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Día Internacional de la Mujer 2011.

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí. Más »

Entrega de Silla de Ruedas.

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí. Más »

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

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí. Más »

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

Entrega de Reconocimiento por la AMS a la labor de Gabriela Goldsmith Presidenta de \\\\\\\"Código Ayuda A.C.” Más »

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

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí. Más »

Entrega de Silla de Ruedas.

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí. Más »

“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.

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí. Más »

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

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" ¡Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí! Más »

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

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" ¡Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí! Más »

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

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" ¡Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí! Más »

Asociación de Madres Solteras y Grupos Vulnerables para el Desarrollo Social \\\\\\\"Por un Trato más digno Yo Madre Soltera Aquí Estoy A.C.\\\\\\\" ¡Visita la página de Madres Solas Aquí! 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 »

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 »

 

The BRICS New Development Bank Meets in Delhi, To Dash Green-Developmental Hopes?

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

Will the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) bloc ever really challenge the world financial order? The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) leadership is meeting in New Delhi from 31 March to 2 April with a degree of fanfare unmatched by accomplishments. It is a good moment to assess progress since the BRICS Summit in 2013 when rumour had it that the then host city of Durban would also be the NDB’s home base. (It ended up in Shanghai, launched in 2015.)

BRICS leaders often state their vision of establishing alternatives to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Indeed the NDB leadership began with environmentally-oriented loans last year, and in 2017 wants to add $3 billion in new credits. 

But looked at from the South African vantagepoint, questions immediately arise about key personnel, as well as the willingness of the only local NDB borrower so far – the electricity parastatal Eskom – to support renewable energy, and perhaps most importantly whether the country and the continent can afford more expensive hard-currency loans.

Greenwashing finance as Africa loses IMF power

Why green loans? The original NDB designers were two former World Bank chief economists, Joe Stiglitz and Nick Stern. Although their public endorsements of the NDB stressed sustainable development and climate change, in private Stern offered a different rationale during a 2013 conference of the elite British Academy (which he chairs): 

If you have a development bank that is part of a [major business] deal then it makes it more difficult for governments to be unreliable.”

Stern asked,

“are there any press here, by the way? OK, so this bit’s off the record. We started to move the idea of a BRICS-led development bank for those two reasons. Coupled with the idea that the rich countries would not let the balance sheets of the World Bank and some of the regional development banks expand very much, and they would not allow their share in those banks to be diluted.”

While this is true, the BRICS gained substantial IMF voting power increases in the 2015 restructuring (e.g. China up 37%, India 23%, Brazil 11% and Russia 8%), but with negligible United States or European dilution. Instead, the rising BRICS shares were as a result of Nigeria and Venezuela losing 41% of their vote, along with Libya at -39%, Morocco -27%, Gabon -26%, Algeria -26%, Namibia -26%, Cameroon -23%, Mauritius -21% andeven South Africa lost 21%.

Four BRIC countries stood on African and Latin American heads to get better executive director seats at the IMF table. When they got there, the BRICS directors approved the reappointment of Christine Lagarde in 2016 and after she was convicted on a $430 million corruption charge last December, the IMF directors unanimously endorsed her continued employment.

The NDB’s first loans did boost environmentally-oriented projects, as $300 million went to Brazil, $81 million to China, $250 million to India and $180 million to SA, the latter to connect renewable Independent Power Producer generators to the main grid. But these processes are accomplished with mostly local-currency inputs, hence the US$ loans were inappropriate. Like the other multilaterals, NDB repayments are in US dollars, which adversely affect the borrower’s balance of payments, although the NDB has started fund-raising from yuan and rupee markets so this may eventually change.

But worse, Eskom’s two most recent leaders, Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko, simultaneously announced that they wanted nothing more to do with renewable energy. A massive battle over renewables was only resolved a month ago when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget Statement recommitted to the IPP contracts. (Koko may well have to step down after last week’s conflict-of-interest revelations involving a scandalous $100 million tender suspiciously won by his stepdaughter’s company.)

In that budget, Gordhan refused Eskom further nuclear energy financing, beyond an initial $15 million: a tiny downpayment on the in-principle reactor purchase agreement that President Jacob Zuma had made to Moscow-based Rosatom, with anticipated costs of $50-100 billion. The principle supplier of raw inputs to the nukes – if they are built – will be Oakbay, a uranium (and coal) company owned by the notorious Gupta brothers.

Gupta gyrations

This week the Guptas are in court fighting Gordhan over his failure to reverse the main SA commercial banks’ boycott of Oakbay and other Gupta-owned firms. This boycott is the widely understood reason that Gordhan was recalled from a UK-US investment trip on Tuesday morning: to be fired.

For the NDB, such turmoil is extremely important because SA’s Governor to the NDB is Gordhan. And the oft-rumoured ascension to the Treasury by Molefe is vital in part because he was SA’s BRICS Business Council leader until recently – following his own humiliating resignation as Eskom chief executive last November. That was the result of the Public Protector’s “State of Capture” report revealing influence over Molefe by the Guptas.

After he (incorrectly) claimed that the Gupta’s luxurious Saxonwold neighbourhood contained a shebeen (pub) that might explain his regular presence there, Molefe’s credibility was utterly destroyed. Nevertheless, in January, Molefe was appointed to parliament amidst fresh controversies over Gupta meddling.

Just before the Eskom resignation, Molefe made an articulate appeal for a replacement of “the current ‘casino’ financial system or ‘law of the jungle’ with a project that expressly promotes the common good among nations, provides credit for high-technology development projects, on youth education and training and meets the growth challenges of the future.”

Molefe bragged that

“BRICS and its allies are taking bold corrective measures by building a world system based on real value and to create a system capable of fundamentally shaping socio-economic growth and development. There have been some significant steps taken, in particular the launch of the NDB, which has already started funding key projects.”

Yet these are the very ‘key projects’ – renewable energy – that Molefe was sabotaging at that time, suggesting his NDB pronouncements simply cannot be taken seriously.

The NDB website itself observes

a need for Multilateral Development Banks to reinvent themselves” on the one hand, but on the other, its president KV Kamath last September signed a deal with the World Bank for “co-financing of projects; facilitating knowledge exchange… and facilitating secondments and staff exchanges.”

NDB personnel

In contrast to Molefe, two other executives from SA receive regular praise. Ironically, SA’s NDB Director is former Reserve Bank Governor (1999-2009) Tito Mboweni, who had slammed the NDB as “very costly” in 2013. Upon accepting the NDB directorship two years later (as the only one of the five not employed by a BRICS state), he promptly declared that nuclear energy financing “falls squarely within the mandate of the NDB.”

Mboweni is International Advisor to Goldman Sachs. That should have been an embarrassment in January 2016 when according to financial journalists, the bank “identified shorting the rand as one of its top trades for this year due to falling commodity prices and SA’s current account deficit.” At that point the SA currency was rapidly pushed down to its historic low of R18/$. (It since recovered to R12/$ after the speculative wave ebbed, but recent Treasury turmoil just drove it below R13/$.)

SA’s NDB Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Leslie Maasdorp, also worked at Goldman Sachs (and Barclays and Bank of America), led Pretoria’s failed privatisation strategy and was an unsuccessful, short-lived chief executive of privatised education firm AdvTech.

One other NDB job remains open: the much-advertised head of the NDB Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg. In December 2015, Zuma announced that his 2014-15 finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, would urgently take that job. It appeared to be a fig-leaf appointment, so as to replace the fiscally-conservative Nene with a man – Desmond van Rooyen – considered close to the Guptas.

This caused such an uproar that not only did three top white bankers communicate to Zuma that he must reverse course, but also a “critical intervention” (according to the country’s leading business writer, Peter Bruce) was made by Beijing’s owners of the Johannesburg-based Standard Bank, leading to van Rooyen’s firing within four days, and Gordhan’s appointment.

Zuma, acting as clumsily as usual, never had a guarantee of Nene’s job from the NDB officials, who subsequently stalled the Africa Regional Centre’s launch. It was originally scheduled for March 2016. Then last September, the BRICS Business Council website declared that the new Centre’s Johannesburg headquarters would be ready by November. (The Africa Regional Centre is still to be launched, now more than a year late.)

The location was ‘well received’ in the rest of Africa, according to the Business Council, because the NDB will lend to other countries, not just the BRICS. Leading Ugandan official Louis Kasekende argued that Africa should “have access to credit as quickly as possible at low rates,” especially to “reduce the timeframe of projects finalisation and approval process.”

Inappropriate finance for Africa

Reducing the timeframe would logically mean reducing attention to environmental and social dimensions (the critique of development banks and the NDB most often made by civil society). But the larger problem is the exceptionally high debt burden African countries now shoulder, following the world crash of commodity prices from 2011-15. The NDB would offer Africa only hard-currency loans that are extremely expensive when currencies crash.

As the Financial Times recently reported,

One factor Africa’s indebted countries have in common is sharp devaluations of their currencies against the US dollar. Since mid-2014, the Mozambique metical is down 56 per cent against the dollar, the Angolan kwanza 41 per cent and the Ghanaian cedi 36 per cent, for example.

In 2011, 6.3 South African rand bought a US dollar; today it costs twice as much.

After multilateral lenders’ and G7 debt relief in 2006, the foreign debt of SubSaharan Africa was cut by $100 billion, to $200 billion. But thanks mainly to Chinese state loans (associated with the extractive industries), it is now up again above $400 billion, with countries like Angola, Chad and Ghana paying more than 30% of their governments’ revenues on debt servicing.

South Africa’s own payment obligations to the BRICS NDB will become onerous as well. To capitalise the NDB, $680 million was allocated by Nene in 2015-16, rising steadily to $3.2 billion this year and $6.2 billion by 2020. The NDB’s capital base, which is notionally $100 billion, is shared equally by all five (unlike the $100 billion Contingent Reserve Arrangement which treats South Africa the way the IMF does, with a much smaller share of the quota: $10 billion). Other multilateral financiers cost South Africa $19.2 billion in ‘provisions’ made in the current budget (i.e. to be paid when called for by the financier); indeed only the IMF capital subscription will be more costly ($6.4 billion this year, rising to $7.2 billion in 2020) than the NDB.

Paying these substantial subscriptions is onerous, given that they contribute to enforcing the neo-liberal ideology that continues oppressing the continent’s people. But moreover, South Africa also faces a terrifying rise in its own foreign debt, which according to the March 2017 SA Reserve Bank Quarterly Bulletin had risen to $143 billion in September 2016, a $10.6 billion rise over the prior three months. At 50% of GDP, this is the highest debt burden in the country’s modern history; the only prior default was in 1985 when the ratio was 40%.

The main reason for soaring foreign debt is that multinational corporations are taking SA-sourced profits and dividends to London and other offshore financial headquarters, causing a persistent current account deficit. Indeed, as Chinese lenders, Indian steelmakers, other BRICS mining houses and the Gupta family externalise their own funding flows, the tragic irony of the NDB emerges.

In short, the unnecessary NDB loans to Eskom contribute to more BRIC power over the one African country, South Africa, that once had the potential to stand up and fight for justice. But perhaps just like Molefe in the Gupta’s lush Johannesburg suburb, that liberatory rhetirc might just have been Saxonwold shebeen talk.

Meanwhile in Delhi, the NDB annual meeting will be preceded by a day-long critique by the BRICS People’s Forum at the Indian Social Institute on March 30. It’s appropriate to conclude with their similar misgivings:

the Bank is shrouded under a veil of secrecy. The website of the Bank lacks information about its activities to the extent that more than official records, one has to rely on secondary and tertiary sources of information… the NDB is yet to draft any such [socio-economic and environmental] operational guidelines and redressal… communities may face threats of displacement, evictions, ecological destruction, loss of livelihoods, and severe curtailment of basic rights to life. These issues have recurred for decades due to projects funded by other multilateral development banks. Moreover, as a co-financier with other development institutions, the intensity of NDB’s seriousness on the objectives of promoting transparency, accountability and probity stands questioned.”

Patrick Bond is professor of political economy at the Wits University School of Governance in Johannesburg and co-editor of BRICS: An anti-capitalist critique (published by Haymarket, Pluto, Jacana and Aakar).

Al Qaeda Rebranding Serves US Agenda: “Change its Name, Not its Stripe”

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

The RAND Corporation’s recent piece titled, “Al Qaeda in Syria Can Change Its Name, but Not Its Stripes,” all but admits what was already suspected about designated terrorist groups operating in Syria – that they are undergoing a transition in an attempt by their state sponsors to bolster their legitimacy and spare them from liquidation amid the shifting tides on the battlefield.

The piece, written by Colin Clarke described by the RAND Corporation as a “political scientist at the RAND Corporation and an associate fellow at the International Center for Counter Terrorism,” states:

Following recent infighting with other Syrian rebel groups in the northwestern part of the country, al Qaeda in Syria appears to have recognized the need to secure legitimacy and present itself to the civilian population it seeks to influence as an authentically Syrian entity.

However, this is not simply Al Qaeda’s objective – this is the objective of the United States itself as well as the Persian Gulf states it funnels money and arms through, fueling Syria’s destructive conflict since 2011.

Clarke continues by stating:

The most likely scenario is that the change in nomenclature is merely an attempt to buy time and live to fight another day. Indeed, the rebranding has done nothing to slow down the group’s operations tempo of conducting attacks.

And concludes by claiming:

Six years into the conflict in Syria, al Qaeda’s presence in the country has never been stronger. And while most dismiss the notion of al Qaeda as a political entity in Syria, the same was said 30 years ago about Hezbollah — the Shia group that now holds seats in Lebanon’s parliament and maintains a vast military wing. If jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda in Syria can succeed in rebranding themselves, they can take steps toward positioning themselves as political players if or when negotiations to end the civil war in Syria gain traction.

Clarke notes that militant groups fighting in Syria – being associated with Al Qaeda – has greatly complicated efforts by the US and its collaborators to fund, arm, and otherwise support their efforts in executing regime change against Damascus.

Hopes of playing a rhetorical shell game that is long and complicated enough to confuse the general public and produce a front ambiguous enough for the West and its regional partners to more directly and widely support is essential. While the overthrow of the Syrian government looks all but impossible at the moment, the US, Turkey, and various Persian Gulf states appear to be maneuvering to annex territory and place it under the control of these “rebranded” terrorist groups.

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As previously noted, across the entirety of the Western media, there is a concerted effort to provide cover for what is the preservation of proxy groups fighting in Syria as the conflict draws to an end. Explaining away how these groups will find themselves protected safe havens abroad, or rehabilitate themselves into legitimate political fronts is merely the latest in a long line of ploys Western policymakers have used to pose as fighting terrorist organizations while simultaneously serving as their exclusive state sponsors.

In reality, however “reasonable” the West’s repetitive talking points may seem, the prospect of a “legitimate” political front composed of Al Qaeda terrorists is only a possibility if the United States and its regional allies provide it recognition. The prospect of Syria, Russia, Iran or other states outside Washington’s sphere of influence recognizing the legitimacy of such an entity is unlikely.

However, considering the immense amount of resources provided to these terrorist organizations since their inception back in the 1980s by the West and its allies, the continuation of this support into the realm of political fronts seems all but inevitable. Yet the crisis of credibility the West has suffered as its project in Syria drags on will only expand if and when such a political front is established and lent legitimacy by the West and its allies.

It is ironic that while RAND cites Hezbollah as an example America’s future Al Qaeda political front may follow, Hezbollah remains a designated terrorist group by the US State Department – despite the fact that the organization serves as one of the primary fronts waging war against both Al Qaeda and its spin-off, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State.”

Geopolitically, the United States has painted itself into a corner where all options are bad options. Its various political ploys are now standing in direct contradiction of one another. The West has placed Islamophobic demagogues into office to further divide and distract their populations while the very governments these politicians pose as leading help establish a political front for Al Qaeda after having provided years of military, financial, and political aid to the terrorist organization on battlefields stretching from Libya to Syria and beyond.

Reading supposedly serious US policymakers and analysts attempting to claim an Al Qaeda-led political front holds any prospect of establishing legitimacy, after nearly two-decades of a so-called “War on Terror,” is particularly surreal. For many, it serves to truly illustrate what terrorism actually is and how it fits into the geopolitical skill-set used by the United States in its pursuit of global hegemony. While the US has paid a high price for its failure in Syria in many regards, perhaps the exposure of its use of terrorism and the double game it has played – posing as enemy against while serving as sponsor for terrorist fronts like Al Qaeda – has cost it the most thus far.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

3Q: J. Phillip Thompson on revitalizing Central Brooklyn

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News
http://news.mit.edu/sites/mit.edu.newsoffice/files/styles/article_cover_image_original/public/images/2017/J-Phillip-Thompson-mit-00.jpg

In early March, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an ambitious $1.4 billion state plan to revitalize Central Brooklyn — a zone that experiences chronically high rates of unemployment, obesity, and murder. Called “Vital Brooklyn,” the initiative includes a $700 million investment in health care. J. Phillip Thompson, associate professor of urban studies and planning at MIT, was instrumental in shaping this comprehensive approach to health. An urban planner and political scientist who focuses on race, community development, and health, Thompson worked for New York’s Mayor David Dinkins in the early 1990s and has long worked with labor unions and community groups.   

Q: How did you become involved in the Vital Brooklyn project?

A: This initiative started in response to a proposal to close the Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn in 2015. The hospital workers’ union, Local 1199 (SEIU), and the New York State Nurses Association — along with an array of community organizations, churches, and elected officials — contacted me to put together a community health needs study and to help determine whether it made sense to close that hospital. I think they reached out to me because of my research interests and connection with MIT, and because I’d worked both with Brooklyn community groups and for the New York City government. I think they wanted “experts” they could trust to give them an opinion based on data analysis — who would be straight with them whether the news was good or bad.

Mariana Arcaya, now an assistant professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), and about a dozen students from DUSP also participated in various stages of the research. From analyzing data, speaking with health experts, and surveying the various community groups, we saw that not only was there still a need for a hospital in the community, but that the hospital wasn’t delivering the services that this particular community needed most. For the short term, they needed better cardiovascular and ob/gyn departments. But the larger picture that emerged showed that this was a very sick community. And that most of its illnesses were chronic diseases that can be attributed to poverty and unemployment: asthma caused by mold in substandard housing; obesity due to poor food and fear of going to parks and public spaces for exercise because of violence from the drug trade; and all the ailments that stem from the stress of unemployment.

Q: Can a hospital respond to those conditions?

A: Not on its own. These hospitals all lose money. Typically, when a hospital is losing money, they try to make up the difference by doing things such as performing more heart surgeries, because Medicaid reimburses these surgeries at an advantageous rate. But this makes sense only if you look at each hospital individually. Medicaid is a giant insurance program and the state is the insurer. And it’s not in the state’s interest — or good for its fiscal bottom line — to have more heart surgeries. What’s good for their bottom line is to keep people out of hospitals and out of emergency rooms.

We believe that the only way we can improve community health — and save the state some money — is to build a primary care network throughout the community where people can see a doctor or nurse on a regular basis and get a prescription for medication for high blood pressure or diabetes. It is equally important to aggressively go after the conditions that are responsible for the community’s poor health. We need a comprehensive integrated plan to address social problems. You can’t improve public health unless you consider housing, for example. And you can’t improve housing without looking at unemployment. And you can’t reduce unemployment without looking at the local economy and schools.

It is equally essential that we empower the community to control the process of implementation. That means instead of having contractors and laborers from outside the community build the housing, you hire workers from the community. You establish training and educational support so people can be trained rapidly and become qualified for construction jobs and for work in the community health clinics. We also have to learn to identify underutilized assets in these communities and stop looking at them simply as poor communities. Hospitals and other industries in these communities buy billions of dollars in goods and services from all over the world. Why not have them buy some of them from local vendors? Who does your laundry? Who grows your food? Later, we can start to look at creating more complex local businesses like manufacturing.

Q: And public safety? How does the plan promote that?

A: If you want to solve the problem of fear, of people being afraid of going to the park to exercise, you need to address the issue of felons. This is one of the most difficult issues in the community. What do you do with these people who no one wants to hire? How do you keep them from committing crimes, terrorizing the neighborhood? How do you keep them from returning to prison? In Cleveland, University Hospitals created an industrial laundry, a worker-owned business that deliberately hires ex-felons. This is a way to improve the conditions in communities beset with crime. We believe this idea is replicable in Brooklyn. And we’ve already been contacted on this idea by hospitals in Wilmington, Delaware, and Hartford, Connecticut. Sometimes when you do the right thing, you can improve conditions in a community and save the state money. We believe it’s possible to be fiscally conservative, politically radical, and morally correct, all at the same time.


What are the Top Solar Companies in Arizona?

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

Fuente: Understand Solar

Top 10 solar companies in Arizona

With a state average of 300 days of sunshine throughout the year, the number of  solar installations in Arizona are growing so quickly that APS (the state’s largest utility) has been struggling to keep up with all the approvals homeowners submit to connect their panels to the grid. And there are now dozens of solar companies popping up in the state, each looking to serve the rapidly expanding solar market. Of course, not all are up to the task of being one of the top solar companies in Arizona.

When compiling this list I examined a number of details, from the online reputation of each company to how many people they employ and how many installations they’ve performed. Every company on this list has at least an ‘A’ from the Better Business Bureau, and most have earned an ‘A+’ accreditation. I also looked at their ratings and reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, BBB, and SolarReviews.

I’ve tried to stick to installers headquartered in Arizona, rather than looking at the big national companies. I’ll not claim this list is the be-all and end-all of solar installers in Arizona, but these are all companies in good standing, and an excellent place to start looking for someone to help you on your solar journey.

#1 Black Platinum Solar

black-platinum

Black Platinum Solar have earned themselves Solar Power World’s Pre-Screened Solar Pro accreditation — the requirements for this are tight, and it’s something very few companies achieve.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Pre-Screened Solar Pro award is given by SolarReviews.com to contractors who pass some very stringent requirements — including 3 years of experience, average reviews on the site of 4.5 stars or better, and passing a check from ContractorCheck.com. SolarReviews believe only 20% of installers are capable of meeting the requirements, and Black Platinum Solar is one of only two companies on this list to earn the award.

John Black started Black Platinum Solar in 2007, and it serves customers in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. They’re a small business employing only 3 people, but as of February 2017, they have installed more than 245 grid-tied solar systems — over 2.95 megawatts of photovoltaic power.

They specialise in micro-inverter based systems — where the power is converted from DC to AC at the panel, instead of having a separate inverter — and only use products from Enphase Energy (the leader in microinverter technology).

At the time of writing, Black Platinum Solar has 5 stars from SolarReviews.com, with a substantial 131 positive reviews.

#2 Sun Valley Solar & Electric

Arizona Sun Valley Solar

Sun Valley Solar & Electric was founded in 2006 by Russ Patzer and Joe Messner. The pair worked together as engineers at Intel, and after seeing solar power in action on business trips to Oregon and Ireland, they decided to go into business together.

Patzer and Messner state that they are working towards the dream of seeing the roofs of Phoenix completely covered in panels.

Sun Valley Solar has quickly grown to be one of the largest installers of residential solar systems in the whole of Arizona, and the largest company on this list with 94 employees. They were among the first installers to earn APS certification (being able to install systems tied to the grid administered by the Arizona Public Service Electric Company) and get almost all of their business through word-of-mouth referrals.

Sun Valley Solar has 4.9 out of 5 stars on both Yelp and the BBB.

#3 American Solar and Roofing

American Solar and Roofing

Based in Tempe, American Solar and Roofing was originally started in 2001 as American Solar Electric by Sean Seitz and Will Herndon. In 2008 they expanded their business to include a variety of services as specialist roofing contractors.

Their dual expertise in solar energy and roofing gives them great flexibility, and a fantastic skillset to call on as installers. To reflect this, they changed their name to American Solar and Roofing in 2014.

Sean’s wife Joy currently leads the company as the CEO, while Sean acts as the COO. So far American Solar and Roofing employs 55 people, and has served over 5,000 customers across Arizona.

The company has 4.7 stars from customer reviews on the BBB.

#4 Arizona Solar Wave and Energy

Arizona Solar Wave and Energy was founded in the Mesa area in 1999, by Bryan McCormick. They’re another small installer, with only four employees. They’re also the second company on this list to earn SolarReview’s Pre-Screened Solar Pro accreditation.[/three_fourth_last]

Alongside their services installing photovoltaic solar panels, they also provide solar hot water systems and ancillary services like energy audits — using equipment like FLIR cameras to locate areas in your home that may be thermally inefficient. This gives them a lot of flexibility in the services they offer, so if you’re interested in more than just solar, take a look here.

68 reviewers on SolarReviews gave Arizona Solar Wave and Energy 5 stars.

#5 Technicians for Sustainability

Technicians for Stability

Technicians for Sustainability is a mission led company headquartered in Tucson. The company was founded in 2003 by four friends with strong environmental and ethical ideals.

They’re proud of their status as a certified B-corporation — a voluntary commitment to hold their business to high ethical standards. The company employs 30 people, and their focus is split between installing photovoltaic solar power and solar hot water systems.

Technicians For Sustainability state that their mission is to ensure that Southern Arizona’s natural resources are used with both efficiency and respect for the community’s present and future needs. They are proud to practice what they preach, and all of the founders live with the systems they install and advocate for, as well as making, fuel-efficient transport choices and choosing to partner with companies that hold compatible values and standards of ethics.

35 Google reviewers gave Technicians for Sustainability 4.9 out of 5 stars.

#6 PEP Solar

pep solar

PEP Solar is a family owned business with a fascinating history. Originally Phoenix Energy Products, in 1981 they were approached by Senator Barry Goldwater to meet with the chairman of the Navajo.

The Navajos were seeking a replacement for the kerosene lamps they used for heat and light inside their hogans, after several incidents where people had fallen asleep with the lamps burning and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

By partnering with Shell Oil (who owned solar company Solavolt) and Motorola, Phoenix Energy Products began producing solar panels that were installed in Navajo homes alongside lighting, small televisions, refrigerators, water pumps and battery systems. By 1982, they had installed almost 200 systems.

Back then, one of the Motorola panels they were using would only produce 40 watts — the technology has improved a lot since then! Nowadays PEP’s preferred panels are thin film CIGS panels produced by Stion, which produce as much as 140W each.

PEP Solar have continued in the solar business ever since that first contract, and now have more than nine megawatts of installed solar capacity under their belts.

Online reviewers gave Pep Solar 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google. SolarReviews gives them 4.7 stars, from 58 reviewers.

#7 Solar Topps

solar tops

Solar Topps was started out of a home office in 2009, initially using their two-car garage as the company warehouse. Prior to moving into solar, they had over 30 years of experience as electrical, construction and service contractors.

The company’s growth since their founding has been dramatic. They’ve become an employee-led enterprise, and one of the largest dealers of Sunpower panels and other solar products in the Western US.

They serve both residential and commercial customers, and since their founding Solar Topps have installed in excess of 32 megawatts of solar capacity.

Solar Topps has 12 positive reviews on the BBB and SolarReviews give them 4.8 stars.

#8 Solar Solution AZ

Solar Solutions

Another family run business, Solar Solution AZ was started by the Watson family. Owner Dottie Watson says that she wanted to put the business together to safeguard the future of her grandchildren, both economically and environmentally.

The company was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Tucson. Since then, Solar Solution AZ has employed more than 90 people and installed more than two and a half megawatts of solar energy systems — assuming an average system size of five kilowatts, that’s more than 500 homes!

Solar Solution AZ makes a point of using American made parts for their systems whenever possible. They offer a 25 year warranty against roof penetrations, on top of the expected 25-year system warranty most installers provide.

Customers gave Solar Solution AZ a 5 star rating on BBB.

#9 Premier Solar Solutions

Based in Phoenix, Premier Solar Solutions were founded in 2003. As well as their work in Arizona, they are also licensed to provide solar installations in California, Nevada, and South Carolina.[/three_fourth_last]

Premier Solar Solutions are one of the bigger companies on this list, with 85 employees. As well as providing their services directly to both residential and commercial clients, they are also one of the partners Sunrun use to install their solar systems. This means the company has racked up an impressive amount of experience, with more than 20 megawatts of installed solar capacity under their belts.

Premier Solar Solutions enjoys 4.6 stars on BBB, from 10 reviewers.

#10 Sky High Energy

Another company based in Phoenix, Sky High Energy was started in 2009. Like Premier Solar Solutions, they also work across state lines, with work done in New Jersey, Missouri, and Massachusetts.[/three_fourth_last]

They have 18 employees in their Arizona office, and across all four states they have installed more than 1000 solar systems for both residential and commercial customers.

The average Yelp rating of Sky High Energy is 3.8 stars.

Concluding Top Solar Companies in Arizona

Considering the almost ideal conditions in Arizona, it’s no surprise that you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to solar companies.  I’ve tried to highlight some of the more interesting and experienced companies in the state, and I hope you’ve found it both entertaining and informative.

If you’ve any thoughts on the contents of the list, I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below!

Image Credit under CC License from Pixabay – 1

KSA meeting focuses on digital globalization, emerging technologies

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News
http://news.mit.edu/sites/mit.edu.newsoffice/files/styles/article_cover_image_original/public/images/2017/MIT-KSA-Thomas-Friedman-1.jpg

With famed global affairs and technology writer Thomas Friedman as the keynote speaker, the ninth annual Kendall Square Association (KSA) meeting put a focus on digital globalization, emerging technologies, and navigating today’s uncertain political climate — as well as Kendall Square’s role as burgeoning innovation hub.

The KSA is a nonprofit organization of 160 industry and academic partners in and around Kendall Square — including Google, Microsoft, the Cambridge Innovation Center, and MIT — that promotes the vibrancy of the district. Each year, the KSA holds a meeting to elect new board members, provide updates on projects, and host guest speakers who share insights on technology, business, education, and other fields.

Welcoming around 350 attendees to the Boston Marriot Cambridge yesterday, Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons expressed concerns about the city’s adjustment to a new political landscape. Now, more than in recent years, she said, promoting diversity and scientific innovation has become increasingly important.

But Simmons said she feels “heartened” at the growing innovation and diversity in Kendall Square, and at KSA’s ability to bring local members of government, academia, and businesses together to foster a vibrant ecosystem in Kendall Square. “Together, we will weather this storm,” Simmons said.

KSA President Sarah Gallop, co-director of the MIT Office of Government and Community Relations, updated the community on popular KSA projects, including information kiosks and “little free libraries” — trading posts where people can exchange books. She said the KSA is this year focusing on several strategic priorities in Kendall Square: advancing innovation, advocating for better transportation, enhancing the district’s public environment, and growing collaborations. “Kendall Square has many of those foundations, but there’s a lot of work to be done,” Gallop said.

In his talk, Friedman, author of the international bestseller “The World is Flat” and a foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, discussed how the rise of digital globalization — which refers to worldwide flows of data and information, instead of goods — and rapidly accelerating technologies have impacted society. Many key points came from his new book, “Thank you for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.”

Friedman said today’s digital globalization hinges on the year 2007, when Facebook and Twitter went global, the Internet hit 1 billion users, and more people sent texts than made phone calls. That year also saw the launch of the iPhone, the Amazon Kindle, Airbnb, GitHub, the Android operating system, and Hadoop, the first platform to enable big-data processing. Among the most important innovations, he said, was cloud computing, which gives incredible power to businesses and individuals.

“What happened in 2007 was the release of energy into the hands of people and machines, the likes of which we have never seen before,” Friedman said. The year “may be understood in time as the single greatest technological inflection point since Gutenberg invented the printing press.”

Nearly overnight, he said, these technologies changed several aspects of society — including the workplace, ethics, communities, and global politics — and the power of the individual. “What one person can do now as a maker or breaker is unlike anything we’ve seen,” he said. “We have a president who can now tweet in his pajamas directly to hundreds of millions of people around the world. But what’s really amazing is that the head of ISIS can do the exact same thing.”

For workplaces, Friedman said the pace of technological change is now “simply outstripping the ability of our institutions and communities and many individuals to adapt.” A solution, Friedman said, lies in “learning faster and governing smarter.” As examples, Friedman noted companies giving assistive technologies to workers, launching education websites, and developing algorithms that can aid in job placement.

Some companies are also offering employee training in computer science and other skills, he said. “The most important question you can ask your kids these days is not what you want to be when you grow up, but how you want to be when you grow up,” he said. “Do you have a mindset of lifelong learning? If you have that you’ll be fine in a world that’s going to be spinning off jobs you can’t even imagine.”

Such concepts are also driven by the innovative companies and organizations in Kendall Square, Friedman said. “That’s what Kendall Square is all about,” he said. “How do you get people to learn faster and govern smarter … so more people can take advantage of where we are today in terms of technology?”

As for ethics and community, Friedman said following the “Golden Rule” — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — is more applicable than ever in a world where one person can do large-scale damage via Twitter, hacking, or other means. “We’re in a realm where we’re all connected and no one is in charge,” Friedman said.  

In a closing sentiment, Friedman said that to flourish in an age of rapid technological acceleration, innovation hubs such as Kendall Square must adopt the characteristics that helped “Mother Nature” survive for billions of years — be resilient, adaptable, stable, and diverse. “The communities, the Kendall Squares, that most closely [embrace] Mother Nature’s strategies … are the ones that will thrive in the age of acceleration.”

MIT President L. Rafael Reif was also on hand to offer welcoming remarks, calling the present day an “exciting time in Kendall Square, with unprecedented opportunities before us.” His talk focused on KSA and MIT’s roles in helping shape the district.

In 1980, when Reif first came to study at MIT, Kendall Square was an industrial wasteland, he said. With the help of KSA, “that little rough patch has grown into a global hub for biotech, research, and innovation.” Today, Kendall Square — which Reif called “the most innovative square mile in the world” — is home to hundreds of startups and the research arms of many leading pharmaceutical companies.

Reif said MIT is taking steps to make Kendall Square “an even more dynamic and inspiring place to eat, work, and play … further demonstrating its deep commitment to this one-of-a-kind ecosystem.”

Reif noted MIT’s recent investment in redeveloping the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, with aims of turning the federally owned 14-acre parcel in Kendall Square into a more vibrant, mixed-use site that will benefit the Institute’s mission and the Cambridge community.

The redevelopment represents an enormous responsibility, Reif told the crowd of representatives from the KSA and roughly 100 companies and organizations in Kendall Square and beyond. “In the months and years ahead,” he said, “we look forward to working with all of you, and with the community more broadly, to shape the future of the Volpe site, a future that we believe is extremely bright.”


Why This Isn’t the Time for a Public Option or Medicare for Some

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

This has been a tumultuous week for healthcare reform. First there was the pleasantly quick defeat of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon. Then, that evening, Senator Sanders spoke at a town hall in Vermont with Senator Pat Leahy and Representative Peter Welch where he announced that he would introduce a Medicare for All bill. Medicare for All and Bernie supporters lit up social media with their excitement over the announcement. This should have been great news, but it wasn’t exactly.

Over the weekend, more information was revealed in a series of interviews with Sen. Sanders. Sunday, he said on CNN that single payer legislation wouldn’t have the votes, so the first priority will be to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a public insurance, called a public option, and possibly lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 55.

There are a number of reasons why this isn’t the time for tinkering with the ACA. We have a healthcare crisis now and the means to solve it. The ACA is fundamentally flawed and cannot be tweaked into a universal program. And Sanders’ proposals are exactly the same ones used in 2008-10 to divide and weaken the movement for National Improved Medicare for All. We can’t be fooled into going down that path again.

The Current Crisis and its Solution

Right now in the United States, almost 30 million people have no health insurance. On top of that, tens of millions of people who have health insurance can’t afford health care. When people experience a serious accident or illness, they face a stark choice: seek care and risk financial ruin or go without it and risk disability or death. Hundreds of thousands of families go bankrupt each year due to medical illness and an estimated 29,000 people die each year due to lack of access to care.

Think about how the country galvanized when 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on 9/11 or when the 2,000th soldier was killed in Iraq, but that amount of death happens ten times a year or more in the US and we hardly hear a peep of outrage.

Why This Isn’t the Time for a Public Option or Medicare for Some

Health outcomes in the United States are not very good. A recent study found:

“Notable among poor-performing countries is the USA, whose life expectancy at birth is already lower than most other high-income countries, and is projected to fall further behind such that its 2030 life expectancy at birth might be similar to the Czech Republic for men, and Croatia and Mexico for women. The USA has the highest child and maternal mortality, homicide rate, and body-mass index of any high-income country, and was the first of high-income countries to experience a halt or possibly reversal of increase in height in adulthood, which is associated with higher longevity. The USA is also the only country in the OECD without universal health coverage, and has the largest share of unmet health-care needs due to financial costs.”

Yet, of all of the industrialized nations, the United States spends the most per person on health care, in some cases double the amount and those countries cover everyone. We are already paying for universal comprehensive health coverage, but we aren’t getting it because the bottom line of the system in the US is profits for a few rather than health for all.

The US has the most complex and heavily bureaucratic system in the world because it is a market-based system with a few public programs to try to fill in the gaps. A third of our healthcare dollar goes to administration for the hundreds of different insurance plans with their differing coverage, networks and rules. And we pay the highest prices, by far, for health services and pharmaceuticals because there is no rational system to set a fair price.

To begin to solve the healthcare crisis in the US, we need a system that is based on health and the money to pay for it. The proven solution is a universal not-for-profit, publicly-funded system that provides all medically-necessary care. House Resolution 676: “The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” which has 72 co-sponsors, is the model for that system. This would address the fundamental causes of the healthcare crisis.

The good news is that not only do we have the money to pay for this system, but there is also widespread support for it. For decades many independent polls have shown more than 60% support by the general public, plus more than 80% support by Democratic Party voters, rapidly growing support by Republicans who earn under $75,000 and majority support by health professionals.

Why a Public Option and Medicare for Some Plans will fail

Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, had an interesting statement in the New York Magazine recently. He criticized the Republican’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) because it was “written by the insurance industry.” That same criticism can be made of the Democrat’s ACA, which was basically written by Liz Fowler, a former executive for WellPoint. She also oversaw the regulations’ process.

The ACA is fundamentally flawed because it treats health care as a commodity, not a public necessity. It has achieved the best that it can do, and similar to other attempts at the state level that don’t address the roots of the crisis, it is starting to deteriorate with stagnant coverage and rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

Attempts to improve the ACA with a public insurance or Medicare for some will bring coverage to a few more, but they will similarly fail over time because they will not change the system or control healthcare costs.

Sen. Sanders and others are pushing a public option. This would be a public insurance that people could choose instead of private insurance. It sounds good in theory but has not worked in practice because it draws the sickest patients and struggles to cover their care while keeping premiums and out-of-pocket costs affordable. Private insurers are experts at attracting the healthiest enrolees. In fact, I have argued that a public insurance is just what the private insurers want (though they are unlikely to admit it) because it serves as a relief valve to take sick people off their hands. That leaves private insurers to focus on the young, employed and wealthy, from which they can collect premiums and who won’t need much in the way of health care.

Sen. Sanders is also raising the possibility of lowering the age of Medicare to 55, just as Alan Grayson suggested in 2010. This is another gift to the insurance industry because it takes a group that is more likely to have health problems off of their books. It will place more of a burden on the Medicare system without bringing the cost savings needed to cover health needs. I call this Medicare for some to contrast it with Medicare for all.

The basic reasons that Medicare for all works are because the administrative simplicity of one universal plan provides over $500 billion a year in administrative savings and its ability to negotiate fair drug prices means over $100 billion per year in savings on pharmaceuticals. The savings offset the cost of paying for care and getting rid of out-of-pocket costs that currently keep people from seeking necessary care.

Rather than wasting time and effort on a public option or Medicare for some, which will still leave people out and maintain the high costs of health care, we need to mobilize to win national improved Medicare for all. Like other industrialized nations, we need to create a universal high quality health system. It doesn’t make sense to leave anybody out when we have the resources to achieve it and public support for it. The only thing lacking is support from members of Congress. But as we witnessed last week with the defeat of the AHCA, changing the minds of members of Congress is within the power of the public.

The public option and Medicare for some are being used to divide and distract supporters of Medicare for all in order to weaken them and make them believe they are asking for too much, just as happened during the health reform efforts in 2008-10. We can’t be taken off track again.

What is the real purpose of a public option or lowering the age of Medicare when neither is an effective nor a lasting solution? It is only because the Democrats are unwilling to take on the powerful health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The problem is that we can’t solve the healthcare crisis until we do.

Genocide in Yemen, Goes Unreported. Oxfam: Worst Famine…

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

Yemen Genocide: Which was Propaganda, Which was News-Reporting?

This NEWS was origynally shared on Sutesuaem Universities News

Russian TV covered 1,000,000 Yemeni protesting U.S.-Saudi’s Bombs.

Compare:

Russian TV covered 1,000,000 Yemenese protesting U.S.-Saudi’s Bombs.

Versus:

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/327-jared-kushner-to-tell-senate-intel-committee-about-contacts-with-russian-bank-meet-leah-the-overcomer-a-young-girl-who-is-inspiring-the-world/ (at 11:11-13:11)

U.S. TV covered 8,000 Russians protesting Vladimir Putin’s government.

If they’re both propaganda, then which was more honest, more news that was really worth covering? Both were about foreign affairs, but which was more important, more worthy of being included in an evening’s news-cast?

An anonymous blogger noted the contrasting coverage:

“Neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post reported the million strong rally. Both though reported widely an 8,000 strong demonstration in Moscow led by the ultra-nationalist anti-semitic racist Alexey Navalny (vid). Navalny, who polls less than 1% in Russia, is their great and groundless hope to replace the Russian President Putin.”

So, maybe there was a U.S.-government propaganda-reason for making the Navalny molehill seem like a major political event, but was there also a U.S.-government propaganda-reason for the American press’s non-coverage of the million people in Yemen which urged the U.S. and Saudi governments, “Please stop bombing and starving us!” and for those million people being hidden from (not heard and seen by) the American public?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Karma Nabulsi receives Guardian's 'Inspiring Leader' award

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 Karma Nabulsi, professor of politics at the University of Oxford, is The Guardian Higher Education Network’s 2017 Inspiring Leader award winner. 

Karma lectures on social movements and philosophies of war and peace to students in the department of politics and international relations at the University of Oxford, where she is currently director of undergraduate studies. She is a Fellow in Politics at St Edmund Hall, and an Oxford UCU equalities officer, and a member of the staff BME network. She recently directed “The Palestinian Revolution”, a bilingual Arabic-English digital teaching resource exploring Palestinian revolutionary thought and practice in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Sponsored by the British Academy, the endeavour was a collaboration with universities, institutes and museums across the global south specialising in anti-colonial history.

This award honours a leader who has brought out the best in their team and achieved exceptional results. They champion innovation and collaboration, deliver real change, and inspire the higher education community.

We look for examples of brilliance in all types of universities – and then we trumpet those successes to Guardian readers around the world

Judy Friedberg, Guardian universities editor

Of Karma, the judges said: ‘Without her patience, dedication and commitment the experiences of numerous students at Oxford and elsewhere would have been immeasurably poorer. She avoids all self-celebration, but it is hard to imagine a more worthy recipient.’

The Guardian’s universities editor, Judy Friedberg, said of the awards presented at a ceremony on Wednesday night, ‘We don’t judge all universities by the same clunky metrics. We look for examples of brilliance in all types of universities – and then we trumpet those successes to Guardian readers around the world.’

Westminster Attack – Courage, Cowardice and Double Standards

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The attack outside and inside London’s Westminster Parliament just before 4 pm local time on Wednesday 22nd March resulted in five deaths, including the assailant and forty injured. The confirmed British-born attacker, Adrian Elms – but with a number of alias’ including the much quoted Khalid Masood – drove a grey Hyundai SUV over Westminster Bridge, which spans the River Thames as it flows past Parliament, mounting the pavement and mowing down pedestrians crossing the great span, with its panoramic city views.

Some forty people were injured, twenty nine treated in hospital, with seven initially in a critical condition. Speaking in Parliament the next morning Prime Minister, Theresa May listed the injured including twelve Britons, three of whom were police officers returning from an Award ceremony, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, an American and two Greeks.

Killed was American Kurt Cochran who ran a recording studio from his home in Utah who, with his wife, Melissa had been touring Germany, Scotland and Ireland before arriving in London to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, it was the last day of their visit. Melissa was seriously injured. Also killed was Aysha Frade, originally from the municipality of Betanzos, Spain, an administrator and Spanish teacher at a nearby College, on her way to collect her daughters, aged eight and eleven, from school. Seventy five year old Londoner, Leslie Rhodes also died from his injuries the following night.

The car turned left at the end of the bridge, driving outside the Parliament building, crashing in to the wrought iron railings. The driver then ran through gates in to the New Palace Yard entrance, just below Big Ben, reportedly armed with two knives, fatally wounding unarmed Parliamentary Protection Officer and former soldier, PC Keith Palmer who attempted to stop him.

An act of courage and compassion came from MP Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Middle East and Africa, who gave CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to PC Palmer, in spite of the chaos breaking out after the attacker was shot, ignoring possible threat to his own safety. Ellwood’s attempts failed and his bent body as he looked down at Keith Palmer, his mouth and face smeared with Palmer’s blood as the cuffs of his formerly immaculate shirt and suit are both a haunting image of grief and a tribute to one who gave no thought but to trying to save a familiar face. There was courage from countless police, paramedics, doctors and nurses who rushed unhesitatingly towards potential danger with emergency equipment from the nearby hospital to help the injured.

Ellwood himself is no stranger to violent tragedy having lost his brother Jonathan in the 2002 Bali bombing. He wrote a searing account of dealing with the seemingly endless official bureaucratic “red tape” involved in both countries whilst trying to bring his brother’s body home whilst stricken with grief. “I actually ended up nailing the lid of the coffin down myself,” he said. “That can’t be right.”

Not everyone showed the courage of Mr. Ellwood and others. As Parliament went in to total lockdown with MPs and all staff trapped inside for hours, the Guardian reported:

“Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was rushed into a car 40 yards from the gates outside Parliament where shots were fired minutes after the incident occurred, according to footage filmed by a member of staff.”

“She was ushered by at least eight armed undercover police, some with their firearms drawn, into a waiting black vehicle in Speaker’s Court, the footage seen by the Guardian shows. Loud bangs can be heard in the background as she is ushered into the car, but it is unclear whether the bangs were gunshots.”

Safely back in her official residence, behind Downing Street’s fortified walls and soaring iron gates, guarded by colleagues of PC Palmer, she paid tribute to the emergency services:

“ … these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger even as they encouraged others to move the other way.”

She talked of terrorists targeting Parliament because they hated the: “values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law” and the “spirit of (it’s engendered) freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe.

It has to be wondered whether those still under bombardment from the UK or it’s ally the US, in Afghanistan after sixteen years, Iraq after fourteen years, in Libya, Syria, Yemen; Palestinians remembering the decimation the Balfour Declaration has wrought on them for generations – when May had declared that in this, it’s centenary year it is to be remembered in special UK “celebrations” – share quite such a starry eyed view of the “values”, “human rights” and “freedoms” etc., emanating from ”the Mother of Parliaments.”

She concluded:

“ Any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.

“Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal.

“And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great City – will get up and go about their day as normal.

“They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives.

“And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror.”

Breathtaking stuff from the woman who gave in instantly, running away, protected by eight armed guards, in a bullet proof limo, rather than remaining in solidarity with her colleagues and the extensive staff who were in lockdown, not knowing whether further unhinged potential assassins were prowling Parliament.

No doubt if challenged she would say that such an emergency demanded she convened the COBRA group – another silly acronym which refers to the crisis response committee which meets in instances of national or regional crisis. However there are plenty of telephones in Parliament and an on line conference is not exactly rocket science.

The following morning she told MPs:

“Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: ‘We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism’.”

Her “resolve” it seems not so much “never wavered”, it collapsed in a pile of dust.

What a contrast to President Bashar Al Assad and his wife, who with their children have never fled in terrorist attacks on their country ongoing since March 2011, terrorist attacks which include entirely illegal, massive bombings by UK and US air power. See for example (1) for just one month’s UK decimation from the UK government’s very own horse’s mouth.

A week before the Westminster attack a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Syrian capitol, Damascus’, Palace of Justice killing reportedly thirty nine people. President Assad and his wife stayed put in their residence in the city. Their “resolve” has absolutely “never wavered in the face of terrorism”, indeed “never giving in to terror”, plotted from inside the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006 and in Washington well before, he has been called by the US, UK and their allies a tyrant, a despot and a war criminal.

The Western backed “moderate” head choppers are now a mere several kilometres distance from Damascus, still the first family remain.

“I was born in Syria and I will die in Syria”, the President has stated. Given that Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi also refused to abandon their people in the face of Western onslaughts and remembering their terrible fates, whatever observers varying views, it is undeniable Assad shows a particular kind of towering courage seemingly rare in the West. George W. Bush of course, on 9/11, although already over 1,000 miles away in Florida, was rushed to a top-secret military bunker in Louisiana.

Not alone the standards but the language differs in the West. Attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, London, are undoubtedly “terrorism.” In Syria attacks of enormity are declared “a rebel offensive” usually quotes provided by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which is allegedly funded by the EU and another government, thought to be the UK. (2) The founder, Rami Abdulrahman, with a couple of other aliases:

“ … has direct access to former (UK) Foreign Minister William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and shares (Abdulrahman’s) enthusiasm for removing Assad from power.”

The reaction to an attack in the West also differs. The UK Prime Minister’s office received condolences from Heads of State across the globe. The lights of the Eifel Tower were shut off at midnight, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was lit, in marks of sympathy. President Putin also conveyed his condolences, in spite of the street level insults he has received from the British parliamentary establishment.

The UN Security Council observed a minutes silence in respect of a tragic, horrific incident, but nevertheless one which would be an unusually quiet day in any of the countries the UK is enjoining in occupying, bombing or has invaded.

A friend also commented succinctly: ‘If “terrorists will not succeed” in the UK and other Western countries, why should the West expect the Syrian government and its allies to allow the Western, GCC, Israeli backed terrorists, to succeed in Syria and seize control of the country after six years of global terror?’ Terrorists from up to ninety countries gaining access via the borders left open by the occupiers of Iraq from the time of the 2003 invasion and via NATO ally Turkey’s borders and blind eyes.

Coincidentally, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said on the morning of the Westminster attack, after a series of verbal spats with European countries that:

“If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this.” A few hours later he stated that: “Turkey feels and shares deeply in the United Kingdom’s pain” and that it stood in “solidarity” with Britain “in the fight against terrorism.”

If “a week is a long time in politics”, so, clearly, is six hours.

In Iraq in just two “catastrophic” “liberation” assaults on Mosul’s ancient, beautiful city, US “coalition” bombings killed up to three hundred and fifty souls, wiping out entire families in the week before London’s one man attack: “Journalists saw children and a pregnant woman among at least 50 bodies recovered from the rubble, with limbs and shoes protruding from destroyed houses.” (3) No condolences from world leaders, no Eifel Tower or Brandenburg Gate markings for them.

A spokesman for the US led Mosul slaughter: “Operation Inherent Resolve”, responded with:

“The coalition respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality.”

He has clearly forgotten what the US has demonstrated in Iraq – with a brief break – fourteen years of their “respect for human life” – and the comment from a bewildered senior US military man to Major General Antonio Taguba during his investigation in to the horrors, torture and death inflicted by US forces at Abu Ghraib:

“But they were only Iraqis.”

Another friend provided me unwittingly with the conclusion for this inadequate piece on towering double standards. Thank you:

Do we not all bleed the same?

8/3 Kabul, Afghanistan – 49 dead. Silence

9/3 Tikrit, Iraq – 30 dead. Silence

11/3 Damascus, Syria – 74 dead. Silence

15/3 Damascus, Syria – 40 dead. Silence

16/3 Al-Jineh, Syria – 46 dead. Silence

21/3 Raqqa, Syria – 33 dead. Silence

21/3 Westminster, London – 5 dead.

 22/3 Mosul, Iraq – 240 dead. Silence

They say we are all born equal.

But only the (Western deemed) “worthy” die as humans.

The others are simply forgotten.

UK residents have responded with generosity to funds for Westminster’s injured and grieving families with large sums being raised including £500,000 for the family of PC Palmer. Muddassar Ahmed set up the Muslims United for London page after witnessing the attack from Parliament’s Portcullis House: “I happened to be trapped inside the building yesterday, and saw the carnage …” His appeal raised £3,000 in the first hour.

Last weekend hundreds of Muslim women joined hands along Westminster Bridge, in memory and solidarity – as the UK continues to bomb or threaten many of their countries. Their gesture should both humble and shame.

And since the perpetrator of the London attack is dead, it will likely never be known whether it was a coincidence that the attack was on the first anniversary of three suicide bombers killing thirty two people and injuring three hundred and sixteen in Brussels on 22nd March 2016. (4)

In another other coincidence, on 19th March, armed anti-terror police carried out “a terrifyingly realistic” boat drill a little further down the Thames: “A sightseeing vessel became the scene of a fierce mock-gun battle between armed officers and police volunteers posing as terrorists shortly after 11am on Sunday …” (5) ‘At least one “body”, played by a police volunteer, was cast overboard, and officers were deployed in an effort to assess the effectiveness of rescue operation tactics in life-like conditions.’

“The multi-agency operation was carried out between the Met, the Port of London Authority, London Coastguard, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade.”

Police stressed that there was no specific threat but with London on high alert for two years:

“I do hope there is a deterrent effect in this when they see how effective our people are.”

After last Wednesday’s attack Romanian architect Andrea Cristea was pulled from the Thames, alive but badly injured, it is uncertain whether she jumped to escape the car or fell off in the chaos.

On the day of the 7th July 2005 London tube and bus bombings, Visor Security were running a live exercise outside every tube station affected. Managing Director Peter Power told the BBC:

“At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.” (6)

Tragic fact really can truly be stranger than fiction.

Notes

1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/british-forces-air-strikes-in-iraq-monthly-list/raf-air-strikes-in-iraq-and-syria-july-2016

2. https://www.sott.net/article/329117-Propaganda-spin-cycle-Syrian-Observatory-for-Human-Rights-is-funded-by-US-and-UK-governments

3. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mosul-offensive-isis-islamic-state-latest-iraqi-forces-pause-civilian-casualties-deaths-us-air-a7650136.html

4. http://www.globalresearch.ca/london-terrorist-attack-westminsters-jihadis-come-home/5581670

5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/19/armed-anti-terror-police-terrifyingly-realistic-thames-pleasure/

6. http://www.globalresearch.ca/7-7-mock-terror-drill-what-relationship-to-the-real-time-terror-attacks/821

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