Badshah Masala launched their new ad campaign #HumareYahan        


by Shrutee K/DNS
National: Badshah Masala, this Independence Day, has launched their new ad campaign #HumareYahan, aiming to decrease this divide and pushes notice to how similar these two sister countries are. Badshah Masala believes that despite all the differences we may have, food transcends all boundaries and brings people from different places together. 
In this video, Manno is a traditional Indian mom whose daughter, Dimple, has just returned from US after finishing her studies. Dimple, whilst showing Manno pictures from her time in US, also shows her a picture with her Pakistani friend, Saad. Manno immediately points to Saad being a Pakistani, but is shunned by her young and liberal daughter.  
Dimple then mentions that she wants to meet Saad, an idea which Manno isn't too fond of. After much deliberation, Manno asks Dimple to invite Saad over for dinner so that she can keep an eye on him. Once Saad comes over for dinner, he amazes Manno with what he does.
This video is a testimony to how much the younger generation can influence their parents in breaking stereotypes that have prevailed in modern India. The campaign also communicates a broader message that gets us thinking as to how Indians perceive foreign nationals. It stresses on the importance of respect for an individual regardless of his or her racial background and nationality, and the importance of not judging a person based on our own preconceived notions and existing stereotypes.
Kailash Jhaveri, Managing Partner of Jhaveri Industries, said,”As we are inching closer to a 70th Independence Day, there is no better time to contemplate the ties between these two countries. We are trying our best to close this divide by starting a conversation over something that no one would decline - Swaad.” 
Hemant Jhaveri, Managing Partner of Jhaveri Industries, adds, “Badshah Masala has always been involved in forming connections through food. From the very beginning of this company, we have looked at food as something that can bring people from everywhere together. We are glad that we are taking this opportunity to provide another outlook to the current scenario that our country is facing.” 
Anushree Pacheriwal, Creative Head of Gemius, said, “It has been an incredible experience working for this campaign. From the very start, we were certain that this message needed to be out there, and that shaped the direction that this campaign took.”
The campaign is by Badshah Masala conceptualised by agency Gemius and creative head Anushree Pacheriwal, Story, Saurabh Pacheriwal. The production house is 50mm Media Productions and Director & DOP is Saurabh Desai and Ankit Mavchi. Gemius is co founded by Saurabh Pacheriwal, a marketing professional and Anushree Pacheriwal, a creative professional. Its clientele includes Badshah Masala, World Economic Forum, Just In Time, Baggit, TEDx events amongst others.
·       Campaign Link:  https://youtu.be/2LFIuXf1Gqo
Credits:
Client: Badshah Masala
Managing Partners: Kailash Jhaveri, Hemant Jhaveri
Agency: Gemius
Managing Director: Saurabh Pacheriwal
Creative Head: Anushree Pacheriwal
Account Management Team: Tanvi Khandelwal, Abhishek Doshi, Varsha Tanna
Story: Saurabh Pacheriwal
Production House: 50mm Media Productions
Director & DOP: Saurabh Desai & Ankit Mavchi
Production Team: Fenil Patel, Siddhant Shah, Nehal Trivedi, Jigar M, Setu U


          Sulla critica del diritto nel giovane Gramsci        
E' successo che, preparando un commento all'ultima sortita di Saviano a proposito di storia della sinistra italiana, ho ripreso in mano, dopo anni, il vecchio volume dell'Einaudi (Torino, 1960) che raccoglie i corsivi pubblicati da Gramsci sull'"Avanti!" nella rubrica Sotto la Mole (1916-1920). Qui mi è capitato sotto gli occhi il commento di Gramsci alla sentenza sui "fatti di Torino", cioè (annotano i curatori dell'edizione) "lo sciopero generale per il pane e contro la guerra, che sfociò nella sommossa del 23-26 agosto 1917". [1]

Il commento di Gramsci fu pubblicato sull'"Avanti!" il 20 ottobre 1918: il testo, come di frequente, uscì con vistosi "vuoti" dovuti all'azione della censura. Eccolo qui di seguito [2].

BELLU SCHESC' E DOTTORI!

Il giudice Emanuele Pili non è senza storia, come gli uomini e i popoli felici. Ma la storia del giudice Emanuele Pili ha una lacuna; iniziatasi col protagonista autore drammatico, riprende ora col protagonista «ragionatore» di sentenze, e riprende con una gloriosa e strenua pugna: il «ragionamento» della sentenza per i fatti di Torino, che nell'ultimo numero della «Gazzetta dei tribunali» il misuratore di crani prof. Vitige Tirelli qualifica «dotta».
Benedetto Croce ha scritto: «Chi ha pratica dei tribunali sa che molto spesso un magistrato, presa la decisione e stabilita la sentenza, incarica un suo piú gio [dodici righe e mezzo censurate]. E il giudice giovane ha fatto sfoggio di dottrina; e il giudice giovane — poiché nella prima gíoventú aspirava alla gloria di Talia e dedicava le sue fresche energie intellettuali a scrivere commedie nei vari dialetti di Sardegna e non poté studiare tutti i risultati delle ultime ricerche sulla natura del diritto e delle costituzioni — ha ragionato [una riga censurata] nella sentenza dei fatti di Torino, rovistando nei vecchi cassettoni, rimettendo alla luce tutti gli imparaticci scolastici del primo anno universitario, quando ancora si frequentano le lezioni e si prendono gli appunti.
[Venticinque righe censurate].
Gli sono estranee le correnti del pensiero moderno che hanno ringiovanito tutta la dottrina dello Stato e del Giure — superando le concezioni puerilmente metafisiche della dottrina tradizionale, degli imparaticci da scoletta universitaria — colla riduzione dello Stato e del Giure a pura attività pratica, svolta come dialettica della volontà di potenza e non piú pietistico richiamo alle leggi naturali, ai sacrari inconoscibili dell'istinto avito, alla banale retorica dei compilatori delle storiette per la scuola elementare. Il «ragionamento» del giudice Pili è solo una filastroccola di banalità retoriche, di gonfiezze presuntuose: esso è il ridicolo parto di un fossile intellettuale, il quale non riesce a concepire che lo Stato italiano almeno giuridicamente (e come giudice questa apparenza della realtà doveva solo importare al «giovane» da tribunale) è costituzionale, ed è parlamentare per tradizione (l'on. Sonnino è gran parte dello Stato attuale, ma crediamo che il suo articolo Torniamo allo Statuto! non sia ancora diventato legge fondamentale del popolo italiano): [cinque righe censurate]. La «dottrina» del giovane da tribunale infatti si consolida (!) in esclamazioni enfatiche contro chi ha «resistito» o è accusato di aver resistito: non cerca (come era suo compito) di dimostrare, alla stregua delle prove concrete e sicure, un delitto per passare l'esatta commisurazione alla sua entità di una pena contemplata nel codice. No, il «giovane» vuole sfoggiare, come una contadina ricca del Campidano di Cagliari le vesti multicolori che hanno servito alle sue antenate per le nozze e per decine e decine di anni sono rimaste seppellite in un vecchio cassettone a fregi bestiali e floreali tra lo spigo e una dozzina di limoni: e sfoggia tutti i vecchiumi, tutti gli scolaticci dei vespasiani giuridici chiusi per misura d'igiene pubblica.
Il giudice Emanuele Pili ha scritto una commedia dialettale: Bellu schesc' e dottori! (che bel pezzo di... dottore!) L'esclamazione potrebbe essere la conclusione critica della lettura di una sentenza, cosí com'è il titolo di una commedia.

La prima lacuna è stata integrata facilmente dai curatori del testo gramsciano. Si tratta di una citazione dalla Logica di Croce, riportata come segue:

«Chi ha pratica dei tribunali sa che molto spesso un magistrato, presa la decisione e stabilita la sentenza, incarica un suo piú giovane collega di "ragionarla", ossia di apporre una parvenza di ragionamento a ciò che non è intrinsecamente e puramente prodotto di logica, ma è voluntas di un determinato provvedimento. Questo procedere, se ha il suo uso nella cerchia pratica o giuridica, è affatto escluso da quella della logica e della scienza» (B. CROCE, Logica come scienza del concetto puro, Bari 1917, pp. 87-88).

Quando Gramsci nel suo corsivo parla delle "correnti del pensiero moderno che hanno ringiovanito tutta la dottrina dello Stato e del Giure", si riferisce appunto alla filosofia del diritto di Benedetto Croce. Croce aveva infatti affermato l'assoluta separazione tra morale e diritto, e aveva sottoposto il diritto alle categorie dell'utile e della forza. Nella concezione di Croce, il diritto è forza, che viene applicata per il raggiungimento di uno scopo ritenuto (da chi agisce questa forza) utile; il diritto è inoltre amorale, in quanto prescinde dal giusto e dall'ingiusto.

E' interessante notare che qui Gramsci si serve della teoria del diritto di Croce per porre un'istanza di garantismo giuridico. Infatti, ciò che Gramsci rimprovera al giudice Pili, estensore della sentenza sui fatti di Torino, è di aver confuso il diritto con la morale. Il giudice avrebbe dovuto limitarsi a vagliare le prove, accertare se fosse stato commesso un reato, e, in caso affermativo, determinarne la pena secondo le norme del codice. Invece, questa sentenza (scrive Gramsci) pretende di condannare gli imputati non sulla base della legge, bensì sulla scorta di considerazioni di ordine moralistico, la cui infondatezza giuridica è mascherata dal ricorso all'enfasi e alla retorica.

La linea del ragionamento gramsciano è abbastanza riconoscibile, nonostante i buchi lasciati dalla censura, e nonostante un probabile refuso tipografico [3]. Comunque, in un poscritto all'articolo del giorno successivo (Le vie della divina provvidenza, 21 ottobre 1918), Gramsci scrive:

P.S. Nell'articolo pubblicato ieri sul giudice Emanuele Pili la censura ha lasciato solo la parte «floreale» che può far supporre aver noi scritto un puro pamphlet per insolentire un magistrato. La censura ha imbiancato le giustificazioni delle insolenze: la giustificazione filosofica trovata nella Logica del senatore Benedetto Croce; la giustificazione storica trovata in una notizia pubblicata dal «Journal des Débats» l'8 novembre 1817 (milleottocentodiciassette!), la giustificazione costituzionale trovata nello Statuto albertino. Un'insolenza giustificata da «pezze» di tal genere crediamo non sia piú insolenza, ma espressione plastica della imparziale giustizia. La censura pertanto ci ha solo diffamati, senza che le leggi ci diano il modo di dar querela.

La "giustificazione filosofica" delle critiche che Gramsci rivolge al magistrato corrisponde, lo abbiamo visto, ad una citazione da Croce. Rimane la curiosità di sapere quali potessero essere le altre due "giustificazioni"  imbiancate dalla censura.

La "giustificazione costituzionale", che corrisponde alla lacuna di cinque righe, si trova, dice Gramsci, nello Statuto albertino; e potrebbe forse trattarsi di uno degli articoli che, in quel testo costituzionale, tutelavano i diritti civili: per esempio l'art. 26, secondo comma, "niuno può essere arrestato e tradotto in giudizio, se non nei casi previsti dalla legge, e nelle forme che essa prescrive".

Naturalmente, non è da pensare che Gramsci si facesse particolari illusioni circa l'effettività delle garanzie prescritte dallo Statuto. Sappiamo, invece, che Gramsci sempre ritenne la borghesia italiana incapace di creare un vero Stato di diritto che tutelasse le libertà individuali [4]. Un articolo di Gramsci di qualche anno successivo a quello che stiamo ora esaminando (Lo Stato italiano, in "L'Ordine Nuovo", 7 febbraio 1920) contiene una puntuale critica, da questo punto di vista, allo Statuto albertino:

Lo Stato italiano [...] non ha mai neppure tentato di mascherare la dittatura spietata della classe proprietaria. Si può dire che lo Statuto albertino sia servito a un solo fine preciso: a legare fortemente le sorti della Corona alle sorti della proprietà privata. I soli freni infatti che funzionano nella macchina statale per limitare gli arbitrî del governo dei ministri del re sono quelli che interessano la proprietà privata del capitale. La Costituzione non ha creato nessun istituto che presidî almeno formalmente le grandi libertà dei cittadini: la libertà individuale, la libertà di parola e di stampa, la libertà di associazione e di riunione. Negli Stati capitalistici, che si chiamano liberali democratici, l'istituto massimo di presidio delle libertà popolari è il potere giudiziario: nello Stato italiano la giustizia non è un potere, è un ordine, è uno strumento della Corona e della classe proprietaria. 

Gramsci sottintendeva questo tipo di considerazioni anche all'articolo qui in commento, laddove scriveva che lo Stato italiano "almeno giuridicamente" (cioè solo formalmente) era costituzionale, ed era "parlamentare per tradizione", nel senso che lo Statuto albertino non istituiva una vera e propria democrazia parlamentare, bensì l'ordinamento parlamentare dello Stato derivava da una semplice consuetudine che poteva essere in ogni momento abrogata: così come aveva proposto di fare Sidney Sonnino nel suo articolo del 1897, appropriatamente richiamato da Gramsci, Torniamo allo Statuto!,  e come poi farà il fascismo.

Tuttavia, il fatto che la monarchia sabauda fosse uno Stato di diritto carente e imperfetto non avrebbe dovuto esimere il magistrato dall'applicare comunque quelle garanzie (pur se insufficienti) che la legge disponeva a favore degli imputati: "come giudice questa apparenza della realtà doveva solo importare" al giudice Pili, osserva giustamente Gramsci.

La "giustificazione storica", che corrisponde alla lacuna di venticinque righe, è data (scrive Gramsci) da una notizia pubblicata sul numero dell'8 novembre 1817 del "Journal des Débats". Internet consente oggi di consultare facilmente quel numero di giornale per cercare quale potesse essere la notizia che costituiva la "giustificazione storica" invocata da Gramsci.

Una delle notizie ivi contenute, che possono essere state utilizzate da Gramsci ai fini del suo commento, è una corrispondenza dalla Gran Bretagna datata 3 novembre, che riporto qui di seguito in una mia traduzione (il testo originale è in nota):

Quattro individui di nome Booth, Brown, Jackson e King, prima delle ultime assisi di Derby, erano stati condannati a morte per crimine di ribellione. Condotti sul patibolo, al momento stesso della morte hanno avuto l'audacia empia di arringare la folla, affinché li venisse a liberare. Questa folla era composta da loro vecchi amici che li avevano frequentemente visitati in carcere; ma il luogo dell'esecuzione era sorvegliato da folti distaccamenti di cavalleria e di fanteria, e la legge ha avuto esecuzione [5].

Inizialmente ho pensato che questa notizia potesse aver attratto l'attenzione di Gramsci (per analogia con i fatti di Torino) perché riferita a un episodio di ribellione delle classi subalterne conclusosi con una condanna penale. Episodio che forse è leggibile nel quadro della fase di irrequietezza sociale che fu caratterizzata, in Gran Bretagna, dalle proteste contro la legge sul grano del 1815, fase che sfociò nel massacro di Peterloo.

Tuttavia, non ho trovato alcun elemento che potesse suffragare questa ipotesi. Non è chiaro neanche se i quattro uomini giustiziati a Derby nel 1817 siano stati effettivamente condannati a morte per reati politici, o non piuttosto per reati comuni; in un elenco dei giustiziati nel carcere di Derby, compilato da Celia Renshaw, una storica locale, questi Booth, Brown, Jackson e King risultano essere stati condannati per aver appiccato il fuoco a dei covoni di paglia [6]. Inoltre è noto che Gramsci non amava gli atteggiamenti tribunizi e teatrali, né apprezzava particolarmente i gesti individuali di ribellione: lo si evince dal suo stesso comportamento di imputato durante il "processone" del 1928 [7], nonché dal suo commento, contenuto nei Quaderni del carcere, ad un libro che raccoglieva i resoconti di una serie di processi contro anarchici libertari [8]. Perciò mi sembra improbabile che, nel suo corsivo del 1918 che stiamo ora commentando, Gramsci possa aver preso ad esempio il comportamento di quattro condannati a morte per reati contro il patrimonio che, dal patibolo, incitano la folla alla rivolta.

C'è però un'altra notiziola, sempre nella prima pagina  del "Journal des Débats" dell'8 novembre 1817, che potrebbe aver attirato l'attenzione di Gramsci. Si tratta di una corrispondenza da Losanna datata primo novembre:

Il Cantone Esterno di Appenzell ha da poco emesso una singolare sentenza contro un ragazzino accusato di alcuni piccoli furti. Lo hanno condannato a 50 fl. di ammenda e a trenta colpi di verga. Gli sarà inoltre assegnato un posto particolare in chiesa per un periodo di due anni: dovrà trovarsi colà per due volte ogni domenica, e sarà punito severamente in caso d'inosservanza [9].

In questa notizia di cronaca (un ragazzino condannato con sentenza penale ad andare a messa due volte la settimana) troviamo un esempio estremo e grottesco di quella perniciosa, pre-moderna confusione tra diritto e morale, che Gramsci stigmatizza nella sua polemica col giudice relatore della sentenza sui fatti di Torino. Perciò ritengo che sia stata questa la pezza giustificativa di quella parte dell'argomentazione gramsciana, che la censura ha cancellato lasciando nell'articolo un buco di venticinque righe.

Note

[1] Sempre secondo l'apparato critico dell'edizione citata, la sentenza fu emessa dal Tribunale militare di Torino il 2 agosto 1918; il testo della sentenza è reperibile in "Rivista storica del socialismo", n. 2, 1960.

[2] A. Gramsci, Sotto la Mole, ed. cit., pp. 447-48. L'articolo è stato poi raccolto nella più recente edizione degli scritti gramsciani precarcerari: A. Gramsci, Il nostro Marx 1918-1919, a cura di Sergio Caprioglio, Einaudi, Torino 1984, pp. 360-2. In Internet si trova qui: http://www.liberliber.it/mediateca/libri/g/gramsci/sotto_la_mole/pdf/sotto__p.pdf, p. 269.

[3] "Passare l'esatta commisurazione alla sua entità di una pena contemplata nel codice" è frase di cui si capisce il senso, ma che sembra guasta anche grammaticalmente. Penso che Gramsci abbia invece scritto "fissare l'esatta commisurazione della sua entità ad una pena contemplata nel codice".

[4] Cfr. Leonardo Rapone, Cinque anni che paiono secoli. Antonio Gramsci dal socialismo al comunismo (1914-1919), Carocci, Roma 2011, pp. 162-6.

[5] Quatre individus nommés Booth, Brown, Jackson et King, antérieurement aux dernières assises de Derby, avoient été condamnés à mort pour crime de rebellion. Amenés sur l'échafaud, ils ont eu, même au moment de la mort, l'audace impie de haranguer la multitude, et de l'engager à venir les délivrer. Cette multitude étoit composée de leurs anciens amis qui les avoient fréquemment visités dans leur prison; mais le lieu de l'exécution étoit gardé par de forts détachements de cavalerie et d'infanterie, et la loi reçut son exécution.

[6] Fonte: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/DERBYSGEN/2009-08/1250276359

[7] Cfr. Giuseppe Fiori (a cura di), Antonio Gramsci: cronaca di un verdetto annunciato, I Libri de "l'Unità", supplemento al numero del 4 aprile, Roma 1994. 

[8] Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere, edizione critica a cura di Valentino Gerratana, Einaudi, Torino 1975, pp. 6-7 e 1896-7.

[9] Les Rhodes extérieurs d'Appenzell viennent de rendre une singulière sentence contre un enfant accusé de quelques petits vols. Ils l'ont condamné à 50 fl. d'amende et à trente coups de bâtons. Il lui sera d'ailleurs assigné une place particulière à l'église pendant deux ans; il devra s'y trouver deux fois chaque dimanche sous des peines séveres.

          Sull'"Elogio dei riformisti" di Roberto Saviano        
1. Affinità e divergenze fra Saviano e noi. Considero Gomorra uno fra i libri letterariamente più importanti di questi anni nonché fra i capolavori del giornalismo d'inchiesta italiano. Ammiro e rispetto Roberto Saviano, anche se a volte non sono stato d'accordo con lui su alcune delle sue prese di posizione (ad es. sulla politica dei governi israeliani, oppure sugli scontri di piazza che hanno contrassegnato l'ultima fase del governo Berlusconi).

Ho trovato molto superficiale e semplicistico l'articolo di Saviano uscito su "La Repubblica" del 28 febbraio, dedicato all'elogio del riformismo.

Prendendo spunto da un recente libro di Alessandro Orsini sulla storia della sinistra italiana, libro che contrappone Turati a Gramsci, Saviano traccia una riga sulla lavagna, mettendo da una parte i riformisti e dall'altra i comunisti. I primi sarebbero pacati, realisti, tolleranti e liberali, i secondi sarebbero fanatici, violenti, malati di dogmatismo e d'ideologia.

Scrive Saviano: "i comunisti hanno educato generazioni di militanti a definire gli avversari politici dei pericolosi nemici, ad insultarli ed irriderli. Fa un certo effetto rileggere le parole con cui un intellettuale raffinato come Gramsci definiva un avversario, non importa quale: 'La sua personalità ha per noi, in confronto della storia, la stessa importanza di uno straccio mestruato'. Invitava i suoi lettori a ricorrere alle parolacce e all'insulto personale contro gli avversari che si lamentavano delle offese ricevute [...]. Arrivò persino a tessere l'elogio del 'cazzotto in faccia' contro i deputati liberali. I pugni, diceva, dovevano essere un 'programma politico' e non un episodio isolato".

Viceversa, sempre secondo Saviano:

"in quegli stessi anni Filippo Turati, dimenticato pensatore e leader del partito socialista, conduceva una tenacissima battaglia per educare al rispetto degli avversari politici nel tentativo di coniugare socialismo e liberalismo".


Questa contrapposizione fra estremisti e riformisti, dice Saviano, si protrae fino ad oggi:

"Naturalmente, oggi, nel Pd erede del Pci, non c'è più traccia di quel massimalismo verboso e violento, e anche il linguaggio della Sel di Vendola è molto meno acceso. Ma c'è invece, fuori dal Parlamento, una certa sinistra che vive di dogmi. Sono i sopravvissuti di un estremismo massimalista che sostiene di avere la verità unica tra le mani", sono quei "pacifisti talmente violenti da usare la pace come strumento di aggressione per chiunque la pensi diversamente". Eccetera.

Quindi tutto lineare, nello schema di Saviano. Tutto semplice. Riformisti, buoni, in parlamento; comunisti, fuori dal parlamento, cattivi. Chiaro, no?

E però, se si va a verificare nel dettaglio gli esempi storici addotti da Saviano, ecco che le cose si complicano.

2. Cosa c'era prima degli assorbenti. Vediamo ad esempio la prima frase "incriminata". Di un suo avversario politico ("non importa quale", dice Saviano), Gramsci scrisse: "La sua personalità ha per noi, in confronto della storia, la stessa importanza di uno straccio mestruato".

La similitudine usata da Gramsci, al nostro orecchio di contemporanei, suona senza dubbio molto sgradevole. Intollerabilmente sessista, fra l'altro. Proviamo però a collocarla nel suo contesto. La frase è tratta da un articolo di Gramsci, allora venticinquenne, pubblicato sull'edizione torinese dell'"Avanti!" il 19 aprile 1916. In quel periodo la redazione di Torino dell'"Avanti!", di cui Gramsci era giornalista, stava conducendo una campagna di stampa sugli sprechi e sulle ruberie di cui si erano resi responsabili i promotori dell'Esposizione Universale di Torino del 1911. Come spesso succede in Italia quando si tratta di "grandi opere", anche questa era stata accompagnata da malversazioni, che Gramsci e i giornalisti dell'"Avanti!" avevano puntualmente denunciato.

Fra i bersagli di questa campagna di stampa c'era il conte Delfino Orsi, che all'epoca faceva parte della direzione della "Gazzetta del Popolo", un giornale monarchico, filogovernativo e interventista. L'articolo di Gramsci del 19 aprile 1916 è appunto una risposta ad un altro giornalista che aveva accusato l'"Avanti!" di aver attaccato Delfino Orsi non per il ruolo di quest'ultimo nello scandalo dell'Esposizione Universale, bensì invece perché Orsi era "una delle più influenti figure dell'interventismo subalpino".

Teniamo sempre presente il contesto storico. In Italia, nel 1916, lo scontro politico fra governo e opposizione era polarizzato sul problema della guerra. Era soprattutto lo scontro fra interventisti e pacifisti. Era in corso la Prima guerra mondiale, un conflitto che oggi praticamente tutti gli storici valutano come un'orrenda ecatombe, una catastrofe che segnò l'inizio del declino della civiltà europea, e che, in Italia, aprì la via al fascismo. In Italia il bilancio della guerra fu di circa 680.000 morti e quasi 500.000 invalidi permanenti. Il Partito Socialista Italiano, nel quale all'epoca militavano sia Gramsci sia Turati, era su posizioni pacifiste, e si opponeva compattamente alla guerra. A favore della guerra erano invece i nazionalisti, i liberali e il Partito Socialista Riformista Italiano, composto perlopiù da riformisti, come Bonomi e Bissolati, che erano stati espulsi dal P.S.I. già nel 1912 per il loro appoggio alla guerra di Libia.

Tale era il contesto della polemica fra l'"Avanti!" di Gramsci da una parte, e la "Gazzetta del Popolo" di Delfino Orsi dall'altra.

Quando, nell'agosto 1917, a Torino la popolazione diede vita ad una rivolta spontanea contro la guerra e contro la mancanza di pane (rivolta che fu ovviamente repressa nel sangue, con circa 50 morti e 200 feriti fra gli operai e le loro famiglie), la "Gazzetta del Popolo" di Delfino Orsi fu tra gli organi di stampa che giustificarono la repressione.

Più tardi, coerentemente, Delfino Orsi fu deputato nel Parlamento fascista, ed era ancora tale quando morì nel 1929 (mentre Gramsci era in carcere). Il gerarca Federzoni, nel suo elogio funebre pronunciato alla Camera dei Deputati l'11 dicembre 1929, disse di Orsi fra l'altro: "egli poté rinverdire i fasti patriottici della Gazzetta del Popolo, levando ancora la gloriosa bandiera del Risorgimento per le nuove battaglie dell'intervento nella grande guerra, della difesa delle aspirazioni nazionali, della rivoluzione fascista".


Delfino Orsi era appunto l'uomo che Gramsci paragonò ad uno "straccio mestruato". Un epiteto certamente poco gentile. Ma possiamo veramente dire, con Saviano, che "non importa quale" individuo egli fosse, né in quale periodo storico fosse situata la polemica fra lui e Gramsci?

Che diremmo di un giornalista il quale scrivesse, di alcuni suoi concittadini (non importa quali, direbbe Saviano), che essi sono "vigliacchi, in realtà", un "manipolo di killer", "abbrutiti e strafatti", un "branco di assassini" che "vivono come bestie"? Sono insulti pesanti e hanno ben poco di mite e di liberale. Ma se collochiamo questi epiteti nel contesto dell'articolo da cui sono tratti, scopriamo che si riferiscono ad una banda di camorristi responsabili di svariati omicidi, e che l'autore del pezzo è Roberto Saviano ("la Repubblica", 22 settembre 2008). Dobbiamo condannare il giornalista per la sua eccessiva violenza verbale? O non dobbiamo piuttosto ritenere che l'indignazione di Saviano, seppure si esprima in termini poco urbani, sia alquanto giustificata dalle circostanze?

3. La nobile arte. Vediamo, ancora, un altro passo gramsciano cui si riferisce Roberto Saviano. Si tratta dell'articolo intitolato "Elogio del cazzotto", uscito sempre sull'"Avanti!" il 12 giugno 1916. L'episodio cui si riferiva Gramsci in questo articolo era il seguente. Dei deputati socialisti, come gesto dimostrativo, avevano lanciato nell'aula di Montecitorio alcune cartoline con l'effige di parlamentari russi che erano stati deportati in Siberia a causa della loro opposizione alla guerra (c'era ancora il regime assolutista dello zar, e la Russia era alleata in guerra con le potenze della Triplice Intesa, con l'Italia, e contro la Germania e l'Impero asburgico). Un deputato interventista, Giuseppe Bevione, in quell'occasione accusò i socialisti di essere al soldo del nemico. Ne nacque un tafferuglio, durante il quale il socialista Nino Mazzoni colpì Bevione con un pugno. Questo, nello specifico, fu il "cazzotto" cui si riferisce Gramscì nel suo articolo, scrivendo fra l'altro:

"Non siamo entusiastici ammiratori del diritto del pugno; eppure quei pugni vibrati robustamente sul ceffo di Bevione ci riempiono di giubilo e di ammirazione".

Anche qui: possiamo dire che sia davvero ininfluente collocare la citazione di Gramsci nel suo contesto?

4. Vota Antonio. Veniamo ora ad un'altra delle dicotomie che Roberto Saviano delinea nel suo pezzo: quella fra opposizione parlamentare Vs. opposizione extraparlamentare. La prima riformista e "buona", la seconda estremista e "cattiva". E confrontiamo questa dicotomia con un esempio storico.

Nel giugno 1924, dopo il rapimento di Giacomo Matteotti, i parlamentari dell'opposizione antifascista decisero di disertare le aule del Parlamento, dando così luogo a quella forma di protesta extraparlamentare che passò alla storia come "secessione dell'Aventino". Fra loro c'era Filippo Turati, assieme a tutti i socialisti riformisti. C'era anche la piccola pattuglia dei deputati comunisti, che però, nel novembre 1924, verificata l'inefficacia della protesta aventiniana, decisero di rientrare in Parlamento, dove rimasero a contrastare la maggioranza fascista, praticamente da soli, per altri due anni, fino a quando il partito comunista non fu messo fuori legge. (A che tipo di pacifica dialettica parlamentare fossero avvezzi i deputati fascisti lo si può vedere consultando la voce di Wikipedia dedicata a Francesco Misiano).

Quindi, ricapitolando. Nel 1925 abbiamo il socialista riformista Turati fuori dal parlamento. In parlamento c'è una maggioranza parlamentare "estremista" fascista e una minoranza comunista (parimenti "estremista" secondo Saviano) di cui Gramsci fa parte. Comunque si voglia giudicare la situazione, si tratta di un caso in cui la realtà storica si rivela più complessa dei rigidi schematismi delineati da Saviano.

5. Conclusione. Con tutto questo discorso non voglio dire, naturalmente, che la violenza verbale nella lotta politica va sempre bene, che è sempre giustificata. Sono d'accordo con Saviano nel condannare certe forme di settarismo inutile e controproducente (di cui è un esempio il giudizio su Turati espresso da un Togliatti al peggio del suo stalinismo, citato da Saviano nel suo articolo). Né intendo affrontare discorsi astratti sul punto se sia meglio la lotta extraparlamentare o quella parlamentare.

Dico che ogni situazione fa storia a sé, che occorre giudicare caso per caso, e che generalizzazioni astratte e astoriche, come quella proposta da Saviano nell'articolo in questione, non hanno alcun significato.
          (Haptopraxeology) - Students of Civilization (no replies)        
'I remain optimistic, but even more cautiously than before. If 2016 taught me anything, it was that we economists should stick to our jobs as "students of civilization" as the founding members of the Austrian School saw their intellectual mission.

..

..We have the tools and mentality to be 'students of civilization" as our intellectual tradition demands.'

- Peter Boettke, 2016: A Year in a Life, December 29, 2016


'This book argues that the work of the Austrian economists, including Carl Menger, Joseph Schumpeter, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, has been too narrowly interpreted. Through a study of Viennese politics and culture, it demonstrates that the project they were engaged in was much broader: the study and defense of a liberal civilization. Erwin Dekker shows the importance of the civilization in their work and how they conceptualized their own responsibilities toward that civilization, which was attacked left and right during the interwar period. Dekker argues that what differentiates their position is that they thought of themselves primarily as students of that civilization rather than as social scientists, or engineers. This unique focus and approach is related to the Viennese setting of the circles, which constitute the heart of Viennese intellectual life in the interwar period.

• Corrects the one-sided view on Austrian economists which dominates the literature • Investigates how economics was transformed into a modern engineering science and what was lost in the process • Helps the reader understand how the Austrian economists regarded their role and responsibilities as scholars and citizens'

- The Viennese Students of Civilization, 2014


Context 'A judgment of value .. a man's affective response to definite conditions of the universe..' - Ludwig von Mises

'..dismantle the Marxist myth..' - 'Karl Marx, False consciousness'

(Bazaarmodel - To Heal - Teal) - '..is it possible to build a truly Evolutionary-Teal school?'

(The Electric Universe) - SAFIRE as Astrophysical Laboratory | EU2016


The Christmas Truce of 1914 - '..what might have happened if the truce had spread and this had caused the war to end earlier..'

(To Heal - Teal - Bazaarmodel) - Striving for wholeness '..We have let our busy egos trump the quiet voice of our soul; many cultures often celebrate the mind and neglect the body..'

'..how socialism actually produces a superclass of elites and a form of socio-economic apartheid..'


Presentation: Phase I (2012 - 2022) - The Beginning

          Miras Bebas, Maksiat dan Kejahatan Makin Bablas        



Bebas, Maksiat dan Kejahatan Makin Bablas
[Al Islam 589] Bukannya mencegah kemaksiatan, pemerintah malah memberikan jalan bagi suburnya kemaksiatan dan kerusakan di tengah masyarakat. Lihatlah, pemerintah justru mencabut perda yang melarang miras (minuman keras).

Setidaknya ada sembilan perda miras yang diminta untuk dicabut oleh kemendagri. Diantaranya, Perda Kota Tangerang No. 7/2005 tentang Pelarangan, Pengedaran, dan Penjualan Minuman Beralkohol; Perda Kota Bandung No. 11/2010 tentang Pelarangan, Pengawasan, dan Pengendalian Minuman Beralkohol; dan Perda Kabupaten Indramayu No. 15/2006 tentang Larangan Minuman Beralkohol.

Keputusan itu memicu protes dan penolakan dari banyak pihak. Keputusan pencabutan itu dianggap kontraproduktif terhadap upaya mengatasi kerusakan moralitas dan maraknya kejahatan di tengah masyarakat. Protes keras juga datang dari sejumlah Pemda yang telah mengeluarkan perda miras.

Melawan Hukum Lebih Tinggi?

Kemendagri beralasan pencabutan perda-perda miras itu karena menyalahi aturan yang lebih tinggi, yaitu Keppres No. 3 Tahun 1997 tentang Pengawasan dan Pengendalian Minuman Beralkohol. Sejak perda dinyatakan batal maka dalam waktu paling lama 15 hari harus dicabut dan tak diberlakukan. Seperti diberitakan pikiran-rakyat.com (31/11/11), melalui surat nomor: 188.34/4561/SJ tertanggal 16 November 2011, Mendagri meminta perda miras kabupaten Indramayu segera dicabut dalam waktu 15 hari sejak 16 November.

Alasan bertentangan dengan Keppres No. 3 Tahun 1997 itu terkesan dipaksakan. Keppres itu dikeluarkan pada era orde baru yang sarat masalah. Mestinya Keppres bermasalah itu yang harus dicabut. Sebab Keppres itulah yang justru menjadi biang kerok maraknya peredaran miras di tengah masyarakat. Apalagi adanya Keppres ini berarti menghalalkan perkara yang jelas-jelas diharamkan Allah SWT. Lebih tinggi mana hukum Allah SWT dibanding keputusan presiden? Mana yang lebih baik, hukum Allah SWT atau hukum jahiliyah yang bersumber dari hawa nafsu manusia yang rakus?

Motif Bisnis Haram

Aroma kuatnya pengaruh bisnis miras pun menyeruak. Sudah lama para pengusaha miras mengeluhkan kesulitan memasarkan produk mereka karena adanya perda pelarangan miras dan menambah jumlah produksi miras akibat pembatasan produksi. Padahal Indonesia dianggap pangsa pasar miras potensial. Menurut catatan Gabungan Industri Minuman Malt Indonesia (GIMMI) orang Indonesia mengkonsumsi 100 juta liter bir pertahun. Jumlah konsumen minuman keras domestik terus meningkat 3-4 % pertahun, belum lagi dengan bertambahnya kunjungan wisatawan asing. Maka pengusaha miras ingin agar pembatasan miras dilonggarkan dan kuota produksinya ditambah.

Keputusan kontroversial Kemendagri ini menjadi jalan bagi mulusnya bisnis miras itu. Selama ini yang pertama-tama menentang perda larangan miras adalah pengusaha miras. Perda miras kabupaten Indramayu misalnya, sempat digugat oleh kalangan pengusaha minuman beralkohol dan miras. Namun gugatan tersebut ditolak oleh MA.


Sumber Kejahatan

Pencabutan perda miras ini menambah keberpihakan pemerintah pada bisnis haram ini. Dua tahun silam pemerintah sudah menetapkan miras terbebas dari Pajak Pertambahan Nilai dan Pajak Penjualan atas Barang Mewah (PPN dan PPnBM). Hal ini menunjukkan lagi-lagi pemerintah lebih memikirkan kepentingan segelintir pengusaha bejad yang hanya memikirkan uang, dibanding keselamatan dan moralitas masyarakat. Padahal semuanya sudah tahu dan terbukti, miras pangkal berbagai macam kejahatan. Baru-baru ini, seorang ibu diperkosa di sebuah angkot di Depok, dan pelakunya diberitakan dalam keadaan mabuk. Kejahatan seperti ini sering terjadi. Polres Minahasa Utara mencatat, dari 969 kasus kejahatan dan KDRT sepanjang 2011 di wilayahnya dipicu oleh minuman keras (TRIBUNMANADO.CO.ID, 5/1/2012).

Polda Sulawesi Utara juga melaporkan sekitar 70 % tindak kriminalitas umum di Sulawesi Utara terjadi akibat mabuk setelah mengonsumsi miras. Kabid Humas Polda Sulut Ajun Komisaris Besar Benny Bela di Manado mengatakan, masih tingginya tindak kriminalitas di daerah itu disebabkan oleh minuman keras. Diperkirakan 65-70 % tindak kriminalitas umum di daerah itu akibat mabuk minuman keras. Selain itu sekitar 15 persen kecelakaan lalu lintas juga akibat pengaruh minuman keras. (lihat, kompas.com, 21/1/2011).

Miras juga menjadi pemicu beberapa tawuran massal seperti yang pernah terjadi di beberapa daerah dan hingga menyebabkan sejumlah korban tewas. Begitu juga tak sedikit orang yang tewas setelah menenggak miras.

Maka sungguh aneh bila pemerintah justru mencabut perda miras yang sebenarnya masih terlalu longgar itu. Padahal fakta yang ada sejak perda miras diberlakukan terjadi penurunan angka kriminalitas, bahkan sampai 80 % seperti di Bulukumba. Di Indramayu dan Tangerang penerapan perda miras berhasil mengurangi angka kriminalitas secara nyata.

Apalagi, perda-perda itu sebelumnya sudah dikonsultasikan ke tingkat provinsi dan bahkan ke Kemendagri dan dinilai tidak masalah. Perda anti miras itu didukung dan diterima oleh masyarakat. Perda itu juga dihasilkan melalui proses demokratis dan disetujui oleh DPRD setempat. Sekali lagi, pencabutan perda miras ini makin menunjukkan keanehan demokrasi. Kalau benar-benar memperhatikan suara rakyat seharusnya perda miras yang dihasilkan secara demokratis itu diterima. Kenapa malah ditolak dan dianggap tidak demokratis?

Aroma anti syariah Islam pun muncul dibalik ini . Mengingat selama ini, perda-perda seperti ini kerap digugat kelompok sekuler liberal karena dianggap kental dengan syariah Islam. Mereka menuding syariah Islam mengancam negara. Tudingan yang tidak masuk akal. Bagaimana mungkin syariah Islam yang bersumber dari Allah SWT yang Maha Pengasih lagi Maha Penyayang disebut membahayakan masyarakat? Bagaimana mungkin aturan Allah SWT yang melarang miras yang menjadi salah satu sumber kejahatan dianggap membahayakan masyarakat ?

Syariah Islam Membabat Miras, Menyelamatkan Umat

Islam dengan tegas mengharamkan khamr. Allah SWT berfirman:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
Hai orang-orang yang beriman, sesungguhnya (meminum) khamar, berjudi, berkorban untuk berhala, mengundi nasib dengan panah, adalah termasuk perbuatan syaitan. Maka jauhilah perbuatan-perbuatan itu agar kamu mendapat keberuntungan. (QS. al-Maidah [5]: 90)

Syaikh Ali ash-Shabuniy di dalam Tafsir ayat al-ahkam (I/562) menyatakan bahwa ayat berikutnya menyebutkan berbagai keburukan untuk mengisyaratkan bahaya yang besar dan kejahatan materi dari kriminalitas perjudian dan meminum khamr. Allah berfirman (yang artinya): Sesungguhnya syaitan itu bermaksud hendak menimbulkan permusuhan dan kebencian di antara kamu lantaran (meminum) khamar dan berjudi itu, dan menghalangi kamu dari mengingat Allah dan shalat; maka berhentilah kamu (TQS al-Maidah [5]:91)

Rasul saw. juga sudah memperingatkan:

« اِجْتَنِبُوْا الْخَمْرَ فَإِنَّهَا مِفْتَاحُ كُلِّ شَرٍّ »
Jauhilah khamr, karena sesungguhnya ia adalah kunci semua keburukan (HR. al-Hakim dan al-Baihaqi)

Islam memandang, meminum khamr merupakan kemaksiyatan besar dan pelakunya harus dijatuhi sanksi had. Had meminum khamr adalah dijilid empat puluh kali dan bisa ditambah. Ali bin Abi Thalib mengatakan:

« جَلَدَ النَّبِىُّ أَرْبَعِينَ وَجَلَدَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ أَرْبَعِينَ وَعُمَرُ ثَمَانِينَ وَكُلٌّ سُنَّةٌ »
Nabi saw menjilid (orang yang meminum khamr) 40 kali, Abu Bakar menjilidnya 40 kali dan Umar menjilidnya 80 kali, dan semua adalah sunnah (HR Muslim)


Islam juga mengharamkan semua hal yang terkait dengan khamr (miras), termasuk produksi, penjualan, kedai dan hasil darinya, dsb. Rasul saw bersabda:

« لَعَنَ اللَّهُ الْخَمْرَ وَلَعَنَ شَارِبَهَا وَسَاقِيَهَا وَعَاصِرَهَا وَمُعْتَصِرَهَا وَبَائِعَهَا وَمُبْتَاعَهَا وَحَامِلَهَا وَالْمَحْمُولَةَ إِلَيْهِ وَآكِلَ ثَمَنِهَ »
Allah melaknat khamr dan melaknat orang yang meminumnya, yang menuangkannya, yang memerasnya, yang minta diperaskan, yang membelinya, yang menjualnya, yang membawakannya, yang minta dibawakan, yang makan harganya (HR. Ahmad).

Karena itu sistem Islam akan melarang produksi khamr (miras), penjualannya, tempat-tempat yang menjualnya, peredarannya dsb. Orang yang melanggarnya berarti melakukan tindakan kriminal dan dia harus dikenai sanksi ta’zir.

Dengan semua itu, syariah Islam menghilangkan pasar miras, membabat produksi miras, penjualan, peredarannya dan tempat penjualannya di tengah masyarakat. Dengan itu Islam menutup salah satu pintu semua keburukan. Islam menyelamatkan masyarakat dari semua bahaya yang mungkin timbul karena khamr.

Wahai Kaum Muslim

Pencabutan perda miras ini menunjukkan kebobrokan pemerintah. Pemerintah justru telah memberikan jalan bagi maraknya kejahatan dan kemaksiatan di tengah masyarakat. Sekaligus semakin membuktikan bahwa masyarakat yang bebas dari bahaya khamr (miras) tidak akan terwujud dengan sistem kapitalisme demokrasi. Sistem Kapitalis-Demokrasi hanya memikirkan pemilik modal, hanya memikirkan perut dan materi segelintir pengusaha rakus. Sistem ini tidak akan memberikan kebaikan sedikitpun kepada manusia.

Bahaya khamr dan semua keburukan akibat khamr hanya akan bisa dihilangkan dari masyarakat dengan penerapan syariah Islam secara utuh. Karena itu impian kita akan masyarakat yang tenteram, bersih, bermartabat dan bermoral tinggi, hendaknya mendorong kita melipatgandakan perjuangan untuk menerapkan syariah Islam dalam bingkai Sistem Politik yang telah ditetapkan oleh Islam yaitu Khilafah ‘ala minhaj an-nubuwwah. Wallâh a’lam bi ash-shawâb. []

Komentar Al Islam:
BURT DPR: Proyek Toilet DPR Rp 2 M Bisa Dibatalkan (detik.com, 9/1/2012).

Komentar:

1. Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun, sampai urusan buang kotoran pun anggota parlemen masih juga mau bermewah-mewah, padahal di Indonesia masih ada tunawisma sebanyak 25.662 orang dan pengemis 175.478 orang.

2. Rencana itu menunjukkan sifat asli rakus kemewahan. Bila diributkan baru merasa malu, tapi bila tidak maka maju terus pantang mundur. Itulah produk sistem politik demokrasikapitalisme.

3. Politisi dan penguasa yang sederhana dan peduli kepentingan rakyat hanya bisa diwujudkan oleh sistem politik mengutamakan pemeliharaan urusan rakyat, itulah Sistem Islam


Hasil survei Lembaga Survei Indonesia (LSI) yang menempatkan kinerja lembaga penegakan hukum kurun waktu 2011 jeblok hingga 44 persen (inilah.com, 9/1/2012).

Komentar:

1. Hukum buatan manusia memang tidak pernah berpihak pada keadilan, melainkan kepada yang membayar.

2. Hanya hukum Islam yang menjamin keadilan sempurna bagi setiap manusia tanpa pandang bulu dan agama.
          2015 Emmys Host Andy Samberg Touches On All Liberal Talking Points in His Opener        

2015 Emmy host Andy Samberg made sure to touch on all current lib talking points for his opener tonight: diversity, the wage gap, Donald Trump's racism, and even Kim Davis!


          ECO-IMPERIALISMO, HIDROELÉCTRICAS, MENTIRAS Y VERDADES        
Esta mañana me encontré este artículo en el muro de un amigo http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2705631/el_quimbo_colombia_enelendesas_low_carbon_hydroelectric_racket.html. El artículo por un imperialismo ecológico critica el imperialismo económico, pero su crítica, aunque razonable en algunos puntos, no deja de tener el trasfondo errado de muchos ecologistas: ¡imponer condiciones a los países subdesarrollados para que los ecologistas de los desarrollados sigan contaminando en paz! Pero lo irónico es que The ecologist critica una de las fuentes de generación de energía renovable más bonitas, eficientes y que puede darle a la gente que vive en ese territorio que llaman Colombia fuentes de riqueza. Además, la crítica se hace de manera ligera pasando por alto las consideraciones del International Panel on Climate Change acerca de sus ventajas.  En el punto que acierta es precisamente en los abusos del estado sobre las comunidades, donde vale la pena resaltar que el aprovechamiento del potencial hidroeléctrico no da derecho a expropiar, en favor del que sea. 

Este escrito consta de varias partes. El primero es que hay una confusión entre inversión extranjera y concesión de monopolios extranjeros, donde los ecologistas aciertan. Y para la aclaración cito a un a un profesor de la Universidad de New York, a Murray Rothbard. Luego, muestro que tras el ecologismo hay también imperialismo, pero uno que suele gustarle a ciertas izquierdas, uno que impone condiciones insoportables a los países pobres, para que los ecologistas nórdicos no tengan cargos de conciencia por prender la calefacción, dado que en las zonas tropicales hay selvas que se beneficiarán de su cariño al planeta. En ella explico que hay una falacia en cuanto a la consideración que hace el artículo de las hidroeléctricas, incluso basándome en el IPCC. Posteriormente, se muestra que las hidroeléctricas además de ser tecnologías que producen energía eficiente sin emisiones de CO2 (no se discute acá el tema de si el cambio climático es originado o no por el hombre) es una oportunidad de ofrecer energía barata. El precio de la energía se relaciona con el crecimiento económico, inclusive una disminución de la demanda de energía puede ser un indicio previo a una crisis económica. La energía eléctrica es clave en la industria y una energía más barata puede disminuir costos. Finalmente, ante un planteamiento del artículo que menciona las pérdidas de energía en transmisión y distribución (o sea los cables que llevan la energía de la planta a su casa) que denuncian a que se deben ¿a las leyes de la física? ¿a viabilidad técnica pero no económica? ¿a ineficiencia? Esto porque consideraban que era más importante disminuir las pérdidas que construir hidroeléctricas. Hasta cierto punto, por física, las pérdidas en transmisión son inevitables, no sé cuál sea el punto. Pero eso no es una excusa para no mejorar la oferta. 

IMPERIALISMO ECONÓMICO Y MONOPOLIO ESTATAL
El imperialismo ecológico es una realidad. Sin embargo, muchos partidos de izquierda al ser ecologistas están convencidos de que no es imperialismo. Ya Hayek denunciaba que existía una imposición de países ricos y contaminados que obligaban a países pobres y selváticos a generar amplias áreas protegidas. Esto genera como dice don Alpiniano en El Tomismo Desdeñado unos beneficios a unas personas que no les corresponden, imponiendo cargas a otros que no las merecen. Sin embargo, luego de que en estos países -como Colombia- nadie puede hacer nada, ni tiene cómo adquirir recursos para explotar sus ventajas ahí sí llegan empresas extranjeras que, haciendo convenios con el gobierno, adquieren los beneficios que los nacionales no han tenido. 

Hace Murray Rothbard, citado por el instituto Mises Hispano una distinción importante entre la sana inversión extranjera y la alianza de empresas ricas con gobiernos ineptos pobres:

"Los conservadores norteamericanos insisten en particular en resaltar ante los países retrasados las grandes posibilidades y la importancia de las inversiones privadas procedentes de los países avanzados, y les incitan a crear un clima favorable a las mismas, de modo que no se vean sujetas al instigamiento de los gobernantes. Todo ello es muy cierto, pero, una vez más, a menudo es irreal, dada la situación de estos países. Estos conservadores caen persistentemente en el error de no saber distinguir entre las inversiones exteriores legítimas del mercado libre y las basadas en concesiones monopolistas y en donaciones de vastas extensiones de tierras otorgadas por los Estados subdesarrollados. En la medida en que las inversiones exteriores se basan en monopolios y en agresiones contra el campesinado, en esa misma medida adquiere el capitalismo extranjero las características de los señores feudales y debe ser combatido con los mismos medios"

En este sentido, estoy de acuerdo con el artículo -y en contra del imperialismo económico- en que el estado confunde inversión extranjera con monopolio extranjero. Y el monopolio es desagradable venga de donde venga, sea el monopolio estatal tan "nacional", como cualquier otro. Por eso, cuando Robledo, senador del Polo, defendía a los arroceros por la imposición ridícula de tener que comprar nuevas semillas estaba promoviendo algo anarcocapitalista y liberal, aunque con argumentos de izquierda. 

Lo mismo pasa en este caso, si se trata de una inversión privada ¿por qué el estado entra y desaloja campesinos? ¿Por qué expropia? Y por más que la ley diga que la expropiación requiere una indemnización al precio del avalúo comercial, ¿es el avalúo comercial el precio de venta? Hombre, no estoy en momento de calcular las rentas campesinas vs las rentas hidroeléctricas, pero sospecho que las rentas hidroeléctricas son más altas. Ahora, si el campesino no quiere vender al precio que dice el avaluador ¿por qué le quita el estado su tierra bajo la excusa del "bien común" para las rentas particulares? No creo que si la transacción se diera en condiciones de libre mercado los campesinos salieran a protestar. Hay alrededor de un millón de kilómetros de líneas de transmisión eléctrica, y si uno viaja por carretera suele ver vacas o sembrados alrededor. ¿Por qué esos campesinos no protestan? Porque 1. esos terrenos no son expropiados sino que cuentan con servidumbres de paso, 2. Se suelen hacer arreglos de mercado. Hombre, hay casos de casos, pero en general no se ve un descontento generalizado. 

Pero, no, la herramienta de la expropiación es el arma para el bien común, como en Venezuela que hay mucho "bien común", siendo tan paradisiado que prefieren venirse para Colombia. La expropiación existe pero tiene sus límites. En todo caso, sin estado Â¿quién expropiaría para que se hicieran las vías? 

IMPERIALISMO ECOLÓGICO

Sin embargo, las razones ecológicas que plantean para oponerse a las hidroeléctricas son más bien pobres. En primer lugar, las consideran también causa del calentamiento global. ¿Cómo? No quiero citar el artículo porque me da pereza pero la idea se resume en 1. cortan bosques tropicales que recogen el CO2, 2. son fuentes de Metano. Hombre ¿cómo un artículo que cita el Panel Intergubernamental sobre el Cambio Climático para defender a los campesinos y el agro sale a decir que son más contaminantes? En primer lugar, si uno revisa lo que dice el IPCC en materia de energía hidoeléctrica (sacaron un documento sobre energías alternativas) su resumen -de la IPCC- arranca así: "Hydropower offers significant potential for carbon emissions reductions" http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srren/Chapter%205%20Hydropower.pdf. Creo que en ese punto "The ecologist" se equivoca. 

Por otro lado argumenta que las represas (reservoirs) son fuentes de Metano. La verdad, lo que dicen los científicos climáticos es que si bien el metano CH4 es un gas efecto invernadero, su absorción es más rápida que el CO2, una diferencia que va desde unas décadas en el metano, hasta miles de años para el dióxido de carbono. Además, de acuerdo con la siguiente imagen que proviene del último reporte del IPCC parte del CO2 proviene del uso de la tierra http://www.slideshare.net/fullscreen/IPCCGeneva/fifth-assessment-report-synthesis-report/11:
Francamente, si queremos disminuir TODAS las emisiones humanas de CO2 hay que empezar por dejar de respirar. ¿Y todas las artificiales? Dudo que la energía que utiliza "The ecologist" sea propiamente energía que no emita CO2 -bueno, puede ser nuclear que no les gusta tampoco- pero no es de las "terribles" hidroeléctricas. 

¿Qué otra razón puede tener "The ecologist"? ¿Proteger los bosques de los países subdesarrollados? ¿Para qué? ¿Para que haya bosques que puedan chuparse el CO2 que producen sus plantas a carbón, gas, petróleo, etc. a costa de energía más costosa, menor productividad, entre otras, en nuestros países? ¿Para que ellos puedan seguir subsidiando sus industrias a cambio de que las nuestras no puedan competir en sus mercados por el costo de la energía?

DEFENDIENDO LAS HIDROELÉCTRICAS

LAGO CALIMA
Lago Calima.
Uno de los embalses en Colombia.
En un apartado anterior cuestioné el manejo del monopolio estatal con la empresa. El estado es una asociación de políticos corruptos con empresarios ineficientes. Pero tanto la oportunidad a nivel de recursos hídricos que hay en Colombia, la eficiencia energética de las hidroeléctricas, su costo en comparación con las térmicas a base de carbón, gas, gasolina, su posibilidad de cambiar potencia (a diferencia de otras renovables de potencia inestable) y almacenar la energía, entre muchas otras, me hacen tenerle cariño a esta tecnología. Creo que en el punto anterior quedó desvirtuado que las hidroeléctricas tengan impactos a nivel global vía CO2 (lo que hacen es quitar el calmadero de conciencia de los ecologistas ricos que les permite seguir emitiendo CO2 bajo la tranquilidad que los bosques tropicales los recogerán). El metano no me preocupa realmente y creo que es una afirmación que no estaba fundamentada, al fin y al cabo, los embalses no son aguas estancadas. 

El potencial hidroeléctrico de ese territorio que llaman Colombia es una maravilla. Eso sin contar con el potencial energético de otras tecnologías renovables como las fotovoltaicas por su ubicación terrestre, las mareomotrices, entre otras. Que cualquiera venga y lo explote es necesario, aunque en condiciones de mercado, no monopólicas ni imperialistas. Adicionalmente, la energía hidroeléctrica es más barata. En el siguiente gráfico hay un promedio de los precios mensuales en comparación al porcentaje de generación térmica en Colombia:

Por puro azar puede observarse con claridad la correlación entre el porcentaje de generación térmica en Colombia y el precio constante (deflactado con IPC) de la energía. Como la gráfica de generación térmica de alguna manera encaja con la hidráulica (la cogeneración y la eólica representan porcentajes insignificantes) podría afirmarse que a mayor generación hidráulica en general menos precio. ¿Por qué se presentan esos baches en la generación? La razón es muy simple, el agua es renovable pero no predecible. Si uno mira las correlaciones de series de ingresos los caudales en dos o tres días tienen altas correlaciones, pero alrededor de dos meses -algo que corroboré con un ex empleado de ISA e ISAGEN- las correlaciones son nulas. 

Hay incertidumbre en el ingreso del agua. Adicionalmente, en unas ocasiones por década se presenta el fenómeno del niño. El fenómeno del niño genera lluvias en Perú -un país desértico- y trae sequía a un país lluvioso como Colombia. Como el agua escasea hay que producir la energía con un sustituto: las termoeléctricas. El costo de la energía se dispara. En este momento parece que están las condiciones para que se dé el fenómeno del Niño si es que no estamos ya en él. De ese fenómeno se ha venido especulando desde que empecé a investigar este tema en Junio del año pasado (o sea el 2014). Esa especulación posiblemente también influye en los precios, el aumento de la producción térmica y la disminución de la hidroeléctrica porque ante el riesgo de escasez se empieza a guardar el agua. El profesor John Jairo García y otros de EAFIT en un paper al respecto proponía medir las expectativas de aportes al sistema en relación con el precio: 

"Una variable importante sobre la determinación del precio en el mercado no regulado que debiera incluirse en estudios futuros son las expectativas climatológicas; en la medida en que se espere una disminución del recurso hídrico, generará expectativas de aumentos en el precio.". http://revistas.upb.edu.co/index.php/cienciasestrategicas/article/view/1093/1313

La intuición tras el análisis es muy buena, pero dudo que pueda encontrarse una variable de expectativas climatológicas. Aunque si algo me soprendió de John Jairo era esa capacidad de creatividad econométrica. El caso es que la ventaja de tener un sistema donde el "combustible"que es el agua es variable, permite inferir que, al menos en las condiciones geográficas de los Andes Colombianas, es más barato que el uso de otros combustibles.

Es así como la construcción de hidroeléctricas -aunque respetando los derechos de propiedad privada- es una necesidad para mantener bajos los precios de la energía. Hay muchos trabajos que buscan predecir el precio de la energía y lo hacen en función de variables hídricas. Pero nada mejor que leer los errores de las predicciones pasadas de los economistas. En este artículo participó mi amigo y profesor de econometría Mauricio Lopera y dice lo siguiente:

" La coherencia del resultado se corrobora en el mes de enero de 2014, donde se aprecia una caída grande en el precio producto de la entrada en operación de El Quimbo y Sogamoso, las cuales en conjunto aumentan la oferta de electricidad en 1220 MW" http://www.redalyc.org/pdf/1552/155226077004.pdf
Mauricio nos insistía mucho que verificáramos que el resultado econométrico coincidiera con la "intuición" económica.  El problema es que las predicciones se equivocan y fuertemente. En el artículo citado, se muestra que los precios caerían en enero de 2014, la razón sería lógica la entrada de hidrosogamoso y quimbo (que es la que menciona The ecologist). Los precios en 2014 en bolsa fueron altísimos, y apenas hoy 16/01/2015 leí que estaban inaugurando la planta de hidrosogamoso. Lo que es cierto es que esas plantas deberían influir en la disminución del precio por el aumento de la oferta, además, de un insumo mucho más barato como "combustible" que el carbón. En eso acertó el trabajo de Mauricio y otros. Pero el cómo o cuánto bajarán los precios no podemos calcularlo con exactitud. 

DEFICIENCIAS DEL SISTEMA
Los cables suelen dañar las fotos de paisajes.
Pero ¿no puede haber buenas fotos de cables de alta tensión?

El sistema de energía que nace con las leyes 142 y en concreto 143 de 1994 tiene muchas deficiencias. Aunque la L143/94 trataba de dar paso a un modelo más parecido al de un mercado, esa distinción del mercado regulado del consumidor de energía hace que nos saquen un ojo de la cara porque sus precios están muy por encima de los de bolsa; aunque relativamente influidos por ellos como lo mostraba el profesor John Jairo García. El modelo aunque avanza hacia tratar de liberar lo que considera de mercado y regular lo que considera "monopolio natural" se queda corto. Pero realmente si hay algo aburrido es la regulación del sistema de energía, como todas las regulaciones. Hablemos más bien de leyes bonitas, las del "fatum" o de la naturaleza... las humanas dan asco. 

Quiero enfocarme más en los problemas que mencionaba "The ecologist" y es las "pérdidas" de energía del sistema de transmisión y distribución. Una de las leyes de la física es la ley de la entropía. Básicamente consiste en que aunque la energía no se destruye, solamente se transforma, se degrada a formas de energía más "desordenadas". Básicamente la energía se transforma en "calor", o que es lo mismo que movimiento y vibración molecular. Utilizaremos el término "pérdida" de energía en un sentido amplio, o económico, pero entendiendo que solamente es una transformación no utilizable.  Esta es la razón por la cual no existe una máquina perfecta, sin desgaste y de movimiento absoluto. Por esta razón los relojes de péndulo necesitaban que les dieran "cuerda". 

De esta manera, por cada 1 KWh (3.600.000 Joules) que produce uno recibe una cantidad menor de energía porque esta se ha "pérdido" transformándose en calor. Esto se debe a que los transformadores -que no entiendo cómo funcionan pero cambian el voltaje- generan pérdidas, la transmisión de energía puede generar calor, en la costa el desgaste de los cables genera pérdidas. Todo esto, como me decía un ex trabajador del sector eso es parte del costo de la energía. Dice textualmente "The ecologist" que se pierde alrededor del 16% de la energía generada:

"Yet the Government is neglecting simple options to raise power supply - like reducing the high level of losses in transmission and distribution, which run at about 16% of power generation and amount to some 10,000 GWh per year - more than four times the energy production of El Quimbo."
Pero es que por las leyes de la física: ¡tiene que "perderse" parte de la energía generada! De la energía potencial del agua embalsada el 80%-90% se transmite por medio de la electricidad y el 10%-20% se "pierde" o sea se transforma en "calor". ¡Y es de las más bajas! Las térmicas pierden el 59% de la energía contenida en el combustible, las nucleares el 70%  (CARTA GONZÁLEZ, CALERO PÉREZ, COLMENAR SANTOS, CASTRO GIL, & COLLADO FERNÁNDEZ, 2013, pp. 113-114). Puede que pueda perderse menos bajo un mantenimiento mucho más costoso, o puede que efectivamente pueda perderse menos. El caso es que siempre se va a "perder" algo de la energía. 

Puede que The Ecologist tenga razón en que se aumente la eficiencia energética. Algo que puede ser inviable o física o económicamente. Pero eso no es razón para impedir que se produzcan plantas de producción de energía eléctrica, es bueno aumentar la oferta por todos los medios. 

Lo que no puede el gobierno es ordenar que se cree energía, ni que no se degrade una parte en otras formas. Gracias a Dios las leyes de la física son inderogables, imprescriptibles, inembargables, anteriores al ser humano mismo. ¿Puede imaginarse una ley que cree energía? El Congreso de Colombia Decreta "Créase energía a partir de la nada...". Gracias a Dios eso no es posible, no soy capaz de imaginarme la inflación energética lo que produciría, al menos la moneda de la naturaleza es absolutamente neutral. O una ley que diga "Derógase la gravedad", el totazo que se pegarían de cuenta de creer en su validez sería de lo lindo...

IN CONCLUSIÓN
En primer lugar pido perdón al lector por tratar la energía de una forma tan política. Es decir, es demasiado pobre, aunque no más pobre que el Ministro de Minas que confundió potencia con energía, pero ¿quién es uno para cuestionar a los "doctores" Ministros? ¡De pronto ignoro una ley que asimila energía con potencia! En segundo lugar, no es esta, ni más faltaba una defensa al régimen de energía eléctrica Colombiana, tan no lo es, que arranco dándole la razón a los ecologistas en que muchas de esas empresas grandes y concesionadas arrasan con las comunidades. El problema de esas empresas grandes, no es la falta de estado, por el contrario, su exceso, lo que falta es libertad. 

Lo que sí creo es que en sanas condiciones de mercado y con precios justos a los dueños de las tierras, la construcción de hidroeléctricas es una de las ventajas que tiene este territorio geográficamente llamado Colombia. Es vital empezar a utilizar en este territorio las ventajas que ofrece el desarrollo de miles de tecnologías de energía renovable, como la solar, la mareomotriz, la eólica y la más fuerte la hidroeléctrica. En esta región se podría utilizar un potencial enorme para producir energía barata, renovable y libre de elementos contaminantes. Esta energía se podría exportar. ¿Por qué no hay líneas de transmisión a Panamá y Centro América? ¿Por qué no hay líneas de transmisión al Perú? ¿Imposibilidad logística? ¿No serán más bien los elevados costos regulatorios -que agudizan las barreras de entrada- sumado al monopolio estatal? ¿O el monopolio de la transmisión es "natural"? 

 BIBLIOGRAFÍA
Casi todas las citas salen de internet así que si no refiero la fuente, está el link. Las formalidades APA o lo que sea me parecen demasiado engorrosas para escribir informalmente. Con el internet debería bastar con el link. El único libro que cito, con todas las normas mamonas para probar su existencia, es:

CARTA GONZÁLEZ, J. A., CALERO PÉREZ, R., COLMENAR SANTOS, A., CASTRO GIL, A., & COLLADO FERNÁNDEZ, E. (2013). Centrales de energías renovables. Generación eléctrica con energías renovables. (P. E. S.A. Ed. SEGUNDA ed.). Madrid, España.




          COLCIENCIAS ¿PROMOTORA O TRABA?: CIENCIA A LA COLOMBIANA...        
¿Ciencia a la Colombiana? Este es un artículo que va en contra de la corriente actual, de alguna manera podrán decir que estoy en contra de la "ciencia" lo que me parece en cierto sentido excelente. Hace pocos días se desató el escándalo de que le iban a quitar plata a Colciencias. Para mí fue motivo de decepción: ¡Deberían cerrarla! Si yo fuera presidente lo primero que cerraría sería Colciencias y eso que es complicado dado como se comporta la academia actual, deseo que eso pase, que cierren a Colciencias... no ser presidente.

¿Qué ha pasado? La verdad hay un exceso de noticias que impiden afirmar científicamente qué fue lo que pasó. Hay dos hechos que creo claros: 

1. "La directora de COLCIENCIAS dijo que iban a quitarles presupuesto"
2. "La directora de COLCIENCIAS dejó su cargo a los pocos días"

COL CIENCIA... RAZONAMIENTO INDUCTIVO A LA COLOMBIANA...
¿Qué pasó realmente? ¿Cómo se supo la "noticia" difundida como escándalo nacional? Lo primero que genera inquietud es ¿cómo sabía la directora que les iban a quitar presupuesto? ¿Le escribieron el ministro o el presidente? De acuerdo con un artículo de "El Tiempo" (al que hay que leer a favor de Colciencias por el sesgo a favor del presidente) http://www.eltiempo.com/estilo-de-vida/ciencia/colciencias-recibira-menos-presupuesto-en-el-2015/14203881 manifestó que recibió un correo de su director de planeación, es decir, un funcionario de ella. ¿Y ese funcionario de dónde la recibió? El confuso artículo del periódico El Tiempo menciona al Departamento Nacional de Planeación. Esa mención parece una "Colcienciada..." es decir una imprecisión de tipo periodístico como se da en Colombia. Pero ¿y si viniera del DNP? Si uno mira las funciones del DNP frente al presupuesto sus funciones son más de carácter burocrático y asesor que realmente quien elabora el presupuesto https://www.dnp.gov.co/Qui%C3%A9nesSomos/Funciones.aspx . Por su parte, quien realmente elabora y sigue el presupuesto, por tener la misión de la política fiscal y la definición del gasto público es el Ministerio de Hacienda http://www.minhacienda.gov.co/HomeMinhacienda/presupuestogeneraldelanacion. 

¿Entonces era información veraz con la que se basaba la directora de Colciencias? Es factible que la información fuera veraz. ¿Y cómo lo comprueba? Pero no es una información que uno pueda tomar como concluyente.  Lo sería si hubiera conocido el proyecto de ley del presupuesto presentado al congreso, ni siquiera un borrador permitiría una inferencia que "les quitaron el presupuesto". Solamente podría hablarse de una intención. Pero releamos las palabras: "Voy a dar la mala noticia que me acaba de llegar en un correo. Me dice mi jefe de Planeación: 'Directora, le mando la confirmación del presupuesto del año entrante, que es 289.000 millones de pesos. Estamos ya a 125.000 millones del presupuesto del año pasado". Pero bueno esa es la ciencia a la colombiana, una declaración no confirmada de una funcionaria -con autoridad de dirigir la "ciencia colombiana"- da para que toda una academia proteste porque "le van a bajar el presupuesto a Colciencias". 

Pero bueno ese es el ridículo argumento de autoridad -no verdaderamente científico- por el que la "academia" reconoce un hecho probado: le van a disminuir el presupuesto a "Colciencias". Ni el más formalista, ni el menos riguroso de los académicos validaría una información de ese calibre. Es más ni siquiera hace bien el único trabajo que ese el estado: ¡producir formularios y saber llenarlos! Es como si un científico dijera que en su laboratorio la presión atmosférica es de 900 HPa porque se lo dijo su "asistente". Uno como mínimo mira el barómetro. Pero es ciencia a la colombiana... una mentalidad que se cree pensadora porque sabe muchos chismes... Recuerdo que hablaba una vez con una niña que estudiaba periodismo y ella leía "las fuentes son... el ministro". Y yo le dije que eso no era real, que la fuente es el acto -que es como se comunica el ministro como ministro- no la opinión -política además-del ministro. Bueno, tal vez la directora de "ciencias a la colombiana" quería rebelarse contra la ¡producción de formularios! y ver que puede haber verdad confirmada más allá del formulario... en especial lo referente al futuro...

UNA INSTITUCIÓN PARA "FOMENTAR" LA "INVESTIGACIÓN"
"Deseo tener el país más educado: ¡todos tendrán un diploma!"
¿Qué es Colciencias? Uno podría quedarse por lo que dicen los decretos que la crean, que es el mismo copy paste de esos sueños que quedan en las leyes. Acá creemos que el tiempo y el reloj se mueven por decreto, sino pregúntele a Juan Manuel Santos su ridícula e improvisada propuesta que pasó a la historia como "la hora Gaviria" y que cancelaron casualmente en el momento en que astronómicamente era inconveniente... manifestando que "ya era económicamente viable". Así como creemos que por decreto va a salir la ciencia, la tecnología y la innovación, creemos que necesitamos gente "trabajando" para hacer magia el decreto. Y eso hace "Colciencias":

Colciencias es el Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación.
Promueve las políticas públicas para fomentar la CT+I en Colombia. Las actividades alrededor del cumplimiento de su misión implican concertar políticas de fomento a la producción de conocimientos, construir capacidades para CT+I, y propiciar la circulación y usos de los mismos para el desarrollo integral del país y el bienestar de los colombianos.  http://www.colciencias.gov.co/sobre_colciencias?vdt=info_portal%7Cpage_1

¿Las cosas se conocen por el qué o por el cómo? Seguramente por el cómo. ¿Cómo promueve, fomenta, (y mil sinónimos de la burocracia para enfatizar sus objetivos) la Ciencia, la Tecnología y la Innovación? Contaré mi experiencia. ¿Qué hace Colciencias?

Siendo uno de los pocos privilegiados que pudo pasar por la universidad recuerdo varias cosas. Una de mis grandes amigas (que seguro estará en desacuerdo y podrá precisar este artículo) era la Directora del Centro de Investigaciones. También intentaba entrar al mundo de la investigación universitaria con un Semillero de Investigación. Y bueno he encontrado más cosas en las universidades. 

En aquellas épocas mi amiga trabajaba con otra amiga que se encargaba de arreglar todos los asuntos de la investigación. Bueno "investigación". Recuerdo que una de sus tareas era ayudar a los profesores a actualizar el CVLac ¿Qué es el CVLac? En Colciencias http://www.colciencias.gov.co/tutorialcvlac puede verse un tutorial especial para hacer el CVLac. Esto es básicamente la hoja de vida del investigador. ¿Por qué para investigar en las universidades se requiere una hoja de vida? El tutorial para hacer el CVLac tiene unas 66 páginas http://es.calameo.com/read/000051811450cdee35ceb cuya lectura muy posiblemente serán horas de investigación... perdidas... Y eso que luego de leerlo hay que llenarlo... Una labor que podrá ayudar a la paciencia, la templanza, la fortaleza pero no la investigación, mucho menos la innovación... Bueno, puede servir a crear el llenado automático de formularios, ¿se le ocurrirá eso a la brillantez colombiana? Espero que como un chiste bastante picante el programador del llenado automático de formularios sea colombiano...

Alguna vez renegaba del colegio del que salí diciendo "en este colegio no quieren científicos sino secretarias". Pero el colegio no era más que un mini-Colciencias. Creo que Colombia solamente necesita una profesión "elaboración y llenado de formularios", así que el colegio pensaba en mi bien cuando me hablaba de la importancia de no salirme de los márgenes. De paso no debía enseñar nada más, porque los que "estudiamos" comemos cuando llenamos formularios, y comemos mejor cuando llenamos formularios más elaborados. Pero entre llenar un CVLac para decir que investigo o una declaración de renta por plata prefiero llenar una declaración de renta.

Ahora bien, no bastaba con llenar la hoja de vida. También las universidades hacen grupos de investigación. Aunque la curiositas es amplia la investigación suele centrarse, no en el macrocosmos sino en el primer pelo de la segunda pata de la hormiga culona santandereana.Y allí tenemos los grupos de investigación. Esos grupos se mueven por proyectos. Por ejemplo "El crecimiento del primer pelo de la segunda pata de la hormiga culona santandereana en la disminución  del consumo de la misma en la dieta de los habitantes de San Gil, Santander". Esos grupos también tienen hoja de vida... efectivamente, más formularios. Pero bueno, eso no es lo que hace Colciencias, lo que hace es tomar esas hojas de vida y "pesarlas" y es básicamente comparar la investigación con la producción de bienes y servicios. La calidad de la investigación es "cantidad" http://www.colciencias.gov.co/sites/default/files/ckeditor_files/files/DOCUMENTO%20Modelo%20de%20Medici%C3%B3n%20Grupos%202013-VERSI%C3%93N%20II%20Definitiva%20DIC%2010%202013%20_protected.pdf.

Es así como los investigadores ya tienen un buen tiempo llenando formularios -e investigando cómo se llenan esos formularios-. Pero uno tal vez piensa "bueno, ese no es el día a día de la 'apasionante' investigación". Pero no es extraño encontrar a los profesores llenando esos formularios que tienen plazo para enviarlos. Eso sin contar con los miles de informes que deben mandar. Creo que Colciencias también financia proyectos o autoriza sumas pero eso por lo menos no lo vi. Bueno, vi los jóvenes investigadores de Colciencias ¿Un incentivo para destruir la investigación verdadera con dudosas vinculaciones a universidades?

EL PELIGROSO MIX DE CIENCIA Y ESTADO
¿Formularios o celdas? Difícil volar alto dentro de una jaula...
Supongamos que Colciencias sí financia los proyectos de investigación y supongamos que es una financiación eficiente: la burocracia es simple papeleo en comparación al apoyo a la investigación. Esto es un peligro porque queda centralizada a los intereses y compromisos del gobierno de turno. Supóngase que un grupo de investigación investiga las vías para la paz en Colombia y encuentra "peligroso negociar en la Habana por la inviabilidad y efectividad del acuerdo para generar un desarme efectivo". O supóngase que un grupo de investigación en "Energías renovables" investiga "la generación eléctrica mediante el uso de las olas" que afecta a los monopolios del carbón y de las energías en petróleo, carbón o gas que de paso son empresas "industriales y comerciales del estado" que le generan regalías o pueden subastar para mejorar su cash flow... O algo un poco más de frente "La necesaria liberalización de la investigación para asumir los retos del mundo moderno" o algo con un tono más marxista "el factor alienante del estado en sus 'oficinas de fomento' de ciencia y tecnología". 

La primera es una investigación que puede estar en el rigor legítimo y que está en todo su derecho a disentir de las políticas del gobierno. Pero como "la investigación debe realizarse dentro de los marcos, planes y programas" del estado posiblemente no se le acuse de frente, pero sí le exigirán hasta por un milímetro demás en los márgenes. Mejor dicho le dirán "claro que puedes abrir las alas... dentro de la jaula que hemos construido para ti". La segunda tampoco saldrá de plano, pero le exigirán todo y de paso se fomentarán investigaciones para demostrar "la inviabilidad del uso de las olas en la generación eléctrica". La tercera tampoco se aprobará. El estado  no es el garante, ni el promotor, ni la ciencia nace por decreto, ni llenando formularios. Bueno, sí salen libros sobre cómo llenar formularios, 66 páginas sobre cómo llenar la hoja de vida del investigador, algo que nos "facilita" la vida...   

El nacimiento de la innovación, la tecnología y la ciencia se da de una forma totalmente contraria al planteamiento burocrático y centralizado de Colciencias. Al respecto puede leerse "El Tomismo Desdeñado" donde explican con claridad cómo el descubrimiento, el aprendizaje y demás son cuestiones que se dan en el marco de cada persona en concreto. Esa novedad, eso que estaba 'under my very nose' para parafrasear a un autor judío-norteamericano citado en "El Tomismo Desdeñado", no es algo sujeto a la forma, la cantidad o la temporalidad. De esa misma forma investigo yo, abierto a la naturaleza, al mundo y a los hechos... En esa forma de investigar no tengo que llenar formularios, a veces ni dejar registro -aunque sea mejor hacerlo- sino una permanente observación. 

No niego que en el sistema de ciencia a la colombiana pueda haber buenos, incluso genios en la investigación y verdaderos aportes a la ciencia. Pero me parece que el sistema de "ciencia a la colombiana" o "investigación de llenado de formularios" anula, restringe o excluye a aquellos que son a mi juicio los mejores investigadores y restringe el alcance de los que lo logran. Los mejores investigadores son los niños sin lugar a dudas, su permanente contacto con la magia de la naturaleza y su capacidad de asombro los lleva a proponer las mejores soluciones y conclusiones sobre el mundo. La investigación necesita también del error, cosa que no se puede si está centrada en el llenado de formularios que considera el error como incorrecto... y de paso delito...

Y seamos sinceros ¿cómo se dio el aporte a la ciencia en la historia? ¿Por órganos centralizados que fomentaran la "innovación, la ciencia y la tecnología"? Entre algunos ejemplos Fermat era un matemático aficionado cuyo oficio era el de abogado, y tener un diploma en derecho hace 'necesariamente' que uno no sepa de matemáticas. Conclusión a la que los "col-científicos" han decretado como dogma. Fermat jugaba con los números y hacía continuos descubrimientos que sorprendieron a muchos matemáticos posteriores como Euler. Pitágoras necesitaba seguramente un proyecto de investigación -y financiación de "Crotociencias"- para probar que "en un triángulo rectángulo la suma de los cuadrados de los catetos es igual al cuadrado de la hipotenusa". Se dice que Pitágoras huyó de su ciudad natal a Crotonas entre otras porque no quería participar en cuestiones de política http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit%C3%A1goras. Eso sin contar con notables condenas y asesinatos a genios del calibre de Sócrates, asesinado entre otras porque pidió como condena que "Colciencias" lo financiara de por vida por sus aportes a la sociedad...

Acabo de citar a Wikipedia que en ciencias colombianas "no es una fuente de fiar porque lo modifica cualquiera", el problema creo no es que cualquiera pueda modificarlo sino que lo hace gente que no tiene "CVLac". Probablemente los que modifican Wikipedia sean unos mediocres que pasan todo el día de fuente en fuente y no se gradúen con honores como Newton http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton que pasaba todo el día en la biblioteca y no iba a clase. Un artículo académico trae mil fuentes -CITADAS CON NORMAS APA- wikipedia trae ¡las fuentes! con link directo. O sino vea lo que trae la Wikipedia cuando uno busca a Newton: http://gravitee.tripod.com/booki1.htm ¡Su obra maestra!

IN CONCLUSIÓN...CIERRE, CIERRE!!
Espero que todos sean científicos e innovadores como yo.
Atte: Colciencias.
El conocimiento, la verdad y demás, es dialéctico y por eso no debería concluir un debate. Pero yo concluiría, cerraría, a Colciencias. Una tímida disminución de presupuesto es poco por la ciencia, la tecnología y la innovación... pero, si eso es cierto ¡hay que reconocerle la buena obra al gobierno! Los críticos -simplemente porque no es el gobierno que quieren- critican cualquier cosa que haga o digan que haga el gobierno, es un deporte, hasta bueno, el caso es que ver algo bueno en un gobierno es TAN difícil que hay que felicitarlo si estuviera haciendo las cosas bien... 

Sin embargo, así es la realidad de este alienante y desmoralizador país cuya única profesión es el llenado de formularios... Si alguien pregunta por Colombia y lo que hacen... ¿Qué hacen? las empresas "llenar formularios" y si les queda tiempo producir bienes y servicios, las universidades "llenar formularios" y si les queda tiempo dan clases pero ¿investigan? Y los abogados "llenan formularios" y ¿en su tiempo libre? Piensan cómo hacerlos más enredados ¿Y qué hace el gobierno? ¡Produce formularios!  

Y ¿qué son entonces El Tiempo, El Espacio, El Asombro o Espectador, El Colombiano, La República, Portafolio, El Nuevo Siglo, El País, El Universal? ¿Realidades? ¡Qué va! ¿Formularios? No, eso tiene su ciencia... ¡Periódicos! Pero los dueños de los periódicos son los mismos que hacen los formularios... Esa es la ciencia a la colombiana, basta leer un periódico, e improvisar su resumen como lo hacía un mediocre profesor del colegio que estaba allí porque sabía cómo ser un buen policía... ah y sabía verificar que el "desprendible" -formulario para niños- se llenara bien so pena de llamar "negligentes" a sus alumnos... Ese era mi "modelo" de "diligencia"... Clases improvisadas, formularios bien llenados... 

Esa es la ciencia a la colombiana: producción de formularios. Y su proceso o método:

- Justificación o discusión del formulario: periódicos
- Producción del formulario: gobierno/estado
- Control y auditoria para garantizar su incomprensión: abogados, lobbies, grupos de poder. Su objetivo es que entre más incomprensible, mejor...¡calidad!

¿Y Colciencias? Una tuerca sin aceite en medio del engranaje decadente... al que muchos encuentran por donde elogiar sus "grandezas"...

NOTA: Si quiere comentar este artículo escriba 1. para queja, 2. para ironía, 3. para felicitación y agradecimiento, 4. Para reclamo... ¡Qué! Si le da la gana de escribir hágalo como quiera... si quiere insúlteme, internamente me ofenderé y reiré de usted al mismo tiempo, pero bienvenido...

NOTA 2: O uno escribe o se dedica a recopilar fuentes, ahí están los links y un libro "El Tomismo Desdeñado" de paso le dejo el "CVLac" del autor http://190.216.132.131:8081/cvlac/visualizador/generarCurriculoCv.do?cod_rh=0000534471. Algunos me entenderán que ese CVLac es ridículo...De investigador junior no tiene ni un pelo...




          ALEATORIEDAD, POLÍTICA Y VOTOS...        
Hace unos días hablábamos mi hermano y yo de la aburridora política. Este año no me gusta porque hay elecciones. Todo el mundo se apasiona por unos seres que ni conoce y por lo que vota y como mínimo su participación, si quedan puede ser irrelevante para cada uno. Pero bueno, yo jugaré también a la hinchada en este escrito. Los candidatos por los que he votado solamente ganó una amiga a la Junta Administradora Local del Barrio: esa es la democracia. Votamos para que gente que no elegimos decida sobre nuestras vidas.

MIS VOTOS
En estas elecciones votaré por el número 19 de la Lista del Partido Liberal, por Marcela Posada. Dos razones claves me mueven a votar por ella. La primera es que su propuesta se centra en apoyo a la maternidad, la segunda es que medio la conozco. Marcela Posada es actriz (¿yo votando por una actriz?) y era "la jirafona" en Betty la Fea, no me vi Betty la fea. Sus propuestas van en la línea de protección a la maternidad y primera infancia, además defiende la vida de los bebés.  A Marcela la tengo en Facebook. ¿La conozco? Sin embargo, muchas cosas me preocupan de votar por Marcela. No es ella, me da confianza así apenas la conozca (primera irracionalidad política), lo que más confianza me da es que no intentó convencerme de votar por ella. Adicionalmente es transparente expresa sus ideas sin esperar el voto, muestra todo hasta las propuestas indecentes que le hacen y muestra su lealtad. Pero es más lo que no conozco de Marcela que lo que conozco.

En primer lugar me preocupa la forma en que plantea sus buenas propuestas son quitando el dinero de otros para fines que a mí me interesan. Puede beneficiar a los bebés, mamás, etc, pero sus propuestas son entre coactivas e impositivas o sea no en lo que yo entiendo por liberales, no se trata de obligar se trata de promover. Sería perfecta si sus propuestas fueran vía incentivos, descuentos, entre otras y como asumo que ella lo leerá sepa que yo me ofrezco a redactarle la ley vía incentivos tributarios y laborales (sin coacciones) para promover el apoyo a la protección a la maternidad, la vida del no-nacido y la primera infancia. 

Publicidad Política Gratuita.

EL PROBLEMA DE LOS VOTOS A "CUERPOS COLEGIADOS"
El segundo problema más grave es quiénes conforman la lista del partido liberal. Entre esos están Horacio Serpa, Vivian Morales y otra serie de personajes de quienes desconfío. Desconfío del mismo partido liberal, de todos los partidos desconfío. El problema radica en que gracias a una reforma que propuso e impulsó Germán Vargas Lleras uno ya no vota por una persona avalada por el Partido Liberal, uno vota por alguien que quede en una bancada. Eso funciona de la siguiente manera:

1. Se cuentan los votos válidos
2. Se divide el número de curules al Senado (en este caso 100) por el número de votos totales y eso da el umbral. Los partidos o movimientos que no pasen el umbral no obtienen curules.
3. Los partidos que pasen el umbral serán aquellos en los que se distribuyan las curules ¿Cómo? El sistema que es una función bastante rara que se llama cifra repartidora. La cifra repartidora consiste en tomar los votos de los partidos que superan el umbral y dividirlo entre 1, 2, 3, hasta n que es el número de curules. Eso da una matriz de números de los cuales los primeros 100 números son las curules a asignar. Es así que supongamos tenemos dos partidos que pasaron el umbral y 5 curules a asignar a continuación la tabla:

PARTIDO 1:
100 votos

PARTIDO 2:
50 votos

Con cifra repartidora dividimos hasta 5

PARTIDO 1: 100, 50, 33.33333, 25, 20
PARTIDO 2: 50, 25, 16.66666, 12.5, 10

Y ordenamos los primeros 100 números

PARTIDO 1: 100, 50
PARTIDO 2: 50
PARTIDO 1: 33.333, 25

La cifra repartidora es 25 y con base en este método el PARTIDO 1 tiene 4 curules y el PARTIDO 2: tiene 1 curul. No sé cómo se asignan en caso de empate, pero supongamos que se asigna la curul empatada al que tiene más votos. Aquí en primer lugar la desigualdad es clara la relación de votos entre partidos es de 1/2 la relación de curules de 1/5.

Luego de tener la cifra repartidora se mira si la lista es cerrada o abierta, si es cerrada se asigna al primero de la lista y así sucesivamente. Si es abierta se mira el número de votos y se organizan de mayor a menor. Así que no voto por la lista de Marcela Posada, voto por la lista del Partido Liberal y espero a que los votos que corresponden a los de las maquinarias den para un espacio para Marcela.Vale la pena correr el riesgo, pues por un lado está el tema de que los candidatos del Partido Liberal con maquinarias pueden ganar solos, pero darle el voto a Marcela puede dar un espacio para votos de opinión dentro del Partido. Pero las probabilidades no son mejores que las de candidatos con maquinarias, aunque es actriz y en Colombia la gente cree y quiere a sus actores (sin perjuicio de que yo no los conozca ni los vea). Es allí donde viene otra vez la conversación con mi hermano.

ALEATORIEDAD O DEMOCRACIA...
Sin embargo, la conversación entre mi hermano y yo versaba "¿Sería mejor una elección aleatoria que las elecciones vía voto?" Es claro que entre un político honesto y uno deshonesto, las posibilidades están a favor del deshonesto. Tal vez los que tengan "voto inteligente" (¿es eso posible?) no voten por el deshonesto, pero el deshonesto superando los topes de publicidad en campaña, mediante maquinarias, sancochos, promesas de burocracia, entre otras que van de $1.000.000 para arriba (menos de lo que pagarán en impuestos por 4 años) ofrecen mayores incentivos a las personas para que voten por ellos. A mi que me compren con que nadie tendrá que pagar impuestos en 4 años, ja, apuesto a que no hay político que haga esa oferta, bueno me equivoco, un "buen político" haría esa oferta pero no la cumpliría. En todo caso es claro que las probabilidades favorecen a los deshonestos. El iluso que crea en la democracia dirá: eso no es así. O defenderá su partido pero es claro. Supongamos que la distribución de deshonestos es igual en todos los partidos. Alguna amiga me dirá que en su partido todos son honestos, yo creo que hay de todo en todos.

Si hacemos una distribución aleatoria es muy probable que todos los partidos superen el umbral con más o menos la misma cantidad de votos. Lo mismo los votos al interior de los partidos, teniendo una probabilidad más o menos equilibrada entre honestos y deshonestos. La cuestión funciona teóricamente y si uno hace simulaciones, que se pueden programar en R Statistics y ver que efectivamente el azar elegiría mejor que lo que lo hace la democracia, porque corruptos y honestos tendrían las mismas probabilidades. Claro asumiendo que los corruptos no hagan un programa que desbalancee las probabilidades. Mejor dicho a la democracia le iría mejor en un casino que en las urnas...

APOSTANDO
Ya queda claro que apostaré por el L 19 al Senado, además me gusta ese número, pero es una apuesta riesgosa como lo es la política. ¿Por quién apostar en los otros? Bien para Cámara no conozco a nadie, y no creo en los conocidos de los conocidos de los conocidos, se supone que deberían ser más cercanos, pero no lo son. Pensaba dar ingenuamente el voto por el Partido Conservador pero, ¿dar un voto por una lista de un partido que se dice pro-vida? ¿Les creo? Solamente he votado por ellos por eso ¡qué pendejo! En la consulta del Partido Verde votaré por Ingrid Betancourt, con sus defectos pasados y su impopularidad presente, me ha parecido una mujer auténtica, eso no significa si gana tenga que votar por ella, pues tendría que tantear cómo está en el tema pro-vida. Finalmente, tampoco conozco a nadie para el parlamento Andino, así que tristemente esos dos cuerpos colegiados se van con mi voto en blanco, le apuesto al 0. Esa apuesta también tiene sus riesgos, como que gente buena no alcance el umbral, pero eso no es una carga mía sino del candidato.

Finalmente queda la Presidencia, también creo que le apostaré al blanco. No me gusta la bala, no me gusta la Habana y esos dos son los menos malos a mi juicio, bueno Clara López no me da la sensación que lo haya hecho mal como alcaldesa encargada de Bogotá, pero su partido promueve el aborto, están en contra de la libertad de empresa bueno del TLC que no necesariamente ha significado libertad de empresa.

El problema del voto en blanco es que si gana mandarían a otros de los mismos partidos y como dice la canción de Arjona: "para qué cuentan los votos si se repite la ecuación". Se supone que el país no puede quedar en "situación de interinidad" que eso es "malísimo" para la democracia, a mí me parecería genial no tener presidentes, ni  congresistas, no creo en el estado, no creo en la constitución pero no puedo librarme de ella, bueno al menos no en el corto plazo. Yo soy partidario de la anarquía que permite la libertad y solamente cuando hay libertad se puede ver la solidaridad. No hay solidaridad forzada. Yo preferiría ver a Marcela Posada parada con su liderazgo y autenticidad apoyando ella directamente a las mamás, pero no hacen daño las leyes que bajen los excesivos impuestos a cambio de promover el amor a los bebés y las mamás...


          Selective Amnesia of Reagan’s Legacy        

Amazingly and audaciously, the mainstream media and liberal pundocracy has created a narrative that President Obama’s newly found centrism is molded in the inspirational optimism of President Reagan.  This narrative seems confusing, when many liberals excoriate Reagan’s economic policy as the grim reaper of capitalism coming to instill all the inequities of the free market.


Reagan, like the Tea Party, believed heavily in the primacy of the individual over the government and limited self-government constrained by the Constitution.  
Reagan, in his “A Time for Choosing” speech, echoed these sentiments by saying, “A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.”


On the flipside, President Obama in his State of the Union Address enunciated the greater need for “investment” (i.e. government spending and subsidies) wrapped in the rhetorical trappings of American exceptionalism and greatness.   This deceptive rhetoric attempted to mask the policy that undergirded Obama’s State of the Union address which called for more dubious government subsidies for green energy and an increase in spending for high-speed rail boondoggles.  If American citizens were groping and longing for high-speed rail,  wouldn’t it be flourishing by now after nearly 30 years since the French launched their Paris-Lyon TGV line?

 
If there is no demand for these industries, how else can government make them appealing, but by way of force, coercion or wasteful subsidizing hoping to create a market for these currently unwanted and inefficient products?

 
Are we to forget the GM bailout,  Dodd-Frank financial regulation and an intrusive government intervention into our healthcare system?  Do President Obama’s policies even close to matching his own rhetoric in the State of the Union, let alone Reagan’s?


These pontificators may be well-intentioned, but it is more than condescending to attempt to link President Obama with the former President merely based on oratorical flourishes and Reaganesque-style optimism.  Their ideas on the proper function and role of the government stand in stark contrast.


As AEI’s Steven Hayward insightfully notes, Reagan believed that modern liberalism unequivocally left him.  

Reagan's invocation of Paine, as well as his quotation of John Winthrop's "City upon a Hill" sermon, expresses the core of his optimism and belief in the dynamism of American society, a dynamism that can have unconservative effects. But he explained his use of Paine in conservative terms way back in his 1965 autobiography, Where's the Rest of Me? "The classic liberal," Reagan wrote, "used to be the man who believed the individual was, and should be forever, the master of his destiny. That is now the conservative position. The liberal used to believe in freedom under law. He now takes the ancient feudal position that power is everything. He believes in a stronger and stronger central government, in the philosophy that control is better than freedom. The conservative now quotes Thomas Paine, a longtime refuge of the liberals: 'Government is a necessary evil; let us have as little of it as possible.'"

Maybe It is time for President Obama to return to some of Founder's writings in order to rediscover his inner centrism.  He can begin with Thomas Paine.

 


          â€œThe Flexible Unity of Economics,” M. J. Reay (2012)        
Michael Reay recently published this article on the economics profession in the esteemed American Journal of Sociology, and as he is a sociologist, I hope the econ navel-gazing can be excused. What Reay points out is that critical discourse about modern economics entails a paradox. On the one hand, economics is a unified, neoliberal-policy-endorsing monolith […]
          Kindahan Amar Ma’ruf Nahi Munkar (Bag. 1)        
Sebuah Catatan di Balik Kasus “Kekerasan” Dalam Usaha Menghilangkan Kesesatan Disusun oleh : Redaksi Al-Hujjah Buletin Al-Hujjah Vol: 12-IX/Jumadil Akhir-1429H/Juni-08 Belakangan, kaum sekuler dan liberal yang begitu getol membela kesesatan Ahmadiyyah, semakin gencar menabur benih-benih fitnah demi merontokkan persatuan Islam dari dalam. Mereka (Sekuler-Liberalis) seolah mendapatkan angin segar manakala ada oknum-oknum tidak bertanggungjawab -yang bukan […]
          Why Did Nobody Tell Us? Reporting the Global Crash of 2008 [Audio]        
Speaker(s): Alex Brummer, Vince Cable MP; Evan Davis; Gillian Tett; Professor Willem Buiter | This event will discuss the reporting leading up to the global credit crash of 2008. Alex Brummer has been City Editor for the Daily Mail since 2000. He has over thirty years' experience in the media. Vincent Cable is the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and speaks for his party on issues of Finance, European Economic and Monetary Union and the City. Evan Davis is a presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today programme. He was the BBC's Economics Editor from 2001-2008.
          Notables        

Professor of Spanish Laura Senio Blair, Mattie Cryer, Class of 2017, and Antonio Mendez, Class of 2020, served as coaches at SXSWedu on March 7. Senio Blair met with attendees interested in the liberal arts, Cryer spoke about undergraduate research, and Mendez mentored first-generation college students. The meetings were one-on-one or small group opportunities for students, parents, and attendees to think about and explore their learning goals.


          START OF FALL CLASSES AT ECU SET FOR MONDAY, AUG. 14        

Anticipation is high on the East Central University campus for the beginning of the 2017 fall semester on Monday, Aug. 14.

Enrollment is still open through Friday, Aug. 18, and prospective students have the choice of more than 80 majors in undergraduate degree programs offered through the College of Education and Psychology, College of Health and Science, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business.

New master’s degree programs are available, including the new master’s degree option in Sport Psychology as part of the Department of Psychology’s Master of Science in Psychological Services (MSPS); Master’s in Management degree program as part of the School of Business and the M.S. Water Resource Policy and Management degree program as part of the School of Graduate Studies.

For more information visit www.ecok.edu or call 580-332-8000.

-ECU-

For Immediate Release: 

Contact: Brian Johnson or Amy Ford

                                East Central University Communications and Marketing

                              580-559-5650 or 405-812-1428 (cell)


          Liberal Youth make some noise for human rights        
Last week, on a cold December afternoon Liberal Youth continued their campaign for human rights in Belarus, a country often described as “Europe’s Last Dictatorship”. We were joined by the Free Belarus Now group, lead by Irina Bogdanova (sister of an ex-Presidential candidate) in a demonstration outside the Belarusian embassy in London. The event was […]
          Liberal Youth: It’s time to think about Freshers        
As the academic year draws to a close, most young people are thinking about the summer ahead – not us though. At Liberal Youth we’re already planning for the next academic year and we want this year’s Freshers (the inaugural party / join-a-society week at the start of the academic term) to be the one […]
          Fermentation Fun with Friends        
A Portrait of the Author as a Lacto-Fermentation Instructor
On Thursday, October 18th, I had the privilege of teaching a lovely group of people about lacto-fermentation. The space we used was The Red River General Store at 5700 Henderson Highway - for my friends in the local Jewish community, that's the old Stern store. I was stunned to discover how many people were sentimentally attached to that place!

First of all, many thanks to my friend Rosalie, who brought her iPad and took pictures for me. Here is a picture of me behind the counter, posing with a jar of lacto-fermented pearl onions I brought along to demonstrate the kind of things we can make.

Gorgeous winter cabbage
This is one of the gorgeous winter cabbages our gracious hostess Monique provided for us to use. They were so beautiful, some people were munching on them as they went along.

We started with a brief overview of lactic acid fermentation (in which cells convert glucose into lactic acid and energy - it's the same process that happens in your muscles when you run fast, causing "the burn" - although if you are a scientist you may prefer to call it anaerobic glycolysis). It's a traditional method of food preservation all around the world, because the increased acidity of the food causes molds, botulism, etc. to be inhibited, making it very safe. The Lactobacillus bacteria responsible for this miracle are present everywhere, in the air, on the vegetables, on our hands, and most importantly, in our gut. Eating lacto-fermented food, whether vegetables or dairy, is a great way to heal our antibiotic-ravaged digestive systems.
Participants
We washed our hands and cut up that lovely cabbage. We added some good, real salt that had not had all its minerals stripped away, and also some caraway seeds and/or juniper berries for flavour. Then we squished that cabbage within an inch of its life - a source of great enjoyment for everyone, I think. Who says only kids can have fun squishing their food?

The salt drew liquid out of the cabbage incredibly quickly, and we soon found ourselves with liberal quantities of brine in our bowls. We then filled little mason jars (yes, I know, they don't seal as well as one would like, but they are great for beginners). We were careful to cover the cabbage with a nice big leaf to keep it submerged in the brine, and weighted it down with little plastic bags filled with excess brine (again, yes, I know, plastic in our food is B.A.D. But I hope everyone found a better, more suitable weight when they got home).
Chopped cabbage
We finished the evening with a quick, funny video about fermentation and some great discussion. Monique spoiled us with yummy snacks, coffee and amazing herbal tea.

I had an absolute blast and it looked like most people were having a good time. I'm hoping we can do this again - maybe we'll do a kombucha/water kefir/milk kefir session? I do need somebody to provide me with water kefir grains before I can do that ...

Finished productThanks again to Monique, Rosalie and everyone who came out on a rainy, yucky October night to celebrate lacto-fermentation with me!







          Nationally-televised interview with Liberal MP for Goldstein Tim 'Freedom Boy' Wilson that lasted just 22.55 seconds and 66 words        

New Matilda, 3 August 2017:

Sky News journalist Peter van Onselen had invited the loyal Liberal Party politician onto his program to discuss marriage equality, a burning topic in politics at the moment as Wilson’s colleagues seek to try and delay or sink momentum for enabling legislation.

Wilson is gay, so he’s an obvious choice for an interview, and van Onselen wasted no time in getting straight to the point.

VAN ONSELEN: Thanks very much for your company, do you like the idea of a secret ballot in the party room?

TIM WILSON: Thanks Peter. I said everything I had to say on this issue and I make no plans to make any other comment at this time. I’d rather talk about something else that actually matters to the Australian population – the economy, energy prices, what’s going on with Labor’s tax slug, you pick it, I’m happy to talk about it. I’ve said what I’ve said on this issue.

VAN ONSELEN: Tim Wilson thanks for your company.

TIM WILSON: [Pause] That’s alright, pleasure.



Does this interview rank as the shortest Australian political interview on record?


          Water rorting continues in the Murray-Darling Basin aided and abetted by the NSW Nationals        

And local government and commercial interests in the Murray-Darling Basin have the hide to cry that they are water deprived and should be allowed to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment until that coastal system is a pale shadow of its vibrant self.

The Guardian, 4 August 2017:

The New South Wales regional water minister, Niall Blair, has quietly granted himself the power to approve illegal floodplain works retrospectively.

A Wentworth Group scientist, Jamie Pittock, has accused the NSW government of actively undermining the Murray-Darling basin plan as revelations have continued about the state government’s management of the river system.

Since Four Corners report raised allegations of water theft and secret meetings between a senior NSW water bureaucrat and a small number of irrigators,Blair is under increasing pressure over his water responsibilities.

This followed Daily Telegraph reports that the Nationals MP had been urging his Liberal colleague, the environment minister, Gabrielle Upton, to change the Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan retrospectively to favour large irrigators. He said the change was needed because of an error in the rules.

It has now come to light that Blair gazetted a Barwon-Darling valley floodplain management plan which gives him power to approve flood works built illegally even if they do not comply with requirements prior to the plan.

Under clause 39 of the new Barwon-Darling valley plan, a flood work that does not comply can be approved if “in the minister’s opinion” it is for an access road, a supply channel, a stock refuge or an infrastructure protection work
.
A spokesman for WaterNSW said three relevant applications from the Barwon-Darling region had been received since the change but none had yet been approved.

The NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham called on the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to remove the water portfolio from the National party after the regulation changes came to light.

“This is disgraceful example of the National party giving away free water to their big irrigator mates,” Buckingham said. “Many of these areas are so flat that even a 10 to 20cm bank can divert a huge amount of water into an irrigation dam and away from natural waterways.

“It’s a massive gift of water to the big irrigators. If we want to recover the water in the future then taxpayer will have to hand over huge amounts of compensation for what were illegal constructions.”

A spokeswoman for Blair said the gazettal was a “significant legacy issue” required to create a process where unapproved works could be properly and transparently assessed. She said to be considered, works must not have been previously refused and would still need to be assessed under certain criteria.

“Supply channels are one of the types of existing works that clause 39 indicates that we will accept application for,” the spokeswoman said. “Just because they are existing, doesn’t mean that they will be approved, just that they can apply. This approach is being rolled out through all floodplain management plans.”

Pittock, an associate professor in the Fenner school of environment and society at the Australian National University, said the revelations showed NSW was systematically white-anting the Murray Darling plan.

“The ‘rule error’ and other questionable dealings between wealthy irrigators, government officials and politicians in NSW highlight how the intent of the basin plan can be frustrated by those hostile to its implementation at the state level,” he told Guardian Australia.

“Changes of regulations in NSW have allowed irrigators to take erstwhile environmental flows by allowing greater pump capacity and earlier extraction based on river heights such that commonwealth-purchased environmental water in Queensland in not ‘shepherded’ through New South Wales to the lower Murray.

“Consequently towns like Broken Hill, pastoralists and Aboriginal communities, as well as the environment, have been starved of water.


          This is what privatisation did to Australia's household electricity bills        

When three eastern and one southern state formed the National Electricity Market in December 1998 Australia had the lowest retail prices in the world along with the United States and Canada.

The rules which underpin this National Electricity Market are created by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) set up by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) - through the COAG Energy Council - for that purpose and to advise federal & state governments on how best to develop energy markets over time.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) sets the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using networks (electricity poles and wires and gas pipelines) that transport energy.

So far so good. There's a defined market and there are rules.

Then the privatisation of electricity supply and infrastructure began in earnest.

It should come as no surprise that this push towards full privatisation, with its downhill spiral in service delivery and uphill climb in cost to retail customers, began and was progressed during the term of Liberal Prime Minister John Howard.

By 2017 the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government has almost completed its three-stage privatisation of state power infrastructure by selling off poles and wires and, it goes without saying that the retail cost of electricity is expected to rise again next year.

This is where we stand today……………………

[Graphs in Financial Review, 4 August 2017]
The Financial Review, 4 Augut 2017:

The annual cost to households of accepting a standing offer from one of the big three retailers instead of the best offer in the market has been estimated at $830 in Victoria, $900 in Queensland and $1400-$1500 in NSW and SA by the St Vincent de Paul Society.

Mr Mountain said power bills are constructed in such a complex way that ordinary customers without sophisticated spreadsheet and analytical skills have little hope of analysing competing offers to work out which offers them the best deal.

Private comparison websites do not include all market offers and charge retailers for switching customers, while the websites offered by the Australian Energy Regulator and the Victorian government do not provide the tools customers need to discriminate among offers.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to conduct an inquiry into electricity supply, costs and pricing, including retail pricing.

The Treasurer should have a preliminary report from the ACCC in his hands by the end of September this year, however this body does not submit a final report until 30 June 2018 with no guarantee that any recommendations will be adopted by government and industry.

Quite frankly, it appears the privatisation train left the platform some time ago and there is no way to halt or divert it in order to genuinely benefit household consumers.


          So why might the far right of the Liberal and National parties being pushing for a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage?        

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) states this of national plebiscites:

Plebiscites

An issue put to the vote which does not affect the Constitution is called a plebiscite. A plebiscite is not defined in the Australian Constitution, the Electoral Act or the Referendum Act. A plebiscite can also be referred to as a simple national vote.

Governments can hold plebiscites to test whether people either support or oppose a proposed action on an issue. The government is not bound by the 'result' of a plebiscite as it is by the result of a Constitutional referendum. Federal, state and territory governments have held plebiscites on various issues.

Under s. 7A of the Electoral Act, the AEC can conduct a plebiscite as a fee-for-service election, with the AEC entering into 'an agreement, on behalf of the Commonwealth, for the supply of goods or services to a person or body'. The rules for a plebiscite or fee-for-service election are normally contained in the terms of the agreement between the AEC and the person funding the election.

Military service plebiscites were held in 1916 and 1917 but, as they were not proposals to amend the Constitution, the provisions of section 128 of the Constitution did not apply. Voters in all federal territories were permitted to vote. Both the military service plebiscites sought a mandate for conscription and were defeated.

The first thing to note about a national plebiscite is that its outcome is not binding on the federal parliament or on any MP or senator.

Additionally, voting in a national plebiscite can be voluntary, unless otherwise stated in any legislation authorising a specific plebiscite. As was the case in the National Song Poll in May 1977 at which 7.59 million people or est. 90%+ of registered voters cast a voluntary ballot.

Besides being voluntary a plebiscite can also be a mail-out ballot as was the Election of Delegates to the Constitutional Convention some twenty years later in December 1997, at which 6 million ballot papers were returned, scrutinised and counted – that is to say only 50.04% of all eligible voters actually voluntarily voted and an est. 1.13% of these cast informal ballots.

A parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage was calculated as costing $17 million in 2016. A stand-alone same-sex plebiscite was estimated to cost up to $525 million in that same year.

An important point to note about a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage is that it is unnecessary as s51 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act gives federal parliament power to make laws regarding marriage and, parliament exercised that right as recently as 2004 when it changed the definition of marriage in order To ensure that same sex marriages are not recognised as marriage in Australia, inclusive of those performed under the laws of another country that permits such unions.

So one can see why far-right federal MPs and senators would be in favour of a voluntary plebiscite, particularly a postal one.

It may cost taxpayers more but the chances of a high voter participation rate is not as certain and, if the government of the day doesn't like the results of the ballot it can decide to not to act on them.

These parliamentarians probably believe those voters who will be less likely to return a postal ballot will not be those strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, but those who are undecided, neutral, or disinterestedly in favour of rewriting the Marriage Act to allow gay couples to wed.

In the minds of zealots like Eric Abetz and Tony Abbott this is probably seen as giving their cause a fighting chance and absolving them of any responsibility for continuing to actively oppose same-sex marriage.


          Politicians and Water: The Murray Darling Basin Scandal Fallout        

The ABC Four Corners program “Pumped” which was screened on 24th July has illustrated how important scrutiny of the establishment is to the rule of law in our democracy. It also illustrates why the ABC is under threat from many politicians and other powerful players who see any effective scrutiny of their operations as an intolerable threat to their way of doing business, a way that is against both the general community interest as well as the national interest.
The outrage from the revelations of water theft and other illegality by big irrigators in the northern NSW area of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) has increased over the days since the program was screened.  Politicians have been left scrambling and forced to change tack following the strength of the reaction and the condemnation of the inadequacy of their initial responses.
In NSW the Nationals Minister for Primary Industry, Niall Blair, was forced to change from an internal inquiry conducted by his department to an independent inquiry.  Blair was excessively optimistic in thinking that such an internal inquiry would be acceptable given that Four Corners had revealed a questionable relationship between Gavin Hanlon[1], his department’s Deputy Director General (Water), and big irrigators in the upper MDB.  In addition there was the important question of why the department had failed to act on departmental compliance officers’ reports of licence breaches and meter tampering. And there were questions about the role of the former water minister Kevin Humphries in dealing with the large irrigators.
The NSW Opposition has also taken action referring both the former Nationals water minister Kevin Humphries (Member for Barwon) and a senior bureaucrat (presumably Gavin Hanlon) to ICAC.
The Federal Government reaction was initially almost dismissive.  The Minister for Water Resources, Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce[2], as well as attempting to downplay the water theft by comparing it to cattle rustling, claimed that it was a matter for NSW and that there was no need for Federal Government involvement. Billions of dollars of taxpayer funds have been used to buy back water for environmental flows and instead of being used for this purpose this water has gone to the big irrigators in the upper Barwon-Darling.  Presumably the taxpayer funds had come from the Federal Government. This would surely make it a matter of very great interest to this government which, seeing it is so concerned about budget repair, would surely be appalled at the waste of billions of taxpayer dollars.
Joyce’s totally inadequate initial response was compounded shortly afterwards with what he said in a speech to irrigators in a hotel at Shepparton, a speech which was recorded by one of those attending.
Joyce said, "We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don't have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door, and that was a hard ask.”
"A couple of nights ago on Four Corners, you know what that's all about? It's about them trying to take more water off you, trying to create a calamity. A calamity for which the solution is to take more water off you, shut more of your towns down."
Even a dinosaur like Barnaby Joyce should have been aware that anyone carrying a smartphone has the capacity to secretly record what others are saying.  In the political sphere we have seen how damaging this can be in the cases of Christopher Pyne and One Nation’s James Ashby. The Shepparton recording has certainly damaged Joyce and has added volume to the calls for him to be sacked from the Water portfolio.  Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as the Prime Minister has enough problems in his own party without alienating Joyce and the Nationals.
By Sunday 30th the scandal became a matter that the Federal Government had to act upon despite Joyce’s earlier labelling it a state matter. The Federal solution was for the Murray Darling Basin Authority to carry out an independent basin-wide review into compliance with state-based regulations governing water use. The Authority is to report by 15th December 2017.  The Government saw this review as complementing the other investigations of the Four Corners allegations.
However, this is a case of far too little too late.  The MDB Authority is scarcely a body able to conduct an independent review of what has obviously been happening under its watch.  Furthermore a cynic would see the reporting date of 15th December, just before the Christmas holiday season, as a typical government move to ensure that the review report would receive minimal attention and be forgotten about over the holiday break.
The Federal Opposition, like its NSW state counterpart, has also taken action on the scandal.  It requested that the Auditor-General expand his current audit of the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.  The Auditor-General will now include how the federal department is monitoring the performance of NSW under the National Partnership Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the MDB relevant to the protection and use of environmental water.
Unsurprisingly, the South Australian Government, which has long been concerned about the lack of water reaching the end of the Murray-Darling system, was outraged by the allegations.  It is calling for a judicial inquiry, a much stronger investigation than those arranged by NSW and the Federal Government.  SA senators from Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Party and the Conservatives have joined their state government in calling for a judicial inquiry.
This scandal has a long way to run yet.  There are major questions to be answered about the National Party – both state and federally - and its relationship with the big irrigators and its apparent indifference to the needs of other irrigators further down the system.  There is also the question of its influence on the workings of the NSW Department of Agriculture.   And just what role has it had in limiting the effectiveness of – perhaps even of sabotaging - the Murray Darling Basin Plan?
For both Federal and NSW state Liberal leaders there is the question about the advisability of having resource management portfolios in the hands of Nationals and of putting both Agriculture and Water in the same portfolio.  Each of these governments has a very poor environmental record.  What has been happening on the Barwon-Darling reinforces the view that keeping “in good” with the Nationals is far more important for the  Liberals than ensuring that environmental policies are in the best long-term interests of the state and nation.
[1] Gavin Hanlon joined the NSW Department of Primary Industries in December 2014.  Prior to this he had been Managing Director of Goulburn Murray Water since 2011.
[2] The water portfolio was removed from the Environment Department and allocated to Joyce as a result of the agreement with the Liberals in 2015  following  Malcolm Turnbull becoming Prime Minister.

Hildegard
Northern Rivers
2ndAugust 2017

Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email northcoastvoices at gmail dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration.

          Centrelink Mandatory Drug Testing: Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation calls on the Australian Government to stop playing games with people's lives        

In its drive to universally implement the Cashless Debit Card for all welfare recipients, the Abbott Government first targeted remote indigenous communities to ‘trial’ this income management restrict and control scheme. The Turnbull Government then selected certain low-socio economic urban areas for further trials.

Now the Liberal-Nationals federal government intends to extend the reach of this card even further and from 1 July 2018 intends to impose compulsory drug testing on 5,000 new recipients of unemployment benefits – with all who test positive for alcohol or drugs being immediately placed on restricted and controlled payments regardless of their personal circumstances.

All those government MPs and senators cushioned by generous salaries and benefits from life’s vagaries have chosen this group because of the illegality of many of the drugs it will test for, as they think that all Australians will blame those with substance abuse problems and feel comfortable with the idea that they should be punished in some way.

These MPs and senators do not appear to give a toss that in an effort to eventually control the income support payments of all welfare recipients, it will socially profile and discriminate against a specific group of people with little if any positive outcomes flowing from this discrimination.

Because it is admitted that cutting off access to cash may exacerbate mental health issues, increase homelessness and lead the desperate into crime.

The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 which contains this measure is currently before the federal parliament and, the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee is due to report on this bill on 4 August 2017.

So a call has gone out……….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For 30 years, I served as the head of St Vincent's Hospital Alcohol and Drug Service in Sydney.

I have treated many thousands of patients trying to rebuild their lives in the face of alcohol and drug problems. Many have been victims of sexual abuse, violence from family members, or other devastating trauma – and most are already living on the margins of society.

That's why I'm stunned by the government's plan to strip people with alcohol and drug problems of income support payments.1

Thirty years of experience, backed by research from all over the world, tells me that you can't punish people into recovery. In fact, pushing people into poverty only serves to undermine their chance of recovery – and puts lives at risk.

Over the coming weeks, Parliament will vote on whether to implement mandatory drug testing. Doctors, nurses and allied health workers – determined to protect patients – are speaking out against the changes.


Prime Minister Turnbull assures us that the proposal to strip people of income support payments is "based on love".2 That's a hard thing to swallow given his government's failure to consult with addiction medicine experts and lack of evidence to support the trials.

Mandatory drug testing has already been trialled and abandoned in multiple countries around the world. It's a failed policy that violates our professional commitment to do no harm. This government is forcing doctors to make an impossible choice – to break the law or to hurt our patients.

I've seen with my own eyes how medical treatment of people struggling with severe alcohol and drug problems must be guided by compassionate care and respect for their human rights.

Call on the government to stop playing political games with people's lives: https://www.getup.org.au/help-not-harm-petition

Sincerely,

Dr Alex Wodak

President, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation

References:

[1] Drug testing welfare recipients is not about love, Malcolm Turnbull, it's about punishment, The Guardian, 11 May 2017

[2] Federal budget 2017: Turnbull says welfare drug test policy 'based on love', ABC News, 12 May 2017

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please donate now! To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here.

Our team acknowledges that we meet and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders - past, present and future - and acknowledge the important role all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within Australia and the GetUp community.

Authorised by Paul Oosting, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



          The Trouble With Water: not a good look for the National Party of Australia        


On 1 June 2017 former NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water (23 April 2014 - 2 April 2015) and current Nationals MP for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, announced that he will retire at the next state election in March 2019.

In the wake of the 24 July ABC “Four Corners” revelations of large-scale water theft under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Humphries has been referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by the Labor Opposition.

Hot on the heels of this program came another announcement on 31 July 2017.

Former NSW Minister for Primary Industries (3 April 2011 - 2 April 2015) with responsibility for lands & water and current Nationals MP for Cootamundra, Katrina Hodgkinson, announced her retirement effective mid to late August 2017.

Hodgkinson denies any connection between her sudden retirement and those Four Corners revelations.

However it should be noted that it was on the joint watch of Humphries and Hodgkinson that the position of NSW Water Commissioner responsible for the overall management of the State’s surface water and groundwater resources was axed and the NSW Office of Water was reformed as part of the Dept. of Primary Industry maintaining overall responsibility for accepting and assessing applications to change water access licences and operating the Water Access Licence Register.

High volume water theft appears to have become easier on the watch of these two National Party politicians.

All that would be needed for a trifecta of retiring state politicians associated with water resource policy would be for the current NSW Minister for Primary Industry, Minister for Regional Water and Nationals MLC, Niall Blair, to announce an unexpected desire to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests.

Any further scandal surrounding the management water resources in the NSW section of the Murray-Darling Basin and this may well be a distinct possibility - or even more media coverage like this perhaps?

The Daily Telegraph, 2 August 2017:

A NATIONALS minister is pushing Cabinet colleagues to change irrigation laws to retrospectively justify a decision by his department to give a major political donor and cotton farmer more rights over the precious Barwon-Darling River.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair is behind a push to alter an element of the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan.

It comes after his department in 2016 overruled what it called “minor” error in the law to grant extra irrigation rights to Brewarrina cotton farmer Peter Harris.

A department briefing, seen by The Daily Telegraph, said the error was impacting on “some users wishing to trade between river sections covered by the plan”.

The briefing was written shortly after Mr Harris was given extra rights.

Mr Harris gave $10,000 to the National Party prior to the 2011 election in combined personal donations and those made by his company.

Its understood an internal Coalition fight has broken out between Mr Blair and current Water Minister Gabrielle Upton , who is resisting the changes. The revelations come as several inquiries have been launched into the alleged water theft on an industrial scale of precious resources across the basin…….

The Daily Telegraph has obtained another document showing that the retiring Ms Hodgkinson changed the water sharing plan to benefit irrigators after lobbying. She was water minister at the time.

In a 2012 letter to lobbyist and cotton farmer Ian Cole, Ms Hodgkinson wrote: “Following consideration of a number of WSP (water sharing plan) matter raised with me, I ­requested the Office of Water to make several amendments which I believe now present a fair and equitable outcome for all.”

The Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton's obvious reluctance may be due to her appreciation of a change in wind direction within the national electorate on the subject of Murray-Darling Basin water allocations.

The present Deputy Prime Minister and Australian Water Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is also in a somewhat precarious position – less to do with his manifest inadequacy as a federal minister and more to do with his stated motives for seeking to add the water ministry to his portfolio responsibilities.

Cartoonist David Rowe at Financial Review


          Surprise, surprise - those Murray-Darling Basin water raiders have slithered over the horizon once more and are eyeing off the Clarence Valley river system yet again        

With so little fanfare that much of  Northern Rivers region missed it, the NSW Berejiklian Government reopened the March 2016 inquiry into augmentation of water supply for rural and regional New South Wales on 28 May 2017, with Terms of Reference published in July 2017.

This Upper House inquiry is chaired by Robert Brown MLC, from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and its reporting date has been extended to 30 March 2018. 

Current committee membership is as follows:

Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Chair
Mick Veitch MLC, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Chair
Jeremy Buckingham MLC, The Greens
Rick Colless MLC, The Nationals
Scot MacDonald MLC, Liberal Party
Greg Pearce MLC, Liberal Party
Penny Sharpe MLC, Australian Labor Party
Daniel Mookhey MLC, Australian Labor Party
Paul Green MLC, Christian Democratic Party
* Jeremy Buckingham MLC (Greens)is substituting for Dr Mehreen Faruqui MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
* Matthew Mason-Cox MLC (Liberal)  is substituting for Hon Greg Pearce MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
* Paul Green MLC and Penny Sharpe MLC will be participating for the duration of the inquiry.

A poorly advertised public hearing scheduled for 1 August 2017 in Lismore (with details sent to media on 31 July 2017) excluded Northern Rivers residents from giving evidence unless they represented a small number of invited groups.

It appears the committee had also determined that Clarence Valley Council was to be asked its view on diverting Clarence River system flood water.

Given flood water is already diverted to the purpose built Shannon Creek side dam to ensure a sustainable water supply for the est. 125,103 residents (Census 2016) currently living in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas, there are no prizes for guessing where any additional water diversion would be allocated.

Yes, that paragon of sustainable water mismanagement - the cluster of councils, industries, irrigators and water traders within the Murray-Darling Basin.

It will come as no surprise that Griffith Council is still pursuing a Clarence River dam and divert scheme. North Coast Voices reported on its obsession in August 2016.

This is what the Griffith City Council Deputy mayor, Dino Zappacosta of Zappacosta Estate Wines in Hanwood, told the inquiry on 1 March 2017:

The issue that my committee, Build More Dams, has looked at is that we need more water because farmers are crying out for more water. We need new water. By "new water", I mean water that is not currently being used at all. We looked at various options, including the Clarence Valley area, where millions and millions of megalitres of water flow out into the sea for what seems to be no real benefit at all for the community of the Clarence region, other than for the natural farming land and the fishery industry there.

It soon became apparent that, appart from the notion of free water at the expense of Clarence Valley communities’ social, cultural, aesthetic, environmental and economic values, Griffith Council knew little about how this dam and divert scheme would work.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: You have been talking about the Clarence River diversion scheme. Is it correct that that is essentially restricted to the Mann River subcatchment?

Mr ZAPPACOSTA: To the best of my knowledge, it covers most of the tributaries—for example, the Boyd River, the Mann River, the Nymboida River and the Timbarra River. They are highlighted on map 2, which was provided to the Committee.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: I am a little confused about the way the map reads. It appears as though the water is coming out of the Mann River catchment, which is a subcatchment of the Clarence. The divisions appear to be above the confluence of the Nymboida and the Mann. You recommend a 23 per cent Clarence River diversion, but the question is: What percentage of is that of the Mann River flow and what environmental impact will that have on the Mann River below where it is diverted? We should keep in mind the history of the Snowy River and what has happened there over the past 50 years. Does anybody have any thoughts about that? Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I will have to take on notice exactly how much comes from the Mann River itself.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: What is the reduction in flow from the sub-catchment rivers below where the water is diverted from them? What environmental impacts will that have on those rivers?

Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I appreciate the question. I think what you are asking is something we should dig into a bit deeper; there should be a study of it, preferably a feasibility study.

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: There needs to be a lot of work done on this, as you would appreciate.

While the Director of Utilities at Griffith City Council stated:

As an engineer I see the great benefits of supporting a scheme such as the Clarence River diversion scheme, not only from a water augmentation point of view. My directorate covers water supply as well as the flooding impacts caused by rainfall run-off. The Clarence River diversion scheme is not only a supply scheme but a flood mitigation solution, as the general manager mentioned. In my research I have referred to the document entitled Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 produced by BMT WBM consultants. They happen to be the same consultants who undertook our flood study and provided our flood mitigation options. They work across the State and they are well versed in flooding, from the Northern Rivers down to our area.

The Clarence River catchment on the far North Coast of New South Wales is one of the largest catchments on the east coast of Australia. It is approximately 20,000 square kilometres. It is above the towns of Grafton, Maclean and Yamba, and it is home to more than 20,000 people. The lower Clarence Valley has a long history of flooding, since settlement in about 1850. Bear with me as I read out the dates of the flooding events. I was just going to say a number, but it has more of an impact when you follow the years of flooding that the area has endured due to the large catchment that sits above it. Floods were recorded in 1863 and 1864. There was a record flood in 1890 in which two people lost their lives and there was extensive damage to the rural area. Further floods occurred in 1921 and 1928. Since 1945 the incidence of major flooding has been much higher, with floods occurring in 1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2001, 2009 and 2013.

There is a regular occurrence of extreme flooding in the Northern Rivers catchment, below the Clarence River. Section 4.4 of the Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 acknowledges that "the river flows originating from upstream of Grafton dominate flooding in the Lower Clarence Valley". Diversion of the Clarence River flows for that area towards the west, and the 25 per cent or 23.8 per cent that will be captured, diverted and controlled, will be of great benefit to flood mitigation in the Northern Rivers area. The document further says that it will maximise the investment from the Government not only to help solve water augmentation issues but to reduce the financial and human impacts flooding has in the northern coastal areas. The Clarence River diversion scheme was documented in 1981 by David Coffey and he estimated costings back then. We have done a projection to a present-day cost of approximately $10 billion. There are statistics on the map that I have provided to the Committee.

The Snowy Mountains scheme would have cost $10 billion in present-day money, so there are similar costings in the schemes. The 1,100 gigalitres diverted per annum from the Clarence River has generated $1.82 billion in agriculture. The scheme means that 23.8 per cent of the flows that would be heading down to flood people can be diverted. When you equate the $550 million a year in flood damages with the cost of a diversion scheme, 1,100 gigalitres can generate $1.8 billion a year in agriculture growth. The additional water means that 118,000 hectares of viable open country can be farmed. The offset of diversion and flood protection is that it is beneficial to all. That is where I will leave it.

The public hearing in Griffith was reported thus by The Area News on 2 March 2017:

HIGH-profile Griffith water users and city officials enjoyed a rare opportunity to sit face-to-face with Members of the NSW Upper House on Wednesday to discuss their handling of water….

The Honourable Rick Colless, The Honourable Paul Green, The Honourable Matthew Mason-Cox and The Honourable Penelope Sharpe were on hand to hear the concerns of the community….

Along with wanting to fix the water sharing plans, the other hot topic was the Clarence River Scheme, initially conceptualised by David Coffey in the 1970s.

The plan outlined diverting river flows westward from high rainfall catchments in the Northern Rivers.

According to Griffith City Council, the scheme will benefit lands south of the Dumaresq River while also providing flows into the Murray River, reducing the reliance for Murray-Darling Basin allocations to fill the original allocation to the basin. 

“We have looked at various options and we look at the Clarence Valley area where there are millions of millions of megalitres of water flowing out into the sea for what seems to be for no real benefit,” Councilor Dino Zappacosta said.

Griffith City Council general manager, Brett Stonestreet said it’s time the scheme is looked at again.

“It provides new water to give this state another shot in the arm,” he said.

“It also looks at potentially reducing flooding impact of the coastal communities adjacent to the Clarence by 25 per cent.

“There is a huge amount of money that can be generated and inland communities rediscovered and regenerated through new water.”

Mayor Dal Broi was pleased with how the inquiry was conducted and the feedback from the Senators.

“Some of the questions that were asked by the panel members, we know now what they are thinking,” he said.

“They were very receptive to the concept of new water so whether it's the diversion of the Clarence or lifting the wall on Burrinjuck Dam ... they were very receptive to that because we tried to make the point that the limited resources at the moment.”

“We need new water if our regions are to grow and have a better long-term sustainable allocation.”

Not content with bringing down the largest river system in Australia in order to line their own pockets, these wanabee water raiders just keep on coming after what they see as more 'free' water for the rorting.

Clarence Valley Council gave evidence at the re-opened inquiry on 1 August and the only question of interest to the water raiders came after a few minutes of questioning at Page 26 of the Lismore public hearing transcript:

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Thank you for your submission. In your submission you talk about this idea of diversion of the Clarence River to west of the Great Dividing Range. Could you give us a bit of a background on that proposal and what your council thinks about it?

Mr ANDERSON: I will start but Mr Mashiah might finish. Our council has resolved six times that they do not support the diversion of the Clarence, and each time that has been unanimous in regard to council's position. That is based on the fact that damage to the environment and the ecological systems that work within the Clarence River emerge from there. 

The CHAIR [Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party]: You probably cannot answer this, but that is an all-encompassing position of council?

Mr ANDERSON: Yes.

The CHAIR : I wonder what the council's position would be on the diversion of floodwaters only.

Mr ANDERSON: Again, Mr Chair, like you said, I cannot answer that question.

The CHAIR: What I am asking you is that I guess the council's resolutions were not burrowed down to that extent to be able to answer that question. We might ask Clarence council for an opinion on that.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Are those decisions supported by an independent side to pick advice? How were they derived?

Mr MASHIAH: There was a Healthy Rivers Commission inquiry into the Clarence in I think it was 1999, from memory, and part of the outcome of that commission inquiry was the importance of regular flood events in terms of the fishing industry and also the cane industry. I believe you have representatives from the cane industry here with us later.

The CHAIR: This afternoon, yes.

Mr MASHIAH: And also in terms of fisheries, one of the aspects that Clarence Valley Council has been active in for the past 20 years is trying to manage the floodplain to address issues such as acid runoff.

The CHAIR: Solid sulfate soils.

Mr MASHIAH: As the sulfate soils and particular acids run off. So we have done things like open floodgates and—

The CHAIR: And you should be congratulated.

Mr MASHIAH: Thank you, Mr Chair, for that. I will pass that on to the relevant staff who have been coordinating that. The regular flushing of those areas, which are fish breeding grounds, by floodwaters is very important. So if floods were diverted there are significant concerns from the fishing industry about the ongoing viability of the industry because the grounds where fish breed, according to the studies that have been undertaken, would then be adversely impacted. So that is one of the reasons that the fishing industry has very strongly opposed, through our estuary management committee in particular and through the estuary management plan, any diversion of water and we have tried to ensure that the fish breeding grounds are protected.

The CHAIR: I just made the observation that most of those fish breeding grounds would not be the same areas of land that are subject to high residential development or business or commercial or other aspects. In other words, you are not talking about the township of Grafton itself, you are talking river peripheries, flooded-out areas, for breeding concerns?

Mr MASHIAH: The challenge is that the urban footprint on the lower Clarence floodplain is probably about 1 to 2 per cent of the total surface area and all the urban areas are surrounded by rural areas. So it is very hard to work out how you manage that 1 or 2 per cent without adversely impacting the other 98 per cent, or vice versa, how do you manage the 98 per cent without adversely impacting 1 or 2 per cent of urban area?

The CHAIR: The 2013 flood, you have described it as a major flood, correct?

Mr MASHIAH: It was the flood of record at Grafton.

The CHAIR: I am wondering how the 2013 flood would have enhanced the fishery on the Clarence?

Mr MASHIAH: The main issue with the 2013 flood—I guess with any flood in the Clarence the flood behaviour in the upper river is a lot different to the flood behaviour in the lower river because of the tidal influences in particular and also how wet the floodplain is already. The 2013 event was actually three floods.

The CHAIR: And they rolled up on each other?

Mr MASHIAH: Yes, within a three-week period—quite distinct flood events.

The CHAIR: So it was a prolonged flood.

Mr MASHIAH: It was a prolonged flood and that meant there was significant inundation of back swamp areas, and I understand that there were some areas that effectively were areas that were flushed that had not been flushed in floods probably since 2001, so it is probably 12 years. So from an ecological perspective, talking to our environmental scientists, I understand that it was actually quite beneficial because the bigger floods only get into those areas once every 10 to 20 years.

The CHAIR: Were there any concurrent blackwater events for the fishery?

Mr MASHIAH: Not that I can recall, and I think that is a result of the management measures that have been undertaken on the floodplain because most of the farmers now operate the floodgates and so only shut the floodgates when there is actually a flood coming and open them fairly soon afterwards.

The CHAIR: So it is their responsibility to operate their own floodgates, is it?

Mr MASHIAH: That has been passed on to them, yes.

The CHAIR: Do you have any oversight of that?

Mr ANDERSON: Yes, we do, and we work with those groups and undertake training et cetera . It is a two-way street of communication: they tell us what they need and, vice versa, we provide training associated with that and inductions and operate that through a number of committees et cetera as well.

Evidence was also given by the NSW Professional Fishermen’s Association (commencing Page 38) the NSW Canegrowers Association (commencing Page 45) and the Clarence Environment Centre (commencing Page 56).


One has to wonder why the committee members of this reformed Water Augmentation Inquiry didn't seek the views of those holding Native Title (See Yaegl People #1 Yaegl People #2) over the Clarence River from the waters approximately half-way between Ulmarra and Brushgrove right down to the eastern extremities of the northern and southern breakwater walls at the mouth of the river.

After all they are significant stakeholders in any discussion of water policy and water management in the Clarence River catchment area.

The other matter of note, arising from North Coast Voices somewhat belated discovery that the water raiders were back on the scene, is the suggestion that not all Clarence Valley councillors had forewarning that council staff were appearing before the inquiry on 1 August.

If true this would be a disturbing indication that council administration has retained some of the bad habits it acquired under the former general manager who was handed his hat in March this year.


          LORINC: Dedicate foreign-buyers tax to social housing        
The latest spitball fired in the ongoing pissing match between the City and the province came from the new Liberal housing minister, Etobicoke MPP Peter Milczyn, who yesterday accused John Tory and company of chronically underfunding Toronto Community Housing, as the Toronto Sun reported. Which, of course, is true, as is the ritual counter-allegation from […]
          il mio Ubuntu        
Dopo un paio di settimane di uso continuo posso proprio dirlo: ma quanto mi piace !
Da quando lo uso non ho più acceso Winzozz XP, salvo un paio di volte per fare il confronto.

Tutto rose e fiori? no, certamente no; la mia scheda video ha dei driver cani che mi impallano X (almeno penso sia quello il problema), quindi ho dovuto disabilitare tutte quelle belle cose 3D con cui tirarsela, e comunque tende ad andare molto lento in certe situazioni (ma io lo stresso).

Però ho tutti i programmi che mi servono:
  • Firefox
  • Thunderbird
  • Pidgin
  • Rhythmbox (molto bella novità)
  • OpenOffice
  • ...e una scarrellata di programmi con cui fare di tutto, tutti immancabilmente Free.

Pensare che tutto questo software, con tutto il lavoro che ci sta dietro, sia gratis, anzi, più che gratis, mi fa girare la testa e un qualche senso di colpa mi viene:
io che gli do in cambio?
Prima o poi mi cimenterò nelle traduzioni, magari, che mi sembrano l'unica cosa nella quale si possa contribuire senza far danni micidiali :-)

Pro rispetto a Winzozz XP?
non ho pagato per averlo, mentre il caro Winzozz costò la bellezza di 128 euro ivati; non mi sembra un dettaglio da poco!
Altro pro?
L'interfaccia grafica semplice, personalizzabile, molto più usabile e comoda di quella winzozziana (che è decisamente datata...)
Altro pro è la trasparenza: non so che farmene dei codici sorgente del software che ho installato, ma sapere che c'è una comunità di sviluppatori che controlla il "come" è fatto un software e quello che fa mi fa stare molto tranquillo; con Winzozz i comportamenti strani / che sfuggivano dalla mia volontà erano molti, senza contare che nessuno poteva sapere cosa faceva "veramente" il software... e perché ogni 3 mesi volesse controllare se la mia copia era originale?...
Ancora un pro? la gestione pacchetti per l'installazione e l'aggiornamento del software: è anni luce dal sistema di Winzozz (che consiste nel: "fate un po' come cazzo vi pare"); su Ubuntu basta andare su
"Applicazioni -> Aggiungi/Rimuovi..."
e compare una bellissima libreria con una marea di software tra cui scegliere, navigabile per categoria, tipo etc. Quando hai letto le descrizioni ed ha selezionato quello che ti serve (e deselezionato quello che non ti serve ma che hai già nel pc) basta dargli un Ok, e lui fa tutto. E tu nel frattempo continui a lavorare sapendo che difficilmente servirà riavviare il sistema al termine dell'installazione.
Il vero pro, per me, è comunque politico: la possibilità di avere un mercato che offra prodotti di qualità, gratuiti e su cui puoi avere il pieno controllo; e penso soprattutto a cosa può (potrebbe) fare un paese del terzo mondo grazie al Free software...

In definitiva, sperando che venga definitivamente risolto il problema dei driver con le dannatissime schede Ati (colpa di Ati, ci tengo a precisarlo), e sperando che il mercato del software in Europa si liberalizzi (avete già firmato la petizione? ne parlai anch'io mesi fa), ormai il passaggio a Linux son riuscito a farlo, e spero che non sarò costretto ad arretrare.
L'obiettivo di rendermi indipendente da Winzozz prima di esser costretto a passare a Vista è ormai raggiunto, ora dovrò mettermi a far proselitismo :-)

Tag: , , , ,
          La universidad sigue doliente 90 años después...        
La universidad sigue doliente 90 años después

Por Sara Plaza y Edgardo Civallero

En Chile, profesores y estudiantes de enseñanza secundaria y universitaria convocaron hace días una huelga indefinida en protesta por el proyecto de ley de Educación del Gobierno.

En las universidades españolas han tenido lugar diversos actos de protesta en contra del Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior (EEES, más conocido como Bolonia, la ciudad donde tuvo lugar la declaración). Sus detractores opinan que ayudará a privatizar y mercantilizar la universidad pública, a degradar los títulos, a subordinar el conocimiento a los intereses del mercado, y a hacer de la universidad una escuela de formación profesional donde primen las enseñanzas prácticas sobre la reflexión, el debate, la crítica, la investigación y la discusión.

El Congreso Regional de Educación Superior celebrado en mayo de 2008 en Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, por el Instituto Internacional para la Educación Superior en América Latina y el Caribe (Iesalc/Unesco) limita la participación de miles de investigadores, no recoge las actuales problemáticas ni plantea nuevas ideas, y excluye una gran parte del pensamiento latinoamericano. A la vez, asume el papel que durante tiempo criticó al Banco Mundial, convirtiéndose así en un mercado donde se silenció a la comunidad educativa con documentos estériles –elaborados por economistas en su mayoría– y se repitieron hasta la saciedad términos neoliberales como eficiencia, eficacia, calidad, acceso y equidad, competitividad, innovación, pertinencia, financiamiento, gestión, gobernabilidad, acreditación de programas, evaluación...

Éstas son informaciones aparecidas en distintos medios de comunicación durante los últimos días. Curiosamente, leemos estas denuncias –expresadas por distintos actores de la comunidad educativa– cuando se está celebrando el 90º aniversario de la Reforma Universitaria que tuvo lugar a partir de los reclamos de los estudiantes de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC), Argentina. Éstos, al ver que no eran escuchados, irrumpieron en la Asamblea Universitaria que elegía nuevo rector el 15 de junio de 1918 y se declararon en huelga indefinida, a la que se adhirieron estudiantes y obreros de todo el país. El día 21 de ese mes apareció en "La Gaceta Universitaria" el Manifiesto Liminar de la Reforma escrito por Deodoro Roca y firmado por los dirigentes de la Federación Universitaria de Córdoba. Durante el mes de julio se clausuró la universidad –que ya había sido intervenida en abril, por orden del entonces presidente Hipólito Yrigoyen, al incrementarse las protestas estudiantiles–, el rector elegido por la asociación clerical Corda Frates renunció al cargo y el gobierno intervino la UNC, reformándose sus estatutos, renovándose la plantilla docente y siendo introducidos muchos de los reclamos de los estudiantes.

Entre las denuncias que vertía el Manifiesto podemos encontrar algunas de las que se lanzan hoy a los actuales modelos universitarios a uno y otro lado del Atlántico:

"Las universidades han llegado a ser así fiel reflejo de estas sociedades decadentes que se empeñan en ofrecer el triste espectáculo de una inmovilidad senil. (...) Nuestro régimen universitario –aun el más reciente– es anacrónico. Está fundado sobre una especie del derecho divino: el derecho divino del profesorado universitario. Se crea a sí mismo. En él nace y en él muere. Mantiene un alejamiento olímpico. (...) Los gastados resortes de la autoridad que emana de la fuerza no se avienen con lo que reclaman el sentido y el concepto moderno de las universidades. El chasquido del látigo sólo puede rubricar el silencio de los inconscientes o de los cobardes. (...) La juventud universitaria de Córdoba afirma que jamás hizo cuestión de nombres, ni de empleados. Se levantó contra un régimen administrativo, contra un método docente, contra un concepto de autoridad. Las funciones públicas se ejercitaban en beneficio de determinadas camarillas. No se reformaban planes ni reglamentos por temor de que alguien en los cambios pudiera perder su empleo. La consigna de ‘hoy para ti y mañana para mí' corría de boca en boca y asumía la preeminencia de estatuto universitario. Los métodos docentes estaban viciados de un estrecho dogmatismo, contribuyendo a mantener a la universidad apartada de la ciencia y de las disciplinas modernas. Las lecciones, encerradas en la repetición de viejos textos, amparaban el espíritu de rutina y de sumisión."

La universidad argentina a la que se refería Deodoro Roca hace 90 años estaba atada "a la antigua dominación monárquica y monástica". La universidad española a la que actualmente los estudiantes visten con pancartas que dicen "NO a Bolonia" parece dolerse de los intereses mercantiles transnacionales que quieren sujetarla, a los que tampoco ha sido ajeno el Congreso Internacional de Educación Superior celebrado en Cartagena. En 1918 el sentimiento religioso que inspiraba la Compañía de Jesús – "[c]uriosa religión que enseña a menospreciar el honor y deprimir la personalidad. Religión para vencidos o esclavos", escribía Roca– amordazaba aquella universidad. En el momento actual son las tesis del Banco Mundial derivadas de la teoría del capital humano (manifestando que "el estado no debe invertir en educación superior" porque "la inversión en educación superior es regresiva") y la resolución de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (esa que afirma que la educación superior es un bien negociable) las que coaccionan la libre expresión de la comunidad universitaria.

No parece que hayamos avanzado mucho si en el lugar que ocupaban los religiosos de entonces se encuentran ubicados los economistas de hoy. Quizás no esté de más recordar los principios reformistas de 1918 para impulsar y discutir las leyes educativas de 2008. Entonces se pedía la autonomía de las universidades respecto de los gobiernos. Hoy habría que añadir también respecto de los mercados, las empresas, la OMC, el BM... Sigue siendo deseable que el gobierno de las universidades quede en manos de sus principales actores, es decir, los claustros de profesores, los estudiantes y los graduados. Habría que seguir defendiendo la gratuidad de la enseñanza pública. Y también la extensión universitaria: el hecho de que la universidad, su comunidad y sus conocimientos no se alejen de los problemas y debates sociales sino que intervengan en ellos. Sin duda es fundamental mantener la libertad de cátedra y renovar periódicamente los cargos docentes. Y sigue siendo necesario que la docencia esté en estrecha relación con la investigación. Si entonces ya se proponía una unidad latinoamericana, ¿por qué no discutir hoy el Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior sin confundir convergencia con una única forma de pensar, hacer y decir las cosas, sin excluir la diversidad, reconociendo las dificultades, las presiones, los errores y los desaciertos para compartir y debatir nuevas propuestas?

El mercantilismo que afecta a todas las facetas de nuestra vida en esta enorme "aldea global" –que cada vez parece menos "unificada" y más "colonizada"– no deja de lado la producción, uso y disfrute de los conocimientos. Así como presiona deliberadamente en la educación (un factor estratégico en el crecimiento, desarrollo y progreso de los pueblos) también lo hace en la gestión de la información. Nuestras bibliotecas y centros de documentación ofrecen pruebas palpables de la aplicación de "estrategias de gestión", "medidas de calidad y eficacia" y un sinnúmero de técnicas y herramientas que sólo buscan convertir a las unidades de conocimiento en negocios de los cuales obtener pingues beneficios. La cultura mercantilista se filtra en todos los rincones: mientras las leyes de copyright golpean duramente la circulación y uso de documentos y software, se alzan los debates por las políticas de "cobro de tasas" en bibliotecas. Al mismo tiempo la brecha digital se abre, los roles sociales de los profesionales de las bibliotecas se difuminan o esfuman, el analfabetismo informativo crece... La bibliotecología –al igual que la educación– se ve bombardeada por un nuevo modelo, cuyos defensores ni dan tregua, ni ofrecen caminos intermedios ni adaptaciones, ni oyen razones. Parece una batalla sin cuartel en la que los perjudicados son los de siempre.

En 1918, la Reforma de Córdoba se extendió a través de Latinoamérica, y fueron muchas las subsiguientes protestas estudiantiles que, usando el texto cordobés de Deodoro Roca como base, lograron cambios en varios sistemas universitarios nacionales. Hoy... ¿quiénes darán el nuevo ejemplo, tanto en la educación como en otros ámbitos? ¿Quiénes alzarán la bandera de la libertad de pensamiento y acción? ¿Quiénes se rebelarán contra los nuevos yugos que intentan colocarnos?

Ilustración.

          In the name of development        
Teaser: 
The indigenous community of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has been systematically alienated from their land by the colonial and post-colonial policies. A new book chronicles the change.
The forests and the tribal communities of the islands are being decimated. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Pankaj Sekhsaria’s recent book Islands in flux--The Andaman and Nicobar Story is a collection of around 20 years of his writings on the environmental and conservation concerns faced by the indigenous tribal communities of the region. Unlike his previous book, The last wave, a factual fiction adventure story dealing with love, longing and loss, this one is a collection of contemporary developments in the islands. The book is divided into seven parts and several chapters each dealing with the societal and ecological facets of the islands. Issues related to the environment, wildlife conservation and development policies that threaten the island’s indigenous communities have been chronicled by the author who is a long-time member of the NGO, Kalpavriksh.

Alienation of islanders

The book begins with the section, Setting the context, in which he writes about the history of the alienation of the island communities living there for over 40,000 years. The author takes a dig at the history writers of the modern democratic Indian state who have left gaping holes in their writings by not sudying the ancient indigenous communities--the Great Andamanese, the Onge, the Jarawa and the Sentinelese. It is here that the author mentions “if the real and complete history of the islands is ever written, the British would not be more than a page and India could only be a paragraph”.

The indigenous people have been systematically alienated from their resources by the British colonial policies and the post-colonial development-oriented policies of India. The Britishers set up a penal colony in the islands in 1858, the Japanese occupied the islands during the World War II, and during the post colonial period, thousands of settlers from mainland India were brought to the island. Though the islanders put up a fierce fight to defend their territories, the social fabric of the island communities has been violently torn apart and their populations decimated while the settlers outnumbered the original inhabitants. The region is witness to nation building exercises, hinduisation of ‘uncivilized junglees’ and even an attempt to rename the islands. The author calls this as an attempt to “reclaim what was never yours”. No effort has been made by way of scholarship or historical studies to take the islanders’ point of view.

Forestry is the chief source of revenue in cash in the islands but the system of forestry did not suit the region. The author quotes an official report by the Department of Environment, Government of India that argues that “the forestry system was leading to a preponderance of deciduous elements in the evergreen system that would eventually destroy the whole island ecosystem”. The carrying capacity of the islands has been long exceeded, the author says. Ill-conceived schemes like cattle rearing were introduced for a community that does not consume milk. Tourism is a concern in the islands which have been declared as ‘global biodiversity hotspot’.

The pristine forests and the people living in the Jarawa tribal reserve that covers half the island is under threat because of the ill conceived Andaman Trunk Road that separates the reserve land from the rest of the island. The Jarawas for whom the forests have been a home for ages have been reduced to begging around the Trunk Road that runs through the reserve. The road has been controversial due to the negative fallouts on the island’s ecology and the indigenous people. The Supreme Court had in 2002 passed an order to close it; the island administration chose to ignore it. Its closure was absolutely critical to protect the Jarawa community, the author says.

Islands turn colonies

The author chronicles the colonising of the islands in a chapter of the same name and discusses how the settlers look down upon the indigenous communities. Tension continues between the tribal communities especially the ancient tribal community of Jarawas and the settlers over land rights and there is a lack of political will to ease this even as the population of the Jarawas has been reduced to a few hundreds. “There are opinions that the Jarawas should be assimilated into the modern world, but it is clear that it is exactly this contact with the outside world that is rapidly pushing them towards the brink,” the author states.

In the chapter, A brief history of logging, Sekhsaria provides an account of the timber operations in the Andamans. He notes how as a part of India’s colonisation scheme, mainlanders were settled here. This was done to strengthen India’s claim over the islands. Incentives were offered to settlers by way of land and royalty free timber. Timber-based industry was promoted and liberal subsidies offered. Forests were exploited to benefit settlers who had little stake in the islands or its natural resources. Timber offered for millions decreased after the 2002 Supreme Court order. The order was in response to a petition by three NGOs to stop logging. The Supreme Court order that banned the cutting of naturally grown trees in the Andamans and Nicobar islands were welcomed by the environmental rights groups. But logging continued within the tribal reserve.

In the section, Environment, ecology and development, the author stresses the need for evolving sensible conservation policies. The author discusses the consequences of introducing exotic species into the island systems. This has led to irretrievable loss of native species and ecosystems. “The Andaman and Nicobar islands are unsurpassed in their botanical wealth, and the ethnomedical knowledge of the tribals who live here is astounding,” he says.

In the section, December 2004 and its aftermath, the author discusses the turmoil caused by the tsunami of December 26, 2004 which killed around 3500 people in the fragile Andaman and Nicobar islands, the worst hit area in India. The tectonic activity due to the third deadliest earthquake of the world in the last 100 years caused a significant shift in the islands’ geography with a permanent average uplift of four to six feet while parts of Nicobar islands went significantly under, with the southernmost tip, Indira point on Great Nicobar island going 15 ft down. Apart from dealing with how the tsunami destroyed the island, the section also highlights how the people picked up the pieces and started all over again.

Leave them alone

The tsunami waters inundated large areas of the islands causing damage to its coastal and marine ecology. In the aftermath of this turmoil, ecologists have suggested ‘no intervention’ and that ‘leaving areas alone should be the preferred management option’. A disturbing facet of the islands in recent times is its water scarcity. The islands have been facing severe water shortages even during the pre-tsunami period but this got worse after 2004. Fresh water sources got hit by the tsunami.

Talking about the faulty development planning, the author discusses how the former president late Abdul Kalam in 2005 in the aftermath of the tsunami announced a grandiose vision for the development of the Andamans and Nicobar islands. This included ecologically perilous components like deep sea fishing, exploitation of bamboo, value-added coconut products and tourism.

A central thread of Sekhsaria’s book has been the neglect and acculturation of the Jarawas, and their losing scuffle with the outsiders. The book presented in a journalistic manner handles the issue very sensitively and the author exhibits a keen understanding of the history of the indigenous people and its ecology.

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          Ramalan Bintang hari ini Paling Lengkap Terbaru        
banyak sekali ramalan Bintang yang ada di ranah maya terutama di Google, sebab dengan mencari dan mengeteik kata kunci Ramalan Zodiak atau ramalan bintang maka anda akan ditujukan pada beberapa ramalan yang ada dan sangat terperinci, nah kali ini kami Ramalan Indonesia akan mencoba untuk memberikan sedikit Ramalan Bintang Hari Ini untuk anda semua yang memang ingin melihat perkembangan Zodiak anda sehari hari.

Mungkin saja bisa membuat anda jadi lebih termotivasi dan bersemangat karena melihat ramalan bintang anda baik untuk hari ini, langsung saja deh akan kami berikan atau kami sajikan untuk anda semua di bawah ini :

Ramalan Bintang Hari Ini :


Ramalan Bintang ARIES (The Ram)
Sifat: Cardinal, Api, Personal
Kata Kuncinya: "I am" (aku)

Bebas, asertif, individualistik, impulsif, intelektualitas tinggi, keras kepala, ingin menjadi yang terdepan, pemimpin, action oriented (berorientasi pada aksi), Intemperate (tidak terkendali), cenderung ke arah kekerasan, fiery, (berapi-api), straight-forward (berterus terang), ekstrem, sombong (arogan), passionate (penuh dengan nafsu), powerfull (sangat kuat), ada sifat suka menyendiri (loner), fredom-loving (menyukai cinta yang bebas dan tidak terikat)
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada Kepala Yang Sering Pusing
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Mars
Tanggal Zodiak: 21 maret - 20 April

Ramalan Bintang TAURUS (The Bull, banteng)
Sifat: Fixed atatu tetap, membumi atau berhubungan dengan elemen tanah/bumi, personal.
Kata kuncinya: "I Have" (Saya memiliki)

Imajinatif, sistematk, devoted (mengabdi), patient (sabar), sensual, affctionat (menghargai pertemanan), possesif, sangat berhati-hati, suka hal yang bersifat materi (rasa kepemilikan terhadap sesuatu yang tinggi), menyukai hal-hal yang berbau musik, artistik, keras kepala, solid earthy (keduniawian), kuat, slow (lamban), kind (baik hati), just (monoton).
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada Penyakit Sariawan dan Radang Tenggorokan
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Venus
Tangal Zodiak: 21 April - 21 Mei

Ramalan Bintang GEMINI (The Twins)
Sifat: Mutable, selalu bergerak, seperti udara dan air, bersifat personal
Kata Kuncinya: "I Think" (Saya Pikir)

Logis, selalu ingin tahu, energik, aktif, dapat mengerjakan banyak hal, banyak bicara , berjiwa sosial, mampu beradaptasi dengan baik, cenderung memiliki dua karakter yang berbeda, bersifat seperti air dan logam atau merkurial, kurang sabar, selalu ingin tahu hal-hal yang terbaru
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada Olahraga Tertentu dan juga Hindari Kebiasaan Merokok
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Merkurius
Tanggal Zodiak: 22 Mei - 21 Juni

Ramalan Bintang CANCER (Si Kepiting)
Sifat: Cardinal, water, personal
Kata Kuncinya: "I Feel" (Saya Rasa)

Protektif, sensitif, Keras kepala yang cenderung tidak fleksibel, sangat sayang pada keluarga, home oriented (orientasi utama pada keluarga), helpfull (suka menolong), berkembang dan selalu menyebar, moody (berubah turuti suasana hati), bersikap seperti air yang mengalir ke bawah, cenderung memendam perasaan dan keinginan, emosional, temperamen (tapi tidak terlalu lama / gampang reda), penuh cinta
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada Penyakit Maagh dan juga masuk Angin.
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Bulan atau Luna
Tanggal Zodiak: 22 Juni - 23 Juli

Ramalan Bintang LEO (The Lion)
Sifat: Tetap, Api, Berjiwa Sosial
Kata Kuncinya: "I Will" (Saya Akan, Berkemauan Tinggi)

Baik hati dan suka memberi, liberal, realistis, berhati besar, proud (menjunjung harga diri), dramatikal, suka membesar-besarkan masalah, passionate (mempunyai gairah yang tinggi), pencemburu, suka dipuja, Bossy (suka memerintah), loves attention (gila perhatian), arogan, terkesan sombong, independent (mandiri), leader (berjiwa pemimpin), berjiwa bebas, egotistic (cenderung ke diri sendiri dan tidak peduli pada lingkungan), kingly (bergaya bak raja), powerfull (bertenaga).
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada bagian Jantung dan Punggung
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Matahari
Tanggal Zodiak: 24 Juli - 23 Agustus

Ramalan Bintang LEO (The Lion)
Sifat: Tetap, Api, Berjiwa Sosial
Kata Kuncinya: "I Will" (Saya Akan, Berkemauan Tinggi)

Baik hati dan suka memberi, liberal, realistis, berhati besar, proud (menjunjung harga diri), dramatikal, suka membesar-besarkan masalah, passionate (mempunyai gairah yang tinggi), pencemburu, suka dipuja, Bossy (suka memerintah), loves attention (gila perhatian), arogan, terkesan sombong, independent (mandiri), leader (berjiwa pemimpin), berjiwa bebas, egotistic (cenderung ke diri sendiri dan tidak peduli pada lingkungan), kingly (bergaya bak raja), powerfull (bertenaga).
Kesehatan: Anda mudah sekali capek , dan juga hindari merokok yang memicu penyakit jantung
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Matahari
Tanggal Zodiak: 24 Juli - 23 Agustus

Ramalan Bintang LIBRA (Si Timbangan)
Sifat: Cardinal, Udara, Sosial
Kata Kuncinya: "I Balance " (Aku Seimbang)

Kooperatif, diplomatis, selalu berpindah, stylish (bergaya, luwes), suka berpartner, superior yang suka berkembang, menginginkan keseimbangan dengan suka membandingkan, Charm (mempunyai daya tarik sendiri), debative (suka berdebat), open minded (mudah menerima hal baru), memiliki jiwa sosial, kaya akan ide
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada bagian Hati dan Lumbar Region
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Venus
Tanggal Zodiak: 24 September - 23 Oktober

Ramalan Bintang SCORPIO (The Scorpio)
Sifat: Tetap, Seperti Api, Sosial
Kata Kuncinya: "I Desire" (Aku Menginginkan)

Passionate (nafsu yang tinggi), kreatif, powerfull, selalu ingin tahu, antusiasme tinggi, berdedikasi, pengabdian, pencemburu, selalu menganilisis sesuatu, selalu berevolusi, memiliki daya tarik kuat, memiliki daya hipnotis, menyukai hal yang berbau seksual, pandai dan kreatif, sangat sensitif, cerdik cenderung licik, agresif, self oriented (cenderuh mengarah ke diri sendiri), sadis, misteruis, bisa melakukan perubahan mendadak yang mengejutkan
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada bagian Pelvis dan Organ Reproduksi
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Mars dan Pluto
Tanggal Zodiak: 24 Oktober - 22 November

Ramalan Bintang SAGITARIUS (Si Pemanah)
Sifat: Berubah, Udara, Universal
Kata Kuncinya: "I Perceive " (Saya Mengetahui, Saya Memahami)

Bebas, straight-forward (berterus terang), careles (ceroboh), kasar, tidak berperasaan, sangat berfilosofi, intelektualitas tinggi, Fun-Loving, arogan, berjiwa petualang, suka melakukan perkembangan, optimis, blundering (membuat kesalahan besar), believer (mudah percaya pada sesuatu yang diyakininya).
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada bagian Pinggul dan Paha
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Jupiter
Tanggal Zodiak: 23 November - 21 Desember

Ramalan Bintang CAPRICORN (The Sea-Goat)
Sifat: Cardinal, Membumi, Universal
Kata Kuncinya: "I Use" (Saya Berguna)

Prudent (bijaksana), cautious (berhati-hati, tidak mudah percaya), ambisius (cenderung ingin punya kekuasaan atau otoritas), cerdik namun kadang cenderung licik, kompeten, suka memberi perintah, dan kaku.
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada bagian Lutut dan Tulang
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Saturnus
Tanggal Zodiak: 22 Desember - 20 Januari

Ramalan Bintang Aquarius (Si Air Mengalir)
Sifat: Tetap, Air, Universal
Kata Kuncinya: "I Know" (Saya Tahu)

Demokratis, unconventional (selalu ingin tahu hal baru dan mengikuti perkembangan), tidak mau terikat, selalu terpisah dari yang lain, sering berpindah, ada yang cenderug meng-isolasi diri (membentuk sebuah kelompok tersendiri / suka berkelompok) namun memiliki rasa pertemanan yang tinggi (friendship), berjiwa sosial, eksentrik, elit, menyukai sebuah kejutan, obyektif
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada Sistem Saraf Nervous
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Saturnus dan Uranus
Tanggal Zodiak: 21 Januari - 19 Februari

Ramalan Bintang Pisces (The Fishes)
Sifat: Selalu Berubah, Air, Universal
Kata Kuncinya: "I Believe" (Saya Percaya)

Imajinatif, sensitive, sulit berkonsentrasi pada satu hal (no-focus), distracted (gampang rusak / patah), feeling (selalu memakai perasaan pada suatu masalah), Duality (memiliki pribadi yang berlawanan) namuni memiliki idealisme dan agamis (spiritual), acceptance (menerima), undiscriminated (tidak pernah membedakan), soul growth (jiwa yang berkembang), artistik, ceroboh, sering gampang menyerah pada keadaan (melarikan diri dari keadaan / tangung jawab / keadaan yang membuatnya sulit) namun memiliki kesabaran yang tinggi pada hal-hal tertentu yang cocok.
Kesehatan: Perlu perhatian ekstra pada Kaki dan Sistem Kekebalan Tubuh
Ramalan Bintang: Dipengaruhi oleh Planet Jupiter dan Neptunus
Tanggal Zodiak: 20 Februari - 20 Maret

nah sudah dulu Ramalan Bintang yang bisa kami berikan untuk anda semua, semoga saja bermanfaat untuk anda semua, dan kami akan memberikan banyak artikel seputar ramalan yang lainnya untuk anda semua, Oke,,

          "Wicked practise & sorcerye": The Witches of Belvoir        

Before I went off to Shropshire for a week - hence my break from blogging - we visited the tombs of the Earls and Dukes of Rutland in Bottesford church.

There I wrote that one of the tombs has some dark history attached to it.

That tomb is the grandest one in the church: the tomb of Francis Manners, the sixth Earl, and his two wives and children.

And you will see above that the inscription on the tomb attributes the deaths of two of those children to "wicked practise & sorcerye".

Witchcraft tells the story behind this:
The Witches of Belvoir were three women, Joan Flower and her two daughters, Margaret and Philippa, who were accused of witchcraft in eastern England around 1619. The story has many classic elements of witchcraft trials, and much of the evidence revolved around various alleged familiar spirits. 
A Bottesford woman named Joan Flower and her two daughters, Margaret and Philippa, were employed as servants by the Earl and Countess of Rutland at Belvoir Castle near Grantham, Lincolnshire. 
Joan Flower in particular was unpopular and feared in the local community. She was an unkempt woman, with sunken eyes and a foul mouth, who boasted of her atheism, and of consorting with familiar spirits. 
Margaret was dismissed from the castle for stealing and, not long after, the Earl’s whole family became sick, suffering extraordinary convulsions. Although most of the family recovered, the eldest son, Henry, Lord Ross, died, and the Earl and Countess became convinced that Joan Flower and her daughters were to blame. 
All three women were arrested at Christmas of 1617 (or 1618) and were taken to Lincoln jail, where they were examined.
Joan Flower died in prison and her two daughters were tried, convicted of witchcraft and hanged.

A dreadful tale of the sort I came across some years ago at Husbands Bosworth.

The only positive factor I can see is that Joan's familiar was a cat called Rutterkin. And you have to admit that is a terrific name for a cat.



          Expensive new trains on the Midland main line will be slower than the current diesels        

You may recall that it was announced last month that plans to electrify the line from St Pancras to Sheffield have been scrapped.

The line is currently electrified to Bedford. That will be extended to Kettering and Corby, but no further.

Services to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield will be provided by new bi-mode trains that will take power from the overhead lines as far as Kettering and use diesel engines north of there.

Then the other day there was this story from Chris Doidge, BBC Radio Derby's political reporter:
BBC Radio Derby's learned that the government's decision to scrap the electrification of trains between Derby and London will mean slower journeys. 
Three weeks ago, the government said its new bi-mode trains - that run on electric and diesel - would mean "quicker journey times", but now it's admitted that's not quite the whole story. 
Journey times will reduce - because lines are being straightened and junctions improved. 
The trains will actually be slower than the electric ones the government has scrapped.
Today I met an old friend who knows far more about railways than I do. He explained why this may be the case.

The overhead electrification from St Pancras to Bedford was erected to serve commuter trains not faster long-distance services.

As a result, the maximum speed for trains using it is 100mph. So, unless a lot of money is spent to upgrade this electrification, that will be the maximum speed of the bi-mode trains using electric power on this section of the line,

Yet the diesels currently providing the service can travel at up to 125mph.

I suppose the bi-mode trains could use diesel power throughout, but then there is not much point paying extra for them.

Mind you, as Chris Doidge went on to say:
The group which represents rail operators says the bi-mode trains are heavier, less powerful and more expensive to buy, more expensive to maintain and more expensive to operate than their electric cousins.
And that is not the bottom of this mess.

As I said in my post when electrification to Sheffield was cancelled, a great deal of work has already been carried out along the line to raise bridges to make room for overhead wires.

The Leicester Mercury has also reported this and quoted my old friend Simon Galton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Leicestershire County Council:
"We have already had the road closure and the disruption and for what – for the Government to scrap the scheme almost everyone else says is vital to the region. 
"The money that has already wasted adds insult to injury. 
"It would not surprise me if £50 million at least had been spent."
This whole affair has highlighted how hopelessly inefficient and centralised our current way of running the railways is. The Department for Transport is intimately involved in every decision.

In fact, the railways had far more autonomy when they were nationalised under British Rail.
          Liberal staffer Barrie Macmillan resigns over lobster with alleged mobster        
Our Headline of the Day Award goes to the Australian newspaper The Age.
          Liberal Democrats to demonstrate against Brexit at Tory conference        

Richard Vaughan reports on iNews today:
The Liberal Democrats will abandon political party protocol by joining pro-EU campaigners to protest against Brexit outside this year’s Conservative Party Conference. 
Activists are planning to stage one of the biggest marches in opposition to Britain leaving the EU when the Tories stage their annual conference in Manchester in October.  
And they will be joined by the Lib Dems who will break the conventional truce that prevents parties from disrupting other political conferences. 
The party said it did not take the decision "lightly", but said such action was necessary to prevent the Government pressing on with a "harmful" Brexit.
He goes on to quote Tom Brake:
"Brexit is the battle of our lives and it is vital we make the Conservatives see the strength of feeling against their disastrous extreme Brexit, which threatens to crash the economy and damage the life chances of millions."
The question is whether Labour will mount a counter-demonstration in support of Conservative policy.
          Welcome to the new Liberal Democrat bloggers        
Two new blogs appeared on the LibDemBlogs aggregator in July. Thanks as ever to Ryan Cullen for sending me the details.

Feminist Mama @ Ambitious Mamas is written by Jane Chelliah and has been running for five years.

Here she responds to Nick Timothy's claim that because of sexism Theresa May has not received enough credit for her policies:
It's a cynical and convenient use of a prejudice to spin a yarn to extricate his then boss, Theresa May, from the blame and shame that was heaped on her after the disastrous run at the general election by both the electorate and the Westminster bubble inhabitants. The electorate who voted for non-Tory parties at the general election very much blamed Theresa May for the policies. 
Radix is a group blog written by a team from a cross-party organisation that includes David Boyle. It has been running for three years.

Here is David writing on agricultural policy after farming:
The key question it seems to me that we should ask, in the emerging debate about trade deals and subsidies, is this: does it promote agricultural diversity? Does it support our emerging local food economies? Does it build the UK’s capacity to regenerate its agriculture?
If you have a new blog you would like to appear here next month, please add it to LibDemBlogs.
          Scott Walker: On Your Own Again        


I have spent the past week in Shropshire with the songs of Scott Walker going through my head.

Before I left I watched the BBC Prom devoted to those songs and I thought it was wonderful.

I had heard it on the radio, but the staging in the Royal Albert Hall added magic. Without it, on the radio, you missed Scott Walker's voice.

But then the fact that Walker devoted himself to these songs when, with that voice, he could have done anything he wanted in music was somehow a statement of their importance in itself.

On Your Own was at the Prom by Susanne Sundfør. You can see her performing it in a preview of the concert for Newsnight.

I have sometimes been a little sceptical of the new emphasis on accessibility at the Proms - or at least of the BBC's insistence on promoting those concerts above all others.

But the Scott Walker Prom reminded us that the important difference is not the one between classical and popular music but the one between good and bad music.

I find I have chosen four Scott Walker songs for my Sunday music video before:

So it's no surprise that I enjoyed this concert.
          Write a guest post for Liberal England        

This is a reminder that I welcome guest posts on Liberal England.

And as you can see from the list of the 10 most recent guest posts below, I am happy to consider a wide range of subjects.

If you would like to write a guest post yourself, please send me an email so we can discuss your idea.

          Vince Cable is the man to scare Jeremy Corbyn into supporting a second referendum        


That's the headline on an article by Matthew Norman on the Independent website today.

After reminding us that it is almost seven years since Vince Cable appeared on a Strictly Come Dancing special, Norman rightly observes:
Although Labour has done brilliantly so far at disguising this, it is barely less split than the Tories. Jeremy Corbyn, as Cable pointed out in a recent article, is far keener on Hard Brexit than May. 
Contempt for the EU has always been one of those points at which the far-left and far-right meet round the back. 
Whether Corbyn actually voted Out is between him and his ballot paper. But no one doubts he would have wished to, or that the truancy from the referendum campaign of someone whose great joy is campaigning was a device to avoid perjuring himself in public.
So what happens when all those young Remain voters who turned to Labour at the general election realise that Corbyn is not some cuddly, pro-EU Gandalf?

Norman suggests those voters
will find Vince’s Lib Dems waiting with open arms. Already, he has nimbly reversed his step over a second referendum. Betting the house that support will drain away from Leave as the general horror of Brexit and its specific impact on consumer prices hits home, he is now in favour.
Well, it's our best hope of a Liberal Democrat revival. And as Norman concludes:
All in all, then, it’s nice to see Vince back, to see Vince back, as his Strictly warm-up man would want to add for clarity. Nice.

          Six of the Best 713        
Matthew Green offers a sober assessment of Liberal Democrat prospects under our new leader.

"The progressive alliance can only work when everyone is genuinely willing to work together. If they are all fighting over the same voters then it was always a fallacy." Neil Monnery draws a lesson from this year's general election campaign.

"Looking back at the time of the 1967 Act even those supporting decriminalisation called homosexuality ‘a disability’ and ‘a great weight of shame’. Bisexuals didn’t even occur to them. Goodness knows what they’d think of all the diversity of sexuality we share today! It shows us how far we’ve come, how hard that fight has been, and how much further we still have to go." Jennie Rigg marks an important anniversary.

Melanie Phillips is rightly critical of the way some exploited the plight of Charlie Gard and his parents.

Social workers and other professionals need to do more to help looked-after children achieve their potential, and to diminish the ‘stigma’ of being in care, research has found. Alex Turner on the findings of a new survey.

James Fitzgerald introduces us to the inhabitants of Eel Pie Island.
          Nene Park, where Rushden & Diamonds played        

Rushden & Diamonds was formed in 1992 by a merger between two non-league team from Northamptonshire, Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds.

The merger was promoted by Max Griggs, owner of the Doc Marten shoe brand, who funded the new club.

The new club was remarkably successful. It rose through the non-league divisions and were promoted to Division 3 of the Football League (as its lowest division was then called) in 2001. Two years later they won it.

After that they began to struggle, particularly after Griggs handed the club to its supporters. They were soon out of the Football League and were wound up in 2011.

I was at the site of Rushden & Diamonds' ground, Nene Park, today.

Once they brought Leeds United and Sheffield United here in the third round of the FA Cup and staged under 21 and non-league internationals.

Even after Rushden & Diamonds folded, Kettering Town (a club with its own problems) played here for a while, and there was even talk of Coventry City being based here.

But Nene Park was demolished earlier this year. A Northamptonshire Telegraph report said:
"The building is in a dangerous condition and is unsafe. 
"The stadium represents a major fire risk. 
"The site is derelict and subject to wanton damage."
It is not known what will become of the site - nothing has happened at Leicester City's old Filbert Street ground - but at least that was nice use of "wanton".

And for the time being the blackberries growing there are very good.








          Jonathan Meades on album covers and cooking        

If you enjoyed film of Jonathan Meades at Marsh Court that I posted recently, here are two more contributions by the great mean that may be to your taste.

He has reviewed a book on album covers for the Literary Review:
Three hundred pages of photographs of egomaniacal longhairs trying their utmost to look insolently delinquent (as only the alumni of Harrow, Charterhouse, Haberdashers’ Aske’s, Oundle, the Perse and numerous other public schools can). An introductory essay weighed down by cliché. A commemoration of the last century’s over-denimed, over-flared sartorial nadir. A vanity project that exhumes ephemera – mere record sleeves! – and binds them boastfully in hard covers. That’s one way of looking at this book. 
Another is to consider this doggedly thorough doorstop as a comprehensive celebration of a gloriously impure mix of photographic surrealism, graphic ostentation, inventive mise en scène, darkroom experimentation (Photoshop was far in the future), palaeo cut and paste (using cowgum, of course), hoary jokes, bricolage, inspired ad hocism and, above all, sheer cleverness.
And in June he spoke to John Mitchinson of Unbound Books at the London Review Bookshop about his career and in particular his new book.

You can listen to the evening as a podcast and it is well worth doing so as Meades was in good form.
          The tombs of the Dukes of Rutland in Bottesford church        

St Mary the Virgin, Bottesford, is a beautiful church, known as "The Lady of the Vale" - the Vale of Belvoir, that is.

But it is devoted more to the glory of the Dukes of Rutland than to the glory of God.

So much so that the altar has been moved to near the chancel arch. After that it is tombs all the way. 

The result is a wonderful collection of 17th and 18th century sculpture after that the dukes were buried in a mausoleum at Belvoir Castle.

One of the tombs has some dark history attached to it, which I shall write about another day.

Back to the chancel arch.

It is impossible to miss the arms of Queen Victoria (who, even in Bottesford,outranked the Duke of Rutland), but there is also has a faded medieval doom painting of the sort I photographed in Lutterworth.







          Labour's only councillor in Oadby and Wigston resigns        

The Leicester Mercury reports:
A Labour councillor has quit after being deemed not a fit and proper person to drive a taxi by his own authority. 
Gurpal Atwal has resigned as the member for the Uplands Ward on Oadby and Wigston Borough Council.
The resignation followed the failure of Atwal's court appeal against his council's own finding.

You can read the allegations made against him, all of which Atwal denies, in an earlier Mercury report.

Atwal blames a former business partner for those allegations and, in a statement issued today, blamed others for his resignation too:
"Oadby and Wigston Council officers and one or two local councillors have taken positions in this matter that impact on my ability to concentrate on working effectively as a councillor on behalf of the Uplands Ward constituents. 
"On that basis, I resign my seat as a Borough Councillor for Oadby Uplands Ward forthwith."
Intriguingly, though he doesn't give a source for it, Guido Fawkes claims:
A witness claimed in a statement that Atwal once boasted of having “Keith Vaz in my right pocket”.
Elected in 2015, Gurpal Atwal was the first Labour councillor to win a seat on the Liberal Democrat run authority for some 30 years.
          Approaching St Mary the Virgin's Church, Bottesford        

Yesterday I was locked out of a church full of monuments to the local aristocracy - Exton in Rutland.

Today I got into St Mary the Virgin's Church, Bottesford, where the Dukes of Rutland are buried.

More of their tombs another day. For tonight, let's just enjoy the view of the church's 212ft spire as you approach it across a field path from the village's railway station.

The Bonkers tombs in St Asquith's are very fine too, of course.
          By: Gene        
executive orders cant contradict laws passed by congress. Former republican gay man here. I know the other side well. If the dems have not given us all we want, the other side is the enemy. Period. Hate crimes, passed by liberal dems, and signed into law by him is NOT squat. He pushed for the end of DADT, and we fell short in the senate. Poor politics on several peoples parts, but not his alone. The youth I volunteer with, gay kids in the south, see this president speaking of us with dignity and respect, and it matters to them when he declares GLBTQ history month. The entire might of the religious right is arrayed against him and his party, and lots of bigoted people will easily fall for Republican attempts to use US and our causes as a reason to vote against them, but, we expect the real world of politics to just put itself on hold for us? It wont. Never will. He is the best we have ever had, and, sad to say with the "oh I wanted more...I just dont feel like working for any campaigns, and I am so disappointed he did not find a new presidential power to overturn things and make things just" attitude, the NEXT president will certainly be worse.
          ALWAYS SUNDAY        

iridium 2006 from nervegascloud on Vimeo.


Sono arrivate le liberalizzazioni e nella mia città da una settimana all’altra i negozi, soprattutto i centri commerciali e gli ipermercati, restano aperti anche la domenica. Passo con l’auto in tangenziale e mi sorprendo nel vedere le insegne assurdamente luccicanti.
Tutto come durante la settimana, tutto spalancato, si compra e si vende. Naturalmente i piazzali d’asfalto antistanti a questi orribili edifici si ingravidano di automobili che vanno e vengono.Tumore chiama tumore.

La pausa, il silenzio, lasciano il posto alle luci squillanti che illuminano peperoni, prosciutti crudi, pagnotte e bottiglie di vino. La domenica della marmellata e della passata di pomodoro dilaga come un'infezione. Candeggina? Assorbenti? Dentifricio? Formaggini? Carrelli stracolmi vomitano il loro contenuto anche quando tutto dovrebbe tacere, salvo poi scoprire che sempre meno merci escono nei fatti dai negozi. Un'alluvione di niente. Commessi, cassiere e altri dipendenti si affannano quando potrebbero riposarsi. Si fermeranno in un altro momento, ma forse questo accadrà in giornate in cui altri avranno gli impegni che loro affrontano ora, magari familiari, mogli, figli, amanti. Una deriva senza senso di relazioni tranciate.

La sosta domenicale è stata rimossa, il momento della riflessione, della pausa, della preghiera e dell’ozio annichilito, il silenzio cancellato in favore della folla e della follia.

La sospensione malinconica, se non la noia, fatta poesia da Leopardi nel suo Sabato del villaggio è ora definitivamente archiviata:

Questo di sette è il più gradito giorno,

Pien di speme e di gioia

Diman tristezza e noia

Recheran l’ore, ed al travaglio usato

Ciascuno in suo pensier farà ritorno.

Il sapore vitale che portava con sé il sabato, amputata la domenica, rende il poetare Leopardiano senza senso. Un sabato senza domenica è giorno fra i giorni è promessa senza spazio per realizzarsi.

Affoghiamo in un fango dove ogni giorno è domenica o lunedì o venerdì. Il rituale (l'ennesimo) è stato rimosso per decreto e la barbarie di assurdi tempi moderni travolge maleodorante le nostre vite, restituendoci lo sterco di ore evirate da ogni sacralità. Tutto luccica vanamente, senza senso e senza poesia, a favore di quel che è apparentemente utile, ma che in realtà mira ad ammazzarci tutti quanti. E' sempre domenica, non sarà mai più domenica.

          Lights out: GOP stays in the house        
There is a story buzzing around the internet, but hardly any news media outlets are covering it. Pelosi turns the lights out on the GOP after the GOP stayed in the house and refused to go on the 5 week vacation without proposing an energy vote. I can't find a video of this anywhere, however I turned on CSPAN last night and there was some footage before the democrats left the house. John Boehner was quite adamant about a vote on energy regulation, but democrats kept putting it off saying it would stop votes on other important bills, not energy regulation.

You can see the article here about what happened:
http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0808/House_Dems_turn_out_out_the_light_but_GOP_keep_talking.html?showall

I was impressed with the veracity in which the GOP finally went after the dems in the final hours of the day on Friday. It's historic. First, when a vote came to adjourn, the 50+ members of the GOP stayed. Then, Pelosi turned off the microphone; then the lights, then one of the GOP members somehow got the microphone back on, Pelosi turned it back off again.

The GOP stayed for 5 hours talking about energy crisis and they are fed up. It's about time as the American public has been outraged about this issue for six months.

The dems better listen, otherwise they are going to get wiped out. This issue crosses all party line barriers, and even many environmentalists are saying lets get energy independent with our own oil, wind and start using some natural gas too. You should see pickensplan.com if you are interested in that particular plan. It's quite good and will take time to implement, but a step in the right direction.

Well, enough about this for now. Hopefully we get some real energy changes over the next few years, my gas bill is killing me now. . . any extra income I had goes in the fuel tank. Forget about saving any money or putting money into the property right now.

I hope you all contact your congressman or senator and tell them how you feel. They are actually listening right now and know a revolt is in the works. The government can only ignore it's people for so long. I am surprized some nut-job hasn't gone out and whacked some of the liberal leadership in congress/senate who want to keep us dependent, want to raise our taxes, want us to just become Europe. Hey, at least it'd be a start. LOL BTW, congressional approval rating is less than 10%. Even Bush's approval rating is near 30%.

Brock
          Single quote that summarizes state of USA        
A blogger called MichiganFarmer has quoted "Our totalitarian government has, by stealthy encroachment, taken our basic rights away and is forcing us to buy them back as privileges, permits, and licenses. This is not freedom.". Lets break this down.

Source - Dictionary.com

totalitarianism, a modern autocratic government in which the state involves itself in all facets of society, including the daily life of its citizens. A totalitarian government seeks to control not only all economic and political matters but the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its population, erasing the distinction between state and society. The citizen's duty to the state becomes the primary concern of the community, and the goal of the state is the replacement of existing society with a perfect society.

Encroachment is a term which implies "advance beyond proper limits"

Human rights refers to "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to work, and the right to education.


Permit may refer to:

*License
*Work permit
*Learner's permit
*Permit to travel
*Construction permit
*Home Return Permit
*One-way Permit


Does any of this sound like a free society? - What happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? We all need shelter, water and food and even these basic rights have been violated.

Shelter - Need building permit + Ton of fees

Food - development permit for over an acre of land in California + requires water, hunting licenses and fishing licenses.

Water - illegal to drill a well in California for your own needs without using a C-57 licensed driller specializing costing you about $6000-20,000.

-----

I thought that this is the one exact sentence that shows us the state of our country and it's distance from the founders. Jefferson believed that the people would have to occasionally rise up and wash out the government and start over.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson

Each day that goes by with the government is becoming more cradle to grave, anti free-market and anti-capitalist. The people want the government to allow us to have our own energy independence. The people are sending a clear message to the politicians and they are not listening. It's time to continue the Revolution Ron Paul started. Government is too big, too costly and is strangling it's working class by the neck to support a welfare state. Something will change in time. I have personally lost faith in our system, it's politicians and activist judges. It is no longer functioning to it's original purpose. I can only trust that God is putting us through this turmoil to bring us a reformer.

To the liberals - YOU cannot put enough solar panels on your car to make it function- plus the power to charge batteries has to come from somewhere- either more solar or wind power.

WE NEED DOMESTIC OIL RIGHT NOW. There is a gap between technologies that may be viable and the available infrastructure such as the state with hydrogen. Live in reality - most liberals would rather see our internal destruction with our economy before we drill more oil on our lands and make more refineries.
          Cameroon's Far North: Responding to Boko Haram        
“With Boko Haram, we joined your club,” mused Mdjiyawa Bakari, the governor of Cameroon’s Far North Region (Extrême-Nord), when we met at his home in Kousseri. The ‘club’ consists of liberal democracies bound by a common dilemma: defeating terrorist insurgencies at home while respecting the laws of war, including civic and human rights. From his veranda we gazed across the Logone River at the dusty skyline of N’djamena, capital of Chad. I was visiting to understand exactly how civilians were coping with the threat—forced displacement, pervasive suspicion of strangers, neighbours, even friends, and a near collapsed economy – posed by this West African affiliate of the Islamic State to this most peripheral region of Cameroon. “Asymmetric war means an invisible enemy playing by other rules,” he continued. “It’s turned our lives upside down.”


Read the rest of my analysis for Oxford Policy Group here

          Dr. Gerard NeCastro Named Dean of the College of Liberal Arts        

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Aug. 10, 2017 — West Liberty University has named Dr. Gerard NeCastro its new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. NeCastro joined the campus on July 1, 2017 and now supervises the departments of Humanities, Social Work and Behavioral Sciences and Criminal Justice, which offers undergraduate programs and WLU’s new graduate … Read More

The post Dr. Gerard NeCastro Named Dean of the College of Liberal Arts appeared first on News & Media Relations.

The post Dr. Gerard NeCastro Named Dean of the College of Liberal Arts appeared first on Academics.


          Pipe en la lista roja        

Luego de acompañar en el  movimiento “Compromiso Ciudadano” del precandidato a la Presidencia de la República, Sergio Fajardo, el exconcejal de Valledupar, Hernán Felipe Araujo, aspirará a la Cámara de Representantes por el partido Liberal.

La entrada Pipe en la lista roja aparece primero en Elpilon.com.co.


          Partido Liberal elige su directorio municipal y departamental        

Luego de la escogencia de  los delegados para las diferentes asambleas municipales y departamentales, el partido Liberal  procedió a escoger los directorios este fin de semana.

La entrada Partido Liberal elige su directorio municipal y departamental aparece primero en Elpilon.com.co.


          Rickey's Vacation Coda        
So true to recent form, Rickey completely neglected to keep his readers appraised of his Floridian Odyssey.  Perhaps it was because Rickey was busy banging his head on the wall due to being COMPLETELY UNABLE TO WITNESS the first no hitter in Mets history while away on vacation.  Oh bother.

In short, nothing happened in Florida.  Seafood was consumed regularly, drinks were poured liberally and sunscreen applied judiciously. Rickey Jr. enjoys the pool and is not allergic to shellfish.  You get the picture. 

Before we switch back into "zany angry blogger!" mode, one last thought on Rickey's 57 hour train ordeal (the final tally was 31 hrs down + 26 hours back)...

Travelling back, Rickey lunched with a late thirty something year old who was travelling with her 14 month old daughter.  The poor woman looked like she'd just fled Saigon.  See, aapparently her husband insisted she take the train back to New York while he flew back.  His logic?  Recent iintense solar flare activity might bombard the aircraft would harm his wife and 14 month old daughter.  And they were trying to have another kid.  Well OK then, two things... first off, that guy's got major balls.  And secondly: that's what it apparently takes to get someone to ride Amtrak??? The threat of horrific radiation dosage causing a miscarriage?  Rickey fully expects to see that in their next ad campaign. 

          Experiment in fear        

This sounds brilliant. A tv show based on exposing the mental influence of the tabloids Not just tabloids in general, with their z-list celebs and soap opera stars, but the most mind-sapping terror-inducing tabloid – the Daily Mail.

The film Supersize Me showed you are what you eat, but is it true that you are what you read?
New documentary The Daily Mail Diet aims to find out as it follows film maker Nick Angel giving up all TV, radio, print and online news sources for 28 days – except for the Daily Mail.

Mr Angel said: “It’s important to know what the Mail thinks, because it’s a lightning rod (or so it claims) to ‘Middle England’ – that ill-defined and slightly scary mass of people whose various incarnations include the ‘Moral Majority’ and ‘All Right Thinking People’.
“And in a sense, there’s a little bit of Daily Mail in all of us – who hasn’t felt their cheeks flush and blood boil when snapped by a speed camera or confronted with some maddening example of NHS bureaucracy?
“That’s what makes the Mail such a potent force – because while it’s loathsome, it’s also weirdly attuned to the dark heart of the British psyche.”

If you can get to see this programme, it sounds really worth watching.

By coincidence, it’s particularly relevant today. Following on from yesterday’s post here and Xanderg’s (of badnewsbible’s) excellent comments, the Daily Mail seems intent on lowering the bar below its even its own usual ant-limboing level.

The Tory leader is calling for the repeal of the Human Rights Act and the government is doing its best to pull the despotism rug from under the Tories by itself challenging the operation of the courts. Scenting success for its worldview, the Daily Mail has redoubled its attack, over the Chindamo case.

Here are three headlines from pages linking to today’s main Stephen Lawrence storyMail’s pages which carries the title ‘He’s no risk’: why jail boss backed Lawrence killer (I’m selflessly ploughing through this rubbish so you don’t have to. You can get the flavour of it from the headlines. But if you want to try an experimental diet of the Daily Mail, the link will take you to enough pages to undermine your will to live):
The quangocrats who let Chindamo stay (They are referring to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, not previously known as liberal trailblazers.)
Chindamo’s Mafia gangster father awaiting trial for murder in Spain (Guilt by association, even though it seems the boy has barely seen his father since he was three.)
COMMENTARY: Has the law deprived Frances Lawrence of justice?

The Commentary refers to an editorial piece which tugs at the reader’s sympathy and emotions but signally fails to make any logical connection between sympathy for Frances Lawrence and their case for overriding EC law to deport Chindamo.

Why does justice for Frances Lawrence require that her husband’s killer doesn’t live in Britain? I know that Great Britain is a small island (compared to the land mass of Canada, say) but there are still about 65 million of us living here. The chance of accidentally bumping into him in Tesco’s is statistically pretty slim.

Just in case you think we are all certifiably mad in the UK, there’s a reasoned piece by Katie Ghose in the Guardian. This human rights hysteria threatens every one of us.

Once again we are in the grip of human rights hysteria. Variously blamed for allowing prisoners access to porn and preventing police forces from publishing photographs of suspects, the latest attack on the Human Rights Act relates to the decision not to deport Learco Chindamo, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of head-teacher Philip Lawrence in 1995.
Human rights have never been a passport to porn – nor were they an obstacle to the conviction or sentence of Chindamo, who is serving a minimum of 12 years for his brutal attack. But the truth takes a back seat when there are juicy headlines to be made out of human rights “lunacy”.


          Chendamangalam - My kind of Shangri-La        
November 24, 2007

Two days before the start of SAP TechEd Bangalore '07 we set out to visit Cochin in Kerla. From my scant knowledge of the history of this coastal town, we would find an amalgam of culture; Cochin having been home during various periods of history to Chinese settlers, the Portuguese, Dutch and English. We went to the bay to see the Chinese fishing nets and fisherman, learned from them of the inability to make a living from this activity beyond being a tourist attraction, visited a spice factory, tried unsuccessfully to book a homestay in the house where Vasco DaGama ended his days and took a cab out to the nearby village of Chendamangalam, which we had heard was home to four major houses of worship and disparate communities living side by side.


"The hillocks at Kottayil Kovilakom are unique as the site of a Hindu temple, a Christian church, a mosque and the remains of a Jewish synagogue, all within 1 km of each other." (Wikipedia)

"A popular account goes that the town of Chennamangalam was planned ... by a liberal and tolerant Maharajah who wished to have four major religious faiths equally represented in town. He designated a site on each of the cardinal points for the construction of a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, a Hindu temple, and a Muslim mosque. At the crossing of the axis, so the tale continues, was the palace for his minister set on a hill."

Truth or fiction aside, we visited 3 of these sites and were warmly greeted by parishioners in two of the places where we found activity: the mosque and the Hindu temple. The synagogue was recently reconstructed but its worshipers were long departed and unfortunately we did not see the church.

I was particularly uplifted by the fact that these communities had for all intents and purposes, managed to exist side by side despite the religious strife and discord found in many other places in the world at the exact time that these house of worship were erected.

A ray of hope for the possiblity of peaceful co-existence...
          Britain's anti-Christian brave new world        
AD2000 REPORT

The head of the British Christian Legal Centre sees persecution of Christians in public life looming behind controversial recent remarks by the Equality and Human Rights Commissioner Trevor Phillips.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, who directs the legal centre, said that Phillips also sounded "naive," saying he "doesn't seem to be living in the same Britain that I'm living in."

Williams is not the only one who wondered where Phillips got some of the ideas he expressed in an interview on 19 June with the London Telegraph newspaper. The equality commissioner indicated that Muslim immigrants were integrating better into British society than many Christian populations, and said that Catholic adoption agencies were more clearly discriminatory than Sharia courts.

Phillips also said British Christians tended to imagine discrimination against them where none existed. And he indicated that believers should not expect exemptions from the 2010 Equality Act, with its controversial language on sexual orientation, once they stepped outside "the door of the church or mosque."

Williams, whose legal centre advocates for the rights of British Christians in the public square, said her country's Christian roots once made it "a land of great freedom," where "freedom of conscience" was respected.

"Those things we have seen eradicated under the Equalities agenda, which is Trevor Phillips' approach," she said in a 30 June interview. "Secularism, under the Equalities agenda, is not neutral. It punishes dissenters."

Williams said the system of equality laws, which began under Prime Minister Tony Blair and continued with his successor Gordon Brown, "sounds like utopia - but in fact, it leads to the beginnings of tyranny."

"If you enter into the public sphere, or a public sector job, you have to speak and act the prevailing Equalities agenda. If you do not do that, if you disagree, then you are punished. You lose your job. You become under investigation. You perhaps get accused of hate speech. These are our realities in the United Kingdom."

Phillips' most blatant criticism of traditional Christianity in the Telegraph interview came during a discussion of immigrant populations from Africa and the Carribean.

The commissioner acknowledged that there was "an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted," but said the "more real issue" for "conventional churches" was the influx of "people who ... believe in an old time religion which in my view is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society."

Williams explained that this perception of "incompatibility" came from a caricature of Christianity, not from the Gospel of Christ himself. "Everything that flows from him," she said, "leads to the recognition of the innate dignity of every human being."

"Because Christianity is not coercive - unlike secularism, and unlike Islam - it leads to true tolerance."

In his extensive interview with the Telegraph, Phillips said individual believers could expect the commission to stand up for their right to worship and believe as they pleased. He said it was "part of the settlement of a liberal democracy" for individuals not to be "penalised or treated in a discriminatory way" on account of "being an Anglican, being a Muslim, or being a Methodist, or being a Jew."

Discrimination

But Williams charged that the commission is not upholding even this limited interpretation of religious freedom.

"What Mr Phillips needs to do," she said, "is to come spend a day at the Christian Legal Centre, run through the cases, and see the discrimination that is out there."

"In the Sherry Chapman case, for instance - the nurse who was told to take off her cross after 38 years of wearing it in frontline nursing - exceptions were made for the Muslims, with the long flowing hijab and a big brooch."

"Down in a South London council, Muslims are allowed to pray five times a day, but Christians are not permitted to display Christian calendars on their desks. These are our realities."

She also pointed to the case of Eunice and Owen Johns, the elderly Pentecostal couple who were rejected as foster parents - despite their extensive experience - because they disapproved of homosexuality. "The Equality Commission intervened in that case. They intervened against the Christians," Williams noted.

"They've intervened in a number of other high-profile cases. They have not, ever, intervened against Muslims. They've only ever intervened in the Christian cases to stand against the Christians. This is not equality. This is inequality."

"There's a complete making-way for Islam, and yet Christianity is suppressed," Williams observed.

"This notion of accommodating Sharia, of accepting it - and then, of saying that Catholic adoption agencies, which believe a child needs a married mother and father, should be closed - is devastating for society."

Williams says Britain's aggressive pursuit of secularism was creating a "vacuum" that radical Muslims could seek to exploit. "Radical Islam has an agenda in this nation, and works hard," she noted.

But many English Christians fail to stand up for biblical truth in this context. "In many ways, the Church has herself to blame for the state we're in. What we've got to do is find our voice. Otherwise, there will be increased oppression and suppression."

Williams observed that Christianity has historically "survived much worse than attacks by Trevor Phillips." But she acknowledges that things look "very bleak" at the moment.

"We've currently got a government that's consulting on extending civil unions to religious premises," she noted. "They said they would never do that."

Williams and other English Christians want authentic religious freedom for themselves and others. But they understand the conflict with secularism is part of the cost of discipleship.

"Jesus suffered a false trial, was hated by the world, put on the cross," she recalled. "But there was his resurrection, and the great hope that flows from that."

With acknowledgement to Catholic News Agency.


          Prosperity Gospel in the News Again        
The "Prosperity Gospel" is in the news again, with an article in the New York Times about the recent Southwest Believers' Convention held in Fort Worth, TX, August 3rd through the 8th. As you may know, I am absolutely no fan of the "Prosperity Gospel", as I believe it is another gospel, that is really no gospel at all. In fact, I love this video produced by Desiring God Ministries (John Piper) a few years back

For those of you who are interested, Albert Mohler has a good commentary on this event, and the "Prosperity Gospel" as a whole. This is something that I believe that my moderate and liberal friends and I can agree on - the "Prosperity Gospel" is dangerous and tragic and should be opposed by all of God's people.

          More Changes        
Over the past few months (o.k. the past year), I have neglected my blog. I have had plenty of things to say (as most of you know), but unfortunately, I have been lazy in my writing. However, I hope to once again begin to blog soon.

Just to update those of you who still visit the blog or who subscribe by RSS, I have recently accepted a position as Pastor at a church just outside of Athens, GA - Cleveland Road Baptist Church. My wife and I will be moving there in the next couple of weeks and my first Sunday is tentatively set for May 4th. We are thrilled to have been led by the Lord to serve this congregation.

Because of that, I believe I should get back in the habit of blogging, not just for myself, but for those in my congregation, and those considering attending Cleveland Road in the Athens area. Currently we do not have a church website, but I hope to eventually put one together and link my blog to it. And I am considering a second blog, specifically for the congregation, which would be a 5-day devotional reading related to the Sunday morning sermon.

To those ends, tomorrow I will be attending the Band of Bloggers fellowship, which coincides with the Together for the Gospel Conference, which I will also be attending this week. Hopefully, I will be able to fellowship with fellow bloggers and possibly get some ideas about how to make my site better and more pointed. One of the things I have struggled with over the past year is what I should or shouldn't post on my blog. Having the title of "Christ and Culture" seems like it allows a great deal of flexibility, but in reality I believe that I want narrow the focus to issues which Christians should consider in the public square. I think other points of interest, such as liberal theological positions and Scriptural interpretation are important, but often so wide that my blog ends up being about everything instead of anything in particular. Thus, my ideas are too plentiful to create a true niche in the Christian blogosphere.

So, be patient and watch for future posts. And pray for the new chapter of our life to unfold with wonder and awe and that it would be glorifying to God.
          Cities ask feds to rethink homeless strategy        
A woman walks past a man sleeping on the street in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Cities struggling to house their homeless are asking the federal Liberals to rethink the government's cornerstone homelessness program amid concerns about burdensome reporting requirements and inadequate funding models.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Cities press Liberals to cut red tape, revamp funding for key homeless strategy


          Roberta Anastase: PSD si USL si-l doresc pe Adrian Nastase premier daca vor castiga alegerile        
Prim-vicepresedintele Partidului Democrat Liberal (PDL) Roberta Anastase a spus, sambata, la Conventia Nationala a femeilor din PDL, ca USL il pregateste pe Adrian Nastase pentru functia de premier iar cu Victor Ponta "joaca la cacealma". "Ar fi de bun simt ca PSD sa spuna ca nu Ponta va fi p...
          Udrea: Mai toate femeile din PDL care au functii importante au fost sutinute de Traian Basescu        
Vicepresedintele Partidului Democrat Liberal, Elena Udrea a declarat, astazi, la Conventia Nationala a Organizatiei de femei democrat-liberale, ca presedintele Traian Basescu "este cel mai deschis" la capitolul promovarea femeilor in functii importante. "Mai toate femeile care au astazi functii i...
          Oltean catre femeile din PDL: Luptati pentru a lua puterea        
Secretarul general al PDL, Ioan Oltean, le-a indemnat pe femeile democrat-liberale sa lupte pentru a prelua puterea in politica pentru ca barbatii nu o vor ceda de bunavoie, sambata, in discursul tinut la deschiderea lucrarilor Conventiei Nationale a Organizatiei de Femei a Partidului Democrat Liber...
          dale.io v4        

I recently decided that my personal site needed a tune up. No longer happy with the current design, I decided to throw it away completely and to start from scratch. Here are a few things I thought about during the process of re-writing the website.

Choosing a backend

Right off the bat, I knew that I wanted to continue using a static site generator for my homepage. Tools like WordPress and Ghost are interesting but for my use case I found both to be overkill. After taking a look at some of the most popular static site generators1 around and playing around with them, I had a better idea of the current tool landscape at the time.

There are a bunch of static site generators these days written in a variety of languages. I took a look at a few JavaScript-based ones, such as Hexo and Metalsmith - both on opposite sides of the feature list spectrum. Metalsmith is completely barebones to the point where all functionality is added via plugins. This is a pretty neat idea but I was looking for something that was more balanced between features and do-it-yourself mentality. When I was initially researching static site generators, Metalsmith had a lot of issues with plugin version rot as well. The idea of everything being a plugin is pretty neat - as long as these individual plugins are maintained! On the other end of the feature spectrum, Hexo reminds me a lot of Jekyll but written in JavaScript and more of an emphasis on blogs. This wasn’t enough to pull me away from Jekyll, a tool I already knew.

On the Ruby end, I took a look at Middleman and Jekyll. Middleman is a great competitor for Jekyll with some neat features. It allows for incremental building of your site, a feature that Jekyll will be lacking until its v3 release. I have not had much of an issue with build times with Jekyll but I can see how a huge site with thousands of pages would not scale well without incremental builds. Middleman also offers more in the way of a default template and such. However, in the end I stuck with Jekyll. Recent additions to Jekyll such as collections make building non-blog and hybrid websites with Jekyll much easier.

Choosing a colour palette

I am not a designer - I think the previous designs of my site show as much. As much as I wish I did, I just don’t have the eye for colour. Working with designers in the past always blew my mind as to how easy it came to them. I know I could take the time to learn colour theory (and perhaps I will someday) but at the time I was more focused on redesigning my site quickly, not leisurely learning something new. This made the simple task of choosing a colour palette a long and tedious process. There are a few tools available to help one come up with a colour palette, such as Paletton or Adobe Color CC, formerly Kuler. After fiddling for them for a few days on and off and having no success, I decided just to choose a colour I liked: blue. Once I had a colour chosen for the header, I was able to build the rest of the site off of that.

While I’m pleased with how the header turned out, I still feel as if the rest of the site can possibly use a splash of colour here or there just to make things a bit more appealing. I couldn’t really see any place to fit these accent colours in a way that felt natural. This will probably be something that will to be iterated on over time.

The Holy Grail that is Flexbox

Flexbox is the best thing to happen to CSS. I’ll scream it from the mountain tops if needed because it’s true. As long as the only browsers your site needs to support are IE11+ or an evergreen browser, you can (mostly2) say goodbye to hacky CSS rules to position elements on a web page.

The great thing about Flexbox is that it’s flexible (yet another surprise!) and will adjust its size across different screen sizes if the developer desires it. For example, the page header makes use of flexbox to make sure it looks great on both large and small screens. All I need to do to get my header to scale the way I wish is use the following CSS rules on the wrapper for my header block:

.nav-wrapper {
    display: flex;
    justify-content: center;
    align-items: center;
}

This sets the wrapper rendering box style to flexbox and centers all the elements along both axis. When the screen width is below a certain size, we can use the following rules to change the direction of the main axis from a row to a reversed column so each header element has room to breath and appears in the proper order:

@media screen only and (max-width: 600px) {
    .nav-wrapper {
        flex-direction: column-reverse;
        align-items: stretch;
    }
}

I’m using a few more rules to align individual items, but that is the basics of it. Flexbox has enabled me to re-arrange the entire site with just a few CSS rules and I think that is awesome. I’m using it for any part of my page that requires even a tiny bit of element positioning and it’s been very easy to both learn and use. Offloading a lot of the grunt work to the browser while providing a fewer set of CSS rules was definitely a smart move, and I’m excited to see what further revisions to the spec bring.

Consistency between old and new

In the redesign, I decided to make better use of header tags to denote subheading rather than bolded text. Unfortunately, a few of my older blog posts made liberal use of the old and bold way. I took this opportunity to flex my bash and regex muscles and see if I can come up with an elegant way to fix this in one swing.

My first step was to construct a regular expression that would find all the old headers. The old headers took the form of bold text which, in Markdown, meant the text was surrounded by two asterisks on each end. The header would be the only string of text on the line. With this information, I came up with the following regular expression and used it to find all headers in my _posts folder:

git grep '^\*\*.*\*\*$'

This regular expression looks for any length of characters in between two literal asterisks that bookend the entire line. After testing that the regex worked, I used a combination of the find and sed commands to do a massive search and replace with the following command:

find _posts -type f -exec sed -i '' 's/^\*\*\(.*\)\*\*$/\#\#\# \1/g' {} \;

The above command looks for files in the _post directory, and for each file runs a sed command asking it to edit files in-place without a backup3. The regular expression now creates a group around the header text so we can use it in the replace with the proper symbol denoting an h3 tag: three literal pound characters. Now all blog posts with headers will conform to the new style.

Design & organization choices

Aside from choosing site colours, I spent the most time thinking about how I wanted to layout my website. My previous v3 design was bland and didn’t make the best use of available space. I spent a lot of time looking at other Jekyll blogs for some inspiration but I found many of them to be overly busy or overly minimalistic. I would draw layout after layout on paper until I came to the one you see now. Moving the persistent navigation block from the side to the top allows me to take advantage of all the below space: this comes in handy when scaling the site to work on multiple resolutions.

Since the beginning of 2015, I’ve been writing reviews on the games I have finished for fun. After deciding to add these reviews to the site. As of the launch of the redesign, only one of the eight reviews I have written are published but I’ll be editing the others and getting them online shortly. Right now, they are a separate entity from the other blog posts and I’m not sure if this was the best idea. This home page is a place for me to talk about what I love doing. For the past few years, this has solely been about programming. I’d like to expand that to writing about other subjects but dividing posts up into ‘blogs’ and ‘reviews’ may limit myself in the future. I could (and probably will) just treat everything as a blog and use tags or categories to group the related info. Design choices like this are what I spent the most time on during this redesign. Implementing the ideas I come up with are no problem but deciding whether I’m making the right choice on certain decisions is an area where working on a team definitely benefits.

There are a bunch of other small but useful additions I’ve made. If you haven’t noticed, I tend to go off on tangent mid-paragraph. Making use of footnotes allows me to do this without breaking up the flow of content, and the Kramdown markdown renderer used by Jekykll makes usage of footnotes very easy. Some posts can have a header image, such as this one. If you’re reading this on a small device, you may not see it - I’m currently thinking of a good way to display the header image without making all of the above-the-fold content on a mobile device nothing but headers. Most of the small additions are there to make writing content easier for me and for said content to display correctly, no matter the screen scale.

In the end

I’m pretty happy with the layout I ended up with. I find easier on the eyes than previous designs. Standing here with the project finished, I already have a list of things I’m no longer happy with and will work on for the next iteration. Personal projects like home page redesigns give me an opportunity to experiment and play but if I don’t limit myself and consider the project ‘finished’, I’ll never release it. Do you have any suggestions about the design? Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments!

  1. According to StaticGen which ranks generators based off of GitHub stars and forks. 

  2. While much better than the old way of doing things, Flexbox itself is not perfect. Check out Flexbugs for more info. 

  3. Not recommended. 


          Jump Around        

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about my experience playing around with the Phaser game engine. I ended up making a short 2D platformer game called Jump Around. I’ve uploaded the source onto GitHub for those who are interested in taking a peek. It was a great experience in which I learnt quite a bit, so without further ado…

Initial Design & Scope

My initial goals for the project were pretty simple:

  1. Make a short 2D platformer game.
  2. Each level would fit on the screen; no camera work needed.
  3. Don’t focus too much on making the ‘cleanest’ code possible on this project. This is more getting a feel for game development again.

I wanted to keep things pretty simple, as this project was meant to not only evaluate Phaser for future projects but also getting my feet wet with some simple game design. It seems almost like a rite of passage nowadays for game developers to make a 2D platformer, so I decided to go for that. Jump Around is inspired by platformers such as Super Meat Boy, where the emphasis is on pixel-perfect platforming as quickly as possible. The smaller levels in Super Meat Boy that would fit within the initial camera frame were always pretty interesting to me. The small characters moving quickly around an environment in which danger is visible everywhere made for a strange mix of emotions. Upon entering a level, I’d both feel terror at the level that I was to get through, and excitement at the challenge ahead.

I originally scoped for around 6 levels, but I cut it down to 3 as I came to a realization: good level design is hard work! Once the game mechanics were implemented, the majority of my time was spent on figuring out how to be clever with level design. This wasn’t my goal for the project so I decided to cut the level count in half so I could move on to another project sooner. Aside from that, I feel like I did a good job with my initial design and didn’t end up with much feature creep. The only feature I ended up missing was using “Jump Around” by House of Pain as the obvious background music choice. I planned on distributing the source code for this and I’m pretty sure I would not have the rights to distribute that song. This is an issue I also had to look into regarding art I used (gasp, could this be… a segue?!).

Art is hard

Although I have tried many times, I just can’t draw very well. This can be a problem when you are a lone programmer working on a video game. Thankfully, there are tons of free art resources online. One of these is the great website Open Game Art. I ended up purchasing a donation-ware art pack from an incredibly talented & generous artist named Kenney. I’ve seen him post on /r/gamedev before, offering free art packs under liberal license terms for people like me who aren’t so artistically inclined. While this was a decent solution to not being able to produce art myself, in retrospect I think I should have kept it simple and gone with a more abstract art style.

As said before, I eventually wanted to release the source of Jump Around. However, I wasn’t too sure about the license to redistribute the assets. Thankfully, Kenney includes a LICENSE.TXT in his zip of art which helpfully states that the assets are released under the liberal CC0 license. As long as I attribute him, I should be okay to redistribute the art I used and modified for my purposes.

Most of the audio I use is also from Kenney’s donation pack, but the incredibly cheezy awesome end of level noise that plays was a clip I found off of freesound.org. This is another great resource for developers just looking for simple or placeholder sounds under a variety of licenses. Thankfully, this asset is also CC0 so the game can be fully redistributed with all assets intact.

Resolution is confusing

Another issue I ran into was answering the question “What resolution am I targeting with this game?” I was making this game for web browsers running on a desktop. I probably should have consulted the great Valve Hardware Survey to get a sense of what kind of resolutions people were playing at. While 1920x1080 is the most popular resolution, it only had 33.48% of user share as of this blog post. In second place was 1366x768 with 26.80%. I ended up hardcoding my game’s resolution at a very strange and non-standard 1050x714. I did this because that was the size of my level in tiles (50x24 tiles, as each tile was 21x21). In retrospect, this was a dumb idea. While I haven’t exactly alienated either of the two largest resolution groups (according to Valve), it doesn’t scale up or down at all. I probably should have spent more time on making sure the scaling worked; at one point in development, I found myself even looking at options to use the fullscreen API. In the end, I decided to push that learning exercise to my next project.

Another consideration was “Could this game work on a mobile device?” Due to the decisions I made based on the art and not bothering to scale anything, it wouldn’t be a great experience. However, mechanically, it could work. I ended up adding a toggle to cause the player to continuously jump, and I noticed the game was actually kind of fun when I left it on. It felt more like “Pogo Around” than “Jump Around” but it was still fun. I could have left that setting on for the mobile version and had the user touch either side of the screen to simulate the left/right cursor movements. Using two fingers instead of one could make the player run… or… pogo-run… rather than pogo-walk. In the future, I may revisit this project and try to add that in, but for now it was out of scope of what I wanted to accomplish.

If you’re interested in trying this ‘pogo’ mode for yourself, just hit the F key while playing the game. It adds another layer of challenge… think of it as hard mode!

Architecture & Tools

At first, I wasn’t really sure how to structure this project. I’ve done game development before but never in JavaScript. I found a very useful blog post called Building your Phaser Projects with Browserify that was helpful in getting the file structure of a game in place.

Since the majority of my game objects were simple, I was able to make to do with simple objects that didn’t follow any particular programming pattern. Some variables, such as current level and overall game time, were kept in the game object, while each state kind of dealt with it’s own area. After the assets are preloaded, the menu state is spun up and waits for user input. After that, the level state is entered. The level state checks what level it should be loading via the game object and starts to create the needed platforms and tiles.

The levels themselves were created using the fantastic Tiled map editor. One neat feature of Tiled that I liked was creating Objects on the map that can store any properties you wish. I ended up doing this to store quite a bit of data in the level itself, such as player spawn position, level key position, and starting positions of moving platforms, as well as their speed, distance and initial direction. This allows me to use a single state for each level with little to no code change needed to properly load each level. I feel like I do cheat a bit by passing the player object through each level state to retain some data like how many times the player has died, but it seemed like the simplest solution so I went with it.

Phaser is a pretty nice framework but I ran into some issues. Currently only a single tile layer from Tiled can be marked as a collision layer. When Phaser moved from version 1 to 2, it lost some of it’s advanced camera capabilities such as the ability to zoom; I believe the current camera can only pan by default. Neither of these are dealbreakers, but they would be nice to have features. I still think Phaser is one of the best JS engines you can use right now. It has a decent sized community and there are always people on the IRC channel willing to help (such as myself!) I’ve read that Phaser 3 may be getting a ES6 makeover which makes me very excited for the future of the engine.

However…

Conclusions

I had a blast making Jump Around, and I’m glad I finished the project. I learnt quite a bit about a variety of topics. I now have a huge amount of respect for great level designers, as I spent quite a bit of time thinking of how to make each level progressively more interesting. I’m not sure if I’ve succeeded but I tried to do something new in each level. I also learnt a bit about 2D animation to animate the player, audio codecs & conversion to get the sound effects working, and some basic game design as a result of the project.

One area that I didn’t get to focus on as much as I would have liked was the game programming itself. I think this is because I used an engine which did a lot of it for me. Because of this, my next project will most likely not use an engine at all. I don’t want to do everything myself (not yet at least) so I’ll probably use a helper library to handle things like asset loading, input reading and window creation (if targeting desktops rather than the web). I plan on reading some of the excellent Game Programming Patterns book to get a better feel on how game architecture works and how things fit together.

So that’s Jump Around! Feel free to try the game out and check out the source if you’re interested.


          Eric Toussaint o Grčiji: “Dolg je plod uveljavljanja neoliberalnih politik in praks v Grčiji od leta 1982 do leta 2010”        
Foto: BBC Eric Toussaint o grÅ¡kem dolgu: “… Jasno je, da se je grÅ¡ka dolžniÅ¡ka kriza začela z neoliberalnimi reformami. Ljudje se Å¡e spomnijo Mitterrandovega predsednikovanja v Franciji leta 1981. Bil je izvoljen z levim programom, z nacionalizacijo vred. In v enem letu je izpeljal nekaj progresivnih reform. Leta 1982 pa je obrnil ploščo na desno. […]
          Comment on SNOPES.com Exposed: Left Wing Website Not Quite the Impartial Arbiter of Truth by Moonbattery » Hitler, Hitlery, and Snopes        
[…] Relying as Snopes as a final arbiter of truth is like letting George Stephanopoulos and Candy Crowley moderate presidential debates. As with the rest of the liberal establishment, bias comes first. […]
          The Sexual Power of Mother Nature in Prodigal Summer        
Teeming with the imagery of natural fertility, Barbara Kingsolver’s 2000 Prodigal Summer presents the intertwined stories of three unlikely romances: Deanna Wolfe, a ranger dedicated to protecting the ecosystems of Zebulon Mountain, and Eddie Bondo, a bounty hunter in pursuit of pack of coyotes; Nannie Rawley, the liberal owner of an organic orchard, and Garnett Walker, a stodgy old-timer determined to repopulate the Zebulon forests with an ancient breed of chestnut trees; and Lusa Maluf Landowski, a scientist-turned-farmer, and Cole Widener, Lusa’s husband who is killed early in the narrative but whom she comes to know better after his death than she had during their very brief marriage.  Within each of these pairs, the woman comes to represent “mother nature,” pitted—to varying degrees—against the forces of “man,” enacted and symbolized by her partner. 

The storyline closely associates these women with nature—especially its nurturance and fertility.  The two who are still menstruating, Deanna and Lusa, note that they naturally cycle with the moon, for instance.  Deanna also cares for the wild animals that live near her mountain cabin in a way that Eddie declares can only be classified as “maternal” (190).  And after a couple of months of passionate—even animalistic—intercourse with Eddie, a man nearly 20 years her junior, she realizes that she will have a child of her own (387).  Despite being recently widowed, Lusa, too, becomes a figure of maternal abundance, deciding to adopt a troubled niece and nephew as her sister-in-law loses her battle with cancer (380).  Finally, both Lusa and Nannie use flower pollination as a way of talking about sex with their young charges, Lusa with her niece Crystal (351) and Nannie with Deanna when she was a girl (200).  In this way, they present sexuality as a natural part of life—and, indeed, as necessary to the continuance of life.

The three women also seem to understand the interdependence of living things more clearly than their male counterparts.  Several times, Deanna explains to Eddie that a predator—though villanized in American culture—is a critical link in the food chain, finally managing to convince him to read her Master’s thesis on the importance of the coyote to the health of the mountain ecosystem (179, 362).  Nannie values predators as well.  When Garnett refuses to stop spraying near Nannie’s farm, she invites him to sit down and delivers a lesson on the different insects that live on her orchard, detailing how the bigger insects naturally take care of the “pests.” This natural form of pest control is disrupted, though, when these predators are killed off by the drift of herbicide that Garnett uses to keep his lawn looking tidy.  The pest population recovers more quickly than the predator population, Nannie explains, and causes great damage to her crops until the bigger insects can once again handle the pests (274).  Lastly, after Cole’s death, Lusa decides to try an alternative to tobacco, previously the Widener cash crop, and raise goats for meat instead.  Quite intentionally, she integrates the goats into the landscape of the farm, using them to keep the briars and thistles from taking over her hayfields and, in turn, allowing the animals to harvest some of the hay in order to round out their nutritional profiles (also turning them into more quality products for market) (157). 

In the end, each of the men seems to acquiesce to the women’s greater wisdom of the natural world, at least temporarily.  Eddie departs Zebulon Mountain (without knowing about Deanna’s pregnancy), leaving behind a note that simply states, “It’s hard for a man to admit he had met his match” (432).  Deanna takes this one line as an indication that Eddie is “offering his leaving as a gift,” that he is leaving both Deanna and her beloved coyotes alone: “No harm would come to anything on this mountain because of him” (433).  On the Widener farm, Lusa’s goat-raising scheme is successful, bringing more of a profit than Cole’s tobacco ever had.  More importantly, Lusa comes to realize that Cole had disliked the conventional agricultural methods that he felt that he had had to use; she begins to think that Cole probably would have enjoyed seeing the farm reformulated into a hormone- and pesticide-free operation, although he was not willing to implement these kinds of changes himself.  For his part, Garnett accepts Nannie’s offer to use the genetics of the old chestnut trees on her orchard to strengthen the strains that he is developing and, in doing so, starts to accept the idea that she already takes for granted—that relationships are more important than property lines.

What is interesting about these cases, taken together, is that the men seem to submit to the women as much because they are each irresistibly attracted to their female counterparts on a carnal level as because they are persuaded on an intellectual level to see the women’s points of view.  Both Lusa and Deanna speak with their mates, Cole when he was living and Eddie during his time atop Zebulon Mountain, of the power of women’s pheromones to attract men (37, 92).  After Cole’s death, Lusa is finally able to accept Cole’s sense of attachment to her, and, then, that he would have wanted her to make the farm her own after his death.  Just as Lusa’s pheromones most certainly played a part in the development of Cole’s love for her, it is likely that Deanna’s womanly scents played a part in Eddie’s development of affection for her and his subsequent decision to leave instead of to hunt Zebulon’s coyotes.  For his part, Garnett finally gives in to Nannie’s kindness toward him when he can no longer resist the image of her picking fruit in her “short pants” (427).  Although each situation is different, in each of all three relationships, the man finally succumbs to the power of a distinctly female sexuality. 

Tom Conoboy has pointed out that the ending of this novel is a little too neat, happy, ultimately “bloodless.”  This is true in lots of ways; one of these is that the men seem to lose very little of themselves in submitting to their female mates.  I would argue, though, that Eddie, Cole, and Garnett may be willing to shift in their worldviews, if only temporarily, because they benefit as much as the women in seeing the interconnectedness of the natural world.  If Deanna, Lusa, and Nannie represent “mother nature” in this text and their male counterparts represent “man,” then the novel seems to suggest that we must allow ourselves to be seduced by the sensuous beauty of the Earth—as Eddie, Cole, and Garnett allow themselves to be by the women in the story.  We must submit to the power of nature’s fertility and abundance in order to reap the benefits of these.  

          The N-Word Presentation        
I developed this sample presentation for a course on "othering."  It is designed to both model how I'd like students to construct their own presentations throughout the semester and also to introduce them to some of the controversial issues that will arise as they read and discuss Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  The presentation brings up some important issues for teachers to consider--what are the consequences of using this term in the classroom or of avoiding the term?

I've posted the rough script below.  Follow along with the visual part of the presentation at: http://www.mixbook.com/photo-books/education/the-n-word-controversy-7764505.

Page 1
N-Word Controversy—more apt title might be N-Word Controversies
Used as my cover image a pic of Malcolm X, a man who gave a lot of thought to this word
According to a treatise that he wrote for the Organization of Afro-American Unity in his final years, decided that it must be rejected in all of its forms
So, going to turn it over to you
Will ask you to think about whether this word should ever be uttered in today’s world
If so, who has the right to say it?
When should it be said?
Should it be printed in classic literary texts?
Finally, how should we handle this issue as we encounter the term in our own classroom?
Disclaimer—I use term “n-word” when reading aloud, but I have printed the actual word in the text of the presentation

Page 2
Going to start by talking a little bit about the word's orgins, specifically how it came to be used in the US
N-word derived from the Latin “niger,” meaning “black,” according to an entry in the OED
More importantly, became derogatory in the US as African-Americans became quintessential others
Read quote
Remember our definition of othering—projecting negative traits onto another human or group of humans in order to imagine that you don’t possess those traits and then treating them as inferior to reinforce your own superiority
This is exactly how white colonists used n-word—to show that they were superior to another group, to other and oppress

Page 3
Many ask, why is this one word so incredibly offensive, maybe more so than any other in the English language?
Let’s follow the flow chart here
In American, at least, it all started with slavery
Here we have a poster, offering a monetary reward for the return of human property
Read poster
Evidence of people hunted like animals, forced to serve others in ways that we don’t want to even imagine, and regarded as little more than part of white people’s larger estate
Next, after abolition, freed slaves were forced to continue to serve white people, despite their legal “freedom”—as cooks, caregivers, maids, farm-hands
Disallowed opportunities for education, social advancement, political activism
Any attempts at uplift were met with violence
Were continued to be treated as others in order to reinforce superiority of white people
Here we have an example of segregation—a “colored” water fountain, where black people were forced to drink water separately from white people because white people could not bear the thought of putting their lips near a metal piece that black people might also put their touch with their mouths
Finally, in the present day, we only have to look at incarceration statistics to know that racism continues

There were more than five times as many black men in jail than white men in 2006 according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.
We know that this is partly due to the continued limited opportunities available to black men and partly due to the stricter penalties enacted on black men vs. white men
So, why is this word so offensive?
Aha! I know.
It has everything to do with othering
It is because this word represents how black men and women have been othered throughout American history, it has been used to reinforce the inferiority of black men and women for centuries
A clip from YouTube shows this legacy of oppression well--http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdY04-xds3k: show segments 0-53, 1:24-2:05, 2:50-4:56

Page 4
The history of othering and oppression that my flow chart and the video show are very convincing in suggesting that the word should just never be spoken
On the other hand, some insist that we should say the word in appropriate contexts, in order to diffuse its power over us
Emily Bernard writes about a series of discussions that she had with her college-aged students about the word
Most refused to say it, but some agreed with her that it should be spoken
Quote
In The N-Word, a documentary produced by Andy Cohen, comedian Dick Gregory goes a step further, saying that we are actually allowing a white racist system to erase a history of oppression if we stop saying the word that represents that oppression.
Quote
Certainly, we don’t want our silence to amplify or erase a history of othering

Page 5
In the past few decades, black men and women have attempted to rehabilitate the n-word, or the different forms of it that I’ve printed on this pageWe know that lots of people today use it as a way of identifying fellowship or brotherhood among black people or even just close friends
OED even recognizes this positive form of the word’s usage
We see this in the media with figures like Laurence Fishborne, film director, who admits to using the term within close circles of friends on the documentary The N-Word
Nicki Minaj uses the term a total of 35 times in just one song, entitled “N.I.G.G.A.S.,” which laments the current oppression of black men in this country
And she actually references the problem that I talked about a few minutes ago—that many black men are given very little opportunity for social advancement and end up incarcerated in numbers that are not proportionate to the number of white men who are imprisoned for the same crimes
It is as if she is using this word—which some would say carries with it a history of oppression—to unite the black community in continuing “hold on” and “keep tryin,'” as the lyrics to the song say
Then we have Sean Combs and Ludacris who also use the word in their music as a way of indicating fellowship or closeness with other black men
Samuel L. Jackson says on The N-Word that he insists that all who work with him know upfront that he is an n-word
Using the word in slightly different way—to indicate that he is tough and not afraid to fight for what he believes in
Then we have Katt Williams who uses the term liberally in stand-up
Use of n-word by black people themselves started to gain national attention in the 1970s when Richard Pryor began to do it in his comedy routines
Used it in a positive way, as a way of showing affection between family members, brotherhood between men—much like all of these contemporary figures do
Ironically, after pretty much single-handedly managing to take the use of this word mainstream, Pryor renounced his use of the term in the late 80s.
According to Hilton Als, Pryor came to the conclusion that “to call one's brother a 'nigger'" is to describe one's own "wretchedness’”

Page 6
Now going to turn to the use of the word in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Ranked #14 on the American Library Association’s list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books for the decade of 2000-2009Reason cited is racism
Book actually uses word total of 219 times
Might have something to do with it
Because of the history of oppression and othering that comes with this word, it can make the book very difficult to read, even at the college level
Going to quote from an article that you are going to read for this class in a couple of weeks
This section of the article is written from the perspective of a non-traditional student—African-American woman, on her experience of reading Huck Finn
Had just returned to college
Excited to have opportunity to read this classic that she had never read
Read quote
Interesting that she refers to Malcolm X here, man who believed in procuring dignity of black men and women through eradication of n-word, in her lamentation of its use in this American classic
If it is this painful for a grown woman to read this word, imagine effects on a child

Page 7
This is why, in 2011, publisher NewSouth introduced edited versions of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Replaced "n-word" with "slave"
Here are some reasons that Professor Alan Gribben gave during NPR’s Talk of the Nation last January for agreeing to edit the two texts in this way
Says that this edition is for young children who would not get to read the book otherwise because of the ways that the book has been censored
Quote
Says that Twain might well have adapted to this change, since this author was particularly known for changing his opinions about matters throughout his life
Quote
And, finally, says that this edition does not change the central concept of the book, only makes it more tolerable for those sensitive to a particular word
Quote
It would appear that Professor Gribben should get a gold star, right?

Page 8
Well, except for the fact that the new edition has caused public and scholarly outrage
One commentator on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday compared the editing out of the n-word in Huck Finn to the covering of the bloody figures in Picasso’s “Guernica” with band-aids
Quote
Picasso painted “Guernica” to protest the bombing of Guernica, Spain by German and Italian warplanes during the Spanish Civil War
Meant to show suffering that war causes
To put band-aids over the gashes in this scene would not only deface this classic, evocative work of art, but it would also cover over a history of suffering that we should remember
Similarly, Simon is saying that to change "slave" for the n-word in Huck Finn is to tamper with a work of art and also to deny the oppression and othering that this word connotes
It is both silly and unwise

Page 9
Time is ticking
Now is when you decide what you believe and how you will handle this issue
We’ve looked at figures like Malcolm X and Richard Pryor, who insist that the use of this term is harmful
People like Nicki Minaj, who see it as a way of uniting black men and women and fighting oppression
Seen how it can be hurtful to people when read in classic texts like Huck Finn
Learned how others insist that we must keep it and talk about it in order to remember a history of oppression
What do you think?
Maybe take three comments on one small part of this issue, most important to us, how we should handle this in the classroom
Each extreme and in the middle
Clearly a provocative topic
My hope is that discussion of it can bring us together instead of divide us

Page 10
Works Cited


          "Matriarchy" and the Contemporary Black Family        
For all of you who are wondering where I've been, I'm back to let you that the last few weeks have brought some exciting changes in my life. Not only are we selling our house and moving into a beautiful new home (hopefully within the month of December because it is dang hard to keep a house clean enough to show with an 19-month-old and a 7 1/2-year-old--this situation does not accentuate my better nature!!), but I have also been assigned three new classes for the Spring semester. I am thrilled to be teaching two sections of a "Reading and Writing about Literature" class, an introductory course in the English major, and a colloquium for the Honors College. Because the theme of my colloq so well matches the focus of this blog, I thought that I'd share my syllabus and schedule with you, my loyal followers.

I've entitled the course "'Matriarchy' and the Contemporary Black Family." As the syllabus demonstrates, we're taking as a springboard the US Department of Labor's Moynihan report of 1965 which--although likely well-intentioned--propelled the myth of the black matriarch into the forefront of the American consciousness. The report attributed the "pathology" of the black family to its "matriarchal" nature, pointing out that many black families were headed by women who oftentimes ran the home and at the same time financially supported the men in their families. The report was meant to convey the necessity of creating more jobs for black men, but many have claimed that it blamed the victims, the women who were--and had been for centuries--keeping it all together in the face of greatly oppressive social and political circumstances. The matriarch myth has stayed with us and has played out in complicated social scripts as well as in popular culture representations of black women.

This course will therefore investigate "matriarchy," past and present. It starts with "The Articulation of the Matriarch Myth" in 1965 and then jumps back to slavery to explore what I am calling, facetiously, "The Rise of the Matriarch" from slavery times up to the 1960s or so. This portion of the course will examine the historical circumstances that positioned the black woman as so central to the black family and also media representations of this positioning, such as in Amos and Andy, for instance. Next, we will move to "Disciplining the 'Matriarch,'" which will cover the ways that both black men and mainstream America have endeavored to punish black women for their deviance and powers of emasculation in movements such as Black Power and Reaganism. In addition to the listed readings, in these weeks we will view an episode of Sanford and Son, Boyz in the Hood and a documentary on hip-hop music. The fourth unit in the course is "Michelle Obama in the Context of 'Matriarchy'" and will explore Obama's portrayal in the media as an emasculating matriarch and the ways that she has negotiated this stereotype. Finally, in "Making Sense of the 'Matriarch,'" we will try to reckon with the legacy of the matriarch myth for us today.

I am proud of this course because my conception of the overall narrative arch of the story of the matriarch has been affirmed by the readings that I've found. Like me, many critics and theorists that I'm including in the course trace the myth of matriarchy to Moynihan, and, together, they present a complex and rich understanding of the significance of his report. In other words, the readings build on each other and complicate each other. It is awesome to see the course come together like this!!

Please take a look at the tentative syllabus that I've posted below! I'd love to hear your suggestions about how I can make this semester an even richer experience for my students as we work together to understand black "matriarchy."

“Matriarchy” and the Contemporary Black Family

Instructor Information
Name: Dr. Andrea Powell Wolfe
Office: RB 297
Office Hours: Tuesday 2-3 and 3:30-5, Thursday 2-2:45, and by appointment
Email: andreapowellwolfe@gmail.com
Website: http://andreapowellwolfe.weebly.com
Blog: http://literatimom.blogspot.com

Course Information
Title: HONRS 390: Honors Colloquium
Semester: Spring 2011
Location: Honors House
Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-10:45
Credit Hours: 3

Required Texts
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. (any edition)
Williams, Sherley Anne. Dessa Rose: A Novel. (any edition)

Additional Texts
Readings for the course are listed on the schedule below. In addition to the two books that I’m asking you to borrow or purchase, I will also provide some handouts in hard copy. You will access the majority of the readings for this course, however, either on the World Wide Web, through Blackboard, or via Electronic Course Reserves. In order to locate readings stored in the Electronic Course Reserves, log in to CardCat and then select “Course Reserves” from the menu bar.

Course Description
This course will constitute a semester-long interrogation of the term “matriarchy” as it has been used over the course of decades to describe the make-up of the black American family. Grounded in an awareness of “matriarchy” as a terrible misnomer in this context, the course will explore ways that the classification of the black family as “matriarchal” has reinforced oppressive cultural and political conditions for black Americans. We will endeavor to recognize the widespread abuse and subjugation of black women over time and still celebrate the strength of black mothers who have nurtured children and maintained families in the most dire of circumstances throughout American history. We will discuss ways that black men have reacted to the labeling of their families as “matriarchal.” Perhaps most importantly, we will attempt to uncover how the stereotype of “the matriarch” continues to play out in contemporary media representations of black womanhood and how it has played out in social scripts surrounding even our current First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Course Requirements
Paper #1 100 points
Paper #2 100 points
Paper #3 100 points
Final Exam 200 points
Participation 20 points per class
Quizzes 10 points each

Papers
Assignment sheets for each paper will be posted in the “Assignments” area in Blackboard. In general, these assignments will ask you to use textual evidence to support thoughtful and sophisticated claims regarding “matriarchy” and the black family. Papers will be 4-5 pages (1400-1750 words) in length and will be due to my email before class on the days noted on the course schedule. Late papers will lose 10 points per day late (including weekends).

Final Exam
The final exam will be comprehensive and will consist of short essay questions. In order to prepare for the exam, you will need to read carefully, participate attentively in class, and take good notes throughout the semester.

Quizzes
Quizzes over reading notes and class notes may be given without advanced notice. You are always welcome to use written or typed notes for quizzes. Quizzes cannot be made-up.

Participation
Your active and thoughtful participation in this course is absolutely critical to its success! Because discussion is such a big part of the Honors Colloquium experience, you will earn daily participation points for coming to class and engaging in meaningful discussion. Part of participation is also preparation to learn and interact in the classroom. This means that you must bring the appropriate reading(s) to class every day, either in hard copy or in electronic form on your laptop. Participation scores will be posted in the grade book in Blackboard after every class.

Extra Credit
Because I want to give you the opportunity to make up points that you might lose due to necessary absences, I will allow you to complete two extra credit assignments throughout the semester for a total of 40 points in extra credit. For each extra credit assignment, you will choose a full-length book (either critical or literary) or a film (either documentary or fictional) to review for extra credit. I will be happy to recommend texts that might match your personal interests, and, even if you do not need suggestions from me, I ask that you allow me to “approve” your selections before you begin working on these assignments. Each review should be 3-pages (1050 words) in length and should analyze the representation of black motherhood in the text that you have chosen.

Attendance Policy
You will lose all daily participation points when you miss class. While one or two absences may not affect your overall grade in the class, making a habit of missing class will most certainly negatively impact your grade. Any requests for a waiver of the penalty for missing class must be made before the absence for which you seek to be excused.

Classroom Behavior Policy
It is my goal to foster a classroom environment in which every student feels comfortable contributing to discussion. Though we will not always agree with one another, we must listen to one another with respect. Furthermore, you are never required to agree with me or with a text we are discussing; disagreement is a valuable part of the thinking process. I will not tolerate disruptive behaviors such as reading newspapers, talking on cell phones, texting, emailing, or sleeping in class. Behaviors like these will cause you to lose participation points for that day. In order to promote engaged discussion, I may ask you to close your laptop at times during class.

Plagiarism
In order to protect the integrity of the university and of students who work hard, I take academic dishonesty seriously. The intentional or unintentional use of another’s writing without giving proper credit or any credit is theft and the use of a previously written paper for a current course without approval of the instructor is dishonesty. These types of actions undermine the educational process and may be cause for course failure or expulsion from Ball State University.

Disabilities/Accommodations Statement
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible

Extra Help
I am happy to meet with students about drafts, assignment questions, additional discussions of a text, and absence policies, etc. during office hours or by appointment. I also encourage you to visit a writing tutor at The Writing Center to work on your papers at any stage in the writing process.

Syllabus Information Disclaimer
Parts of the syllabus and the course, including the schedule and assignments, are subject to change to meet the needs of students in the course.

Course Schedule

Articulating the Matriarch Stereotype

Tuesday, January 11 Introductions

Thursday, January 13 Readings Due: Syllabus; Daniel P. Moynihan, US Department of Labor, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”, Chapters II-IV

Tuesday, January 18 Reading Due: Hortense Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book” in Blackboard

The Rise of the “Matriarch”

Thursday, January 20 Reading Due: Deborah Gray White, “Jezebel and Mammy: The Mythology of Female Slavery” on Reserve

Tuesday, January 25 Reading Due: Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Chapters I-XIV

Thursday, January 27 Reading Due: Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Chapters XV-XXXIII

Tuesday, February 1 Reading Due: Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Chapters XXXIV-XLI; Stephanie Li, “Motherhood as Resistance in Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” in Blackboard

Thursday, February 3 Reading Due: Deborah Gray White, “From Slavery to Freedom” handout

Tuesday, February 8 Reading Due: YouTube videos, “Scarlett Dresses for the Barbeque”, “Mammy—Gone with the Wind”; Maria St. John, “’It Ain’t Fittin’: Cinematic and Fantasmatic Contours of Mammy in Gone with the Wind and Beyond” in Blackboard

Thursday, February 10 Reading Due: George Kirby, “Amos and Andy: Anatomy of a Controversy”

Tuesday, February 15 Reading Due: Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, Acts I-2

Thursday, February 17 Reading Due: Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, Act 3; Ellen Silber, “Seasoned with Quiet Strength: Black Womanhood in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (1959)” in Blackboard

Disciplining the “Matriarch”

Tuesday, February 22 Assignment Due: Paper #1

Thursday, February 24 Reading Due: bell hooks, “The Imperialism of Patriarchy” on Reserve

Tuesday, March 1 Reading Due: Amiri Baraka, “20-Century Fox,” “Newshit,” “Song,” “Lady Bug,” “A Poem for Black Hearts,” “Black Art,” “For a Lady I Know,” “Civil Rights Poem,” “Beautiful Black Women . . .,” “Bludoo Baby Want Money and Alligator Got it to Give,” “Leroy,” and “Who Will Survive America” handout; Daniel Matlin, “’Lift Up Yr Self’: Reinterpreting Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones), Black Power, and the Uplift Tradition” in Blackboard

Thursday, March 3 Reading Due: Hortense Spillers, “Interstices: A Small Drama of Words” on Reserve

Tuesday, March 8 No Class; Spring Break

Thursday, March 10 No Class; Spring Break

Tuesday, March 15 Reading Due: Herman Gray, “Reaganism and the Sign of Blackness” on Reserve

Thursday, March 17 Reading Due: Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose, “Prologue” and “The Darkey”

Tuesday, March 22 Reading Due: Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose, “The Wench” and “The Negress”

Thursday, March 24 Reading Due: Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose, “Epilogue”; Ashraf H. Rushdy, “Reading Mammy: The Subject of Relation in Sherley Anne Williams’ Dessa Rose” in Blackboard

Tuesday, March 29 Reading Due: Linda M. Burton and M. Belinda Tucker, “Romantic Unions in an Era of Uncertainty: A Post-Moynihan Perspective on African American Women and Marriage” in Blackboard

Thursday, March 31 Reading Due: “Between Apocalypse and Redemption: John Singleton’s Boyz in the Hood” in Blackboard

Tuesday, April 5 Reading Due: Mark Anthony Neal, “Baby Mama (Drama) and Baby Daddy (Trauma): Post-Soul Gender Politics” on Reserve

Michelle Obama in the Context of “Matriarchy”

Thursday, April 7 Assignment Due: Paper #2

Tuesday, April 12 Reading Due: Mosheh Oinounou and Bonney Kapp, “Michelle Obama Takes Heat for Saying She’s ‘Proud of My Country’ for the First Time”; Fox News, “Outraged Liberals: Stop Picking on Obama’s Baby Mama!”; Marcus Baram, “Rusty DePass, South Carolina GOP Activist, Says Escaped Gorilla Was Ancestor of Michelle Obama”; The Paparazzis, “Comedian Jay Mohr disrespects Michelle Obama”; Alicia Shepard, “Juan Williams, NPR and Fox News”

Thursday, April 14 Reading Due: Fight the Smears, “The Truth about Michelle”; Lois Romano, “Voices of Power: White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers,” Chapter 3; The White House, “First Lady Michelle Obama”

Tuesday, April 19 Reading Due: The Huffington Post, “Up In Arms: Michelle Obama’s Sleeveless Style Sparks Controversy”; Wendy Donahue, “Some harrumph over Michelle Obama’s sleeveless dress”; Bonnie Fuller, “Michelle Obama’s Sleevegate: Why Can’t America Handle Her Bare Arms?”; Madison Park, “How to get Michelle Obama’s toned arms”; Andrea Sachs, “Michelle Obama’s Fashion Statement”; Danny Shea, “New York Magazine Blog Takes Down Michelle Obama Booty Post”; Gina, “Another ‘Booty’ Post: ‘That Site’ Puts the Marginalization and Dehumanization of First Lady Michelle Obama Up for Vote”; Erin Aubry Kaplan, “The Michelle Obama Hair Challenge”

Thursday, April 21 Reading Due: The White House Organic Farm Project, “About TheWhoFarm”; Michelle Obama, “Remarks by the First Lady to Unity Health Care Center”; Sesame Street, “Sesame Street: Michelle Obama and Elmo—Healthy Habits”; AOL Health, “First Lady Michelle Obama Answers Your Questions on Let’s Move!”

Tuesday, April 26 Reading Due: Patricia Yaeger, “Circum-Atlantic Superabundance: Milk as World-Making in Alice Randall and Kara Walker” in Blackboard; Kara Walker, “I Dream of Michelle Obama”

Tuesday, April 26 Reading Due: Andrea Powell Wolfe, “Michelle Obama and the Historical Positioning of the Black Mother within the Nation” in Blackboard; Ann Ducille, “Marriage, Family, and Other ‘Peculiar Institutions’ in African-American Literary History” in Blackboard

Making Sense of “Matriarchy”

Thursday, April 28 Assignment Due: Paper #3

Thursday, May 5 Final Exam at 9:45-11:45
          Both the Left and the Right are at war with science        
Michael Shermer on why neither side of the American political spectrum gets a pass when it comes to acceptance of science. Includes this interesting (and often overlooked) detail from recent national polls — 41 percent of Democrats are young-Earth Creationists.
          IU Dept. of Theatre and Drama: The Real Thing        
Tom Stoppard’s "The Real Thing" is about honesty in relationships and in art, so of course the focus of the action is on multiple adulteries and a writer reduced to writing television drama to pay alimony and a gussying up a piece of agit-prop theatre to placate his liberal leaning second wife. The general outline […]
          The Beckoning of Nuclear War        
SUBHEAD: A glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to our "national security" managers.

By John Pilger on 4 August 2017 for JohnPilger.com -
(www.johnpilger.com/articles/on-the-beach-2017-the-beckoning-of-nuclear-war)

[IB Publisher's note: As much as Trump may not wish a nuclear exchange with Russia, he seems quite amenable to turning North Korea into an ashtray. World War III may begin in  Guam and relay to Hawaii on its way  to the US mainland. Here in Hawaii it may mean Duck and Cover!]


Image above: Detail of original paperback cover of Nevil Shute's 1957 novel "On the Beach". From (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/267542034087528868).

In Nevil Shute's book "On the Beach" the US submarine captain says;
"We've all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you're never ready, because you don't know when it's coming. Well, now we do know and there's nothing to be done about it."
He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.

The war was over in a month. The United States, Russia and China were the protagonists. It is not clear if it was started by accident or mistake. There was no victor. The northern hemisphere is contaminated and lifeless now.

A curtain of radioactivity is moving south towards Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. By September, the last cities, towns and villages will succumb. As in the north, most buildings will remain untouched, some illuminated by the last flickers of electric light.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

These two lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on the cover said the same.

Published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece. At first the language suggests a genteel relic; yet nothing I have read on nuclear war is as unyielding in its warning. No book is more urgent.

Some readers will remember the black and white Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck as the US Navy commander who takes his submarine to Australia to await the silent, formless spectre descending on the last of the living world.

I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the US Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world's second most lethal nuclear power.  There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder.

The "sanctions" are aimed at Europe, too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. In what passed for debate on Capitol Hill, the more garrulous senators left no doubt that the embargo was designed to force Europe to import expensive American gas.

Their main aim seems to be war - real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-5 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.

The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies - the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indo-China, which President Reagan called "a noble cause" and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an "exceptional people"He was not referring to the Vietnamese.

Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. "Listen up," he said. "We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom."

At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.

A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls "an eternal present".

Harold Pinter described this as "manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously "the left" are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.

Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for "liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics", wrote Luciana Bohne memorably. The obsession with Trump the man - not Trump as a symptom and caricature of an enduring system - beckons great danger for all of us.

While they pursue their fossilised anti-Russia agendas, narcissistic media such as the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardian suppress the essence of the most important political story of our time as they warmonger on a scale I cannot remember in my lifetime.

On 3 August, in contrast to the acreage the Guardian has given to drivel that the Russians conspired with Trump (reminiscent of the far-right smearing of John Kennedy as a "Soviet agent"), the paper buried, on page 16, news that the President of the United States was forced to sign a Congressional bill declaring economic war on Russia. Unlike every other Trump signing, this was conducted in virtual secrecy and attached with a caveat from Trump himself that it was "clearly unconstitutional".

A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.

This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the "national security" managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them "the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today".

They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to instal an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia's "borderland" - the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people.  Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation.

In response, "partnership" is a word used incessantly by Vladimir Putin - anything, it seems, that might halt an evangelical drive to war in the United States. Incredulity in Russia may have now turned to fear and perhaps a certain resolution. The Russians almost certainly have war-gamed nuclear counter strikes. Air-raid drills are not uncommon. Their history tells them to get ready.

The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The US has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China's economic lifelines.

The admiral commanding the US Pacific fleet said that, "if required", he would nuke China. That he would say such a thing publicly in the current perfidious atmosphere begins to make fact of Nevil Shute's fiction.

None of this is considered news. No connection is made as the bloodfest of Passchendaele a century ago is remembered. Honest reporting is no longer welcome in much of the media. Windbags, known as pundits, dominate: editors are infotainment or party line managers. Where there was once sub-editing, there is the liberation of axe-grinding clichés. Those journalists who do not comply are defenestrated.

The urgency has plenty of precedents. In my film, The Coming War on China, John Bordne, a member of a US Air Force missile combat crew based in Okinawa, Japan, describes how in 1962 - during the Cuban missile crisis - he and his colleagues were "told to launch all the missiles" from their silos.

Nuclear armed, the missiles were aimed at both China and Russia. A junior officer questioned this, and the order was eventually rescinded - but only after they were issued with service revolvers and ordered to shoot at others in a missile crew if they did not "stand down".

At the height of the Cold War, the anti-communist hysteria in the United States was such that US officials who were on official business in China were accused of treason and sacked. In 1957 - the year Shute wrote On the Beach - no official in the State Department could speak the language of the world's most populous nation. Mandarin speakers were purged under strictures now echoed in the Congressional bill that has just passed, aimed at Russia.

The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms "left" and "right" are meaningless. Most of America's modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.

When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America's longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings - murder - by drones.

In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the "reluctant liberal warrior", dropped 26,171 bombs - three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.  Having pledged to help "rid the world" of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War.

Trump is a wimp by comparison. It was Obama - with his secretary of state Hillary Clinton at his side - who destroyed Libya as a modern state and launched the human stampede to Europe. At home, immigration groups knew him as the "deporter-in-chief".

One of Obama's last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.

Buried in the detail was the establishment of a "Center for Information Analysis and Response". This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an "official narrative of facts" that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war - if we allow it.


Video above: "On the Beach" the complete 1959 movie from Nevil Shute's  novel. From (https://youtu.be/Ue8hC5qqMt4).

.

          New GOP Rules for Discussing the President        
We're still trying to get used to the idea of Democratic nominee Barack Obama actually being President of the United States.

To help us get acclimated, the wingnut freakazoids have kindly provided criticism that follows the new GOP Rules for Discussing the President. Steve Benen explains.

DEPT. OF POTS AND KETTLES.... Either the president's conservative critics have very short memories, or they assume we do.

SNIP

The irony is almost overwhelming. A loyal Bushie, who heard his boss spend years engaging in shameless demagoguery (see "clouds, mushroom" and "uranium, from Africa") based on nothing but neocon fantasies, believes presidents have to keep their rhetoric in check and never forget to be "truthful." Sure, Blakeman, tell us another one.

Keep in mind, Obama's dire warnings about the economy are well grounded in reality. It's not "insane" to fear an economic collapse given the situation we're in. The president has a choice -- pretend the news isn't scary, or give honest assessments while vowing to act. Bush preferred the prior approach; Obama prefers the latter.

What's more, have you noticed the bizarre double-standards we've seen emerge in recent weeks?

When Bush uses over-the-top language to convince Americans about perceived security threat, he's being "presidential." When Obama issues dire warnings about the economy, he's being "pessimistic."

When Bush ignores the congressional minority, he's being "principled." When Obama engages the congressional minority but declines to give them what they want, he's being "partisan."

When Bush trashes constitutional norms, it's evidence of "seriousness." When Obama is in the Oval Office without a jacket, he's being "disrespectful to the presidency."

When liberals criticize Bush during a crisis, they're traitors who are aiding and abetting the enemy. When conservatives criticize Obama during a crisis, they are doing their patriotic duty.

Good to know.

          Some Bucking Up For Us Hand-Wringers        
Bob Cesca at HuffPo reminds us that the repug rejection of the stimulus bill isn't the first time Barack Obama has seemed defeated, only to come roaring back in victory, and it probably won't be the last.

There's a killer web graphic that was created back in the post-Republican Convention days while everyone was writing spasmodic, breathless "Obama should [fill in the blank]" blog entries and "Oh crap! We're gonna lose!" newspaper columns.


SNIP

The web graphic is actually a photograph of Barack Obama from his Invesco Field acceptance speech. In it, he's looking directly into the camera with an expression of fierce determination on his face -- his teeth gnashed in an Eastwood snarl, his left hand gesturing as though he's kung fu fighting his way through an oversized cinderblock made of SlapChop-minced Republican skulls.

The large, white text superimposed at the top reads: "Everyone chill the fuck out." The text at the bottom exclaims: "I got this!"

Sure enough, two months later, we watched as this liberal African American man with the noble yet politically unusual name "Barack Hussein Obama" defied the odds and won red states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana and the commonwealth of Virginia.

Fade out the roaring crowds at Grant Park. Dissolve to late January.
The economy continues to creep nearer to the crumbling ledge of yet another Depression -- if it isn't there already. And yet the Republicans who very nearly shoved us over the ledge are prancing around as if their collective Reaganomics don't stink.

SNIP

Their political audacity, while never surprising, always seems to confound expectations and defy logic. Having relegated themselves to the status of a regional, minor party due to their unserious, fear-mongering wedge politics and well-documented record of disastrous policy-making, they remain so hubristic as to crap their cages and demand a seat at the Big Boy Table, as if they're the majority party in Congress -- as if they somehow earned an equal voice in this thing by way of their awesome record on the economy.

They haven't. It's only due to the magnanimity of the president that they haven't been completely steamrolled on this recovery bill. Magnanimity which, by the way, isn't nearly as plentiful or renewable as the Republicans might think.

SNIP

Altogether, it might appear as if the Republicans are using their ridiculousness as a means of duping the president -- hectoring him into capitulation and therefore allowing the recovery bill to be sabotaged with their taint. And when the sabotaged bill fails to help the economy, they'll blame the president. David Sirota outlined this strategy the other day, and while events might seem to point in this direction from time to time, there isn't much evidence to indicate that President Obama is naïve enough to be flimflammed by these very obvious Republican political tricks. Put another way, if you and I can spot the scams, I'm sure he can too. Though, it's important that the Republicans think they can sucker punch the president the same way they've sucker punched Senator Reid over and over.

The president's "I won" remark indicates that there's a limit to both his benevolence and his tolerance for Republican silly season hackery. "I won" means that he won't be played and he won't be taken advantage of. But the Republicans have miscalculated and misinterpreted the president, believing that "bipartisanship" means Democratic capitulation. Save for a few concessions in an otherwise massive spending bill, President Obama isn't calling for any half-and-half bipartisan compromise on this or anything else so far. His process with the Republicans is all about attaining some civility in the tone of the debate -- not caving. There's a difference. And in that process, the president is looking increasingly presidential as his style is contrasted against the smallness of the Republicans.

Recent history has proved that the president's Chess Match style will require a little more patience than we're accustomed to in order to see the endgame -- to see how this all plays out. And while it's crucial to keep a clear eye and critical mind, there's a lot of comfort in that web graphic from last September. Chances are: he's got this.

Read the whole thing.
          The Big Blue Boat!        


It’s been a long time since the last post.  Things have just seemed really busy the last couple of months and I just haven’t been able to get around to writing.  I have been involved in some car stuff though... I just haven’t been able to write about it.


Probably the biggest car news from the front is that I’m the proud new custodian of a 1985 Ford LTD Crown Victoria.  It’s a bit of a family heirloom, having originally belonged to my wife’s grandparents.  It’s basically been sitting in a barn for the last 10 years though, so it needs a little TLC. 


Over all though, I’d say it’s in pretty good shape.  The interior is excellent, everything still works (including cold blowing AC!) and the underside is practically new looking!  There are a couple of minor rust events occurring on the body as we speak, but nothing too bad.  I will be on the hunt for a new rear bumper at some point though, as this one has a small hole in it. 

Now traditionally being a GM man, I was initially looking for a B body or a G body, preferably something with 2 doors but a sedan wasn’t out of the question.  I had a next to nothing budget of about $1000-$1500, which back when I was a teenager would have yielded good results.  Nowadays that only buys, well, crap. 

There were a few promising looking ads in kijiji that caught my attention.  Tales of rust free, non winter driven cars that only need a few minor repairs for safety draw you in.  But the reality is a car that has Blizzaks on it was probably not “never driven in winter”.  

Also, I discovered people have a very liberal interpretation of “rust free” and “surface rust”.  Look, if there’s red, crumbling sections on the car’s body it’s not “rust free”.  And if I can see daylight on the other side of that rust, it’s not “surface rust”. 

Anyway, after one particularly disappointing viewing, I was talking to my wife’s uncle and he let me know that her other aunt and uncle were getting rid of their old 1985 Ford LTD Crown Victoria.  They had been given the car from my wife’s grandparents as a B-car.  Only thing is it had been off the road for about 10 years. 

My dad and I went to take a look at the old beast and we weren’t disappointed.  It’s a two tone blue four door sedan with a 302.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was in a lot better shape than everything else that I had found.  In the coming weeks I’ll go over some of the stuff we’ve done, what needs to be done and what we dream about doing in the future.

For now the big ol’ girl is resting in the garage getting ready for a safety.  I don’t expect to get her on the road until next year, but it’s good to know that she’s there for some big blue boat cruising.

TTFN

          Identify, don't gag citizens during elections        
Musings by Premier Stelmach coupled with a report by Alberta's chief electoral officer have added up to a rare consensus among two of Alberta's chief political rivals. When political enemies line-up in agreement it can often spell trouble. Last spring it was the Alberta NDP joining PC MLAs to approve political pay hikes, and this fall it appears the Liberals will be helping the government legislate a monopoly for politicians during election campaigns.

          150 Things to Know on Canada’s 150th Birthday        
On the occasion of Canada’s 150th birthday here are 150 things to know...

1. Today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one of the world’s most popular political leaders.
2. Justin Trudeau emerged out of the shadows and into the political spotlight when delivering the eulogy at his father’s funeral, the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau in September 2000.
3. The four pallbearers at the funeral were Justin Trudeau, the Aga Khan, former President Jimmy Carter and…the late Cuban autocrat Fidel Castro.
4. Justin Trudeau’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, is a fearless filmmaker, who was Embedded in Baghdad before, during and after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
5. While Justin is a social media star, his father was the true showman, who once famously pirouetted behind Queen Elizabeth’s back.
6. In fact, this was just one of many colorful moments. To this day in Canada to give the ‘Pierre Trudeau salute’ means something, very interesting…
7. And who can forget the moment featuring the Rolling Stones, the paparazzi and the Prime Minister.
8. However, the elder Trudeau also did some amazing things for Canada. For starters, until 1982 when he brought it back to Canada, the constitution was effectively governed by the Queen of England.
9. That same year he pushed through the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
10. This protection of Canadian rights and diversity did not emerge overnight. Back in 1971, the elder Trudeau declared the new Canadian multiculturalism policy.
11. Four years earlier, in 1967, Pierre Trudeau uttered these famous words: “There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” when he decriminalized homosexuality in sweeping changes to the criminal code.
12. It took Canada until 2005 to legalize same-sex marriage, being the first nation outside of Europe and fourth in the world to do so.
13. However, while things were eventful under Pierre Trudeau they were also turbulent. He suspended civil liberties during the ‘October Crisis’ in 1970, when he invoked the ‘War Measures Act’ after a provincial cabinet minister was kidnapped by separatist militants.
14. He also enacted the National Energy Program in the 1980s which effectively federalized revenues from energy resources in Alberta, creating long-term hostility towards the federal Liberal Party in the years to come in Western Canada.
15. Trudeau was also an antagonist to separatist ambitions in Quebec, delivering two fiery speeches, one in 1980, and another in 1995 to thwart referendums for independence.
16. All in all, the elder Trudeau served for 15 years but he wasn’t the longest serving Prime Minister. That would be William Lyon Mackenzie King, who served for 21 years.
17. In second place was the founding Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, who served for 18 years – and who also had a bit of a drinking problem.
18. When Canada was founded in 1867, there were only four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
19. In fact it was not until 1949 that the last province, Newfoundland joined Canada, and that was only after a barely won referendum.
20. Canada also has three Territories: the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavat, the latter being formed in 1999.
21. The country is extremely ‘big’, the second largest in the world with over 2 million lakes, among other things.
22. But, 75% of Canadians actually live within 100 miles of the U.S.-Canada border.
23. This may be one of the reasons why the U.S.-Canada economic relationship is the largest in the world, estimated to total US$630 billion in 2016 alone.
24. Close to 30,000 trucks cross the border every single day between the two countries.
25. While things are rosy today, it wasn’t always so. During the War of 1812, the Canadas, as the British colonies were known then, went to battle with the U.S., ultimately burning down the White House on August 24, 1814.
26. War was quite frequent back then due to competing French, British, and American ambitions. After fierce fighting, the 1763 Treaty of Paris essentially gave the British control over much of French Canadian land.
27. In addition, one cannot forget that much of Canadian land belonged to the First Nations, who have been marginalized, ostracizied, occupied and colonized throughout much of Canadian history.
28. During Canada’s first years, a group of people called the Metis who were ethnically mixed between First nations and European descent, rose up in rebellion, ultimately establishing a short-lived provisional government in 1870.
29. The leader of that rebellion Louis Riel was ultimately ranked as the 11th Greatest Canadian.
30. That battle was only one of many for the acknowledgement of the rights of First Nations. One of the worst stains on Canadian history was the residential school system that at one point put a third of all First Nations children under the care of the state.
31. Thousands of students died, and many more were subject to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
32. While today, people acknowledge some of these aspects of history, the fight is not over. One of the scandals that was a campaign issue for Justin Trudeau, was the plight of up to 4,000 missing or murdered aboriginal women.
33. Canada’s history has not always been one of inclusivity. The Chinese Exclusion or Immigration Act of 1923 effectively banned immigrants of Chinese origin.
34. This was a culmination of violence and protests against immigrants from East and South Asia, including riots in 1907 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
35. Today, whites are expected to become a minority in Vancouver by 2031 (although I suspect this has already happened).
36. 20.6% of Canadians are foreign-born today and 19.1% identify themselves as visible minorities. 3% of the population identifies as Muslim.
37. There are more Sikhs in the Canadian Cabinet than there are in India’s government (4 versus 2).
38. It was not until the 1940s, however, that Sikhs truly received voting rights.
39. Canadian women achieved the right to vote around the same time as women in the U.S. in the late 1910s.
40. Canada also became home to a number of Black Canadians due to the Underground Railroad, although racism has reared its ugly head in Canada as well.
41. While ethnic and racial struggles have been real, so have class struggles. A lot of this culminated in gained labor rights and ultimately universal healthcare.
42. The ‘grandfather’ of universal healthcare was actually New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas, who was named the Greatest Canadian in that (in-)famous poll.
43. Tommy Douglas is also the grandfather of prominent Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland.
44. Kiefer Sutherland’s father is Donald Sutherland, who married Tommy Douglas daughter, prominent public figure, Shirley Douglas.
45. While living in the U.S. Donald Sutherland retained only Canadian citizenship but lost the right to vote due to the Conservative Party’s new laws in 2015.
46. This also led to a rallying cry by then candidate Justin Trudeau, that “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
47. There are almost 3 million Canadians living abroad but many retain a vibrant Canadian identity.
48. For example, the Terry Fox Run, a hallmark of Canada, has been held in over 60 countries by countless millions over the years.
49. Through these runs over $650 million has been raised for cancer research.
50. And it is all inspired by Terry Fox, who ran the Marathon of Hope in 1980 after losing one leg to cancer.
51. He ended his run after reaching 5,373 kilometres over 143 days.
52. Inspired by Terry’s courage, a fellow West Coaster, Rick Hansen embarked on a Man in Motion World Tour for two years in 1985.
53. He criss-crossed 34 countries raising $26 million along the way.
54. It also inspired the song St. Elmo’s Fire, which reached #1 on the Billboard Charts.
55. The best-selling Canadian artist of all time remains Celine Dion, who has sold over 200 million albums worldwide.
56. It appears though that fellow Canadian Justin Bieber may soon beat her on the charts.
57. There are a lot of Canadian singers, that are quite prominent, but they often live abroad, like Bryan Adams.
58. In fact, Bryan Adams and Beverley Hills 90210 star Jason Priestly went to the same high school, Argyle Secondary School in Vancouver.
59. And while Bryan Adams is known for his singing, he once mixed up the lyrics of the Canadian national anthem.
60. The Canadian national anthem, ‘O Canada’, was itself composed in 1880.
61. However, the lyrics of the anthem were originally French and were then translated into English.
Originally published in Huffington Post
Muslim Liberals Caught in No Man's Land
"Islam is the motherload of bad ideas." - Sam Harris
"That's just a fact." - Bill Maher
When the host of Real Time on HBO, Bill Maher, tag-teamed with 'new atheist' Sam Harris, to lead an assault on Islam last week, it was Batman-to-be Ben Affleck who stood up as the inexplicable first line of defense against the disjointed attack. Rounding out the panel of record, was New York Times activist Nicholas Kristof and Republican-lite Michael Steele. The debate - in which, of course no Muslims participated - quickly went viral. In the messy aftermath, Sam Harris even claimed that the media reaction vindicated him and proved his point. 
While Maher and his sidekick, Harris - and for that matter the entire Dawkinsian crew - may not be the bigots that Affleck accused them of being, they certainly should not feel any sense of self-absorbed vindication. They are not emissaries of the truth nor do they represent the vanguard of neo-enlightenment. Rather they come across as pseudo-intellectual bullies driven by a vain desire for celebrity, feigning any concern for the 'victims of Islam' they cite in remarks branching from their central diatribe against the religion. In effect, they silence the very Muslim liberals and champions who are leading the charge for a more just, equal, and tolerant (i.e. liberal, I guess) Muslim world, forcing on them a Faustian and false choice between identity and values. 
Just today, Malala Yousafzai, the ardent campaigner for girls' education from Pakistan and a proud Muslim, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, five of the last twelve recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize have been Muslim. These five alongside millions of others seek to promote progressive and positive change in the Muslim world. They constitute everyday Muslims, not necessarily Islam incarnate. The reason this distinction is important is that treating as equal the Muslim world and the ideology of Islam is a misdirection that confuses an evolving 1,400-year philosophy with a disaggregated non-body politic of 1.5 billion people. As I wrote on these pagesseveral weeks ago, it does not mean ignoring a problem but diagnosing it accurately: 
"There is no crisis in Islam. But, there is, conversely and unmistakably, an existential crisis (or crises) in the Muslim world...The approach of religious discourse divorces us from what is the larger crisis facing the Muslim world, which is one of being mired in a political, social and economic malaise, characterized by hollow leadership and disintegrating states, an environment into which extremism seeps."
Malala and others are the vanguard in the fight being waged by Muslim liberals, one that is just unfolding, and which contests a broad range of injustices, inequalities, and intolerances in Muslim-majority countries. Yet, these individuals are also caught in a tripartite 'battle' that is ongoing: within the West, within the Muslim world and between the West and Muslim world. These battles are not clear-cut by any means, but each places the Muslim liberal effectively in no man's land. 
Within the West, we are witnessing the rise of xenophobic and anti-immigration sentiment broadly in the conservative movement, and in the United States, most acutely, on the fringes of the Republican Party. This has been exacerbated by the War on Terror, in which, domestically, the Muslim constitutes the ubiquitous bogeyman. So mainstream is this sentiment, that a series such as Homeland entertains many Muslim Americans, even though it not-so-subtly portends that every Muslim from a secular journalist to a CIA agent could be a threat, simply because he or she is Muslim. More tangibly, in terms of everyday consequences, each new mosque in the U.S. now faces anti-Sharia protestors, including from sitting politicians (who conveniently forget the meaning of the First Amendment). 
In Europe, however, while there has been similar sentiment from the conservative side of the spectrum, such as from political parties such as the UKIP or BNP in the United Kingdom, it has often dovetailed with a similarly xenophobic liberal view, such as that espoused by Sam Harris. Much akin to the convergence of the liberal humanitarian perspective with the neoconservative movement in recent years (e.g. prior to the Iraq War in 2003), this neo-liberalism is partly a revivalist movement of the White Man's Burden. Overall, within this battle, Islam is portrayed as a flawed essence, and there can be no equivocation. When an assured liberal such as Reza Aslan appears on CNN, he is forced to choose between Islam and liberalism, and asked to re-confirm that indeed Islam is the threat. Meanwhile, the anchors (on CNN) fail to realize that this would mean he would be asserting that he himself (and many members of his family) have an essentialized evilness about them. Whether or not a person like Reza Aslan is liberal is cast aside due to this inability to disavow Islam.
Yet, it is not just Muslims on the American side of the Atlantic who are caught up in this game. In the Muslim world's own multi-dimensional civil war, we see hyper-nationalists and Islamists battling it out, overlaid with a layer of sectarian strife. Muslim liberals - a term used loosely without weighing the religiosity of individuals - are often the last ones in the streets pushing for open societies. Take the example of the exemplary Alaa Abdel Fattah in Egypt, who, fresh off from being released from prison on bail after being charged for encouraging a demonstration, had his nomination for the prestigious Sakharov Prize revoked. He, like all Muslims, inevitably faced the pro-Israel test, and (two weeks ago) failed. Already under threat of condemnation from within their countries, Muslim liberals within Muslim countries are abandoned in their hour of need by the haughtier-than-though 'critics' in the West. Muslim liberals may be fighting for democracy, against gender discrimination, and for the rights of minorities, but they likely have not reconciled with Zionism. Ask Malala for her views on Israel: you may not like the answer
Finally, since 9/11 (and before as well), Western countries have increasingly been at war in the Middle East and within other majority-Muslim countries. The recent strikes against ISIS are just one recent example. In this battle, again the Muslim liberal is caught in no man's land. On one hand, he or she will surely be in favor of crushing the cancer that is ISIS but not by any means necessary nor will this mean broad support for the securitization of the interaction between the West and the Muslim world. When a recent video surfaced on Fox News from the Harvard campus, where many students alleged that the U.S. had a more detrimental footprint, overall, on the world stage than ISIS, the headline read, "Twisted Ivy: Harvard students say US bigger threat to world peace than ISIS." Imagine, a Muslim making the same statements as in the video. Game over. 
When Bill Maher and Sam Harris pontificate from their plush perches, criminalizing a faith, which has 1.5 billion adherents, they think they are doing the world a big service. Nothing could be further from the truth. It should be pointed that Muslim countries are not uniquely in crisis and that broadly there are many countries in crisis in the developing world. In addition, America's homophobia is only now beginning to subside for example, and in many ways is still real (so no real claim can be made of some type of civilizational superiority). And many of Burma's Buddhist monks would have something to say about religious militancy being the dominion of Islamists only. Nevertheless, there are indeed a myriad of unique problems within the Muslim world, which is in a deep crisis. Yet, there are also countless Muslim leaders, intellectuals, clerics, philanthropists, and others, facing these problems, and trying to stand-up to illiberal phenomena in their communities and societies. They already are well aware of the challenges in front of them and do not need lectures from people far-removed from the very violence they face. 
Maher's (and others) self-titillating orgies of intellectual masturbation demonstrate a total lack of awareness. Perhaps they'll be comforted by the controversy they spawn, indulging their egos as they eye retweets and dollar signs. As for the Muslim liberals on the frontlines? Once again they are caught in No Man's Land.
Original Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taufiq-rahim/muslim-liberals-caught-in_b_5965546.html

          The Democratic Case Against Islamism        
This article originally appeared in Al-Monitor, where you can find the full text. 

These days, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is under a systematic (some would say justified) assault by authorities seeking to dissolve the entire organization.  Yet, it’s not just in Egypt that Islamists find themselves under attack, rhetorically or by force. Across countries in the Arab world that had revolutions in the past two years, there is a growing wave of public opposition to the participation of Islamists in the political system, whether in TunisiaLibya or elsewhere.

Against this backdrop, countless Western analysts have clashed with their liberal Arab counterparts on the issue of Islamism, arguing that the exclusion of religious parties is incompatible with modern democratic principles. Yet is the exclusion of parties like the Muslim Brotherhood undemocratic on its face? The truth is somewhere in the middle and in fact, there is a legitimate democratic case to be made against the inclusion of some Islamists.

Since 2011, there have been two primary grievances levied against Islamist parties. The most salient argument in recent weeks has been that these groups are linked to a wider “terrorist” agenda, and are, as such, enemies of the state. Of concern is not necessarily their religious nature but the fact that they represent a subversive political movement. Granted, the closed nature of the Brotherhood, given its precarious legality in past decades, only feeds this view. In addition, offshoots from the Brotherhood like Gamaa Islamiya have been responsible for terrorist attacks in Egypt, and other affiliated groups such as Hamas do have militant wings as well.

Nevertheless, this argument is not one against "Islamism" or in favor of "secularism." When Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held court with his beautifully choreographed choir of support on the night of the coup on Egyptian state TV, at his side were two religious figures, the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Coptic pope. Furthermore, the recently announcedconstitutional committee includes a representative from the Salafist Nour Party, a group also present at that previous gathering. Thus, the argument in Egypt appears to be that the right type of Islamists (and in limited number) can be tolerated, as can a role for religion in the state.

Of course, the second case against Islamism is that it is inherently incompatible with modern democracy. At its core, the ideology is an absolutist form of thought that rejects all other intellectual currents in a society. While that may be true, couldn’t the same argument be made for any political ideology, whether it be libertarianism, or communism, or socialism, and the list goes on? Each political movement sees its ideas and philosophies as essential and paramount. A corollary to Islamist thought, however, is that it constitutes a religious supremacist movement that seeks to achieve the supremacy of its religion — Islam — at the official level of the state. It is here where Islamism and democracy start to have legitimate friction....

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/democratic-case-against-islamism-egypt-arab-world-rahim.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#ixzz2dwRsXyRb

          Hypernationalism, Islamism, and Fascism all En Vogue        
This article appeared in Al-Monitor, where you can find the full version. 


Since the military overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s government in early July, the rhetoric by critics of the Muslim Brotherhood has been vitriolic and relentless. The campaign has sought to delegitimize the Islamist movement, and in fact, negate its Egyptian identity. Morsi himself has been charged with espionage and serving foreign interests. The general prosecutor has accused Muslim Brotherhood supporters of hiring Syrian and Palestinian mercenaries. Partisans of the army-led government, including some familiar “democracy” activists, have repeatedly called for additional crackdowns on Islamists. More often than not, Muslim Brotherhood members are portrayed in juxtaposition to ordinary Egyptians, rather than among the people, and as a “cancer” that must be removed at all costs.

As the Arab world continues to politically devolve following the revolutions of 2011, it seems that a new fascism is becoming en vogue. In many ways, a response to the rise of religious supremacy over the past three decades, the ideology is predicated on a foundation of hypernationalism whereby the state is paramount, and any intellectual contestation is met with rhetorical — if not legal — excommunication. As the dust settles, a shrinking political class of moderate Islamists and liberals are increasingly caught between these dueling ideologies and their proponents.

This religious supremacy, or Islamism, has its roots in the modern Middle East in a seminal work by Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood leader imprisoned and executed in Egypt in the 1960s. In "Signposts along the Road" (or Milestones), Qutb intellectually grounds the rejection of fellow Muslims in a process of delegitimization, or takfir. This ideology went into overdrive with the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and the subsequent jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s, both of which laid the groundwork for Islamism as a modern political movement.

The continuum of Islamism has always been expansive, so it is sometimes hard to differentiate what constitutes the extremist elements of the political community as opposed to more moderate forces. In post–Saddam Hussein Iraq, the philosophy of takfir descended to a new level with the dehumanization of other Muslim groups, with authorization to kill those deemed takfiris. Yet, Morsi, allegedly a mainstream Islamist, sat applauding the same rhetoric targeting Shiites by preachers in relation to the Syrian conflict, illustrating how difficult it can be to draw distinctions.

With the rise of Islamism, most regimes in the region — lacking a real contesting ideology in response — felt compelled to peddle hollow exhortations of bygone regionalism, or pan-Arabism. Direct attacks on Islamism would have run the risk of alienating their Muslim populations. In this space and amid the tumult of the last two years during which Islamists have grown increasingly unpopular after ascending from the opposition to seats of power, religious supremacy has finally met its match — hypernationalism. In effect, takfir is now being opposed with takhwin, the delegitimization of opponents of the state as traitors of the national cause....

Read the full version here: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/violence-arab-nationalism.html#ixzz2crhOSTyD

          The Dubai Model and the new Arab world         

Johann Hari’s article “The Dark Side of Dubai” in The Independent in 2009, crystallized the hyperbolic writing on the Gulf emirate in the recent past:

“This is a city built from nothing in just a few wild decades on credit and ecocide, suppression and slavery. Dubai is a living metal metaphor for the neo-liberal globalised world that may be crashing – at last – into history.”

Of course, Dubai did not crash into history and Hari was dislodged from his perch due to a plagiarism scandal a few years later. Yet, for many commentators and journalists, any mention of Dubai still evokes a sense of moralistic derision – Dubai the land without culture filled with a people without history. For the youth of the region, however, Dubai represents something different: jobs, a relatively open society, and a government (in progress) that works. As countries in transition, like Libya, Tunisia and Egypt look to transform their own societies, Dubai is an enigmatic model in the distance.  


What is the Dubai model? It is hard to fully capture the multi-faceted nature of it in just a few words, but there are several key dimensions. In addition, the unique (and transferable) aspects of the Dubai model, however, are less to do with its political system, and more about the policies pursued. In fact, too much time is spent in the region debating the political system rather than the impact of policies on the ground enacted by any ruling group or party.

Fundamentally, Dubai made itself open to people flows from around the world, with all its associated risks. This has meant that its small population – today 90% of residents are non-citizens – has been able to build an economy depending on an externally generated labor and consumer market. In addition, to unskilled labor, Dubai has also been keen to open itself to the best talent from around the world.  Take Dubai Aluminum (DUBAL) as an example, founded n 1979 and predicated on leveraging international talent and expertise. In fact, in its initial year of operation, few of the 1,386 employees were Emiratis. Yet that has changed over time, as DUBAL has grown to become the world’s largest aluminum smelter. Understanding its own labor market and taking advantage of regional and international labors flows and talent has been critical to the Emirate’s success. 

Despite being in conservative surroundings, Dubai has also ensured that it functions as an open society, in terms of social and religious practices. While this diversity can raise tension, like last summer’s #UAEdresscode campaign for example, there is an open coexistence, as can be witnessed while walking on JBR Walk, along the beachfront, with full-length niqabs side-by-side with what could well be described as the opposite of that! This openness has also contributed to Dubai becoming a global hub, and now the 7th most visited city in the world, with 10 million tourist arrivals annually. This did not occur overnight, and was linked to the gradual (and sometimes sudden) growth of the hospitality industry and expatriate population. Being an open society, however, does not just mean bottles and bars; the government has consistently emphasized gender empowerment in all fields as a matter of policy, including in key positions, political and economic.

In addition to people flows, Dubai has ensured an inflow of capital, by building a financial sector and set of institutions to leverage the capital-rich environment around it. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has created a separate regulatory environment and court system to provide security to investors and companies alike. In addition, while still not perfect, it is relatively easy for any foreigner to set up a local free zone company, allowing him or her to deploy capital, which subsequently generates employment (albeit more for non-locals than Emiratis). The stability of Dubai and the strength of its soft and physical infrastructure has meant that in times of uncertainty, capital finds its way there; last year that included $8 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI), a 25% increase from 2011.

In order to spur growth and absorb investment, Dubai borrowed a page from several economic models (Singapore & Hong Kong among them) and cluster-based theories (see Michael Porter). Take a look at the growth of the aviation sector in Dubai, which in 2011, directly or indirectly contributed $12 billion towards the GDP, and accounted for 125,000 jobs (in a city of 2 million people).  The same can be said for the logistics (e.g. Dubai Ports) and retail sectors (e.g. Majid al-Futtaim & City Centres), all of which have benefitted from an ecosystem approach that has included new regulation, government-driven investment, and infrastructure development. Emirates Airlines did not become one of the world’s leading airlines by accident or in isolation.

Finally, on a consistent basis, Dubai has pushed excellence in public services, culminating in the Government Summit earlier this year, which convened public servants from across the country to “exchange best practices.” In Dubai, there are regular awards for government excellence given to high-performing departments. In fact if you go see the Director-General of the Dubai Courts, he will likely give you a PowerPoint presentation on their caseload, wait times, and improvements.

Lest, anyone think that everything is ‘perfect’ in Dubai, it is not. There are a number of issues, ranging from political prisoners in the country (due in part to a stifling intellectual/political climate) to the lack of legislative oversight to continued labor exploitation (far less than before but still problematic, given there is still no minimum wage). Societally, there are also a number of challenges, including naturalization, obesity, and a growing culture of materialism, none of which should be taken lightly. And, for the local Emirati population, there is a high rate of unemployment due to a mismatch between expectations and skills and the needs of the labor market. None of these should be under-estimated for both the moral issues they pose as well obstacles they may present to the viability of Dubai's success, as is the case in many transformative development contexts. 

The Dubai model works quite obviously, in Dubai. While other countries – especially those in transition – cannot copy-and-paste what Dubai has done, particularly on migration, cultural change, and government led-investment, they can still apply lessons from Dubai’s experience. Although it may seem that Dubai had the guarantee of Abu Dhabi behind it or capital flows in the Gulf to harness, every country has an advantage, which can be used as a foundation. Egypt has the largest consumer base in the entire Arab world that can drive industry. Tunisia has some of the highest literacy rates and education levels in the region, and an established tourist bridge with Europe. Libya has tremendous oil-wealth and a strong connection to the Sub-Saharan economy.

The fragility of transitional countries means that everything must be done to improve.  What Dubai has demonstrated is that there can be positive momentum and development on areas that affect the quality of people’s lives and their livelihoods. There remain critical challenges in front of it, but there is also something that works in Dubai, and it’s about time that some of these lessons are transferred to the wider region. 

          The (Counter?)Revolution in #Egypt will be Televised (and Tweeted)        
Around midnight in Cairo the night of Tuesday, July 2, millions of people in Egypt awaited the President of the Republic, Mohammad Morsi, to respond to the 48-hour ultimatum delivered by the country's military on Monday: resolve your differences with the protestors or we will do it for you. With the deadline fast approaching, and due to hit at 4:30pm local time the next day, Morsi rejected the challenge by the military in a tweet. Then, he came on television and delivered what was the most important speech in not just his life but in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood movement he represents. And it was a spectacular failure. While not as long-winded as the two-and-a-half hour speech he had given just days earlier - akin to a State of the Union - it was just as hollow. His near constant use of the word 'legitimacy' began to elicit uncontrollable laugher in many corners (with the usage count of the word at around 75 in the speech). With millions of Egyptians on the streets across the country - some in support of him but many if not most in opposition - and the military's ultimatum in the background, Morsi had seemingly put the final nail in his own coffin.

Just 30 months after the ousting of the dictator for the past 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, street protests in Egypt culminated on Wednesday night in a coup d'etat, effectively overturning the 14 democratic elections since February 11, 2011 (the total voting cycles for the parliament, presidency and constitution). Indeed, it was broader than a coup d'etat, as the Tamarod (rebellion) movement that brought millions of people to the streets was a grassroots uprising that gathered millions of signatures from ordinary Egyptians, and more significantly, managed to coalesce a previously disparate and dispirited opposition. Additionally, deposed President Mohammad Morsi had governed incompetently and non-inclusively, which seemingly left the invitation open to change. Yet, what transpired this week, especially in the final sequence of events, could be the initial salvo of a counter-revolution 2.0, potentially endangering the process of democratization in Egypt for years to come.

While things seemingly have not changed that much in Egypt, and in many ways have gotten worse, a lot has transpired. Following the departure of Mubarak and his gang from the scene, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took charge of managing the country's affairs. It took nearly a year to hold parliamentary elections. When it did happen, in late 2011-early 2012 the Brotherhood's party (the Freedom & Justice Party or FJP) took 38% of the vote, followed closely by the more conservative Salafist party, Al Nour, which took 28%. Given that this body would determine the fate of the new constitution (and the assembly to draft it), the fact that it was dominated by 'Islamists' already meant the new era of Egypt was handed a poisoned chalice in the eyes of many. Six months later, in June 2012, the Presidential elections saw a run-off between a former Prime Minister but tainted 'remnant' of the old Mubarak regime, Ahmed Shafiq, and Mohammed Morsi (representing the Muslim Brotherhood). Morsi won, and with the backing of protests in the famed Tahrir Square, also managed to wrest plenty of executive authority from SCAF. Within two months, Morsi also seemed to assert civilian control over the military, with a shuffling of key positions in the defense establishment.

Then on November 22, 2012, with full executive powers, and the parliament in limbo (due to pending court cases), Morsi assumed essentially legislative powers and declared himself immune from judicial oversight until a new constitution was formed. In essence that gave birth to the current movement (well at least the National Salvation Front that formed 2 days later and was a hodge-podge of opposition groups, including figures such as Mohamed El Baradei) which culminated in Morsi's removal from office this week. Morsi and the FJP then ham-fisted a constitution through a referendum, which garnered the support of 64% of the voting public. However, the process was not led by consensus and Morsi appeared to be increasingly marginalizing the judiciary, which many viewed as being too linked to the old regime, especially given that many senior judges were appointed by Hosni Mubarak (the judges had their own democracy movement in 2006 so not a unified group by any means). Yet for many in the opposition, the judiciary was still a check against Morsi and the Brotherhood's power. And there were also complaints about the ikhwanization of the state; given what transpired this week, this appeared not to have been the case.

Nevertheless, the concentration of power by the Brotherhood and its non-inclusive method of governance as described above, could have overcome minor challenges from the opposition, if Morsi had enacted policies that improved the lives of everyday people. His approval rating had begun to drop dramatically, falling to 28% of the public just weeks before his overthrow. This was mainly due to the inability of the government to turnaround the economy, with 25% of Egyptians below the poverty line, unemployment on the rise, and the country's fiscal health on the decline. Meanwhile, his approach to foreign policy of aligning with the US, engaging with Iran, partnering with Qatar, and leading the charge on Syria, did little to assuage a frustrated public waiting for change at home in their daily lives that had yet to materialize. And sectarian clashes that mainly killed Shiites and Christians tarnished the impartial role the President was assumed to play, given that he was close to figures that were prone to incitement.

In the backdrop of all of this, the Tamarod movement, which started just several months ago (in April), began to tap into the widespread anger and frustration. Gone was the gloss of a technocratic 'Islamist' party - a la the AKP in Turkey, who incidentally are having their own issues - replaced instead by the reality of the FJP in Egypt. And gone also was the mystique of a survivalist Brotherhood that was the David against the Goliath of the last half century; the Brotherhood was now the Goliath, and seemingly squandering the power that it had accumulated. The Tamarod activists claimed to have gathered 22 million signatures, in a country of 93 million people, which seems patently ridiculous for many demographic/logistical reasons (in the course of just two months). Nevertheless, their demands were clear, and principally centered on early Presidential elections (Morsi had served one of a four-year term). They were supported by umbrella opposition groups such as the National Salvation Front, April 6 Movement, and others, and with their deadline of June 30 for Morsi to respond coming fast, thousands and then millions began to fill Egypt's squares (some as noted in support of Morsi).

By Wednesday, just prior to the removal of Morsi from power, several implications of what was transpiring were already clear. Firstly, the Tamarod movement, and subsequent mobilization demonstrated that there could be an organized opposition to Islamists in the 'new' Arab world, and that this secular alternative could mobilize numbers. This could have far-reaching consequences in other countries such as Tunisia, where Islamists like the Nahda Party hold sway, as well as eventually (in the longer-term) in autocratic countries where often the only strong opposition movements are bogeyman Islamists movements. Secondly, Morsi's reign had as noted above, dulled - as power does to any party - the shine of the Brotherhood. It has been noted, for example that the clashes that led to the separation of the West Bank & Gaza Strip, and undermined the Hamas victory in Palestinian elections, only emboldened Hamas instead of forcing the movement into the pubic accountability spotlight.

Of course, in the euphoria of what the opposition was about to gain, the darkness just around the corner might have seemed far away. With millions on the street, and the military indicating a willingness to force itself on the scene as the arbitrator, Morsi offered a new constitutional process, a unity government of technocrats, and an accelerated schedule of new parliamentary elections but it was too little too late it seemed for the street, especially with the military now backing the activists' play. And so instead of a negotiated agreement with President Morsi, or a legal process through the courts, or any other process through civilian authorities, it was the military that removed Morsi from power. The crowds in Tahrir Square cheered but the supporters of the deposed President, in Nasr City (also in Cairo), jeered. In a carefully choreographed display, the civil secular state - with an associated roadmap essentially a reset of the revolutionary period - was re-established by three initial speeches: first by General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, head of the armed forces (appointed by Morsi), second by the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, and third by the Coptic Pope. Short statements followed from a range of opposition figures, including a representative of Tamarod and El Baradei and the conservative Nour Party.

If you are an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood, this was indeed a victory. And given the direction that Egypt was going, if you are an Egyptian, you can only hope that this could lead to a more positive future. Whatever the case, however, the military re-takeover appears to also be a re-launch of the counter-revolution. The autocratic powers that be in the region were effusive and immediate in their praise of the military and the coup. More worryingly, was the systematic campaign of arrests that already started to unfold late into the night of Muslim Brotherhood activists, leaders, affiliated journalists, and yes even Mohammad Morsi. The military is looking not just to referee the playing field but to define the playing field and the players allowed on it. That's not democracy. It may be that in the modern Arab world the demographics are such that the debate is about choosing between liberalism and democracy, but isn't that the false choice of the last 40-50 years offered by autocratic rulers in the Arab world? And there is nothing 'rosy' about liberal autocracy versus religious autocracy in this region. In fact, if anything, liberal/secular authoritarianism has been the bane of decay in modern Arab history: the Baath parties in Iraq and Syria, Ben Ali's Tunis, Mubarak's Egypt, and the list goes on.

Yet, unless the Egyptian military is kept in check, it will likely go down the path it knows best and one that it has followed since 1952, which is to systematically crush dissent and marginalise and exclude the Muslim Brotherhood. All indications today point to a proclivity to re-instate this exclusion, which could lead to an Algeria scenario of the 1990s, albeit in a different form, of course. Paradoxically, as this new Pandora's Box is opened, the only hope to keep the military in check is the very street and youth who demanded its removal from the scene, and then demanded it to come back to its role as guarantor of the state. Hopefully the tamarod or rebellion, will keep that spirit, now that they have been given a share of the power.





          Why Dubai is the best (biggest, tallest, and coolest) candidate for Expo 2020        
In 1968 when then ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum (father of the current ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid) and the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, agreed to form a federation of what were then then The Trucial States, a British protectorate, hardly anyone could have envisioned what the United Arab Emirates would have become today, nearly 45 years after that historic meeting [eventually seven of the nine 'sheikhdoms' joined the union]. For all intents and purposes, at inception in 1971, the United Arab Emirates could be described as a desolate backwater, despite a strong history of local traditions, and legacy as a trading post. Today, Dubai and the UAE bring forth images of economic strength and progress in an increasingly volatile and definitively confused region. Dubai's development, specifically, is a once-in-a-generation global phenomenon, and the city is unique like no other. As the bid committee for Expo 2020 look to decide on the host city for the world event seven years from now, there really is no other choice but Dubai - and let me tell you why.

1. The other candidate cities are Izmir, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Ayutthaya...

There is nothing wrong with Izmir, Sao Paulo, Yekaterinburg, and Ayutthaya but do they really measure up to Dubai? Now before anyone gets in a tizzy or their 'socks' in a twist, they are all great cities! Izmir is Turkey's third-largest city and home to a great literary tradition.  Sao Paulo is one of the five largest metropolitan areas on the planet. Yekaterinburg (in Russia), well it's Yekaterinburg and they have a monument to Michael Jackson. And Ayutthaya was the historical capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Let's just say the final three are likely Izmir, Sao Paulo and Dubai. Izmir is certainly a great city but does not have the global resonance of Dubai. And Sao Paulo...well Brazil has both the Olympics (2016) and the World Cup (2014); are you telling me that they really need the pesky Expo 2020 as well!?

2. The Expo needs a city of significance to make the event significant

Do you remember where the last Expo was held (or even that there is an Expo!)? You could be forgiven for not recalling that it was Yeosu, South Korea. Where was the one in 2010? That's right Shanghai. The Expo 2010 attracted a staggering 73 million visitors and was the most visited exhibition of its kind and brought together 189 different expositions from around the world. While in 2015 the Expo will be held in Milan and in 2017 in Astana (Kazakhstan) it is likely that it would take the Expo 2020 in Dubai to bring the event back to the international spotlight (the governing body regards the Expos held every 5 years to be 'World' Expos). In fact, it normally requires an emerging or new city of a transformative nature to inspire the type of attention that Shanghai in 2010 did (or Osaka in 1970 etc).

3. The entire ethos of Dubai is synonymous with what Expo 2020 would be about

Dubai is a global city by its very nature. It is home to over 2 million residents - and growing - from all over the world and from every socio-economic background, representing over 200 nationalities. The city is at once a home to and meeting-ground for people from the the Middle East, Subcontinent, Central Asia, Africa (especially East Africa) and Europe, North America, and Australia. There are even an estimated 180,000 Chinese residents in Dubai.  With the tourist profile of the city, Dubai has in fact become the 8th most visited city in the world (in 2012). It's cultural diversity is on constant display with a burgeoning arts scene (that is driven at the grassroots level), international film festivals, culinary celebrations, and so much more that you might as well just visit Timeout magazine.

4. Dubai inspires the imagination as the Expo event is meant to do

The landmark World Expo (or Great Exhibition) was organized under the auspices of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, all the way back in 1851, in Hyde Park. It was an inspiring event that showcased the burgeoning city of London - the world's city at the time - and the promise of a future driven by technology and industrialization.  In a region too full of dark pessimism and cynicism, Dubai represents optimism and opportunity. And it will represent that even more so in 2020, as the city, albeit far along the way, is only at the beginning of its journey in my view of what it will become. Think about it. Who would have said twenty years ago that the world's tallest building would be built in the (Arabian) Gulf? Who would have said only several years ago after the 9/11 attacks that the world's leading airline would be from an Arab country? Who would have thought that the 3rd largest ports operator in the world, handling over 33 million containers annually, would be from Dubai? Today, when you look at the volatile, unstable, and stagnant Middle East, there is one destination for entrepreneurs and innovators to go to - and that is Dubai.

5. Expo 2020 would drive Dubai and the UAE to improve

Before I even write this sentence, I'm sure several of London's finest are in a huff-and-puff that I have not yet mentioned jailed Islamists or tourists having sex in a taxi Better yet, given the refusal-of-entry for a scholar from LSE this past week, shouldn't I be talking about the closure of the academic environment (I mean I masquerade as an intellectual from time to time as well)? Whether or not I believe in liberal democracy (I do - shock!), is it really a matter of discussion for Expo 2020? Well, in that case, we should reject Izmir's candidacy because of Turkey's campaign against Kurdish militants, Ayutthaya's candidacy because of Thailand's campaign in Malay Pattani, Yekaterinburg's candidacy because of Russia's crackdown on political opposition, and Sao Paulo's candidacy because of Brazil's anti-slum raids. Such nullification would leave no one left to host the event! Now beyond the two issues I mentioned above there are a number of continuing issues of concern in the UAE, allow me to list some of them: labor rights (even though this is improving); integration of stateless residents (i.e. bidoons); and increased confusion around cyber surveillance. Hosting the Expo 2020 would not exacerbate but more than likely shed more light on and ameliorate these challenges. In fact, the event would serve as a target-date for when Dubai and the UAE will be (even more so) on the world stage, and that attention would drive improvements on areas of concern.

There are more reasons than the five I've listed here on why Dubai should be the host for Expo 2020, but I like the number 5 (it's the former consultant in me - I almost went with three). Whether you live here or plan to visit, I look forward to seeing you in Dubai in 2020! Until then:



Bolt defended himself remarkably well and he wasn't backing down when he wrote about the incident in his column:
TO ALL those who called me with sympathy for being attacked on Tuesday by masked protesters: stop it.

Sympathy is for losers. And we must be losers no more.

So I want your high-fives instead. I want you to laugh at the CCTV footage of the haymaker I gave one of the three men who jumped me and blinded me with a thick liquid outside a Carlton book launch I was to speak at.

Their sort has ruled the streets for too long, particularly in Melbourne.

The main part of his column was a strong argument to close the borders to avoid the terror threat. It's worth reading in full, but here are some highlights:
But did Khayre’s rampage finally shock our politicians into admitting the truth?

Did they finally concede they’d run a refugee program that put Australians in danger?

As if. Here is the response of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: “There are some very, very grave questions … How was this man on parole?”

Wrong. The gravest question of all is actually this: why was this jihadist in Australia in the first place?

Why did our politicians let in Khayre and hundreds, even thousands, of people much like him?

Stop blaming the judges and the police and everyone except the damn politicians who have opened our gates to exactly the mayhem they now pretend to tackle. Our politicians have been wilfully, dangerously, recklessly blind to the danger they’ve imported in their narcissistic urge to seem kind, no matter what the cost to the rest of us.

...So why are we running a refugee program that again and again puts Australians in danger? That brings in terror?

Wouldn’t it be both safer and cheaper to help refugees where they are right now — overseas — rather than pay millions to bring over a lucky few and cross our fingers they’ll fit in?



          Professor's "solution" for white working-class American communities        
Justin Gest thinks he has a kindly solution for the plight of white working-class American communities. It's to make their passing "as comfortable as possible".

It's noteworthy that he won't even consider the option that these communities might have a future. He talks as if some inevitable, agentless force of history were putting these communities on a "path to death" rather than the specific policies of their own government.

There is a "no future clause" built into liberal modernity that academics like Justin Gest are happy to embrace:


          Unhinged liberal parenting        
Let's say that you're a liberal and you believe that the highest good is a freedom to be self-defining. What does that mean for how you parent?

In a previous post Mark Moncrieff (of Upon Hope) observed that,
I think the most important word here is the word "raise", children need to be raised. But "being free to be whoever they want to be" implies that children can raise themselves.

It's a good insight and led me to respond as follows:
That's a good way of putting it. And you can imagine why this is so. If you are a liberal and you think that there are no objectives purposes in life and that people should just "be themselves" however they see fit, then there is little purpose to parenting your child - there is nothing definite to raise them toward. Parenting just comes to mean accepting unconditionally. Not imposing anything. Giving the child confidence to "be anything you care to be". The parents are just there to ferry the child around as a kind of support crew, rather than transmitting culture, identity, purpose, wisdom, values.

As it happens a news item appeared last week to illustrate concretely how this works. A Canadian mother is raising her son to be gender fluid. Look at how she explains her decision:
I want my son to grow up knowing he has a voice. Grow up knowing he can do and be ANYTHING he wants to be in this world.

Because I am the parent he needs me to be, he knows ... That me and his father will love him without fail.

Some days he says he wants to be a girl with a vagina and we simply tell him, “When you’re an adult, you can certainly make the decision to change to that if you wish”. ...We support our child in whoever they are and look forward to seeing how their gender expression manifests as they age.

Here we have the logic of liberal parenting set out openly. First, the belief that the highest principle is one of being self-determined or self-defined, as when she says that she wants her son to "Grow up knowing he can do and be ANYTHING he wants to be in this world."

This leads her to the idea that her role is not to interfere with who the child becomes, but instead to take the "support crew" role ("We support our child in whoever they are").

The assumption is that the child will become "the best version of themselves" by himself alone; that he will, in Mark Moncrieff's words, raise himself while his parents look on with interest.

One final point. The father is partly at fault here. Mothers have an instinct to give unconditional love to their children, fathers have a stronger instinct to socialise their sons toward a successful manhood. The father in this case is not even trying.

Father and son

          Wentworth Miller on race        
Wentworth Miller is a British-American actor. He is a bit of everything when it comes to race, to the point that he has described himself as a racial Lone Ranger. He has also described himself as being caught between two communities, black and white. He seems to realise the disadvantage of his position in the following quote:



What he says about race is even more true for ethny - for a group of people connected not only by kinship but also by a shared history, language, culture and religion.

It's one of those aspects of life that liberalism is dissolving - at least for Westerners. It is a loss of one of the rewarding and inspiring experiences of human community and identity.
          Why We Should Care How Straight Allies Benefit From Their Support        

Let’s talk about allies for a moment. What is an ally? The term is used to describe those who support and stand by marginalized groups as they work to combat various social and legal inequalities. For instance, white people can work as anti-racist allies alongside communities of people of color, pro-feminist men can act as allies to women, and straight people can stand as allies alongside sexual-minority communities.

How one can best be an ally has recently come up for debate in the blogosphere (see here, here, and here). Indeed, being an ally is a tricky business. It requires careful thinking through and distinguishing between intentions and the effects of one’s actions.

Given recent changes in public opinion on civil rights for sexual minorities in the United States, it is perhaps little surprise that straight white men are publicly “coming out” for gay rights in an unprecedented way. Survey studies have shown that Americans’ opinions about sexual prejudice and inequality have taken a sharp turn for the liberal. Gallup reports that, for the first time since it has been asking, more than 50 percent of the American public identifies gay and lesbian relations as “morally acceptable.” Similar trends are happening across all manner of beliefs about sexual inequality (support for same-sex marriage, opinions regarding the legality of same-sex sexual behavior, and so on). Demographically speaking, this is a huge shift. The hearts and minds of Americans appear to have altered dramatically in a short period of time. This is wonderful, and it certainly deserves to be celebrated and recognized.

Part of this shift has included increasing numbers of public figures acting as straight allies on issues like marriage equality, school bullying, and workplace discrimination against GLBTQ people. The intentions of straight allies are significant and merit recognition. And yet … as sociologists, we are also interested in the consequences of people’s actions regardless of their intentions. Sociologists often find, for instance, that the consequences of individual or collective actions may be at odds with the intentions driving those actions. For example, when Macklemore (a young, straight, white hip-hop artist) came out with his 2012 song “Same Love” in support of gay marriage, he had great intentions. Macklemore, the nephew of gay uncles, claims he was frustrated with the homophobia in hip-hop music and wrote a song to simultaneously challenge it and to “come out” in support of gay marriage. That’s great, and it deserves recognition. But, here’s our question: How much recognition?

How much recognition does Macklemore deserve for coming out as a straight ally? (And he lets us know that he’s straight, mentioning early in the song that he’s “loved girls since before pre-k,” and his other hit songs feature a fantastic array of misogynistic lyrics.) How much recognition does James Franco deserve for responding to rumors about his sexuality by claiming he is straight, but “wishes [he] was gay.” (Attitude magazine depicts Franco on the cover of a recent issue with the caption, “Hollywood’s Gayest Straight Man.”) How much recognition do a couple of straight guys deserve for staging a kiss-in at Chic-fil-A to oppose the chain’s stance on same-sex marriage? How much recognition is Alec Baldwin entitled to for his donations to GLSEN and his public support of gay rights? How much attention does a group of (mostly) straight college boys deserve for taking off their clothes in opposition to homophobic bullying?

Let’s think seriously about the Chic-fil-A protest staged by comedian Skyler Stone with his friend and fellow comedian Mike Smith. The two men made out in front of a Chic-fil-A as a form of protest. However, they didn’t just make out—they asked gay men how men should kiss one another in the video they distributed on YouTube to document the event. They brushed their teeth, ate mints, and swirled mouthwash to sweeten their breath. In other words, they actively geared up to kiss. And then when they did kiss, it was arguably one of the least erotic make-out sessions ever caught on film. Sure, it was funny. Perhaps their intentions were laudable. But what did they actually accomplish? Did their protest question the naturalness and inevitableness of heterosexuality? Or did they, in effect, re-heterosexualize themselves in a sort of unorthodox way? Their heterosexuality is presented as so powerful, stable, and inevitable that they have to ask others how to kiss another man; and when they do kiss, it is a distinctly unattractive kiss. Allowing for any eroticism would be to call into question the naturalness and strength of their heterosexual drive. (Note to those who might protest that it is indeed their heterosexuality that makes their kissing un-sexy, two words: Brokeback Mountain.)

This is why studying effects, not just intentions, is important. The effect of Stone and Smith’s protest is, in part, to underscore the stability of their heterosexuality, while it seems their intentions were to act as straight male allies.

It’s important to study the effects of allies’ actions for another reason: The positive attention we direct toward these white, straight, male allies for their intentions may be less than desirable. The best way to think of this may be in terms of what sociologist Arlie Hochschild calls the “economy of gratitude.” When she studied the division of household labor in the 1980s in her now famous book, The Second Shift, Hochschild was interested in how American couples divided up work in the home, both physically and emotionally. In the book, she discusses the ways that women’s movement into the workplace was accompanied by continued expectations of domestic upkeep, constituting what Hochschild calls the “second shift.” She found that the home was characterized by an “economy of gratitude”—the ways couples express appreciation to one another for performing the more onerous elements of household maintenance.

In her research, Hochschild found that husbands were often given more gratitude for their participation in work around the house than were women. That is, men were subtly—but systematically—“over-thanked” for their housework in ways that their wives were not. This simple fact, argued Hochschild, was much more consequential than it might at first appear. It was an indirect way of symbolically informing men that they were engaging in work not required of them. In fact, we have a whole language of discussing men’s participation in housework that supports Hochschild’s findings. When men participate, we say they’re “helping out,” “pitching in,” or “babysitting.” These terms acknowledge their work, but simultaneously frame their participation as “extra”—as more of a thoughtful gesture than an obligation.

We would suggest that something similar is happening with straight male allies. We all participate in defining the work of equality as not their work by over-thanking them, just like housework is defined as not men’s work. By lauding recognition on these “brave” men in positions of power (racial, sexual, gendered, and in some cases classed) we are saying to them and to each other: This is not your job, so thank you for “helping out” with equality.

Sometimes, these men are participating in over-thanking themselves for their own support—a phenomenon sociologist Michael Kimmel refers to as “premature self-congratulation.” And at other times, the rest of us are doing it, through Likes and shares on Facebook, public awards, and honors. Sociologist Tal Peretz has also studied the ways that pro-feminist men are sometimes over-thanked in similar ways, referring to the phenomenon as “the pedestal effect.” Peretz finds men are symbolically placed on a pedestal for their efforts. In doing so, we are actually producing a new form of privilege from which they benefit: the privilege of not having their actions (or the consequences associated with them) subject to critique. This form of privilege allows these noble men to escape a critical evaluation and appraisal of their participation.

By situating “ally” as a static state of being, we implicitly suggest that allies are capable of no harm. So, when Alec Baldwin—who puts big bucks behind LGB organizations—calls a man trying to take a picture of his family a “fag,” he relies on this understanding of ally when he claims that he can’t possibly be promoting sexual inequality. He donates money to gay organizations and causes, he’s got gay friends, he’s an actor, for crying out loud.

Let’s not make anti-homophobia the equivalent of “babysitting” for dads and activism a de facto “second shift” for marginalized folks. The movement toward equality should be everyone’s responsibility and mandate.


          This is personal        

I can find just as much racism googling liberal events and anti-war protests that occurred under President Bush.

I have attended rallies on both the right and the left. Have either of you done that? I documented in first person the messages of hate and death threats that liberals carried around. In my opinion, this is just as bad as some of the supposed racism.

Karen, in what ways am I distorting your words? I've asked you to directly respond to FACTS that I've presented. You refuse to do that.

My qualm with this post is that it was allowed to be published. As someone who has submitted a number of front-page Blogher posts, I am REQUIRED to document and link almost every sentence that I write. Sometimes my posts go through a number of rounds of edits and compromises.Most of my paragraphs are almost solid blue to back up what I write.

There is absolutely no evidence that this occurred with Karen's article.

All I want are fair and equal standards to apply to everyone who covers politics.

If the personal is political, then Karen needs to learn to face the people that she is calling racists.

She needs to know that she's is personally insulting grandmas, housewives and women business owners. She's calling ministers, nonprofit managers and fellow bloggers racist with her blanket and unproven language.

The tea party is a large, unorganized group of people. There probably are racists, but I've never encountered any in the untold number of events that I've attended in both DC and Tennessee.

How many have either of you attended? Are you just basing these opinions on HuffPo or DailyKos articles?

Have you talked to people in the Tea Party? Have you asked the little grandmas why they're protesting for the first time in their lives?

Oh, and consider this study the next time you scream, "RACISM."

I am outraged that this type of writing is tolerated here and I will continue to be angry until this issue is addressed, and Karen apologizes.

Adrienne works in the conservative movement and blogs at Cosmopolitan Conservative.


          Monarchy in the age of New Labour        


Peter Hitchens:


"...Anyone who tries to discuss the political role of the monarchy is immediately banged over the head by tedious quotations from Walter Bagehot (it helps a lot if you know this is pronounced Badjot), who for some reason is believed to be the last word on the subject, thanks to some 19th-century scribblings that have become famous. He limited the functions of the monarch to muttering hesitant advice, and perhaps warnings, into the ears of ministers. This is taken as a sort of gospel on the subject.

And this might have worked in the dead era when the British establishment was run by gentlemen. Though don't be so sure. George V exerted all his influence to obtain a peaceful settlement in Ireland in 1921, which few can object to, but was he entitled to do so? He may well have gone beyond his powers in helping set up the National Government of 1931. Edward VIII came close to causing complete constitutional catastrophe. George VI utterly disgraced himself when he publicly lauded Neville Chamberlain's catastrophic surrender at Munich in 1938, an error he atoned for later but which oughtn't to be overlooked, ever. It is not often enough remembered that George VI and his Queen (the future Queen Mother) invited Chamberlain on to the balcony of Buckingham Palace to bathe in the cheers and admiration of a gigantic, deluded crowd, the whole embarrassing scene illuminated by the only anti-aircraft searchlights then available in London.

There are a couple of interesting fictional reflections on this that are worth looking at. George Macdonald Fraser's 'Mr American', one of his few non-Flashman books, contains an well-observed and historically well-informed depiction of Edward VII and examines the cunning and shrewdness that monarch used to keep pre-1914 Britain from flying apart. Constantine Fitz Gibbon's enjoyable and bitter Cold War thriller 'When the Kissing Had to Stop’ has some cunningly-described scenes as various highly responsible and senior persons try to use the traditional safeguards of the British constitution to prevent a pretty obvious coup d'etat. In an entirely believable way, they all persuade themselves that they are powerless to act until it is too late, and the putsch, with all its terrible consequences, succeeds.

Princecharles_1 Why does this matter? I think our obsession with 'democracy' as the only thing that makes government legitimate tends to blind us to the importance of other things. Why do we make such a fetish out of universal suffrage? If you had a choice between liberty and democracy - which are by no means the same thing, which would you pick? If you had a choice between the rule of public opinion and the rule of law, which would you pick? Are we safer with both Houses of Parliament 'elected' by party machines, or with at least one House whose members are immune from 'democratic' party pressure?

Actually, pure democracy would be unbearable, since every politician, to survive or prosper, would have to be a crowd-pleasing Blair type (actually, this now seems to be more and more what we have got).

Even assuming that we could reconstruct something like a decent education system, it is hard to see how a state governed purely by the popular will could be anything other than a corrupt anarchy, or a demagogic dictatorship. The purest product of mass democracy since it came into being was Adolf Hitler - whose National Socialists would have won an absolute majority in the Reichstag under our first-past-the post system, by the way. This isn't an argument against that system( which I favour) just a warning against being complacent.

Mass opinion can prevent good actions, as well as stimulating bad ones. It was American democracy, and the fervent campaigns of the America Firsters, that prevented Franklin Roosevelt from aiding Britain against Hitler. US public opinion was dead against involvement in a European war, and it's still not clear what would have happened if Hitler hadn't declared war on the USA after Pearl Harbor.

So most serious wielders of power in democratic states devise ways of frustrating, or getting round the 'people's will' which they praise in public. Mostly, these days, these anti-democrats are of the left. In the US, a largely liberal elite has for decades been using the unelected third chamber of Congress - the Supreme Court - to pass radical social legislation. In Canada, left-wingers who could never get anywhere in parliamentary politics have exploited the 'Charter of Rights and Freedoms' to do the same sort of thing.

And the European Convention on Human Rights gives liberal judges and the lawyers the same power to intervene here. The balance of our mixed constitution, partly as a result of this, has tipped heavily towards the Left. Parliament, especially the House of Commons, is now the servant of a left-wing governing party, not at all its master. So who or what can speak for tradition, for conservative opinions, for private life and family, for inheritance and continuity? Certainly not the Tory Party, which flatly refused to defend the hereditary principle against the attacks of Baroness Jay (who just happened to be the daughter of Jim Callaghan, and had no other visible qualification for her grand post as Leader of the Lords, in one of the best jokes of the 1990s).

That Tory failure to defend heredity was a warning to the British people and the monarchy that worse was to come. We all actually value inheritance - we expect to leave, or be left our goods and wealth in legally enforceable wills. We all know that we inherit important characteristics and gifts from our parents, and hope to pass such things on. Our state, with its memory and experience stretching back a thousand years, inherits each generation the principles of law and justice and liberty wrought by centuries of experience and combat. So what is wrong with a Head of State who embodies this idea?

Nothing, except that he or she gets in the way of the Left's desire for total control over the state, especially over the things previously regarded as politically neutral and so loyal to the crown - the civil service, the armed forces and the police. All these bodies are now increasingly politicised. I think that the moment is approaching when the monarchy has either to assert itself or be abolished. The danger is that, in asserting itself, it may get abolished as a punishment, while being slandered as unrepresentative, elitist etc. It will be a very difficult and risky moment..."


          Dos parejas españolas amateur hacen un intercambio        

Estas dos parejas españolas anónimas a parte de ser muy liberales son unos apasionados del sexo, de ahí que hayan decidido organizar una quedada con la productora española BrunoyMaria para hacer un intercambio de parejas muy caliente en el que los cuatro disfrutaron de lo lindo follando sin parar.

La entrada Dos parejas españolas amateur hacen un intercambio aparece primero en VIDEOS XXX GRATIS EN XVIDEOSPORNO.XXX.


          Straftäter orientieren sich an Böll-Stiftung, "Inquisition" bei Google – News vom 10. August 2017        
1. Der FAZ-Journalist "Don Alphonso" (Rainer Meyer) berichtet auf Twitter mehrere interessante Dinge.

Zunächst mal ist der Wikipedia-Artikel über ihn in einem sogenannten "Edit War" festgefahren. Ich kenne das von dem Wikipedia-Artikel über mich: Das radikalfeministische Lager möchte seine Gegner so schlecht darstellen wie möglich, andere Wikpedianer versuchen, den Neutral Point of View zu schützen. In der Regel setzen sich bei so etwas die Feministinnen durch, weil sie so hartnäckig und so widerwärtig auftreten, dass anderen Leuten irgendwann schlicht die Lust vergeht, sich mit solchen Leuten noch länger abzugeben. Also lässt man sie sich austoben. Von Wikimedia dürften die Ideologen ohnehin Rückendeckung genießen; Einhalt geboten wurde ihnen von Wikimedia auch, als es gegen mich ging, nie. Erwartungsgemäß enthält Meyer auf eine offizielle Presseanfrage zu diesem Treiben auch keine Antwort. Angesichts dieses moralischen Verfalls der Wikipedia tweetet er: "Ganz langsam fange ich an zu verstehen, was WikiMANNia antreibt."

Des weiteren belegt Meyer, dass sich auch Autonome bei ihren Straftaten auf Feindbilder beziehen, die von der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung verbreitet werden – hier auf die berüchtigte Schrift Hinrich Rosenbrocks, in der dargelegt wird, wie man die Männerrechtsbewegung am besten bekämpfen könne. Meyers Kommentar: "Sage also keiner, man habe nichts gewusst."

Und schließlich berichtet Rainer Meyer auf Twitter: "Heinrich Alpin hat aber auch schon 2015 geholfen, Arne Hoffmann zu denunzieren. So wichtig war er dem."

Spannende Anschlussfrage: Wer steckt hinter "Heinrich Alpin"? Da ich ein recht gutmütiges Kerlchen bin, ist die Zahl der Antimaskulisten außer Andreas Kemper, die mich persönlich auf dem Kieker haben, überschaubar. Martin Rosowski, Vorsitzender des Bundesforums Männer, verleumdet mich in seinen Mails zwar schon mal als "Frauenfeind", dürfte aber Besseres zu tun haben, als bei Schwarzen Listen mitzumischen. Auch Thomas Gesterkamp müsste eigentlich anderweitig ausgelastet sein. Jörg Rupp hat sich lautstark von den Grünen verabschiedet, weil sie ihm viel zu rechts waren; er macht jetzt sein eigenes Ding. Bleibt eigentlich nur Hinrich Rosenbrock, der seit Jahren in der Versenkung verschwunden ist.

Diese Logik setzt natürlich die Annahme voraus, dass es sich bei "Heinrich Alpin" um jemanden handelt, den ich namentlich kenne. Es kann aber natürlich auch jemand Unbekanntes sein, den zum Beispiel Andreas Kemper gegen mich aufgehetzt hat. Auf Kempers Facebookseite etwa zieht sein Klüngel über "Elendsgestalten wie Arne Hoffmann" her. Hass steckt an. Genau dieser Reproduktion von Hass hätte ja der grüne Pranger gedient. Wie gesagt: Auch Straftäter orientieren sich an Produkten aus dem Hause Böll.



2. Das Bundesforum Männer klagt über Reaktionen, nachdem man sich dort gegen die Jungenbeschneidung positioniert hatte:

In einzelnen Reaktionen auf das Positionspapier wird diesem allerdings vorgeworfen, es handle sich dabei "um ein massiv ausgrenzendes Papier, das darauf zielt, jüdisches und muslimisches Leben in Deutschland unmöglich zu machen." Gegen diesen Vorwurf verwahrt sich das Bundesforum Männer und weist ihn entschieden zurück!


Uuuh, karma is a bitch! Aus eigener Erfahrung weiß ich: Abstreiten hat in solchen Fällen noch nie geholfen. Immerhin seht ihr jetzt vielleicht, wie man sich fühlt, wenn man in eine anrüchige Ecke gestellt wird. Aber ihr habt in euren Reihen ja Leute, die sich mit üblen Unterstellungen auskennen; vieleicht beratet ihr euch mit denen.



3. In einem "Zeit"-Artikel setzt Alice Schwarzer ihre Scharmützel mit Genderforscherinnen fort. Der Beitrag trägt die Überschrift "Der Rufmord".



4. Die Ruhrbarone legen eine deutsche Übersetzung von James Damores "Google Manifest" mit einigen Ergänzungen vor: "Was wirklich im Manifest steht". Dabei kommt der Autor auch über die flächendeckend verzerrende Darstellung in den deutschsprachigen Leitmedien zu sprechen:

In den Berichten darüber liest man sehr wenig über die Inhalte des Dokuments, dafür umso mehr Empörung. Der Standard nennt das Dokument "sexistisch", während er keinen einzigen Inhalt des Dokuments zitiert, nur Einschätzungen Dritter. Die Süddeutsche fasst in einem Artikel völlig falsch und grotesk verzerrt die Inhalte so zusammen, dass der Autor als absolutes Monster dasteht. Bei t3n titelt man "Diversität — nein Danke". Wenig überraschend stellt VICE’s Motherboard die Stimmen in den Vordergrund, die sich über den Sexismus des Autors aufregten und Tweets mit ihrer Interpretation des Dokuments und sehr vielen wütenden Emoji schrieben. Auch die deutsche Twittersphäre synchronisiert sich mit dem Medientenor.


Einer meiner Leser, der Einblick in die deutschen Presseagenturen hat, ließ mir zu meinem letzten Blogbeitrag, in dem ich dasselbe Problem angesprochen habe, wesentliche Informationen zukommen. Ihnen zufolge waren die meisten Medien schlicht einem Kurztext der Deutschen Presse-Agentur gefolgt, der die Überschrift "Google feuert Mitarbeiter nach sexistischem 'Manifest'" getragen hatte. Später am Tag (um 16.12 Uhr) schickte die dpa eine "Berichtigung" mit veränderter Überschrift "Google feuert Mitarbeiter nach umstrittenem 'Manifest' gegen Frauen" heraus. Diese neue Meldung war ein wenig differenzierter und erwähnt etwa, dass James Damore von Teilen der Google-Belegschaft auch Zuspruch erhalten hatte.

Mein Leser schreibt mir hierzu:

Mir ist nicht bekannt, welche internen Überlegungen zur Änderung der Überschrift führten. Meistens geht so etwas zurück auf Kritik von Kunden oder von anderen Redakteuren, denen das schief oder fragwürdig erscheint. Der Kollege aus dem Ressort Netzwelt, der diesen Text geschrieben hat, ist hochgeschätzt und sehr kundig. Sein Schwerpunkt sind Tech-Themen, Computer, Software, Telekommunikation etc.

Die neue Überschrift mit dem Dreh "gegen Frauen" ist immer noch problematisch. Das eigentliche Problem aber, nicht nur bei Themen mit Bezug zur Geschlechterdebatte, liegt darin, dass die Medien mit ihren bis zur Magersüchtigkeit abgespeckten Redaktionen nur noch wenige Themen selbst bearbeiten und sich ansonsten auf die Nachrichtenagenturen verlassen. Und der Google-Fall ist ein typisches Thema aus der zweiten Reihe, wo nur noch wenige gut ausgestattete Redaktionen selbst einen Mitarbeiter einsetzen. Und so steht dann in allen Zeitungen das Gleiche - einschließlich der Überschrift.


Dabei bleibt der Kontrast zwischen deutschen und englischsprachigen Medien scharf. Bei der "Süddeutschen Zeitung" etwa greift Nina Bovensiepen ganz tief in die Klischeekiste:

Das antifeministische Manifest des Google-Mitarbeiters ist rückständig und dumm. Zustimmung bekommt er nur deshalb, weil er die Ängste vieler weißer Männer vor den Veränderungen im Arbeitsumfeld ausspricht.


Deutschlandfunk Kultur hat einen Sinologen (Chinakundler), Tilman Spengler, zu James Damore befragt, wobei Spenglers Einschätzung die Überschrift des Artikels wurde: "Ich hätte den Kerl schon aus Gründen der Dummheit gefeuert".

Spiegel-Online sprach auch gestern noch von einem "sexistischen Schreiben". Selbstverständlich wurde die Kommentarfunktion unter dem Artikel abgestellt.

Christian Schmidt hat heute Morgen etwas genauer betrachtet, mit welchen Methoden deutsche Leitmedien den Inhalt von James Damores Memo verzerrt wiedergeben, und veranschaulicht das anhand der "Süddeutschen Zeitung". Unter anderem wurde in der allgemeinen Berichterstattung eine Grafik in Damores Memo verschwiegen, die auf einen Blick deutlich gemacht hätte, was seine tatsächliche Position ist. Christian Schmidt kommentiert:

Ich finde es unglaublich, dass eine solche Grafik, die ganz deutlich macht, dass [Damore] nicht von absoluten Unterschieden ausgeht, herausgenommen worden ist. Natürlich: Mit dieser Grafik wäre ein Entstellen seiner Meinung noch schwieriger gewesen. Viel Text wird vielleicht nicht gelesen, aber eine solche Grafik fällt sofort ins Auge.

Es ist erschreckend, wie verzerrt die Darstellung in den Medien ist. Die meisten der Journalisten scheinen nur Artikel über das Manifest gelesen zu haben. Sie lesen noch nicht einmal eine leicht zugängliche Primärquelle oder recherchieren etwas, warum jemand so etwas schreiben könnte und ob das in der Wissenschaft vertreten wird.


In englischsprachigen Beiträgen ist das Niveau deutlich höher. Ein kenntnisloses Aufgeplustere, um sich als den großen Antisexisten zu inszenieren, gibt es dort in zahlreichen Beiträgen nicht.

Daily Signal etwa berichtet, dass Frauen in Führungspositionen Google wegen des Rauswurfs Intoleranz vorwerfen.

In der kanadischen Globe and Mail stellt die Neurowissenschaftlerin Debra Soh klar: "No, the Google manifesto isn’t sexist or anti-diversity. It’s science".

(Vermutlich hätte der Chinakundler Tilman Spengler die Neurowissenschaftlerin Debra Soh auch "aus Gründen der Dummheit gefeuert", wenn sie über ihr Fachgebiet und damit den Inhalt dieses Manifestes spricht. Warum müssen deutsche Intellektuelle eigentlich immer wieder bei Themen, bei denen sie sich überhaupt nicht auskennen, Andersdenkende großspurig zu Idioten erklären, nur um billigen Applaus beim politisch korrekten Publikum zu ernten?)

In der auflagenstarken Zeitschrift USA Today erläutert die liberale Feministin Cathy Young, warum James Damore einen legitimen Standpunkt vertritt:

The Google memo mostly avoids such overgeneralizations. It repeatedly acknowledges that sex differences are a matter of tendencies, not absolutes, and do not predict anything about any specific person. Far from embracing traditional sex roles, it suggests that working to change inflexible male roles and expectations and free more men to choose lower-paying, lower-status occupations could help narrow the gender gap in the tech sector. Damore urges Google to "treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group."

(...) Some of the memo's suggestions — for instance, to uncouple diversity initiatives from empathy and moralism — are excellent and validated by the reactions to the memo itself. One Twitter user wrote that Damore was "committing violence" by writing it, and that "people feared for their safety" as a result.

Could the memo contribute to negative stereotypes of women in tech workplaces? Perhaps. But the overreaction, including Damore’s firing, is likely to do far more harm. It will make anyone who questions the "diversity" party line — who believes, for instance, that unequal numbers may not automatically prove discrimination — feel that he or she is in a hostile environment. And it will lend credence to complaints in the modern workplace that men are the beleaguered sex.


Die Washington Post merkt an:

The tech site Mashable assailed anyone who defended Damore as being part of the "alt-right." The problem, chiefly, is that many critics claimed Damore said things he did not and painted the things he did say in the worst possible light.

It is, for example, true that Damore said women suffered from "neuroticism" more than men, but he made clear he was using the psychological, scientific terminology for suffering higher anxiety and having a lower stress tolerance in job and life situations. He did not mean it as a pejoratively as the left painted it. In fact, he did not pull his statements out of thin air or make them up. Damore based his statements on sociological and psychological studies that are accepted by the scientific community, of which he is a part.


Macht dieser Artikel jetzt die "Washington Post" auch zu einem Teil der "neuen Rechten"?

Der National Review wirft Google "Inquisition" vor:

[Damore] argued — and Google quickly confirmed — that nonconforming political and social ideas are ruthlessly suppressed and punished within the firm, that those holding conservative (or simply non-left) views are subjected to a hostile work environment, and that the predominance of conforming views creates a problem of confirmation bias.

(...) Google is attempting, in its Orwellian way, to redefine "diversity" as "homogeneity," to redefine the respect for genuine human differences as the demand for absolute conformity, to redefine openness as closure and tolerance as prohibition. Its bias problems are not limited to its personnel practices: Conservative outlets and publications are routinely excluded or marginalized by services such as YouTube and Google News, just as conservative voices frequently are silenced on Twitter and Facebook.


Wenn ein Konzern, der international so mächtig ist wie Google, das politische Denken beeinflussen möchte, ist das ein brisantes Thema – außer für die deutschen Medien. Die sehen nur das Problem "zu viele weiße Männer".

"Breitbart" läßt einen ehemaligen Google-Mitarbeiter zu Wort kommen, der behauptet, Google würde sogar Suchergebnisse politisch manipulieren. Sollte man diese Behauptung komplett ignorieren, weil die Quelle "Breitbart" ist? Ist man ein Nazi, wenn man eine "Breitbart"-Meldung aufgreift?

Für die "New York Times" jedenfalls, rechtsradikaler Tendenzen eher unverdächtig, stellt "Breitbart" eine relevante, verlinkenswerte Quelle dar. Die Zeitung berichtet:

Few Google employees came out publicly in defense of [James Damore], but some surreptitiously showed their support by leaking screenshots from internal Google posts of employees saying they planned to create blacklists of people who did not support the company’s diversity efforts. The screenshots appeared on Breitbart News, which has championed Mr. Damore’s memo.

"Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up those very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of getting fired," Mr. Damore wrote in an addendum to his original memo. "This needs to change."


Auszüge eines Interviews des Totalitarismus-Kritikers Professor Jordan Peterson mit James Damore stehen hier online.

Amerikanische Leitmedien im Vergleich mit deutschen Leitmedien: Bei diesem Thema sind sie wie Tag und Nacht. In den USA wird die Debatte längst differenziert geführt. Hierzulande ist Damore eben ein Idiot, über den man Kaffee gießen sollte, und der Leser solcher Beiträge hat die Klappe zu halten. Was "Sexismus" ist, bestimmt die neue Priesterschaft zwischen Spiegel-Online und Süddeutscher Zeitung.



5. Nach einem Urteil des Europäischen Gerichtshofs dürfen homosexuelle Männer jetzt Blut spenden – nach einem Jahr Enthaltsamkeit.

Der Deutschen Aidshilfe geht die neue Richtlinie nicht weit genug. "Eine HIV-Infektion kann man heute sechs Wochen nach dem letzten Risiko sicher ausschließen", sagte Vorstandsmitglied Björn Beck. Eine Frist von einem Jahr schließe hingegen die meisten schwulen und bisexuellen Männer weiterhin unnötig von der Blutspende aus.


Wie man das Jahr Enthaltsamkeit überprüfen möchte, bleibt ohnehin offen.



6. Auf "Broadly" beklagt sich die Feministin Yasmina Banaszczuk über Sexismus gegen Frauen auf Demonstrationen. Sie erwähnt, dass entgegen des Klischees in den sogenannten "Schwarzen Blocks" auch viele Frauen mitmarschieren und fühlt sich dadurch diskriminiert, dass sich Polizeigewalt in erster Linie gegen Männer richtet:

Kleinere Frauen würden zuerst aus der Gruppe gezogen, um die Reihen zu destabilisieren. Danach werde noch härter gegen die verbliebenen Demonstranten vorgegangen. (...) Katja sagt, dass die Polizei Frauen eher als gesprächsbereit und weniger bedrohlich wahrnehme. "Das geht so weit, dass eine Frau bei einer Blockade mal recht offensiv im Weg war und sie dann den Typen neben ihr mitnehmen wollten. Der hatte sich keinen Zentimeter bewegt, war aber halt groß und vergleichsweise laut." Auch Anna hat ähnliche Erfahrungen gemacht: "Bei Straßenblockaden wurde ich durchgelassen, weil ich eine Frau bin. 'Geh mal durch, Kleine. Hier wird's gleich hässlich.'" Was auf den ersten Blick wie eine angenehme Sonderbehandlung klingt, ist letztlich einfach nur Diskriminierung. (...) Am Ende bleibt das Ohnmachtsgefühl, das viele Frauen auch aus ihren Sexismuserfahrungen im Alltag kennen.




7. In einem australischen Café müssen Männer 18 Prozenz mehr zahlen als Frauen – "und das hat gute Gründe" meint Tasnim Rödder im feministisch geprägten Magazin ze.tt. Denn Männer verdienten im Durchschnitt deutlich mehr als Frauen. Bei einer Umfrage unter dem Artikel entscheidet sich die Mehrzahl der Leser jedoch für folgende Antwortmöglichkeit: "Ich unterstütze die Hausordnung nicht, weil Männer sowieso öfter an die Kasse gebeten werden."



8. Das ebenfalls feministisch geprägte Magazin "Salon" titelt: Dang — looks like those women-only “Wonder Woman” screenings were illegal. Untertitel: "Turns out that when men whined about being banned from the screenings, they had a legal point." Wer hätte das gedacht? Wobei für "Salon" weiterhin gilt: Wenn Männer gegen Diskriminierung protestieren, dann wird das Wort "whine" verwendet – zu deutsch: heulen, quengeln, winseln, jammern. Echte Kerle sind das nicht. So transportieren auch Feministinnen uralte Geschlechterklischees.



9. Das linksliberale Magazin "The Atlantic" beleuchtet, wie Männer zur neuen Minderheit an Universitäten geworden sind. An manchen Hochschulen machen sie inzwischen nur noch ein Sechstel der Studentenschaft aus.



10. Ein Video der Zeichentrickreihe "Die Simpsons" verarscht feministische Social Justice Warriors.



11. Und noch einmal die Post. In meinem letzten Genderama-Beitrag hatte ich einen FAZ-Artikel über ein Urteil des Düsseldorfer Verwaltungsgerichts zitiert. Dazu schreibt mir ein Leser:

"'Die Frauenförderung hat zwar Verfassungsrang, doch sie steht nicht über allem anderen', sagte [Richter] Müller in der mündlichen Verhandlung. Vielmehr gelte es, die beiden widerstreitenden Interessen von Verfassungsrang – die Gleichberechtigung und das Prinzip der Bestenauslese – miteinander in Einklang zu bringen. Durch den Erlass des Ministeriums würden jedoch schlechtere Frauen besseren männlichen Bewerbern vorgezogen."

Wenn die FAZ den Richter hier richtig zitiert, dann finde ich bedenklich, dass er behauptet, die Frauenförderung habe Verfassungsrang. Im Grundgesetz ist von Frauenförderung nirgends die Rede, vielmehr von der im nächsten Satz genannten Gleichberechtigung. Bezeichnend, dass die inzwischen mit Frauenförderung einfach gleichgesetzt wird. Eine im Wortsinn verstandene GleichBERECHTIGUNG wiederum steht keineswegs im Widerstreit zum Prinzip der Bestenauslese, sondern beide ergeben sich auseinander: Gleichberechtigung herrscht, wenn der Zugang zu öffentlichen Ämtern nur nach Eignung vergeben wird, und es kann nur dann von einer Bestenauslese gesprochen werden, wenn alle die Chance haben, ihre Eignung zu beweisen. Hier wird wie so oft das Wort GleichBERECHTIGUNG im Sinne von GleichSTELLUNG verwendet und der letzteren damit durch die Hintertür Verfassungsrang verliehen. Bedenklich, wie gesagt, obwohl das Urteil insgesamt erfreulich sein mag.




12. Da ich nicht von jedem von euch/Ihnen die Mailadresse für ein persönliches Dankeschön habe, auf diese Weise: Ganz herzlichen Dank für die Spenden der letzten Tage! Ich freue mich sehr darüber. Einige von euch sind offenbar gerade durch die aktuellen Genderama-Beiträge dazu motiviert worden. Ein Leser aus Österreich begründet seinen Dauerauftrag auch explizit mit "der Berichterstattung über den Vorfall bei Google":

Ich hoffe, daß ich damit einen Beitrag leisten kann, damit Sie diese für mich sehr wichtige Arbeit, die ein Gegengewicht zur sehr einseitigen Berichterstattung in den sogenannten Qualitätsmedien darstellt, auch weiter fortsetzen können.

          Google attackiert die Meinungsfreiheit, deutsche Medien üben den Gleichschritt – News zum 9. August 2017        
1. Der "Economist" berichtet über die Entlassung James Damores bei Google, nachdem Damore in einem Memo Kritik an seinem Arbeitgeber geäußert hatte:

"This isn’t a question of legality or policy. This is a question of virtue-signalling," says the boss of a prominent tech startup, reflecting the view of many in the Valley.


Einer meiner Leser schreibt mir zu diesem Fall:

Der Google-Mitarbeiter der sich kritisch zur Diversity-Politik seines Arbeitgebers äußerte, hat es soeben in die Nachrichten geschafft (N24, 8.8.17, ca. 11:30 Uhr):

Der Bericht hatte sinngemäß den Tenor, dass ein Google-Mitarbeiter gefeuert worden sei, weil er Frauen (aufgrund ihrer Biologie) generell ungeeignet für technische Berufe halte. Was für eine krasse Verkürzung und Falschdarstellung! Das macht mich echt fassungslos. Nicht mal eine Nachrichtensendung erfüllt noch meine Mindeststandards für eine halbwegs ehrliche Berichterstattung. Was mich vor allem ärgert ist, dass nach einer solch falschen Berichterstattung niemand, nicht einmal pure, nackte Opportunisten, eine Lehre aus der Geschichte ziehen könn(t)en. Selbst wenn sie wollten.

Ein normaler Zuschauer wird sich denken, dass der Mensch wohl zu Recht entlassen wurde. Denn: Jemanden allein aufgrund seines Geschlechts im Vorfeld für ungeeignet zu erklären, wäre zweifelsohne und unbestritten sexistisch. Welcher heute noch ernst zu nehmende Mensch würde das Gegenteil behaupten? Dieselben Leute aber, die nach dieser Nachrichtenmeldung dann zur Tagesordnung übergehen, gucken später dann vermutlich sehr verduzt, wenn sie ihren Job verlieren, weil sie in irgendeinem Kontext die Biologie als einen möglichen Faktor für eine unterschiedliche Gewichtung bei der Berufswahl als Argument anführen.

Ich hoffe inständig, dass sich die Entscheidung, Damore zu feuern, noch als Rohrkrepierer erweisen wird.


Bemerkenswert ist, dass die deutschsprachigen Leitmedien fast durchgehend schon in ihren Schlagzeilen die feministische Perspektive als Tatsache ausgeben. Nur einige Beispiele von mehreren Dutzend Artikeln: "Google entlässt Mitarbeiter wegen sexistischem Text" titelt die "Zeit", "Google feuert Mitarbeiter wegen sexistischen Manifests" Österreichs "Presse", von einem "sexistischen Pamphlet" spricht Spiegel-Online, und "Google feuert Mitarbeiter nach sexistischem Manifest" titelt die "Frankfurter Allgemeine". Sogar der Wortlaut dieser Schlagzeilen ist weitgehend derselbe.

Ich weiß es nicht, warum in unseren Medien immer noch eine derart unstillbare Sehnsucht danach herrscht, im Gleichschritt zu marschieren. Die angelsächsischen Medien haben allen Grund, sich bis heute über den "German goosestep" lustig zu machen. Ich habe KEINEN deutschsprachigen Artikel gefunden, in dem Google dafür kritisiert wurde, eine bestimmte Ideologie durchzusetzen, indem der Konzern unbotmäßige Untergebene schlicht entfernte. Das ist im angelsächsischen Sprachraum anders. Sicher, auch dort überschlagen sich die Leitmedien mit Falschdarstellungen. Im Gegensatz zu Deutschland geben dort aber zahlreiche Magazine Widerworte und verteidigen in ihren Artikeln die Meinungsfreiheit.

Ein paar Beispiele. Das Magazin Quilette schreibt über James Damores Essay:

This essay may not get everything 100% right, but it is certainly not a rant. And it stands in sharp contrast to most of the comments, which are little more than snarky modern slurs. The arrogance of most of the comments reflects exactly the type of smug self-appointed superiority that has led to widespread resentment of the left among reasonable people. To the extent that such views correspond to those at Google, they vindicate the essayist’s claims about the authoritarian and repressive atmosphere there. Even the response by Google’s new VP in charge of diversity simply ignores all of the author’s arguments, and vacuously affirms Google’s commitment to diversity. The essay is vastly more thoughtful, linked to the science, and well-reasoned than nearly all of the comments. If I had one recommendation, it would be this: That, before commenting on these issues, Google executives read two books: John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty and Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind."


Das sind auch zwei Bücher, die man in deutschen Redaktionsstuben großflächig verteilen sollte.

Das linksliberale Magazin "The Atlantic" stellt klar, dass Damores Manifest keineswegs "anti-diversity" sei:

Its author, who was later fired, began, "I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem."

The balance of his memo argues that he is not against pursuing greater gender diversity at Google; he says it is against the current means Google is using to pursue that end and the way the company conceives of tradeoffs between the good of diversity and other goods.

(...) The author specifically objects to using what his memo calls discriminatory means to achieve greater gender diversity, then adds that he has concrete suggestions for changes at Google that would “increase women’s representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination.” In his telling, this could be achieved by making software engineering “more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration” and changes that would “allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive,” as well as offering more opportunities for employees to work part time.

Whether one regards those suggestions as brilliant, rooted in pernicious gender stereotypes, or anywhere in between, they are clearly and explicitly suggestions to increase diversity in a manner the author regards as having a stronger chance of actually working than some of the tactics that he is critiquing.


Was davon kommt bei den selbsterklärten Bannerträgern des deutschen Qualitätsjournalismus an? "Sexistisches Manifest".

Das Magazin Quartz kommentiert:

By getting fired, Damore proved his own point — that many of Silicon Valley’s leaders remain unwilling to engage with socio-political views different from their own.


Der "National Review" titelt "Lena Dunham and Google Demonstrate Why Our Free Speech Culture Is Slipping Away" und berichtet wie folgt:

An anonymous employee penned a multi-page memo addressing why there are fewer women than men in key fields in the tech industry. In the memo, he noted that Google values gender and racial diversity but has created an "ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed." This means that Google responds to gender imbalances with "extreme and authoritarian" measures. At the extreme, it views all gender disparities as "due to oppression." Its authoritarian response is to "discriminate to correct this oppression." The writer than explores at length cultural and biological differences between men and women and then proposes some measures to increase female representation in the field without resorting to discrimination.

(...) The primary victims of this new culture of groupthink are social conservatives and other dissenters from identity politics. In field after field and company after company, conservatives understand that the price of their employment is silence. Double standards abound, and companies intentionally try to keep work environments "safe" from disagreement. Radical sexual and racial politics are given free rein. Disagree — and lose your job. It takes a person of rare constitution and moral courage to speak up. And that’s precisely how the far Left likes it.


In einem weiteren Artikel stellt auch der "National Review" klar, dass es sich NICHT um einen frauenfeindlichen Text handelte:

The author (...) states repeatedly that he believes in diversity, and there’s no reason to doubt his self-description as a classical liberal. His exclamation-point-free memo is hardly a rant. He expresses the hope that "open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow."

How naïve. The witless and inflamed reaction to his document instead underlines his point about "a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence."

It is one thing to disagree with the memo; it is another thing to believe the views therein should be forbidden. Former Google engineer Yonatan Zunger says that if it were up to him, the author would be summarily fired and escorted from the building immediately by security (you can’t take a chance with such a danger). Entrepreneur Elissa Shevinsky believes that the memo could run afoul of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — i.e., it might be illegal. Google’s diversity officer, Danielle Brown, didn’t quite go that far. She offered a pro forma assurance that different views are welcome at Google. Nevertheless, she stipulated that the opinions of the author are "incorrect" and added, ominously, that any discussion needs to be in accord with "our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws." Her case would have been much stronger if she had actually rebutted any of the author’s statements about sex differences — assuming that she could.

A line in the memo about women being more prone to anxiety has drawn particular ire — as if the author made this up. As the publication Stanford Medicine notes, "Women are twice as likely as men to experience clinical depression in their lifetimes; likewise for post-traumatic stress disorder." An article in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews likewise says that "female-biased conditions include depression, anxiety disorder, and anorexia nervosa." This doesn’t mean that men are superior, just that they are different and more prone to other problems — among them, alcohol- and drug-dependency, schizophrenia, dyslexia, autism, Tourette syndrome, and attention-deficit disorder. It’s not bias against men, or in favor of women, to note these tendencies.


Für die deutschen Leitmedien ist das schon längst viel zu differenziert und kompliziert. "Sexistisches Manifest" muss genügen. Es will sich ja auch keiner in irgendwelche Nesseln setzen. Wer weiß schon, wann der grüne Pranger wieder online geht.

Der "Daily Wire" spricht von Firmenfaschismus :

James Damore, the author of the memo, told Bloomberg he had indeed been fired on grounds of "perpetuating gender stereotypes." Which is weird, since gender stereotypes are the basis for Google’s "diversity policy," which suggests that more women must be hired in order to enrich the workplace. If men and women are identical, no such diversity policy would be necessary or praiseworthy.

All of this proves that Damore was absolutely right that Google has a blindered view of politics that hinders their capacity to engage in business. Google has been accused in the past of biasing search results toward the Left, and they’ve long been accused of promoting political leftism as opposed to a free and open diversity of thought.


CNBC berichtet in einem Artikel darüber, warum die Entlassung James Damores illegal sein könnte, folgendes:

In a reply to the initial outcry over his memo, the engineer added to his memo: "Despite what the public response seems to have been, I've gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired." The law protects that kind of "concerted activity."

Second, the engineer's memo largely is a statement of his political views as they apply to workplace policies. The memo is styled as a lament to "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber." California law prohibits employers from threatening to fire employees to get them to adopt or refrain from adopting a particular political course of action.

(...) Third, the engineer complained in parts of his memo about company policies that he believes violate employment discrimination laws. Those policies include support programs limited by race or gender and promotional and hiring scoring policies that consider race and gender. It is unlawful for an employer to discipline an employee for challenging conduct that the employee reasonably believed to be discriminatory, even when a court later determines the conduct was not actually prohibited by the discrimination laws. In other words, the engineer doesn't have to be right that some of Google's diversity initiatives are unlawful, only that he reasonably believes that they are.


Diskriminierung von Männern? In den meisten deutschen Leitmedien selbst heute noch nicht der Rede wert.

Der "Federalist" sieht James Damores als Opfer eines politisch korrekten Mobs und kommentiert:

One of the problems with this kerfuffle was that the vast majority of the histrionic reactions on social media and elsewhere have misrepresented not only what the memo says but also its purpose. The memo was neither a screed nor anti-diversity. It was the kind of unvarnished, dispassionate, and meticulous case that I imagine many engineers offer. It’s difficult to believe anyone who read through it with an open mind could interpret the author’s notions as an attempt to consolidate the patriarchy or to make life less diverse in his field.

The other, bigger problem is that the reaction to it demonstrates that the author is completely right about the lack of ideological diversity and its consequences.

The unnamed engineer’s contentions about the bias at Google is a near-perfect summation of the dangers manifest in all close-minded institutions, including most of the news media and many universities. He points out that conflating "freedom from offense with psychological safety" shames people into silence. Further, he argues that these monocultures foster unhealthy environments where people can no longer honestly debate important topics. Finally, and most destructively, he says these bubbles then promote "extreme and authoritarian elements."


"Breitbart", aus Sicht deutscher Leitmedien und einem befreundeten Grünen unter den Genderama-Lesern eine Website, die auf keinen Fall zitiert oder verlinkt werden darf, wenn der Verlinkende nichts als rechtsextrem beschimpft werden möchte, hat sogar eine eigene Interviewserie "Die Rebellen von Google" begonnen, in der Google-Mitarbeiter berichten, wie in diesem Konzern Hexenjagden und Intoleranz regieren. Lesen Sie NICHT, ich wiederhole, lesen Sie NICHT das soeben verlinkte Interview. Sie fangen an, plötzlich unkontrolliert "Heil Hitler!" zu schreien, sobald Sie das tun. Klatschen Sie lieber brav mit, wenn Google einen Mitarbeiter "wegen Sexismus" entlässt.

(Hadmut Danisch hat mit der Verlinkung des "Breitbart"-Beitrags übrigens gerade dasselbe Problem, wie ich bei der Recherche zu dieser Debatte sehe. Man macht es nicht gerne, aber der leitmediale Einheitsbrei bringt einen derart zur Verzweiflung ...)

Falls Sie in den nächsten Tagen irgendwo in den deutschen Medien einen Artikel finden, der ähnlich wie die zitierten angelsächsischen Medien aus dem Gleichschritt ausbricht und pro Meinungsfreiheit argumentiert, freue ich mich über den Link. Ich rechne nicht damit. Stattdessen bekommen wir etwa von Angela Gruber Spiegel-Online folgendes serviert:

Es wäre wünschenswert gewesen, dass ein solches Schreiben ohne Reaktionen im Google-Intranet versandet. Einfach, weil niemand über solche Thesen diskutieren will.


Autoritäres und freiheitliches Denken prallen hier frontal aufeinander. Und wieder einmal ist die Kluft zwischen Redaktionsmeinung und Leserkommentaren unter dem Artikel riesig. Unter vergleichbaren Artikeln sieht es nicht anders aus.

Dezidierte Technik-Magazine ticken übrigens ähnlich, was die journalistische Gesprächsbereitschaft mit Menschen anderer Meinung betrifft. So erklärt Jessica Tomala bei "Giga":

Ich bin zwar keine Programmiererin, sondern Redakteurin, aber würde ich mit James Damore, dem Verfasser des zehnseitigen internen Manifests bei Google, zusammenarbeiten: Ich hätte meinen morgendlichen Kaffeebecher wohl einfach über seinem Kopf ausgeleert.


Damit hätte sie es James Damore einmal so richtig gezeigt. Von wegen, Frauen wären neurotisch. Ha!

Ach ja: Was macht eigentlich Deutschlands Linke, wenn ein marktbeherrschender Konzern Arbeitnehmer feuert, weil diese Arbeitnehmer missliebige Ansichten äußern und Diskriminierung beklagen? Auch von dort höre ich gerade nicht sehr viel.

Julian Assange immerhin hat James Damore inzwischen einen Job bei Wikileaks angeboten. Eingeleitet wurde dieses Angebot von einem klaren Statement Assanges: "Censorship is for losers".



2. Leider ist der deutsche Hang zum Gleichschritt nicht einmal das einzige gravierende Problem in unseren Medien. Um ein weiteres Problem zu beleuchten, legen Hanna Herbst und Nora Kolhoff im Magazin "Vice" einen geradezu maskulistischen Text vor: "Versaute Klassenfahrt" und "Sex-Lehrerin": Wie Medien über Missbrauch durch Frauen reden.



3. In der Printausgabe der "Frankfurter Allgemeinen" von morgen findet sich auf Seite 8 der Artikel "Die Grenzen der Frauenförderung" von Reiner Burger. Der Untertitel des ausführlichen Beitrags, der leider nicht online steht, lautet "Die nordrhein-westfälische Polizei darf Männer im Bewerbungsverfahren nicht benachteiligen".

Der Artikel handelt von einem Gerichtsurteil, nach dem drei junge Frauen vor dem Verwaltungsgericht Düsseldorf geklagt hatten, wegen ihrer geringen Größe nicht als Polizistinnen eingestellt worden zu sein. In dem Artikel heißt es:

Die 2. Kammer des Gerichts nutzte die Gelegenheit allerdings, um sich grundsätzlich mit der Sache auseinanderzusetzen und um zum wiederholten Mal die Grenzen der Frauenförderung aufzuzeigen. Ganz allgemein gebe es "einen Trend", die Frauenförderung über alles andere zu stellen, monierte der Vorsitzende Richter Andreas Müller.


Der Hintergrund: Um bei der nordrheinwestfälischen Polizei eingestellt zu werden, müssen Frauen mindestens 1,63 Meter und Männer mindestens 1,68 Meter groß sein. An Männer wird ein strengerer Maßstab angelegt, damit sich das Verhältnis der Polizeibeamten zugnsten der Frauen verschiebt.

Die zwischen 1,63 und 1,68 Meter großen Männer werden also im Namen der Frauenförderung systematisch aussortiert, ohne dass sie im Bewerbungsverfahren zeigen können, ob sie nicht doch objektiv besser geeignet sind als andere Bewerber. Diese Regelung ist nach Auffassung des Gerichts verfassungswidrig. Nach dem im Grundgesetz verankerten Prinzip der Bestenauslese dürfe der Zugang zum Beamtenverhältnis nur von Eignung, Befähigung und fachlicher Leistung abhängig gemacht werden. "Die Frauenförderung hat zwar Verfassungsrang, doch sie steht nicht über allem anderen", sagte Müller in der mündlichen Verhandlung. Vielmehr gelte es, die beiden widerstreitenden Interessen von Verfassungsrang – die Gleichberechtigung und das Prinzip der Bestenauslese – miteinander in Einklang zu bringen. Durch den Erlass des Ministeriums würden jedoch schlechtere Frauen besseren männlichen Bewerbern vorgezogen.


Das allerdings war das Ziel der rot-grünen Landesregierung unter Hannelore Kraft gewesen. Frauen bekamen im Aufstiegswettbewerb einen Bonus gewährt. Das OVG allerdings hatte in dieser regelung einen Verstoß gegen das Grundgesetz gesehen. (Genderama berichtete.) Dieser Auffassung schloss sich jetzt das Verwaltungsgericht Düsseldorf bei seinem aktuellen Urteil an. In der "Frankfurter Allgemeinen" heißt es hierzu:

Damit ist die Entscheidung des Düsseldorfer Verwaltungsgerichts zwar im Kern ein Männerschutz-Urteil. Wird es rechtskräftig (...), werden aber drei Frauen als Erste von ihm profitieren. Denn hätte das Land Nordrhein-Westfalen eine rechtskonforme Mindestgrößenregelung gehabt, dann hätten die jeweils knapp unter 1,63 Meter großen Klägerinnen wohl nie eine Chance bekommen, am Bewerbungsverfahren der Polizei teilzunehmen.


Putzig ist mal wieder, was deutsche Medien aus dem Urteil machen: Gericht kippt Mindestgröße für Polizistinnen. Der Artikel unter der Schlagzeile, natürlich die "Brigitte", erweckt den Eindruck, es sei die Diskriminierung von Frauen unterbunden worden. Noch irrer ist die Darstellung des Sachverhalts beim SWR. Dort heißt es:

Die Mindestgröße für Polizistinnen in Nordrhein-Westfalen ist verfassungswidrig. Die Richter am Verwaltungsgericht in Düsseldorf gaben einer Klägerin aus Oberhausen recht. Sie hatte sich bei der Polizei beworben und war nicht zum Auswahlverfahren zugelassen worden, weil sie anderthalb Zentimeter kleiner als die erforderlichen 1,63 Meter ist. Die Düsseldorfer Richter entschieden, die Körpergröße habe wenig mit der Eignung von Polizeianwärterinnen zu tun. Sie verwiesen unter anderem auf die Bundespolizei, die auch ohne eine Mindestgröße auskomme. Die Bewerberin müsse jetzt zum Auswahlverfahren zugelassen werden.


Immerhin gelingt es auch der "Zeit" den Fall korrekt darzustellen und u erklären, dass es um eine Diskriminierung von Männern geht. Irreführend ist hier nur die Überschrift: "Polizei muss kleine Frau als Bewerberin akzeptieren."



4. Ebenfalls in der Printausgabe der "Frankfurter Allgemeinen" von morgen findet sich ein Beitrag von Rainer Meyer ("Don Alphonso"), betitelt mit "Das Vermächtnis der schwarzen Liste". Der Artikel bezieht sich auf den grünen Online-Pranger und stellt dazu zunächst einmal Andreas Kemper vor, dem Beitrag zufolge ein "54 Jahre alter Aktivist und Soziologiedoktorand aus Münster, der seit mehr als zehn Jahren im Internet einen erbitterten, privaten Kleinkrieg gegen Männerrechtler und Gegner der Genderideologie führt."

Hey, Kemper hat einen neuen Abschnitt für den Wikipedia-Eintrag über sich, sogar aus einem anerkannten Leitmedium. Ich hoffe, er freut sich ein bisschen.

Der FAZ-Artikel führt aus, was die meisten Genderama-Leser ohnehin schon über den grünen Pranger wissen. In einer Passage erfährt man folgendes:

Wer bei diesem Portal wen beschuldigte, war nicht offensichtlich. Zwar basiert Agent*In auf jener Wikimedia-Software, auf der auch die deutsche Wikipedia aufgebaut ist, wo Kemper und andere Aktivisten teils offen, teils anonym ihren Feldzug für ihre Vorstellungen von Sozial- und Geschlechterpolitik führen. Während aber bei Wikipedia die Versionsgeschichte, die Diskussionen und die Autoren gesehen und recherchiert werden können, ist Agent*In um diese Funktionen beraubt. (...) Auf die Frage, wie viel Geld die hauptsächlich durch Steuergeld finanzierte Böll-Stiftung für Agent*In ausgibt, verweigerte von Bargen die Auskunft.

Diese intransparente Konstruktion und ihre erkennbare Ausrichtung, die zur Rufschädigung von Biologen, Journalisten, Bloggern und vielen weiteren genannten Gruppen beitragen sollte, zogen in den Medien von rechts bis links viel Kritik auf sich.


Bekanntlich nutzte das Versteckspiel wenig:

Erste Tarn- und Klarnamen, darunter der von Andreas Kemper, konnten durch eine simple Suchabfrage eruiert werden. Offensichtlich hatten die Böll-Techniker die Tücken der Wikisoftware unterschätzt. Erst nach der Darstellung des Lecks bei FAZ.net wurde die Lücke geschlossen. Mit reiner Spielerei an den URLs der Beiträge war es nicht nur möglich, die Veränderungen der Beiträge aufzurufen. Die Versionsgeschichte des Projekts vom 15. Dezember 2015 bis zu den letzten Änderungen stand offen im Netz. Über 7000 Seiten konnten erfasst und minutengenau erfasst werden. Obendrein zeigte sich nicht nur jede Änderung, sondern auch jeder Name der Autorenschaft. Ein kleines Team hatte Agent*In gepflegt, ergänzt und juristisch weniger angreifbar gemacht. Personen, deren Namen genannt wurden, konnten zudem ihre "Akten" herunterladen und erkennen, was einem umfassenden Redigat im Frühjahr 2017 zum Opfer gefallen war. Kemper hatte Anfang 2016 den größten Teil der Beiträge angelegt, und teilweise Formulierungen verwendet, die datenschutz- und persönlichkeitsrechtlich problematisch waren.


Wiewohl die Verantwortlichen für dieses Projekt mit einer baldigen Rückkehr drohten, wird das von Sicherheitsexperten bezweifelt:

Auch Bereiche, die mit Passwörtern gesichert waren, stellten kein großes Hindernis dar, zumal Benutzernamen tagelang bekannt waren. Ob sich weitere Zuträger finden, die bei einem derartig unsicheren Projekt mitwirken wollen, ist fraglich: Die fast durchweg negative Resonanz zeigt, wie kritisch das Anlegen von schwarzen Listen mit "Feinden" durch eine mit Steuergeld finanzierte Parteienstiftung gesehen wird. Nur radikalfeministische Websites, linke Aktivisten und Genderforscher stellten sich vorbehaltlos hinter das Projekt.




5. Die Schwarzen Listen wiederum haben grundsätzliche Fragen zur "Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung" ausgelöst. Was ist das eigentlich für ein Verein? Handelt es sich wirklich um eine Stiftung? Warum gibt es innerhalb dieses ohnehin schon feministischen Vereins noch einmal ein eigenes feministisches Institut? Warum spielen Männer dort nur eine Rolle, solange sie Frauen dienen? Und wieso werden Menschen, die für die Rechte von Jungen und Männern eintreten, dort als Feinde behandelt, mit denen es keinen Dialog geben kann? Das Blog Man in the Middle hat seine Rechercheergebnisse über die Böll-Stiftung zusammengetragen und gelangt zu dem Urteil: Faktisch handelt es sich um ein Matriarchat.



6. Die Brigitte versucht, den Leuten endlich einzubläuen, dass der Feminismus nicht männerfeindlich ist.



7. Vor ein paar Monaten noch haben sich etliche Feministinnen vor Lachen auf dem Boden gekugelt, als sie hörten, dass tatsächlich Männer gegen Filmvorführungen nur für Frauen wegen Diskriminierung klagten. Die verantwortliche Kinokette hatte den Spott online angeheizt und zusätzliche Veranstaltungen dieser Art angesetzt. Inzwischen hat sie im Rahmen gerichtlicher Vergleichsverhandlungen ihr Fehlverhalten eingestanden:

In a settlement offer July 18, Missy Reynolds, director of real estate and development for the Drafthouse, called that decree a 2tongue in cheek moniker" and said the theater wouldn’t actually have denied men admission if any had purchased tickets.

The theater admitted it made two mistakes: underestimating the hubbub the screenings would create and advertising them as women-only. "Respondent did not realize that advertising a ‘women’s-only’ screening was a violation of discrimination laws," the movie theater’s offer to the city says.

(...) City records indicate one of the men with a complaint pending offered to settle in exchange for the theater changing its discrimination policies and publicly apologizing on Facebook. The other complainant asked the Drafthouse to pay him $8,892 — roughly three times the estimated value of tickets and concessions for the women-only screenings.

The Drafthouse responded to both with the counteroffer saying it would update its company discrimination policies using "Wonder Woman" as a case study, share letters describing the men’s points of view with employees and send each man a "Wonder Woman" DVD.

An agreement has not yet been reached and negotiations are ongoing.




8. Die US-Marines ließen durchgehend männliche Einheiten gegen gemischtgeschlechtliche Einheiten antreten und gelangten zu einem Ergebnis, dass die deutschen Leitmedien wohl als zutiefst sexistisch bezeichnen würden:

Overall, the report says, all-male teams and crews outperformed mixed-gender ones on 93 out of 134 tasks evaluated. All-male teams were universally faster "in each tactical movement."


Wenn das US-Militär sich an Google orientieren würde, hätte man dort die Verantwortlichen für diesen Bericht längst entlassen. Nachdem man sie mit Kaffee begossen hätte natürlich. Das Magazin Quartz hingegen stellt dreist in Frage, dass das Ideal der Gleichstellung tatsächlich Menschenleben wert ist:

Risking the lives of a military unit in combat to provide career opportunities or accommodate the personal desires or interests of an individual, or group of individuals, is more than bad military judgment. It is morally wrong.

          Böll-Stiftung bittet um Verzeihung für Pranger, nennt aber keine Namen – News vom 8. August 2017        
1.
"Wir bedauern sehr, dass durch die gewählte Form manche an antidemokratische Methoden erinnert werden und entschuldigen uns bei denjenigen, die sich möglicherweise persönlich verletzt fühlen."


So heißt es in einer Verlautbarung vom Vorstand der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung zum Antifeminismus-Pranger, die gestern online gestellt wurde. Weiter heißt es dort, man werde die lagerübergreifend entsetzte

Kritik und Reaktionen zum Anlass nehmen, die bisherige Veröffentlichung zu überprüfen. Entsprechend unseres Selbstverständnisses werden wir Ziele und Format sowie die Zusammenarbeit mit dem Netzwerk und die Wirkung der "Agent*in" kritisch hinterfragen, zeitnah intern beraten und die öffentliche Debatte führen.


Für mich gibt es offen gesagt einige Hindernisse, diese Bitte um Verzeihung zu gewähren. Beispielsweise wüsste ich gerne, wie genau es aussehen soll, wenn die Böll-Stiftung mit mir eine "öffentliche Debatte" führen möchte. Bisher hatte man in der grünen Stiftung peinlich genau darauf geachtet, zu geschlechterpolitischen Debatten wohl Feministinnen, aber ja keine Männerrechtler einzuladen. Das sind die Strukturen, die überhaupt erst den Online-Pranger ermöglichten, der "an antidemokratische Methoden erinnert", wie die Böll-Stiftung jetzt scheinbar einsichtig schreibt. Auch der Online-Pranger sollte offenbar das Entstehen einer Debatte auf Sachebene unterbinden, indem er Personen mit abweichenden Meinungen brandmarkte.

Das Blog Science Files schätzt das Statement der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung so ein:

Wenn man in Rechnung stellt, dass dieser Text mit Sicherheit die moderateste Formulierung ist, die man bei der HB-Stiftung gefunden hat, dann kann man sich ungefähr vorstellen, welche Ausmaße die interne Kritik angenommen hat und welche Folgen die öffentliche Kritik für die Reputation und – viel wichtiger: die Bereitschaft der Projektpartner der HB-Stiftung, Geld an die Stiftung zu überweisen – hatte. Dass sich Unmüßig und Ueberschär gemüßigt sehen, sich für die gewählte Form und dafür zu entschuldigen, dass "manche" durch die Denunziationsplattform "möglicherweise" persönlich verletzt wurden, lässt auch einiges an Rückschlüssen zu.

Sicherlich gibt es bei der HB-Stiftung dann, wenn die Anti-Antifeminismus-Fraktion wütet, keine Gedanken daran, ob man mit Anti-Antifeminismus Menschen verletzt oder ihnen persönlich, beruflich oder psychisch schadet. Eine Größe, mit der die Anti-Antifeminismus-Fraktion rechnet, werden die Feinde erst dann, wenn sich die Kosten für die anti-antifeministischen Kampagnen häufen. Genauer: Die Zahl derjenigen, die die HB-Stiftung mit der Ankündigung einer Klage auf Schadensersatz wegen ihrer Nennung in Agentin.org erschreckt haben, ist wohl nicht gering. Bei 177 Personeneinträgen im Denunziations-Wiki ist selbst nach deutschem Recht, nicht zu reden von britischem Recht, einiges Potential für Schadensersatzforderungen, die sich schnell im fünf- bis sechsstelligen Bereich summieren können. Man hat also wohl vor den finanziellen, nicht vor den moralischen Kosten kapituliert.


Science Files weist auch auf einen Tweet des FAZ-Journalisten "Don Alphonso" hin, dessen Recherchen wohl maßgeblich dazu beitrugen, den Verantwortlichen für diesen Pranger zunächst das Handwerk zu legen. "Don Alphonso" nämlich merkt völlig zu Recht an:

Zur Entschuldigung gehört auch die Benennung der Schuldigen. Und nicht deren Vertuschung.


Nun liegt der Einwand nahe, dass "Don Alphonso" selbst doch den umstrittenen Soziologen Andreas Kemper als Hauptschuldigen identifiziert hatte. Allerdings hegt "Don Alphonso" den wohl nicht unbegründeten Verdacht, dass Kemper mit seiner bekannten Begeisterung dafür, auf Männerrechtler loszugehen, nur anderen Leuten nützlich war und für sie eine vorgeschobene Figur darstellte. So beanstandet auch ein aktueller Artikel der "Welt", dass hier offenbar Hintermänner oder -frauen noch im Dunkeln bleiben:

Auf der vorübergehend stillgelegten Seite findet sich kein namentlicher Absender, ein Impressum, das erst nachträglich eingefügt wurde, verweist auf die Böll-Stiftung. Wer sich informieren will, könne dies über eine Mail-Adresse tun, die ebenfalls von der Böll-Stiftung angelegt wurde. (...) Weitere Namen von Mitwirkenden werden nicht genannt. Bei der Böll-Stiftung heißt es, finanziell werde das Projekt "Agent*In" nicht von der Stiftung unterstützt, man stelle lediglich die technische Unterstützung. Eine Distanzierung von dem Projekt? Weitere Fragen müssten Henning von Bargen gestellt werden, hieß es noch Montagmittag. Für die Stiftung der Grünen eine zumindest missliche Konstruktion, wenn sich die Pressestelle inhaltlich nicht zu einem Projekt äußern kann, das eindeutig von der Stiftung gefördert wird, sei es auch nur über technische Dienstleistungen. (...) Mitgründer Henning von Bargen befindet sich auf einer Dienstreise und sei bis Dienstag für Nachfragen schwer zu erreichen.


Währenddessen berichtet "Don Alphonso" auf Twitter, dass eine unter Pseudonymen wie "Fiona B." und "Fiona Baine" agitierende Aktivistin inzwischen auf der Wikipedia-Seite von "Don Alphonso" (Rainer Meyer) wütet.

"Fiona B." ist mit einigen Helfershelfern seit Jahren dafür verantwortlich, mich und andere Menschen, die sich für Jungen und Männer einsetzen, in den Wikipedia-Einträgen über uns so schlecht wie nur irgend möglich darzustellen und die Männerrechtsbewegung als eine Mischung aus Geistesgestörten und Schwerverbrechern erscheinen zu lassen. Dabei stellte die Wikipedia ein System dar, in dem ein solches Treiben nicht nur funktionierte, sondern wo die Verantwortlichen feministischen Eingriffen sogar Unterstützung anboten. Schützenhilfe gab es damals auch in Blättern wie der "taz", die letzte Woche Andreas Kempers momentanen Rückzug vom Veröffentlichen Schwarzer Listen flankierte.

Von dem "Neutral Point of View", den die Wikipedia als Banner vor sich her trägt, ist hier nichts übrig geblieben. Stattdessen stellte sie eine Art Übungsgelände für den grünen Online-Pranger dar, um politisch missliebige Personen durch den Dreck zu ziehen. Ich habe die dabei angewendeten Methoden hier und hier näher aufgeschlüsselt.

Grundsätzlich fällt auf, dass Akteure, deren "politische Arbeit" meiner persönlichen Schätzung nach zu 95 Prozent aus dem Denunzieren anderer Personen besteht, extrem empfindlich reagieren, wenn sie selbst namentlich gemacht werden. Andreas Kemper etwa hatte dieser Tage in seinem Blog erklärt, der Initialzünder für seine Attacken auf die Männerrechtsbewegung sei seine Enttarnung in der "Jungen Freiheit" gewesen, wofür er offenbar mir die Schuld gibt, weil ich zuvor in einem Blogeintrag gegen die Anonymität in der Wikipedia plädiert hatte.

Das Ungleichgewicht war in den letzten Tagen auch anderen Beobachtern aufgefallen. Während die Verantwortlichen für den Online-Pranger anonym blieben, würden sie ihre Gegner "gnadenlos" angehen, hatte etwa das "Hamburger Abendblatt" angemerkt. Die Frage ist, wie lange das noch gutgehen wird. "Ich kann zeigen, wer die Beteiligten im Hintergrund sind" erklärte "Don Alphonso" in einem weiteren Tweet. Und falls die Böll-Stiftung das nicht selbst hinbekomme, werde er das auch tun.

Die Spannungskurve in diesem Krimi ist noch immer nicht am Ende.



2. Verschiedene Medien, darunter die New York Times berichten, dass der Google-Mitarbeiter James Damore, der in einem Memo die Diversity-Politik des Konzerns kritisiert hatte, gefeuert wurde:

Google on Monday fired a software engineer who wrote an internal memo that questioned the company’s diversity efforts and argued that the low number of women in technical positions was a result of biological differences instead of discrimination.

(...) The memo put the company in a bind. On one hand, Google has long promoted a culture of openness, with employees allowed to question senior executives and even mock its strategy in internal forums. However, Google, like many other technology firms, is dealing with criticism that it has not done enough to hire and promote women and minorities.

(...) Mr. Damore, who worked on infrastructure for Google’s search product, said he believed that the company’s actions were illegal and that he would "likely be pursuing legal action." "I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does," Mr. Damore said.


Aus der Washington Post erfährt man:

Yonatan Zunger, a former Google executive who wrote a widely read post about the memo published on the platform Medium, addressed the memo's author by saying "do you understand that at this point, I could not in good conscience assign anyone to work with you?" he wrote. "I certainly couldn’t assign any women to deal with this, a good number of the people you might have to work with may simply punch you in the face, and even if there were a group of like-minded individuals I could put you with, nobody would be able to collaborate with them."


Hat James Damore nun Recht mit seiner Behauptung, dass es an biologischen Unterschieden statt Diskriminierung liegt, wenn sich weniger Frauen in technischen Berufen finden? Die Debatte darüber wird durch Ausgrenzung und andere soziale Sanktionen weiterhin unterbunden.

Der Umgang mit Damore erinnert an den Fall von Professor Lawrence Summers, ehemals Präsident der amerikanischen Elite-Universität Harvard. Im Januar 2005 hielt Summers bei einer Wissenschaftskonferenz eine Rede über die Frage, woran es liege, dass Frauen in den oberen universitären Rängen der Naturwissenschaften sowie der Mathematik unterrepräsentiert seien. Bei den denkbaren Gründen verwarf er zunächst Diskriminierung, weil das bedeuten würde, dass eine Universität, die Frauen nicht benachteiligte, im Wettbewerb davonziehen könnte, indem sie schlicht jene Top-Akademikerinnen anheuerte, die anderswo diskriminiert wurden. Übrig blieben als mögliche Gründe, dass Frauen weniger bereit seien als Männer, sich einer 80-Stunden-Arbeitswoche ohne jede eigene Flexibilität zu unterwerfen sowie dass Frauen aufgrund angeborener Eigenschaften weniger Zugang zu Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften finden als Männer (aber dafür z. B. sprachlich begabter sind), was auch aufgrund verschiedener Forschungsergebnisse belegt sei. Mehrere Feministinnen waren so außer sich über Summers Meinungsäußerung, dass sie seine Entlassung durchsetzten.

Menschen mit politisch unerwünschten Auffassungen werden heutzutage einfach beseitigt.

Zu dieser Unfähigkeit einiger, abweichende Meinungen auszuhalten, gibt es einen aktuellen Beitrag im "Spektrum der Wissenschaft": "Warum wir etwas nicht glauben, das uns nicht passt."

Eine Reihe von Belegen, die die Auffassung des gefeuerten Google-Mitarbeiters stützen, findet man bei "Alles Evolution". Aber natürlich würden Argumente nur eine Rolle spielen, wenn die Möglichkeit einer offenen Sachdebatte noch gegeben wäre. Vor diesem Hintergrund bewertet die liberale Feministin Cathy Young die Kontroverse so:

#GoogleManifesto reactions should dispel any notion that progressives are any more rational or fact-based than the trumpiest of Trumplings.




3. Aus einer Besprechung der neuen "Game-of-Thrones"-Folge erfährt man mehr über die Befindlichkeit von Feministinnen im Jahr 2017:

Half a season ago (...), folks were arguing that "Dragonstone" was the most feminist episode in GOT history. Why? Well, mostly because Arya slaughtered an entire castle full of men in one go. My personal take is that ye olde poison-the-wine trick didn’t make a feminist statement, it just proved that we’re all so hungry for vengeance that we cheer when a young girl feeds some dude his sons.

          Feministischer Polizeistaat, Männerhaus in Texas – News vom 7. August 2017        
1. Die Liberalen Männer in der FDP sind gegründet. Alles Weitere folgt.



2. Die bekannte US-amerikanische Feministin Lena Dunham meldete ein privates Gespräch zweier Flugbegleiterinnen, das sie als "transphob" betrachtete, der zuständigen Fluggesellschaft. Während Dunhams Vorwürfe nicht bestätigt werden konnten, macht ihr Verhalten, das als typisch für sogenannte "Social Justice Warrors" betrachtet wird, so manchem Beobachter Sorge. Lena Dunham Epitomizes Our Self-Enforcing Police State kommentiert Robert Tracinski für das politische Magazin "The Federalist".



3. Die L.A.Times berichtet über eine Zuflucht für geprügelte Männer in Texas. Ein Auszug:

Studies have long shown that men and women are on the receiving end at more or less equal rates, though women are much more likely to be injured and to report it.

Last year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received 12,046 calls and messages from men who said they were victims in abusive relationships — a fraction of the 119,470 interactions with women but a 73% increase from 2014.

"The biggest challenge these men face is that people don’t believe them," said Paige Flink, chief executive of the Family Place, which opened its male shelter in May. "We’ve gone through a lot of work to get to where women are believed, but now the pendulum has swung to the point that men are assumed to be the aggressor."

(...) The feminist movement has long resisted the idea that domestic violence against men is a significant social problem. In 1975, when sociologists at the University of New Hampshire published a study suggesting that women were just as likely as men to assault their partners, the researchers faced widespread criticism — including death threats and bomb scares.


Wer diese feministische Einseitigkeit kritisierte, wurde noch vor ein paar Tagen von der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung als "antifeministisch" neben Björn Höcke & Co. einsortiert.



4. Die Filmemacherin Cassie Jaye, die mit ihrer Männerrechtler-Doku "The Red Pill" für internationale Aufmerksamkeit sorgte, berichtet jenen, die ihre Arbeit durch Spenden unterstützen, regelmäßig von den neuesten Entwicklungen. Einen aktuellen Bericht von ihr finde ich erwähnenswert. Cassie Jaye teilte darin am Samstag folgendes mit:

Last night was The Red Pill's 4th film festival screening!

The 1st was the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, the 2nd was the Louisiana International Film Festival, the 3rd was Digital Hollywood's Digifest and last night The Red Pill screened at the FLY Film Festival in Enid, Oklahoma!

I must say, the FLY festival screening was probably the quietest screening of the film that I've ever attended. I sat in the back row with my producer/mother Nena Jaye and we didn't see anyone talk to their neighbor, laugh, gasp, etc ...

It was just a really quiet screening, which of course made me nervous for the Q&A. What did they think of the film? I had no idea.

Well, the Q&A was very quick. The festival's schedule only allowed us time for 2 questions (since The Red Pill is almost 2 hours long and they had to start the next screening). The questions were: 1. Why didn't you show more of the PUA and MGTOW communities? 2. Have you received any positive reviews from feminist publications like Ms. Magazine? If you've seen my previous interviews/Q&A videos, you can guess how I answered.

Once I finished answering, the festival organizers concluded the Q&A and thanked my mom and I for being there. To our surprise, one-by-one people started to stand while clapping loudly. As I looked out into the audience, I realized many of them had been crying and still had tears in their swollen red eyes. At that point I knew why the screening was so quiet. Each person in the theater appeared to be processing their own emotions, either from their own life experiences or thinking of their friends, relatives or co-workers.

Overall, I'd say the audience was about 60% female, 40% male. It was a pretty good mixture of ages. There were a few high schoolers, many 20-40 year olds, and probably up to 70.

After the Q&A, in the lobby, my mom and I talked to quite a few people. I remember one man said he drove 4 hours from Texas just to attend the screening and to meet me. He was also a Kickstarter backer and said how glad he was with the final result. The Red Pill's Kickstarter was almost 2 years ago, and I still shake my head in astonishment that it worked out the way it did. It so easily could have not reached the goal and the film would have never been made. Crazy to think how that Kickstarter changed the course of everything.

I also met a couple who drove over an hour to attend the screening. They had already seen the film a few times on Amazon, and they said they even bought some DVDs to give as presents to their friends that they said "needed it”.

Then, I met one woman who said she served in the military for over two decades. She loved the film and was welling up and shaking. It was her first time watching the film. She only knew about it because she was a volunteer at the festival. She told me she had thought of many of these things before but could never articulate it or pinpoint what was going on. She didn't give me specifics, so I can only imagine, but she said the film was going to be the shift that our culture needs.

I spoke to many more people, and I won't describe all of them, but one thing I found fascinating was that I spoke to 3 different women who work or have worked at domestic violence shelters in Oklahoma. I spoke to them separately and they didn't come together, but they all said essentially the same thing: they knew there were male victims calling in and needing assistance, but their shelter didn't have any system built in to support them. All they could do was refer the men to other shelters out of state, but they didn't know what happened to them or if they ever received assistance. As these 3 women talked to me, I could tell the film really made them think in new ways about their time at their various shelters. I didn't sense any blaming or dismissive tone from them (like blaming the men or dismissing them as victims), I sensed more of a sorrow that they hadn't thought about it more before. One woman left me saying she's going to bring a DVD of The Red Pill to the shelter where she works and share it with the staff there. With her eyes wide and sad, staring past me, she said "I have a lot of questions".


Sobald man es schafft, der Öffentlichkeit die notwendigen Informationen zu vermitteln, kann dort sogar Mitgefühl für das Leiden von Männern entstehen. Allerdings belegt gerade der Fall Cassie Jayes, der wer immer das tut, bei dieser Aufgabe auch zahlreiche persönliche Attacken und Verleumdungen zu überstehen hat.
          Sachsen-Anhalt: Frauen verdienen mehr als Männer – News vom 5. August 2017      &nb