Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category
Police in India have failed to act on hundreds of corruption complaints over an eight-year period because they did not know a computer password, it seems.
Delhi officers could not operate a portal holding more than 600 complaints – a lapse that has gone undetected since 2006, the Indian Express Newspaper said. The complaints came from India’s anti-corruption agency, called the Central Vigilance Commission.
But two senior police officers have now been trained in the system, and can access the 667 cases that have piled up since the portal launched. One officer told the paper the oversight was “a technical problem”, and complaints are now being addressed…
Despite the confusion, police in Delhi “remain committed to public grievances“, a senior officer told the Indian Express.
Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.
Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.
Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.
The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.
The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.
The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939 , when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian , became part of Ukraine only in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system…
A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction…Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one…
Leaders of all sides should return to examining outcomes, not compete in posturing. The test is not absolute satisfaction but balanced dissatisfaction. If some solution based on these or comparable elements is not achieved, the drift toward confrontation will accelerate. The time for that will come soon enough.
Of course, Kissinger may as well be describing Congress under the misleadership of what passes for a Republican Party, today. He speaks from memories of days when Republicans and Democrats had principled, educated, knowledgeable leaders. Days long gone.
Kissinger is not a diplomat I have a whole boatload of respect for. He rarely challenged the Cold War status quo in his years of service. What positive results attended his efforts resulted from a simple understanding that politics should trump war, trade brings more long-lasting change than imperial bullying.
Frankly, I doubt if anyone in the Confederate Club in Congress will even read his suggested principles. However, they are worth reading at least as a base for your understanding.
A memorial for the victims of Norway’s July 22 terror attack will see a slice of land removed from the Sørbråten headland
The terror attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 that resulted in 77 people being killed left the country with a sense of abrupt loss. That feeling will be echoed in a memorial designed by artist Jonas Dahlberg, which will see a slice of land removed from the landscape at Sørbråten.
Dahlberg was selected by a panel as the winner of a contest to design memorials at the two sites of the terror attack, the Government Administration Complex in Oslo and Sørbråten, which is opposite Utøya on the mainland. His design will see a 3.5 meter wide excavation running from from one side of the headland at the Sørbråten site to the other, and extending below the waterline. It will appear as though the landscape simply stops and then restarts, and will make it impossible to reach the end of the headland…
…His suggestion for the Sørbråten site is to make a physical incision into the landscape, which can be seen as a symbolic wound. Part of the headland will be removed and visitors will not be able to touch the names of those killed, as these will be engraved into the wall on the other side of the slice out of nature. The void that is created evokes the sense of sudden loss combined with the long-term missing and remembrance of those who perished.”
The earth removed from the excavation at Sørbråten will be transported to Oslo and used to build the foundation of the temporary and subsequent permanent memorials at the Government Administration Complex. The temporary memorial will feature the names of the victims inscribed along the side of a pathway linking the Grubbegata and the Deichmanske Library. The use of excavated land from Sørbråten will provide a poetic link between the two sites. An amphitheater will ultimately be built as the permanent memorial, with trees taken from Sørbråten and replanted as a means of maintaining the link between the memorial sites.
Mass killings and the fascist mindset aren’t sufficiently memorialized. In general, Western culture would rather remember heroes and wars than criminal behavior still rationalized away by the Right Wing of most nations. Even the 9-11 memorials are treated as part of a “War” on Terror.
I wonder if politicians and their sycophants will ever stop treating society as a child’s game?
The Crimean parliament has voted to join Russia, with the Ukraine region’s deputy prime minister saying the decree was effective immediately and that Russian soldiers are the only legitimate forces in Crimea.
The parliament unanimously adopted a motion on Thursday for the strategic peninsula to join the Russian Federation…
The Crimea parliament also said a referendum on the region’s status was being brought forward to from March 30 to March 16. Temirgaliev said there would be two questions on the ballot.
“The first: Are you in favor of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation. The second: Are you in favor of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution.” According to the 1992 constitution, Crimea is part of Ukraine but has relations with Kiev.
However, Al Jazeera’s Hoda Hamid, reporting from Sevastopol, said there were serious questions about the legitimacy of the parliament and prime minister.
“The prime minister came to power arguably at gunpoint when the parliament was taken over,” she said. “Then there is a question of legitimacy in the constitution, which says parliament cannot take such a decision…”
As opposed to the democratic thumbs up or thumbs down of insurgents occupying Independence Square in Kiev which validated the current Ukrainian Parliament, eh?
The Crimea parliament, which is afforded some autonomy under current Ukrainian law, voted 78 – 0 with eight abstentions in favour of holding the referendum.
The US president, Barack Obama, meanwhile issued an executive order on Thursday saying that Russia’s involvement in Crimea constituted “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.
While Putin has about the same level of moral authority in global politics as, say, Dick Cheney, he foretold occurrences like the Crimean move to regain independence from Ukraine when the UN and the US recognized Kosovo. For, regardless of the historic circumstances leading to the move for independence, the context is much the same, e.g., a single ethnicity being the majority of a region and then taking that region into secession.
Nations, even states, which prate about democracy find themselves with their nickers bunched over this question time and again. The LDS Church, American Mormons, were forced to resettle from state-to-state until they picked up and moved to faraway Utah to live their own lives. The US Constitution was ignored by their Midwestern Christian neighbors who said they had a moral imperative to keep Mormons from voting. Still, the LDS hierarchy had to revise their ideology to join the union of the United States of America. And they had no Mormon next-door neighbor to acquire their new state. Kosovo, for example, has Albania – should they so choose. Crimea has Russia.
Again and again, the motivations for secession are often grounded either in hopes for profit – so many of my nationalist friends in Scotland; freedom from ethnic suppression – La Raza in the American Southwest or the Quebecois in Canada; or truly reactionary hatred – today’s Tea Party Confederates mostly in the American South but anywhere else that harbors militia-level paranoia.
Only the egregious deny the likelihood of Crimea voting to claim full independence from Ukraine, tried previously in 1992, and rejoin Russia. Crimea returned over 70% vote for Janukovych in the last election. Their joining to Ukraine was a welfare check to Kiev, payment from the Soviet Black Sea navy. Uncle Sugar will make up that welfare check and more until – and unless – some future election involving all of Ukraine displeases Washington. When Catholic western Ukraine decides it really is Poland…and Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine prefers independence from the west.
Then, we can play the same game all over again.
In many of these nations, from Scotland to Ukraine, I have old friends and relatives on both sides of the individual questions. Depending a lot on their influence on this old brain, my own position may fluctuate. I try to stick to whatever fits within my understanding of political economy. For a more detailed relation of the history of the Balkans and everything east of the Danube, I’d suggest wandering through Ina Vukic’ blog.
Non-profit organization INCLUDED has produced a new community center for Shanghai’s migrant worker community. Dubbed Community Cube, the two-storey 1,614 sq ft structure was completed in 2013 and comprises a number of used shipping containers as a primary building material.
Based in Shanghai’s agriculturally-focused Chongming district, the structure is joined together by metal plates which can be detached, allowing the separate containers to be transported more easily if the migrants need to move on. The interior space is also flexible, and contains a modest library, play area, a computer area, and a main large classroom which can be divided into two rooms using a sliding divider.
The room divider itself, and all suitable furniture sport a whiteboard finish for use as teaching surfaces, while the kids also have small whiteboard-surfaced furniture to draw on. Excess corrugated metal was cleverly re-used as a security fence that encloses the area…
The container doors were drilled with small holes in order to allow light to filter across the floor during sunny weather, and those using the center can open the doors to the outside if conditions allow.
Yes, I’m an enthusiast about re-purposing shipping containers.
A model presents a creation by German designer Karl Lagerfeld as part of his Fall/Winter 2014-2015 women’s ready-to-wear collection for French fashion house Chanel at the Grand Palais transformed into a “Chanel Shopping Center” during Paris Fashion Week.
Looks like a scene from The 10th Victim
Adults in the UK [and the US] should aim to cut their sugar intake to 5% of daily calories if they can, according to the World Health Organisation – less than the amount, for an average person, in a single can of Coca-Cola.
In a new draft guideline, the WHO said all people, at every stage of life, should try to reduce the amount of sugar they consume. It reiterated its 2003 guidance that countries should set an upper limit of 10% of daily calories from sugar – but said the ideal level would be 5%.
For an adult of average bodyweight, with an intake of about 2,000 calories a day, 5% would equate to 100 calories – which at four calories in a gram would be 25g of sugar, said Dr Francesco Branca, the WHO’s director of nutrition for health and development. A standard 330ml can of cola contains 35g of sugar.
Even at a 10% limit, said Branca, a can of sugar-sweetened drink “approaches the amount that is acceptable for an adult. For a child, since a child has a lower energy requirement, that could be a lot less. Consumption of a single serving of sugar-sweetened soda might actually exceed the limit of 10% of energy [from sugar] for a child.”
Branca added that soft drink consumption “is one of the elements that has been more constantly associated with increased weight gain, particularly in children. This is an area where more intense action needs to be taken if this guideline is to be implemented…”
The WHO’s nutrition guidance expert advisory group has been mulling over the evidence for nearly two years and commissioned scientific reviews of the evidence on the risks posed to health by “free sugars” – those added to food and drinks rather than the intrinsic sugars in fruit and vegetables.
The evidence is clearest on dental caries, the report says. Studies show an increase in tooth decay in children who get more than 10% of their calories from sugar…The link with obesity and diseases for which it is a risk factor, such as strokes, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, is less clear cut. However, analyses of all available well-conducted trials suggested that people who cut down on sugar also managed to reduce weight – and those who ate more sugar put on weight.
The new guideline is likely to be strongly opposed by the food and drink industry and their supporters, who argue that no one food or type of food is a problem – all food and drinks are fine in moderation, they say.
Meanwhile, you’ll not be harming yourself by reducing sugar intake. So, why not get off your rusty dusty, sort out your nutrition and diet, squeeze a little more exercise into your daily life – and don’t waste too many tears on the food and drink industry.
I want your finger unloaded before you enter school
An elementary school principal suspended a 10-year-old boy for three days after the student pointed his finger like it was a gun and pretended to shoot one of his classmates.
“I was just playing around,” fifth-grader Nathan Entingh told the Columbus Dispatch. “People play around like this a lot at my school.”
The suspension letter from Devonshire Alternative Elementary School said that Entingh used a “level 2 lookalike firearm” during the incident…
“The kids were told, ‘If you don’t stop doing this type of stuff, there would be consequences,’” school spokesman Jeff Warner said. “It’s just been escalating.”
Entingh’s father Paul feels that a three-day suspension is unwarranted. “He said he was playing,” Paul said. “It would even make more sense maybe if he brought a plastic gun that looked like a real gun or something, but it was his finger. I would have even been fine with them doing an in-school suspension.”
I would teach that kid to use a different finger – and point it at the principal.
In 2012, New York charities raised nearly $249 million, but telemarketers kept about 62 percent of the donations, the state attorney general says…
Often telemarketers target seniors or the disabled because they are home, answer the phone and are usually socially isolated and eager to speak with people because they are lonely. However, many are on fixed incomes and these donations are a real sacrifice that eats into funds needed for healthcare, food, prescriptions and heat.
Charities in New York City received the highest rate of return, with telemarketing campaigns taking in $42 million and returning $22 million, or 53.9 percent, while Long Island organizations fared the worst, pulling in a gross of $8 million and a net of $2 million or 25 percent…
Some of the non-profit groups with the worst percentage of money to the charity and fundraising expenses are law enforcement and veterans groups — two areas that seniors are apt to donate.
For example, the Department of New York Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States collected 15 percent from the fundraising money, the Police Conference of New York also gained 15 percent and the state Association of Chiefs of Police received 20 percent.
For those considered a donation via a telemarketer, Schneiderman advises asking the caller making the solicitation to describe the programs conducted by the charity, how much of a donation will be used for those programs, how much the telemarketer is being paid and how much if any of a donation the charity is guaranteed to receive.
Checking up on folks asking for charitable donations should be number one. Cynicism aside, charities are a great source of marks for any hustler. The NY AG’s report [.pdf] is available over here – and it’s useful whether or not you live in the Empire State.