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Category: 1208DC (August)
No understanding what their planet is (August 31 2012) No understanding what their planet is (August 31 2012)

Jason deCaires Taylor the 38 year old British sculptor specialising in the creation of contemporary underwater sculptures which over time develop into artificial coral reefs has been profiled by Randal C. Archibold for the New York Times. In the article Archibold states “Most people head off to an art exhibit with comfortable shoes and a deep appreciation for creativity. Jason deCaires Taylor’s work requires flippers and, to really appreciate it, a depth of at least 12 feet. Mr. Taylor labors over his sculptures for weeks, five-ton concrete figures of men, women and children, many of them modeled after people in the fishing village near here where he lives and works. …he fusses over their lips and noses. Gets the hair just right. Adjusts their clothing. Then he sinks them in the sea. There, they rest in ghostly repose in the Museo Subacuático de Arte here, serving at once as a tourist attraction and as a conservation effort by drawing divers and snorkelers away from the Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest barrier reef system in the world, and toward this somewhat macabre, artificial one. The nearly 500 statues, the first ones placed in 2009 and 60 added this year, have acquired enough coral, seaweed and algae to give them the look of zombies with a particularly nightmarish skin condition. Eventually, in six years or so, the coral will completely overtake them, leaving only suggestive shapes. “Foremost, it’s an opportunity to view this other world,” Mr. Taylor said. “We are surrounded by water, but people have no understanding what their planet is. It helps see ourselves as part of the world.”


Inspired by New York Times image source Twitter

Is Israel trying to lead US to war (August 30 2012) Is Israel trying to lead US to war (August 30 2012)

Dan Murphy the American Journalist reporting extensively on Southeast Asia and the Middle East has published an article on the CSMonitor titled ‘Is Israel trying to lead the US to war with Iran?’ In the article Murphy states “After months of quiet, the drumbeat out of Israel for a war with Iran has started again. Iran is on the verge of a nuclear bomb, a point of “no return” as some Israeli politicians have it, and squadrons of anonymous sources, credulous reporters, and columnists have been mobilized to get out the word. …Israel’s security establishment is far from united on Iran, with many warning that a preemptive war could do more harm than good to Israel’s interests. Israel and Western powers have been periodically warning that the Islamic Republic of Iran was on the verge of building a nuclear bomb since the early 1980s. As far back as 1992, Mr. Netanyahu, then a member of the Israeli parliament, said that Iran was five years away from a bomb and that its nuclear program must be “uprooted by an international front headed by the US.” …But until then the talk of war is best seen as an attempt to sway American politicians and public opinion. Netanyahu and his allies, as a matter of national interest, want to persuade the US to go to war with Iran under certain conditions, well aware that striking a definitive blow against Iran’s nuclear program is beyond their own capacity. …If Israel were to unilaterally attack, the US would almost certainly be drawn into the war. Obama’s advisers know it. Watch for pushback from them on the idea in the days ahead.”


Inspired by CSMonitor image source Twitter

Nature is not a luxury but the very foundation (August 29 2012) Nature is not a luxury but the very foundation (August 29 2012)

Julia Marton-Lefèvre the Hungarian American Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest conservation environment membership organization which brings together states, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, scientists and experts in a unique worldwide partnership, has been interviewed by Busani Bafana for the Inter Press Service. In the interview Marton-Lefèvre stated “…through our SOS or Save Our Species initiative, IUCN and partners have already helped conserve close to 100 threatened species in over 30 countries. We know that conservation works, but we need significantly greater resources if we are to reverse the current extinction crisis. …a recent ground-breaking study found that we have overshot three out of nine of the so-called “planetary boundaries” that define a “safe operating space” for humanity, including biodiversity loss. Today we are dangerously close to reaching such “points of no return”, but it is very difficult to predict precisely when a tipping point is reached until it actually happens. For instance, the collapse of the north Atlantic cod fishery happened back in the 1970s but its impacts are felt even today. …Consumer demand for nature-based products – for food, medicine, clothing – has emerged as a major threat for many species that had not been affected by habitat loss or climate change thus far. Nature simply cannot keep up with our insatiable appetite for everything from raw materials to live animals – and we need to change that. …The biggest challenge now is getting everyone to understand what is at stake: that nature is not a luxury but the very foundation of our own wellbeing on this planet.”


Inspired by Inter Press Service image source Twitter

Illes Relief should be returned to Geneva (August 28 2012) Illes Relief should be returned to Geneva (August 28 2012)

Maryvelma Smith O’Neil the American Historian and activist for Palestinian statehood has published an article on Aljazeera arguing the Illes Relief as a prized treasure should be returned to Geneva rather than squandered in Jerusalem. In the article O’Neil states “The model relief was made by Stephan Illés, an enterprising young Hungarian Catholic, who arrived in Jerusalem in 1864. He spent his days quietly binding books to earn a living, but escaped after dark into a marvellous miniature world of his own creation. From 1872 to 1873, he painstakingly crafted a 4.5 by 5 metre (15 by 16ft) 3D model to make what came to be known as the Illés Relief – a 19th century Google Map of Jerusalem. …Back in Geneva, the Maison de la Réformation council had been assured that the relief would be seen by thousands of museum-goers. However, finding it today demands directed curiosity or deliberate intention – since it is tucked away deep in the subterranean level, where it attracts few visitors – as recently attested by a museum guide. It is the only artifact in the museum, yet it is simply described on a plaque as “a 19th century model of Jerusalem”. This near absence of curatorial documentation does not fall in line with Professor Rubin’s valuation of it as “an accurate and detailed cartographic document and therefore an important and unique source for the study of the history and georgraphy of Jerusalem in the 19th century”. “


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Bangkok Allure

Why Did Ecuador Grant Asylum to Assange (August 27 2012) Why Did Ecuador Grant Asylum to Assange (August 27 2012)

Kevin Gosztola the American undergraduate writer and filmmaker has posed the question: Why Did Ecuador Grant Asylum to Julian Assange? in an article he published in The Nation magazine. In the article he states “…in the face of rumors that British authorities were considering storming the Ecuadorean embassy in London to arrest Julian Assange, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, announced that his country will grant the WikiLeaks founder diplomatic asylum. He declared that his government endorsed the “fears” expressed by Assange that he could face political persecution if sent to Sweden, and that such asylum would protect him from the possibility of being extradited to the United States. …Patiño read from a list of points detailing the foundation for the asylum request by Assange, who he described as “an award-winning communications professional” known “internationally for his struggle for freedom of expression, press freedom and human rights in general.” He cited “strong evidence” that Assange faced possible “retaliation by the country or countries that produced the information,” revealed by Cablegate, noting that such retaliation “may endanger [his] safety, integrity, and even his life.” He said that “given an extradition to the United States of America, Mr. Assange would not have a fair trial, could be tried by special courts or military” and could be the victim of “cruel and degrading” treatment. …if the Swedish government is genuinely concerned over the women who brought forth the allegations against him, it is troubling to see its government continue to refuse to send someone to question Assange in London. It is this refusal that ultimately helped convince Ecuador to grant asylum.”


Inspired by The Nation image source Twitter

150 million people went missing in India (August 26 2012) 150 million people went missing in India (August 26 2012)

Johnny West the British journalist and founder of OpenOil a Berlin-based consultancy in oil and other extractive industries has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘How 150 million people went missing in India’, in which he discusses how the media coverage of the country’s blackouts paid little attention to the millions of Indians who were not on the grid to begin with. West states “Reports [media] spoke of the 600 million people affected by the blackout across India’s north and east as cities plunged into darkness for two nights in a row – and the high priests of capitalism worried about the effect on what is euphemistically termed “global economic growth”. In fact, the real figure was more likely to be 450 million people – but that’s actually bad news. …A mere reporting glitch, of course, nothing intentional. But one that speaks volumes for the state of the global discussion about energy, how stuck it is in the 20th century, how riddled with ancient ideological canards. Those 150 million people who literally didn’t count belong to a global underclass of up to two billion people across Africa and Asia, mainly, who are off-grid. Who yesterday, today and every day, often go to sleep when it gets dark and live and work through summers of up to 50 degrees or winters of minus 20, without any means to cool or warm themselves other than keeping to the shadows or burying themselves in a mountain of blankets. In order to include them in the global energy debate, it is time for socially progressive thinking to revisit the issue of energy subsidies.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source

I vomited out everything I had inside (August 25 2012) I vomited out everything I had inside (August 25 2012)

Thierry Guetta the 46 year old French American Los Angeles based filmmaker and street artist known as Mr. Brainwash has been profiled by Matilda Battersby for the Independent in an article titled ‘Mr Brainwash: Banksy’s street-art protégé and his latest brainwave – The master of hype arrives in London for a blockbuster new show’. Battersby states “…when we met last month Mr Brainwash told me he still had no idea what to do with the 120,000ft space [the Old Sorting Office] and isn’t anywhere near finishing the work for it. He has the blind optimism of a child, and is convinced it will come together magically. …He propels himself through the conversation like a Duracell Bunny on steroids, wearing paint-spattered jeans and hoodie. His legs jiggle, his arms flap, he jumps up and down and uses his hands to draw in the air. He’s often been accused of being a fake. But after spending an hour in his company I’m astonished to find myself thinking he’s anything but: kooky, yes; scarily energetic, too; but endearing and bubbling over with vim. If this is an act then he deserves that Oscar. …he says: “I take everything seriously and I do everything with my heart. So when I got the chance of doing something I was like a mental patient who finally got to see a shrink. I vomited out everything I had inside.” … His signature style pitches somewhere between Banksy’s black and white stencils and Andy Warhol’s colourful prints. He draws straight on walls or prints computerized images onto large sheets of paper and pastes them up in separate pieces. It is a technique he learned while following Fairey and his work is now almost as ubiquitous in LA as Fairey’s own.”


Inspired by The Independent image source Facebook

Evidence of climate change in Nepal (August 24 2012) Evidence of climate change in Nepal (August 24 2012)

Naresh Newar the Nepalese journalist with special focus on armed conflict, humanitarian and environmental issues has published an article on the Inter Press Service titled ‘Droughts Bring Climate Change Home to Nepali Farmers’ in which he describes how farmers in this fertile central district of south Nepal are convinced that an intense drought between May and early July that destroyed their maize crops is the result of climate change. Newar states “Nepal has a history of droughts but the intensity increased this year… Evidence of climate change in Nepal is seen in temperatures rising by about one-tenth of a degree annually, receding glaciers and snow line and volatile monsoonal rains. While scientists are still trying to link these changes to factors such as production of greenhouse gases and deforestation, Nepal’s farmers are coping on their own with dwindling water supply, flash floods and landslides. Chitwan, a major producer of maize, has suffered a 70 percent loss of the crop due to late arrival of the monsoons this year, according to assessments by the government’s Agricultural Services Office (ASO). …the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu. …is currently conducting a study on climate change impacts on food security in the entire Indo Gangetic plains. …There can be two droughts in a year without causing too much damage, but when there is drought intensity that can destroy maize, even in irrigated areas, according to ICIMOD experts. With such unpredictability of weather patterns growing in the country, there is need now for planned adaptation.”


Inspired by Inter Press Service image source

Egypt's nouveaux riches and the Palestinians (August 23 2012) Egypt’s nouveaux riches and the Palestinians (August 23 2012)

Joseph Andoni Massad the 49 year old Palestinian American Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘Egypt’s nouveaux riches and the Palestinians’ in which he details how the beneficiaries of the post-Sadat financial success continue to sell out Egypt and the Palestinians. In the article Massad states “The Sadatist and nouveaux riches’ campaigns would invent stories about Palestinians having lost their country because they themselves were “sell-outs” and had “sold their country to the Jews”. These rumours continue to be widespread in Egyptian society, at all levels, till this very day, sustained as they are by the utter chauvinist hatred engendered by this petty uneducated class, who under Mubarak continued to rob the country clean and impoverish vast sectors of its population, in the process accumulating billions of dollars. The anti-Palestinian campaign was central to the Sadatist project of instituting an anti-Arab chauvinist Egyptian nationalism in place of Egyptian Arab nationalism. The charge that Palestinians sold their country is of course a distracting tactic used by an Egyptian comprador class which, in fact, did sell Egypt to the highest bidders (in addition to Americans and Israelis, Saudis have also been favourite buyers) since the 1970s and is fighting the current transformation of the country in order to be able to sell whatever is left of the country unhindered. … Hard as they try to keep the anti-Palestinian rumour mill going, Egypt’s comprador class of sellouts and their liberal press agents will continue to lose ground, as they are now recognised plainly for what they are and what they have been for the last four decades, enemies of the majority of Egyptians.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Open Library

Never been someone for make-up (August 22 2012) Never been someone for make-up (August 22 2012)

Sarah Lucas the 50 year old British Artist who emerged as part of the generation of Young British Artists during the 1990s. Lucas’s works frequently employs visual puns and bawdy humour, includes photography, collage and found objects. Lucas has been profiled by Christina Patterson for the Independent titled ‘Sarah Lucas: A Young British Artist grows up and speaks out’. Patterson states in the article “[Lucas] says, “never been someone for make-up”. She has, in fact, had “fun” not “using her femininity” because “people find it so odd”. At the Groucho club, where the YBAs used to hang out, she’d stare at the women “in their summer dresses and perfume, flirting with men”, and enjoy the fact that she wasn’t. “You realise,” she says, “that you’ve got some other charisma.”You can say that again. It’s quite rare to meet a heterosexual woman who’s making no attempt at all to make herself attractive to men, but who – how shall I put this? – radiates sex. But it’s also quite hard to think of an artist whose work is so much about it. …This is what Sarah Lucas does. She takes… “ordinary things” …and she does something to them that can actually make you blush. She doesn’t just take ordinary objects and say they’re art. Quite a lot of the YBAs, and the people they have influenced, do. They seem to think that if you say something’s art it’s art, and if you say something’s shocking, it is. They seem to forget that the person to decide whether something’s shocking, or powerful, or moving, isn’t the person who made it.”


Inspired by Christina Patterson image source Facebook

Hoard hidden from taxman by global elite (August 21 2012) Hoard hidden from taxman by global elite (August 21 2012)

Heather Stewart the British business and economics editor for the Observer has published an article in The Guardian titled ‘£13tn hoard hidden from taxman by global elite’ discussing how private banks help the wealthiest to move cash into havens. Stewart states “A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network. …[wealth] leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. …The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources, including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world. Oil-rich states with an internationally mobile elite have been especially prone to watching their wealth disappear into offshore bank accounts instead of being invested at home, the research suggests. Once the returns on investing the hidden assets is included, almost £500bn has left Russia since the early 1990s when its economy was opened up. Saudi Arabia has seen £197bn flood out since the mid-1970s, and Nigeria £196bn.”


Inspired by The Guardian image source Twitter

The hunger wars in our future (August 20 2012) The hunger wars in our future (August 20 2012)

Michael T Klare the American Professor of Peace and World Security Studies published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘The hunger wars in our future’ highlighting the rising food prices due to drought may again lead to social unrest and violent conflict. Klare states “With more than one-half of US counties designated as drought disaster areas, the 2012 harvest of corn, soybeans and other food staples is guaranteed to fall far short of predictions. This, in turn, will boost food prices domestically and abroad, causing increased misery for farmers and low-income Americans – and far greater hardship for poor people in countries that rely on imported US grains. This, however, is just the beginning of the likely consequences. …Food – affordable food – is essential to human survival and well-being. Take that away, and people become anxious, desperate and angry. …many nations depend on grain imports from the US to supplement their own harvests, and because intense drought and floods are damaging crops elsewhere as well, food supplies are expected to shrink and prices to rise across the planet. …keep an eye out for the social and political effects that undoubtedly won’t begin to show up here or globally until later this year or 2013. Better than any academic study, these will offer us a hint of what we can expect in the coming decades from a hunger-games world of rising temperatures, persistent droughts, recurring food shortages and billions of famished, desperate people.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Facebook

A truly liberal society is a multicultural society (August 19 2012) A truly liberal society is a multicultural society (August 19 2012)

Mehdi Hasan the British television current affairs journalist with a philosophy politics and economics background has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘In defence of Britain’s multiculturalism’, in which he questions if  multiculturalism is really dead in the UK as the political, media and theological establishments seem to suggest. In the article Hasan states “Multiculturalism is dead in the UK …. seems to be the depressing verdict of senior members of the British political, media and even theological establishments. In recent years, they have lined up to deliver the last rites for multiculturalism, their condemnation and critiques cutting across party and ideological lines. …attacks on “the British multicultural model” continue and intensify – and Islamophobia is on the rise. Multicultural cities such as Bradford, in the north of England, with big Muslim populations, are denounced as failures, smeared as ghettoised societies. Structural factors such as racism, poverty and industrial decline are ignored. …But I for one can’t help but be a defender of the UK’s multiculturalism …I am, after all, a product of multiculturalism; I consider myself to be British, English, Asian and Muslim. I see no contradiction between these ethnic, national, cultural and religious identities. …Britain has come a long way from the nativist and assimilationist 1960s; opinion polls suggest this is a nation at relative ease with its racial, religious and cultural diversity in all walks of life. It is now 2012, not 1965. In this age of globalisation and devolution, Britain cannot return to some fantasy of a halcyon mono-cultural past. In the 21st century, identity isn’t finite; loyalties do not have to compete. And the truth is that a truly liberal society is a multicultural society.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source

There’s so much I want to say to you (August 18 2012) There’s so much I want to say to you (August 18 2012)

Sharon Hayes the 42 year old American artist who uses mixed mediums of video, performance, and installation in an ongoing investigation into various intersections between history, politics and speech, has been profiled by Kyle Chayka on Blouin Artinfo for her Whitney Museum exhibition titled ‘There’s So Much I Want to Say to You’. In the article Chayka states “…Hayes came of age during the rise of gay liberation movements and Third Wave feminism, twin currents that drive “There’s So Much I Want to Say to You.” In this tour-de-force solo show, the artist is equal parts activist, diarist, and journalist, charting her own individual upheavals even as she experiences the upheavals of her time and excavates the struggles of the past. A gay woman, Hayes integrates the personal and the political in a way that brings to mind the recent identity-based work of Simon Fujiwara and Danh Vo, but with a keener sense of the painful realities of the world and their impact on the individual. In formats ranging from her 1990s-era solo theatrical performances to her 2004 DJ set drawn from her extensive collection of spoken-word LPs, Hayes draws on lives and stories outside her own. Much of the Whitney exhibition confronts the struggle for queer identity. Sixteen-millimeter film footage shot at the 1971 “Christopher Street Liberation Day and Gay-In” is voiced over by Hayes and activist Kate Millett, who was born in 1934, in a piece called “Gay Power.” Millett reminisces about the excitement of the day while the camera runs up and down young bodies lit by the yellowing setting sun.”


Inspired by Blouin Artinfo image source Yiaos

Dismisses allegations as weird and baseless (August 17 2012) Dismisses allegations as weird and baseless (August 17 2012)

Alexei Anatolievich Navalny the 36 year old Russian lawyer, political activist and critic of corruption in Russia, especially of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, has been charged with theft accused of organising a scheme to steal assets from a state timber company. In an Aljazeera article Navalny dismisses the allegations as “weird” and baseless is said to have been “…charged with theft, and could be handed a 10-year prison sentence as the government continues its crackdown on dissent. …The State Investigative Committee said it suspects Navalny of organising a scheme to steal assets from a state timber company. The assets are estimated to be worth about $500,000. As the committee pursues an investigation against him, Navalny has been ordered not to leave Moscow. …the anti-corruption crusader has been instrumental in rallying Russia’s young internet generation against Putin’s rule. Navalny, a lawyer, led a series of rallies in Moscow that attracted up to 100,000 people after December’s parliamentary elections were alleged to have been rigged and ahead of the March election that handed Putin a third presidential term. …The government embarked on a major crackdown on the opposition after Putin’s re-election, which was also criticised as fraudulent, arresting some activists and using legislation to try to curb its activities. …The probe against Navalny focuses on events dating to 2009 when he served as an adviser to a provincial governor in the Kirov region. Investigators allege that he colluded with the head of a state timber company and a trader to rob it. A previous probe into similar allegations was closed earlier this year for lack of evidence.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Facebook

Mutual quest of discovery and participation (August 16 2012) Mutual quest of discovery and participation (August 16 2012)

Juliana Engberg the Australian curator and artistic Director of ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) has been appointed as the Artistic Director of the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014). Chairman Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, in a statement states ‘The Biennale of Sydney has a proud history of attracting and working with independent Artistic Directors of international standing. Juliana is one of Australia’s most accomplished curators and the Biennale is very pleased to be able to work with her.’ Engberg stated in response “The Biennale of Sydney, as one of the most established and certainly one of the largest of the world’s biennales, provides an exciting and challenging opportunity for curatorial development. There is a great artistic history to reflect and build upon, and take forward. My curatorial quest is to further invigorate the Biennale with works that excite the imagination of the audience and answer their desire to discover new artists, different ideas and emotionally charged and intellectually stimulating art. I hope to provide memorable encounters that linger in the minds of the audience. I am for the celebration of artistic imagination. I believe works that encourage exuberance, joy, exalted states and transcendence are valuable to the human psyche. And I am for the power of artistic observation. Art that elevates the commonplace by bestowing upon it extraordinary concentration, that helps us see our world as remarkable, essential and fragile. I am for art that probes certainties, whether they be historical or contemporary. I’m looking forward to creating a Biennale that provides opportunities for artists and audience in a mutual quest of discovery and participation.”


Inspired by Biennale of Sydney image source Vimeo

UN corrupts Somali political transition (August 15 2012) UN corrupts Somali political transition (August 15 2012)

Abdi Ismail Samatar the 62 year old Somalian-American Professor of Geography whose research focuses on the relationship between democracy and development in the Third World has published an article on Aljazeera titled the ‘UN corrupts Somali political transition’. In the article Samatar states “For over the two decades, sectarian Somali leaders and their international patrons dominated political transitions in the country. The end results of these affairs have been perpetual political instability, endless violence and the misery for the population without any one being held accountable. Another transition is looming and the UN which is midwifing the process is enabling several Somali actors to gerrymander the process in order to predetermine the outcome to their advantage. …Notwithstanding these odds, faithful people are relentlessly working to change the course of history for the better while they pray for a miracle. The Somali civic movement is engaged in such a struggle and is striving for a miracle under horrific circumstances, but their efforts are continuously undermined by regional and international actors who seem to relish the humiliation of the Somali. Conceiving and executing a corrupt political process designed to disable the Somali people, the UN strategy makes mockery of the high democratic and humanitarian ideals international actors claim to cherish and could very well instigate a new wave of violence. Let us hope that the civics miraculously triumph and human dignity restored.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Facebook

Pussy Riot is world famous as is its stunt (August 14 2012) Pussy Riot is world famous as is its stunt (August 14 2012)

Katrina vanden Heuvel the 52 year old editor and publisher has published an article in The Nation magazine following the commencement of the ‘hooliganism’ charges brought against three imprisoned members of the punk rock/protest group over a fifty-one-second stunt. In an anti-Putin protest the group had seized the stage of the Christ the Savior Cathedral just before the March elections and performing a musical plea to the Virgin Mary. Heuvel states “[in] a truly authoritarian response from the Russian government. Three alleged [female] participants were arrested, threatened with seven years of imprisonment, and placed in a pre-trial detention that’s been extended for months. Now, Pussy Riot is world famous—as is its stunt. The longer they’re in prison, the more attention they get. … More than 400,000 Russians have signed an online petition protesting their arrest and detention. …The righteousness of the Pussy Riot cause is clear-cut: courageous activists up against punitive suppression. As someone who’s worked with the women’s movement in Moscow, and as a longtime student of Russia, it’s horrific to watch the mistreatment of these women, and heartening to see them draw the support they deserve, both outside the country and within it. … It is heartening to see the broad attention being paid to the three women of the Pussy Riot group. But perhaps it’s time for some reporting on the millions of working or unemployed Russians who will bear the brunt of economic policies hatched by the Putin government and supported by many of its opposition critics. Putin’s repression has sparked vibrant pro–Pussy Riot activism.”


Inspired by The Nation image source Twitter

Citizens aren't parasites or background noise (August 13 2012) Citizens aren’t parasites or background noise (August 13 2012)

Dahlia Lithwick the 37 year old Canadian-American editor and legal correspondent has published an article on Slate titled ‘Don’t Even Consider Talking About the Olympics’ in which she discusses the suppression of free speech at U.S. political conventions and at the London Olympic Games. Lithwick states “Remember back when large public events were also the locus of large public protest? As we stare down the barrel of the Olympic Games and the two national political conventions this summer, it’s fair to say that free speech has been reduced to a mere wheeze, both in the United Kingdom and here in the USA. What are truly interesting are the differences between the two: The British are buying up free speech and the Americans are zoning it out. The mania for treating convention protesters like veal is not a new thing. Protesters have been herded into hilariously named “free speech zones” and penned behind fences since the 2004 DNC convention in Boston. …the London Olympics, where—aside from the usual clamping down on protest or even potential protest—we’re see[n] unprecedented restrictions on speech having anything to do with the Olympics. There are creepy new restrictions on journalists, with even nonsportswriters being told they should sign up with authorities. …But these events must be more than just clean staging areas for corporate fabulosity. Protesters, participants, and citizens aren’t parasites or background noise. Addressing threats of terror or real violence is one thing. Treating all speech and protest and media as inherently dangerous and violent is something entirely different.”


Inspired by Slate image source Facebook

Left us as the sole survivors (August 12 2012) Left us as the sole survivors (August 12 2012)

Christopher Brian Stringer the 65 year old British anthropologist, one of the leading proponents of the recent single-origin hypothesis or “Out of Africa” theory, has been interviewed by John Noble Wilford for the New York Times. Stringers hypothesizes that modern humans originated in Africa over 100,000 years ago and replaced the world’s archaic human species, such as Homo erectus and Neanderthals, after migrating within and then out of Africa to the non-African world within the last 50,000 to 100,000 years. During the interview Stringer states “…if we went back 100,000 years, which is very recent, geologically speaking, there might have been as many as six different kinds of humans on the earth. All those other kinds have disappeared, and left us as the sole survivors. … We evolved globally, all over the world. There was a view that in the different regions an earlier species, Homo erectus, evolved relatively seamlessly to modern humans. This idea was known as multiregionalism. The argument went that we remained one species throughout that evolutionary process, because there was interbreeding among the different populations. It meant that the Neanderthals in Europe, for example, would be the ancestors of modern Europeans; Homo erectus in China would be the ancestor of modern Asians. And Java Man would be a distant ancestor of modern Australian aboriginal populations. What we have seen since then is a growth in the fossil record, in our ability to date that record and to CT-scan fossils and get minute details out of them. DNA studies have had a huge impact on our field. We now have the genomes of Neanderthals and of these strange people in Siberia called the Denisovans.”


Inspired by New York Times image source Natural History Museum

Four spending myths wrecking our world (August 11 2012) Four spending myths wrecking our world (August 11 2012)

Mattea Kramer the American senior research analyst at the National Priorities Project has published an article on TomDispatch titled ‘Four spending myths that could wreck our world’ urging US lawmakers need to set aside budget initiatives based on fear and fantasy, and fund more domestic programmes. Kramer states “We’re at the edge of the cliff of deficit disaster! National security spending is being, or will soon be, slashed to the bone! Obamacare will sink the ship of state! Each of these claims has grabbed national attention in a big way, sucking up years’ worth of precious TV airtime. That’s a serious bummer, since each of them is a spending myth of the first order. Myth one: Today’s deficits have taken us to a historically unprecedented, economically catastrophic place. Myth two: Military and other national security spending have already taken their lumps and future budget-cutting efforts will have to take aim at domestic programmes instead. Myth three: Government health-insurance programmes are more costly than private insurance. Myth four: The Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – will bankrupt the federal government while levying the biggest tax in US history.  …If lawmakers skipped the myth-making and began putting the United States’ resources into a series of domestic investments that would spur the economy now, their acts would yield dividends for years to come. That means pushing education and job training, plus a host of job-creation measures, to the top of the priority list, and setting aside initiatives based on fear and fantasy.”


Inspired by Tom Dispatch image source Twitter

Voyeurs caught spying on moments of grace (August 10 2012) Voyeurs caught spying on moments of grace (August 10 2012)

Rineke Dijkstra the 53 year old Dutch photographer renowned for her single portraits usually in series of work taking in groups such as adolescents, clubbers, soldiers, recent mothers, or bullfighters; has been profiled by Kyle Chayka in an article published on Artinfo. In the article Chayka states “While working as an editorial photographer on assignment, the artist got into a serious accident. Doctors warned her that if she didn’t exercise extensively she might lose the use of her legs, and so she took to swimming. One day after climbing exhausted out of the pool, she noticed that her eyes were rimmed with red, as if she had been crying. Dijkstra decided to turn that moment into a self-portrait, and the resulting image hangs on the Guggenheim’s gallery wall. …Dijkstra is seen standing against a geometric tiled wall, eyes staring straight ahead at the viewer, worn out yet ferociously self-possessed. It was then that the photographer realized the power of shooting her subjects in moments of distress or suspension, times when the wall between the individual and society comes down and the soul is bared. The strategy pays off viscerally in Dijkstra’s series of portraits of new mothers shot just after birth. The women stand in the hallways of their homes (where Dutch women often give birth) cradling their newborns, faces communicating a captivating mix of shock and bemused joy. … We, of course, are the voyeurs caught spying on their moments of grace. Yet Dijkstra’s accomplishment is that she doesn’t sexualize, idealize, or exoticize what she captures.”


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Dangerous triumph of Israel's right wing (August 9 2012) Dangerous triumph of Israel’s right wing (August 9 2012)

Murtaza Hussain the Toronto-based writer and analyst focused on issues related to Middle Eastern politics has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘The dangerous triumph of Israel’s right wing’ discussing how Israel faces an existential threat from the Netanyahu government’s embrace of settlements in the West Bank. In the article Hussain states “For Israel, a state that has always been tenacious and aggressive in combatting perceived de-legitimisation from abroad, the most dangerous threat to its continued political integrity might today be engineered by its own right-wing government. Recently, the Levy Commission, a blue-ribbon panel of Israeli jurists commissioned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government to determine the legal status of the Palestinian West Bank, came back with findings and recommendations that represent a potential sea change in Israeli policy in the ongoing conflict. …The potential consequences of these findings can hardly be overstated. The report asserts that because the occupation and settlement enterprise have continued for decades under successive administrations and are historically unique, they should be de facto recognised as legal, regardless of international opinion. This position maintains that the West Bank is thus not occupied territory but in fact today is a part of Israel proper. …If the findings of the Levy Commission are indeed implemented as many high-ranking officials are presently advocating, it will either mean the end of Israel as a democracy or as the Jewish-majority state envisioned by its founders – two ideals that cannot exist simultaneously against a background of annexation and apartheid. While Israel’s strength facing its neighbours and the world continues to increase, its emboldened and ascendant right-wing may be engineering an existential threat to the country on its own.”


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So extraordinary at first I questioned the result (August 8 2012) So extraordinary at first I questioned the result (August 8 2012)

Son Nghiem the American NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory specialist in polarimetric scatterometry, whose work on Earth science remote sensing contributing to future advanced satellite instrument concepts, has identified a massive ice melt over the normally frozen wasteland of Greenland. In an article published on EcoNews by David Twomey, “Dr Son Nghiem… was analysing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite when he noticed that most of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting, Dr Nghiem said, “This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?” NASA says that for several days this month, Greenland’s surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its more than three-kilometre-thick centre, experienced some degree of melting at its surface… NASA said that on average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet naturally melted. …this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 per cent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise.”


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Art is never devoid of politics and economics (August 7 2012) Art is never devoid of politics and economics (August 7 2012)

Van Thanh Rudd the 38 year old Vietnamese Australian artist whose artworks have created controversies due to their left-wing political content has contributed artworks in support of ‘Free the Refugees Campaign’. Rudd’s first step into art/politics was becoming a member of the Darebin Artists Action Group (DAAG), followed with a deeper involvement in global politics came about while attending anti-globalization S11 rallies in Melbourne. Rudd’s art is influenced, inspired and directed towards movements of social justice around the globe. His major aim is to expose his often controversial art to as many people as possible in order to inspire discussion and debate about art’s role in today’s environmental, political and economic crises. Rudd describes himself as an “anti-capitalist activist who believes art can help change the world for the better and that art is never neutral. Art is never devoid of politics and economics. Art is part of a class war between the wealthy, ruling elites of the world and the majority of the indebted, working poor and exhausted and depleting middle classes. …Along with many social justice activists around the world, am inspired by the revolutionary atmosphere taking place around the world, from the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall St, the radical Left movements of Latin America, to the local street protests. Those protests include freedom for refugees, freedom for Palestine, freedom for Julian Assange and Wikileaks, and ending the Imperialist wars in the middle east. My art attempts to assist these and many more social justice campaigns.”


Inspired by Van Thanh Rudd image source Facebook

Giant high-heel shoe of pots and lids (August 6 2012) Giant high-heel shoe of pots and lids (August 6 2012)

Joana Vasconcelos the 41 year old Portuguese-French artist renowned for her appropriations, de-contextualisation and subversion of pre-existent objects and everyday realities. Vasconcelos’ work has been critiqued by Patricia Vieira & Michael Marder in an Aljazeera article, where her piece titled ‘Dorothy’ is described as a “giant high-heel shoe is created by putting together aluminium pots and lids of various sizes. …Dorothy juxtaposes the most recognisable markers of the stereotypical private and public female roles: the pots symbolise housekeeping duties and the high-heel shoe stands for the glamorous image of a seductress. The artist and her work become channels for the communication among disparate things that did not previously belong to the same spatial and temporal constellation. The pots and the shoe speak to one another, and what they relate to us in their thingly language is the material underside of women’s oppression. In Dorothy, Vasconcelos stages an encounter not only between things drawn from two different spheres of everyday life but also between a given thing and a seemingly incongruous milieu. This is accomplished both by changing the dimensions of a normal shoe and by placing the giant shoe in an unexpected setting: a garden or a hall of Versailles.” Vasconcelos’ sculptures and installations, as well as performances and video or photographic records, reveal an acute sense of scale and mastery of colour, while combining in the materialization of concepts that challenge the prearranged routines of daily life.


Inspired by Patricia Vieira & Michael Marder image source Facebook

Art and the language of things (August 5 2012) Art and the language of things (August 5 2012)

Patricia Vieira the American assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Comparative Literature has co-published an article on Aljazeera with Michael Marder a Research Professor of Philosophy. The article titled ‘Art and the language of things’ discusses how inanimate objects may communicate a meaning or intent through their juxtaposition with other objects. In the article Vieira states “Two of modern art’s most salient features are its self-reflexivity and its attention to context, and both bear upon the language of things. First, many modern artworks include an extended meditation on materiality. They realise, in the course of their open-ended aesthetic self-critique, that their inspiration lies somewhere other than the “genius” of the artist, namely in the things themselves. Second, modern art often plays with contextuality, placing familiar objects in unexpected environments, and so changing the relations among things. Art pieces extend beyond themselves and cannot be interpreted without referring to their literal and figurative frames. …Re-contextualisation has been a hallmark of the artistic avant-garde since the beginning of the 20th century – for instance, in Duchamp’s ready-mades, transported into the space of a museum. …The things the artist brings together get a chance for a second life in the material communities created by … aesthetic interventions. Once it begins, there is no inherent closure to the conversation among things, as more can be added to the ones already in existence… It demonstrates that things communicate with one another in their materiality, without resorting to words. The language of things is a language without names … offers us a glimpse into their interminable conversation by allowing the unnameable to speak to us.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Jimdo

Unique style of observational comedy (August 4 2012) Unique style of observational comedy (August 4 2012)

Des Bishop the 37 year old Irish-American comedian who has developed a unique style of observational comedy, most critical of his adopted home in Ireland and the America he left behind, has been profiled by Jay Richardson in an article published in The Independent on his plans to learn Mandarin from scratch and perform stand-up in China. In the article Bishop states “What I thought China was and what it is are two very different things, all you hear is the very narrow focus upon human rights, the economy, the one-party system and the disparity between the rural poor and the urban wealthy. You never hear about everyday life. I was blown away by how different it was to my expectations and how much it was unlike the West. I picked up [a regional Irish variant language] faster than I expected and quickly started using it at gigs in Irish-speaking areas. Only improvised stuff, just bantering with the crowd. I realised structuring material would be difficult but actually messing around with the language, it was easy to be funny. What surprised me learning Irish was how much better I understood what made those places tick, it’s something you don’t feel until it happens”.


Inspired by The Independent image source Facebook

Pentagon’s “New Spice Route” in Africa (August 3 2012) Pentagon’s “New Spice Route” in Africa (August 3 2012)

Nick Turse the American journalist, historian and author has published an article on Toms Dispatch titled ‘Obama’s Scramble for Africa’ where he discusses ‘Secret Wars, Secret Bases, and the Pentagon’s “New Spice Route” in Africa’. In the article Turse states “They call it the New Spice Route, an homage to the medieval trade network that connected Europe, Africa, and Asia, even if today’s “spice road” has nothing to do with cinnamon, cloves, or silks.  Instead, it’s a superpower’s superhighway, on which trucks and ships shuttle fuel, food, and military equipment through a growing maritime and ground transportation infrastructure to a network of supply depots, tiny camps, and airfields meant to service a fast-growing U.S. military presence in Africa. Few in the U.S. know about this superhighway, or about the dozens of training missions and joint military exercises being carried out in nations that most Americans couldn’t locate on a map. …operations in Africa have accelerated far beyond the more limited interventions of the Bush years: last year’s war in Libya; a regional drone campaign with missions run out of airports and bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Seychelles… The U.S. also has had troops deployed in Mali, despite having officially suspended military relations with that country following a coup. …engaged in a twenty-first century scramble for Africa, the possibility of successive waves of overlapping blowback grows exponentially.  Mali may only be the beginning and there’s no telling how any of it will end.  In the meantime, keep your eye on Africa.  The U.S. military is going to make news there for years to come.”


Inspired by TomDispatch image source Radcliffe

Politicians congenitally incapable of difficult choices (August 2 2012) Politicians congenitally incapable of difficult choices (August 2 2012)

Kenneth Saul Rogoff the 59 year old American Professor of Public Policy & Economics, and a chess Grandmaster has published an article on the Project Syndicate titled ‘Will Governmental Folly Now Allow for a Cyber Crisis?’ claiming most politicians are congenitally incapable of making difficult choices until risks actually materialise. In the article Rogoff states “When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, many shocked critics asked why markets, regulators and financial experts failed to see it coming. Today, one might ask the same question about the global economy’s vulnerability to cyber-attack. Indeed, the parallels between financial crises and the threat of cyber meltdowns are striking. Although the greatest cyber threat comes from rogue states with the capacity to develop extremely sophisticated computer viruses, risks can also come from anarchistic hackers and terrorists, or even from computer glitches compounded by natural catastrophe. …No economy is more vulnerable than the US, and it is arrogance to believe that US cyber superiority (to all except perhaps China) provides it with impenetrable security from attack. …Unfortunately the solution is not so simple as just building better anti-virus programmes. Virus protection and virus development constitute an uneven arms race. A virus can be just a couple hundred lines of computer code, compared to hundreds of thousands of lines for anti-virus programmes, which must be designed to detect wide classes of enemies. We are told not to worry about large-scale cyber meltdowns, because none has occurred, and governments are being vigilant.”


Inspired by Project Syndicate image source IMF

Thin line between ethnic cleansing and genocide (August 1 2012) Thin line between ethnic cleansing and genocide (August 1 2012)

William Lloyd George the British freelance journalist warns of an impending humanitarian crisis in western Myanmar where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are threatened by an increase in sectarian violence. George in an article published on Aljazeera states “There is a thin line between ethnic cleansing and genocide. Hitler carried out ethnic cleansing on Jewish communities for years before he attempted genocide. With the whole country, including the democracy movement, seemingly behind the government’s plans to expel the Rohingya, urgent intervention is needed to save the Rohginya from a humanitarian crisis, and the potential for a violent campaign by the state, alongside Rhakine extremists backed by local authorities. The two communities should not be separated as the government plans; instead there is an urgent need to bring the communities back together, and return the region to normality. Conflict resolution programmes and development is needed as soon as possible. The longer the two communities are apart, the more radicalisation – of both groups – will fester, and whether the government allows it to take place, supports it, or just turns a blind eye, a return to some form of violence will be almost inevitable. …Myanmar’s democracy activists, human rights defenders, and vibrant civil society, should immediately address the impending humanitarian crisis and potential devastation of the Rohingya people.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source rtrfm

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