intimacy of folded clothes and a sleeping bag. Sze picks up bits and bobs everywhere she goes, she says; happy to exhibit the trace of her travels. … A talent for subtle showmanship has won her an international reputation and next year she will represent the US at the Venice Biennale. She is always thinking about the way the viewer sees her art and wants visitors to the London show to feel drawn to a “backstage area”, to glimpse things they feel they were not intended to. … “I am aware people might dismiss my art, but I’m interested in getting them to stop and look; for no other reason than that is what I do.”


Inspired by The Guardian image source Columbia University

Greece brain drain wrecking my social life (July 12th 2012) Greece brain drain wrecking my social life (July 12th 2012)

Giorgos Christides  the 36 year old Greek Freelance journalist and Economics editor discusses his experiences in his austerity ridden homeland for a BBC magazine article titled “Greece brain drain ‘wrecking my social life’” Christides states “As the queues of jobless Greeks grow, more and more young people are moving abroad. …The trend is not limited to 30 and 40-something professionals, but is spreading to younger age groups as well. According to the latest national polls, more than seven out of 10 young Greeks aged 18 to 24 believe that emigration is the ideal – indeed the only – way out from the crisis. Two out of 10 have already applied for jobs and university places abroad. …[Greece] considered an economic wasteland for ambitious young students and graduates, who are now suffering from unemployment rates in excess of 50%. Workers’ and students’ mobility has been, of course, one of the landmarks and major achievements of European integration. But it is now evolving into a medium-term death sentence for the ageing Greek society and economy. …In an era characterised by intensified global competition for talented, innovative and highly-skilled workers, the brain drain afflicting Greece means the country is losing its best hope of revival. Viewing your country as a dead-end and a prison is therefore a more daunting and condemning prospect than defaulting or exiting the euro.”


Inspired by BBC image source linkedin

Analysts are asking: Has the revolution failed? (July 11th 2012) Analysts are asking: Has the revolution failed? (July 11th 2012)

Hamid Dabashi the 63 year old Iranian-American Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘The mother of the world: The birth of Egypt’s democracy’ referencing the Egyptian election as not a ‘referendum’ on the revolution, but a step in the only direction possible: forward. Dabashi states “Analysts are asking: Has the revolution failed? …there are other historical comparisons we can make. If you want to have a simple sense of what exactly has happened in the Arab and Muslim world that we celebrate as the “Arab Spring”, just compare the Iranian Revolution of 1979 with the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 – in a span of just a little more than three decades. …The Egyptian revolution is everything that the Iranian revolution was not: calm, composed, gentle, civil, human, hopeful, principled. All the legitimate fear that all Egyptians now have for the future of their revolution is fuel for visionary progress. …Those who fear that Egyptians are not revolutionary enough, or that they are caught in a “Stockholm Syndrome” ought to ask themselves: Do they want Egypt to be thirty years from now where Iran is today – ruled by a fraudulent tyranny, violently opposed by career opportunists in cahoots with the neocons, with the vast majority of Iranians sick and tired of one and disgusted by the other?”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Facebook

Let’s say it was very emotional moment (July 10th 2012) Let’s say it was very emotional moment (July 10th 2012)

Peter Ware Higgs the 83 year old English theoretical physicist and emeritus professor best known for his proposal of broken symmetry in electroweak theory, explaining the origin of mass of elementary particles. His so-called Higgs mechanism predicts the existence of a new particle, the Higgs boson (referred to as the God particle). Higgs has been interviewed by Olivier Dessibourg for LE TEMPS following the CERN announced that experiments had seen strong indications for the presence of a new particle, which could be the Higgs boson. In the interview Higgs states “I was deeply moved. Let’s say it was very emotional moment. Especially near the end… I connected with what was happening to me, and I felt emotionally involved, even though I’d carefully stood apart from all of this for a while. At first, I wasn’t sure this particle would be found during my lifetime. But as experiences gradually went on, first at the LEP [a previous accelerator at the CERN], then at the Fermilab in the United States, the expectation became increasingly realistic. …The most interesting thing now is going to be testing the theories that go beyond the “standard model” for describing the Universe, like “supersymmetry.” Because with the discovery of this new boson, this model is essentially complete.”


Inspired by Olivier Dessibourg image source Gert-Martin Greuel

Growing 'dead zones' in the world's oceans (July 9th 2012) Growing ‘dead zones’ in the world’s oceans (July 9th 2012)

Dahr Jamail the 44 year old American journalist best known as one of the few unembedded journalists to report extensively from Iraq during the 2003 Iraq invasion, has published an article on Aljazeera about the pollution of the world’s oceans, highlighting the alarm of Scientists and experts at amount of plastic debris and growing ‘dead zones’ in the world’s oceans. Jamail states “The amount of plastic floating in the Pacific Gyre – a massive swirling vortex of rubbish – has increased 100-fold in the past four decades, phytoplankton counts are dropping, over-fishing is causing dramatic decreases in fish populations, decreasing ocean salinity is intensifying weather extremes, and warming oceans are speeding up Antarctic melting. … Scientists recently investigated the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, and found an “alarming amount” of refuse, much of it comprising individual pieces of very small size. The eastern section of the spiralling mass, between Hawaii and California, is estimated to be around twice the size of Texas, and is having ecosystem-wide impacts… Another phenomenon afflicting Earth’s oceans are “dead zones”. While these can be formed by natural causes, climate change, along with human activities and industrial waste, have greatly aggravated the situation. The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released a study showing that rising global temperatures cause oceans to warm, which translates into a decreased capacity to hold oxygen.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Twitter

Largest marine protected area in the world (July 8th 2012) Largest marine protected area in the world (July 8th 2012)

Anthony Stephen ‘Tony’ Burke the 42 year old Australian politician and the current Minister for Sustainability and Environment announced that Australia is to create an enormous network of marine park reserves to protect waters from oil and gas exploration and limiting commercial fishing. In an article on Aljazeera, Burke states “The Coral Sea marine national park … combined with the Great Barrier Reef area, becomes the largest marine protected area in the world”. The article states Australia’s marine reserves will increase from 27 to 60 under the new scheme, covering more than 3 million sq km, or one third of the island nation’s waters. The announcement of the network was made a week before more than 130 heads of state and government will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations’ sustainable development conference as part of global efforts to curb climate change, one of the biggest conferences in UN history. … The protection plan will ban oil and gas exploration in all marine national parks, including across the Coral Sea and off Margaret River, a popular tourist and wine-growing area in the southwest. Burke acknowledged the plan would also have an impact on the fishing industry. The plan attracted immediate criticism from some environmental groups, as well as independent and opposition politicians and lobby groups.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Adam Carr

A plausible progressive counter-narrative (July 7th 2012) A plausible progressive counter-narrative (July 7th 2012)

Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama the 60 year old American political scientist and economist is the subject of an article published by Dan Hind on Aljazeera titled ‘Just how do you change the world? Is there a progressive counter-narrative to the libertarian right?’ Hind states “Francis Fukuyama wrote an article for Foreign Affairs entitled The Future of History. In it he talked about the absence of “a plausible progressive counter-narrative” to the “libertarian right”. This libertarian right has “held the ideological high ground on economic issues” for a generation. …Fukuyama claims that “one of the most puzzling features of the world in the aftermath of the financial crisis is that populism has taken primarily a right-wing form, not a left-wing one”. So while he thinks it conceivable that the “Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction”, he can’t find space for the hundreds of other occupations in the United States and worldwide. The role of trade unionists and socialists in Arab Spring is nowhere to be found and the vast movement for real democracy in Spain likewise vanishes. The Tea Party is what captures Fukuyama’s attention. …It would be unfair to mock him for his failure to predict the rise of Syriza in Greece, the defeat of a right-wing president in France and the growing confidence of anti-capitalist left in Europe and North America. It is, though, reasonable to expect a prophet to have some kind of grip on the recent past.”


Inspired by Dan Hind image source Robert Goddyn

Clever merger of street style and postmodern (July 6th 2012) Clever merger of street style and postmodern (July 6th 2012)

Kehinde Wiley the 35 year old American portrait painter, who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of contemporary men in heroic poses has been profiled by Ben Davis for ArtInfo as ‘How the Artist Painted Himself Into a Corner With His New Works’. Davis states “Wiley’s much-hyped… series of large oil-on-linen paintings in the same near-photorealist, mock-baroque style that made Wiley famous in the first place, though this time depicting African-American women (instead of men) who have been cast from the streets of the Bronx and Queens, each of them clad in frothy couture made for their sittings by fashion designer Riccardo Tisci, in poses inspired by works from the Louvre. …his big breakthrough during a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where he decided to cast young men off the street and paint them in the heroic terms of royal portraiture. The result was a clever merger between street style and postmodern painting. It’s a good formula. Possibly too good. It suggests intelligence (in the art-historical references) and social conscience (in the focus on the African-American community), but is also neither particularly hard to digest nor particularly confrontational. …On some level, Wiley is aware that he is a prisoner of his own success. He has tried to change things up …[but] did exactly the same thing…”


Inspired by Ben Davis image source Facebook

Azerbaijan jockeys for new geopolitical weight (July 5th 2012) Azerbaijan jockeys for new geopolitical weight (July 5th 2012)

Joshua Kucera the American freelance journalist in an article published on Aljazeera titled ‘Azerbaijan jockeys for new geopolitical weight’ questions ‘What do the US and Israel have to gain by strengthening Azerbaijan’s naval capacities in the Caspian sea?’ Kucera states “As the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran has loomed over the past several months, a great deal of attention has been paid to Israel’s close ties with Iran’s northern neighbour, Azerbaijan. And while those ties are indeed close, the two countries nonetheless have very different concerns vis-a-vis Iran – ones that make them unlikely to cooperate on any potential Israeli strike against Tehran. The most visible part of Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation is in the weapons business. Azerbaijan and Israel announced a massive arms deal, worth US $1.6bn, earlier this year, fuelling speculation that Israel was using Azerbaijan as a proxy against Iran. …But while Israel’s concern about Iran is Tehran’s nuclear programme and the fear that Iranian nuclear weapons could be used against them, Azerbaijan has displayed a less alarmist view of Iran’s nuclear intentions. …However, Azerbaijan does have significant strategic concerns about Iran as well, and tensions between the two countries have the potential for creating a new flashpoint in the region – albeit one unrelated to Israel.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source ufollow

We’ll do whatever you want (July 4th 2012) We’ll do whatever you want (July 4th 2012)

James “Jamie” Dimon the 56 year old American chairman, president and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, one of the Big Four banks of the United States has appeared before the US Senate Banking Committee to explain his firms risky transactions with depositor funds recently losing billions of dollars. Brian Beutler for Talking Points Memo states “The long-shot big hope for Wall Street reformers was … Jamie Dimon would trip up before the Senate Banking Committee and expose the need for tighter rules governing big banks. …Instead, with some notable exceptions, the senators themselves turned the cross-examination into a coronation, and exposed the extent to which elected officials still feel compelled to genuflect to powerful financial interests. “You’re obviously renowned, rightfully so I think, as being one of the most, you know, one of the best CEOs in the country for financial institutions,” crooned Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). “You missed this, it’s a blip on the radar screen.” Most of the fawning came from GOP senators who in addition to relying on Wall Street largesse remain engaged in a political campaign against President Obama’s 2010 financial reform law. But some Democrats also treated Dimon if not quite like royalty then perhaps as a trusted confidant. … For reformers, that adds up to an opportunity missed.”


Inspired by Brian Beutler image source Facebook

UK's most senior minority-ethnic politician (July 3rd 2012) UK’s most senior minority-ethnic politician (July 3rd 2012)

Sayeeda Hussain Warsi the 41 year old British Baroness solicitor and politician who was created a life peer in 2007 has been defended by Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari of The East London Communities Organisation, in an article he published on Aljazeera. Bari states ” Media and political pressure has been piling on Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative Party co-chairman and minister-without-portfolio in the coalition government. Unpopular with the Tory Right, the guns have turned on her following the Conservative Party’s dismal electoral performance in last month’s local elections. … There is barely a week that goes by without someone, usually a Tory, calling for her head. The Labour Party has seized upon her plight and called for her to step down. … Lady Warsi is the UK’s most senior minority-ethnic politician. She was initially seen as a shining light in the Conservative Party, long-struggling to recruit from the black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. Is she going to be a scapegoat for the sliding unpopularity of the Conservative Party? …Lady Warsi is not a political maverick. She is sharp, charismatic and she speaks her mind. As such, she has brought a distinctive appeal to the Conservative Party, traditionally viewed as led by a white middle (or upper) class elite.”


Inspired by Muhammad Abdul Bari image source UK Cabinet Office

The Big-Lie Coup d’Etat (July 2nd 2012) The Big-Lie Coup d’Etat (July 2nd 2012)

Robert Bernard Reich the 66 year old American political economist and professor has published an article on his blog titled ‘The Big-Lie Coup d’Etat’ assessing the “… launching [of] a multi-million dollar TV ad buy [by] Crossroads GPS, the sister organization to the super PAC American Crossroads run by Republican political operative Karl Rove. …is a tax-exempt nonprofit group, it can spend unlimited money on politics — and it doesn’t have to reveal where it gets the dough. By law, all it has to do is spend most of the money on policy “issues,” which is a fig leaf for partisan politics. …The narrator in the ad … solemnly intones: “In 2008, Barack Obama said, ‘We can’t mortgage our children’s future on a mountain of debt.’ Now he’s adding $4 billion in debt every day, borrowing from China for his spending. Every second, growing our debt faster than our economy,” he continues. “Tell Obama, stop the spending.” This is a baldface lie, by the way. Obama isn’t adding to the debt every day. The debt is growing because of obligations entered into long ago, many under George W. Bush – including two giant tax cuts that went mostly to the very wealthy that were supposed to be temporary and which are still going, courtesy of Republican blackmail over raising the debt limit. In realty, government spending as a portion of GDP keeps dropping.”


Inspired by Robert Reich image source Facebook

Unique insight into Shakespearean theatres (July 1st 2012) Unique insight into Shakespearean theatres (July 1st 2012)

Chris Thomas the English Senior Consultant at Museum of London Archaeology and heads up the MetroMOLA regional service is leading an excavation of the former Shakespearian Curtain Theatre’s footings unearthed in East London. The Curtain Theatre is one of oldest theatre spaces in London, opening in 1577 and hosting two premieres of Shakespeare’s significant works – Romeo & Juliet and Henry V, until the opening of the Globe Theatre on the Bankside of the Thames. The Curtain was dismantled in the early 17th century, leaving its exact whereabouts unclear. Although the Curtain was known to be in the approximate area as it was named after the road it fronted. Thomas states “This is a fantastic site which gives us unique insight into early Shakespearean theatres. On other Tudor theatres we’ve found quantities of little pottery money boxes, which the punters put the price of admission into on the way in, which were then smashed at the back of the theatre to get the takings – I’m sure some from the Curtain are still there, just waiting for us to find them.” Excavation so far has located two sections of exterior wall which will be critical for determining the theatre’s dimensions.  As the location is further cleared for redevelopment, confidence is high that other artifacts will be revealed.


Inspired by The Guardian image source MetroMOLA

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