Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said on Monday the FBI has “something to hide” about Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud — the man who told former Trump …
“FBI and Counterintelligence” – Google News
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said on Monday the FBI has “something to hide” about Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud — the man who told former Trump …
“FBI and Counterintelligence” – Google News
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said on Monday the FBI has “something to hide” about Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud — the man who told former Trump …
“counterintelligence Mueller Investigation” – Google News
The former deputy director of the FBI said he made the call.
“FBI and Counterintelligence” – Google News
The former deputy director of the FBI said he made the call.
“counterintelligence Mueller Investigation” – Google News
By Urs Geiser
Voters have endorsed a controversial reform of Swiss gun law to bring it into line with European Union rules.
results show the reform winning 63.7% of the ballot on Sunday. The
result was much closer in some rural regions, though voters in canton
Ticino were the only ones to reject the legal amendment.
Ownership of semi-automatic weapons will now require regular training on the use of firearms and a serial numbering of major parts of some guns to help track them.
Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter welcomed the outcome, saying it
made Switzerland more secure by improving the traceability of firearms
and increasing the exchange of information with other European
“But most importantly, gun traditions will continue and
the use of standard-issue guns for former militia army members will not
be affected,” Keller-Sutter told a news conference.
She said that
membership of the Schengen security agreement – and its visa-free
travel zone – provided more security for Switzerland.
that intensive public debates over the past few weeks are part of the
Swiss system of direct democracy and helped to strengthen the cohesion
of the country.
Opponents conceded defeat but
complained about a misleading campaign by supporters. They warned the
new regulations would undermine traditional values.
stricter gun control, Switzerland has given in to pressure by the
EU,” People’s Party parliamentarian Lukas Reimann told public radio.
broad alliance of gun clubs, militia army officers, hunters and
collectors, supported by the political right, tried to overturn a
decision by parliament last year that limits notably the use of
The gun lobby launched its campaign early on, pushing its message aggressively.
Winning the support of gun enthusiasts, it easily collected the 50,000 necessary signatures to force the referendum. But it faced an uphill battle in the past few weeks.
Opponents cautioned the
parliamentary decision was “dictated by the EU” and would lead to
“disarming” Switzerland through “useless, dangerous, un-Swiss” measures.
said that tougher controls on semi-automatic guns and improved
traceability of firearms go too far in a country with near-universal
conscription, a high rate of gun ownership, but a low crime rate.
scientist Urs Bieri of the GfS Bern research institute pointed out the
consistent campaign of the supporters of the stricter gun control and
the limited backing by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party.
previous similar campaigns, the supporters did not focus on the
emotional issue of gun-related deaths. Neither did the anti-terrorism
arguments used by the EU feature prominently in the government’s
Rather, the pragmatic issue of Schengen membership and downplaying the impact of the reforms were enough to give the proponents a considerable lead heading into the vote on Sunday.
The government and most major political parties warned that a rejection of the legal amendment would deny Swiss authorities access to a Europe-wide criminal database and lead to the exclusion of the country from a joint EU security system under the single border Schengen agreement.
also argued that the government had won the necessary concessions from
the EU respecting Switzerland’s tradition of self-defence and national
identity that includes a well-armed citizenry.
The business community was also concerned that exclusion from Europe’s single-border area could complicate cross-border traffic and hamper tourism.
is the fourth time since 2008 that Swiss gun laws are being updated to
bring them in line with the other 25 Schengen member states.
Parliament approved all the previous reforms. However, a separate proposal to set up more comprehensive cantonal gun registers was rejected four years ago.
As part of the Swiss system of direct democracy, voters in 2011
threw out a left-wing proposal, including a central database on
firearms, a strict licensing system for gun owners as well as a ban on
stocking army-issue firearms in private households. Around 56% of voters
rejected the initiative.
By Dr Sandip Kumar Mishra*
On 3 May 2019, Japanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe announced his readiness to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
‘without conditions’ to ‘end the long-running mistrust between their countries’,
as reported by Japanese media. On 6 May 2019, he conveyed a similar message to
the US during his telephonic conversation with President Donald Trump. This is
an important reset in Japan’s approach towards North Korea, which earlier
displayed an inflexible, hard-line policy. It seems that Abe is interested in making
a course correction in his North Korea policy, which is a welcome sign for regional
peace and stability.
Earlier, Abe linked any progress related
to North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens and the country’s denuclearisation
with the possibility of summit meets with Kim, while arguing for a tough policy
towards it. This approach led to Japan’s isolation in the several developments
that have taken place in East Asia over the past roughly two years. Since early
2018, three summit meetings have been held between North and South Korea, two between
North Korea and the US, three between North Korea and China, four meets between
South Korea and the US, and even one summit meet between Russia and North
Korea. More meetings between the US-South Korea, North Korea-South Korea, and
the US-North Korea are expected. These developments in regional politics indicate
Japan’s growing irrelevance in the process, which undoubtedly contributed to
Japan’s discomfort and its recent reorientation of policy. Japan, for its part,
had previously reached out to the US and expressed willingness to be part of
the evolving scenario with regard to North Korea, but its singular insistence
on the abduction issue made it impossible for the US to bring it on board.
Abe had no option but to review and revise
his approach amidst this growing isolation. The change was first visible when,
in the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018, Abe spoke about being
“ready to break the shell of mutual distrust with North Korea” and “meet
face to face with Chairman Kim Jong-un.” He made several gestures to
convey to North Korea Japan’s readiness to deal with it directly. Even though
Japan extended sanctions against North Korea for another two years on 9 April
2019, the changed Japanese posture was underlined again in the Japanese
Diplomatic Blue Book released on 23 April 2019. The document removed references
to applying”‘maximum pressure” on North Korea, which has been a constant
feature for almost a decade. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga
said that it has been done because of
“significant developments” that have taken place on with
regard to the North Korean nuclear issue, such as the two summits between the
US and North Korea. It is also important to keep in mind that in March 2019, in
another significant step, Japan did not propose a resolution condemning North
Korea at the United Nations Human Rights Council, which it has been doing
continuously since 2007.
Thus, it may be concluded that over
the past few months, Shinzo Abe has moving towards demonstrating a more
pragmatic and conciliatory posture vis-à-vis North Korea. However, Japan must
be prepared to sustain this new attempt at engagement for a considerable period
of time to harness results, as in the short-run, there could be dissatisfactory
responses from North Korea. For example, North has tested short-range missiles
on 4 May and 9 May 2019, after a long period of moratorium. Despite this, the
US and South Korea have been cautious in their reactions in the understanding
that the process of denuclearisation and
engagement with North Korea will not be linear. This is a fact Japan also must
There are a few acknowledgements, in
fact, that would be useful to keep in mind. First, patience and consistency in approach
by keeping an eye on the bigger picture will certainly help Japan. Second,
Japan is expected to bring on board more positive agenda items as well as instil
trust in the process to help carve a security contributor role for Tokyo, for
which it already has the capacity and resources required. Third, Japan has to
reset its relations with other countries in the region and otherwise, such as
China, Russia, and South Korea. To evolve a long-term constructive approach
towards North Korea, more frequent and in-depth coordination with these
countries is important.
Finally, although it is premature to
conclude how serious Japan is about the changes to its North Korea policy, and whether
it is in fact ready to make the necessary re-adjustments to its regional policy
approach, these recent developments are still a positive development that must
be highlighted, and appreciated.
*Dr Sandip Kumar Mishra is Associate Professor, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, JNU, and Visiting Fellow, IPCS.
By Tim Donner*
They called it the war to end all wars. The final real-time
demonstration of the futility of armed conflict. The clash between
civilizations that would determine the ultimate fate of humanity.
Notwithstanding the reality that World War I most certainly did not
accomplish that impossibly idealistic objective, it nevertheless serves
as a useful analogy to President Trump’s aggressive use of tariffs in
his war of wills with China.
may seem like a contradiction in terms, but Trump’s determination to
balance the scales of international trade can be viewed thusly: the
implementation of a temporary tariff regime severe enough to ultimately produce trade devoid of tariffs.
Given competing and justifiable nationalist interests, it is unlikely that we will ever see a world where tariffs
are extinct. But that hardly means American presidents should not seek
agreements to reduce levies on foreign nations to a dull roar — or at
least limited to reciprocal tariffs — and do all within their power to
avoid an outright trade war.
It might appear that the president is intent on such a war. After
all, since Trump’s engagement in talks designed to hammer out a fair
deal, the United States has more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion
worth of Chinese products, and Beijing has retaliated with tariff hikes
on $60 billion in U.S. goods. Add to that the reactions of wizened
economic analysts and nervous Nellies on Wall Street wedded to the
status quo, i.e., a hugely unbalanced trade relationship with China, and
you would think it is the goal of President Trump to gin up economic warfare with Chinese President-for-Life Xi Jinping.
The reality is actually the opposite.
There’s a simple truth about tariffs. Given that they are essentially
a form of taxation on businesses and consumers, they are undesirable at
best if meant as an end in themselves. But as a means to an equitable end, they are necessary.
of the most appealing things about Trump is that he doesn’t complicate
things. He follows the simple, basic common sense of a successful
businessman. In this case, he is working off one simple paradigm in his
long-term game of leveling a playing field tilted uphill for the United
States following years of neglect or willful blindness by every U.S.
president since China shed the yoke of Mao Zedong and blended mercantile
capitalism with communism.
The paradigm is this: They need us more than we need them.
Yes, Americans have become enamored of cheap Chinese goods, but while
the new 25% tariffs on China will cause some worker displacement and
slightly higher prices on some goods for the short term, Americans have
abundant wherewithal to adjust. China’s economy, on the other hand, is
utterly dependent on America. Will the Chinese ultimately risk
losing their grip on the American market and watch their economy shrink
or collapse for the sake of maintaining the current trade regime, which
even they admit is dramatically imbalanced in their favor?
Put another way, which country would be hurt more by a full-on trade war? That’s not a hard answer.
Trump’s short-term view is that tariffs are a vital negotiating tool
that forces China and our other trading partners to the table because
they must have access to the U.S. market. But his long-term view, as
revealed during his presidential campaign and again in his dealings with
the European Union, is that tariffs should in the end become not only
unnecessary and undesirable but also virtually nonexistent.
Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore made this critical point in his exclusive interview on Liberty Nation Radio: The tariff culture surrounding
trade not just with China but with the rest of the world is forcing
Trump to employ levies he would prefer to avoid: “… at the G-7 meeting
eight, nine months ago, Trump put on the table with the European leaders
that we just go to zero tariffs. That’s something where (Trump’s chief
economic adviser} Larry Kudlow and I had really been pressing. Trump put
it on the table and the Europeans backed away from that.”
simply will not relent and agree to a fair deal without the leverage of
tariffs. You may wish the Chinese to change their evil ways, stop
stealing our intellectual property, stop dumping their excess steel on
the world market, and stop slapping excessive levies while they get
virtually unfettered access to our consumers, selling us almost $400
billion more in goods per year than we sell them. But there is zero
chance of that happening without a stick to back up the carrot of the
American market on which the Chinese economy is so heavily dependent.
Heck, this is sense so common that even Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agrees. So does longtime Trump hater Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, for heaven’s sake. You can look it up.
As a president who has implemented so much of the concrete change
that formed the basis of his presidential campaign, as opposed to a
vague impressionist tableau of hope and change, this is exactly
what Trump was talking about. This is what real change looks like. It
never comes easily, especially in this case, with the obstacle of an
encrusted political establishment and the heavy backlog of regression —
surrender even — in our trade relationship with China,
It’s time. Time to finally do the hard, grinding work and continue the long journey of a hundred miles undertaken by the president with the current critical steps toward a trade relationship with China we can live with for decades to come.
*About the author: Washington Political Columnist at LibertyNation.com. Tim is a radio talk show host, former candidate for the U.S. Senate, and longtime entrepreneur, Conservatarian policy advocate, and broadcast journalist. He is Founder and President of One Generation Away, LN’s parent organization.
Source: This article was published by Liberty Nation
Testifying under oath before lawmakers late last year, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch denied getting any instruction by President Barack Obama or his …
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Just a few days ahead of the elections to renew the European Parliament, there is much debate about alleged Russian interferences in the democratic process. But apart from cyber-attacks and other covert activities, how do Russian state-sponsored media outlets in English cover the upcoming elections? Answering this question is important, since they are conceived for a foreign audience and adopt a discourse meant to shape the perceptions of the electoral body on the basis of Moscow’s views and objectives.
Examining recent articles from three major outlets (RT, Sputnik News and Russia Insider) allows us to better understand this phenomenon. All three publications present a few recurring themes: the most frequent one is the rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the UK, who according to some electoral polls is ahead of the Labour and most importantly of the Tories. RT reports that the latter is sinking in projections; Sputnik states they are in “crisis”, that they are facing a “complete collapse”, that according to polls Farage’s Brexit Party would “hammer” them in the upcoming elections, and that its victory would cause a “major earthquake” in British politics.
France also gets a good share of attention, focusing on the anticipated electoral head-to-head between incumbent President Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally. Both RT and Sputnik have published articles on this (here and here respectively) emphasising how Le Pen is attempting to turn the European Parliament elections into an approval referendum on Macron and his policies by insisting that he should resign in case of defeat as De Gaulle did in 1946 after a defeat in the national parliamentary elections.
The growing influence of Italy’s Lega (League) party headed by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is another frequent topic. An article on Sputnik News mentions that the League may become the second-largest single party in the European Parliament.
Russia Insider, adopting a more vivid tone, also published two articles on Salvini. The first highlights his electoral gains and portrays him as “the person who lays the foundation for a wholesale revolt against the European Union and Italy’s participation in the euro” and the man capable of forming a pan-European bloc to “challenge the French/German axis of power.” The piece indicates France’s Le Pen and Hungary’s Viktor Orban as coalition allies and adds statements about his apparent attempts to retake control over Italy’s gold reserves in order to fight the EU. The second article depicts him as a “glorious new Caesar” determined to “free Italy from Gaulish [French] financial slavery”.
The last recurrent topic is the denial of the threat posed by Russian meddling to influence the elections. Responding to a piece published on The New York Times, an article on RT insists that the US newspaper offers no proof of Moscow’s actual implication apart from the opinion of a couple of anti-Russian and pro-NATO experts said to be linked with the US Democratic Party. RT also argues that Russia is not to blame for the rise of Eurosceptic forces, which is instead the result of “the disconnect between political elites and the people they are meant to represent”.
In short, these outlets all give extensive space to news regarding the views of right-wing conservative parties (often described as “populist” or “ethno-nationalist”) and their progress in electoral polls. However, their stance varies. Russia Insider, whose articles often include conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism, hails this trend as a positive course; whereas RT and Sputnik do not necessarily portray it in a positive way.
An article on RT reports that, according to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, around 10% of European will vote for such anti-system parties; but the piece also includes a quote by one of the report’s co-authors, Robert Vehrkamp, who stated that “Many citizens no longer choose to back one party, but rather vote against parties they oppose the most”. This suggests that the anticipated electoral success of the Eurosceptic parties is mainly due to “protest votes” resulting from dissatisfaction towards the establishment rather than from genuine support for them.
Similarly, Sputnik published an interview with Dr. Chris Reynolds of Nottingham University where he advances the argument that, rather than being the result of an anti-EU sentiment and opposition to European integration, the rise of right-wing parties is largely due to dissatisfaction over the domestic conditions of each state; meaning that electors will cast their votes as a form of protest against their own government. The interview does not hide Dr. Reynold’s opinion that these are nevertheless “worrying developments” in the light of the upcoming elections.
Similarly, after mentioning the surge of Eurosceptic parties in Europe and the UK, an op-ed by Ken Livingstone (a former British MP of the Labour Party) ends with an explicit invitation to vote for those political forces who want to remain in the EU, which seems to contradict the attention given on Russian outlets to Farage’s Brexit Party.
As such, the objective is not so much to present Eurosceptic parties in a positive light, but simply to constantly remind the readers that they are gaining electoral ground. The differences in style between the various outlets can be explained by the fact that they are tailored for different audiences so to catch the broadest spectrum of the European electorate, but they all have a point in common: they attempt to raise attention towards the expected electoral gains of anti-system parties and most importantly to underline the gap existing between EU institutions and the ordinary people who perceive them as alien. This has the ultimate goal of serving Russia’s geopolitical views by undermining the Union’s legitimacy.
As a matter of fact, since it considers European institutions like the EU (and even more NATO) as a threat or at best as an obstacle to its strategic interests, Moscow prefers a fragmented Europe over an integrated one; and this allows to interpret the coverage of the European Parliamentary elections by Russian-backed media.
*Alessandro Gagaridis is an independent International Relations analyst and owner of the website www.strategikos.it
In December 2009, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency issued its Endangerment Finding (EF) – decreeing that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) endanger the health and welfare of Americans. In the process, EPA ignored the incredible economic, health and welfare benefits of fossil fuels – and the fact that (even at just 0.04% of the atmosphere) carbon dioxide is the miracle molecule that enables plants to grow and makes nearly all live on Earth possible.
EPA turned CO2 into a “dangerous pollutant” and ruled that fossil fuels must be eradicated. The agency subsequently used its EF to justify tens of billions of dollars in climate research, anti-fossil fuel regulations, and wind and solar subsidies; President Obama’s signing of the Paris climate treaty; and proposals to spend trillions of dollars a year on Green New Deal (GND) programs.
And yet, despite multiple demands that this be done, there has never been any formal, public review of the EF conclusion or of the secretive process EPA employed to ensure the result of its “analysis” could only be “endangerment” – and no awkward questions or public hearings would get in the way.
Review, transparency and accountability may finally be on the way, however, in the form of potential Executive Branch actions. If they occur – and they certainly should – both are likely to find that there is no valid scientific basis for the EF, and EPA violated important federal procedural rules in rendering its predetermined EF outcome. (One could even say the EF was obtained primarily because of prosecutorial misconduct, a kangaroo court proceeding, and scientific fraud.) Failure to examine and reverse the EF would mean it hangs like Damocles’ sword over the USA, awaiting another climate-focused president.
To the consternation and outrage of climate alarmists, keep-fossil-fuels-in-the-ground radicals, and predictable politicians and pundits, President Trump may soon appoint a Presidential Committee on Climate Change, to review “dangerous manmade climate change” reports by federal agencies.
Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has filed a formal petition with EPA, asking that the agency stop utilizing and relying on the EF – and instead subject the finding to a proper “high level” peer review, as required by the Information Quality Act. The reasoning presented in CEI’s succinct and persuasive petition is compelling. Its main points are these.
Each of these actions violated specific IQA and OMB peer review guidelines. Indeed, two years after the Endangerment Finding was issued, even EPA’s own Inspector General found that that agency had violated rules governing all of these matters. And yet even then nothing was done to correct them.
The entire Obama EPA process smells like a crooked prosecutor who framed CO2 and was determined to get a conviction. The agency built its entire case on tainted, circumstantial evidence, and testimony from agency officials who had conflicts of interest and their own reasons for wanting CO2 convicted of endangering Americans. EPA reviewers ignored or hid exculpatory evidence and colluded to prevent witnesses for the CO2 defendant from presenting any defense or cross-examining agency witnesses.
A full reexamination now is essential, and not just because the Obama EPA violated every procedural rule in the books. But because EPA ignored volumes of climate science that contradicted its preordained EF finding. Because real-world climate and weather observations consistently contradict alarmist computer models and headlines. Because science is never settled … must never be driven by ideology … and must be reevaluated when new scientific evidence is discovered – or evidence of misbehavior is uncovered.
We know far more about Earth’s climate and have far more and better data than a decade ago. But climatologists still cannot explain why our planet experienced multiple ice ages and interglacial periods, Roman and Medieval warm periods, the Little Ice Age, or Anasazi, Mayan and Dust Bowl droughts.
And yet some of them insist they can accurately predict calamitous temperatures, weather events and extinctions 10, 20, 100 years from now – based on computer models whose temperature predictions are already a degree Fahrenheit above what satellites are measuring … and that rely primarily or solely on carbon dioxide, while downplaying or ignoring fluctuations in solar energy and cosmic ray output, the reflective properties of clouds, El Niño events, ocean current shifts, and other powerful natural forces.
And then, in the face of all that uncertainty and politicized science, they demand that the United States slash or eliminate its fossil fuel use – and that the poorest nations on Earth continue to forego fossil fuel development, and instead remain wracked by joblessness, misery, disease, malnutrition and early death.
Thankfully, poor countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are building or planning more than 2,000 coal and gas-fueled generating plants. They deserve to be freed from dictatorial carbon-colonialism and eco-manslaughter – and to become as wealthy, healthy and vibrant as modern industrialized nations that also relied on fossil fuels to develop … and are still 80% dependent on those fuels today.
But if those countries are building fossil fuel power plants, driving millions more cars and trucks, and emitting multiple times more CO2 and other GHGs than the United States – why should the USA slash or eliminate its coal, oil and natural gas? Why should we roll back our job creation, living standards, health and welfare, based on the IPCC’s junk science and EPA’s fraudulent Endangerment Finding?
For unfathomable reasons, a few White House advisors still oppose any PCCS or IQA-triggered review of the EF or junk/fraudulent science behind it. Perhaps they are too closely tied to the Deep State or invested financially or ideologically in the $2-trillion-per-year Climate-Industrial Complex. But whatever their reasons, they must be ignored in favor of science and the national interest. Let’s get the job done – now!
Write to President Trump: Ask him to appoint his Presidential Committee on Climate Science – and instruct the EPA to agree to the CEI petition and review the 2009 Endangerment Finding forthwith!
It is often believed that the reality of nations is determine by individuals and the decisions that they make; but there is such thing as constraints and limits that are out of human beings’ control and cannot be overcame. Among all the constraint that a territory can have, the most obvious and important one is geography. According to Robert Kaplan (2012), geography is the backdrop of the human history, and it can reveal a lot about government’s long-term intentions and its secret councils. It also is a fundamental factor in the foreign policy of states because it is the most permanent one.
The entity now called Afghanistan has a long history of invasions, migrations, and civil conflict. It is known for its important geostrategic location in the region, since its connecting East and West Asia. The country links three major cultural and geographical regions of Indian subcontinent to the southeast, central Asia to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the west. The land has been a target for various invaders, as well as a source from which local powers invaded neighboring regions to form their own empires. From the invasion of Alexander the Great in 330 BC and making Kabul a base for his operations to the take over the rest of the Asia, to the attempts of Iran to include the country in its territory, and being main part of the great game between British and the Russian empire for most of the 19th century.
These instances demonstrate why (and how) geography has been a deciding factor in Afghanistan’s destiny. Due to its geographical location, the country has been the center of competing foreign powers for a long time. The same is true about the history of the modern Afghanistan and presence of the United States and efforts of Pakistan for keeping Afghanistan as an unstable state.
The strategic location of Afghanistan made the country important for European powers as Britain and Russia struggled to maintain their control over the Indian subcontinent. According to Lord Curzon (Governor General and Viceroy of India in 1899), Turkistan, Afghanistan, Tran- scaspia, Persia are pieces on a chess-board upon which is being played out a game for dominance of the world. In the 19th century, the Great Britain had the fear that another European country would take advantage of the political decay of Asian countries by colonizing them – which would have threatened the position of Britain in Indian sub-content.
After France in Western Europe, Britain was worried for Russia’s continuous march toward south in the Asia. While both powers were aware of strategic importance of Afghanistan, they were not ready to engage in direct military fight. Instead, both tried to have control over the country, as it was a key for their strategic plans in Asia. To ensure its welfare in India, Britain was attempting to stop Russia form moving into Afghanistan and other neighboring countries that could be a threat for Britain in the Indian subcontinent, which was a source of wealth and power for the British imperial. The three Anglo-Afghan wars were not triggered for Afghanistan itself, rather they were a way for the British to threaten Russia for not advancing towards the Indian subcontinent, and to warn Afghans from forming an alliance with Russia.
The Britain, in order to protect India subcontinent from Russia, aimed at identifying a line where they could easily defeat their rival. In 1893, the final geographical line between Afghanistan and Pakistan was identified, that divided the tribal areas uniformly and was named Durand line. While the defined border was a pragmatic solution for the Britain to an intricate problem in that time, it also created many complications for Afghanistan that has been continuing until today. The current claim of most Afghans that the main root of all problems in Afghanistan, including terrorism, is the Durand line might not be very rational. Yet, it cannot be denied that dividing a community that shares the same culture, believes and religion was not the right way of defining border between the two countries, although the approach worked well for the military purposes of the Britain.
Furthermore, to oversee the frontier, the British constructed a robust chain of military strongholds along the foothills, known as frontier posts. The aim of these posts was to discourage the illicit tribal activities and to provide a means to intercept and pursue illegal raiding gangs. However, the continuous presence of the Britain in the frontier not only impacted the frontier communities in that era but its lasting impacts can be seen even today. Since the colonization of India and the inception of British army’s presence in the frontier, the Pashtuns residing in areas around the Durand line, especially Waziristan are understood as problematic and resistant to law and regulations. Today, in addition to raids and lootings, the frontier is known to be a safe haven for terrorist groups that have been threatening the security of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is often said that these tribesmen are psychologically different from other Pashtuns. But the effects that colonization and presence of British army left not only int only in Waziristan but all over Afghanistan and Pakistan is often overlooked.
Despite the significant improvements in other areas, the frontier communities evolved little during recent centuries. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan governments find it hard to enforce law in areas around line, especially in Waziristan, because the communities haven’t improved much.
The communities were introduced to guns instead of books and school from childhood and have been advised to be suspicious of everything and everyone, which is the legacy that British colonization and military presence left. Waziristan would have had a different destiny if it were not for the frontier between Afghanistan and Indian subcontinent, similar to Afghanistan that might had different history if it was not a buffer state between Britain and Russia.
Considering the strategic location of Afghanistan, the Soviet Union turned to Afghanistan in order to spread their political, economic and social ideology in central Asia and the Middle East. The agenda was to rule the country through an outcast group of communists, much as the soviet had dominated Bukhara in the early 1920s. Since, the Afghan government of the time was resisting, the Soviets, in December 1979, invaded Afghanistan to remove the government.
With the Soviet invasion, the Afghan economy was significantly damaged including the irrigation networks, distribution and marketing systems, and a significant part of labor force that was disrupted by the war and its hostilities. Such unsettlements did not only impact the political and economic, but it also facilitated the culture of black marketing and smuggling in the country. The evidence suggests that the civil war environment in Afghanistan spawned a flourishing opium trade.
As the Soviet troops faced resistance of Afghans, in addition to mass killings in villages and districts, they also burned the agricultural lands. According to a report by Aljazeera (2003), the opium production increased more than 150 folds in 25 years since the Soviet intervention and the beginning of CIA involvement in the drug trade. Afghanistan’s opium production leapt from about 100 tons in 1971 to 300 tons in 1982 and to 575 tons the following year. According to another report, between the U.S.S.R.’s withdrawal in 1989 and the Taliban’s emergence in 1994, the country descended into chaos as warlords competed for power. Afghan farmers, struggling to regain their standing in the marketplace, discovered that India and Pakistan had developed their own products and were no longer interested in importing Afghanistan’s.
Afghanistan’s history is indication that geography is the destiny. The role of the people and their decisions on the fate a nation cannot denied, but there are factors that out of human beings’ control. In the case of Afghanistan, because of the ethnic divide, there were few people that wanted to lead the country to a better future, even they could not do much because of the foreign interventions. in addition to internal affairs, the foreign policy of the county was always forced by other countries.
The country, despite its isolation and being landlocked, receive a lot of attention from the powers of the world. Every invasion and military operation that happened in Afghanistan, left lasting impacts on the country and its people. looking to the current situation of the country, it is easy to blame the nation and the individuals, but the fact is that what else can be expected from a generation that was born in war, grew in war and continue living the unwanted war.
*Neela Hassan is Afghan Journalist and M.A Of Communication for Development from Ohio University
Despite the 18,000
faithful who gathered recently in Washington, D.C. to pledge their unwavering
support to Israel, AIPAC finds itself in a Dickensian moment of history that
could be described as ‘It was the winter of gloating; it was
the spring of scrutiny’.
AIPAC’s guests of
honor may vary in faith and political affiliation; they may vary in fame, clout
and the sizes of their wallets. But on certain characteristics they are all
identical: their cultish faithfulness in the mentality of ‘what’s good for
Israel is good for America,’ and in their adherence to disseminate the
committee’s talking-points on foreign policy ad nauseam.
As usual the AIPAC
conference has attracted big names such as Vice President Pence, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others to rub
shoulders with many bigwig donors, pundits and ‘king-makers’.
After 7 decades of statehood, Israel remains unsustainable
without billions of U.S. tax-payers’ money, without U.S.’ blind commitment to
veto any resolution that attempts to hold Israel accountable for the routine
human rights violations and transgressions against international laws- something
that ironically would have justified ‘regime change’ if it were another country
Over the years, AIPAC has successfully marketed Israel as a
logical cognitive dissonance. Though 2019 Global Firepower ranks Israel the 16th
most powerful military in the world, it is presented in the US as
a nation that is under existential threat. Though it is a wealthy, innovative,
and advanced nation, it is presented as a nation that is worthy of perpetual unconditional funding from
Following Israel’s 70th
anniversary, these 3 controversial AIPAC lobbied-issues came to fruition: termination
of the Iran Nuclear Deal, transfer of US embassy to Jerusalem, and getting U.S.
to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel; hence underscoring AIPAC’s
exceptional clout in driving U.S. foreign policy. The only outstanding item in
Israel’s wish-list is to declare the remanence of the Muslim Brotherhood—most
of whom are in the dungeons of Egypt—a terrorist organization. Surely these accomplishments could boost
Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Donald Trump’s image- something they
desperately need as specter of corruption charges looms.
being said, despite the common perception, America, save President Carter, has never
been an ‘honest broker’ in its effort to help negotiate peace between Israel
and Palestine. And that duplicitous brokerage is now on steroid. Unlike
previous U.S. envoys to the Middle East who diplomatically concealed their
staunch support of above-all-laws Zionism, Trump’s son in law Jarod Kushner who
is now piloting U.S.’ Middle East policy, seems to enjoy being closely
affiliated with Netanyahu and the extreme elements of Israel politics.
AIPAC relies heavily
on U.S. mainstream media for dissemination of Israel’s narrative and for
perception management by omitting daily human rights violations that IDF
commits against Palestinians, including children. So it should shock no one to
see media groups that would assign reporters to file stories from dangerous war
zones would never send reporters to educate American audiences on what happens
at military check points or about the unbearable living conditions in Gaza.
Generally speaking, in democracies, media provides some of
the most critical public services- information, scrutiny, and empowerment.
Without them, the masses will remain ignorant or ill-informed, therefore easily
exploitable socially, politically and economically, and those whom power is
entrusted with willgrow more authoritarian and abusive, with impunity.
By the same token when media surrender their journalistic
independence to the highest corporate or individual mogul bidders, they, in due
course, grow dysfunctional and lose sight of their role to advance the public
interest and keep power in check. In such condition, media become dangerous
According to Gullup media trust survey, older Americans are more likely
to trust the media than younger Americans are. In this latest survey, 53% of
those aged 65 and older trust in the media, compared with just 33% of those
under age 30,” And this demographic perceptional enlightenment is the biggest
revolution against fictional narratives that cannot withstand the smell test.
That revolution is not only active in social media; it has real presence in the
United States Congress. And said presence is more profound than Adam
Milstein, a major pro-Israel funder’s, Islamophobic claim that
“The Muslim Brotherhood is now part of Congress” in reference to Muslim
Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib or President Trump’s reckless
posting of a propagandistic video implicating Rep. Omar as a terrorist
threats against Omar have alarmingly increased since then.
Donald Trump’s tweet has set
the stage for U.S.’ formal recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel
posted the day before the Special Counsel Rober Mueller turned in his final
report on the Russia Investigation. Of course, this latest of ‘Trumplomacy’
adventures has very little, if any, to do with U.S. national interest.
Trump’s violation of the
international law that considers the Golan Heights as an occupied territory was
meant to give another troubled leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is
AIPAC’s choice, a boost in the upcoming election. This blind loyalty to
Israel’s grand objective in the Middle East would further alienate and shut out
any opportunity to reconcile with the Muslim streets
that are fed up with the despotic older guards such as Egypt’s President Abel
Fattah el-Sisi and the more youthful perilous pawns such as Saudi Arabia’s
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. This reckless decision endorses the
‘might is right’ world view, reinspire irredentism and intensify the sporadic
disorders already underway in many parts of the world and undermine U.S.’
geopolitical interest in the long term. Most of the credit goes to AIPAC.
Before AIPAC came to the scene, the Jewish Zionist Council
used to do heavy lifting when it comes to lobbying for Israel. Under the
Kennedy administration, Attorney General Robert Kennedy launched an
investigation that later found out that the Council has “compromised its position”thus
ordering it to register as a “foreign agent”.
The Council never registered. It was voluntarily dissolved, and, in late
1960s, AIPAC whose mission is “to strengthen, protect and promote the
U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States
and Israel” assumed its functions.
Due to the blurred line of U.S. national interest and
AIPAC’s emboldened status under the current administration, it is a matter of
time before the new generation in the House would demand hearings citing that
1962-63 investigation as a precedent.
This year’s de facto
conference theme was ‘Let’s gang up of Ilhan, shall we?’ Led by Israel’s Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who told the conference “take
it from this Benjamin, it’s not about the Benjamins,” it is about Israel’s
shared values with the U.S., he added. This assertion might persuade anyone who
is oblivious to or ignores the fact that United Kingdom is the closest to U.S.
when it comes to shared values, history, fighting side-by-side in major wars,
and strategic partnership that ensures each a robust support for the other.
But, everyone knows no politician who knows a thing or two about international
relations could claim that U.K. and America will be friends forever. Yet, “Israel
and America are connected now and forever,” said Speaker Pelosi.
AIPAC has been
having a rough time spinning any and all legitimate criticism of Israel’s
ruthless oppression of the Palestinian people as an ill-intentioned anti-Semitic
attack on all Jews, though many of the most antagonistic toward that
apartheid-like system are thoughtful Jews, Jewish human rights and
The United Nations has recently issued a report
blaming Israeli army for cold-blood killings of 189 unarmed
Palestinians that include 35 children and some journalists and first aid
workers and maiming more than 9,000 during
last year’s ‘right to return’ protests in Gaza. The report which was based on more than 300
interviews and more than 8,000 documents concludes that Israel may have
committed crimes against humanity. With these kinds of crimes and Netanyahu’s
Likud Party forming partnership with a zealot party that promotes forced
removal of Palestinians had compelled many including 2020
presidential candidates such as Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Kamala
Harris to boycott
attending the conference. President Trump did not waste time in
condemning their decision to not pay their loyalty homage as an anti-Israel
Meanwhile, the BDS
movement continues to rapidly grow. Recently Brown Uniersity
became the first Ivy League university to officially join the movement. Expect
other universities to follow.
Many holes are poked in AIPAC’s ‘carrot or stick’
groupthink power that had total monopoly on the Middle East narrative and the
future of the Palestinian people. Just don’t tell those diehard AIPAC loyalists
who were at the conference about it.
When groupthink rouses the
masses into disorder it is a tragedy. And when groupthink rouses the political,
economic, social, and the intellectual elite to surrender their autonomy to
think critically and independently, it is a tragic comedy.
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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (87 sites)
The key topic of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF),
which will be held at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Centre on
June 6–8, is Creating a Sustainable Development Agenda, says the
According to the adviser to the President of the Russian Federation
Anton Kobyakov, the Forum programme is based on a thorough analysis of
current trends in the development of all sectors of the global economy.
“Thanks to the work of experts, scholars, professional and public
associations, the discussions under the SPIEF business programme
annually become the key to resolving the most crucial problems of global
development. The conclusions drawn from the Forum’s discussions
encourage business and government to take the decisions needed for
achieving sustainable development goals”, he said.
According to the organizers, the programme of the Forum consists of
four thematic blocks: The Global Economy in Search of a Balance, The
Russian Economy: Achieving National Development Goals, Technologies
Shaping the Future, and People First.
During business sessions, participants will discuss the most topical
issues of global macroeconomic development, changes in the structure of
the world economy, trade, problems of competition, investment, and the development of Russian regions.
Moreover, they will concentrate on the cyberthreats, digitalization
of certain sectors of the economy, international cooperation in science,
competitiveness of Russian education, immigration policy and public
In addition, the SPIEF programme involves the World Energy Council
session and the Valdai Club sessions, the B20 Regional Consultation
Forum, the EAEU—ASEAN business dialogues, the Russian-Chinese Energy
Business Forum, the International Youth Economic Forum, the SCO
Conference, the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Forum, and the BRICS Conference.
Commenting on the upcoming event in St. Petersburg, Philip Hanson,
Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House, noted the
importance of the forum for the development of interstate economic
“It is an event that is monitored by analysts and businesspeople
concerned with trade and investment with Russia. Investment and trade
between Europe and Russia are still limited by sanctions and by sluggish
growth in both Russia and the Eurozone, constraining demand. […] But
there are signs of life,” the expert told PenzaNews.
“Nord Stream 2 […] still has strong support from Germany and will
not be halted. Total’s investment in Novatek’s Arctic LNG seems to be
going ahead,” the British analyst explained.
According to him, the composition of the forum participants and
theses of its main speakers are of particular interest, since they will
demonstrate the emerging trends.
“Who will attend from Europe? From the US? Will Putin adopt a
Russia-is-open-for-business tone? He probably will. What will be the
messages from leading members of the Russian government’s economic bloc?
In particular, what will the message be about future tax burdens?
Uncertainty about taxation concerns foreign as well as domestic
business. I anticipate business-friendly speeches, but the constraints
of sanctions and relatively weak demand on both sides remain,” Philip
Meanwhile, Bunn Nagara, Senior Fellow, Institute of Strategic and
International Studies, suggested that business cooperation follows the
basic general rule of “more is better.”
“Russian businesses face a number of challenges. First, there is
little information available internationally about the opportunities and
possibilities for partnerships between Russian and foreign businesses.
International news is still dominated by Western news agencies which
have a different focus and agenda. Russia is often seen only politically
and negatively. Without sufficient information available about
prospective business cooperation and partnerships, many foreign
businesses will stay away,” the expert said.
“SPIEF is useful for promoting economic relations and the investment
climate generally. It is a situation of every little bit helps in
spreading awareness. Nonetheless, there is a sense that SPIEF can do
more. Better public relations and improved information dissemination are
very important,” Bunn Nagara explained.
In his opinion, today many states suffer from arbitrary international sanctions.
“Countries with business dealings with Iran for example have been
targeted in such illegitimate sanctions. Unless there is coordinated
planning by different countries to maneuver against such sanctions,
international business cooperation will be a victim and suffer. Russia
is an important country and a major world power. It may be possible for
it to show leadership in such international coordination around or
against illegitimate sanctions,” the analyst stressed.
It is always possible to change the situation for the better, he said.
“Russia is a large country that is in both Europe and Asia. It spans
both major continents, so SPIEF can do much to bring Asian and European
business linkages together and build on them. SPIEF can develop itself
into that vital transcontinental link that opens up many new
opportunities for East and West. To do this, it needs to do more in
spreading more and better information about its achievements, the
progress so far, its future plans, and the opportunities available,”
Bunn Nagara said.
Alexander Rahr, Research Director of the German-Russian Forum, shared
the view that Russian and Western business is going through rather
difficult times because of sanctions that adversely affect the overall
“Russia is actually turning away from Europe, which is pushing it toward Asia.
Moscow focuses on the Chinese and Asian markets, as well as its own,
restoring production within the country. This is quite difficult – in
partnership with the West, the process would go faster. However, Europe
puts political issues ahead of economic benefits, and I see no
improvement in the current situation,” the expert said.
At the same time, in his opinion, such events as SPIEF are very
helpful, since it is an important tool and mediator for mutual business
“But politics interferes. I know that at the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis,
American and German officials persuaded Western business not to go to
the SPIEF for political reasons, urging ‘not to encourage Russia’ or
‘punish it’,” Alexander Rahr reminded.
“Until the highest politics stops interfering with business
rapprochement, there will be no obvious changes for the better.
Politicians in every country have very strong leverage. The forum is
important, but you will see for yourself that there will be more
representatives of Asia than those of Europe in St. Petersburg,” he
In turn, Christiane Schuchart, Regional Director, Russia, German
Eastern Business Association, expressed hope that the EU and Russia will
be able to develop a joint, constructively oriented concept and will
adhere to it.
“German companies promote such European policy that could lead to
growth and improve relations between the EU countries and Russia. Today
we again observe a positive dynamic in the dialogue between the EU and
the Russian Federation and we hope that this will find a response in the
sphere of economic interaction,” she said.
Christiane Schuchart noted that SPIEF plays a special role in fostering such cooperation.
“For many German companies, SPIEF has become one of the most
important conferences in Russia, which serves as a platform for
exchanging information on the current economic situation and for meeting
with business partners. On the fields of the forum, the discuss their
projects and develop the contacts, which in turn plays an important role
in making future corporate decisions. As part of the SPIEF this year,
we also plan to sign a number of agreements between German and Russian
companies,” the representative of German Eastern Business Association
According to her, the EU and Russia have many themes, an approach to which can be only found by joint efforts.
“There is a certain need to turn the current situation into a positive direction. We have large, interesting topics for both sides, such as increasing labor productivity, developing small and medium businesses, economy digitizing, realizing global climate protection goals, ensuring reliable energy and raw materials, and improving mobility. Modern and innovative companies from the EU and Russia are already working together to address issues in all of the above areas, but there is still a lot of potential for enhanced cooperation. Of course, we should not be silent about political differences and conflicts. Foreign investors in Russia need a promising and stable environment, so we expect from both sides to contribute to new attempts to establish trust and actively work on the peaceful resolution of existing conflicts,” Christiane Schuchart concluded.
Results of a recent annual survey of Arab youth concerns about their
future suggest that Arab autocracies have yet to deliver expected public services and goods, explain autocratic efforts to
promote nationalism, and indicate that jobs and social freedoms are more important than political rights.
survey provides insights that should informs
autocrats’ quest for social and economic reform. It also suggests,
together with the intermittent eruption of anti-government protests in
different parts of
the Arab world, that Western and Middle Eastern interests would be
better served by more nuanced US and European approaches towards the
governments have so far uncritically supported
social and economic reform efforts rather than more forcefully sought to
ensure that they would bear fruit and have been lax in pressuring
regimes to at
least curb excesses of political repression.
Critics charge that the survey by Dubai-based public
relations firm asda’a bcw focussed on
the 18-24 age group was flawed because it gave a greater weighting to
views in smaller
Gulf states as opposed to the region’s more populous countries such as
Egypt, used small samples of up to 300 people, and did not include
Qatar, Syria and
results constitute a mixed bag for Arab autocrats
and suggest that squaring the circle between the requirements of reform
and youth expectations is easier said than done and could prove to be
majority of youth, weened on decades of reliance on
government for jobs and social services, say governments that are
unilaterally rewriting social contracts and rolling back aspects of the
welfare state, have so far failed to deliver.
more problematic, youth expect governments to be
the provider at a time that reform requires streamlining of
bureaucracies, reduced state control, and stimulation of the private
whopping 78 percent of those surveyed said it was
the government’s responsibility to provide jobs. An equal number
expected energy to be subsidized, 65 percent complained that governments
were not doing
enough to support young families while 60 percent expected government to
the same token, 78 percent expressed concern about
the quality of education on offer, including 70 percent of those in the
Gulf. Yet, 80 percent of those in the Gulf said local education systems
for jobs of the future as opposed to a regional total of 49 percent that
felt education was lagging. Nonetheless, only 38 percent of those
surveyed in the
Gulf said they would opt for a local higher education.
There appeared to be a similar gap between the foreign
and regional policies of governments and youth aspirations.
policies, particularly by Gulf states, that
have fuelled regional conflicts, including wars in Libya, Syria, and
Yemen, the Saudi Iranian rivalry and the two-year-old diplomatic and
economic boycott of
Qatar run counter to a desire among a majority of those surveyed to see
an end to the disputes. In favour of Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini rulers,
67% of young
Arabs see Iran as an enemy.
survey also suggests that the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, contrary to common wisdom, is an issue that resonates. With 79
percent of those surveyed saying they are concerned about the dispute,
arises whether the Gulf’s rapprochement with Israel and support for US president Donald J. Trump’s
peace plan that is widely believed to disadvantage the Palestinians enjoys popular support.
suggestion that Gulf policies towards the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict may not be wholeheartedly supported is
bolstered by the fact that the number of people surveyed this year that
viewed the United
States as an enemy rose to 59 percent compared to 32 percent five years
Arab leaders’ reliance on religion as a
regime legitimizer and efforts to steer Islam in the direction of
apolitical quietism are proving to be a double-edged sword and one
probable reason why
men like Saudi
crown prince Mohammed bin Salman have sought to reduce the role of the religious establishment by promoting hyper-nationalism.
two thirds of those surveyed felt that religion
played too large a role, up from 50% four years ago. Seventy-nine
percent argued that religious institutions needed to be reformed while
half said that
religious values were holding the Arab world back.
Publication of the survey coincided with the release
by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) of its 2019 report.
report designated Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s “worst violators”
of religious freedoms, highlighting discrimination of Shia Muslims and
Muslims in Saudi Arabia continue to face
discrimination in education, employment, and the judiciary, and lack
access to senior positions in the government and military,” the 234-page
Leaders of the United Arab Emirates, accused by human rights groups of
systematic violations, are likely to see a silver lining in the survey and a reconfirmation of their policy of economic and
relative social liberalism coupled with absolute political control.
Forty-four percent of those surveyed named the UAE as
their preferred country as opposed to less than 22 percent opting for Canada, the United States, Turkey or Britain.
In a white paper accompanying the
survey, Afshin Molavi, a senior fellow
at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School
International Studies, concluded that the survey showed that “the
demands and dreams of young Arabs are neither radical nor revolutionary”
and that they were
unlikely to “to fall for the false utopias or ‘charismatic’ leaders
their parents fell for.”
the words of Jihad Azour, the International
Monetary Fund’s top Middle East person, “what is needed is a new social
contract between MENA (Middle East and North Africa) governments and
ensures accountability, transparency and a commitment to the principle
that no one is left behind… The latest youth survey makes clear that
we have a long
way to go,” Mr. Azour said in his contribution to the white paper.
By John W. Whitehead*
“No matter who you are, no matter how strong you are, sooner or later, you’ll face circumstances beyond your control.” — Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
Those coming of age today will face some of the greatest obstacles ever encountered by young people.
They will find themselves overtaxed, burdened with excessive college debt, and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will be eviscerated by the surveillance state. They will be the subjects of a military empire constantly waging war against shadowy enemies and government agents armed to the teeth ready and able to lock down the country at a moment’s notice.
such, they will find themselves forced to march in lockstep with a
government that no longer exists to serve the people but which demands
they be obedient slaves or suffer the consequences.
It’s a dismal prospect, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, we who should have known better failed to guard against such a future.
we neglected to maintain our freedoms or provide our young people with
the tools necessary to survive, let alone succeed, in the impersonal
jungle that is modern America.
We brought them into homes fractured by divorce, distracted by mindless entertainment, and obsessed with the pursuit of materialism.
We institutionalized them in daycares and afterschool programs,
substituting time with teachers and childcare workers for parental
involvement. We turned them into test-takers instead of thinkers and
automatons instead of activists.
We allowed them to languish in schools which not only look like prisons but function like prisons,
as well — where conformity is the rule and freedom is the exception. We
made them easy prey for our corporate overlords, while instilling in
them the values of a celebrity-obsessed, technology-driven culture
devoid of any true spirituality. And we taught them to believe that the
pursuit of their own personal happiness trumped all other virtues,
including any empathy whatsoever for their fellow human beings.
No, we haven’t done this generation any favors.
on the current political climate, things could very well get much worse
before they ever take a turn for the better. Here are a few pieces of
advice that will hopefully help those coming of age today survive the
perils of the journey that awaits:
Be an individual.
For all of its claims to champion the individual, American culture
advocates a stark conformity which, as John F. Kennedy warned, is “the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.” Worry less about fitting in with the rest of the world and instead, as Henry David Thoreau urged, become “a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.”
Learn your rights.
We’re losing our freedoms for one simple reason: most of us don’t know
anything about our freedoms. At a minimum, anyone who has graduated from
high school, let alone college, should know the Bill of Rights
backwards and forwards. However, the average young person, let alone
citizen, has very little knowledge of their rights for the simple reason
that the schools no longer teach them. So grab a copy of the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and study them at home. And when
the time comes, stand up for your rights before it’s too late.
Speak truth to power.
Don’t be naive about those in positions of authority. As James Madison,
who wrote our Bill of Rights, observed, “All men having power ought to
be distrusted.” We must learn the lessons of history. People in power,
more often than not, abuse that power. To maintain our freedoms, this
will mean challenging government officials whenever they exceed the
bounds of their office.
Resist all things that numb you.
Don’t measure your worth by what you own or earn. Likewise, don’t
become mindless consumers unaware of the world around you. Resist all
things that numb you, put you to sleep or help you “cope” with so-called
reality. Those who establish the rules and laws that govern society’s
actions desire compliant subjects. However, as George Orwell warned,
“Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after
they rebelled, they cannot become conscious.” It is these conscious
individuals who change the world for the better.
Don’t let technology turn you into zombies.
Technology anesthetizes us to the all-too-real tragedies that surround
us. Techno-gadgets are merely distractions from what’s really going on
in America and around the world. As a result, we’ve begun mimicking the
inhuman technology that surrounds us and have lost our humanity. We’ve
become sleepwalkers. If you’re going to make a difference in the world,
you’re going to have to pull the earbuds out, turn off the cell phones
and spend much less time viewing screens.
We all have a calling in life. And I believe it boils down to one
thing: You are here on this planet to help other people. In fact, none
of us can exist very long without help from others. If we’re going to
see any positive change for freedom, then we must change our view of
what it means to be human and regain a sense of what it means to love
and help one another. That will mean gaining the courage to stand up for
Give voice to moral outrage.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we
become silent about the things that matter.” There is no shortage of
issues on which to take a stand. For instance, on any given night, over half a million people in the U.S. are homeless, and half of them are elderly. There are 46 million Americans living at or below the poverty line, and 16 million children living in households without adequate access to food. Congress creates, on average, more than 50 new criminal laws each year.
With more than 2 million Americans in prison, and close to 7 million
adults in correctional care, the United States has the largest prison
population in the world. At least 2.7 million children in the United States have at least one parent in prison. At least 400 to 500 innocent people are killed by police officers every year. Americans are now eight times more likely to die in a police confrontation than they are to be killed by a terrorist. On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams. It costs the American taxpayer $52.6 billion every year to be spied on by the government intelligence agencies
tasked with surveillance, data collection, counterintelligence and
covert activities. All the while, since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more
than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and police the rest of the world. This is an egregious affront to anyone who believes in freedom.
Cultivate spirituality, reject materialism and put people first.
When the things that matter most have been subordinated to materialism,
we have lost our moral compass. We must change our values to reflect
something more meaningful than technology, materialism and politics.
Standing at the pulpit of the Riverside Church in New York City in April
1967, Martin Luther King Jr. urged his listeners:
as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must
rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a
“person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motive
and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant
triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being
Pitch in and do your part to make the world a better place.
Don’t rely on someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. Don’t wait
around for someone else to fix what ails you, your community or nation.
As Gandhi urged: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Say no to war. Addressing the graduates at Binghampton Central High School in 1968, at a time when the country was waging war “on different fields, on different levels, and with different weapons,” Twilight Zonecreator Rod Serling declared:
many wars are fought almost as if by rote. Too many wars are fought out
of sloganry, out of battle hymns, out of aged, musty appeals to
patriotism that went out with knighthood and moats. Love your country
because it is eminently worthy of your affection. Respect it because it
deserves your respect. Be loyal to it because it cannot survive without
your loyalty. But do not accept the shedding of blood as a natural
function or a prescribed way of history — even if history points this up
by its repetition. That men die for causes does not necessarily
sanctify that cause. And that men are maimed and torn to pieces every
fifteen and twenty years does not immortalize or deify the act of war…
find another means that does not come with the killing of your
Finally, prepare yourselves for what lies ahead. The
demons of our age — some of whom disguise themselves as
politicians — delight in fomenting violence, sowing distrust and
prejudice, and persuading the public to support tyranny disguised as
patriotism. Overcoming the evils of our age will require more than
intellect and activism. It will require decency, morality, goodness,
truth and toughness. As Serling concluded in his remarks to the
graduating class of 1968:
“Toughness is the singular quality most required of you…
we have left you a world far more botched than the one that was left to
us… Part of your challenge is to seek out truth, to come up with a
point of view not dictated to you by anyone, be he a congressman, even a
minister… Are you tough enough to take the divisiveness of this land of
ours, the fact that everything is polarized, black and white, this or
that, absolutely right or absolutely wrong. This is one of the
challenges. Be prepared to seek out the middle ground … that wondrous
and very difficult-to-find Valhalla where man can look to both sides and
see the errant truths that exist on both sides. If you must swing left
or you must swing right — respect the other side. Honor the motives that
come from the other side. Argue, debate, rebut — but don’t close those
wondrous minds of yours to opposition. In their eyes, you’re the
opposition. And ultimately … ultimately — you end divisiveness by
compromise. And so long as men walk and breathe — there must be compromise…
you tough enough to face one of the uglier stains upon the fabric of
our democracy — prejudice? It’s the basic root of most evil. It’s a part
of the sickness of man. And it’s a part of man’s admission, his
constant sick admission, that to exist he must find a scapegoat. To
explain away his own deficiencies — he must try to find someone who he
believes more deficient… Make your judgment of your fellow-man on what
he says and what he believes and the way he acts. Be tough enough,
please, to live with prejudice and give battle to it. It warps, it
poisons, it distorts and it is self-destructive. It has fallout worse
than a bomb … and worst of all it cheapens and demeans anyone who
permits himself the luxury of hating.”
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People,
the only way we’ll ever achieve change in this country is for the
American people to finally say “enough is enough” and fight for the
things that truly matter.
doesn’t matter how old you are or what your political ideology is. If
you have something to say, speak up. Get active, and if need be, pick up
a picket sign and get in the streets. And when civil liberties are
violated, don’t remain silent about it.
Wake up, stand up, and make your activism count for something more than politics.
*About the author: Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His books Battlefield America: The War on the American People and A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State are available online at www.amazon.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com. Click here to read more of John Whitehead’s commentaries.
Everyday in my local papers, I read stories with headlines like “Subway Ridership Dropped Again in New York as Passengers Flee to Uber.” AMNY, in its daily Tweet compilation section, generally devotes at least half of its selections to posts bashing the subway and bus system. In the midst of the hangover that was last week’s Uber IPO (in which it immediately lost 8% of its value), it would be appropriate to contemplate the intersection of Uber (and its ugly stepsister Lyft) and the government.
In the shadow of the Great Depression and WWII, under the Administrations of the multimillionaire Franklin Roosevelt and the no-nonsense Republican Dwight Eisenhower, the federal government invested the equivalent of football fields full of cash on infrastructure projects like the Interstate Highway System (which cost half a trillion in today’s dollars). States and cities likewise undertook great transportation schemes. Between the 1920s and 1960s, Robert Moses funded 413 mi. of parkways and 13 bridges for NYC through, among other things, local tolls.
This spirit of investing in the mobility of American citizens and goods gradually died off with the rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s and 1980s; federal spending for transportation infrastructure spending has been in decline since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. The sea change was most spectacularly evidenced on Oct 22 1981, when President Reagan fired and blacklisted 11,345 striking federal air traffic controllers. Cue to the present… The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s infrastructure a dismal grade of D+ since 2013. Trump on the 2016 campaign trail said that, “Our airports are like from a third world country.”
Governmental abdication in regards to public transportation has created a vacuum that the private sector is now trying to fill. This is problematic for many reasons. Bereft of the full-time employee status and union membership of public transit employees, Uber and Lyft drivers, as “independent contractors”, are treated like sharecroppers, with no minimum wage or pension/healthcare plans. Infrastructure underfunding leads to lost opportunities for construction companies and their suppliers, which costs the economy money and jobs. Uber and Lyft, by contrast, contribute nothing to the roads, tunnels and bridges that they use, other than tolls and the income that they don’t shield via elaborate tax evasion schemes… That and a nearly threefold increase in congestion, which hurts shipping and personal drivers’ commutes. Safety laws are frequently broken by Uber and its drivers, who undergo nothing more than a basic background screening, and receive no substantive training, prior to being hired. The secluded, close-quarters nature of the rideshare template has led to many incidences of sexual assault and harassment for drivers and riders alike (by contrast, bus and yellow-cab drivers are generally shielded from their clients by bulletproof glass).
The privatization of transit also creates a commuter caste system, in which affluent citizens can spend $20 on a quick Uber ride to work, while poorer people must rely on perpetually-delayed trains, anxiously waiting on train platforms that are often literally falling apart due to neglect. This problem extends far beyond rideshare apps. For years, Elon Musk has been unsuccessfully trying to sell various municipalities on the concept of the experimental hyperloop, a pricier, less efficient version of a subway. Hyperloop trains of the future will supposedly be able to travel at 700 mph… but they can only carry 28 people at a time! So Musk wants cities to potentially invest billions to construct underground tunnel networks that only a couple hundred people a day max would be able to use, let alone afford, considering the pricy ticket fees that would probably be necessary in order to generate electricity for the hyperloop’s futuristic maglev-vacuum operating system. Bullet trains also operate on a maglev system, but the cost gets spread out to over a thousand customers per trip, instead of just 28. Emulating Musk, fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos just unveiled his space exploration company Blue Origin’s lunar lander prototype. The fact that NASA is, due to chronic underfunding, being outpaced by Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is not only a national disgrace, but a matter of concern for the welfare of humanity as a whole. If space travel becomes monopolized by a handful of billionaires, it could eventually lead to the scenario envisioned by sci-fi dystopias like Elysium, wherein only the rich will be allowed to escape our dying planet, while the poor masses are left behind.
In regards to public transportation (and many other fields), the US is quickly falling behind China. The Middle Kingdom has over 19,000 mi. of high-speed rail (much of it built just this past decade); the US has just 2% of that total and much of it is contained to an old NYC-DC Acela line that is woefully obsolete. Eight new airports get built in China every year, meaning that China’s total stockpile of airports will double by 2035. The last American international airport was built last century and many existing airports, like the infamous LaGuardia, are falling apart due to underfunding. The nation famous for its cyclists also boasts the world’s largest elevated bike lane; by contrast, bike lanes are a very controversial issue in American cities, where its staunch-individualist detractors decry them as Communist plots.
This growing disparity is being fuelled by the two nation’s different appropriations models. China realizes the importance of central planning in regards to major infrastructure projects. Investing in high-speed rail might not be “profitable” if measured solely by ticket revenue, but it pays for itself in the long-term by spurring urban development, construction contracts and employment, and increased tax revenues from workers now able to access better jobs and commerce. Not to mention that traffic accidents, often the result of crumbling and obsolete road infrastructure, is the #8 cause of fatalities worldwide, including 32,000 a year in the US. The American mindset is more myopic, focused only on short-term viability for investors. This was encapsulated by Trump’s infrastructure plan, which focused on subsidies for corporations and localities… the same model that has been failing America’s infrastructure for decades.
It’s clear that the Uber-ization of public transportation is an inadequate and unsustainable solution. The corporate model is solely predicated on short-term growth and the exploitation of its workforce. In order to keep up with fellow superpower China, the US must take a centralized approach to maintaining and upgrading its faltering subways, trains, airports, bridges, roads and waterways. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration employed about 9M Americans in the construction of some of the world’s most successful infrastructure projects, such as 29,000 new bridges, at the height of the US’ greatest financial crisis. People like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are looking to emulate this past success by enacting a Green New Deal, which would employ millions of Americans in constructing sustainable infrastructure. Likewise, it would be a boon for construction firms, industrial goods suppliers like Caterpillar, shipping-oriented companies like Amazon and urban-based businesses as a whole. America must invest itself, in its people, in its future.
The Durand Line is a 2,200-kilometre debated border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was set up in 1893 between Sir Mortimer Durand, a British negotiator and respectful hireling of the British Raj, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan Amir, to settle the constrain of their individual circles of impact and make stride discretionary relations and exchange between the two nations. Afghanistan was considered by the British as a free state at the time, in spite of the fact that the British controlled its remote issues and discretionary relations. The single-page assertion, dated 12 November 1893, contains seven brief articles, counting a commitment not to work out obstructions past the Durand Line.
A joint British-Afghan boundary overview took put beginning from 1894, covering a few 1,300 km of the border. Built up towards the near of the British-Russian “Great Game”, the coming about line set up Afghanistan as a buffer zone between British and Russian interface within the locale.
The line, as somewhat adjusted by the Anglo-Afghan Settlement of 1919, was acquired by Pakistan in 1947, taking after its independence. The forced Durand Line cuts through the Pashtun tribal ranges and assist south through the Balochistan locale, politically partitioning ethnic Pashtuns, as well as the Baloch and other ethnic bunches, who live on both sides of the border. It demarcates Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan of northern and western Pakistan from the northeastern and southern areas of Afghanistan.
From a geopolitical and geostrategic viewpoint, it has been depicted as one of the foremost unsafe borders within the world. Although Pakistan recognized the Durand Line as an international border, it remains to a great extent unrecognized by Afghanistan. In 2017, in the midst of cross-border pressures, previous Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that Afghanistan will “never perceive” the Durand Line as the international border between the two countries.
The Durand line remains a bone of contention between the two nations and a primary reason why Afghanistan and Pakistan have yet failed to establish cordial relations. Afghanistan claims a chunk of the KPK and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan on the basis that it was acceded to Pakistan, though it was originally a part of Afghanistan, with people dwelling on each sides having the same culture, language and way of life, etc.
What is very clear is that relations between the two states have been tinged with hostility ever since Pakistan became an independent state in 1947. There are mainly two interrelated, historical reasons for this: the problem of the “Durand Line” — the shared but disputed border of the two countries; and Afghan support for the “Pakhtoonistan” movement in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP)
The questions is answered by both nations with a bias towards their respective national interest in mind, both Pakistan and Afghanistan claiming areas divided by the Durand line as their legitimate part.
Major accusations of Afghanistan over the Durand line are: its legitimacy period has terminated; it was in the original agreement between the British and the Afghans claimed its validity only for 100 years, which has expired.
Nevertheless, neither Afghan government, nor the foremost dynamic advocates of this see have ever displayed any plain instrument demonstrating their claim. Nor do we discover, upon looking at the pertinent archives, i.e. the Durand Line assertion and the rest of the records confirmed until 1896 by the individual committees for assurance and boundary of the British-Afghan border, any arrangement confining the term of the understanding to 100 year time. It is undoubtedly a riddle how this supposition might spread over the nation without being addressed at all.
Another claim of Afghanistan in the de-legitimizing the boarded is that the assertions relating to it collapsed when the British exchanged powers to Pakistan. The agreement was done with British India and not with Pakistan. This was a main reason that Afghanistan was one of the very few countries that opposed the addition of Pakistan in the UN- since it alleged it of illegally annexing Afghanistan’s territory.
One more accusation to not accept the boarder comes as the understandings were persuasively forced upon Afghanistan- it is ethically unmerited- is certainly an issue worth encourage talk and contention. In any case, whereas one may concede the dispute to be fair and genuine, it remains deficiently to refute the status of the Durand Line as an international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Durand Line understanding of 1893 isn’t the sole point of reference in border assessment. At slightest other four assertions (of 1905, 1919, 1921 and 1930), which had the assent of both sides, must be counseled. Clearly, Afghanistan cannot claim that all of the afterward four assertions were concluded in a coercive environment, particularly the Kabul 1921 understanding for foundation of neighborly commercial relations, which not as it were marked but approved in 1922, and beneath which disobedience was traded by the agents of both states in Kabul.
The border is not rejected by any other party of the world except Afghanistan itself, making the Afghan case further weakened.
No matter how much Afghanistan retaliates over this matter, the Durand line is widely accepted as an international boarder and the afghan claim will likely not bear fruit. The Afghans should rather hold the British accountable for the “so said” unfair distribution and not Pakistan, since Pakistan did not decide into this matter at all but was a decision purely made between the Afghans and the British- rather battle the British towards their claim and not make this a political issue more than a legitimate claim.
*Hareem Aqdas is student of International Relations from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad and a former exchange student to the U.S. for the course of Leadership and Social Justice.
By Ashish Chhibbar*
Singapore passed the Protection from Online Falsehood and Manipulation Act (POFMA) 2019
on 8 May 2019. Consisting of nine parts and 62 sections, the Act
immediately drew the world’s attention and bouquets and brickbats flew
in thick and fast. Irrespective of whether the act will deliver or not,
the Singapore government, faced with a daunting and complex problem,
decided to act.
Fake news and misinformation campaigns has been a hot topic of debate during the last couple of years. The revelations by Christopher Wylie
in March 2018 concerning the role of Cambridge Analytica in harvesting
millions of Facebook users’ data to create sophisticated psychological
and political profiles for manufacturing targeted political
advertisements during the 2016 US presidential elections opened a can
of worms. This led to the firm being investigated in the US as part of
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and in the UK by both
the Electoral Commission for its role in the EU referendum and by the
Information Commissioner’s office for carrying out data analytics for
India too has its fair share of problems resulting from propagation
of fake news through social media platforms. Due to a slew of measures
enforced by the Indian government on social media and other Information
and Communication Technology (ICT) companies, there has been a
significant drop in the number of internet platform-fuelled,
mob-related violence post July 2018. As of January 2019, India has 310 million active social media users
with a relatively poor penetration of 23 per cent. Yet, Indians are
the world’s largest users of Facebook and YouTube, with the social
media community in the country growing at an astonishing 24 per cent
year-on-year. It is but natural that activities carried out on social
media platforms in cyberspace would tend to translate into physical
acts. It is in the best interests of the country not to allow social
media and other new generation cyberspace platforms to become mediums
for carrying out illegal activities, spreading hate, inciting violence
and carrying out targeted political campaigning to influence the
Singapore has enacted POFMA for four main reasons. Firstly, to
prevent the communication of false statements of fact and enable
measures to counteract the effects of such communication. Secondly, to
supress the financing, promotion and support of online locations in
Singapore that repeatedly communicate false statements of facts.
Thirdly, to enable measures to be taken to detect, control and
safeguard against coordinated inauthentic behaviour and other misuse of
online accounts and bots. And lastly, to enable measures to be taken
to enhance the disclosure of information concerning paid content
directed towards a political end.
One of the challenges facing the world community is regarding the
classification of a piece of information or news being spread on
cyberspace as hateful or fake. It is not clear as to when such news is
to be considered an innocent prank or a law and order problem or a
threat to national security. POFMA attempts to resolve this dilemma.
Article 7, Part 2 of the act states that a piece of news is deemed to
be fake and worthy of action if and only if it meets two criteria.
Firstly, it should be a false statement of fact. And secondly,
communication of this false news is likely to affect the security of
Singapore or be prejudicial to public health, safety, tranquillity or
finances or be prejudicial to Singapore’s relations with other
countries or influence the outcome of elections or incite feelings of
hatred, enmity/ ill will or diminish public confidence in the state or
its institutions. Article 10 of Part 3 of the act makes any Minister in
the Singapore government competent to classify news as fake and take
appropriate action to deal with such news.
Article 11 of Part 3 concerns communicating a “Correction Direction”. A Correction Direction can be issued to a person to communicate a Correction Notice
(Statement nullifying a false information and inserting a
corresponding true statement and/or its link next to the false
statement) within a specified time limit to all persons who have
received the false information and/or publish the correction notice in a
newspaper or other print publications of Singapore. Article 12 of Part
3 empowers the Competent Authority to issue a “Stop Communication”
direction, and Article 16 of Part 3 empowers the Minister to direct
the Information Communication Media Development Authority (IMDA) to
order the internet access service provider to disable access to an
online location for all end users by issuing an “Access Blocking Order”.
An Internet Intermediary has been classified as a person
providing internet intermediary services (like social networking
services, search engine, content aggregator, internet based messaging
service, video sharing services, etc.). Part 4 of POFMA deals with
directions to internet intermediaries and providers of mass media services. Article 21 talks of “Targeted Correction Direction” wherein the internet intermediary that has been used as a medium to propagate the false information is required to send a correction notice
within a specified time limit to all the end users in Singapore who
had accessed the false information. In addition, Article 22 deals with
the issuance of “Disabling Directions” by the internet
intermediary to stop access to the end user in Singapore of a specified
false information while Article 28 deals with “Access Blocking Order”.
Part 5 of the act deals with Declaration of online locations. Such a Declaration
happens “when an online location is responsible for propagating three
or more different false statements subject to active Part 3 and/or Part
4 directions”. Once an online location has been “Declared”, its owner is thereafter required to inform its declaration
status to all end users who access that online location. Suitable
directions can also be passed to IMDA to block access to the declared online location for a specified period of time.
Part 6 of the act deals with directions to the internet intermediary
to counteract inauthentic online accounts and coordinated inauthentic
behaviour. Part 7 of the act deals with Other Measures, while Part 8
specifies the appointment of alternate authority during elections and
other specific periods. The final Part 9 of the act deals with
POFMA 2019 generated a lot of heat and mixed reactions from the
general public, media houses and the ICT industry. The major points in
favour of the bill were that, as compared to the Broadcasting act,
which gave sweeping powers to the government, POFMA provides a measured
and calibrated approach with the affected party given the right to
appeal at every step. It provides greater oversight to the courts and
makes a clear distinction between “opinion” and “fact”. It defines a
“statement of fact” as “a reasonable person seeing, hearing or
otherwise perceiving it would consider to be a representation of fact”.
Publication of the correction notice along with the false statement of
fact by the concerned person/ internet intermediary will result in
greater authentication of online statements and lead to the eradication
of false content.
Google, in its response to POFMA,
said that the new law could hurt innovation, which is a crucial
element in the hi-tech sector. Some tech firms, media houses and
activists are of the opinion that POFMA could be used to curb freedom of
speech and be a major impediment to a free internet. The process of
appeal was also considered to be very lengthy and cumbersome. On the
other hand, Singapore’s law and home affairs minister K. Shanmugam said
that the law was necessary as tech companies could not be relied upon
to regulate themselves.
Having an internet which identifies and detects fake news and
unlawful content and stops its propagation is in the interest of all.
However, the challenge lies in effective implementation. Empowering
multiple ministers to decide whether a particular statement of fact is
true or false and in the public interest is not likely to be conducive
for administrative efficiency. For its part, the judiciary may not be
able to ensure the quick dispensation of justice since the number of
cases coming in for appeal are bound to be many initially. Informing
each and every end user who has received a false statement would place
additional resource burdens on the internet intermediary as it would be
mandatory to track the origin and distribution of each and every
message which originates on its platform.
All false statements which are originated and propagated on the
internet need not result in any or substantial impact on the ground.
The propagation speed of the message or its ability to go “viral” plays
a major role in determining whether a message has sizeable traction
amongst the population. This aspect has not been considered in POFMA.
Another important aspect of internet-based messaging is end-to-end
encryption. A number of messaging services such as WhatsApp and
Telegram have proclaimed that they use highly secure end-to-end
encryption, with the private key being stored only in the end-users’
smartphones or terminals. Telegram has a bounty of USD 300,000 for
anyone who can decrypt its encryption. In such a scenario, the detection
of a false statement can only happen once someone approaches the law
enforcement agency with the message. This would provide only a limited
time for the agencies to act.
By implementing POFMA, Singapore has demonstrated a resolve to fight
the growing spread of false news and misinformation campaigns. There
are a number of important takeaways for India from this experiment.
Firstly, there is a need to acknowledge the role of social media and
other ICT companies as important stakeholders in ensuring national
security, and their expertise and skill set need to be optimally
utilised for the same. Secondly, adequate provisions exist in the IT
(Amendment) Act 2008 for monitoring and blocking internet sites and
services. A proactive approach with the help of ICT companies can help
in identifying messages and posts which are going viral and further
analytics of these can assist in segregating messages that are likely
to result in the commitment of illegal acts. Restricting the number of
forwards has been a major step in this direction as it helps in slowing
down message propagation. Thirdly, cyber education of our population
in detecting and making considered decisions with respect to false
statements will reduce the appeal and spread of such messages.
Fourthly, all messages which are being originated and propagated on the
internet needs to be uniquely identified and tracked so that the
anonymity of the message originator, recipient and propagator can be
removed and this would in turn lead to a more responsible user
behaviour. Fifthly, prompt and exemplary action needs to be taken
against persons and organisations resorting to the spread of false
messages both within and outside the country. Lastly, collaborative and
cooperative partnership needs to be forged with likeminded countries to
identify the origin of misinformation campaigns and initiating counter
measures against the perpetrators. The recent signing of the “Christchurch Call to Action” declaration by India is a step in the right direction.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.
*About the author: Brig. Ashish Chhibbar is Senior Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi
Source: This article was published by IDSA
In countless grade-school science textbooks, the Earth’s mantle is a
yellow-to-orange gradient, a nebulously defined layer between the crust
and the core.
To geologists, the mantle is so much more than that. It’s a region
that lives somewhere between the cold of the crust and the bright heat
of the core. It’s where the ocean floor is born and where tectonic
A new paper published in Nature Geoscience paints an even more intricate picture of the mantle as a geochemically diverse mosaic, far different than the relatively uniform lavas that eventually reach the surface. Even more importantly, a copy of this mosaic is hidden deep in the crust. The study is led by Sarah Lambart, assistant professor of geology at the University of Utah, and is funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and the National Science Foundation.
“If you look at a painting from Jackson Pollock, you have a lot of
different colors,” Lambart says. “Those colors represent different
mantle components and the lines are magmas produced by these components
and transported to the surface. You look at the yellow line, it’s not
going to mix much with the red or black.”
Our best access to the mantle comes in the form of lava that erupts
at mid-ocean ridges. These ridges are at the middle of the ocean floor
and generate new ocean crust. Samples of this lava show that it’s
chemically mostly the same anywhere on the planet.
But that’s at odds with what happens at the other end of the crust’s
life cycle. Old ocean crust spreads away from mid-ocean ridges until
it’s shoved beneath a continent and sinks back into the mantle. What
happens after that is somewhat unclear, but if both the mantle and the
old crust melt, there should be some variation in the chemical
composition of the magmas.
So Lambart and her colleagues from Wales and the Netherlands, sought
to discover what the mantle looks like before it rises as lava at a
mid-ocean ridge. They examined cores, drilled through the ocean crust,
to look at cumulate minerals: the first minerals to crystallize when the
magmas enter the crust.
“We looked at the most primitive part of these minerals,” Lambart
says, adding that once they located the primitive minerals they analyzed
only the chemical composition from those very earliest minerals to
form. “If you are not actually looking at the most primitive part you
might lose the signal of this first melt that has been delivered to the
crust. That is the originality of our work.”
They analyzed the samples centimeter by centimeter to look at
variations in isotopes of neodymium and strontium, which can indicate
different chemistries of mantle material that come from different types
of rock. “If you have isotopic variability in your cumulates, that means
that you have to have isotopic variability in the mantle too,” Lambart
When the blender turns on
That’s exactly what the team found. The amount of isotope
variability in the cumulates was seven times greater than that in the
mid-ocean ridge lavas. That means that the mantle is far from well-mixed
and that this variability is preserved in the cumulates.
The likely reason, Lambart says, is that different rocks melt at
different temperatures. The first rock to melt, for example the old
crust, can create channels that can transport magma up to the crust.
Melting of another type of rock can do the same. The end result is
several networks of channels that converge towards the mid-ocean ridge
but don’t mix–hearkening back to the streaks of paint on a Jackson
To get at what this finding means for geology, picture a smoothie.
No–go farther back than that and picture the blender carafe full of
fruit, ice, milk and other ingredients. That’s like the mantle–discrete
ingredients, as different from each other as a strawberry is from a
blueberry. The fully blended smoothie is like the mid-ocean ridge lava.
It’s fully mixed. At some point between the deep mantle and the
mid-ocean ridge, Earth turns on the blender. Lambart says that her
results show that at the very top of the mantle, the mixing hasn’t
happened yet. The blender, it turns out, doesn’t turn on until somewhere
in the crust.
Lambart’s work helps her and other geologists redefine their idea of how material moves up through the mantle to the surface.
“The problem is we need to find a way to model the geodynamic earth,
including plate tectonics, to actually reproduce what is recorded in
the rock today,” she says. “So far this link is missing.”
Now Lambart is setting up a new experimental petrology lab to study
the conditions for the magmas to preserve their chemical compositions
during their journey through the mantle and the crust.
By Giriraj Bhattacharjee*
On May 12, 2019, a civilian, identified as Romeo Lyngdoh, was killed by Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) militants at Lapalang village in the East Khasi Hills District.
Later on May 14, HNLC ‘general
secretary’ and ‘publicity secretary’ Sainkupar Nongtraw claimed
responsibility for the killing and stated, “Our army cadres were
responsible for the death of Romeo Lyngdoh due to his involvement in
activities against the outfit and the ‘Jaidbynriew’ (indigenous
Khasi-Pnar people)”. He also alleged that Lyngdoh was a ‘Police
informer’, and warned that the group would eliminate all those people
who were responsible for the death of HNLC cadres: “We will hit first
and then make our claims.”
Ironically, the last reported
incident of the killing of an HNLC cadre was recorded on March 27, 2008,
when two HNLC militants were shot dead by the Meghalaya Police during
an encounter at Umkiang in the Jaintia Hills District. It is not clear,
consequently, why Nongtraw was referring to the killing of HNLC cadres.
Since March 1, 2000, when South Asia Terrorism Portal
(SATP) commenced compiling data on insurgency in Meghalaya, a total of
30 HNLC cadres have been killed by the Security Forces (SFs) in
Meghalaya, till May 19, 2019, with the last such fatality in March 2008.
Again, on May 17, warning the Police to stop harassing HNLC members, Nongtraw stated,
The Police should not underestimate us. If they do, we shall fire indiscriminately at non-tribals be they beggars, businessmen, the high class or low class. With an automatic assault rifle we can shoot up to ten non-tribal people in a minute. We are serious about it. Do not provoke us.
Again, there were no reports in the open media to support any of his allegations.
In this context it is important
to recall here that, on January 2, 2019, HNLC had reconstituted its
‘Central Executive Council’ (CEC). The CEC is headed by ‘chairman’ and
‘commander-in-chief’ Bobby Reagan Marwein, ‘general secretary’ and
‘publicity secretary’ Sainkupar Nongtraw, ‘vice chairman’ Khrawbok
Jyrwa, ‘foreign secretary’ Alex Diengdoh, ‘finance secretary’ Wanshan
Marwein, ‘organising secretary’ Riewpyrkhat Sun and ‘socio cultural
secretary’ M Rynjah.
The latest killing (on May 12)
can therefore be linked with an attempt by the HNLC to regroup and
secure some attention for this new leadership.
HNLC, initially known as
Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council (HALC), was formed in 1987. In
1995, the trio of ‘chairman’ Julius Dorphang, ‘army chief’ John
Kharkrang, ‘general secretary’ Cheritserfield Thangkhiew – founding
members of HNLC – rechristened the group HNLC. HNLC operates from Khasi
and Jaintia Hills Districts of the State.
The principle demands of HNLC
were separate statehood for Hynniewtrep (Khasi-Pnar) tribes,
implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system to check the entry
of outsiders into the State, and expulsion of illegal Bangladeshi and
Nepali nationals allegedly residing in Meghalaya.
According to partial data
compiled by the SATP, there have been a total of 44 HNLC-linked
fatalities (eight civilians, six SF personnel and 30 militants) from
March 1, 2000 (data till May 19, 2019).
The last incident involving
HNLC was reported on February 13, 2018, when HNLC militants lobbed a
hand grenade inside the residence of an individual named Than Khonglah.
Nongtraw later claimed that it was a warning to all those ‘conspirators’
who aided in the operation to nab militants. The last civilian killing
incident linked to HNLC was reported on December 23, 2009. A coal
trader, Raja Khongsit (45), was shot dead by four suspected HNLC
militants at Pomshutia village in East Khasi Hills District. His wife
was injured in the attack. The last SF killing linked to HNLC was
reported on November 7, 2007. On that day, Deputy Superintendent of
Police (DSP) Raymond P. Diengdoh was killed when a team of Police
personal attacked a HNLC hideout at Paham Umdoh Forest near Byrnihat
area in the Ri-Bhoi District.
Unsurprisingly, over the past
decade and a half, HNLC was almost written off. The outfit lost a
significant number of cadres, either to surrenders or arrests.
According to SATP, since March 1, 2000, SFs have arrested 209 militants
(all data till May 17, 2019). Another 175 HNLC militants surrendered
during this period, due to sustained SF pressure. In the latest incident
of surrender, on May 20, 2018, two HNLC militants, Aiborlang Thongni aka Bahbah
Mawpud and his wife Rishalin Syiemlieh, surrendered before the Police
at Shillong, the State capital, in the East Khasi Hills District.
Further, the India-friendly
regime of Sheikh Hasina Wajed in Bangladesh since 2009 led to the
closing down of several HNLC camps in that country. According to media
reports, there are now no camps of Indian militant groups in Bangladesh.
Earlier, in February 2017, the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) had
reported that HNLC had three camps in Bangladesh. There were seven HNLC
camps in Bangladesh in 2015.
The outfit, which has been
lying low for many years, suffered another blow on October 18, 2018,
when HNLC ‘general secretary’ Cherishstarfield Thangkhiew surrendered
before Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong and Director General of
Police (DGP) R.P. Agarwal at Shillong.
There have also been
intervening efforts by both the Government and HNLC to initiate peace
talks. On August 21, 2014, HNLC declared that it was “ready for peace
talks” and asked the Meghalaya Government to appoint an “interlocutor”
if it was committed to peace. Sainkupar Nongtraw then stated, “The HNLC
is ready for peace talks within the ambit of the Constitution of India
or outside the Constitution as per requirements.” The move, among
others, failed to fructify.
Most recently, on February
2019, the HNLC leadership and State Chief Minister Conrad Sangam both
called for peace talks. However, the middle ground seems to be missing.
Chief Minister Sangma had stated that the Government was open for
unconditional talks with the militant groups for achieving long-term
peace in the State. In response, Nongtraw asserted, “We are ready for
talks, but peace talks should not compel us to take to the streets,
stage blackflag protests or hunger strike in front of the Secretariat,
which will eventually send us back to militancy”. No further reports on
the status of the proposed peace talks are available.
However, the controversial and hurried proposed enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2016, (subsequently introduced in Parliament as the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019), did provide some ammunition to HNLC, to once again raise the issue of illegal immigrants and the costs they imposed on locals. After the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) on January 8, 2019, Nongtraw argued,
“…even after 72 years of independence, what the Government of India has given the minority communities is second-class citizenship and scheduled tribe status… Such statuses given to us only show that we (minority communities) are no less than the 21st century slaves… There was no repatriation of these Bangladeshi Hindus ever since 1970 and now the BJP [Bharatiya Janta Party] wants to grant them citizenship through the Citizenship Amendment Bill…”
Nongtraw further asserted that
the Government of India should grant freedom to the States, if it could
not ensure equality to every citizen.
CAB was allowed to lapse subsequently, when it was not introduced in the Rajya Sabha (upper House of the Parliament), and General Elections were announced, heralding the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. However, BJP,the
leading party of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
Government at the Centre, has promised to bring the Bill back again if
voted back to power. The results of the on-going General seven-phase
elections are scheduled to be declared on May 23, 2019.
Moreover, the 2014 ban on ‘rat
hole mining’ in the State by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is also
opposed by the HNLC. A December 2018 report quoted HNLC ‘general
secretary’ Nongtraw calling for alternatives for the poor, who lost
their source of livelihood due to the ban. Rat hole mining is a
primitive unscientific and hazardous method of mining for coal; many a
times resulting in river pollution and death of miners extracting the
coal. The tragedy of December 13, 2018, when 15 miners were trapped in
one such mine at Ksan in the East Jaintia Hills District in Meghalaya.
Elaborate search operations were eventually abandoned on March 2, 2019.
Only two decomposed bodies were recovered. The remaining miners were
presumed dead at this stage.
HNLC is trying to regain lost space in Meghalaya, taking up positions on a range of sensitive issues, in an effort to make up for its depleted strength. CAB has given the entire Northeast region, including Meghalaya, some causeonce againto rally around identity-based movements. These and other fault lines have been exploited by militant formations in the past. Despite the sustained decline in violence across the Northeast and in Meghalaya, there is no space for complacency, and no reason to believe that this long-troubled region cannot, once again, descend into crisis.
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management
By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*
Unidentified militants opened
indiscriminate fire on labourers working in an agriculture field in the
Manjho Shori area of Naseerabad District in Balochistan on May 15, 2019,
killing three of them and injuring one. The deceased had come from
Tando Adam area of the Nawab Shah District in Sindh, and were daily-wage
labourers. The attackers managed to escape. Though no group has so far
claimed responsibility for the killing, Baloch insurgent groups have a
history of killing non-Baloch labourers.
In the intervening night of
April 17 and 18, 2019, unidentified assailants shot dead at least 14
passengers after forcibly offloading them from a bus plying on the
Makran Coastal Highway in the Ormara area of Gwadar District. Reports
indicate that around 15 to 20 armed assailants wearing Security Forces’
(SF) uniforms stopped five or six buses travelling between Karachi
(Sindh) and Gwadar (Balochistan), checked the identity cards of
passengers, and offloaded 16 of the passengers from just one bus. Two of
the offloaded passengers managed to escape despite sustaining injuries.
Balochistan Inspector General of Police Mohsin Hassan Butt described
the incident as a “targeted killing”. Baloch Raji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS,
Baloch National Freedom Front) claimed responsibility for the killing.
On March 24, 2019, Police recovered three bullet-riddled bodies in the Zadin area under Rakhni tehsil
(revenue unit) in Barkhan District. All the three deceased were
residents of the Dera Ismail Khan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
No group claimed responsibility for the killings.
According to partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal
(SATP), a total of 229 ‘outsiders’ have been killed in Balochistan
since the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, leader of the Bugti tribe and
President of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), on August 26, 2006, (data
till May 19, 2019). Bugti was killed in a military operation in the
Chalgri area of the Bhamboor Hills in Dera Bugti District.
Baloch insurgents have
essentially targeted people from other provinces. However, out of the
229 ‘outsiders’ killed, at least 178 were Punjabis alone. Eight Punjabis
were killed in 2018; 23 in 2017. There were no such fatalities among
Punjabis in 2016. The number of Punjabi fatalities in the Province stood
at 22 in 2015; 17 in 2014; 29 in 2013; 26 in 2012; 13 in 2011; 21 in
2010; 18 in 2009; and one in 2008. No such fatalities were recorded in
2007 and 2006. While Punjabis have been the main targets, other
non-native persons also fell to the ethnic collateral damage. Out of 51
non-Punjabi ‘outsiders’, 33 were Sindhis, while the ethnic identity of
the remaining 18 is unascertained.
A series of attacks on ‘outsiders’ in Balochistan, as well as the destruction of national infrastructure followed
the killing of Akbar Bugti. These killings have been orchestrated by
Baloch insurgent groups such as the BLA, Baloch Liberation Front (BLF)
and the Baloch Republican Army (BRA), among others, who began to voice
anti-Punjabi sentiments in their campaigns in the wake of the military
action against Bugti. A media report published on June 28, 2011, noted,
“Almost all non-Baloch are on their hit-list.” Muhammad Khalid of
Balochistan-Punjabi Ittehad stated, “The militants began to target the
Punjabi settlers after Nawab Bugti was taken out by the military (in
August, 2006). Before that there were occasional incidents in which
Punjabis were targeted.”
Significantly, most of the
Punjabi settler killings were recorded in South Balochistan, which
accounts for 156 killings out of the total of 178, (principally in
Bolan, Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Khuzdar, Sibi and Lasbela Districts); and
27 in North Balochistan (mostly in Nushki, Quetta and Mustang
Districts). The overwhelming concentration of such killings in the South
is because of the presence and dominance of Baloch insurgent groups in
this region, while the North is dominated by Islamist extremist
formations such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), who engage principally in sectarian killings.
engineered by Pakistani SFs are another reason behind the targeted
killings of non-Baloch persons in the region. According to partial data
compiled by the SATP, of the 4,317 civilian fatalities recorded in
Balochistan since 2004 (data till May 19, 2019), at least 1,378 have
been attributable to one or other terrorist/insurgent outfit. Of these,
435 civilian killings (263 in the South and 172 in the North) have been
claimed by Baloch separatist formations, while Islamist and sectarian
extremist formations – primarily Islamic State, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ),
TTP and Ahrar-ul-Hind (Liberators of India) – claimed responsibility
for another 943 civilian killings, 860 in the North (mostly in and
around Quetta) and 83 in the South. The remaining 2,939 civilian
fatalities – 1,708 in the South and 1,231 in the North – remain
‘unattributed’. It is widely believed that Security Agencies are busy
with “kill and dump” operations, particularly in the Southern region,
against local Baloch dissidents, a reality that Pakistan’s Supreme Court
has clearly recognized.
Irked, by such killings the
Baloch insurgent groups target non-Baloch people or even some Baloch
whom they suspect to be spying for the SFs. At least two labourers
(ethnicity not known) were killed when unidentified militants opened
fire on a coal mine in the Khosat area of Harnai District on May 9,
2019. After the incident, Frontier Corps (FC) personnel rushed to the
spot and a vehicle carrying the FC personnel hit a landmine, resulting
in three FC fatalities. BLA claimed responsibility for the attack in an
emailed statement from Jeehand Baloch, a BLA spokesperson: “We want to
make it clear to the local spies and death squad groups of Pakistan Army
that they will not be forgiven for their crimes.”
‘Outsiders’ are also targeted
as the Baloch groups believe that they are helping Islamabad push
forward its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. The Project
according to Baloch nationalists, brings no benefit to the Baloch, but
constitutes just another tool for their exploitation.
Not surprisingly, since its inception in Pakistan on April 20, 2015,
CPEC has been under attack from Baloch insurgents. According to official
figures 44 people had died and over 100 wounded in “attacks targeting
CPEC projects mainly road construction in Balochistan, which began in
2014” till September 8, 2016. Since September 9, 2016, according to
partial data compiled by SATP, at least another 31 persons have been
killed in attacks targeting CPEC-related projects across the Province
(data till May 19, 2019), including the most recent attack on May 11,
2019, in which four terrorists stormed
the luxury Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotel, in Gwadar in Balochistan. The Hotel had around 70 guests at the time, including 40 Chinese nationals. Nine persons, including four hotel employees, one Pakistan Navy soldier and all four attackers, were killed during the eight-hour long siege.
Amidst all this, overall
fatalities in the province are on the rise. Between January 1 and May
19, 2019, a total of 127 fatalities (58 civilians, 39 SF personnel, and
30 terrorists) have been recorded. During the corresponding period of
2018, the number of fatalities stood at 108 (39 civilians, 39 SF
personnel, and 30 terrorists). Through 2018, there were a total of 381
fatalities (239 civilians, 79 SF personnel, and 63 terrorists). There
were 343 total fatalities in 2017. Fatalities had registered declining
trends between 2014 and 2017.
Baloch insurgents have been fighting continuously against Islamabad’s coercion for more than a decade – and, indeed, intermittently for over seven decades – demanding independence for the ethnic Baloch areas of the country. They argue that the Province has been neglected by the Pakistani state and exploited for its mineral resources, and that the ‘outsiders’ that are being targeted by the insurgents are agents of Islamabad. Islamabad has done little to alleviate conditions in Balochistan, or to address the grievances of its people.
*Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management
Rim Banna, a famous Palestinian singer who translated Palestine’s most
moving poetry into song, passed away last March at the age of 51. Banna
captured the struggle for Palestinian freedom in the most dignified and
melodious ways. If we could imagine angels singing, they would sound like her.
When Banna died, all Palestinians mourned her death. Although a few
international outlets carried the news of her passing at a relatively
young age, her succumbing to cancer did not receive much coverage or
discussion. Sadly, the death of a Palestinian icon of cultural
resistance who had inspired a whole generation, starting with the First
Intifada in 1987, hardly registered as an event worthy of remembrance
and reflection, even among those who purport to champion the Palestinian
Compare her to Madonna, an “artiste” who has stood for
self-aggrandizement, personal fame and money-making. The latter has
championed the most debased moral values, utilizing cheap entertainment
while catering to the lowest common denominator to remain relevant in
the music world for as long as possible.
Where Banna had a cause, Madonna has none. And, as Banna symbolized
cultural resistance, Madonna symbolizes globalized cultural hegemony —
in this case, the imposition of consumerist Western cultures on the rest
of the world.
Cultural hegemony defines the US and other Western cultures’
relationship with the rest of the world. It is not culture as in the
collective intellectual and artistic achievements of these societies,
but as a set of ideological and cultural tools used by the ruling
classes to maintain domination over the disadvantaged, colonized and
Madonna, along with Michael Jordan, the Beatles and Coca-Cola, represent
far more than mere performers and fizzy drinks; they also serve as
tools to secure cultural, thus economic and political, dominance. The
fact that, in some cities
around the world, especially in the Southern hemisphere, Coca-Cola
“flows more freely than water” speaks volumes about the economic toll
and political dimension of cultural hegemony.
This issue becomes critical when Madonna decides to perform in Israel, as she has done repeatedly in the past, as part of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Knowing who she is and what she stands for, her decision should not
come as a surprise — after all, in her September 2009 Tel Aviv concert,
she sang while wrapped in an Israeli flag.
Of course, it is essential that artistes of her caliber and the
contestants representing 41 different countries are reminded of their
moral responsibilities toward occupied and oppressed Palestinians. It is
also important that Israel is confronted regarding its unrelenting
efforts to mask its apartheid and war crimes in Palestine.
Indeed, the whitewashing
of Israeli human rights violations using art — also known as
“art-washing” — should not be allowed to continue while Gaza is under
siege and Palestinian children are shot and killed almost daily, without
remorse and without legal accountability.
This is why such artistic events are important for the Israeli
government and society. Israel has used Eurovision as a distraction from
the blood and gore that has been in evidence not far from the Tel Aviv
venue. Those who labored to ensure the success of the event, knowing
full well how Israel is using it as an opportunity to normalize its war
against Palestinians, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
But, on the other hand, should we be the least bit surprised? Aren’t
music events such as Eurovision at the heart of the Western-centric globalization scheme
of cultural hegemony, whose sole purpose is to enforce a capitalist
view of the world where Western culture is consumed as a commodity, no
different from a McDonald’s sandwich or a pair of Levi jeans?
Calling on a 60-year-old Madonna to refrain
from entertaining apartheid Israel can be considered beneficial as a
media strategy, for it helped highlight, although only momentarily, an
issue that would have otherwise been absent from news headlines.
However, by placing so much focus on Madonna, and whatever human rights
values she supposedly stands for, we also take the risk of inadvertently
validating her and the consumerist values she represents. Moreover, in
this Madonna-driven trajectory, we are also neglecting Palestine’s
cultural resistance, the core drive behind Palestinian “sumud”
(steadfastness) over the course of a century.
While it is important that we keep the pressure on those who engage and
validate Israel politically, economically and culturally, these efforts
should be secondary to embracing Palestine’s culture of resistance.
Behaving as if Madonna’s stage shenanigans represent true culture, while
ignoring Palestinian culture altogether, is similar to academics
addressing decolonization from the point of view of the colonizer, not
the colonized. The truth is, nations cannot truly rid themselves of the
colonial mindset without having their narratives take center stage in
terms of politics, culture and every other aspect of knowledge.
“The intellectual’s error consists in believing that one can know
without understanding and, even more, without feeling and being
impassioned,” wrote Italian anti-fascist intellectual Antonio Gramsci.
This entails the intellectual and the artist feeling “the elementary
passions of the people, understanding them and, therefore, explaining
and justifying them.”
The truth is that appealing to Madonna’s moral sense without immersing
ourselves passionately in the art of Banna will, in the long run, do
Palestinians no good. Only embracing Palestine’s culture of resistance
will, ultimately, keep the self-serving, hegemonic and cheap cultural
messages of the Madonnas of this world at bay.