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Día Internacional de la Mujer 2011.

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Entrega de Silla de Ruedas.

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Compartiendo con nuestras socias y socios de la tercera edad de Molino Abajo, Temoaya, Estado de México.

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Visita la página de “Código Ayuda A.C.” Aquí

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Día de la Niñez 2011 con nuestras socias y socios de San Lorenzo Tepaltitlán, Toluca, Estado de México.

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Entrega de Silla de Ruedas.

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“Yo Me Declaro Defensor” de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos

Participación en la campaña “Yo Me Declaro Defensor” de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos por la Alta Comisionada de los Derechos Humanos de la ONU Navy Pillay. Más »

Entrega de Reconocimiento al Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto por su apoyo como gobernador a los grupos vulnerables de nuestra Asociación.

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Compartiendo con nuestras socias y socios de la tercera edad en Molino Abajo, Temoaya, Estado de México.

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Compartiendo con nuestras socias y socios de la tercera edad en Molino Abajo, Temoaya, Estado de México.

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Compartiendo con nuestras socias y socios de la tercera edad en Molino Abajo, Temoaya, Estado de México.

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Thelma Dorantes Autora y Actriz principal de la obra de Teatro \\\\

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Thelma Dorantes Autora y Actriz principal de la obra de Teatro \\\\

Visita de Thelma Dorantes a las oficina de la Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" en Toluca, Estado de México. Más »

Thelma Dorantes Autora y Actriz principal de la obra de Teatro \\\\

Visita de Thelma Dorantes a las oficina de la Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" en Toluca, Estado de México. Más »

Premio Nacional del Trabajo 2012.

Entrega a los trabajadores de la Dirección de Organización y Desarrollo Administrativo de la Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México del Premio Nacional del Trabajo 2012 por la Secretaría de Trabajo y Previsión Social del Gobierno de México. Más »

 

Category Archives: News

Trump’s Ambassador to Israel is Truly Terrifying

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

In keeping with the logic of the Trump era, Senate Republicans (along with two Democrats) have hired an arsonist to prevent a fire. David Friedman, whom the Senate confirmed today as U.S. ambassador to Israel, spent most of his confirmation hearing either apologizing for or attempting to walk back everything he has ever said about Israel, Judaism, and the conflict with Palestinians.

Friedman was Donald Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer during the president’s Atlantic City debacles. Apparently, in Trump’s mind, that qualified him to serve as campaign advisor on Israel and the Middle East. During the campaign, Friedman contributed commentary to Arutz Sheva, an extreme right-wing publication based in Israel. In an August 2016 post, he called for an “end to the two-state narrative,” which he described as the product of a U.S. State Department “with a hundred-year history of anti-Semitism.” Friedman will now be collecting a paycheck from that evil institution. He continued,

“At this juncture, a Palestinian state is the last thing the [Palestinian] middle class wants—they know better than anyone how corrupt and inept their people are at self-government.”

According to him, no Palestinians in the West Bank (he prefers to call them “Arabs of Judea and Samaria”) are “under any physical threat by the Israeli government.” This was news to me. I’ve traveled repeatedly to Hebron, where I’ve seen the barbed wire surrounding the Palestinian part of town and the watchtowers with heavily armed Israeli soldiers facing toward the Arabs inside.

Friedman has also contributed money to illegal settlements in the West Bank as well as to the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, which works to purchase property and settle Jews in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The goal is obvious: push all non-Jews out of Jerusalem and “reclaim” the city.

A month before the election, Friedman matter-of-factly denied the existence of the explicitly anti-Semitic alt-right. Anti-Semitism, in Friedman’s view, is primarily a feature of the left.

“There is anti-Semitic sentiment among Clinton’s supporters,” he said.  “The danger in the U.S. is on the left, not on the right,” Friedman said. “I’m not saying that there aren’t neo-Nazis floating around in the United States, because I’m sure there are. But the movement we ought to be concerned about is on the left.”

But Friedman saved the bulk of his vitriol for liberal Jews. In one post, he equated being a Jewish liberal to a young Theodor Herzl (the forefather of Zionism) joining the German fraternity Burschenschaft, which became a breeding ground for pre-Hitler anti-Semites. Friedman appears to believe that liberal Jews are not simply misguided, but are actively seeking to destroy Israel while falsely proclaiming themselves to be pro-Israel.

There can be no other explanation, in his mind, for the liberal Israel lobby J Street’s public support of President Obama’s negotiations with Iran than intentionally undercutting the Jewish state and betraying true Jews. Liberal Jews, he wrote, are “worse than kapos,” the Jews who collaborated with the Nazis in the death camps. They are “just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas—it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.” Later confronted with his own words at a conference, Friedman doubled down, saying, “They’re not Jewish and they’re not pro-Israel.”

David Friedman

The difference between a mere religious bigot and a true fundamentalist is that a bigot mostly concerns himself with the Other—people outside his faith—while a fundamentalist concerns himself foremost with rival groups within his faith. Muslim fundamentalists, like the ones in ISIS, are more immediately concerned with cleansing their society of Muslims they deem insufficiently devout than with destroying Christendom or Judaism. Likewise, for people like Friedman, discussion of the inferiority of Arabs and Muslims and their coming subjugation is superfluous. The important thing is to marginalize the (so-called) Jews who don’t believe that the establishment of a Jewish theocracy over Greater Israel will bring redemption and God’s grace.

This is the man the Senate saw fit to entrust with America’s diplomatic mission in a place already suffering from a surplus of religious zealots. Despite his apologies, there is no reason to believe Friedman has suddenly abandoned his extremism, nor that he would be under the strict control of the president, who clearly has no real interest in or moral conviction on the conflict.

The potential impact of Ambassador Friedman would be tempered if not for the current makeup of the Israeli government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leader of the Likud Party, which in recent decades has moved ever further to the right on the traditional Israeli spectrum. But even Likud has been outflanked by the rise of the Home Party, which could be considered Israel’s version of the alt-right. The Home Party is now in a coalition government with Likud and has enough seats in parliament to unseat Netanyahu. The defining features of its platform is the dismantling of secular democratic laws and institutions, the full annexation of the West Bank (a one-state solution), and the imposition of Israeli law on Palestinians, who would be denied full citizenship and civil rights and forcibly segregated from Israelis. In a word, apartheid.

It’s with this party that Mr. Friedman most closely identifies, and his nomination has already further emboldened its members and sympathizers. A Likud Party minister publicly broke ranks with Netanyahu, declaring the two-state solution dead and proposing his own Home Party-esque idea for a one-state solution. Practically speaking, Netanyahu was never in favor of a two-state solution and has done everything in his power to nip any negotiations in the bud. But now we have an ambassador who will not hold Netanyahu to even a vague rhetorical commitment to a two-state possibility.

Friedman’s appointment further discredits the Trump administration’s supposed toughness on Israel regarding the annexation of the West Bank. At his joint press conference with Netanyahu last month, Trump faced Netanyahu and said, “I would like to see you hold off” on further settlements. (It was at this same conference that Trump ended America’s commitment to a two-state solution.) Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he received a direct message from the Trump administration warning that “imposing Israeli sovereignty [on the West Bank] would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration.”

It appears Lieberman himself did not consider this to be a credible threat. He met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week and told him that West Bank settlements—which are, by definition, imposing Israeli sovereignty—are not an impediment to peace, and that the U.S. should leave the United Nations Human Rights Council and reconsider its support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. Friedman’s appointment further undermines Trump’s public stance. This incoherence on the part of the administration, combined with a weak State Department and a growing morass of self-inflicted crises, is an open invitation for the Israeli right wing to keep pushing ahead with the settlements, further narrowing the possibility of ever getting rid of them.

Perhaps the only positive outcome is that Friedman’s Senate confirmation vote almost entirely fell on party lines: only two Democrats, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted in favor. Israel is no longer an axiomatic bipartisan issue. This process was helped along by Netanyahu and the Republican Party during the Obama administration, especially when Netanyahu, at the invitation of GOP congressional leadership, addressed Congress and directly undermined the sitting president’s foreign policy—an unprecedented and disgraceful spectacle that Democrats are unlikely to forget. Perhaps the United States will become host to the debate about what kind of country Israel should be, a debate the Israeli government and its enablers are currently uninterested in having.

On a broader level, Friedman’s appointment further establishes the conditions for Israel to go down a potentially irreversible moral path. The current occupation and creeping land theft is already a crime in slow motion. But the combination of a radicalized militant government with a monopoly on the means for mass violence, a strident messianic movement in the West Bank, and the presence of enablers in the West Wing and the American embassy opens the possibility for even greater sins from which Israel and the Israeli soul may never recover.

Josh Alvarez is a journalist in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter – https://twitter.com/JshAlv.

“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

Author’s Note

US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than 16 years ago in October 2001. It’s has been a continuous war marked by US military occupation.

The justification is “counterterrorism”.  Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism, allegedly responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001. 

The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. US troops are still present and deployed in Afghanistan.

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The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under “the doctrine of collective security” was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an undeclared “armed attack” “from abroad” by an unnamed foreign power, namely Afghanistan. 

Yet there were no Afghan fighter planes in the skies of New York on the morning of September 11, 2001. 

This article, first published in June 2010, points to the “real economic reasons”  why US-NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.  

Under the Afghan-US security pact,  established under Obama’s Asian pivot, Washington and its NATO partners have established a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, with military facilities located within proximity of China’s Western frontier.  The pact was intended to allow the US to maintain their nine permanent military bases, strategically located on the borders of  China, Pakistan and Iran as well as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

In recent developments, President Trump in his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of  Congress vowed to “demolish and destroy” terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq as well as in Afghanistan under a fake counter-terrorism mandate.

According to Foreign Affairs, “there are more U.S. military forces deployed there [Afghanistan] than to any other active combat zone” and their mandate is to go after the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS (which are supported covertly by US intelligence). 

There is both a geopolitical as well as an economic agenda in Afghanistan requiring the permanent presence of US troops.

In addition to its vast mineral and gas reserves, Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the World’s supply of opium which is used to produce grade 4 heroin.

US military bases in Afghanistan are also intent upon protecting the multibillion narcotics trade.  Narcotics, at present, constitutes the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy.

The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

“The highest concentration of NATO servicemen in Afghanistan is being accompanied with the highest concentration of opium poppy, ….  That situation causes doubts about the anti-terrorist mission and leads to the conclusion about catastrophic consequences of the eight-year stay [of coalition forces] in Afghanistan,” (Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov, January 2010)

Michel Chossudovsky,  March 25, 2017

*      *      *

“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

October 2010

The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a “Just War”, a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate “Islamic terrorism” and instate Western style democracy.

The economic dimensions of  the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 “counter-terrorism campaign” has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.

The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder,  ”a resource war”.

While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)

Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. “Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.” At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. “The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia” (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

“Previously Unknown Deposits” of Minerals in Afghanistan

The Pentagon’s near one trillion dollar “estimate” of previously “unknown deposits” is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate:  “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)

Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan’s mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.

The US Administration’s acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth  following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America’s business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).

Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of  vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal,  June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars “estimate” intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.

More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: “It’s no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas,” (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):

“Afghanistan has never been anyone’s colony – no foreigner had ever “dug” here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.

It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.

Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.

However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else – the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).

The war is worth waging. … (Olga Borisova, “Afghanistan – the Emerald Country”, Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)

While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.

The issue of “previously unknown deposits” sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan’s vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World’s most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:

… Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits … The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly,  Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)

Afghanistan’s Natural Gas

Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control  over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.

Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a “crucial transit corridor”. (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the ‘good and necessary’ war; it’s about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington’s agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.

What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal  and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed “Afghanistan’s ‘explored’ (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5  trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag’s initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf.” (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).

The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan’s natural gas reserves are “substantial”:

“As northern Afghanistan is a ‘southward extension of Central Asia’s highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,’ Afghanistan ‘has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.’ (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, October 24, 2008)

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington’s objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

America’s covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen “Freedom fighters” (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1

Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America’s covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is “Good for Your Health”: Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)

Towards an Economy of Plunder

The US media, in chorus, has upheld the “recent discovery” of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth as “a solution” to the development of the country’s war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.

The war on Afghanistan is  a profit driven “resource war”.

Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led “war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country.” (Borisova, op cit).

Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan’s reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.

Note

1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually.

In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resulting from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism”, Global Research, Montreal, 2005)

ORDER DIRECTLY FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

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America’s “War on Terrorism”

Michel Chossudovsky

The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

The tall good looking New Yorker, about 25, stands out in the crowd around me. His black curly hair shines, his head raised expectantly, his smile so unlike the people around us peering anxiously into their handheld devices.

I’ll learn before my trip ends that this warm faced lad’s name is Dijon.

Our fleeting association begins there on the platform waiting for the uptown #6 train. Initially his smile attracts me; then my gaze rises beyond his face to a shimmering red and silver flag; it’s actually a balloon waving above us, and I know this belongs to Dijon. Seeing “Happy Anniversary” scrolled clearly on the shimmering surface, I think ‘He’s returning from an office party celebrating his marriage’. That would explain his smile too.

I’m distracted by a growl from the mouth of the tunnel, a welcome noise to commuters at the end of their workday. Here comes the #6 train. The platform, dense with thick-coated bodies, begins to stir, prepared to press into the cars. Forget about a seat; I may not even find standing room. At 4:30 p.m., the rush of workers heading uptown to their homes—one room, maybe two, three at the most, somewhere in the Upper East Side, Spanish Harlem or the Bronx– has begun.

I am unconcerned how Dijon, with his unwieldy balloon and the large carton cradled in his arms, manages to maneuver himself into the train as thirty other commuters lurch through that single door. Then, doors safely closed behind us, I see that same balloon. And, there beside me, our backs similarly pressed against the door, stands its bearer with the same quiet smile.

As this isn’t my regular route, I must check on where I should disembark and, of course, I look up towards the anniversary flag:

“Does the #6 stop at 84th street?”

His voice is soft and reassuring:

“We stop at 86th— good for you. But you know you could have taken the #5 express across the platform; you’d reach in just two strops by the five.”

Never mind; with this friendly opener I proceed with my inevitable interview, probing my travel companion’s agenda and introducing me to another New York lifestyle experience.

“Your anniversary?” I inquire. “How many years?”

“Oh no”, Dijon quickly rejoins, glancing at the balloon above us: “I’m delivering this: Edible Arrangements. We’re a party service (I’ll Google it later.)”

Nodding to the package in his arms now, he explains this service for family celebrations;

“They get the balloon and our fruit package — chunks of fresh pineapple, melon, apple, stuff like that– arranged on sticks all poking out of a big orange. It’s really pretty, done up like a bouquet.”

And do you sing as you present this gift?

“No, no”, and pausing, adds  “But I could sing”.

It occurs to me that Dijon may in fact be a talented vocalist– a singer, an actor, a performer of some kind. He’s probably one of the tens of thousands of gifted young people drawn to the city in search of gigs on stage, hunting for an agent, waiting to be discovered. Yes, that explains his bearing. I miss that cue, and instead ask about his ‘edible’ services; it’s a lifestyle service, the pampering of well-to-dos and trend-obsessed young people who socialize with indulgences, like hand delivered balloons and fruit baskets.

“For say $50?”, I guess.

“Hmm”, replies Dijon; “$50 and up.”

I think: what could he earn for one delivery (remembering he has to travel by subway)? Maybe $10. I can’t ask him directly, but I manage

“And tips? Do your happy anniversaries tip well?” Another “Hmmm” from Dijon.

“No tips: not usually.”

(No point inquiring about health insurance or workman’s compensation.)

These delivery gigs today employ battalions of young and energetic do-anything-to-live-in-New Yorkers. Would-be actors, comedians and musicians traditionally wait tables and serve drinks in the city’s many bars. But those jobs are now augmented by these delivery services which employ jobless graduates and anyone else willing to serve those who can pay, however indulging and frivolous the service. What’s offered are sometimes routine and tedious (house-cleaning, dog walking), at other times exotic and terribly fashionable (you can’t imagine).

Subway advertisements abound with invitations to do something special for yourself, or a loved one—all by phone apps, and like Uber– delivered personally by a young man or woman at your door. Handy.com, delivery.com, taskrabbit, upwork.com, blueapron.com, redbucket.com, deliveroo.com are just a few examples of what’s available.

It’s the gig economy; on one hand it’s emerging from excessive  joblessness, a serious condition finally receiving attention from workers rights advocates t5. On the other hand it’s created by people with abundant disposable incomes. It’s based on both desperation and trendyness. Servitude is a growth industry in American cities. Edible arrangements.com and bueapron.com are New York chic.

The fashion crowd—i.e. those with monthly salaries, health insurance, social security savings and a company pension fund— chat in the bar or at office break about these trendy services, similar, one imagines, to how white ladies chatted about their domestic ‘help’.

The Sunday Lifestyle section of your newspaper features the merits of blueapron.com fashion. Meanwhile less noticed reviews expose the inbuilt exploitation and the hardships lived by these young workers.

Doubtless some of the tens of thousands of wishful, handsome jobless graduates, come away from their glimpses inside those wealthy apartments to whom they delivered massages and fruit bouquets, gather after hours to invent their own startup service. Maybe they themselves can launch the next trend.

No one is thinking about workers rights. In fact a new adjunct trend is umbrella recruitment companies. They locate, vet and sign up individuals who they then farm out for hour and day jobs. In the UK this service extends to school teachers—all to save someone else money.

Operation Mosul: A Medieval Massacre

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described it this way weeks after US-led terror-bombing and Iraqi ground operations began last October – long before the worst horrors ongoing now.

US-orchestrated operations are being conducted under “conditions of absolute information blockade,” Zakharova explained.

Nothing was done to protect, evacuate or otherwise help civilians. They’ve been on their own in harm’s way without humanitarian or any other type aid or consideration for their welfare and safety since last October.

Hundreds of thousands remain trapped in the city. Others getting out risk their lives to do it – as endangered by US terror-bombing as ISIS fighters.

In the battle for Aleppo, Russia and Syria established humanitarian corridors – without aid from the UN or other countries. Great care was taken to avoid civilian casualties, why liberating the city entirely took so long.

Moscow ceased aerial operations in October 2016 to protect civilians, long before the battle for Aleppo was won in late December.

The West and supportive media disgracefully portrayed a heroic Leningrad-type liberation as naked aggression.

They’re largely silent on the rape and destruction of Mosul. What’s reported falsely portrays liberation. Nothing about US terror-bombing mass murder. An orchestrated coverup of reality continues.

No help was provided for desperate city civilians, tapped in harm’s way. In months of fighting, likely thousands were massacred, countless others injured, hundreds of thousands displaced – by indiscriminate US terror-bombing and ground artillery fire.

Western media are complicit by silence with rare exceptions. On March 23, London’s Independent cited local media sources, saying Thursday airstrikes on Mosul caused “230” civilian deaths.

“A correspondent for Rudaw, a Kurdish news agency operating in northern Iraq, said that 137 people – most believed to be civilians – died when a bomb hit a single building in al-Jadida, in the western side of the city on Thursday.”

“Another 100 were killed nearby.  Some of the dead were taking shelter inside the homes,” according to Kurdish journalist Hevidar Ahmed, reporting from the scene of the massacre.

RT reported over 130 civilians massacred overnight in Mosul from US terror-bombing. The death toll could be much higher. Bodies are being pulled from rubble, a slow, arduous task.

According to a local eyewitness,

“(t)he entire neighborhood was fleeing because of missiles that hit, so people had taken refuge here.”

“I didn’t know if it was a shelter. I didn’t know we couldn’t go there. My entire family is inside, 27 people. We pulled only one of them out and don’t know about the rest. Yes, he was dead.”

Civilians suffer most in all wars. Contempt for their agony and trauma in Mosul and other US war theaters compounds their desperation.

Surviving is a daily struggle. Many don’t make it. Others are scarred for life.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

A showcase of nuclear science and engineering at MIT

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The MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) Graduate Student Expo, which traditionally kicks off the visiting weekend for prospective graduate students, was held on March 17. In addition to showcasing groundbreaking research from the department’s various labs, the NSE Expo also provides an opportunity for prospective students to learn about what projects they may be able to work on if they choose to come to MIT in the fall. These ranged from designing the world’s first fusion power plant, to developing new metrics by which to measure the effects of radiation damage, to modeling the many phases of coolant inside of a nuclear power plant. 

Two posters were selected for the Best Poster Award:

Yi-Xiang Liu from the Quantum Engineering Group won for her poster titled, “High Sensitivity DC Magnetometry.” Liu is a third-year PhD student working with Professor Paola Cappellaro.

Jiayue Wang from the Laboratory for Electrochemical Interfaces won for his poster titled, “Carbon Poisoning of Ceria-based Catalysts in CO2-electrolysis — a Threshold [Ce3+]-Carbon Relation.” Wang is doing this work with Professor Bilge Yildiz.

In addition to an oustanding range of posters, four graduate students spoke at greater length about their research.

Using lasers to measure damage, not cause it

In his talk, “Ions and Lasers: Exploring New Diagnostics for Nuclear Materials Science” third-year PhD student Cody Dennett explained how to best measure radiation damage in a material as it’s happening. In order to investigate the future of fusion, fission, and nuclear security systems, one must have a good idea of how radiation will affect various materials in the system.

Dennett’s research with Professor Michael Short focuses on firing ion beams at materials, and then measuring changes in material properties with not one, but two lasers. While the ion beam is intentionally damaging the material, one laser generates sound waves on the material’s surface, and the other measures how these sound waves move, in order to determine material properties in real time. This new method of analyzing radiation damage quickly and in real time will greatly improve the ability to predict the performance of materials in an enormous range of future devices and systems.

One code, a lot of physics

Derek Gaston has made it his mission to simultaneously incorporate all of the relevant physics in a fission reactor into a single code. In his talk, “Piecing Together the Reactor Puzzle: Predictive Multiphysics Simulation,” Gaston describe a “multiphysics” code he has developed called MOOSE. MOOSE enables him to combine into a single simulation the complicated interactions between thermo-mechanics, thermal hydraulics, neutronics, and material science.

The MOOSE code framework is open source and free to use, but is powerful enough to predict, and therefore prevent, fuel rod failure within a fission reactor, making these reactors both safer and less expensive to operate. In the future, it will also be possible to apply the same simulation framework to any number of reactor components, further improving our designs in countless ways. A third-year PhD student in NSE, Gaston is part of the MIT Computational Reactor Physics Group and works with professors Benoit Forget and Kord Smith.

You can’t hack physics

Third-year PhD student Jayson Vavrek’s work focuses on how to make an accurate assessment of a nuclear warhead with the minimum possible amount of information. In his talk, “The Less You Know, the Better: Physical Cryptography for Nuclear Security,” Vavrek described the challenges associated with verifying nuclear disarmament treaties, in which countries agree to mutually disassemble their nuclear arsenals.

At issue is the fact that both countries want to make sure that the other is actually taking apart real weapons, instead of fakes, but neither country wants to give away their design secrets. Radiation can be used to probe the inside of the warhead without opening it up, to make sure that it’s real, but any type of electronic encryption of this data is subject to hacking. Vavrek is a part of the Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy and works with professors Areg Danagoulian and R. Scott Kemp. He and the lab have developed a way to use physics to encrypt the probe data, while still enabling accurate verification that the warhead is real. New techniques like this open up the possibility of both more thorough and less intrusive methods of disarmament verification.

Electrons in space

The final talk of the day was by fourth-year PhD student Chuteng Zhou of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center. In his talk, titled “New Understanding of Plasma Phase-Space Holes via Hole-Tracking Particle-In-Cell Simulation,” Zhou described the phenomenon of ‘electron holes’ in the plasma of earth’s magnetosphere. The earth is surrounded by a plasma (basically a really hot, ionized gas, which is also found in lightning and in the sun). In their investigations, NASA satellites found that there were odd regions where there was an unexpected lack of electrons, which are called ‘electron holes.’ Zhou has developed a new technique to simulate these regions using a particle-in-cell code, in which the simulation domain follows the electron hole as it moves through space. This enables the codes to track holes that move at tens of thousands of kilometers per hour, while still running in reasonable amounts of time.

With his research, Zhou aims to pursue a better understanding of the universe around us, and to investigate how plasmas act differently than the other three forms of matter. Zhou works with Professor Ian Hutchinson at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center.


Setting the pace for change in the energy sector

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In a time of political transition and uncertainty in the U.S. and abroad, questions inevitably arise about the future of the energy sector. How will the shift to a low-carbon economy play out? How much has the timeline been impacted? These questions were on the minds of many of the attendees gathered in Houston earlier this month for IHS CERAWeek, the annual conference of the international energy industry. The conclusions were both realistic and optimistic, and marked by one of the defining characteristics of the week: momentum.

For a decade, MIT has played a substantial role in this conference. This year, MIT speakers included Vice President for Research Maria Zuber, the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences; MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) Director Robert Armstrong; and several other researchers, who took part in the weeklong program that also featured Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation (ECF); Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and executives from major energy companies, among others.

Momentum in technology and climate change mitigation

This future in which carbon emissions have been substantially reduced is one that a number of speakers from diverse backgrounds heralded as inevitable, and more than that, desirable.

Coupled with this momentum towards low-carbon energy was a clear interest in the technology that will make it possible. MIT representatives at CERAWeek took part in lively discussions among the many alumni in attendance — whose free participation was facilitated by MITEI Associate Director Louis Carranza and the MIT Club of South Texas — or speaking on panels. Robert Stoner, MITEI’s deputy director and the director of the Tata Center for Technology and Design, spoke at a Thursday morning panel on developing markets for powering economic development. Karthish Manthiram, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, spoke about the role of carbon capture, utilization, and storage in a low-carbon energy future. PhD candidate Jesse Jenkins, a researcher in engineering systems in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, took part in a panel on distributed resources’ relationship to the evolution of the power grid.

The conference also featured MIT alumni as speakers. James Bellingham ’84, SM ’84, PhD ’88, director of the Center of Marine Robotics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was one of three alumni panelists who discussed technology’s role in reshaping the energy supply chain. Fellow panelists included Ric Fulop SL ’06, co-founder and CEO of Desktop Metal, and Jon Hirschtick ’83, SM ’83, co-founder and CEO of Onshape Inc. On another panel concerning energy startups, Helen Greiner ’89, SM ’90, founder and CTO of CyPhy Works, spoke alongside another MIT panelist, Murat Ocalan PhD ’11, founder and CEO of Rheidiant.

At a plenary session on climate and energy strategies post-Paris Agreement, MIT’s Zuber reminded the audience that a wide range of technologies are needed to effectively combat the climate challenge, saying, “There isn’t any one silver bullet here.” She added, “We have very separate challenges that are associated with the developed world and the developing world. We need to be investing in a range of clean technologies.” Zuber’s fellow panelists included Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar; Rachel Kyte, CEO and special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All; and ECF’s Laurence Tubiana.

Zuber also spoke at a dinner featuring female leaders in energy, aptly coming at the close of International Women’s Day. Panelists included Zuber; Nabilah Al-Tunisi, chief engineer for Saudi Aramco; Julia Harvie-Liddel, group head of resourcing at BP; Mary Kipp, CEO of El Paso Electric Company; and Geraldine Slattery, asset president for conventional oil and gas at BHP Billiton. Antonia Bullard, IHS Markit’s vice president for energy, noted at the end of the conference, “The largest rounds of applause I’ve heard this week were for carbon pricing and opportunities for women.”

Spinach emails, electric cars, and the future of silicon

Armstrong moderated Friday’s MIT plenary, “Frontiers of Science and Innovation: Future technologies to meet the energy and climate challenge.” He kicked off Friday’s panel with his co-moderator, IHS Markit Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin, by talking about MITEI’s developing Low-Carbon Energy Centers. Armstrong described the centers as a vehicle “to bring research in different disciplines together with industry to accelerate progress in the energy transition.” MIT panelists discussed how each of their research projects is contributing to low-carbon energy solutions.

Panelist Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, brought up a video of a small spinach sprout growing in a beaker in his team’s lab, its roots wrapped in cheesecloth. “We’re going to watch this spinach plant send an email,” Strano announced to the audience.

In the video, a researcher’s hand depressed a yellow-colored solution into the water in the spinach plant’s beaker. Mere seconds later, thanks to a simple electronic setup already in place that connects the spinach’s solution electronically to a Raspberry Pi computer, an email showed up on the researcher’s phone.

“The idea,” Strano said, “is to replace some of the electronic devices and gadgets around us with a functional living plant. We’re working out the engineering details of how you would do this with nanotechnology.” The spinach sending the email? That’s Strano’s team’s answer to the need for sensors to detect potential toxins in soil or in the atmosphere. Plants already take in an immense detail of data about their surroundings, so Strano’s team had the idea of turning a plant (any plant will do) into a sensor of sorts, that, via a simple setup like the one he displayed in the video, can send periodic updates on the soil or air quality around it. An added benefit is that plants are “doubly negative” when it comes to carbon — both made of carbon and constantly consuming it.

The panel turned from replacing electronics with plants to improving the electronics themselves. Troy Van Voorhis, the Haslam and Dewey Professor of Chemistry, discussed his research into improved silicon in solar cells and technology for storing energy in chemical bonds. David Keith, the Mitsui Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor of System Dynamics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, focused on electric cars. According to Keith, the widespread adoption of both electric and driverless cars will ensure that “driving will be safer, easier, cheaper, kinder to the environment.” First, though, certain barriers to adoption must be scaled. Keith discussed ways in which these challenges, from high costs to a need for greater proliferation of recharging infrastructure, can be overcome.

Investing in energy research for the future

In the post-Paris Agreement panel, Zuber discussed nuclear energy, describing innovations such as advances in molten salt reactors that will make the fission process safer, cheaper, and more efficient. She also addressed the common, half-joking criticism of fusion: that it’s always at least four decades away. “There’s been serious progress on this front, mainly due to technology innovations, particularly in the area of high-temperature super-conducting magnets. I frankly think that we are on the order of 10 years from net positive energy for a small compact reactor, not 40 years away. Once we get that, then we commercialize, and then we have a brand new industry. Then we have a completely different game.”

Zuber also emphasized the importance of basic research. “We need to make a bigger push in research, and we need to make a bigger investment in the basic science that’s going to drive the technology,” she said. “We also need to make a bigger investment in early-stage development, so that we can mature these technologies fast enough.” Zuber mentioned MIT’s recent creation, The Engine, an incubator that will invest in pre-commercialization stage projects.

“It’s a combination of investment in R&D and patient capital to mature these ideas so we can get them out,” she said. “We’re at the cusp of a revolution.”


Harvard researchers develop framework to explain shape of plant stems

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It is well known that as plants grow, their stems and shoots respond to outside signals such as light and gravity. But if all plants have similar stimuli, why are there so many different stem shapes? Why do a weeping willow branches grow downward while nearby poison ivy shoots upward?

Using simple mathematical ideas, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) constructed a framework that explains and quantifies the different shapes of plant stems.

A stem’s ‘sense of self’ contributes to plant shape

Growing plant stems and shoots exhibit a variety of shapes that embody growth in response to various stimuli. Building on experimental observations, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences can provide a quantitative biophysical theory for these shapes by accounting for the inherent observed passive and active effects. Credit: Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

The research is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

“We have combined, in one theory, a plant’s ability to sense itself and its environment while being constrained by gravity and its elastic nature,” said L. Mahadevan, the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and of Physics. “By accounting for these factors, we can explain the range of shapes seen in nature without the need for complex growth strategies. This, in turn, implies that the diversity of morphologies seen in your garden may follow from very simple causes.”

Mahadevan and co-author Raghunath Chelakkot describe plant shoots as “sentient,” meaning they can sense their own shapes and the direction of gravity and light through mechanochemical pathways.

When these pathways are triggered by stimuli, one part of the shoot may grow relative to another and change shape. The shoots of the weeping willow, for example, try to grow upward, away from gravity and toward light. But, because they are so soft, the shoots sag under the weight of gravity and cascade toward the ground. On the other hand, poison ivy shoots start by growing downward before turning upward.

How organisms sense and respond to these outside signals is important to understanding everything from plant growth to human development.

“Different organs in our body grow and take on their characteristic shapes by responding to both internal and external signals, such as gravity,” said Mahadevan. “We do not yet understand how large-scale shape changes arise from a combination of sensing and growth, and our study attempts to look at one example of this.”

Mahadevan is also a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

The research was supported in part by the MacArthur Foundation.

Selected Articles: US Coup in Ukraine: Aftereffects, Untold Story of the Greek “Bailouts”

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Armée Ukraine USA

What America’s Coup in Ukraine Did

By Eric Zuesse, March 24 2017

On March 23rd, Gallup headlined “South Sudan, Haiti and Ukraine Lead World in Suffering”, and the Ukrainian part of that can unquestionably be laid at the feet of U.S. President Barack Obama, who in February 2014 imposed upon Ukraine a very bloody coup (see it here), which he and his press misrepresented (and still misrepresent) as being (and still represent as having been) a ‘democratic revolution’, but was nothing of the sort, and actually was instead the start of the Ukrainian dictatorship and the hell that has since destroyed that country, and brought the people there into such misery, it’s now by far the worst in Europe, and nearly tied with the worst in the entire world.

Will Washington Risk World War III to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate?

By Mike Whitney, March 24 2017

The media onslaught, which has greatly intensified since the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, has been accompanied by harsh economic sanctions, asymmetrical attacks on Russia’s markets and currency, the arming and training of Russian adversaries in Ukraine and Syria, the calculated suppression of oil prices, and a heavy-handed effort to sabotage Russia’s business relations in Europe. In short, Washington is doing everything in its power to prevent Russia and Europe from merging into the world’s biggest free trade zone that will be the center of global growth and prosperity for the next century.

nazi-flag-on-the-acropolis

Greece To Surrender Gold, Utilities and Real Estate in Exchange For Pieces of Paper Printed in Brussels

By Matthew Allen, March 24 2017

The untold story of the Greek “bailouts” is that it wasn’t a “bailout” — it was an auction of Greek assets. Real, tangible things with real, tangible value were seized in exchange for pieces of paper that guarantee Athens will be chained to Berlin and Brussels for the foreseeable future.

la-marche-pour-l-egalite-et-contre-le-racisme

Resistance against South African Apartheid, Racism and Settler-Colonialism: Remembering Peter Tosh and the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre

By Ajamu Nangwaya, March 24 2017

Whenever, we commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre and the IDERD, we are politically obligated to highlight the valiant effort of the late reggae singer, Pan-Africanist, Rastaman, revolutionary, and human rights champion Peter Tosh in creating greater public awareness of the crimes of South Africa’s apartheid system. Tosh was one of the original Wailers’ trio alongside Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer. He was a reggae superstar at the time of his assassination by lumpen elements in Jamaica on 11 September 1987. Tosh was known as a militant cultural worker and organic intellectual who did not mince words in condemning the powers-that-be like the Old Testament prophets.

US_DeclineandFalloftheAmericanEmpire

The West is Becoming Irrelevant, The World is Laughing

By Andre Vltchek, March 24 2017

All of us, the internationalists and anti-imperialists, are fighting for the survival of humanity and this planet. There is more that unites us than what is tearing us apart. Once we win, and we will win, the world will be able to find a common language.The West wants to divide us, by spreading hostilities and distrust, all through ‘false news’ and fabrications. But we understand its game. We will not break our ranks, anymore. The West is clearly losing. It knows it. It is in panic.

Labyrinth Books: How a vibrant bookstore connects campus and community

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Labyrinth Books: How a vibrant bookstore connects campus and community

For nearly a decade, Princeton University has worked with Nassau Street retailer Labyrinth Books to offer an independent community bookstore for students, faculty, staff and local residents alike. University Services Assistant Vice President Andrew Kane provides an overview of why the University collaborates with Labyrinth and how that relationship has grown to satisfy the scholarly and curiosity-driven needs of the campus community, local residents and visitors to Princeton.

“Among other things, Princeton’s ongoing collaboration with Labyrinth Books establishes a stable platform for creative initiatives to continuously improve the service that Labyrinth provides to Princeton students, faculty and staff,” Kane said. “From the University’s perspective, the value of having Labyrinth Books as a neighbor comes from our shared commitment to ensuring that all Princeton students have affordable and convenient access to the course materials they need to succeed. Further, Labyrinth’s vibrancy as an academic, scholarly bookstore enriches the educational and cultural life of University audiences, local residents and visitors to Princeton.”

Below, Dorothea von Moltke, who co-owns Labyrinth with her husband, Clifford Simms, and brother-in-law, Peter Simms, shared her thoughts on how and why this unique collaboration has been able to evolve and thrive.

Explain the relationship between Labyrinth Books and Princeton University.

In 2007, at a time when most universities were outsourcing their bookstore operations to chain stores, Princeton had a different vision of the role an independent bookstore could play in representing the values and aims of a great university. Princeton approached Labyrinth with the notion of creating a bookstore that would be a resource to scholars and students as well as to the Princeton community. The University’s hope was to bring a world-class bookstore to town that would serve as a cultural resource for town and gown while also serving all coursebook needs. While we have had stores both at Columbia and at Yale in the past, we have never had the kind of close relationship we have with Princeton University.

What is the impact of the University supporting a bookstore in downtown Princeton?

Our hope is that Labyrinth is a genuine resource in the intellectual life of Princeton, both on campus and off. The University’s support of the store also directly helps ensure that downtown Princeton remains diversified and vibrant. From the 1990s until today, there has been a general demise of downtowns with much economic activity being driven to malls and chain stores outside of towns. The University’s help in securing a place at the heart of Nassau Street for Labyrinth signaled its recognition that independent, and in our case family-owned, businesses are essential to assuring that the town keeps a distinct character and has a strong local economy.

What sets Labyrinth apart among independent booksellers?

One way to measure Labyrinth’s difference is the fact that the store currently has 118,500 titles, whereas the average superstore has about 15,000. We are devoted to carrying the works that inform and shape debates in most fields of thought.

Labyrinth, like the University itself, attempts in its inventory to get beyond the noise of current talking heads and to represent the books that continue to inform the best thinking, teaching and research. Our stores have always been a combination of scholarly and somewhat specialized general-interest stores, not least because these are the books we as owners know and love best, and University neighborhoods are where we have always felt most at home.

We have always cultivated close relationships and personal friendships with the faculty of the universities we have served, and in New York and New Haven the fact that we carried coursebooks in our stores was a direct result of those connections. This combination of a store providing coursebooks, working to be a premier academic bookstore, and integrating itself into the broader cultural and civic fabric of a town and campus has in fact become rare.

Labyrinth

How has Labyrinth been able to discount coursebooks for students?

The 30 percent discount program for coursebooks is a direct result of how closely the University has worked with us since we first got here. By 2012, online competition for coursebook sales had become a real threat to our service-intensive model. At the time, we sat down together with the University and were able to come up with a solution that puts our would-be profit margin for coursebooks (roughly 30 percent) in circulation, as it were, passing it on to all students as a guaranteed savings on their books. In effect, and to the students’ great benefit, the University funds this service of providing affordable coursebooks and having all titles requested for all classes available at the start of the semester.

How do you design the events programming you hold at Labyrinth?

Our events series is the result of a combination of, on the one hand, seeing what books are forthcoming in a given season and picking what we find important ourselves, relevant to our times, and interesting to the community we serve, and then inviting those authors and, on the other hand (and increasingly), responding to authors who approach us wanting to hold an event at the store. In most cases, we invite a discussant along who is engaged with the work of the presenting author, which often makes for conversations that easily open up to include the audience.

The Princeton faculty make all of this easy so long as they keep writing as many great books as they have been. And then there are other partners in the community with whom we have formed close collaborations, most especially the Princeton Public Library with our Library Live at Labyrinth series and the Princeton Kids’ Events Coalition, which we helped to launch.

What role does Labyrinth play in Princeton’s intellectual and cultural landscape?

This question seems like it is for those who frequent our store to answer. But we certainly see ourselves as a space where town and gown can intersect, find shared interests, and make common cause, especially in the new political era we are now entering. A few examples are: students have begun to use the store as a forum for meeting and organizing and connecting with the broader community; the Lewis Center for the Arts is returning for its third year of monthly Emerging Writers readings by both students and invited, established authors (now called the C.K. Williams Memorial Reading Series); and we are a regular stop for parents and their kids, for faculty and administrators, for folks from the Princeton Theological Seminary or Westminster Conservatory of Music or Rider University, for visitors from out of town needing direction or a recommendation for where to eat … but most importantly for readers of all stripes.

Peter Singer at Labyrinth

How does Labyrinth give back to communities in and around Princeton?

Labyrinth Books by now has a track record of commitment to social justice causes, and we do what we can to support particularly the many groups, organizations and authors on campus and off who share this commitment and who share our belief in the ability of education to transform lives. We are deeply involved in prison adult literacy programs and the education of the incarcerated population of New Jersey. Labyrinth assists in providing coursebooks for the GED, AA and BA programs in seven adult and youth prison facilities across the state, through our partnerships with the Princeton Prison Teaching Initiative and its umbrella organization, the amazing NJ-STEP program. In addition to the course related material, we have worked steadily to build general prison libraries.

Labyrinth holds regular book drives for the Princeton Young Achievers and the Trenton Young Scholars Institute, and collaborates with and supports the work of Homefront and the Housing Initiative of Princeton, to name just a few. We partner with many others in order to lend our voice and platform to increase the reach and scope of community action.

Year-round, the store accepts donations of non-perishable food and gently used clothing on behalf of the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton, and the Trenton Rescue Mission, and on average delivers 20 to 30 pallet-sized boxes of goods to those in need each year.

What are Labyrinth’s plans for the future?

For 2018-19, we have a number of strategic initiatives. These include some redesign of the store to improve our space for events, and simply for students, scholars and readers to spend time hanging out. We plan to expand our used book holdings and to design a way to showcase our rare, first- and select-edition offerings. And we’re excited to be launching a new, more user-friendly website. In all of these developments, the relationship between Labyrinth and the University has been informed by asking difficult questions about the future of how knowledge is produced, disseminated and consumed and what role the store can play in the cultural landscape in Princeton.

The first 10 years of our time in Princeton have seen many changes; but the frankness of our discussion concerning the needs of students and faculty as well as the broader community in the context of cultural changes has been a constant and has been mutually responsive. It has created a durable relationship. This focus on providing a service for the University and an experience for readers will always be central to our plans.
 

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Director of ‘A Quiet Passion’ talks Emily Dickinson ahead of Houghton screening

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

Terence Davies comes to the Harvard Film Archive Monday for a screening of “A Quiet Passion,” his new biopic on Emily Dickinson.

The 71-year-old British screenwriter and director, a careful craftsman himself, has long harbored great affection for Dickinson. He will discuss her artistry, her reclusive personality, and his film, which stars Cynthia Nixon, during a conversation with Leslie A. Morris, curator of modern books and manuscripts at Houghton Library. 

The Dickinson Collection at Houghton includes a second-floor room that showcases the Amherst poet’s furniture (including her writing table), family portraits (including one of only two lifetime images of her), and part of the family library. Digitized versions of her handwritten poems and letters, as well as facsimiles of her herbarium, are accessible online. 

Davies, whose earlier acclaimed films include “Distant Voices, Still Lives” and “The Long Day Closes,” visited Harvard previously to research “A Quiet Passion.” He will speak following the Monday 7 p.m. screening, which is part of Houghton’s 75th anniversary celebration.

 To preview the evening, Davies talked with The Gazette about his challenges in making movies, his artistic kinship with Dickinson, and what drew him to her deeply internal, isolated life.

GAZETTE: How did you decide to tell Emily Dickinson’s story?

DAVIES: Many years ago, I saw a documentary on the local television when I lived in the Northwest on Emily Dickinson and, of course, I couldn’t stop watching. I had read a little anthology 10 or 12 years ago, and I wanted to know more about her life. I’ve since read six biographies about her, and I just thought it was an extraordinary life. She didn’t go anywhere, but she produced 1,800 poems and had this rich life and close family dynamic. That was fascinating.

She only went away once — to Mount Holyoke College when she was 17. She was so homesick she never went anywhere again. If you drive by car (from Amherst to South Hadley), it’s not very far, but if you go by horse and carriage, it is. Once she came back home, she never left it again.

GAZETTE: You mentioned reading six biographies before writing the script. How did you prioritize the various parts of her personality and life?

DAVIES: I empathized with her in many ways. When I was in primary school (ages 5-11), I was sent away to North Wales to convalesce from a severe chest infection, and it seemed a long way away, despite not being that far, geographically, from Liverpool. I was so homesick. I responded to that part of her story. What was more important, I think, was her attitude to her natural soul. I was raised very Catholic. From ages 15 to 22, I had a great deal of spiritual crisis. We were taught if you didn’t believe, that was the way of the devil. I was and am now an atheist. I’m also the youngest of 10 children. We were very close, and I wanted our family to never change. I wanted it to stay like that forever.

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GAZETTE: How do you amplify a “quiet” life?

DAVIES: I dramatized things that were in the house, things that caused a huge, ethical schism. Dickinson’s brother, Austin, had an affair with a married woman. She couldn’t forgive him for that. When small things become huge, it strips everything down. In a musical sense, I wasn’t writing a symphony. It was a string quartet. The family was rich with those wonders and terrors. The classical Greek drama is basically about families. It’s a constant source of richness and drama and fun as well.

There was humor too. I didn’t want it to be solemn. She liked growing flowers, playing piano. She was very strong. She was fun, but also a rebel. As they were very well-educated, these women, the conversation had to be intelligent and very funny. When I was growing up, my sisters’ friends would come to do their makeup at our house. I can still smell it. My sisters’ friends were wonderful, and people like that you long to come often.

GAZETTE: People are protective of her in a lot of ways, and she has an intense fan base. Were you worried about that while making the film?

DAVIES: When we went to Amherst to look at Emily Dickinson’s homestead, I met Jane Wald, the executive director, and three or four academics working there. I said, “My view in the film is only my subjective view of her life. There’s no way we can include volumes of letters. It’s going to be seen through my prism.” As an example, though she had Bright’s (kidney) disease, she died of heart failure. I thought it was more compelling that she died of kidney disease, which is how it unfolds in the film. They said, “I think she’s in safe hands.”

GAZETTE: What is your next project?

DAVIES: I’m working on “Mother of Sorrows” (a 2005 coming-of-age work of fiction about two brothers) by Richard McCann. The book was sent to me out of the blue. I loved it. The script is written, and we’re trying to raise the money.

GAZETTE: You have been a filmmaker for 40 years. What is the challenge of making movies at this point in your career?

DAVIES: The challenges are always the same, trying to get money for subjects that aren’t mainstream. Can you get a big name (actor)? Names are good, but what if they aren’t very good? If someone is right for the role, whether they are known or unknown, the amount you need to raise becomes a lot less. I’ve never been very lucky with weather. When Emily died, it was high summer. When we wanted to film, it was a gray day. I longed for it to be brilliant sunshine. We didn’t have that kind of money. The wonderful thing is that good actors do wonderful things, and I make sure every script has everything in it. They open their hearts to you, and you to them. 

This interview has been condensed.

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